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Psychosis: A loss of contact with reality that usually includes: False beliefs about what is taking place or who one is (delusions) ; Seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations).

 

Chapter 1 - Going Mad Isn’t So Bad.

Ted's POV

'There, but for the grace of God, go I.'

That's the first thing that comes into my mind every single week when I come here to visit Brian. Okay, maybe the whole biblical reference is a tad cheesy, but it sounds better than, 'Fuck, I'm glad it's him, and not me in here!' Still, I can't help thinking that because it's the fucking truth.

We're all so stupidly naive when we're young. You feel like you don't have a care in the world. You go out almost every night; dancing, drinking, fucking but never thinking about the future. We all did recreational drugs - it was just a given, a part of the club culture. You know to stay away from the heavy stuff, the stuff that could get you addicted too easily - meth, heroin, that shit - and you figured you'd be safe.

Of course, everyone knows about someone, or a friend of someone who got some bad shit or who OD'd, but you never really believe it could happen to you. Only losers and idiots OD. Besides, club drugs like GHB, Special K and E aren't supposed to be dangerous, right?

Yeah, right. That is until, like me, you OD on them. Then, all of the sudden, those innocuous fun little club drugs get real scary. Fuck, I was in a coma for almost a week after OD'ing on GHB, for Christ's sake. I'm lucky to be alive. And, I'm really lucky that I don't seem to suffer from any long term problems.

Unlike poor Brian Kinney.

I think I can speak for the entire gang when I say than none of us expected Brian to wind up being one of those poor schmucks. Hell, he was the one who taught most of us the drug rules in the first place. I know Brian reamed my ass out about not following them after my own little foray to the ER.

'Never take drugs from someone you don't know pretty fucking well. Only do drugs when you're with friends - they'll take care of you if anything happens - anybody
else couldn't give a crap. Careful mixing drugs and alcohol; you're better off just drinking water so that you stay hydrated. And don't do Meth or Heroin, even recreationally, they'll fuck up your brain chemistry so fast you won't know you're addicted till they find your body cooling in a pool of your own vomit. But, otherwise, have fun.'

Of course, Brian was known to break his own rules on occasion. We'd all seen him being borderline self-destructive a time or two, but even then he was usually smart
enough about it to avoid any real problems. It was what Michael called Brian's 'Pain Management' process. It had always seemed to work for him.

Until that night when Justin got out of the hospital and tracked Brian down at Woody's.

Granted, Brian had already been in Pain Management mode for a full two months by that point. It had started three days after the now infamous St. James' Senior Prom, where Brian's favorite boy toy had his skull bashed in right in front of The Stud's eyes. Brian had haunted the hospital at first, but as soon as the doctors confirmed that the kid would at least live he was off, never to be seen in the hospital again.

From then on, Brian was off, drinking, drugging and fucking like none of us had ever seen before. While Justin slowly emerged from a two week long coma and then struggled through six weeks of rehab, Brian was completely AWOL. So, by the time Justin got out and finally found him, Brian was already a fucking fall down mess.
Luckily Michael was home from his temporary exile with Dr. Dave in the Great Pacific Northwest and already prepared to do Kinney-sitting duty. If Michael hadn't been there that night, Brian WOULD have died. Although, I'm not sure it wouldn't have been better if he had.

Instead, Michael watched as an already stoned and sleep deprived Brian took Justin home, then made his way back to the bar and proceeded to completely lose it.
According to Michael, Brian begged at least five or six tabs of E off random strangers either at Woodies or in Babylon. He also did a couple of bumps of something - probably coke - from some sketchy looking guy on the dance floor and then drank about half a quart of beam. The last time Michael saw him still standing on his own two feet, Brian was smoking a joint in the backroom while two skanky looking tricks were servicing his cock. The next thing Michael knew, somebody was dragging him off to the men's room where he found Brian collapsed face down in front of the wall of urinals.

The ER doctor's pumped his stomach, declared him okay and then sent Brian home. Physically, Brian seemed to recover just fine. Two days later he was back at work. From there, though, everything went downhill fast. Their final diagnosis was 'Persistent Chronic Drug-Induced Psychosis'.

According to the doctors, it wasn't just the OD. Maybe it was due to unexpected interactions between all the different drugs in Brian's system. Maybe one of the drugs he took was laced with something. It didn't help that his body was already so stressed out and depleted. It could have been simply that seeing Justin so hurt and traumatized combined with his own misplaced sense of guilt caused him to snap. But whatever the cause, the Brian Kinney we all knew, disappeared after that night.
Which is why I find myself here every Wednesday afternoon. I’m really the only friend Brian still has left. Michael, the guy Brian trusted with his medical POA, was the first to throw his hands up in defeat and run away. After the third time that Brian was arrested on the street and then hospitalized because of his threatening and erratic behavior, Michael had Brian committed. Michael says it’s too hard for him to see his best friend like he is now and that he can’t bear to even visit. I know that Debbie still comes by a few times a year - around the holidays, on Brian’s birthday and such - but other than that, nobody else bothers.

Me, on the other hand, well, I feel like I owe it to Brian. I’m the only other person in our little gang who could ever understand what he’s going through. I’ve been there - sort of. Brian didn’t bail on me when it looked like he’d have to make the big decision about whether or not to take me off life support when I OD’d, even though I know he wanted to. I just couldn’t live with myself if I bailed on him now.

So, I drive the thirty miles out here to the Shady Glen Convalescent Center - a horrible euphemistic name for the looney bin if you ask me - every week and spend an hour sitting with Brian. I bring him what news I can about his friends and family. I listen to him ramble and complain and voice whatever random thoughts he has on his chest that day. I know it’s not much, but it’s all I have to offer at this point.

And every visit makes me glad over and over again that it didn’t happen to me.

Brian’s POV

“Ted’s back, like a heart attack!” I holler as I see my only remaining friend come into the lounge where we are led when we have visitors at ‘The Center’. “Ted. Ted. Ted. Ted’s head. Ted’s in my head. Ted.”

“Hey, Brian,” he replies, tactfully ignoring my babbling as he sits next to me on the couch.

At least he doesn’t try to touch me anymore. I hate how everybody seems to think they should touch me all the time. ‘Chiraptophobia - Fear of being touched’. That’s what it’s called. I remember all the names. They’ve labelled all my issues, all my fears, but can’t make them better. But hey, at least I know what to call them, right?
I’m trying to sit still and pay attention to what Ted is saying. Really, I am. It’s just hard to make my body stop moving. As long as I keep moving, then the panic doesn’t have a chance to set in. But I know that it freaks people out, so I try really hard to sit still. Right now I’ve managed to keep everything but my right leg stay still. If I concentrate really hard on that, I can stop it too, I think, so I try. I concentrate really, really hard and I do manage to make my leg stop bouncing but then I find that my right hand is now twitching. I don’t know which is better - leg or hand - so I stop bothering to concentrate.

“I brought you some cookies that Deb made for you, Bri,” Ted says, pulling a plastic box full of sugary death nuggets out of the bag at his feet. Ted knows that I can’t touch the box until it’s been wiped clean of germs, so he just leaves it on the table next to us, and I try to smile at him. I won’t eat any of them though. Who eats all the cookies Deb always sends me, I wonder.

“Carbs. Carbs. Carbs. No carbs after seven,” he already knows that you dolt, you don’t have to tell him again, I think to myself, but I can’t stop myself from voicing my old mantra.

“I know about your carbs, Bri. But, it’s not after seven. It’s only four in the afternoon, you know. If you wanted a cookie, you could have one,” Ted tries to reason with me.

Silly man, you can’t reason with someone who’s lost all reason. All reason to live. All reason to try to live. All reason at all.

I don’t want to waste this whole visit with my inane blathering though. Yes, I KNOW I’m blathering. I just don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to think anymore. But, I’ve been waiting all week for Ted to come and give me what little sanity he can pass along and I don’t want to waste my only chance. I slap my hand across my mouth to physically stop myself from speaking until I somehow manage to corral my words to where I want them.

“Gus. Gus. Gus,” I finally ask. I always ask about Gus first. My Sonny Boy. I really fucking miss him. I wish that I could maybe sometime see him again, but I know that’s unlikely. Thankfully, Ted always comes prepared with Sonny Boy stories.

“Gus is fine. He started preschool last week, you remember?” Ted launches into his first Gus story. “Lindsey said that he was so excited about going that he barely slept the night before. And he didn’t have any trouble at all when they dropped him off. In fact, apparently Lindz wanted to hang around a bit and see how the boy was going to do, but Gus told her to leave as soon as they got through the classroom door . . .”

“Way to go, Sonny Boy. Sonny Boy. Sonny Boy,” I say when Ted finishes his litany of Gus moments for the week. I’m so fucking proud of that boy. I wish I could have been there to see him start school.

“Gus. Gus. Gus . . . Mikey. Mikey. Mikey,” I always ask about Mikey next. I wish Michael would come see me sometime along with Ted. I know I probably can’t ever see Gus - I’d probably scare him - but why hasn’t Michael been here to visit in so long? I don’t know, so I make sure Ted tells me about my best friend too.

“Michael’s fine, too. His Comic Book store is doing really well, by the way. I got him set up with this new online merchandising software last month and he’s been selling shit over the internet like you wouldn’t believe. . . .”

“Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Ted and Emmett. Ted and Emmett.”

“Well, as you can see, I’m doing great,” Ted chuckles, it’s just this little joke we have between us. I always have to ask how Ted is doing even though Ted is the one visiting. You’ve got to keep them all in order, so I have to ask about Ted as soon as I hear about Mikey. “Em and Vic are still going strong with their new party planning company. I heard that they’re doing some big shindig over at the Country Club next month - a society wedding or something - and they’re both totally queening out over it, but I’m sure they’ll do just fine.”

“Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Deb and Vic. Deb and Vic. Deb and Vic.”

“Well, I just told you about Vic. Deb is her usual boisterous self. She sends her love to you along with those cookies. Did I tell you she’s been dating a fucking cop lately?” I like hearing Deb stories almost as much as Gus stories. She’s so alive. I wish I was still alive too. Hearing about Deb helps a little bit.

“Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Deb and Vic. Lindsey and Mel. Lindsey and Mel. Lindsey and Mel.” Don’t forget the girls. I need to keep track of the whole gang. Can’t forget the girls.

“Lindsey is doing really well at her new job at the Gallery,” Ted continues. “She’s busy setting up an exhibit for local new artists right now and then they have some big wig artsy fartsy type coming in from New York next month. You know Lindz - she’s over the top excited to meet the guy and keeps gushing about his ‘vision’. And, well, Mel is still gone and we haven’t heard anything new from her in a while, so I have no news for you about her.”

Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Deb and Vic. Lindsey and Mel. That's everyone. The old gang. All except for Him. But I can't ask about Him. I can't. Just in my imagination. Just in my memory. Just in my little world full of friendly psychotic delusions.

"Well, I'm going to get going now, Bri," Ted announces and gets to his feet. I'm actually glad he's leaving because Mrs. Levinson, the old biddy from room 219 just came into the lounge. She's fucking ancient. She has this one eye that never looks at the right place and she gives me the creeps. I used to think her eye followed me around everywhere - but that’s just nuts right? I try not to think that anymore even though I sometimes still dream about that fucking crazy eye. Hmmm. Is that ‘Gerontophobia - Fear of old people’ or ‘Cacophobia- Fear of ugliness’? I’m not sure. I’ll have to remember to ask Dr. Fields. Anyway, I’m glad that Ted’s leaving so I can get away from Mrs. Levinson and go back to my nice, safe, private room where I get to be all by myself.

“Is there anything I can bring you next time, Bri? Or something you need me to do for you?” Ted always asks this, bless his organized little accountant heart. I almost wish I had something for him to do - he’s always so fucking eager, you know. But they don’t let me play with money here in the looney bin so there's nothing for him to account. I’ve got nothing to do, day in and day out, but count and classify my phobias, so there’s really nothing I can ask of Ted.

“Nope. Nada. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing,” I shake my head and start to move sideways away from Ted, trying to get to the door without getting any nearer to Mrs. Levinson but trying at the same time not to let Ted know that I’m fucking afraid of a 90 year old woman. “Bye. Bye. Bye. Theodore of mine.”

I try to casually wave goodbye to Ted and then just leave the room like a normal person would. I fucking can’t do it though. I’m almost through the door, but I can’t move. I have to go back. I touch the doorknob. I touch the light switch and then I touch the name plate next to the door that says this is ‘The Lounge’ in case you were a complete moron and didn’t know this was The Lounge after having lived here for years. I see Ted smiling at my little rituals before he heads off down the hall and past the front desk.

 

Ted's POV

"Bye, Lisa," I wave to the receptionist sitting at the front desk as I walk by. "See you next week."

"Oh, wait, Mr. Schmidt," she stands up, waving a piece of paper at me before I can get too far. "I thought you already knew - Mr. Kinney's being moved to a different facility this weekend."

"He is? What for?" I ask, grabbing the printout from her and scanning it quickly for answers even while the pleasant young woman rushes to explain.

"Well, I'm sure you heard about the merger and all. You know, MedCare, the parent company that operates this place merged with PAHealth. Well, part of the shake up is that a bunch of our long term care patients are being transferred to The Banks Convalescent Care Center across town. It's all there on the transfer notice, if you have any questions. I know Mr. Novotny was notified, but since he never contacted us with any objections, Mr. Kinney is scheduled to be one of the first transferred.

"Well, I'm sure Michael must be fine with the change if he didn't say anything," I offer, all the while suspecting that Michael probably doesn't give a shit anymore, if he even bothered to open the letter about the transfer. "But, unfortunately, that means you won't get to see my lovely face every week when I visit. Thanks for everything, Lisa," I dismissively shake the woman's hand then move off towards my car.

I wonder if it would be a total waste of time to ask Michael whether he made the effort to check into this new place or not? Well, I'm still the accountant for Brian's estate, maybe I'll just skip dealing with Michael and do my own investigating. Something tells me that good old-fashioned corporate greed is the moving force behind this transfer and I doubt Brian's going to be happy with the change.

At least the new place is closer to my work, though.

Chapter Text

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Chapter 2 - Completely Wigged Out.

 

<~> Daphne's POV <~>

I fucking hate this place so much. I can't believe that Craig Taylor is so cheep that he'd let his son stay in such a run down flea trap. That man - and I use the term loosely since every single thing he's done in the past few years indicates that he's not even human - should be forced to come spend just one day here and see how he likes it. I bet he couldn't stand it here for more than ten minutes.

The smell alone would make any normal person faint. I understand the difficulties of dealing with the type of patients they house here, but that's no excuse. The entire building stinks like stale urine, mold and dirty feet, all overlaid with a thin veneer of Pine Scented Antiseptic spray. One time I even threatened to report the place to the state licensing board after I saw an untreated bedsore on the patient in the bed next to Justin's. Really, if this is the best Craig can do for his only son, then I think Justin would be better off being abandoned to State care. It could hardly be worse.

But, regardless of what I think about this place, I still keep coming back for Justin. If anybody needs a friend it's that poor boy. So, as long as Justin's here I'll keep coming back. I can just dab a little bit of Ben Gay under my nose to mask the stench, square my shoulders bravely and ignore the high risk of encountering the type of flesh eating MRSA's that probably populate every square inch of this dump. It's what a best friend does.

That doesn't make it any easier to see the shell of a person which is all that's left of my friend, Justin Taylor. Day after day he just sits there, lost inside himself. It physically hurts me to look at him sometimes. Justin was always just so full of life, you know. Even when everything in his life seemed to be going to shit - when his dad kicked him out, he was being terrorized on a daily basis by the bullies at school and the love of his life was being a total ass to him - Justin still managed to find something to be hopeful about. He was a fucking inspiration to me back in the day.

Of course, that was before Chris Hobbs took a baseball bat to Justin's head the night of our Prom.

Hobbs claimed that he was provoked. That seeing Justin and Brian dancing that night so outraged his sense of morality that he lost control of himself. Yeah, I'll believe that as soon as he can explain why the fuck he brought a baseball bat with him in the limo his parents hired for the night to drive him and his buddies to the dance. But, whatever Hobbs' real motivation was, that one swing of the bat that cracked Justin's skull was only the start of the nightmare. I don't think even Hobbs knew his actions would be so thoroughly devastating.

No matter how much I love Justin, even I've sometimes wondered if death might not have been more merciful.

"Hey, Jus," I say, trying but failing to make my voice sound breezy and happy. "How's my favorite blond boy?"

I guess I needn't bother trying to sound cheerful. I don't think it matters to Justin. He's almost completely catatonic these days. He hasn't acknowledged my presence for more than a year now. The last time he even spoke to me was when they painted the ward where he lives - now it's a pale pastel blue rather than an ugly dirty white, not that it's much of an improvement. Justin's only comment then was that, "blue is the new white." I didn't know if he was joking or not so I didn't say anything. And that's the last time I heard his voice. For all I know it's the last words he'll ever speak.

Fucking famous last words, huh?

Since then, Justin simply sits where he's put. Or, he stands where he's put if there's no place to sit. Or, he lies down in bed if he's put there. On his own he does nothing. It's like life is too much effort but fighting life isn't worth the effort either. Now, the kid who always stood up for himself and others, who refused to back down or accept the uncomfortable role society tried to force on him, just does whatever he's told and never ever complains.

While I visit I chat about anything that comes to mind. He's so fucking silent it freaks me out. I have to keep babbling just to fill the room with noise or I might end up in the bed next to him.

I also do what I can to tidy him and his area up while I'm there. I usually bring along a hairbrush, a packet of wet wipes, nail clippers, some hand lotion and Chapstick. They've let his hair grow ridiculously long, which would be fine except that nobody ever helps him brush it. So I brush Justin's hair, pull it back into a pony tail, wash his hands and face and clip his nails while I tell him about my classes, my college friends and anything else that pops into my brain. Every time I visit, he always flinches a bit the first time I touch him, but by the end of my stay, it's like he's leaning into my touch, reveling in the contact. I wish I had confidence that someone else does these small things for him when I'm not here. I wish I could manage to visit more often.

I wish Justin would snap out of this and just get better all ready.

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<~> Brian's POV <~>

"No. No. No. This isn't right," I try AGAIN to explain to Letran that he's not following the schedule. It's Friday afternoon. Friday afternoon is supposed to be group therapy, then television time, then pizza for dinner. That's always been what we do on Friday. I don't like things to change. I don't deal well with change these days.

But today, fucking Letran won't let me go to the therapy room. He says my therapy session has been cancelled. I ask him if Dr. Fields had authorized this, and Letran just laughs at me. I mean it's not like I enjoy group therapy or anything - actually I hate it and think it's beyond useless - but, that doesn't mean he can just go around changing the schedule like that, willy nilly, without warning me.

I never liked Letran anyway. I think he's been watching me at night while I'm sleeping. I've tried to catch him at it, but he's just too fucking fast. Now that I think about it, maybe he's got that fat woman in the next room helping him. She probably warns him when I'm waiting to catch him out. That's got to be why I've never been able to catch him. I don't like the fucking fat lady either.

"Willy nilly. Willy nilly. Willy nilly. What the fuck does that mean, anyway," I ask when Letran comes back into my room hours and hours later.

"I got no fucking idea, man. It's just something you white folks say. Nobody I know says shit like like," Letran advises as he opens up my closet and starts rifling through my clothing without permission.

"Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop touching the merchandise. I'm not interested! Fuck off. Fuck off. Fuck off," I scream, trying ineffectually to pull the asshole away from my stuff.

"Mr. Kinney, you need to back off and let me do my job, man," Letran insists, crossing his arms, his biceps bulging at me intimidatingly, while he looks down at me like I'm a buzzing fly he longs to slap.

"Why are you messing with my stuff," I demand, standing up to him and his fucking bulgy muscles. "Get your paws away, away, away!"

"I got to get your shit packed so they can move you, so you need to back off. You hear me? Do I need to call Cece and have you sedated, Mr. Kinney," the little bitch asks, when I try one more time to push him away from my closet.

"I'm not moving, so don't fucking paw at my shit," I persist, ignoring for the moment his threat to call in Cece and her syringe of silence. "Shit. Shit. Shit."

"Yes, Mr. Kinney, you ARE moving and I need to get your stuff packed. Otherwise, they'll just ship you off to the new madhouse without your shit. I really couldn't give a fuck either way. But somehow I don't think you'd be happy strutting your stuff around buck naked at The Banks."

"Well, the fuck you know," I shoot back lamely. "I fucking love strutting around buck naked."

And, just to prove my point - why, I have no idea, but it seemed fucking important at the time - I immediately shove off my pants and tear off my shirt, then walk out of there naked as the day I was born, except of course for my comfy warm wool socks and slippers since the floors in this place are freezing.

The last thing I remember that afternoon is sitting in The Lounge in my all together watching 'The View' and ignoring Mrs. Levinson's outraged shrieking while Cece and Letran stalk towards me. The syringe of silence is dripping beads of thick white liquid from its tip, and strangely reminds me of a well primed cock, as the pair nears. I do not deign to favor the louts with my attention any further. In fact, I manage not to even flinch when the needle bites into the tender skin of my hip. At that moment, I'm pretty sure I made my point.

Some time much later, I realize the errors of my thinking. I wake up into a pitch dark nothingness, completely disoriented and helpless. I don't think this place has anything to do with the point I was trying to make.

<~> Justin's POV <~>

It's been so fucking noisy all day today. I vaguely wonder what's going on that's engendering all this noise. Not that I care enough to bother. I guess I could have turned my head to the side and looked to see what or who was making the noise. But I didn't. What's the point?

