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Chapter 9 - Still Laughing at the Laughing Academy.


"I'm sorry, Lily, Lily, lovely Lily. I know I didn't take care of My Hal like I should have last night. I know I'm bad. Don't make him go away. Please. I didn't mean to, it's just that I got sad ‘cause Lindsey's going to take my Gus away to Paris and I don't think I'll get any more turkeys," I say, pretty much all in one breath, trying to explain my dereliction of duty the night before.

"It's okay Brian. I'm not angry with you," Lily reassures me, smiling down at Hal and I still huddled together in my bed. "Your friends told me you got a bit upset at the news they brought. I went ahead and took care of Hal for you yesterday. It's not a big deal."

"Thank you, Lily, Lily, lovely little Lily," I gush, holding onto My Hal tightly, still a little worried in spite of Lily's words that something bad might happen to My Hal.

"How about this, Brian? You still seem a little shakey this morning. How about I let you and Hal hang out here for a while longer. I'll bring you guys your breakfasts in here - just this ONE time, you understand - and that should give you some more time to get yourself together. What do you say, Brian?" Lily proposes.

"Yes! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Lily, lovely Lily."

"Allright. You two just stay put for a bit. After Luke and I get everyone seen to in the dining room, I'll be back with your food. But, you be good while I'm gone, okay?"

I nod my agreement and lie back against the pillows, relieved that I get another reprieve before I have to face the world. My Hal is snug in my arms and seems happy to just stay there for a while longer. He's wide awake this morning, his eyes bright and very alert. But I think that he's not as happy as usual. He even looks a little worried, maybe. I hope he's not upset that I broke down a little yesterday after my visit with Ted and Emmett. I didn't mean to leave him alone for so long, but my club fried brain just seemed to give out on me. I couldn't help it.

"My Hal. My Hal. My Hal. Don't be angry at me my pal Hal. Please don't be angry. I didn't mean to let you down like that. I, I, I just got so . . . scared," I whisper that last word, afraid others might hear and then my secret will be out.

"Don't tell them, My Hal. Don't tell, don't tell, don't tell. No one knows. But it's okay if you know, My Hal. It can be our secret, right?"

"You see, My Hal, I'm scared," I whisper with my lips pressed right up against his ear so no one else will hear my confession. "I'm scared. I'm scared, scared, scared. All the time. Always have been, always will. Totally, out of my mind, fucking scared all the goddamned time."

"Nobody knew it before though. I was good at hiding it. Really good. Really. Really. Nobody knew. But then . . . then the Sunshine broke into my life and made me be a little less scared because it wasn't so dark anymore, you know. I was still scared, but for a while I thought it would be okay. Maybe I could be happy. Maybe I could let the Sunshine chase away the scared. Just . . . Just in my heart. Just in my heart. My Heart."

"But it didn't work. Didn't work. Did NOT work. They found out about the Sunshine. They didn't like it, not one bit. No Sunshine for you, Brian! No happy. No happy. No happy just dark and scared. They didn't like it so they had the stupid jock break Him. They broke Him and the Sunshine was gone and I couldn't stop them. I couldn't stop the jock. Block. Block. Block the jock."

"After that I just gave up. I couldn't fight the scared. I couldn't hide from the scared. They broke me. They broke my Sunshine. Dark, dark, dark. Everything is dark in the park, not a lark."

"Once I was sad and alone and scared again they were happy. I know they're happy cause I hear them laughing all the time. Ha, ha, ha, look at how pathetic that Brian is. Ha, ha, ha. I fucking hate the laughter, sometimes, you know?"

"But then YOU came to me, My Hal. My beautiful happy hallucination," I hug Hal and kiss his bright hair to show him how much I like having him with me. "You made me be less scared again, My Hal. I was feeling braver. I was going to fight back against the scared. I thought I was ready. My Hal, Hal, Hal. I know you're still a little broken, but I thought I could fix you and then you could help fix me too. And we could fight. And I wouldn't have to be scared. Scared. Scared. Who cared?"

"They must have found out, though. They don't want me to be happy. Somebody must have told them. I don't know how, but they found out. They're angry. They don't like anyone to be happy. Not happy, not glad, just sad and bad and mad. That's why they're going to take away my Sonny Boy. They can't hurt you anymore, My Hal, so they're going to try to break me again by taking away my Gus, Gus, Gus. Take him to Paris where they don't have hand turkeys, just escargot and horse - they eat lots of horse in Paris. I really liked my turkey, Hal."

"That's why I was sad again, My Hal. That's why I tried to hide. I was going to fight. I told Ted to make them come here so I can fight them, but then Ted left and I just couldn't. I couldn't. I got scared again. I'm sorry, My Hal. I'm sorry. Sorry. Sorry. It's no excuse. I have to take care of you even when I'm scared. I know that. I know that. It's just so . . . so hard sometimes."

I'm sure my babbling confession would have gone on ad infinitum if it hadn't been for Lilly showing up right then pushing a cart laden with breakfast for us. I almost sighed, I was so relieved that something had stopped me. I was bumming myself out and probably worrying My Hal, too. Thankfully, Lily came to my rescue again.

While Lily is getting our food all set up on the table next to my bed, I take charge of getting Hal and I to the bathroom and then washed up. I'm determined not to break my promise again. I WILL take good care of My Hal. Yesterday was just an aberration. I can do this. See, I can put on a happy face and get on with things just like anyone else.

"Now, My Hal. No more of that," I chatter inanely while we're getting ourselves taken care of in the bathroom. I'm trying to be cheery for My Hal. "I promise to step up, get back on my horse, back on the wagon, back in the saddle. You can count on me. No more of that sad or bad or mad Brian. Well, I guess I am still mad, but I can't help that - we do still live in a madhouse, right? Hah!"

As I lead us back to our room, for our special private breakfast in bed, I note that My Hal's biting at his lower lip and there are worried wrinkles on his forehead. I think he must still be a little upset with me. The sight bolsters my resolve. I won't be unhappy anymore if it's going to hurt My Hal.

"I can be happy. I can!" I insist, to no one in particular, just stating my point in case anyone's listening.



<~> Daphne's POV <~>

"Hey, Em. It's Daphne. How's it going?"

I had waited more than a week before calling Emmett back after our last conversation. I kept expecting someone to call - Emmett, Ted, maybe even Brian? But finally my curiosity got the better of me and I just couldn't wait anymore. So here I am, pacing through the halls of my dorm with my phone to my ear, hoping for good news and at the same time dreading what I might hear.

"Everything here is fabulous, Sweetie! I just got back from the spa. I got a mani/pedi and - I'll tell you a secret - I got really crazy and decided to go with a sparkly neon purple for my toes. I know, I know, I must be insane, right? But, it's just such a fun color. And you know, what with all these parties and things I'm doing these days, I have to be so conservative in how I dress sometimes - well, darling, it just hurts to have my flame being that squelched all the time. So I figured, what the hell! I'll just let myself go and do something wild for once."

"I'm sure it looks lovely on you, Em," I laugh, as amused as always at Emmett's joyous view of life in general. "I myself am going with the whole contemporary, olivey-green thing right now. I don't know what I was thinking, but it looked great in the bottle."

"I'm sure that it's very fetching on you, Baby" Emmett replies with sincerity. "I don't think you called here just to talk about my toes, though - not that they're not adorable toes, of course. But anyway, what's up, dear?"

"Well, Em, I was just wondering if you guys maybe talked to Brian about Justin yet?"

"Sorry, honey, but we didn't quite get around to that. Ted and I DID just see Brian the other day, and we'd planned on relaying to him what you told us about poor Justin, but you see, there's this whole family drama thing going on right now that sort of took precedence. You remember Lindsay, right? Well, Lindz and Mel broke up a while back. And now, to make a long story short, it seems Lindsey's got this new harebrained scheme - she says she's going to marry some French guy and then move to Paris, taking Gus with her. Ted and I, unfortunately, got deputized to be the ones to break the news to Brian. Well, I don't have to tell you that Brian was good and pissed as soon as he heard that news. And, well, we didn't really think it was a good time to bring up Justin after all that. Sorry, hon."