I think I remember Daphne coming for a visit earlier. Was that today? Maybe it was another day and I just forgot until now. I wonder if Daphne noticed all the noise, too.

Sometime later, when I wasn't paying attention, the room went from daylight to darkness. It must be night time. I notice that I'm in my pajamas and lying down on my bed. Yes, that means it's night. I guess I should be sleeping now.

I promptly shut my eyes, because that's what you're supposed to do at night time, right? I'm in the process of shutting out the daytime thoughts in order to try and sleep - although I don't actually sleep anymore per se, I don't think, I just think about different things at night - when I hear more noises.

That's not exactly unusual around here. There's always some level of noise no matter what time of day or night it is. There are lots of other patients sleeping in the beds around me. They make lots of noises all night long. Sometimes they talk to themselves. Sometimes they scream. I try not to listen - it's rude. It has nothing to do with me anyway.

But there's something about this particular voice that forces me to listen. The owner of the voice is calling for help. He - I think it's definitely a 'he' - doesn't like the dark. He's confused and scared and is calling for help.

It's not like this is the first time this has happened. Like I said, there's always lots of screaming and talking, especially at night, but I never listen. So, why does this voice seem to matter so much to me?

The sound of the voice causes swirls of brown and gold and green color to light up the inside of my brain. These are nice, comforting colors. It's been a long time since I remember any colors other than white or pale blue.

Even though the voice sounds upset, it doesn't scare me. There's something about this voice that makes me feel safer than I've felt in a very long time. If I could, I'd try to help the person who's calling out for help. I don't remember ever thinking about doing that before. Then the noises abruptly stop.

I think I'll maybe actually sleep tonight.

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<~> Brian's POV <~>

'Nyctophobia - Fear of darkness'. 'Somniphobia - Fear of sleep.' Is there a name for the fear of waking up in the dark in the middle of the night, not knowing where the fuck you are and finding yourself tied to the damn bed, because that's what I'm fucking experiencing right now.

"Hello? Hello? I know there's someone there. I can fucking hear you, assholes! Answer me!" I can hear noises all around me but I can't fucking see anything. The only light I can detect at all is coming from a tiny strip of radiance several meters away somewhere below the level on which I'm lying. It's not enough to illuminate anything around me. All it does is incite more fear because I don't know what's behind the fucking light.

But I can still hear noises all around me. The noise of people. Hundreds and hundreds of people surrounding me in the darkness. They're breathing on me, infecting me with their diseases. There's so many of them.

'Agoraphobia- Fear of open spaces or of being in crowded, public places like markets'.

I can't breathe. It's too fucking crowded in here. I have to get away. I have to get out of here.

Someone's yelling out for help but nobody answers. All around me now there's screaming and people yelling for help. I'm yelling too but I don't think anyone can hear me through all the others.

Fuck! It's got to be him. How has he found me after all this time? They must be working for him. It was Letran! He's been working with Hobbs all this time. I won't be able to escape this time. I won't be able to stop him.

*crack* I hear the sickening noise of a baseball bat beating against flesh and bone. There's so much blood. Too much fucking blood. I can't stop the bleeding. I'm going to lose Him. I can't save Him. I'm useless. I'm nothing. I can't stop it and I know I've failed again.

Then suddenly, the tiny strip of light explodes into a huge blinding white panel of illumination. There are blobs of shape moving towards me, swimming through the light. I can hear their voices but I don't think they're speaking any recognizable language. I wonder briefly if they are here to help me or hurt me. It seems irrelevant though. After a sharp pinch to my skin, they all start to fly off towards the heavens, floating around my head in circles and singing, their lovely words drifting down around me like warm snowflakes.

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"Aliens. Aliens? No. No, not aliens. Angels? St. Joan's angels? Avenging angels we have heard on high. Retribution against the sinners. Fuck that. So, not angels either. Angels or angles? Isosceles Angels? *hehehe* Obtuse Angels?" *hehehe* Right angle angels?"

"Good morning, Brian," my stream of consciousness fun is interrupted by this annoyingly smiley face perched atop a thoroughly nondescript female form. "I'm Lily, one of the day attendants here at The Banks. I understand that you didn't have a very good time here your first night. I'm really sorry to hear that, but I'm sure things will look better once we get you out of these restraints. How does that sound to you?"

"That sounds just peachy, Lily," I say, flashing the woman my most obsequious grin. "The only problem is that you're about an hour too fucking late. I ready pissed all over myself because NOBODY would come help me! Now get me the fuck out of these things so I can get cleaned up and go to my god damned room!" I'm not sure if she can tell by the tone of my voice, but I'm really fucking pissed off here.

"Now, Brian. I really do not appreciate being spoken to like that. I understand that you're rather upset this morning, but since I just got here ten minutes ago, I don't think it's fair for you to take out all your anger at me. Do you?" The woman is too saccharin sweet and much too reasonable and isn't helping me get less pissed off, but she does have a mischievous little grin. Maybe she's not as goody two-shoes as she seems at first glance. "How about we both take a deep breath and start over. And this time, Brian, I'd suggest you act a little more polite towards the lady who's holding the keys to those restraints you're in."

Lovely Lily laughs, but not in a laughing AT you kind of way - it's more of a laughing WITH you at the ridiculousness of the situation kind of laugh. I can tell she's a feisty one. Hmmm? I might actually like Lovely Lily. Well, only if she gets me out of these straps and shows me the way to the showers before anyone fucking sees me like this. I'm crazy but that doesn't mean I don't have SOME fucking standards.

I nod at the woman to indicate my compliance with her suggestions and she proceeds to remove the leather restraints, padded wrist cuffs and ankle cuffs that have been holding me to this fucking bed for far too long. I'll have to have a chat with Lovely Lily about this facility's bondage rules. I do not remember establishing a safe word with anyone here and I refuse to participate if they don't follow at least that one very basic rule. But, I'm not going to deal with that whole can of tuna fish until I've showered and changed.

I'm a little stiff after lying in one place like that for too long and I wobble a little as I start to get up. Lovely Lily steadies my elbow and guides me down the hall to the bathroom facilities. They aren't very clean. I've been in other bath houses that are far less grungy than this. But again, I'm focused on what I have to do and I'll just have to address all these other concerns with the management at a later time.

When I'm finally clean again, I wrap a towel around my waist and wander back out into the hall. For some reason I can't remember where the damn locker room is. I really need to find my clothes and get the hell out of here. I think I've got a meeting I need to get to this morning. Or maybe I'm late for a presentation to a new client? I'm not sure, but I do know it's high time to get out of this place.

"Ah, Lily," I'm happy to see my friend from earlier. "Can you please show me the way to the locker room and help me locate my clothing. Oh, and can you call me a cab, too? My head is killing me - I must have had way too much to drink last night. Just to be on the safe side I better not drive. I'll just send someone to pick up my car later."

"Oh, Brian, you're a real card aren't you dear. I can tell you and me are going to have some fun around here," Lovely Lily smiles that snarky little smile at me as we walk together down the hall. I do like her little laugh. I guess she's okay, for a girl and all.

Lily must not have understood what I needed though. Instead of leading me to the lost locker room, she takes me back to that smelly room where I woke up. I can see there are at least six beds in here, with absolutely no privacy between stations, and the bed I'd been using earlier hasn't even been cleaned up yet. This is unacceptable. Brian Kinney never puts up with substandard service. I'm afraid I'm going to have to talk to Lily's manager.

I try to calmly explain this all to Ms. Lily, but somehow I'm failing to convey the problem here with the requisite urgency it requires. Lily is bustling about the room, barely listening to me, while she attends to several of the other occupants. She's NOT getting a tip from me if she keeps up this behavior.

"Stop. Stop. Stop," I finally lose my temper and move around till I'm standing in front of Ms. Lily, blocking her from moving further away. "I want my clothes!" I demand - first things first.

Shaking her head at me in a condescending manner, Lily leads me to the series of cabinets lining the far wall. On the front of one long cupboard built into the wall is a dry-erase board with my name scrawled across it in barely legible handwriting. Next to the long cupboard is a set of drawers, also built in. Above the top drawer is a kind of ledge or tabletop area with an old, stained and cracked mirror permanently affixed on the wall of the tiny nook. Maybe I misunderstood Little Lily, but I think she's trying to explain that these are my drawers and my closet.

"Fine. That's okay down here in the locker room, I suppose, but where the hell is my room? It better be a lot nicer and much cleaner or I'll have to report you to the hotel manager," I tell her haughtily.

"See? What did I tell you. We are going to have some fun," Lily is laughing again. "Sugar, THIS IS your room. That," she points to the uncomfortable hospital type bed-contraption where I woke up, which is still adorned in the soiled sheets, "is your bed. This is your closet and drawers. Any clothes they sent over from your prior facility have already been stowed inside. Now, what part of this are you not following, Brian?"

"But, who are all these other people? I don't like other people . . . Where's my old room? This isn't MY room. This isn't my room," tiny tendrils of unpleasant doubt are starting to send themselves winding inside my skin and I'm not sure I like it here anymore.

"This is your new room, Honey," Lily explains patiently. "Your old room is gone. They've probably already given it to someone else."

"Why? Why? Why? Why would they take away my room," I ask, already afraid of the answer. "This isn't fair. It isn't right, you know. I'm Brian Fucking Kinney. I'm, I'm, I'm the Stud of Liberty Avenue. I'm important . . . I don't think I'm supposed to be here. I don't think . . . Does Mikey know about this? Mikey wouldn't take my room away from me? Would he? Is he mad at me? Mad. Mad. Mad. I've been Bad. Bad. Bad."

"Brian. Brian, sweetie, look at me," Lily leads me over to a ratty, torn and battered leather chair that's sitting next to the bed she told me was mine. She gently helps me sit down, then she kneels beside the chair and holds my hand. "I understand that you're very confused this morning. It sounds to me like this is a big change for you and maybe you weren't properly prepared for everything. But, it's going to be alright, okay? You just need to calm down and take things one step at a time."

"Now, first of all, you need to get dressed. Can you do that for me? Go find some clothes you like in your cupboards and get yourself dressed. I've got a couple other residents I need to help while you're doing that, okay. After I've got everybody up and dressed, I'll show you the way to the dinning room and we'll get you some breakfast. Then you need to meet with one of the staff doctors to see about your meds. I'm sure that once you get some food and we make sure your meds are right, you'll feel much better."

"Meds. Beds. Ted's. Ted's. Yes, Ted. Ted will help me. He'll fix this. When he comes to see me on Wednesday he can fix this. Okay. I can wait until Ted gets here. When will it be Wednesday again?"

"Soon enough, Brian. Soon enough," Lily tells me and then moves away towards another bed that still has a lump of person hiding under its covers.

I turn around and rifle through my drawers until I find a nice pair of well worn but still decent blue jeans and a long sleeved tee. It looks like Letran didn't fuck all my clothes and shit up after all. I even find my stash of extra-comfy wool socks and my slippers. I do feel better after I get dressed. I'm still confused, but I know I can hold out a couple of days. Ted will fix this. I hope.

I sit on the old chair, trying hard not to overthink things while I wait for Lovely Lily to gather her other charges so we can all go to breakfast.

<~><~><~><~><~><~>

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 3 - Just Mad About the Madhouse.

 

<~> Justin's POV <~>

I'm having the most wonderful dream. I'm in a room filled with silver and white balloons. There's laughing and music. The music is made up of beautiful brown and gold and green notes. The gentle music twirls me around then wraps tightly around me and I'm warm and loved and happy. Around the edges of the pretty, colorful music there are flashes and sparkles of bright happy light. The light smells like sandalwood and spices and whiskey and something else I can't name but that I know.

This is the most wonderful dream I've ever had. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a good dream before, which makes it even more special. Most of the time I don't sleep anymore so I don't dream at all. Which is a good thing, really, because whenever I do sleep I've always before had evil, hard dreams that slowly chip away at the little that's left of my soul.

This dream is too good though. I don't want to wake up and make it stop. I know that I'm not really still asleep anymore, if I ever was, because I can hear all the daytime noises starting. Behind my eyelids there's light, which is further evidence that it's day. But maybe if I refuse to open my eyes, I can keep on floating in the dream. I still see flashes of the beautiful music and feel the liquid notes that make up the colors dripping into my ears. I would never wake up if I could be sure of holding onto this dream forever.

"Rise and shine, Blondie," Lily's voice crashes through the remnants of my dream, popping the silver baloons and drowning out the colors.

I HATE Lily this morning.

"Well now, you must have had a good night, sweetheart, judging by that smile on your face this morning. I'm sorry to break it to you though, kid, it's morning. Time to get you dressed and fed and then see what other exciting craziness you can get into."

"Here we go," Lily lifts my legs and swings them around until they're hanging off the side of the bed. Then she grabs both my hands in both of hers and pulls me up into a sitting position. Usually I'd go along with it all, but not today. I don't want to get up. I want to go back to my dream. I refuse to open my eyes and I'm not going to help Lily with the morning stuff either. I may not have the strength to fight her anymore, but no way am I gonna make it easy either.

"My, my, you are in a mood today, Blondie," Lily chuckles. "Fine, sit there like a sack of potatoes and keep scrunching your eyes closed. I'll still get you dressed and make you come to breakfast. It's fine with me if you don't help. You know how much I love a challenge."

I'm really not much of a challenge for her though. Lily's had lots of practice. It only takes her a couple minutes to get me dressed, even though I still haven't opened my eyes and I'm not really helping her with my clothes. When I'm dressed, she sits me in the chair next to the bed and quickly moves over to help Eugene, the old guy who's got the bed in the corner.

"Okay, looks like we got them all, Luke," Lily yells across the room to the other attendant. "If you take care of that group over there, I'll get Gene, Blondie and our new guy. Come on guys," Lily says, grabbing my elbow to guide me to stand up. "First stop is the john and then we go get some grub. Open your eyes Blondie or you'll trip and fall on that pretty face of yours."

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

Little Lily says, 'Come on, guys', and I'm pulled out of my latest Dr. Seuss-Style Mental Rhyme-a-thon. Did I mention I sometimes get easily distracted by words? Yeah, well welcome to random psychosis symptom #15: 'Clanging - a mode of speech characterized by association of words based upon sound rather than concepts, including compulsive rhyming or alliteration without apparent logical connection between words'. It's rather a fun little symptom, I think, and really helps to occupy the time when you've got nothing else to do.

So, I'm not really paying much attention to Lily and her efforts to get the rest of the lunatics assembled for dinner. I'm busy trying to figure out a hundred different rhymes for 'fix'. I'd only managed about a dozen when Lily announces it's time to go. I obediently close my mental rhyming dictionary and stand up, turning towards my approaching guide.

That's when I see Him!

I think all the breath in my body is literally knocked out of me at the mere sight of the person standing next to Lily. He is beautiful - exactly as I remember him. Golden blond hair, longer than when I saw him last but still just as thick and enticing. He is as pale as always. Maybe a little bit on the skinny side, but then again it's hard to tell under the shapeless clothing he's in. And his face - well, it's the face that still haunts all my dreams and my nightmares. Those high cheekbones, cute turned-up nose, one barely noticeable dimple on his left cheek and the full, luscious, bitable-looking cotton candy pink lips that seem just made for giving the best blowjobs ever seen by mankind.

Lily is leading this vision towards me by the hand. The young man has his eyes scrunched tightly closed so he's completely reliant on Little Lily's guidance. I hate that his eyes are closed - it looks like Him, so much so that I'm stunned - but I can't  be absolutely sure until I see his eyes.

"Are you okay there, Brian?" Lily notices my dumbfounded expression immediately.

If I had already started breathing again, I would answer her, 'No, I'm NOT fucking okay. I'm experiencing psychotic delusions!' But since I don't have any air in my lungs I can't say a word. I just stand there staring at the beautiful mirage, wishing with every ounce of my being that this is really happening and not just another one of my usual hallucinations.

You see, it isn't the first time I've thought I've seen Him - not by a fucking long shot. In fact, that's one of the reasons I ended up in a place like this to start with. Right after my OD, I kept thinking I saw Him everywhere I fucking went: walking down the street, watching me at night in the loft from the shadows, hiding down alleyways and just around corners. I saw Him in every bar and club I went into. Every time I turned around I thought I saw that familiar blond head, only it never turned out to be real. As soon as I would get a clear look at the blond's eyes, I'd realize it wasn't MY blond.

The second or third time I accidentally punched out some guy innocently kissing his boyfriend, who I wrongfully insisted was really MY boyfriend, I was arrested and eventually thrown into the county psych ward. Mikey came to see me that time. He said it was probably better if I just stayed there a while until I got better. That was . . . two or maybe three years ago, I think.

So, yeah I'm shocked to see Him here, but at the same time I'm not really all that surprised. I've had a lot of time to work through my prior mistakes, though, so I can now almost always manage to control my physical reaction. Instead of running over to Him, shoving Lily and anybody else standing in my way aside, wrapping Him in my arms and kissing him uncontrollably, I force myself to wait. I tell myself to hold on. To make certain this time. To wait until I see His eyes. I'm shaking so hard trying to resist the need to go to Him that I can barely stand.

"Brian?" Lily says my name for the second time, a little louder, as she gets nearer.

His eyes pop open and I see the perfect deep blue of an ocean wave shining up at me.

It's fucking HIM!

But it CAN'T be! This isn't possible. I'm stuck in a goddamned lunatic asylum. I can hear Lily still talking to me, telling me to follow her to the dining room. I can see the untidy hospital ward with all the beds. I can smell that unmistakable stench that almost all hospitals have that made up of sickness and filth combined with sterile chemicals. I'm fucking insane - it's already been well established by several medical professionals. Chronic Drug-Induced Psychosis - by definition, I see shit that isn't there. There's no fucking way He is here in this hellhole with me. No way!

Wow! So, if it can't possibly be him, then I really do a fucking great hallucination, don't I? I mean, he's fucking perfect! Way to go, Kinney! Even mad, I've got a fantastic imagination! If you're going to hallucinate, you might as well make it good, right?

"Jus. . . Just in my mind. Just in my mind. Just in my mind. You're not Him. You're just in my mind," I mumble, reminding myself over and over so I won't act like a stupid idiot. "Just in an hallucination. Hallucination. Hallucination. Fascination. He's my hal, hal, hal. My pal the hal. My pal Hal. My Hal. My Hal. My Hal!"

The hallucination doesn't say anything to dissuade me from my determination - of course he doesn't, hallucinations don't talk, or do they? This one doesn't seem to. He just blinks at me, with no real identifiable expression on his perfect face. I'll have to work on that part of my Hal later - maybe I can imagine him a great big smile like I remember - but, I think that for now, this Hal is good enough.

"My Pal Hal!" I announce loudly, looping my arm through his and taking over from Lily. "Hal. Hal. Hal. It's time for breakfast my pal. Lovely Lily, please lead the way. My Hal and I need some sustenance." I'm laughing at the astonished look on Lily's friendly but confused face, but I can't seem to stop myself.

This is turning out to be such a fantastic day. I love my new Hal. This total dump of a place seems just wonderful to me now that I've manufactured the perfect companion for myself. Yes, I think I'm going to get along here just fine. As long as I have My Hal.

 

<~><~><~><~><~>

The rest of that first day at The Banks I spend in 'Orientation' with Lily of the Loonies and a couple other newbies they shipped over from Shady Glen last night. Of course, I adamantly refuse to let go of My Hal, so Lily lets me haul him along by the hand, trotting along with us for the entire tour and sitting through the lecture about the rules and such. My Hal doesn't object - in point of fact he doesn't say anything at all, which must be some sort of glitch, I think.

You would expect My Hal to be much more talkative, considering the original upon which he's based. But, whatever. This IS my very first completely manifested hallucination. I even managed a cross over between tactile, olfactory and visual phenomena. That's got to be considered pretty good for a first attempt. I'll just have to tweak it bit over time and see if I can manage an auditory manifestation as well. But, otherwise, My Hal seems almost ideal. Somehow he even sort of smells like Him. God, I'm good at this hallucination shit, aren't I?

Come dinnertime, Lily wants to take back My Hal in order to get him washed up and such before we eat. I'm having none of that, though. He's My Hal. My responsibility. Mine! Lily needs to keep her grubby little paws off him.

After a few tense moments, Lily wisely bows to the inevitable and the standoff in front of the men's room door is called off.

"Fine, Brian," Lily concedes. "Since it seems you've permanently adopted Blondie here, then I'll let you take over his care. He's your responsibility now. Do you understand what that means?" I'm nodding, thrilled that she finally gets it. "You need to make sure your pet stays clean, gets fed sufficiently and gets plenty of sleep. I'll let you be in charge for now, but you're still on probation. I'll keep an eye on you both for the next few weeks. If you do a good job taking care of Justin . . ."

"My Hal!" I interrupt her, since the name she mentioned is NOT allowed.

"Fine, 'Your Hal' . . . As I said, you better do a good job and be nice to him or you'll lose your Hal privileges. Do you hear me?"

I nod again eagerly with a fucking huge grin plastered on my face. Yes! I win. I win. I win, win, win. He's My Hal and nobody else gets to play with him unless I say. I start to head off to the john to get my twink washed up and ready for dinner.

"What the hell are you doing, Lily," I hear the other attendant saying as we're walking away. "The kid isn't a fucking pet you can foist off on the first nut job who comes along. Blondie needs a shitload of care. He's barely ambulatory most days."

"Calm yourself, Luke," I hear Lily laughing at him. "I've got a feeling about this. I think it'll be good for both of them. Blondie can use the extra attention and it'll keep Brian out of trouble. . ."

The rest of their conversation is cut off when the door of the bathroom closes behind My Hal and I. Fuck Mr. Luke. I don't care what he says. He's My Hal. Mine! Mine! Mine! This time he's Mine!

<~><~><~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Justin's POV <~>

'Brian.'

I keep seeing Brian. And hearing Brian. It's really sort of freaky. Why would I be seeing Brian now? I haven't seen him since that night. He told me that I'd see him again. I thought it was a promise. I even warned him that he shouldn't wait too long, because at the rate I was going, it might soon be too late. I thought I was joking. It wasn't a very funny joke and I never saw Brian again.

I used to think about him a lot. I really did think that eventually I'd see him again. I knew my mother didn't want me near him. She always blamed him for Hobbs - even though that's so fucking not true. At first I thought that maybe she was responsible for keeping Brian away from me. Sometimes I'd overhear part of a phone conversation between her and Debbie, they'd say his name, but I never found out why he didn't try harder to see me.

Eventually I gave up wondering. I knew why he didn't want to see me again. I was broken. Flawed. He was perfect, so why would he ever want to be seen around a gimp like me? I was so naive to think I ever meant anything to a god like Brian Kinney. And that was back when I was still whole.

So much for all that hard work I put in to get out of rehab so fast. What was the point? I was never going to be good enough for Brian Kinney. I quickly gave up on the physical therapy. It seemed like a big waste of time. Everything seems like a waste of time these days.

Most of the time, I try not to even think about Brian. That's at the very top of the list of things I try not to think about. I try not to think about Brian, my father, my shambles of a life, how sad I've made my mother, the fact that I'll never draw again and that I'll never be good enough to be loved. I also try not to think about how pathetic I've become or that I've been exiled by my family to a 'long term care facility' since nobody was able to deal with my shitty mood swings, my violent episodes or my night terrors. To my credit, I've become really very good at NOT thinking about anything. I finally found that elusive 'off switch' in my brain. When I'm turned off I'm protected in this cottony haze. It's so much easier to just switch off most of the time. Nobody cares anyways, so why should I?

Which is why I find it so strange that all of the sudden it's not working. I'm doing my thing - I flip off the switch in my head and zone out just like always - but then when I do take a moment every so often to check back in on life, I keep seeing Brian's face. Why isn't it working correctly anymore? I really like my off switch. Normally it works for me. But lately I'm experiencing this annoying glitch.

If I actually cared enough, I might be able to figure out why it's not working right. But I don't even care about that. I guess I'll simply have to put up with it, like everything else that's broken about me.

So, when I see his face next to me at the table during meals, or seem to see him sitting next to me on the couch in the TV room or even when I feel him watching me in my room at night, I mostly just ignore the anomaly.

I DO have a tougher time blocking out his voice, though. I don't listen to the words, but I've always been a sucker for his soft drawling baritone voice. I find it's kind of comforting to have it going in the background now. I don't remember Brian Kinney being so talkative though. Maybe the voice track is on some kind of endless loop or something. Whatever. It doesn't bother me. I can easily overlook it.

There HAVE been a few incidents lately however that are a bit disconcerting. One time (or maybe more than one time, time is slippery these days, you know), when I became aware of what was going on around me, I thought I was in the men's shower room, standing naked in one of the tile shower surrounds with Brian. It totally threw me for a minute or two. It felt so familiar, like all the times we used to shower together, back before I was ruined. Brian was being so gentle and caring. He was washing my body and my hair so tenderly, without any sexual overtures at all. It didn't seem real. I quickly went back to off mode.

Then, there have been a couple of times where I thought I heard Brian crying. It would be totally out of character for the man. It couldn't have really been happening.

Finally, this morning, I'm having another of these experiences and it's just so out there that I don't know what to think or how to act, but I'm having a tough time discounting this particular encounter.

I think - unless none of my senses are working properly - I'm lying in bed with Brian. It feels like it's real. When I open my eyes, I can see light coming through the window of the hospital ward where I always sleep. I think I'm in my usual bed. But, instead of my cold pillow, my head is snugged up under Brian's chin, his chest is warm under my cheek and I can feel my body raising and lowering as he breathes. His left arm is wrapped around me, holding me tight against his side. I can even feel his warm silky skin where my left hand is lying palm down on his smooth chest. I can hear that adorable little wheeze he makes when he's asleep. I can feel his breath rustling my hair as he exhales. I can smell his musky, sweaty skin, and easily identify the scent of my former lover. This feels like more than a mere memory.

And I'm lying here trying to keep as still as possible, wondering if this warrants some type of reaction, when Brian's eyes flutter open and he's looking directly at me. He smiles. I feel his long body stretching out beside me and then his right arm comes across to join his other arm, hugging me carefully.

"Good morning, my beautiful Hal," his low voice rumbles quietly and I can feel his words echoing through his deep chest under my ear before they hit the morning air. "Call me crazy, but this has got to be the perfect way to wake up." He's laughing at the silly joke he made and it ripples through my skin too.

I can't help it. I let myself hug him back. It just seemed like the right thing to do at that particular moment. It feels good, too. Maybe too good. So good it's dangerous. A good like this could easily erode all the numbness I've worked at so hard.

Maybe if I close my eyes, it will all go away again?

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

What a fucking great way to wake up. I open my eyes and the very first thing I see are those big crystal blue eyes of My Hal. This is perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

I love feeling his warm little body wrapped around mine. He's so snugly. Don't tell anyone I just thought that - it's just in my head. Just in my head. Just in my head. Nobody else can hear it, right? Is anyone listening in?

I guess I wouldn't mind if My Hal heard it. Should I tell him now? He still won't talk to me though. Maybe I should wait and tell him later. Right now he's busy pretending to go back to sleep. He's fucking adorable. Just seeing him makes the day seem brighter.

"Brighter. Lighter. Fighter. Tighter. Tighter. Tighter. Yes, I should hold him tighter. Shhhhhh! Kinney. Stop. Stop. Stop your blathering. Let the boy sleep. Sleep. Sleep deep. Deep sleep."

There's just no sleep for the deep, though. I no sooner manage to stop my clanging words than I hear Lily and Luke opening up the ward doors, preparing to roust us off to breakfast. Good thing, too. I bet My Hal is hungry. He always used to be hungry. And he's definitely too skinny. I need to feed him up. Got to keep that bubble butt fed, Deb would say.

"Brian! What have I told you about staying in your own bed at night?" Shit. I forgot about that rule again. Lily caught me.

"Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry Charlie?" I don't want to get in trouble - maybe if I explain? "But I can't sleep way over there, Lily. My Hal needs me. He doesn't sleep well without me. He has bad dreams. He cries. Cries. Sighs. Cries. My Hal shouldn't cry."

"What AM I going to do with you, Brian?" Lily shakes her head at me but I'm heartened that she doesn't sound angry. "Fine. But if you get caught, you're on your own, brother. In the immortal words of the great Sgt. Schultz, 'I know nuffink!'"

"Yay! I get to stay. I get to stay. Stay. Stay. Stay all day!"

"Nope. Sorry to disappoint you, Brian, but nobody gets to stay in bed all day around here. Besides, it's almost time for breakfast. So get yourself and Your Hal out of bed. Oh, and it's shower day, so you better hurry if you want your food hot!"

"Yay! Hooray, hooray it's shower day!" I'm already halfway out of bed and trying to get my bed mate moving. "Let's go, My Hal. You HAVE been smelling a bit ripe my pal. So, don't delay, it's shower day, today!"

Lily is laughing at my extemporaneous little ditty. "You should really write some of these down someday, Brian. You definitely have a way with words. You could be a rapper or write jingles for TV or something."

"Or, maybe, be a big shot Advertising Executive and make tons of money selling worthless shit to people?" I offer with a rather suggestive smirk.

Lily just laughs thinking I've made another witty little joke. If she only knew. That wasn't me, though. That was Brian Fucking Kinney. Me, I'm just Brian. Brian, Just, Brian!

I quickly and efficiently gather up the shower stuff we'll need and some clothing for both myself and My Hal.

"Blue shirt. Blue sweats. Blue shoes. My baby blue boy."

I'm just muttering, not even listening to myself as I get our things together. But My Hal seems much more alert today than usual. He watches me as I sort out his clothes. I see him wrinkle up his nose as I comment on his limited wardrobe.

"Blue," My Hal says, his voice dripping with contempt at the plebeian nature of that specific color. "Blue is the new white," he adds before once again falling silent.

I'm personally thrilled at this miraculous pronouncement! I can't believe I finally did it. I fucking ROCK at hallucinations! I just managed a full out auditory manifestation.

My Hal can speak!

"Yes, my little boy blue. It's very, very blue around here. We should really redecorate. What would you like? Maybe a bright happy yellow? Yellow. Yellow. Lemon yellow. Yellow is the happiest of all colors. How does that sound, My Hal?" I ask, hoping for a reply.

But it's too much, too soon. My Hal is once again silent. That's okay, I'm wearing him down. I just need to give it some time.

<~><~><~><~><~><~><~>

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4 - Putting the Looney in Looney Bin.

 

<~> Ted's POV <~>

'The Banks Convalescent Care Center'. It's actually worse than I expected, and I didn't expect much. Fucking 'Banks' - yeah, right - from the smell around here, the only bank this place is near is the bank of the ditch leading to the sewage treatment plant next door. I can't believe Michael agreed to let them transfer Brian to this dump. I bet Brian is going nuts already. Oops, bad analogy.

It's just that the whole building looks and smells dirty. Even the lobby and the lounge area are less than clean. I hesitate to sit on the dark brown sofa, there's no telling what the fuck might be crawling around in there. I opt instead for a hard, uncomfortable but not obviously contaminated plastic chair.

"Theodore is here! Here! Here! Everyone cheer 'cause Theodore's here!" Brian sings as he bounces into the room with the biggest smile I've ever seen him sport covering his usually taciturn face.

To my total surprise, Brian lopes over to me and gives me a bear hug that would put Debbie to shame.

"Isn't this the best day ever, Theodore?" Brian raves. "First I wake up with My Hal in my arms. Then, he even talked to me. And now you're here for a visit. It just keeps getting better and better!"

"Wow, Bri," I'm too amazed to argue with him. "You're certainly in a great mood today. I thought you'd be angry as hell at being transferred to this place. I gotta say, it's not nearly as nice as Shady Glen - not that that place was all that wonderful to start with, but . . ."

"Oh, yeah, this place IS a fucking hole. I don't know how much Mikey's paying for this place, but trust me, whatever it is, he's getting ripped off. It's basically just one step up from the Pits of Hell," Brian agrees easily, but strangely doesn't seem all that upset with his surroundings. "But that doesn't matter, Ted. Nothing else matters now that I found My Hal."

"Your Hal?"

"Yep. My Hal. He's perfect. Perfect. Perfect! Well, except that he doesn't talk much and he's far too skinny. Oh, and I think his hair would look better shorter. You know what? That's a great idea. Tomorrow morning I'm going to take and get him a haircut. That's a great idea, Ted. Thanks! You're a great friend."

"Well, that DOES sound . . . Great!" I agree, speechless at the sight of this upbeat, cheerful, freaky weird Brian Kinney.

"Oh, and My Hal doesn't like blue."

"Why doesn't he like blue," I'm game.

"There's just too much of it. Plus it's not a happy color. I want My Hal to be happy. We're going to redecorate. I'm thinking maybe yellow. Is there any color happier than yellow, Ted?" I shake my head, no, but don't dare try to interrupt this speeding train of thought. "Yes. Yes. Yes! That's it! Next week, Ted, you need to bring me some yellow. Okay? Remember. NOT blue. Yellow!"

"Um, alright," I'm a little lost and think I must have missed some part of this conversation. "Anything in particular, Bri? Or, just anything yellow?"

"I don't care. Surprise me! Just make it be yellow. My Hal will love that!" Brian announces and thereafter seems to almost instantly calm down now that the issue of yellow - definitely not blue - has been resolved.

"Now, Gus. Gus. Gus. Get off the bus and tell me about Gus!" he says, back to the Brian I've come to know. I'll have to follow up more about this 'Hal' later. Now we start into the newsy segment of the visit.

"Gus is fine. You know it was his birthday last week, right? I can't believe he's already four, can you? It seems like just yesterday . . ."

"Two babies," Brian interjects, apparently completely off topic.

"Well, Lindsey had this big party for him," I continue, ignoring the non sequitur. "She sent a picture for you."

Brian greedily grabs the picture out of my hands. It shows a grinning four year old Gus, standing next to a huge birthday cake with four lit candles. Brian's fingertips trace along the surface of the image, following the curve of the little boy's face.

"Sonny Boy. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful boy."

"Yeah, he is beautiful," I have to agree, looking down at the picture myself in order to avoid staring at the tear running down Brian's cheek.

"Gus. Gus. Gus. Mikey. Mikey. Mikey," Brian swipes the tears away and returns to his comfortable litany.

"Michael's fine. I was just talking to him on the phone this morning. He said to tell you 'Hi'."

I'm lying, of course, but I'm not about to tell Brian how Michael finally admitted that he hadn't researched this place at all before he let them transfer Brian here. Or that all he seems concerned about is that it will cost less. Christ it's not even Michael's money we're talking about - it's Brian's money, left over from the sale of his loft and what he had already in savings and investments. You'd think Michael would at least care enough to make sure Brian's happy and comfortable while he battles for his sanity. Fucking Michael.

Brian must sense I have nothing more to add on the topic of his former best friend, since he moves on to the next names. "Ted and Emmett!"

"Ted is fine," we both chuckle. "Em is working like crazy lately. I guess it's good that he's so busy though. He seems happy and the business is making money . . ."

"Debbie and Vic!" Brian asks, right on cue as I finish with the Emmett update.

"Debbie is great," I offer, digging into my briefcase for the ubiquitous Tupperware box of cookies. "She sent you chocolate chip cookies this week. I have to admit I stole one on the drive over here today. They're really good."

I'm surprised when Brian grabs at the box right away - no discussion of germs or carbs or any of the other dangers inherent in the scrumptious dessert item.

"My Hal will love these! I told you how skinny he is. These will help a lot to get him fed up right. Better tell Debbie I need more next week. I think a double batch. Yes. Yes. Yes. Sweets for my sweet Hal!"

"Hal again, hmmm? Do I sense a possible love interest. So, who exactly is this Hal you’re going on and on about, Brian?

"He's NOBODY, Ted. Nobody! Isn't that perfect!" Brian insists, chucking at some private joke. "He's just My Hal. All Mine. Just in my head Hal. He's my responsibility. I take care of him. He's a little broken but I'm going to try to fix him."

"Well, Bri, it sounds like you've found someone that makes you happy, and that makes me happy too," and I truly am. Brian deserves a break. If he's found a guy to love, even in this unlikely place, I think he should seize the chance at happiness no matter what impediments stand in their way.

"Debbie and Vic. Lindsey and Mel. Lindsey and Mel. Lindsey and Mel?"

"Lindsey is acting kinda strange these days. Rumor has it that she's dating this New York artist guy. I mean dating, dating him, complete with scarey straight sex. I personally am completely grossed out by the mere thought.

"I like dick. You like dick. No reason why Lindz can't like dick too," Brian explains very non-judgmentally.

"I guess not, but that certainly would explain why Mel left."

"Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Deb and Vic. Lindsey and Mel. The gang. . . The old gang . . . Old gang," Brian suddenly seems hesitant and almost shy. The motor tic often seen in his right hand starts up again. I can see he wants to ask something more. "And, and, and, what about the other, Ted? What about . . . Him? Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Deb and Vic. Lindsey and Mel. And . . . Justin?" The last name is whispered as if sacred.

"Uh . . . Justin? Wow, Bri, I haven't heard that name in a long time." While I stammer and trip over my tongue, Brian's pretending not to care, looking off to the side, but I can tell by his increasing agitation that he wants this knowledge badly. "Unfortunately, Bri, I don't know how Justin is. I haven't seen him since, well, since before you got sick. But, I can ask Debbie for you and see if she knows. I'll tell you whatever I find out next week, okay?"

Brian sighs, clearly let down. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Next week. Next week. Next week - Justin and Gus and more pictures and more cookies and yellow. Don't forget, Ted." At least he bounces back quick.

"I won't forget, Bri."

"It's late. Late. Late. Time to find My Hal again. Bye, bye, bye, Ted. Ted. Ted!"

Before I've even gathered my briefcase, Brian's already long gone. Even the idea of finding this Hal guy makes him overjoyed. Good for him, I think. I know that we'll probably never see 'Brian Fucking Kinney' again, but maybe there's a place in the world for this happy, more innocent Brian? Maybe.

<~><~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

Lily tells me I'm doing a great job at taking care of My Hal. Everybody likes his new haircut, too. It's extra short. I can brush his hair now without all the knots and tangles. Maybe I'll let him grow it back out a little bit longer, but only if he takes better care of it this time. Lily also lets me use a safety razor today and I shave us both. I think My Hal likes feeling all clean and looking neat. Plus, now he's not all stubbly and scratchy when I kiss him.

Lily has warned us about public displays of affection. It's okay to hold hands, but we're not supposed to kiss. Yeah, right. Has she seen My Hal? How can you not want to kiss him all the time? Maybe she hasn't seen him - he is my own personal delusion - maybe only I can see how beautiful he is? But if she can't see him, how does she know I'm kissing him? Or, maybe Lily's just jealous because she doesn't have her own Hal?  But it doesn't matter because I can't stop kissing him anyway so she'll just have to learn to deal with it.

After the barber cut My Hal's hair, I went to tip him but then remembered I don't have any money anymore. Mikey has all my money. But, it WAS a really great haircut. It felt weird not tipping the guy. Then my eyes fell on the box of Deb's cookies which I had brought along in case My Hal needed a snack. Yes. That's a perfect idea, I'm sure. The barber is more than happy with his tip of three large yummy sugary death nuggets. I never knew cookies could be so useful!

Next order of business is to get that You, Gene guy to trade me spots. He's got the bed in the corner next to My Hal, but that's not right. I should be there. He needs to move. I asked nicely already - I ask every single morning - but he always says 'no'. I'm not very fond of You, Gene. After my success with the barber, though, I think I have an idea.

"Hey, You, Gene," I say confidently as I approach the man's corner. "You're gonna trade beds with me today, You, Gene."

"No I'm not," You, Gene replies stubbornly, turning his back to me.

"Yes, you are, You, Gene. You know why, You, Gene? Because I've got something you want. I've got yummy, delicious, chocolate chip sugar death nuggets. I WAS only going to let My Hal eat them. But . . . If you trade with me, You, Gene, I'll give you, say, FIVE cookies?"

"Cookies?" You, Gene looks over his shoulder at me. I can tell he's tempted.

"Yep. FIVE cookies. What do you say, You, Gene?"

It takes the man all of thirty seconds to think over my proposal. I know I've got him when I see him lick his lips. It reminds me a bit of my old life as an AdMan, closing the deal. It's easy. Easy. Easy! You, Gene, shrugs his shoulders and says, "okay"!

I'm not going to give him time to rethink things either. Gotta strike while the iron is hot. Hot. Hot. I hand him his five cookies, shove him off the bed and, while he's still distracted eating, quickly pull all his stuff out of the cupboards and closets and toss it all on my old bed. Then, just as quickly, but more carefully, I bring my stuff over and put it all away nicely. It's all done in less than five minutes. A done deal! You, Gene, is history and I've got the bed next to My Hal!

All hail the power of the sugary death nuggets!

<~><~><~><~><~>

Hallucination Hal. My Hallucination. My Hal. My Hal seems to be doing better every day now. I think maybe he was lonely before I came along and conjured him up. He doesn't have a Ted to visit him. I tried hallucinating a Daphne yesterday so My Hal would have somebody to talk to, but it was hopeless. I'm not sure, but I think maybe this schtick doesn't work that way.

But at least My Hal has me now. There's no way he could be lonely - I make him go with me pretty much everywhere. Of course that’s not only because I don’t want him to be lonely, but also because it makes me nervous when I don’t know where he is or how he’s doing. The only place they won’t let me take him is when I have to go to my therapy sessions. The doctor here in this new place is Dr. Travis. He’s straight - not only does he have the picture of the wifey and kiddies on his desk, but he didn’t even look at my ass when I bent over for a magazine in his office. He doesn’t seem too bad, though. Except that he won’t let me bring My Hal into the therapy sessions, which makes me kinda grouchy with him.

I’m especially annoyed by that fact this morning. See, mornings are when My Hal is most alert. Most perfect. Most mine. I like to be with him then. If we wake up early enough, we sometimes lie in bed together and I talk to him while I massage his broken hand. He used to flinch when I first would touch him, but now I think he likes it. Every day I work on his hand to get the muscles to loosen up. Atrophy. Atrophy, Atrophy. It’s all bent up like a claw. I DON’T like his hand this way at all. I plan to fix it and then he can draw. I’m sure My Hal would like to draw. He used to like to draw all the time. But first I have to fix his hand.

Today, while I was working on his hand again, both of us curled up in bed still with his head on my shoulder right where it should always be, My Hal smiled at me and said, “Feels nice.” Two words! I got two words together and a smile. It was only a little smile but it was still a smile and that’s the first ever smile I’ve managed to get from him. It even lasted clear through until we got to breakfast. I’m definitely making progress here.

And then that Lousy Lily made me go to therapy and wouldn’t let me bring My Hal. I am rather cross with Dr. Travis. I refuse to talk to him. All I do for the full hour is play my ryhming games and pace and give him dirty looks behind his back. Okay, I realize that I’m behaving worse than my four year old son, but since I went crazy I don’t feel bad about that shit anymore. I no longer worry at all about what people think of me - I mean I always used to SAY I didn't give a fuck what people thought, even though I knew it was bullshit - but now I REALLY don't care. Being crazy is very liberating in that respect.