"Oh. Well, okay. I guess I can understand that. I'm sure Brian's going nuts thinking Lindsey might take his son away to another country," and knowing what I did about Brian, I figured he was already busy pulling strings and working his magic and would get Lindsey straightened out in short order. "I was just hoping, maybe, you know, that Brian might be able to do something to help with Justin's situation."

"Daph, honey, we really are going to tell him, but after what you told us about Justin's condition, I'm not sure there's anything Brian can do."

"I'm not sure, either, Emmett. But, I just thought it might be worth a try."

"We'll give you a call when we do finally talk to Brian for you, hon. And, in the meantime, tell Justin we send our love," Em offers.

"Yeah. I will. Bye, Em."

That phone call really didn't seem to go the way I was hoping. I knew it was always a long shot that Brian could, or even would, do anything to help Jus, but I was hoping he'd at least care enough to try. From the sounds of it, though, Brian's got a lot of other shit on his plate right now. I'm sure Justin wouldn't be a priority, even if Brian knew.

The call did resolve one thing I was wondering, though. From the way Emmett was talking about Brian, it sure didn't sound like he's currently residing in a mental hospital for people with debilitating long term psychiatric issues. If he's competent to deal with all the shit Lindsey's stirring up, he certainly wouldn't be in a place like The Banks.

I guess I'll just have to wait until Em and Ted get around to talking with Brian. Who knows, maybe he'll have some idea how to help Justin after all. I just hate waiting. Justin's been in that fucking place way too long already. But, there's not much else I can do about it other than wait some more.

And, oh yeah, I'm pretty much back to wanting to kill Jennifer.



<~> Justin's POV <~>

This morning, as soon as I wake up, I know that something is different. It's like I went to bed last night as one person, and I'm waking up this morning as somebody completely different. Or maybe it's that I was never really awake before right this instant.

Whoever I was yesterday, was wrapped up in this shroud of grey fuzziness. Every memory I have seems clouded by that same grey. Nothing had sharp edges. Nothing was clear. Nothing made sense in that cottony grey world. But this morning, I know I'm finally, truly, awake and here and this is real.

And the very first thing I see with my brand new, unclouded eyes, is Brian!

I recognize this room I'm in from the fuzzy grey memories. This is the hospital where I've been living since my mother decided I was too much of a handful to be considered safe around her and Molly. I have no idea how long I've been here, but I suspect it's been a very long time.

That, over there, is the bed I usually sleep in. I only vaguely recognize the room and things around me from the perspective of this new bed. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I register that this is Brian's bed. I'm sleeping in Brian's bed in a mental hospital where I've been living for several years. Well, that's a remarkable discovery - and to think that I've only been awake for about fifteen seconds.

This body curled up around me in the tiny bed, does indeed appear to belong to my former lover, Brian Kinney. I know every single inch of this silky skin, each ripple of muscle, every sinew and bone. My hands have long ago memorized this form. My arms hold a vivid sense memory from every single time I've ever held Brian. So, I'm reasonably certain that I'm not mistaken about who I'm sleeping with at this particular moment.

Even if my body might be mistaken, however, I only have to look up at the unmistakably beautiful face next to me on the pillow, to know that it really, truly is Brian. The Face of God. I've stared at that face, drawn that face, fantasized about that face so many millions of times, there's absolutely no way I could be deceived.

What I'm doing here, what Brian's doing here, how Brian got here, whatever or wherever here really is, why he's here with me, and what's going to happen next, are all questions that are still unanswered. They're all part of that grey fog. I vaguely recall memories, images, ideas, and assumptions from that era, and maybe if I could sort them out, it might help with my confusion. That seems like an awful lot of effort though. Especially since I'm not at all unhappy with the particular situation I've woken up in.