By the time I get back to My Hal though, his smile is gone and so is the light in his eyes. The rest of the day he just sits there and doesn’t say anything more. I’ve got to figure out how to fix him. He’s my hallucination and I want him to be perfect. I want him to talk and laugh and draw and tease me and fight with me and everything else. He needs to be just like Jus . . . Just in my imagination. Just in my head. Just in my mind. My hallucination. My Hal. My Hal needs to be perfect.

<~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Justin’s POV <~>

Brian is still here.

How weird is that? I know, right? I have no idea how he found me or why he’s here after all this time. But, it's been a long time - I think maybe several days or weeks or maybe years even - and he's still here. I'm starting to think he might even stay. But no, I won't think that. I don't want to get my hopes up. That would mean that I cared.

In the meantime, I'm just not going to fight it. He'll just be there when he's there. I don't have to acknowledge him or do anything different.

Only, I'm finding that this Brian talks at me a lot. He also moves around a lot and I find myself being dragged along with him practically everywhere. It's not like before when someone would just sit me down and leave me be. I think I used to spend a lot of time sitting and being turned off. Not anymore, though.

Which has made it hard to stay turned off. I don't know why. But when he's talking at me nonstop all day, or making me go places and do stuff, I catch myself paying attention to him even when I'd rather be off. It's too much stimulation. I can't concentrate on not concentrating. Maybe my mental 'off switch' is faulty? But, basically, I find having Brian around these days is exhausting.

Brian keeps catching me unprepared, like early in the morning when I've just woken up and haven't had time to turn myself off. He touches me and I find myself leaning into the warmth of his hands. He's there in the middle of the night when I'm all turned around from a nightmare. He's relentless and there's nowhere I can go to escape his attentions. A couple of times, things I've been thinking have even slipped through as words. It's not good.

He also has an annoying way of saying shit that makes me want to care again. I wish he'd stop. It's so much easier when you don't care at all.

See, here he goes again.

I'm all turned off and put away, safe and comfortable somewhere alone in my head, and the next thing I know he shoves a photo in front of me and I realize he's talking about Gus. That word, that name from the past - Gus - just knifes right through all my hazy numb 'offness' and before I know what hit me I'm looking at the picture and thinking about Gus.

'Shit! That boy can't be Gus, can he? Gus is a little baby. This kid is big - like maybe four or five years old. How could that be? The boy in the picture is smiling and there's a big cake. A birthday?' I wonder briefly if the boy, if Gus, is happy. Is he having fun? And, damn it, all the sudden I realize that I CARE whether or not Gus is happy.

Fuck! It takes forever after that to block out the memory of that photo and stop myself from listening to Brian talking about some party. But I simply can't let him in. I can't let him do this. I can't stand to be hurt again. I don't want to feel at all. I can't let myself care.

<~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

"Thanks, Tony," I say to the janitor as he finishes mopping up the room.

I hand the balding middle aged man two of Debbie's sugary death nuggets in gratitude as he wheels away his equipment. Thank goodness I was able to talk him into doing that. I think that disgusting You, Gene, must have been pissing on the floor in the corner behind his bed or something. The odor was so bad when I first moved over there that it made my eyes water. How the regular cleaning guy never noticed the built up brown gunk in the corner is beyond me. Tony was really nice about it though. He even emptied out his bucket and used fresh water for me. It's a thousand times better. I can finally relax a bit now that that is taken care of.

Did I mention I have a lot of phobias? 'Ataxophobia - Fear of disorder or untidiness.' Yeah, it's a fun one. I like the name, too; sounds like 'Attacks of phobias'. That's exactly how I feel sometimes - like I'm under attack.

I haven't noticed many attacks of phobias lately though. I don't have time to stress out over that stuff. I've got too much to do taking care of My Hal. I'm too busy to be bonkers right now. I'll probably get around to freaking out about it later, once I've fixed My Hal.

As soon as Tony is done, I get started on reorganizing all our stuff and making the area a little more livable. I'm taping up the pictures I have of Gus and the rest of the gang on the wall by My Hal's bed. It'll help hide the ugly blue wall. I know he'd rather look at Gus than more pasty blue. I hope Ted remembers to bring the yellow I wanted. That would definitely help make the place more cheerful. Although, there's really just so much you can do to decorate a hospital ward. But I'm doing my best. Anything for My Hal.

Now, the only thing that's still bothering me is what to do about My Hal's clothing. Or rather, his lack thereof. It's really stressing me out.

You see, my boy really only has two pairs of sweat pants and about four shirts, and what he does have is ridiculously old and ratty. What makes it even worse is that they only do our laundry for us once a week. Now I, personally, would have no problem just letting my beautiful boy traipse around here all day completely naked . . . except that they keep the fucking place so cold all the time. I don't think My Hal would like being too cold. I think there's also some bullshit rule about being naked. So how am I supposed to take care of My Hal if he doesn't ever have any clean decent clothes?

I've tried dressing him in some of my stuff but it's way too big on him. He can barely walk in a pair of my pants without tripping and the sleeves are so long they get into his food when he eats. It doesn't help with the cleanliness factor.

I ask Lovely Lily about this dilemma, but she says he doesn't have anything left on his clothing allowance until next year. I'm not sure why that would be - wouldn't my hallucination come with a full designer wardrobe? How did Brian Kinney manage to create a boy toy that doesn't have the appropriate accessories? This just won't do.

Next I try to order him some clothes on my account, but the morons running this place won't let me do that. 'Why not', I ask? Nobody has a good answer, just that it's against the rules. Fuck the rules! I want to call Mikey and complain, but they won't let me do that either. I want to violently shove all their useless rules down the throat of the pissy old bitch at the front desk, but I'm pretty sure that would be frowned upon as well. Plus, I've got My Hal to think about so I can't just let myself go all 'Psycho Ape Shit'. I don't want to get in trouble and risk them taking him away from me.

That doesn't solve our clothing problem though.

I'm almost out of people I can complain to about this, when this tiny little woman almost scares the shit out of me by coming up silently behind me and tugging on my sleeve.

"Scuse. I might can help," she says in a teeny tiny squeaky voice, making me think she might be half human and half mouse. "I am Tilda. I work in laundry here. I overhear you need clothing for the boy?" Tilda smiles up at me in a very small and mouselike manner.

In the back of my mind I hear the reference librarian in the back of my head announcing that, 'The fear of midgets, dwarfs or small people is called Achondroplasiaphobia'. I mentally dismiss the silly, interfering library lady. If this teeny tiny woman can help My Hal, then this particular phobia will have to wait.

Without waiting for my reply, the mousey little thing waves at me to follow her down the hallway. I tighten my hold on My Hal's hand and follow bravely into the unknown. Luckily, the unknown turns out to be only the big industrial laundry facility that's housed at the back of the building. Tilda leads me through one steamy hot and drippy room after another until we get to the teensiest tiniest farthest away room of all. There, in the way back of the dimly lit area, are several cardboard boxes overflowing with all manner of clothing items.

"Is 'Lost and Found', yes?" Tilda states. "Nobody ever claims. Most is trash, but some things good. Good for your boy?"

Despite the fact that the little mouse woman completely freaks me out, at that moment I feel like hugging her! Eureka! We've hit the motherlode of clothing stashes. It's the least worst solution to our clothing dilemma so far. Hooray for Tilda!

Forty five minutes later, we have a substantial pile of clothing in Hal's size assembled on the nearby work table. Some of this stuff looks brand new. A couple items need a few small repairs or are missing a button or two, but Tiny Tilda assures me she's handy with a sewing needle and can have everything ready for us before she leaves tonight. She says she'll bring everything up to our room before the end of her shift. She's like a tiny little clothing angel. I leave the box with the rest of Debbie's sugary death nugget cookies with her. And I don't even flinch when Tilda pulls me down, stands on her tiptoes and leaves a teeny tiny kiss on my cheek, although I do grab My Hal's hand and run out of the teensy little hidey hole room a little bit faster than is seemly.

The best part is that NONE of My Hal's new clothes are blue!

<~><~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Ted's POV <~>

"Mr. Schmidt?" a woman dressed in the building staff uniform asks from just inside the room where I'm waiting for Brian.

"Yes, that's me. Ted Schmidt. Can I help you"

"My name's Lily Roberts. I'm one of the day attendants in your friend, Brian's, ward. I heard that you were here and I just wanted to come introduce myself briefly."

The woman advances towards me holding out her hand amiably. She's rather plain: medium brown hair pulled back from her face, average height, brown eyes and regular features. The only thing about the woman that stands out at all is the mischievous grin on her face. She reminds me of a girl I knew when I was growing up - you know, the one who was always talking you into getting into trouble?

"It's nice to meet you, Lily," I say politely as I shake her hand. "Is there some issue with Brian? I'm not his legal guardian myself, but if there's something wrong, any problems with Brian, I can pass a word along to Michael for you."

"Oh, no. I'm sorry if I gave you that impression. Brian's fine," Lily smiles her impish smile at me. "In fact, Brian's more than fine - he's only been here a couple of weeks and he's already practically running the place."

"That sounds like Brian alright," I chuckle at the thought.

"He certainly is one of a kind," Lily's chuckling now too. "In the short time he's been with us, Brian has reorganized the ward, charmed most of the staff into doing whatever he asks, and established a whole cookie-based bartering system. He somehow got Tony, the laziest janitor I've ever seen, to clean up their room and he has the barber, most of the kitchen staff and even the laundry ladies practically jumping over themselves to do whatever he asks. It's been fun watching him work his magic."

"Wow. That sounds a lot like the old Brian. I wasn't sure about this place when I heard they were moving him here, but if he's making that much progress, your therapy program must be amazing." I really am impressed.

"I wish I could credit all that to our therapy program, but I think the real reason behind Brian's improvement is that he's in love," Lily announces.

"Brian Kinney in love?" I scoff, shaking my head in denial. "I don't think we're talking about the same guy."

"Oh yes, I'm afraid it's true. Your friend Brian has sort of adopted one of the younger patients and has nicknamed him 'Hal'. Brian spends pretty much his entire day taking care of the kid. It's really adorable, actually, and I think the new sense of purpose he's found is the main cause of any improvement we're seeing." Lily explains, obviously caught up herself in the love story unfolding between her charges.

"Brian did mention someone named Hal when I was here last week, but I wasn't entirely sure he was real."

"Hal is real, alright, and I think all the attention he's getting from Brian has been good for him too. That poor boy has a lot of issues. He's been almost completely catatonic for the past year now. He doesn't speak and he's got very little support from family or friends. Before Brian came along, Hal spent most of his time sitting alone in his room staring off into space. But now, Brian drags the kid around everywhere, talks to him constantly and has been doing a pretty good job making sure Hal is taken care of. It's remarkable, really."

I'm stunned by the description Lily is giving me of Brian. It just doesn't sound like the Brian Kinney I know. Or, at least, not like the Brian Kinney I used to know. Maybe this Brian - the one who no longer has to worry about maintaining his rep as a heartless, promiscuous bastard - could be caring, nurturing and let himself openly love someone? Maybe losing his marbles isn't the worst thing that could have happened to Brian?

"Ted. Ted. Ted. I'd probably misplace my head if it wasn't for Ted!" Brian comes bounding into the room before I can ask for more info from Lily.

"Hey, Bri! You seem to be in a great mood today," I barely choke out the words before I'm enveloped in a huge hug.

"Theodore, oh my Theodore. I simply adore my Theodore. He's the only accountant who isn't a bore!" Brian recites, bowing theatrically at the end of his performance.

"That has got to be the nicest thing you've ever said to me, Bri," I say warily, wondering when the expected insult will hit.

"Does one silly poem cancel out 999,999 insults?" Brian shrugs with a shy smile then almost instantly changes pace. "Enough tomfoolery, Ted my good man! Ted. Ted. Ted. What news do you have for me today?"

"I'll leave you to your visit, Brian. It was nice meeting you Mr. Schmidt," Lily excuses herself, affectionately patting Brian's shoulder as she walks by.

"Oh! Lovely Lily, My Hal needs a nap while I'm talking with Ted. Make sure nobody wakes him up till I get back." Brian orders, causing Lily to chuckle and wink at me before she finally leaves.

"Now, I need Gus, Gus, Gus, and stories and pictures and lots more cookies and My Hal's yellow, please, Theodore," Brian sits on the couch with his legs pulled up under him, looking at me expectantly, an innocent, happy little smile gracing his lips.

"I think you're gonna be happy, Bri," I say, moving around to the corner of the room where I'd stashed his present. "I think I found the perfect, happiest yellow present ever. Are you ready?"

"Yes. Yes. Yes. Bring on the yellow!" Brian cheers. "Mellow yellow makes My Hal a happy fellow!"

"Ta da!" I hold out the cardboard box I brought so that Brian can see the treasures waiting inside.

"Hah! These are fabulous, Theodore," Brian exclaims, clapping his hands together exuberantly before reaching into the box and pulling out one of the mini bonsai grass planters I've brought him. There are six of them total. Each small round bowl is painted a bright, smiley face yellow and decorated with funny faces. Okay, I admit they're kitschy as hell, but you can't say they aren't amusing. When I showed them to Em he thought they would be perfect and immediately ordered himself his own set.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 6.18.26 PM.png

 

"Fred," Brian says as he pulls out the figure wearing sunglasses. "Red," the one with a cute red smile. "Crazyhead," the one with the big swirling eyes. "Happy, Pappy and Ned," Brian lines up the last three on the table with the rest. "Ted. These are the best yellow I've ever seen. My Hal will love them. Remind me to give you a raise next quarter!"

"Yes, Sir, Boss," I tease him and we both giggle.

"Moving on with the Agenda," Brian announces in his best business executive voice, ticking things off of the imaginary pad in his hand. "The next item, I believe, is . . . Gus. Gus. Gus!"

 

 

Chapter Text

<~><~><~>

Chapter 5 - How Fruity Is Your Fruitcake?

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

You know, I could really get to like living in this looney bin. It's really not so bad. I mean, the food is for shit, it's noisy and overcrowded and there's no fucking privacy at all, but I simply love the sleeping accommodations. Then again, who wouldn't love having a snugly little blond boy in one's bed every single night?

Lily, Luke and everybody else have pretty much given up on trying to keep me out of My Hal's bed at night. They don't even bother to comment about it anymore. Amateurs! I knew I'd wear them down. I learned a lot about persistence from this kid I knew once. . . Nope. Nope. Nope you big dope. Not going to think about that! Nope. Nope. Nope.

I'm not going to think about anything sad. Not sad or bad or mad, just glad. Just glad. Just glad to be here. I'm just going to lay here watching the sun coming through the windows and lighting up My Hal's beautiful blond hair. He's so fucking gorgeous, isn't he? I really do a great delusion! Fuck reality!

He's going to be waking up soon. My Hal always starts getting a little squirmy in the mornings right before he pops open those big blue eyes. I don't mind, though. In fact, I kind of like the way his hand is moving over my chest like that. It's nice to be petted by My Hal.

If I turn my head just a little bit to the left, I can leave another kiss on his temple. Mmmm. That's so nice. I really can't get enough of kissing him.

Lily DOES still keep harassing me about all the kissing. Rules. Rules. Rules. You have to follow the rules, Brian. You have to be good, Brian. Brian, Brian, Brian. Flyin' Brian. Tryin' Brian. Kissin' not cryin' Brian.

I don't give a fuck about the rules though. Those rules are stupid. I don't think the rules should apply to personal hallucinations anyway. If I want to imagine my boy with perfectly kissable lips, well, there's really nothing they can do about it, is there? He's my hallucination. Those are my lips. I'm going to keep right on kissing them whenever I please and they can all go jump in a lake.

I kiss My Hal once again just to prove my point, in case anyone was listening in on my internal mental raving. They do that sometimes, you know. That's why I like to make sure I'm making a point even if it's only in my head.

Of course, kissing is all I let myself have. Well, kissing and holding him. But nothing else. It wouldn't be right. My Hal is still a little broken. He's not really ready for more than kissing, even if Lily would let me. But until he's ready, I can wait. I can be respectful. I need to take care of My Hal and fix him all better and then, when he's ready, we can move on from the kissing.

But, can I just say, I hope he's ready soon! The once and future Stud of Liberty Avenue hasn't gotten any action in so fucking long I wasn't even sure if my dick still worked. I mean, it simply didn't seem to be a problem before because, up until recently, I've been a bit preoccupied, what with being insane and all. But now that I'm here with my new kissable, huggable, luscious-looking Hal . . . well, let's just say I'm almost certain my dick still works.

Right now, for instance, I'm harder than a second term calculus exam. It doesn't help much that My Hal just brushed his soft hand across my chest again, lightly grazing one nipple. Oh, yeah. What's harder than a calculus test? Whatever it is, that's what my dick feels like now.

And he just smells so good, too. Is there a word that describes the wonderful scent of warm young blond boy? Back in my marketing days, I'd call it something like, 'Arousing, For Men'.

The way he's burrowing into the crook of my neck now is basically torture. I can feel his warm breath on my skin. He sighs with a little mewl and I get goose bumps. I can't hold out another instant - I have to kiss him again even though I'm worried it might wake him.

"Mmmm. Brian," My Hal mumbles in his sleep as my lips gently caress the soft patch of skin high up on his cheekbone that never gets stubbly.

Shit! He's so perfect. So perfect. Perfect. Perfect. And mine! And I don't care who knows it. I'm certifiably insane! I don't need to worry that anyone will see how much I need My Hal. Care about My Hal. Even love My Hal. I can be crazy in love and nobody will know or care cause I'm just plain crazy! It's the perfect cover!

When My Hal shifts slightly, turning his head back even further so his nose and lips tickle alongside my neck, I freeze. Maybe I was thinking too loudly and I woke him up? No, I think he's just getting more comfortable. And it feels so good.

When he says my name a second time, "Brian", the word seeps through my skin, enters my blood stream and flows straight to my heart.

When he kisses the tender spot in the hollow of my shoulder, I start to shake.

When he shifts again, so that his body is even more impossibly close to mine and his left leg casually stretches across my body, brushing ever so lightly against my ever so hard dick, I'm cumming in my pajama pants and moaning out loud, forgetting that we have no real privacy.

"Oh yes. Fuck, Justin," I hear myself crying out before I can stop the forbidden name. "Jus . . . Just in my head. Just in my head. Just in my head," I remind myself quickly.

But all is quiet. It looks like no one caught my little slip. The rest of the inmates are all still asleep. My Hal is breathing deeply, still apparently deep in his dreams. I'm safe for now, although that was a close one.

"Shit!" I curse as my heartbeat slows and my breathing finally evens out. I squirm uncomfortably in my sticky, wet pajamas. "I hope it's a shower day!"

At least I know now for a fact it still works.

<~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Daphne's POV <~>

That nice female attendant, the one named Lily, brings Justin into the lounge today when I come to visit. It's been three weeks since I was here last. I know I should try and get here more often, but it's tough with school and my internship at the hospital and my work study job in the library. It doesn't help that the visiting hours here are so inconvenient for my schedule. I really hate leaving it so long between visits, though, because Justin tends to get really neglected when I'm not around as much.

So I'm expecting to find a dirty, half dressed, lost looking Justin this afternoon. Which means I'm pleasantly surprised by the Justin I actually get. Shit! He looks good. Almost like the old Justin.

"Wow. Justin, you look great today," I compliment him. "You got your hair cut and it looks like you've got some new clothes, too."

The attendant smiles at me. "Blondie does look a lot better, doesn't he," Lily agrees.

"Thank you, Lily. You don't know how much it means to me that you're helping Justin like this. I worry about him so much and the past few times I've seen him he looked so . . . well, he looked more neglected than ever. I really appreciate that it seems you're taking better care of him," I sincerely thank the woman.

"Oh, don't thank me," Lily smiles a bit mischievously. "Justin has a new friend. He's the one you should be thanking for all the additional attention Justin's been getting."

"A friend? Who?" As far as I know, Jennifer and I are the only two who have ever visited Justin, and I don't think Jennifer's been around much at all lately.

"We got a new patient in the same ward as Justin a few weeks ago," Lily starts to explain. "He's a lovely man - it's such a shame really that he's in here. But anyway, he basically adopted our boy here. He's the one who insisted on the haircut. He also took Justin down to the Lost and Found, appropriated everything he could find in Justin's size and had one of the laundry attendants sew and repair everything. I think you'll see a definite improvement now that Brian's taken Justin under his wing."

"Brian?" The name throws me.

*Beep, Beep* Lily pulls the pager off her belt and looks at the little screen. "Shit! Sorry, gotta run before Eugene eats another jar of paste down in the craft room."

Brian? It couldn't be. Lily did say the name Brian, but it couldn't possibly be the SAME Brian. Not Brian Kinney. What would Brian Kinney be doing in a mental institution? Especially one that's as substandard as this one. I must have misheard Lily. There's no other possible explanation.

"So, Justin," I turn my attention back to my friend - I don't want to waste what little time I do have thinking about silly impossibilities. "You have a new friend, huh? He must be something special to have won you over so quickly."

"Brian," Justin whispers quietly, shocking the fucking hell out of me, and is that even I little hint of a smile I see on his face?

For about half a minute it even seems like Justin's really actually looking at me, not just through me. It's the first spark of life I've seen in him in years. It's a fucking miracle! If I didn't know better, I'd even suspect that a certain tall, older, brunet man that Justin once referred to as 'The Face of God', might be responsible for this wondrous phenomena.

But that's insane, right?

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

You know what's really fucking insane? All the damn pills and crap they're always giving us here in the Cracker Barrell. Every night after dinner it's the same thing; they come around to our tables and hand out these little white paper cups filled with all sorts of pretty colored pills, then they stand there and watch to make sure you take 'em all.

The pills, by the way, don't ever seem to do anything.

I would know, too. I mean I'm practically an expert on pills. And alcohol. And drugs of pretty much every description. How the hell do you think I got here in the first place? I'm the guy that OD'd, remember?

So, I'm looking at the pills in my little cup and wondering why I bother with them, when I notice that the cup they give My Hal has about five times the number of little pills. That's not right is it? Why would My Hal need so many little pills. Pills. Pills. Good for all his ills? Too many pills.

So of course I ask, right? "Lily, why does My Hal need so many little pills? I think it's too many."

"No. It's okay, Brian. These are Jus . . . Sorry, your 'Hal's' regular meds. It just seems like a lot to you because he's on several different medications that you don't need. But it's not too many. It's the right amount for him," Lily explains patiently.

"I think it's too many," I insist. "What do they all do anyway?"

"Brian, that's really none of your business. Hal's doctor is the one who ordered them. You really don't need to worry about this."

"No. It's too many pills, Lily. And it IS my business. You said My Hal is my responsibility. You said I get to take care of him. So, I need to know what the pills are for or I won't know how to fix him. Fix him. Fix. Fix. Fix the mix."

Lily knows me well enough by now that she sees I won't back down on this issue. Giving into the inevitable, Lily pulls out the chair next to me, sits down and then dumps My Hal's paper cup out into a saucer. Picking up a spoon she separates them all out, pointing to each as she explains what they're all supposed to do.

"These two are SSRI's, similar to what you take Brian, just a different dosage. They're for general depression. This one is a special anti-anxiety medication. These," Lily scoots over four or five assorted pills that are all different, "are just plain old vitamins, mostly because Hal doesn't always eat right. This big orange one helps prevent migraine headaches, which he used to get a lot. This little white one is, I think, an allergy pill. Which leaves these two big ones, which are sedatives."

"Sedatives? Why sedatives?" I ask, confused why you'd need to sedate someone who was diagnosed as catatonic.

"Without those, Hal sometimes has episodes of violence where he's a danger to himself and others," Lily finishes her explanation, dumping all the pills into My Hal's hand and ordering him to swallow, which he does, like always. My Hal is a good, obedient little boy.

"It's not right," I insist again, but Lily's already getting up and moving off to see to somebody else. "Lily, it's not right. It's too many. And everyone knows you don't mix those - it'll make you sick. And you think I'm crazy? Lily!"

Of course nobody listens to the madman. What would the guy with a drug-induced psychosis know about drugs, anyway? But I know it's not right. I KNOW! Know. No. No. No mixing uppers and downers. That's a no no. A no. No. No! Why don't they know?

I resolve to get somebody to listen to me. Maybe I could talk to Dr. Travis. I don't think he's My Hal's doctor, but maybe he would listen. I have to fix this.

 

<~> Daphne's POV <~>

"Hi, Mrs. Taylor. It's Daphne Chanders," I say when I finally get a chance to call Justin's mother a few days after my last visit.

"Daphne. It's so nice to hear from you, dear. How are you?" Jennifer sounds as pleasant and WASPy as always.

"I'm fine, thanks. I was calling because I was just over at The Banks visiting Justin the other day and I . . . well, I was wondering when was the last time you saw him?"

"I, uh, I haven't been there in quite a while actually. Is there something I should know about? The Center hasn't called me about any problems . . ."

"No. There's no problem exactly, at least I don't think so," I stumble through my explanation, not sure myself why I called. "It's just that one of the attendants there told me that another of the patients has befriended Justin and sort of taken over his care. I don't think there's anything wrong going on. In fact, Justin looked really good when I saw him, but it's just a bit odd and I wondered if you knew anything about this new friend of his."

"No. I haven't heard anything about any new friend. Are you worried that it's inappropriate or that he'll hurt Justin? If so, I'll call The Center immediately and have them take care if this."

"I don't think that's necessary, Mrs. Taylor," I hedge, not really sure how to ask what I want to ask. "It's just that I'm curious about who this new friend is. I thought that maybe the next time you go visit you might want to meet the guy and sort of check him out, you know."

There. That sounded innocent enough, right? I completely avoided using the name 'Brian' - which I knew would set Jennifer off. She's still never forgiven the man, even though nobody else except she and Brian even remotely think that he was in any way responsible for what happened at Prom. I don't dare ask outright if she knows anything about Brian's whereabouts these days and I have no contacts with any of the gang anymore. Last I heard, Jennifer still wasn't even talking to Debbie. But, I really don't know who else to ask about what I suspect, maybe, might or might not, possibly be going on up at The Banks.

"Daphne . . . Um, I really don't think I'll be visiting Justin anytime soon," Jennifer finally fesses up. "You see, every time I went there, Justin would have the most violent outbursts. He . . . he still blames me for keeping him away from . . . From the people down on Liberty Avenue, even though it was in his best interest and I felt I had to protect him from all that . . . And, well, the last time I was there, Justin was so out of control. He was throwing things and screaming at me and it was so upsetting for both of us. They actually had to sedate him and took him away to an isolation room. . . Afterwards, his doctor said that it might be better if I not visit for awhile - at least until they were able to deal with the whole violence thing. So . . . well, I just don't visit anymore, Daphne."

"But . . . but . . . Fuck, Jennifer! That was ages ago! Justin hasn't had a violent episode like that in more than two YEARS! You mean you haven't been to see him since then? That's so completely fucked up! No wonder Justin always looks so neglected when I visit him. He fucking IS neglected! I can't believe that even his mother won't visit him," I'm so incensed that I forget all about the possibility of a Brian connection. "You know what? Just forget that I called. You can just forget about me and Justin and everything else that's not easy and perfect and that doesn't fit into your perfect little world. Fuck you!" I end the call, briefly contemplate going over there and literally  kicking her ass.

Well, so much for enlisting Jennifer in my plan to solve the mystery of Justin's new friend 'Brian'.

<~><~><~><~><~><~>

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6 - Nutty Happenings At The Nuthouse!

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

"Excuse me, lad. Is there a Brian Kinney around here someplace waiting for a visitor?" I turn around at the sound of the strange voice and immediately burst into gut busting laughter.

Stuffy, staid, sorry Old Schmidt is standing in front of me dressed in dark green slacks, a forest green shirt and wearing the goofiest green-tinted glasses I've ever seen. The lenses of the glasses have these crazy 3D eyes printed on them. It makes it seem like the crazy eyes are staring at you no matter where you move, even while the eyes of the wearer could be looking anywhere. They're wild. Wild. Wild. Ted’s a wild man in his green glasses. Wild and Crazy Ted!

PSY - Green Glasses.png

"Crazy Man Ted! Are you playing with my head?" I crow while wiping tears of mirth away from my eyes.

"I thought you'd like 'em, Bri. I figured your friend Hal could wear them. Since the glasses are tinted green, even if he has to look at blue walls all day, he won't see blue. What do you think?"

"I officially love them, Ted! My Hal will have so much fun with these. Plus, they look crazy, so he'll fit in just perfectly here while he's wearing them," Ted hands me the glasses and I try them on, reveling in the total greenness I see. "It's like the Great Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City! Everything is pretty with green glasses on. I love it. Love it! Love it! You are the Wizard! Ted the Wizard brought on a green blizzard!"

"I'm glad you like them, Bri. I was worried they'd be a little too crazy for your taste," Ted giggles as I practice waggling my eyebrows over the top rims of the green glasses.

"Crazy is as crazy does, Theodore. That's the best part of being crazy, you know. You get to act crazy too!" I assure him.

"That sounds a little too logical to be crazy, Brian," Ted says and he's got an odd expression on his face while he looks at me.

"Crazy like a fox," I rejoin, winking at him conspiratorially and chuckling.

I love to leave them all wondering. How nutty is the nut job? How many crackers are lacking in his Barrell? How fruity is that fruitcake? Is he just tricky or totally twisted? The world may never know!

"Too late! Time's up. You choose or you lose. Lose. Lose. Don't want to lose more time, Ted. Times a wastin' Ted, Ted, Ted. I need news and cookies and pictures and lots and lots more cookies. You have no idea how many cookies I go through around here, Ted. But a cookie doesn't go as far as it used to, you know. In my day, Sonny Boy, you could get a new bed for five cookies. But not today. Nope, not today. Damn cookie inflation! Deb better boost production or I'm in big trouble, Ted."

Accounting jokes, Ted loves them! I like making him smile. It's my way of thanking him for the great Oz Glasses.

"Okay, okay, I'll make sure Debbie knows she better get her cookie sheets out and get into high gear this week. She'll be thrilled," Ted asserts.

"Now, enough about cookies, the bane of my existence. Time for fun! Gus fun! Gus. Gus. Gus!"

"Okay, Bri. As I'm sure you suspect, Gus is . . ." And Ted pauses expectantly until we both yell out 'Fine' in unison accompanied by a chorus of giggles.

"Yeah, he's fine. From what I hear he's really loving his preschool. Last week was their class Halloween celebration so they dressed up and paraded around the school," Ted hands me a stack of photos that I grab at greedily. "Your son was a cowboy, of course . . ."

I devour the news and the pictures. Shit, Sonny Boy looks so good. He looks happy. He's laughing and smiling and waving in the pictures. He's so beautiful and so perfect and I'm so frightened for him being out there in the scary mean world. I might be safe and protected in here, but that means I can't help keep him safe. . .

"So, that's it for my Gus news," Ted says, waiting for me to say my next line.

"Thank you for bringing pictures," I surprise him with my sincere gratitude, which is not part of the usual script. "I really appreciate it. I . . . I wish I could be there to see him. I'm missing out on so much . . ." Enough with the sadness, though, I shake it off. "My Hal loves the pictures of Gus, too. I tape them to the wall so My Hal can see them all the time. We've got almost all the blue in that section completely covered up. Gus is better than blue any day! Day. Day. Day and away. And away we go . . . Gus. Now, Mikey. Mikey. Mikey. Mikey!"

"Michael's okay," Ted seems hesitant. "I don't have much to tell you about Michael. I haven't talked to him much lately. I guess he's busy."

"Busy avoiding your phone calls?" I guess - I know Mikey pretty well.

"Bingo! But don't you worry, Bri, I'll deal with Michael. So then, what's next?" Ted's trying to change the subject, hmmm? Mikey must be up to his old tricks. Or maybe some new ones? I fight back the urge to get involved. I don't need to deal with a pissy Mikey if I don't want to these days - that's definitely one of the perks of being demented! No Mikey drama for me. For me. For me!

"Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett! Ted and Emmett! Ted and Emmett!"

"Ted is fine," and we laugh like always, dispelling the tension in the room. "Ted got a promotion last week, too, so he's very, very happy."

"You'll have to tell Ted I'm happy for him, too!" I insist.

"I'll pass that along to him for you," Ted jokes, smiling proudly all the while. "Meanwhile, Em and Vic have that Society Wedding they're doing this weekend. They've both been running around like crazy but it seems like they're having fun with it, so I just stay out of their way. . ."

Ted relays all sorts of interesting tidbits about this hoity toity party and all of Em's antics trying to wrangle the hostess back into the realm of reality. I can just see Em taking charge of the woman - she won't know what hit her until after the party is over and then she'll just be happy that her party was such a success. I think I'm proud of Em. Who knew the big queen would fall into the perfect career for him?

"Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Deb and Vic. Deb and Vic. Deb and Vic!"

"Well, except for cooking day and night for you, Deb is fine. Actually she's better than fine. She's still dating that cop, Carl Horvath, and things seem to be getting pretty serious. There's been reports of kissing and even a little heavy petting."

"Deb and Carl. Carl. Carl Cop-a-feel" I propose, gleefully.

"Good one, Bri! Carl Cop-a-feel! Em will love that one!" At least somebody gets my humor! "Oh, and by the way, it looks like Vic might have been bitten by the love bug too - rumor has it he's dating a guy he met in his Pos Men's Therapy Group . . ."

"Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Deb and Vic. Lindsey and Mel. Lindsey and Mel. Lindsey and Mel, do tell. Do tell!"

"Well, Lindsey is acting a little strange these days, Bri," Ted confesses, which isn't the way the story is supposed to go - Lindz is supposed to be 'fine'. They're all supposed to be fine. Fine. Fine. All mine. Stay fine.

"What do you mean, strange?" I ask even though I'm scared to actually find out.

"Well, you know how I told you about Lindsey dating that artist guy from New York? Yeah, I guess that didn't end well. She found out that he's still married to his fourth wife AND has at least one mistress on the side already. Lindz has kind of been a wreck all week since the guy dumped her. But I'm sure it'll all blow over eventually - you remember how dramatic Lindsey always had to be? Methinks the woman doth protest too much, you know. However, in the meantime, she's acting like a real jerk to everyone," Ted's attempt to reassure me isn't working.

"Gus?" I only have to say the one word and Ted already knows what I'm asking.

"Gus is okay, although he knows there's something wrong and he's definitely upset. He was crying the other night when we were over at Deb's for dinner. But he's a great kid, Bri, and he's got all the rest of the family looking out for him. Gus will be fine. You don't need to worry."

"Worry. Worry. Worry. Scurry. Hurry. Hurry. Worry . . ." The more stressed I get, the less control I have over the fucking clanging and the tics and all the other shit that's wrong with me. So, instead of doing or saying anything constructive that might help my Sonny Boy, I find myself sitting here babbling and bouncing both my feet off the carpet like a complete imbecile. Nice, Kinney! Fucking man up already and do something - it's your kid that's hurt and upset and needs comforting, not you, you wuss! Just stop already.

"STOP!" I yell at myself, causing Ted to flinch but effectively making my body and mind obey me.

"I didn't mean to upset you, Brian. I'm sure Gus will be okay. I just . . . Well, I thought you should know. No matter what, you're still his father," Ted apologizes hastily, but he really shouldn't, I do appreciate that he cares enough about Gus to tell me when he's NOT fine.

We sit together quietly for a few minutes after that, both seemingly lost in our thoughts. "Do you think, Ted, that maybe sometime I could see him? See Gus? I could be real quiet. I could. I could. I wouldn't scare him. And. And. And. And My Hal would like to see Gus too, you know. My Hal isn't scary. He's sweet. Gus would like My Hal a lot. Two babies. And. And. And . . . Oh, fuck it! Lindsey's a bitch and she'd never let me see him like this, would she? But, I just miss him, you know? You know, Ted?"

"Yeah, I know, Bri, and for what it's worth, I think it would be good for both you and Gus to have an occasional visit. I know you wouldn't scare him, Bri."

"Maybe. Maybe. Maybe, baby . . . "

Who am I kidding? Visiting your banana brain father in the mental institution. Yep, that's definitely up there on the list of top ten things every four year old wants to do!

"Oh yeah, guess what, Bri? I got a call from Mel last week. So now I can tell you that Mel is fine," Ted adds in a lighter tone of voice, trying to distract me.

I figure I might as well let him get away with it. I don't need to sit and mope. It won't change things anyway.

"Good. Lindsey and Mel and Mel is fine. Good. Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Deb and Vic. Lindsey and Mel . . . and Justin?" I simply have to ask, the question's been gnawing at me for weeks now. I have these little tendrils of doubt . . .

"I haven't been able to find out anything for you about Justin yet, Bri. Deb and Jennifer had a big falling out a few years back and they don't talk anymore, see. So nobody in the gang knows about Justin. I'm trying to find out for you though, Bri. I promise to keep looking." Ted's a good guy. A good friend. I know he'll keep trying. I'm just afraid what he'll find . . . Just in my heart. Just in my mind. Just in my mind.

"So, I mentioned to Em about your plan to redecorate in here, you know?" Ted is doing the distracting thing again, what a mensch! "You know Em whenever anyone mentions decorating - he's all over it. So, Em told me to tell you that, after yellow, the next happiest color is orange. Apparently orange is the exact opposite of blue, something hot and spicey and alive. He said to tell your friend Hal to add a splash or two of orange and you'll never feel blue again!"

"Orange? Emmy Lou would pick orange," l chuckle thinking of all the outrageous clothing my nelly bottom friend used to wear. "Okay, make it orange! Next week's color will be orange. My Hal will love orange. AND we have to have Emmy Lou bring us the orange, too!" I declare, suddenly desperate to see more of the old gang, especially if I can't see my Sonny Boy.

"You want Em to visit?" Ted is a bit surprised, since I never ask for other visitors.

"Definitely! Emmy Lou, I need you! Ted and Emmett. Make Emmett visit too! . . . Only, tell Em no orange pleather pants. My Hal will NOT be wearing orange pants!"

"Okay. It sounds like a party. I'll get Emmett started on finding something orange and when he finds it, I'll drag him up here to present it in person. How does that sound?" Ted seems excited by the idea. I just hope Em will be too.

"Good. My Hal will get orange! Little yellow people, green glasses and orange - but not orange pants. It's a plan!! It’s a plan. It’s a plan, Ted my man! This will help to fix My Hal. I know it will, but what about the pills?”

“What pills,” Ted asks, picking up on that one very important word in my word salad.

“My Hal gets too many little pills in his cup, Ted. I don’t like them. I think it’s too much,” I complain, venting my usual rant about this particular subject, and then, finally thinking that maybe Ted could help with this too. “My Hal gets too many little pills, Ted. I told them it’s not right, but they won’t listen. Bonkers, bananas, berserk - right? Why listen to Bonkers Brian. But, Ted, I know that they’re wrong. It’s too many pills and too many sad pills. You can’t take happy pills and sad pills together, especially when there are too many sad pills. It’s making Hal sad all the time. He can’t be happy when he’s asleep all the fucking time. You know?”

“What kind of pills is he taking, Brian?” Ted jumps into the fray.

“Sedatives. Sedatives and headache pills and anti-anxiety pills and even fucking allergy pills. They make him sleepy. It’s too many,” I insist, hoping that my friend will believe me even if nobody else does.

“You could be right, Brian. Do you want me to say something,” Ted offers - What did I tell you, he’s a fucking mensch!

“Yes. Please. Yes. It’s too many pills and no one listens to the crazy guy, but I know this, Ted. I know this.”

“You got it Brian. I’ll do what I can to get them to listen to you about this,” Ted nods confidently at me, bless his sturdy accountancy constitution.

“Thank you, Ted,” I sigh, feeling like maybe it WILL all be okay in the end. “Now, I have to go get My Hal and tell him the good news about the orange and give him his green glasses. Bye, Ted! Bye. Bye. Bye!”

 

<~> Ted's POV <~>

'Wow. That was an interesting visit', I think to myself as I watch Brian gathering up all the treasures I brought him and then heading out the door.

I'm frankly amazed at how truly better Brian seems these days. Okay, I know it's probably way too early to be think that. He's still got a lot of shit going on - the complusive rhyming, the motor tics, and the scattered, disjunctive thinking - but, beyond all that there's moments when I can almost see the old Brian in there.

I mean, asking about seeing Gus and Emmett, that's really huge. He hasn't wanted to see people in ages. I think he's relished the fact that he could hide away from all the prying eyes in here. I'm not saying he doesn't like it when I visit, but I'm relatively easy to deal with compared to most of the family. I'm not usually the emotional type. Brian could deal with me, get news about everyone and not have to expend any energy of all the irrelevant stuff.

But, now it seems like he's ready again to resestablish contact. That's a major improvement. I think it will be great for him. Em's a great start, too. He'll be a good test to see if Brian can stand up to the pressure of seeing the rest of the family.

Now, Gus on the other hand . . . well, let's just say I think Lindsey is dead wrong keeping Gus away from Brian. It would be so unbelievably good for Brian to see his son. Maybe since I'm the only one who visits, I'm the only one who sees how much he loves that boy. And I really don't think he'd ever in a million years, crazy or not, do anything to hurt or scare Gus. I've tried to tell Lindsey this before and she won't even listen to me.

There's also the fact that Brian didn't just completely lose it today when I told him what was going on with Lindz. If that doesn't show Brian's improving, I don't know what would. I think if he can handle that news, he could easily handle a short visit with his son. It will probably be useless, but I owe it to Brian to try again. Maybe this time Lindsey will listen to me and let me bring Gus for a visit.

Now, let's see what I can do for him about these concerns he has over his friend's medication.

I head out to the front desk and ask to see Lily. She's always nice when I run into her while I'm here visiting and, even better, she seems to actually care about the patients. Maybe I can convince her to listen to what Brian's saying.

"Mr. Schmidt," Lily says with a grin as she approaches the bench where I was sitting while I waited for her. "It's nice to have you visiting again. Is there something I can help you with?"

"Yes. There is, Lily," I launch directly into the topic I want to discuss. "See, I was just in with Brian and he was rather upset. It seems he's concerned that his friend Hal is being overmedicated."

"Brian's already brought his concerns about this up to me several times, I'm afraid," Lily sounds a slight bit annoyed at having to deal with this topic again. "I can assure you, Mr. Schmidt that 'Hal' is only receiving the medications that have been prescribed by his doctor. There's really nothing to worry about."

"I wasn't trying to imply that he wasn't," I backtrack a little, not wanting to offend the person I'm asking for help from. "I'm sure you wouldn't be giving the kid the wrong meds. I really don't think that's Brian's concern, though. It's more that the kind of medication, and maybe the dosages prescribed, aren't good for his friend." Lily starts to interrupt but I plow on. "Now, I know you wouldn't normally listen to another patient about this type of issue, but really, Brian Kinney isn't just another patient. Underneath that slightly whacked out exterior is one of the smartest men I've ever known."