"Mmmm," Brian purrs and shifts in his sleep, rolling into his left side. With that unconscious Kinney grace I adore, his arm drapes itself over my middle, his right leg hooks around behind my calf and he rubs his face familiarly against the side of my head. With another little "mmmm" he  nuzzles down deeper so that his nose is buried between the pillow and my ear. Then, still without conscious volition, I feel Brian's arms briefly tighten around me, his legs doing the same, and I feel his hips tilt forward just enough so that his half-erect cock peeking above the waistband of his pajama pants makes contact with my thigh. Apparently satisfied with whatever he found, Brian's entire body relaxes back into a deeper sleep using my willing body as his pillow.

I may not have any clue about how I got here, but I'd be fucking NUTS to do or say anything that might make this moment end!



<~> Ted’s POV <~>

“I can’t fucking believe Lindsey,” I pronounce for at least the tenth time in the past hour.

“I can’t believe it either, Teddy. And, I couldn’t believe it the last nine times you told me about it,” Emmett is sympathetic, but only to a point.

“But, you should have seen her, Em. She was so fucking arrogant. So, completely closed off to ANY suggestions. Basically, she said to tell Brian to go fuck himself - only she said it in that annoyingly saccharine sweet WASPy way of her’s that makes you want to puke. Has she just completely forgotten that without Brian she wouldn’t even be a mother? I mean, I know Mel has bigger balls than almost any of us, but she doesn’t otherwise have the equipment. And, everyone knows that the only reason Brian signed that fucking Parental Rights Waiver was to keep Lindz and Mel together the first time she wanted to marry the damn frog. So now she’s going to conveniently forget that fact and do whatever the hell she wants without any input from either Mel or Brian and no consideration of poor Gus? It’s just . . .  AAaaarrrrgh!”

Do you ever get so angry about something that your words just can’t keep up with your outrage and all you can do is scream. Well, I’m there! And the fact that I just yelled like a banshee in the middle of Woody’s doesn’t even phase me in the least, that’s how annoyed I am.

“Okay. It’s time to calm down a bit, Teddy,” Emmett is there, his arm around my shoulders, trying to quiet me at the same time he’s ordering me another beer in the hopes of drowning my protests.

“But, Em, she wouldn’t even agree to go talk to Brian about this. You should have seen the way she looked at me - it’s like I was proposing she go visit a leper colony and then french kiss all the residents. Em, you saw Brian, right? There’s nothing wrong with him other than he gets a little confused now and then. Brian’s still Brian, only just a little more fragile and a lot less sarcastic. But Lindsey won’t even think about visiting and she’s convinced herself that he’s a fucking raving lunatic mass murderer or something. I don’t get it,” I complain again, hurting for my friend.

“I agree with you completely, Teddy. After seeing Brian this last time, I know there’s really nothing wrong with him that should keep him away from his son. You know that. I know that. But you’re never going to convince Lindsey or Michael of that, honey, so why keep trying.”

“Because if I don’t keep trying, it’ll be like I gave up on Brian. Like I let him down. He doesn’t deserve this, Em. It’s just plain not fair but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

“So there’s still no word from Mel? She does still have her parental rights. If she wanted to, couldn’t she stop Lindsey from moving overseas?” Emmett asks the million dollar question.

“That’s what we all assume, but no, I haven’t talked to her. I’ve left about twenty voicemail messages for her, which she never returns. I don’t care how fucking busy she is with her new law practice up in Seattle, she could return at least one fucking phone call, couldn’t she?”

“Well, Teddy, my dear, you know what you’re going to have to do, don’t you?” Em’s suggestion has me groaning before he even fully voices it. “You’re going to have to go to Michael. It looks like Brian is going to need an attorney, and for that, you’re going to have to convince Michael to part with some of that cold hard green of Brian’s that he seems so unwilling to be separated from.”

“Couldn’t I just kill Lindsey?” I propose. “I’m pretty sure that would be easier.”