"And what Brian said made sense to me - he said that Hal is being given sedatives and anti-anxiety pills and allergy pills and I don't know what else, all of which tend to act as depressants. As Brian put it, you don't want to give Hal pills that make him sad if your goal is to make him happy. Now, I know I'm not a doctor or anything, but would it really hurt anything to bring this issue to the attention of someone who was a doctor and have Hal's meds reviewed?"

I can tell that, while Lily does care about the people she works with, she's undoubtedly overworked, underpaid and often stressed out by the demands of her job. It wouldn't be at all out of character for her to say something placating to me and the just brush off my request the same way she's been brushing off Brian. But, to this woman's credit, I watch her think through my argument, and even though she's exasperated, she doesn't just dismiss me.

"You're right, Mr. Schmidt. It can't hurt to ask the doctor to review Hal's meds. I know Brian's been worrying about this for a while now. At the very least, it will make Brian happy to know someone listened to him. And you're also right, Mr. Schmidt, that Brian's a very intelligent man, even when he's driving ME crazy. I'll talk to the doctor about this first thing tomorrow."

 

 

Chapter Text

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!

<~><~><~><~>

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8 - Fun in The Funny Farm.

<~><~><~><~>

<~> Brian's POV <~>

Let me just state for the record that boredom is the enemy of the mentally challenged!

When I'm bored, my imagination tends to run away with me. That's when the really crazy thoughts start to encroach. As long as I'm kept busy, I mostly can keep the really wild stuff under control, but when I have too much time on my hands things tend to go a little off.

Take right now, for instance. I am soooooooooo fucking bored right now. My Hal is napping. Lily said I had to leave him be and let him rest. She said that I can't expect the change in his meds to work overnight and until then My Hal will continue to be sleepy. I'm supposed to leave him alone and let him rest. I'm supposed to wait patiently until he gets better. I hate waiting for shit!

So while I wait I'm sitting on my own bed next to him and watching My Hal sleep. He's so beautiful when he's asleep. He's always beautiful, of course, but he's somehow extra beautiful when he's sleeping. He's so peaceful and serene while he naps. I really like looking at him and watching him breathe, listening to the little sounds he makes as he dreams.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I like watching My Hal sleep, it's not really enough to keep my mind occupied. I tried to read a book for a while, but that interferes with my Hal watching. I can't go anywhere or do anything noisy. I can't even babble like I'd normally do to entertain myself. I'm bored, you see.

So, as I sit and watch my beautiful Hal, I'm also doodling with a pen on a pad of those little yellow sticky notes the nurses use sometimes when they're making notes in the patients' files. There happened to be a stray package of them sitting on a table in the lounge the other day, so I absconded with them. I've been playing with them off and on ever since.

At first I'm just scratching out little random geometric shapes, but that doesn't hold my attention for long. Then I try drawing little pictures, but I'm really not much of an artist. I was always better with words than images. So, I switch to words for my art.

'My Hal' I write on a fresh sticky note. Of course sticky notes are sticky for a reason -  you're supposed to stick them on things. I stick mine on My Hal's chest. Yes, that's appropriate.

Just then, a pesky beam of sunlight sneaks through the blinds that Lily pulled down so the room would be darker while My Hal napped. It's like just one sharp cylinder of focused light, and guess where it's focused? On My Hal of course. The light loves him. He always seems to soak up all the light around. Sometimes it's like he radiates the light back at you. So, it makes sense that this light just naturally wants to go to him.

I watch as the light is drawn inescapably towards his beauty. It creeps up the side of the pillow. It slowly moves across his cheek. Then, before I know it, that fucking beam of light is kissing My Hal's perfectly kissable lips.

I am instantly, insanely jealous!

How dare that ray of light kiss My Hal! He's mine! All mine! Nobody gets to kiss him, especially on his perfect lips. I scribble the word 'Mine!' on another sticky note and then stick it on My Hal's mouth so that it's between the beam of light and those sweet lips.

Like a desperate trick on a Friday night at Babylon, though, Mr. Ray is not deterred. He inches his way up My Hal's sleeping face and tries to kiss his cute little button of a nose! No way am I going to allow that. 'My Cute Nose!' goes on the next sticky which I use to protect the nose from the light.

The annoying Mr. Ray disdainfully turns next to My Hal's gorgeous slumbering eyes. It's like that ray is trying to pry open the eyelids so it can see the refreshing pools of blue underneath. 'My Big Blue Eyes!' - I scrawl on two more stickies and use them to protect the perfect hidden eyes.

And, well, after that I have to kind of admit I went a little overboard. See, that stupid Mr. Ray just wouldn't leave My Hal alone. It kept creeping along trying to kiss my boy without my permission. Instead of waiting around to see where Mr. Ray would try to strike next, I decided to take some preemptive measures. Writing 'MINE!' on sticky note after sticky note, I plastered them pretty much all over My Hal so that no part of him was left for Mr. Ray.

"I win. I win. I win. He's mine, mine, mine. Take that you lecherous Mr. Ray! Hah! My Hal! My Hal! MINE!" I leap off the bed, jumping and crowing my triumph over the usurping light.

Which is when Lily just happens to come in and sees me dancing around like a crazy man while My Hal is wallpapered with little yellow sticky notes that state he's 'MINE!'

Lily was only very slightly amused. She made me leave the room. As I am reluctantly shuffling out, I see her taking all the sticky notes off my sleeping Hal. And worst of all, I can still see that Mr. Ray hiding over in the corner of the room. Now I'm angry and jealous.

Which is why, as I said before, I think boredom is not my friend.

<~><~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Daphne's POV <~>

I've given myself a few days since I spoke to Emmett and I think I've cooled off a bit. I'm now 65% sure that I could be in a room with Jennifer Taylor and not commit bodily mayhem upon her person. But that doesn't mean I've forgiven the bitch.

I also haven't figured out exactly what I should do with this new information. I admit that I was so irate over Jennifer's betrayal, that I actually forgot to ask Emmett about where Brian is these days. He did say Brian had been in and out of hospitals following his OD, but that was years ago. I can't imagine he'd still be there, let alone in a place like The Banks? But, Justin did say 'Brian' last time I visited him.

Could it be possible? Could Brian Kinney really be the mysterious friend that Lily told me was taking care of Justin? How? How could that be? I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around what would equate to the biggest fucking coincidence ever in the history of the universe. About half the time I convince myself I'm just making it all up and maybe I'm the one in need of psychiatric care?

But even if I'm right, and by some twist of fate, Brian and Justin really have somehow wound up together in the same institution, what the fuck good does that do? If Brian really is bad enough to be housed there, he's in no shape to do anything to really help Justin, is he? I mean, it's great that someone's making sure Justin isn't being neglected, but that alone isn't likely to get me back my best friend.

What I really wish is that I'm dead wrong. I hope that I just misheard Lily and Justin say that name. Because, if I'm wrong, then that means Brian Kinney might still be able to help me help Justin. Maybe. Or maybe not. It might be too late for Justin.

But if anyone could help Justin, it would be Brian.

Now I just have to screw up my courage to call Emmett back and ask him. I've been procrastinating because I don't want to hear the bad news that I was right and Brian's now as fucked up as Justin. I'm just not sure I'm ready to have my last shred of hope for my best friend dashed like that.

<~><~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

Why the fuck am I nervous? I've already lost all my marbles and I'm shut away in this fucking hole. Everyone already knows I'm crazy. Nobody expects me to act sane or be able to handle difficult situations. That's pretty much the worst that could ever happen to someone, right?

So why should it matter to me that Ted's supposed to be bringing Emmett to visit today?

If I'm honest with myself it's because I really don't want him to think I'm totally, over-the-top bonkers, even if I maybe am. See, Ted's already assured me that he thinks I'd be okay to see Gus. I'm not so sure of that myself. So, I'm kind of waiting to get Em's opinion. Em's always been a wee bit out there himself - let's face it, in his more flaming moments he's probably way more scary than me, right? So, if I'm now too scary crazy for even Emmett to handle, there's no way I could ever dare to try and see Gus.

Yeah, way to go, Kinney. Stress yourself out before they even get here, why don't ya? That's a sure fire way to trigger a psychotic break. I'm so fucked. Why did I ask Ted to bring Em today? What am I, fucking crazy?

In utter desperation I give over my frantic pacing and I throw myself down on the bed next to My Hal. I'm ready to give up. Admit I simply can't do this. Offer my preemptive surrender and avoid the humiliating battle. Why even try?

Which is when the miracle happens. My Hal, the poster boy for catatonic depression, the kid who hasn't been capable of any independent action in fuck knows how long, reaches out his hand for mine. He isn't looking at me. The rest of his body is completely still and silent just like always. But still, he grabs my hand and squeezes it reassuringly.

Which is all the incentive I need to get over myself and get my ass down to the lounge to wait for my visitors. I jubilantly kiss My Hal's perfectly pink lips, hop off the bed, straighten my clothes and march down the hall with renewed confidence.

Aren't supportive hallucinations the best?

Ten minutes later I'm sitting on the disgusting smelly couch in the lounge, wearing My Hal's funny green glasses just for the hell of it, when Ted and Emmett finally arrive. Ted, as always, looks like an accountant. The man next to him though looks like he just fell off a Pride float! He's dressed in his trademark tangerine pleather pants, a see-through hot pink mesh top, and high heeled pink leather boots. He’s also wearing too much eyeliner for the middle of the afternoon and is that body glitter? It's definitely GOT to be Emmett. Either that or I'm getting REALLY good with my hallucinations!

Fuck! What a sight to make your eyes sore!

I get up slowly off my couch, standing with my legs spread a bit for effect, and cross my arms with a gruff look on my face - underneath the funny glasses, at least, I'm trying to be gruff. "Emmett Honeycutt? I've been looking for YOU!" I playfully wag my eyebrows above the rims of the crazy glasses. "It looks like you just barely made it in time, too. They've got the bed right next to mine all ready and waiting. First thing tomorrow morning, you're scheduled for extreme fashion therapy," I say in my best stuffy psychiatrist voice.

Both Em and Ted look at me with worried frowns, wondering if I think I'm serious. I can only hold out a few seconds though before I erupt with laughter, smiling again and throwing myself into the big nelly bottom's arms for a huge hug.

"Gotcha, Emmy Lou!" I tease and then everybody's laughing together and happy and I think everything's going to be just fine!

It's a fabulous visit, actually. Ted’s usual stories are spiced up by Emmett’s peculiar take on the world. Plus, Em knows far more tasty gossip than Ted, so I get a much bigger picture of the outside with his added perspective. I'd really forgotten how thoroughly entertaining Emmett was - although I'll never tell him that.

"Gus, Gus, Gus!" I demand, unable to completely disregard all my little OCD rituals even to impress Emmett.

"Gus is fine," Ted intones with the required response, making me giggle. "He's busy making thanksgiving crafts in preschool. He sent you this," Ted smirks as he hands me a lovely painting of a turkey made from Gus' very own handprint.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 3.42.43 PM.png

It's my very first craft project from my son. And yes, I realize I'm at risk of losing my 'Stud of the Month' membership card for this, but I'm so touched I think I might cry. Good thing nobody in here knows I'm supposed to be a Super Stud.

"I want you to know, honey, that you even beat out Grandma Debbie for that masterpiece," Em informs me. "We were over there for dinner the other night when Gus gave it to Deb. But then later, when Gus overheard us talking about visiting you, he demanded that you get the picture since you couldn't come join the family for Thanksgiving this year. Gus said his turkey could keep you company. He was going to make another one for Debbie."

Shit, now I'm crying and officially an honorary lesbian. "Thank you, Gus. Gus. Gus. My Sonny Boy, Gus. Just don't tell him I made a fuss. Muss. Wuss."

I can't let them see me like this though, so I quickly dry my eyes and forge on ahead. "Gus. Gus. Gus. Now Mikey. Mikey. Mikey."

"Michael is okay," Ted starts off, but is rapidly interrupted.

"He may be okay, and while he is one of my oldest friends, I still think he acted like a total ass towards you the other day, Teddy. Michael can be so close minded sometimes. Hell, if he weren't gay, he probably become a republican," Em rants, immediately causing me to wonder what the hell brought this on.

"Theodore?"

"It's really nothing, Bri," Ted says while giving Em the 'shut the fuck up already', glare.

"It's not 'nothing', Teddy," Em plows on either ignoring the warning or just being intentionally obtuse. "All Teddy said was that it might be nice for Gus to come visit you someday, Brian. It's not like he said it had to be right away or anything. But, after the turkey thing and all, Gus WAS asking about you. Michael had no right to butt in like that and just attack you for merely making the suggestion, Ted. It just doesn't seem right . . ."

At that point everyone falls silent. Ted and Emmett seem embarrassed for bringing up the issue. I really have no say in the matter, so I say nothing. I'm pretty sure I don't want to know what my best friend was saying about me and about why he didn't think I should get to see my son.

Moving on to a new topic . . . "Gus. Mikey. Ted and Emmett. Ted and Emmett. Ted and Emmett."

"Ted is fine," Ted says with a laugh.

"And Emmett is fine, too!" Em chimes in, well coached by Ted.

We all chuckle. It clears the air. I even relax a bit while the two tell me a few of the latest events in their lives. When it's Em's turn, he proudly gets up and formally presents me with a giant orange melamine bowl, full to the brim with the most delicious looking oranges I've ever seen.

PSY - Orange.png

"Yes! Orange. Orange. Orange! My Hal will love this, Em, Em, Em!" I thank him sincerely, my enthusiasm showing through as my speech becomes more erratic. "Orange and yellow and green and turkey's and pictures! No more blue, blue, blue!" Then I remember my own big news, for which I still need to thank my friend. "Oh, and Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted. You did it Ted. Because of you they fixed his meds. The meds are getting out of his head. And once the blue is gone, too, My Hal won't be blue. And I won't be too!"

So we pause then for a little more oohing and ahhing over the pretty orange bowl with congratulations all round for our success with fixing My Hal's meds problem. Then we proceed on to Deb and Vic. They, happily, are fine. And finally we move to Lindsey and Mel. Which, unfortunately, is NOT fine.

"Lindsey and Mel. Lindsey and Mel. Lindsey and Mel. Does all go well with Lindsey and Mel?"

"Lindsey's being a cunt, if you ask me," Emmett asserts. "Do you remember that annoying little French guy she was going to marry a few years back, Brian? Well, the smelly little snob is back, can you believe it? And Lindsey's threatening to marry him again. When will that girl learn? We've all tried and tried to talk her out of it, but she's been just impossible since that affair with the artist a little while back. And now, on top of everything, she's saying that she plans to move to Paris with Gui as soon as they work out the immigration stuff? I think she's just trying to shock everyone, but what if she really goes through with it this time?"

"And what about Gus, Gus, Gus?" I ask, the anger in my voice evident.

"Nothing's been decided yet, Brian," Ted tries to reassure me. "I think that Emmett's right and Lindz is just stirring up trouble for no real reason. I don't think she's serious."

"Stupid bitch. Fuck her itch," I mumble to myself, the stress of the moment not helping at all with the clanging. "And where the hell is fucking Mel?"

"I haven't heard from Mel in a couple weeks Brian," Ted confesses.

"Fuck this, we had a deal. Deal. Deal . . ."

'Time's up Kinney,' I think. 'Your extended vacation in Lalaland is over. Either you get your shit together soon or it's bye, bye, bye, Gus, Gus, Gus.'

"Ted," I say, without any of my usual tics or tremors, "tell Lindsey to get her fucking ass up here to see me. And, Mel, too!"

 

<~><~><~><~><~>

<~> Justin’s POV <~>

Something feels off today.

That might not seem like a momentous statement to the average person, but in my existence it's really saying something. See, most of the time I don't really feel anything at all. If I do, it's usually just immediate bodily sensations - like I'm cold or hungry or tired. I long ago stopped worrying about what was going on outside myself in the world around me. So, the fact that I'm even noticing that there's something wrong in my environment seems strange. But that's really the only way I can explain what I'm perceiving.

I don't know how to describe what exactly I'm feeling: nervous, antsy, unsettled? I've become such a stranger to this type of sensation that I don't have the right words readily on hand anymore. And what's causing my unrest is an even bigger mystery. As far as I can tell I'm not in any physical danger. I'm not hurt. I'm not cold or hungry or tired. I just feel like there's something wrong. Something missing.

It's like trying to prove the existence of something by its mere absence.

But, whatever it is, these feelings have disrupted the cottony cocoon that normally envelops me and I don't much care for the experience.

It isn't until later that I finally figure out what's wrong. It's dark outside and I notice someone has turned on the big fluorescent overhead lights in the room where I sleep. I'm sitting in the chair next to my bed, just like I always do, waiting for someone to tell me it's time to go to sleep.

I wait. I wait. I wait. I'm used to waiting but for some reason I feel like this waiting is going on for longer than it should. I'm feeling tired now. I know it's time to go to sleep but no one has come for me yet.

Finally, when that odd antsy feeling inside me has built up to the point that I almost think I need to do something about it, Lily arrives. Lily guides me out of the chair and takes me down the hall to the bathroom. Lily tells me to use the toilet, which I do, and then washes my face and hands and puts toothpaste on my toothbrush, directing me to brush. When I'm done with that, she leads me back to my room, sits me down on the edge of the bed and cursorily runs the hairbrush through my hair.

That's when it hits me. I realize what's missing. It's Brian.

Since Brian has been here, nighttime has become a comforting ritual for both of us. Brian helps me do everything Lily just did, but then he sits me on the bed and talks to me while he brushes my hair. Brian tells me stories about Gus. He tells me gossip about the other patients. He tells me what we'll be doing tomorrow. It may not seem like I'm listening, but I've heard it all nonetheless. I've become accustomed to it.

That's what's missing tonight. Brian is missing. I know that Brian not being here means something is definitely wrong. It's so confusing, though, because I still don't know how or why it came to be that Brian suddenly appeared in this place. So how can I be sure his disappearance is unwarranted? I don't know how, but I just do. I know that he wouldn't leave me again. Somehow I just know.

This revelation doesn't mean I know what to do about my lack of Brian, either. It's been so fucking long since I cared enough about anything. I almost don't remember how to actually do something without another person guiding me through the action. But whether I want to or not, I find I do care about why Brian isn't around and I want to do something about it.

I turn my head to the side and actually look at my surroundings for once. There's an older grey headed man in the bed to my right - he looks like he's already asleep. That's no help. Then I look at the bed to my left. There's a form huddled there under the blankets, too. A much more familiar form.

With a gargantuan effort, I will myself to get off the bed and stand up. My sights are set on that lonely looking shape a seemingly impossible distance away. I really want to be there.

Somehow, it suddenly seems possible.

Before I've had time to wonder at my sheer audacity, I've walked the five steps over to the other bed, pulled back the covers and crawled in next to the shaking man in the bed. I wrap my arms around him. I feel like whatever has been wrong all afternoon is better now.

"My Hal," Brian says, his voice sounding sad and defeated as he rolls towards me. "My Hal. I need you, My Hal. I need you tonight. My Hal. Hal. Hal."

Our bodies fit together so well. It's comforting to me to have Brian's body next to mine. All the tension of the day seems to melt away. And eventually, My Brian quiets, too. Then we both sleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

<~><~><~><~><~>

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.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 10 - Sell Me A Padded Cell.

 

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<~> Brian's POV <~>

Little kisses. Lots and lots of sweet little kisses. Kisses. Kisses. Kisses on my neck. Kisses behind my ear. Kisses trailing along my jaw. Kiss. Kiss. Kiss. Bliss. Bliss. Bliss.

I open my eyes to see where all these blissful kisses are coming from. I'm not at all disappointed when I find a beautiful blond boy hallucination applying his full, kissing-ready lips to every centimeter of skin he can reach without moving out of my arms. If this is just a dream, I hope I never fucking wake up. Dream, delusion, hallucination, whatever it is, it's one fucking GREAT experience.

"Good morning," I murmur contentedly as My Hal pauses in his kissing duties long enough to look up at me, blinding me with a true Sunshine smile.

"I can't believe it. I finally did it?" I shake my head in amazement at my delusionary talents. "I finally got the smile right? I so completely rock at this!"

"Brian," My Hal whispers, still with that smile that lights up the whole world around it.

"Did you know you're the most beautiful thing in the entire fucking world," I ask, dazzled, befuddled and gobsmacked by My Hal's smile, which proceeds to somehow get even bigger when he hears my words. "Can I please, please, please wake up like this every morning for the rest of my life?" Hal keeps smiling then breaks out into a carefree little giggle.

My Hal giggles! He fucking giggled! Out loud, even. Well, it wasn't really loud, loud, but it was loud enough to hear. I heard a definite giggle. This is the best morning of my entire life and it didn't even involve sex! If I believed in a god I'd be on my knees thanking him or her right now. Instead all I can do is roll my body so I'm in a better position to kiss the bejesus out of the boy.

"Ahem," says someone behind me, but I'm not much in the mood to pay attention to anything other than my kissing, smiling, giggling Hal. "In case you didn't hear me, I SAID 'Ahem'," the person adds, in Lily's sternest voice.

Which means it probably is Lily and she's probably going to give me another lecture on the rules about kissing. Well, if I'm going to get in trouble anyway, I might as well enjoy it. I give My Hal one last, huge kiss, making sure to slip in just a hint of tongue this time, mostly just to get Lily's goat.

"Brian! We've talked about this!" Lily now sounds fairly serious, so I reluctantly stop with the kissing, roll off my boy and look up at her with the biggest, most innocent looking eyes I can possibly affect, even adding a little flutter with my lashes for good measure.

"Damn," I say after a minute or two when she just stands there, staring at me angrily with her arms crossed. "You didn't buy it, did you?"

"No, Brian, I didn't. I know you couldn't possibly be as innocent as you try to make out and you're not even a little bit sorry, so you can keep your little act to yourself. But, really, Brian, I can't sit back and let you just break ALL the rules."

"I've never broken the one about running in the hallways," I offer as a consolation.

"That's probably the only one you haven't broken." I can tell that Lily is about to relent because her voice has lost that harsh edge. "Really, Brian, I'm serious this time. If you can't control yourself, I'll have you moved to a different ward, away from 'Hal'.

"I'll try, Lily, but it won't be easy. He's just too kissable. Besides, I didn't even start it this time - My Hal did."

"Enough discussion already. You know the rules, so stop always pushing the limit. Now, it's time to get up. Breakfast is in fifteen minutes so get a move on," Lily commands and then moves off to help another patient.

"You heard the lady, My Hal. Time to wakey, wakey, for eggs and bakey!" I say, making sure Lily's back is turned before I give Hal one final quick as lightening kiss on his cheek.

I climb out of bed and then turn around as always to help guide My Hal. I'm so used to having to do almost everything: sit him up, help him turn sideways so his feet are dangling off the side, and then grab his hands and scoot him forward so he can stand up, getting slowly out of the bed only at my direction. So it kind of throws me when I find My Hal already sitting up on the edge of the bed, ready and waiting for me.

"Well now, aren't you an eager beaver this morning," I beam my pleasure at him along with my words. "Good for you, My Hal. Good for you. You. You. How about we get dressed now too? Then it's off to breakfast with the rest of the zoo!"

The entire rest of the morning is wonderful. My Hal is so much better this morning. He smiles almost the whole time. I'm so excited. I think getting rid of the pills is working. No, I'm sure it's working. We got rid of the pills and all the ills. The pills are gone. The pills are nixed. I think he's almost fix, fix, fixed.

My Hal is waking up. Up. Up.

Now what the fuck do I do?

<~><~><~><~><~>

"My Hal is doing really, really good lately, Dr. Travis," I happily report on my boy's improvement to my doctor during our therapy session."You'd be amazed how much better he seems. Awed and amazed. Awed and amazed. Odd and amazed. He's almost always alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic. I think his head is almost fixed. Now I just need to fix his hand."

"So, what we need now, doc, is a physical therapist. Or an occupational therapist. Or a 'Helps You Do Stuff With Your Broken Hand' therapist. Or whatever other kind of therapist it takes to fix him. How do we get that started?"

"I'll be happy to talk to Hal's doctor for you, Brian, and see about getting him some physical therapy," Dr. Travis offers, politely, and then starts into his full-on head shrinker mode. "But right now, this is your therapy time, not Hal's. I'd like to talk about you. Okay?"

"I guess," I answer unexcitedly.

"So, how about we talk about the Prom Incident and how your former boyfriend was injured? Or any of the other issues that led you to the point when you OD'd?"

"No," I say simply and emphatically. "We don't talk about that."

"No, we don't. Which leads me to my next point. What the hell are you doing here, Brian? What do you expect to get out of your stay?"

Doc kinda took me by surprise with that one - guess I'll need to fall back on my sarcasm defense. "Ummm, complete room and board with all the therapy you could ever possibly want, available anytime day or night?"

"That IS what most of the patients here are looking for, but not you, Brian. You don't want the therapy and pretty consistently refuse any attempts at it. All we ever talk about here in your sessions is your friend 'Hal', some hospital gossip and an occasional story about your friends and family back home. So, I repeat, what are you doing here, Brian?"

"Well, doc, there is that pesky little issue of the whole chronic, drug-induced psychosis thing. You know, where I'm paranoid, often delusional, and even occasionally see things that aren't really there. Is this ringing any bells for you doc?"

"I'm not trying to make light of your ongoing mental health issues, Brian. But, let's look at this objectively for a minute, okay? Most of the more serious symptoms of your condition - the paranoia and delusions and even, to some degree, the more serious phobias and OCD symptoms - are being pretty well controlled with medication at this point. You seem to tolerate the Zyprexa pretty well and haven't exhibited any major side effects, right? And you haven't experienced any episodes of violence or overtly disruptive behavior in at least a couple of years now. Those are the main reasons why you were hospitalized in the first place, am I correct?"

I just shrug. I'm not really sure where the doc is going with all this. It's probably safest to remain noncommittal.

"All the residual symptoms you have - the motor and verbal tics, impulse control issues and even the intermittently disjointed thinking - are relatively minor."

"Minor? Minor. Minor," I scoff. "You try walking around sounding like Dr. Seuss all day and then tell me how fucking 'minor' it is, doc!"

"I'm not saying these things aren't difficult or that they don't present significant challenges for your life, Brian, just that they don't, in and of themselves, necessitate hospitalization. To be completely honest, I think you often use them as a crutch - hiding behind your word games when you feel threatened. But, the bottom line is that there are a hell of a lot of people walking around out there on the streets with mental health issues just as serious, if not moreso, and they all manage to live fairly normal lives. I think you could too, if you wanted," Dr. Travis ends with an expectant glare in my direction.

Shit. I was NOT expecting anything at all like that. I literally do not know what to say.

"I'm not threatening to kick you out of here tomorrow, or anything like that, Brian, so you don't need to freak out. I just want you to think about it, all right? After all, you weren't planning on staying in a hospital for the entire rest of your life, were you?" the doc adds with one of those sympathetic, and yet still condescending, smiles that all psychiatrists seem to have perfected.

"So, wait," I stop him just as he's about to toss me out, since our session time is up. "What you're saying, doc, is that I'm not mad enough for the madhouse?"

"Well, I wouldn't have put it in precisely those words, Brian, but yes, in essence, I guess that's what I'm saying."

"Hmmm. Well, that's certainly different," I respond distractedly, knowing I really do have a shitload of stuff to think about now. "See you later, Doc. Doc. Doc. I'll be back when I want to talk."

I'm already out the door before I think of one other, rather important, question, so I stick my head back through doc's door. "Hey, doc? Do you think I'm still too mad to be a dad?"

"I'm sorry?" Travis asks, not understanding the gist of my question.

"My son, Gus. Am I still too crazy to be around my son? I wouldn't want to scare him or . . . anything."

"No. Certainly not, Brian. There's absolutely no reason you can't see your son at this point."

"Thanks, doc!"

Hmmm. I'm NOT too mad to be a Dad. That's pretty good news. Yep, I've got lots to think about.

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<~> Ted's POV <~>

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 11.41.26 AM.png

"What do you think, Bri?" Ted asks, holding up the most yellowest thing I've ever seen in my life as soon as I come through the door. "As soon as I saw this poster, I thought of you and your anti-blue campaign. Think it'll do the trick?"

"Wow, Ted! If that doesn't conquer the blue, I don't know what will! Will! Will! It's the perfect slogan, too. And it's just about as far as you can get from blue. My Hal will absolutely love it, that's true!"

"I'm glad, Bri. I've gotta admit I'm actually having fun shopping for anti-blue decorations for you. Who knew there was so much yellow out there just waiting for a place to call home," Ted rolls the poster into a tube and hands it to me proudly.

"Ted. Ted. Ted. Have you got any good news, or am I better off dead?" I ask, figuring it's better to just get all the shit out of the way at the start.

"Yes, I DO have some good news," Ted says as he takes his customary seat on the uncomfortable plastic chair across from me. "But, I've got some bad news too. Which would you like first?"

"Why don't we try to end on a happy note. Hit me with the bad stuff first," I say, sighing to ready myself for what I think I know is coming.

"Okay, well, this probably isn't going to come as much of a surprise, but Lindsey's still being a bitch. I tried to talk to her but she's not budging. She told me that you don't have any parental rights, so as far as she's concerned you have no say in where Gus lives. She also added that even if you did have any rights, in your current situation you aren't competent to make any valid suggestions. So, in other words, the cunt told me to fuck off. Oh, and she adamantly refused to let me bring Gus here for a visit," Ted says, giving me all the bad news plainly laid out and with little unnecessary commentary.

"Ouch," I can't say I expected Lindsey to say anything else. "So, I'm really ready for any good news you have after that, Ted."

"The good news - the really great news - is that I finally tracked down Melanie, who just happened to disclose that our sweet little Lindsey hasn't been completely honest with any of us about the whole Gus situation. See, Mel told me that after you signed that waiver of your parental rights, they never actually got around to filing it with the court. Apparently, what with the Prom thing happening so soon afterward and then you being sick, they didn't ever find the time to get the thing properly filed. Then, when Mel and Lindz started having problems again, Mel decided not to bother with it. As far as Mel knows, Lindsey's still got the papers sitting in some drawer somewhere, but since Mel is no longer interested, the document is probably useless."

*Wooooooo hoooooooo* This is about the best news I could have ever expected. I'm hollering and jumping around the room in celebration. Fuck the whole 'impulse control' thing - I'm still Gus' dad and I'm going to rejoice and cheer and jump for joy and dance around in high spirits and I don't care how fucking crazy it makes me look.

"Brian. Brian! Now don't get too far ahead of yourself yet. There's still the whole competence issue, not to mention there's nothing legally on the books about exactly what custodial or visitation rights you should have. Mel recommended that you get an attorney as soon as possible," Ted cautions as soon as he's reined me in enough to get a couple words in edgewise.

"Then do it, Ted. Just do it. Hire me a lawyer as soon as you leave here and get whoever it is working on this shit right away before Lindsey does anything really stupid."

"Well . . . It's not exactly that easy, Bri," Ted waffles and my mercurial mood plummets once again. "See, I'm not the one in charge of your estate or, more importantly, your money. Michael is. Unfortunately, when I talked to him about this last night, Michael didn't seem too inclined to spend any money on an attorney for this . . ."

"What the fuck? Why the hell not?" I demand, even as I realize I shouldn't be yelling at Ted, the only person who appears willing to help me anymore.

"Michael seems to think it would be a waste of money - that it wouldn't do any good. He kind of agrees with Lindsey that you're not competent to make any decisions right now anyway, so it doesn't really matter what your parental rights are," Ted confides, all the while making it clear that he doesn't agree with Michael at all. "And, I'm afraid that Michael is siding with Lindsey on the whole issue of Gus visiting. So, as he sees it, you're not likely to see Gus either way and therefore there's no need to spend money on an attorney. I not giving up though. I'm going to keep working in him . . ."

"What the FUCK!" I'm standing up screaming now and I can see Ted flinching away from me but I'm too angry to care. "How the hell can Mikey think it wouldn't matter to me if I never see Gus again? HOW? How can he do this to me, Ted? HOW? And what the fuck does Michael know, anyway. He hasn't even bothered to come see me in years. YEARS! Goddamned fucking motherfucker. Thinks he pulled the plug on me and now I don't fucking matter? Don't even fucking exist? Well, fuck Michael. Fuck Lindsey! Fuck them all!"

My outburst has finally caught the attention of somebody out in the hall and I see one of the security staff guys run into the room. Ted's backed away from me and is just standing there staring. I'm so fucking insanely angry I just want to hit something, anything, throw things, scream, kill, whatever. Anything to relieve all the fury built up inside me as a result of this utter betrayal by the man I thought was my best friend.

I can feel the tic in my right hand going like a race car. I don't even try to control it. I let the tic take over and feel my hand and arm spasming all over. But it's okay. It actually helps. I can feel the stress and the tension and the excess energy, along with much of the anger, draining off through my arm. So I just let the tic tick.

It takes me several minutes to calm my breathing. I was panting and puffing like a train there for a minute. But I consciously try to slow my lungs down, taking deeper and deeper breaths, and that helps bleed off even more of the rage. At some point I manage to hold up my left hand in a 'stop' gesture, trying to show the security guard and Ted both that I'm okay and I'm working to get control. Just so long as they don't fucking touch me, I think I can do this. Luckily they stand their ground.

Gradually the red haze that obscures my vision dissipates enough so I can see what's around me again. I'm sweating and shaking and that fucking tic is ticking and tocking at a frantic pace, but inside I feel calmer. Wiping at a trickle of perspiration that is dripping down the side of my face, I turn and slowly move back to the couch. I sit. I hold my non-ticking hand out in what I hope is a non-threatening way.

"S-s-s-sorry about that, folks. Folks. Folks. Strokes. Tokes. Blokes. Brokes. B-b-b- . . ." With another gargantuan effort I also manage to shut down my clanging, at least for the moment.

"I'm so sorry, Brian. Fuck. I didn't mean to get you so upset. I'm so, so sorry . . ."

"No apologies. No excuses. No regrets. Remember, Theodore? No. No. No, more, Theodore. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay. Didn't mean to scare everyone. Scare. Scare. Take a chair and you'll get over the scare. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay . . ."

At this point the hulking huge security guy must figure that I'm no longer at risk of exploding into a million radioactive pieces and he leaves. Both Ted and I are just sitting there, trying to catch our breath and regroup. All I really want right now is to get back to My Hal before the recoil from all of this hits me and I break down into a helpless shaking ball of panic. I know that, whatever happens, I'll feel better as soon as I'm with My Hal.

But first, I have to hold it together just long enough to deal with one more thing.

"Ted," I say, and I can actually feel the coldness from my tone freezing the words as I say them, "I want a lawyer. I want Michael gone as my legal representative. I want to fight for my rights to see Gus. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I want to try. Can you please help me?"

"Of course I'll help, Brian," Ted assures me and I find I like the look of angry determination on my old friend's face as he says this.

It seems I have at least one remaining friend who's willing to support me. I know I don't deserve Ted's loyalty, although I'll be eternally grateful that I somehow have it. I'm not sure exactly how, but I swear that someday I'll pay Ted back.

And, maybe, it's going to be all right after all.

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<~> Justin’s POV <~>

I see Lily leading Brian back to the room after his weekly visit from his friend. Usually, Brian’s in a much better mood after one of his visits and would be bouncing in here, joyfully bestowing treats and gifts on me and recounting all the Gus stories he’s just heard. But today Brian looks completely devastated. Lily’s leading him around the way I seem to remember her leading me during the worst of my grey times.

As they get nearer to where I’ve been patiently waiting, sitting 'criss-cross applesauce' atop my bed, I can see that Brian is shaking and the tic in his right arm is totally out of control. Fuck! This is really NOT good.

I know that I’ve been trying to be a little discreet about the progress I’ve been making lately. I really don’t want to have explain what’s been happening to me until I’ve completely figured it out myself. But concern that no longer matters. Brian needs me. As soon as Lily has Brian seated on his own bed, I jump up, practically leap across the intervening space, and I'm sitting beside Brian before you can even blink.

Which is what Lily does - she blinks at me like she’s never seen me before. I shrug at her and then turn all my attention to Brian. She must be as worried about him as I am since she doesn’t bother pursuing me and my miraculous recovery from catatonia.

Together we get Brian laid out on the bed and the covers pulled over him. I curl up next to him in my regular spot by his left side. I wrap my smaller arms around his sturdier body. I plant my face as close to his ear as I can get on the little pillow - so close that my lips tickle against his skin every time I move - and I whisper to him that he’ll be okay.

It looks like my return to life was just in time to allow me to take care of Brian for a change.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11 - The Boobies Escape from the Booby Hatch!

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<~> Brian’s POV <~>

I feel so exhausted this morning. I’ve been lying here awake for a while now, trying to get up the energy to think about what happened yesterday. I don't know if I'll ever have that much energy again though.

In the meantime, I'm watching the darkness outside the window slowly turn to grey and then to a pale blue. More fucking blue! We can’t even get away from it by looking at the sky? Well, at least that blue isn’t as dusty and muted looking as the blue on the walls. The blue coming through the window now has a tinge of morning gold in it that makes all the difference in the world.

And despite the disquieting presence of the ubiquitous blue, I feel soothed by the unmistakable warmth of the yielding body lying next to mine. My Hal. I could feel him there next to me all through the unhappy night. When he wasn’t consoling me with his muted caring words, he was soothing me with his touch, his fingers trailing lightly over my skin, caressing my face, rubbing comforting little runes onto my belly and even just lightly holding my hand. He must feel even more exhausted than me - I know I barely slept but every time I needed him he was there already. My fucking perfect Hal. I must have done something right at some point in my life to deserve such meticulous devotion. Either that or I'm even more delusional than my doctor suspects.

That unfortunate thought brings me right back to what I was trying NOT to think about, though.

So, precisely how delusional am I? Dr. Travis seems to think I'm not that delusional that I couldn't walk right out of this place. Lindsey and Michael, on the other hand, think I'm too delusional to see my son even for a short visit. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between. I mean, I know I'm at least delusional enough to have created My Hal - although if you're not delusional enough to think your delusion is real, is that really a delusion or maybe just a really good imagination? Hmmm? I might have to ask the doc about that particular quandary. Or, maybe not - it sounds like crazy drivel even to me.

If I'm not really crazy, then I could leave this place. I could live like a normal person and do normal things, even though I wouldn't really be completely normal, just normal enough not to seem exceptionally crazy. I guess that wouldn't be so bad. As long as I get to keep My Hal. I'm not going anywhere without My Hal, I don't care how fucking sane I am.

But then again, why am I even worried about My Hal? He's my hallucination. Wither I goest, so too shall he, right? Don't personal hallucinations go with the person doing the hallucinating? Would My Hal somehow simply cease to exist if I dared try and leave here? Or would he, for some reason, have to stay?

I ignore the niggling little doubting thought that tries wriggling into my consciousness right at this point. I know there's something I'm trying really hard not to think about, but I don't even let myself think about how I'm not thinking about it. Whatever it is, I don't want to know or even think about knowing. It's better if I just move on, quickly, to my next thought without even pausing here because that little worrying thought - which I just accidentally let myself remember has something to do with My Hal - is NOT a thought I want to deal with.

Now, where was I? Right, I was thinking about trying out being sane. All in all, being sane doesn't sound so bad. The way doc talked about it, it wouldn't be much different from how I am right now. I can do that. And, the best part is, if I were to be sane, I could see Gus. I might even find a lawyer who could make a court order Lindsey to let me see him. I really like that idea.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm ready to be sane, even if it's only really partially sane but otherwise controlled by medication. It's been a long time since I had to deal with sane people in the sane world. I have even begun to think that the insane people in my insane world are a lot saner than the outsiders. Everything is infinitely easier in here. Nobody expects too much from me. Nobody expects anything at all really which, after a lifetime of always seemingly being the one to blame everything on, has been quite refreshing. If I go back out there, there will be endless expectations, at least some of which I will fail to meet and then . . .

What? They'll throw me back in here? So what? We've already established that I don't hate it in here, so it wouldn't be that bad to have to come back, would it? Maybe it would, though because then I'd have failed, again, and I'd have people who were expecting things of me that would be let down. But, again, I have to say, so what? I've already let them down once and everybody survived, right?

Okay, that is an unhelpfully circular train of thought and I need to get off it right fucking now.

In conclusion, I think it's been established that being sane doesn't sound so bad. Also, continuing to be crazy wouldn't be the end of the world. The only real difference being that if I stay crazy I'm not going to have much of a chance to keep Gus in my life. Oh, and, regardless of which way I go, I have to be able to keep My Hal.

"You always used to give ME shit about thinking too much, and now look at yourself," I hear My Hal whispering into my ear with his own simply perfect timing right as I'd come to the above conclusion.

"I wasn't thinking too much. I was thinking just the right amount," I explain, which causes him to let loose a melodious little giggle. "And, what I was thinking about was that I never, ever, want to do without you. You can't very well complain about that, now can you? You. You, too."

"Definitely not," My Hal agrees, sealing the pact by bestowing a kiss with his infinitely perfect lips on my ear.

If that were the only place he was kissing, then I might have gone back to my prior cogitation. Hal, though, did not stop there or anywhere close to there with his kisses. Propping himself up on his elbow, My Hal proceeds with his trail of kisses across my cheek, his lips touching just once on the tip of my nose, and then on towards my lips. And, upon reaching that destination, he thereafter devours my lips and mouth and tongue with a sheer abandon that I don't think even I could have imagined.

Fuck! His lips truly are the most kissable soft warm lips ever. His kisses soft yet firm. His quick little tongue darting out to taste and lick and explore. His straight white teeth nibbling along behind. I think I might possibly be content with nothing more than kissing for the entire rest of the day, it is so pleasurable.

My Hal, however, isn't going to be easily satisfied this morning. Before I've even begun to contemplate moving on past the delicious kissing, my boy's hands have begun to wander. First it's just that his fingertips are peeking up under the hem of the t-shirt I'mwearing. Then, they inch higher and higher, as if trying to reacquaint themselves with every inch of my stomach and chest. Then, while I'm still engrossed with the kissing lips, totally unsuspecting that the little imp has much more nefarious plans on my person, his hand darts up and pinches my nipple hard.

"Unhhhhh," I groan, just a bit too loudly considering I'm engaging in actions that are most certainly against the rules in a large communal room full of other sleeping men.

"Sssshhhhhh," My Hal hisses into my ear again, just as his hand finds its way to the other nipple. "You don't want us to get into trouble, now do you?"

"Uh un," is all I manage to grunt out while he turns back to biting at my lower lip in order to ensure my remaining mostly quiet.

It is at this stage of the proceedings that I completely fucking lose it! And it isn't even my fault! It is entirely all My Hal's fault. Really! I was NOT going to break the rules - or at least not beyond the kissing stage - and even then I had told Lily I would try my best. I have every intention of doing just that. My intentions, however, do not take into account my body's reaction when, at that exact moment, My Hal rubs his groin against my thigh and I feel his perfectly shaped cock, now harder than a diamond-tipped cement drill bit, pressing through the thin layers of our clothing.

Even his teeth biting into my lip aren't enough at that point to mute my ensuing moan. "Ahhhhhhh!"

That stupid, You, Gene, who was a couple of beds away even, complained loudly, "shut the fuck up over there already you two! If you're gonna fuck, go do it someplace else so we don't have to listen!" His complaints eventually fade away to disgruntled murmuring but even that interruption hasn't deterred My Hal.

"Fuck, Brian!" he hisses into my ear with an almost subsonic groan. "Oh my, fucking, Brian. Brian. Brian."

With every exhalation he is moaning my name and rubbing rhythmically against me, his leg now hitched up so that his thigh keeps making contact with my own turgid cock. My logical, reasonable self - which admittedly is only a small space about the size of a grain of rice and is hidden away deep inside my brain far below the much more pronounced area responsible for my libido - is piteously demanding that I stop this ridiculous display immediately. Luckily, what with My Hal's moaning and all, I can't hear those complaints at all. What I do hear, though, is my dick's demands that it be immediately, if not sooner, introduced to My Hal's bounteous bubble butt. Nine inches of fully hard cock versus a grain of rice? There is absolutely no contest there.

"Just . . . just . . . just in my . . . just in my . . . Justin! Would you fucking wait ten seconds already," says my cock, which is now controlling all of me including any still functioning brain cells and my vocal chords. "Wait, wait, wait. We can't do this here. We have to . . . We have to . . . We have to . . ."

Then, just as I am about to give in and let myself revel in the glorious frotting, a little lightbulb goes on in a remote section of my memory dedicated solely to remembering good locations for possible future fucks. Apparently, even when the rest of my brain is given over to general insanity and I haven't gotten any in so long I can barely recall what it felt like, this portion of my brain is still very active. Without my even realizing it, it has a ready made, mostly private, not too disgustingly dirty at least for fucking, location already mapped out for me.

"I, I, I know a, a, a place. I know a place," I pant out the words, trying to get through my companion's lust filled haze as well as my own. "Come on. Come on. Come ON!"

Less than thirty seconds before I would have shot my load regardless of the location or demeanor of the rest of my body, I manage to pull myself out from under My Hal, pull us both off the bed and then start running down the hallways to the deepest, darkest, least likely place they would think to look for us, holding tightly to Hal's hand and dragging him unceremoniously after me.

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<~> Daphne's POV <~>

I just could NOT wait anymore. This whole crazy scenario is driving me bananas. I have to know. It doesnt matter that I'm missing class this morning. I simply can't wait a single moment more.

So I get up at the crack of dawn and drive out to The Banks, pulling into their parking lot at 7:35. I've been sitting here in my car ever since, just waiting until the clock said 8:00 am. At 8:00, I am going to storm in there - fuck their damn visiting hours - demand to see Justin and find out for myself once and for all who his newfound friend and benefactor 'Brian' really is.

The blinking dots on the digital clock seem to noticeably slow down as I watch them and wait. At one point I'm sure the fucking clock must be broken because there is no way one minute could take that long to elapse. But, slowly, ever so slowly, the dots blink on and finally it is 8:00 am.

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<~> Ted's POV <~>

"I just hope this fucking works, Em," I say over my shoulder as we both trot up the walkway towards the front entrance of The Banks. "You should have seen Brian yesterday. He was so shattered. I thought that he was going to be more upset at what Lindsey was doing. I didn't even think about how he'd react to Michael's idiocy.”

"Well, of course, what Michael said would hurt worse than anything Lindsey could do, Teddy," Emmett shakes his head at me with disgust. “You really weren't thinking. You should have known that having his best friend betray him - the one person he'd trusted so much that he even gave him control over his entire life, money, everything - would be the thing to cause Brian the most pain. If you did something like that to me, I couldn't bear it!"

"You're right about that, Em. Brian did just about lose it. For about ten seconds I even thought he might hit me, and I probably deserved it for springing that shit on him without thinking. I really didn't mean it to hit him like that though. But then somehow he pulled himself together at the last moment. I was so fucking proud of him. You could tell he was just barely holding it together and yet he managed to restrain himself a lot fucking better than some 'sane' people would have."

"Well, let's just hope that this affidavit shit your lawyer friend pulled together for Brian last night works," Em voices exactly what I am thinking as I held open the door for him and we approach the reception counter together.

"Good morning, Mr. Schmidt. May I help you with something this morning," the insipid receptionist who always tries to flirt with me when I visit simpers at me.

"Yes, please. I know we're here about two hours before your visiting hours are supposed to start, but I have some legal documents that I need Brian Kinney to sign right away," I'm willing to beg, maybe even flirt with this broad if I have to. "Brian's lawyer is due in court first thing this afternoon, so I need to get these completed and delivered to his office as fast as I possibly can. So, please, would it be possible to meet with Brian just very, very briefly?"

"I'm sure we can arrange something for you. It does sound like an emergency," the simpering less-than-beauty replies. "Would you gentlemen like to wait in the lounge while I see if I can get someone to track your friend down?"

"Thank you SO much. I really, really appreciate this," I say, laying it on a bit thick in the hope that it might hurry her along. "Come on, Em," I lead the way to the third doorway on the right - the lounge - a place I'm already far too familiar with from my weekly visits.

The door to the room is already open when we get there, which isn't unusual, so I don't think anything about it. What does strike me as odd, is that there's already some one else waiting inside. That seems a bit strange, seeing as official visiting hours don't start until ten.

It isn't until Emmett follows me into the room and hollers out, "Daphne?" that I recognize the attractive young woman sitting on the ugly brown couch.

"Emmett? What are you doing here? Did you guys come to visit Justin? That's so nice of you," Daphne says with a big friendly grin as she gets up and walks forward to greet us.

"Justin? No, we're here to see Brian," Emmett replies and at that same exact instant we all figure it out.

"Justin's here? At The Banks?" I ask incredulously. "How long has he been here?"

"Like, two and a half years. How long has Brian been here?" Daph demands.

"Just a few months," I answer, noting thankfully that the faces of the other two show they are equally as awestruck at this revelation as I am.

"Brian and Justin have been here together for almost three months?" Emmett states the obvious. "How is that possible? Teddy, did Brian say anything to you about Justin being here? This makes absolutely no sense."

"No. Brian never said a word to me, Em. I'm at as much of a loss as you. If he'd seen Justin here, wouldn't he have said SOMETHING?"

"Fuck this," Daphne announces and starts marching towards the door. "I'm going to go find out what the hell is going on here."

Emmett and I look at each other, we both shrug and then follow along behind the adamant little brunette pittbull.

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<~> Justin's POV <~>

I'm barely coherent when Brian pulls away and jumps out of bed. For a fraction of a second I think I'm going to lose it anyway. Only the thought of the sheer ecstasy I will experience with Brian finally inside of me again gives me the strength to fight it back.

"Come on. Come on. Come ON!" Brian's demanding as he yanks my arm almost out of it's socket and hauls my ass after him. We run madly through the halls of the still sleeping hospital. Oops - there goes that rule too!

I'm about to call a halt to this wild goose chase that seems to be leading nowhere, when Brian pushes through a large double hung doorway into what appears to be the laundry room. It looks vaguely familiar. Not stopping there, though, Brian keeps going through a series of rooms that get smaller and more disorganized the deeper we go. I have no idea how he is able to find his way through this maze without turning on any lights, but he seems to know exactly where he's going. Just when I think we must have reached the final room, he pulls open one last door, almost hidden by a pile of old rusty equipment, and then drags me into the darkness beyond.

I'm not in the least surprised or upset when Brian immediately slams me up against the wall as soon as the door shuts behind us. He pounces on me like we've been kept apart for decades and not just a couple of minutes. I'm all in favor of pouncing, though. If I wasn't pinned bodily to the wall, I'd have been doing the pouncing myself.

Our mouths come back together and I'm sure, if you listened closely enough, you could hear the suction sound we make when we meet.

I think I could devour him whole. I'm starving and Brian is my only sustenance. My brain has already short-circuited out and I'm just blindly groping at him with my mouth and my hands and everything else on down to a cellular level. Every single part of me wants him so badly it hurts.

Somehow, while I wasn't paying attention, Brian must have found the light switch. I dimly notice that we're in a largish closet occupied by only one rickety looking metal table and piles and piles of cardboard boxes overflowing with clothing. It's not exactly the kind of place I'd fantasize about when contemplating a reunion with my long lost lover, but I'll take it. Frankly I'm just too horny to give a damn where this happens so long as it happens soon.

In less than a heartbeat, it seems, we're both rid of the loose clothing we'd been dressed in for bed. Brian walks me backward until I'm pushed up against the edge of the old table. Hey, it's a horizontal surface - it'll work. With just a shimmy, my ass is up on the slick cold surface and I'm pulling Brian down over me as I lie back. The heat of his body on top of me contrasts sharply with the icy cold metal against my back. Either that, or maybe the plain fact that I'm about to be fucked by Brian, causes me to shiver.

"Lost and found. Lost and found. I found you in the lost and found," Brian's singing as his lips trail wetly over the flesh of my chest and stomach. My hands clench in his fine, soft, auburn hair, and I struggle not to pull him back up to my already lonely lips.

Brian's tongue tastes along the rim of my belly button and then plays a bit in the hairs that lead from there in a direct line to my needy cock. The sensations are building so rapidly again that I don't know how I'll be able to wait the mere seconds it might take till he reaches his intended destination. Luckily, my cock takes the initiative and jumps up right into the path of Brian's tongue so I don't have to wait at all.

It's been so long. So, so, very long. Way, way, too long. As soon as I feel Brian's warm slippery tongue glide over the swollen head of my painfully hard dick, I'm already there. Brian sucks me in, engulfing me in heavenly warmth, mere seconds before I scream out his name and pour myself into his mouth.

"Brian! Fuck! I love you, Brian. I love you! Oh, fuck!"

Considering those are the first words I've spoken louder than a whisper in fuck knows how many months or years, I think they're a pretty apt expression of my life and the sum total of my sentiments.

<~> Brian's POV <~>

"Brian! Fuck! I love you, Brian. I love you! Oh, fuck!"

My Hal's voice sounds odd as he yells out my name at the very instant he shoots his thick creamy jizz down my throat. I guess I'm just not used to hearing him speak out loud. I like it though. His raspy, unused, tenor sounds exactly right. His cum tastes exactly right too. His skin smells just right, he tastes just right and his enthusiasm as I suck him dry is perfectly right too! My Hal. My Hal. My hallucination and I think I'm doing a damn good job at it!

I don't think he's even done shooting when he again starts crooning at me. "Don't stop. Don't stop Brian. I want you inside me. I want you so badly it hurts. Please, Brian. Please fuck me. Fuck me, now!"

The only thing that gives me any pause is that I have no supplies whatsoever with me. I don't think the people that run the nuthouse ever really thought about the possibility that I might find myself in need of a condom while I was breaking all the rules and fucking my imaginary lover in the closet of the laundry room. That eventuality never crossed my mind either. I'm just about to apologize, pull away and explain to my partner that we have to stop now, when the ridiculousness of the situation strikes me.

It's My Hal. My Hal. My imaginary lover. I don't need any fucking condoms, do I? Do I? Why do I still have this strange doubt. No, I can't. I can't do it. I can't. I can't. I can't.

"It's okay, Brian," My Hal says. I guess he understood my hesitation. "I haven't been with anyone, Brian. No one! And I'm sure I've been tested since being in the hospital. It's okay. I want this, Brian. It's okay. Really."

That sounds odd to me. My Hal. MY Hal. Of course he hasn't been with anyone. What am I thinking? And I haven't been with anyone since . . . I'm thinking back and I can't remember anyone since before I was in the hospital when I OD'd. That CAN'T be right? Can it? I really haven't fucked anyone in almost three years! Fucking shit! If I hadn't been there and seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't think it was possible. But it's got to be because it's true. Wow! I feel amazed and relieved.

"You . . . You're okay, right? Brian?" My Hal is asking with sincere concern.

"I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine, My Hal. I haven't been with anyone in a long time either. My Hal. My just . . . just, just, just in my heart. Just in my heart. Just in my memory. It'll be just you. Only you. You. You. And I'll be true. Only you, My Hal." I emphasize my commitment with the most tender kiss I'm capable of, just to make sure he knows how much this truly means to me.

"Brian," My Hal sighs and smiles a glorious Sunshine smile up at me.

I reach out and lightly trace over those succulent lips with my index finger. They are the most perfect lips ever conceived. Then his quick pink tongue pokes out and expertly guides my finger inside. His lips close and he's sucking on my finger, pulling it deeper into his mouth with his wet tongue. The tiny pulling sensation is echoed in my groin, reminding me of my purpose.

I pull that finger out of his mouth and have to chuckle at the happy little popping noise it makes as it comes free. My Hal's smile only gets bigger and bigger then, as his legs fall open and I purposely move my nicely dripping finger downward until it's circling at the tightly puckered folds of muscle around his sweet little hole. My Hal mewls appreciatively as I slowly push in, gently and patiently stretching him open until I know he's ready for me. His body is so unbelievably responsive. Even just finger fucking him I can tell he's so alive now. Alive and eager and open for me. Only me. Only me.

"Now, Brian. Please," he's whimpering now, bucking his hips at me in supplication. I spit into my palm and quickly use my saliva as lubricant for my over-ready cock.

"I'm here. I'm here, my love," I breath against the exquisitely soft skin of his long supple neck as I line myself up and then slowly and methodically push inside.

I'm holding on to his delicate hips with both hands as I sink deeper and deeper into the velvety warm core of his being. "Ohhhh. I never . . . I never even . . . ever dreamed . . . so, so, so good," I can't get to the words I know are waiting somewhere in my brain to describe this sublime experience. By the look on his face, though, I think he's hearing and feeling what I can't seem to say.

This isn't like anything I've ever experienced before. His body just keeps drawing me into him over and over again. I feel like I'm losing myself inside him at the same time I'm finding something I thought was forever lost. Maybe, I think, there's never before been anything that could compare to this feeling.

As I drive into My Hal again and again, I'm amazed, exited and comforted by the perfection we make up together. And suddenly I know exactly why this feels so perfect. This isn't all new. It's not really beyond my experience. In all actuality it's the underlying familiarity that makes the new twists so heartbreakingly perfect. It's perfect because I've taken what I have always wanted but thought I'd lost. I thought this feeling in my heart was gone, but I've somehow found it and myself again.

"I thought you were gone. I thought I'd lost you. You were broken. And then you were just, just, just. Just in my head . . . Just in my head . . . Just in my fucking head! Oh fuck! Oh! Just. Just. Justin!"

My mind explodes at the same time my body shoots wave after wave of my cum inside him. "Justin," I scream, no longer scared of the memory or the name, "Justin, I love you! Oh fuck! I love you. I love you. I love you!"

*Creeeek*

"Lupita said she saw them down here, and thought they were looking for more clothes for 'Hal'," Lily's friendly and familiar voice states as she pulls open the door to the Lost and Found room. "I'm sorry it's taking so long to find them."

I'm shooting my last, as deep inside my lover's ass as I could possibly get, and he's stroking his own cock which happens to blow right then, just as the four familiar people walk unsuspectingly into the tiny room and find exactly who they were looking for.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12 - Insane In The Membrane.

 

<~> Brian's POV <~>

"Brian! Justin! What the hell are you doing?" Lily's voice sounds more furious than I've ever heard it. In fact, it sounds angrier than I would have thought a Lily-type voice could get.

I'm currently lying, collapsed on top of my lover's body, my hands still clenching at his hips, my head nestling somewhere on his chest, as I huff and puff trying to catch my breath after probably the greatest orgasm ever known to humankind. His legs are still locked around my torso but his head has fallen back onto the table under us. One of his hands is still tangled in my hair while the other is draped dramatically over his face, doing nothing whatsoever to hide the bright red blush in his cheeks. My cock remains happily within his warm depths while his has started to deflate where it's trapped between our two bodies that are both liberally coated with his cum.

Without even lifting up my head I answer, "Well, I'd think it was rather obvious what we're doing, Lily, seeing as you just walked in right at the very best part. Part. Part."

"Brian? Are you . . . What is . . . Who? Oh my god it's Justin!" Ted and Emmett's voices are tripping over each other so much I can't quite tell what they're saying or who's asking what.

"Justin? Are you okay, Justin?" Daphne's voice is louder, clearer and much more insistent.

"Shit!" That's the very first time I've ever heard Lily curse, which is amazing really, considering what she puts up with on a regular basis.

I feel a small but firm hand on my shoulder at this point and then suddenly I'm pulled away from my comfy warm napping spot on my lover's chest. My dick is torn out from where it has been resting in My Hal's ass. We both yell "ouch" at the pain such an abrupt disengagement causes. I think Lily is being terribly rude and a bit rough-handed.

The crowd of onlookers is still gaping at us and gabbling as I seat myself on the table next to My Hal, resigned to meet whatever repercussions are coming. I grab a random piece of clothing out of a nearby box and begin to wipe the cum off myself. When I'm done I offer the item to my likewise sticky neighbor who follows suit.

When I look up, they're all staring at me like I'm a funny looking zoo specimen. I figure it could be worse and put on my cheeriest smile. "Ted and Emmett. Ted and Emmett. Ted and Emmett. And . . . Daphne? What's up guys?" I greet them all with a friendly wave even though they're now all frowning at me. Next to me I hear My Hal groan. I shake my head, chuckle a bit, then grab one of my boy's hands and haul him up so he's sitting next to me where I can wrap my arms around him more protectively.

Meanwhile, the 'rescue squad' that found us are still standing there arguing about fuck knows what. Finally, Lovely Loud Lily yells, "Stop! I will NOT have this discussion here. You two," she grabs a handful of discarded clothing off the floor and tosses it at me, "get dressed! The rest of you," Lily glares at the three visitors, "go wait in the lounge. We'll be right there as soon as these two have some clothes on."

The peanut gallery sullenly moves off, looking back at me with a mixture of disapproval, confusion and grudging amusement. "MOVE!" Lily orders, causing me to immediately hop off the table, helping my companion get down after me, before we both start to dress ourselves. We exchange a couple of sideways glances at each other as we work - I'm amused, he's embarrassed and just a bit worried.

"Let's go," Lily commands brusquely, indicating with a gesture that we should precede her out of our little love nest.

Halfway down the hall, My Hal tugs softly at my sleeve and tilts his head with a longing look at the nearby men's room. I nod. "Lily, we need to use the restroom, please." I added the 'please' when she looked like she was about to yell at me. Reluctantly, Lily nods her permission to go piss.

We're somewhere between completing our business at the urinals and washing up when it strikes me just how utterly ridiculous this situation truly is. I can't help laughing. It starts off as a mere chuckle at first. My Hal looks over at me, sees my grin and answers with a smile and a giggle. From there it escalates uncontrollably until we are both so breathless with laughter that we can barely stand up straight. It feels so wonderful and familiar to laugh with each other like this, all the tension floating away on the peals of laughter. We're holding each other up, still guffawing at full volume, when a thoroughly fed up Lily barges in, impolitely pulls us out the door and tows us the rest of the way down the hall.

I'm still wiping tears of mirth out of my eyes as we're directed to sit side by side on the couch while our tribunal pulls up chairs in a semi-circle facing us. Ted, Em and Daph are there. Seated next to Ted is some old woman I've seen around occasionally but never really met. Then there's Dr. Travis and finally Lily.

The old biddy promptly starts things off as soon as were seated. "Brian. Justin. I'm Olivia Crenshaw, the Director here at The Banks. I understand there's been an incident this morning involving questions of impropriety and suchlike. I'd like to get this taken care of right away."

She seems to be looking directly at me and waiting for some response. I say, "Okay!"

After that my attention drifts off quite rapidly. They're all babbling and arguing and pointing fingers. Despite the fact that my name keeps coming up, nobody's asked my opinion on anything so I assume it must not really concern me.

My Hal - or should I be honest and finally admit to myself it's Justin? - sits listening quietly at my side. Our hands are clasped together tightly and resting on top of our thighs, which are pressed together down their lengths. I only want to look at Justin. I want to fill my eyes with him, touch him, kiss him, whatever is possible that will help me prove to myself that he's real and really here with me. I couldn't give a rats ass about anything going on around us, as long as he's here by me. He usurps all of my attention.

My Hal aka Justin, however, seems to be following along with the general conversation with rapt interest. Whatever's being said is really pissing him off, too. He looks so fucking hot when he's pissed off at someone other than me - well, he's hot when he's pissed at me too, but it's not as fun.

"Wait just a second," Justin/Hal interrupts and gets angrily to his feet, thankfully still holding my hand because I couldn't bear to not be touching at least some part of him right now.

Everyone stares at Justin/Hal like him standing up and telling them off is a miracle. It shuts them up pretty fast. I'm just glad the hubbub is lessened.

"Just stop right there," Just/Hal insists. "You're talking about us as if Brian's some kind of pervert who practically raped me. That's fucking insane! I'm sitting right here listening to you guys and not one of you has asked me a goddamned thing. Well, ask me. I'm not a helpless abuse victim here! I'm a consenting adult. If I ever was incompetent it was primarily because of all those drugs you guys were giving me. Since Brian made you stop the drugs, I've been fine. So quit talking about me as if I wasn't here and as if Brian's done something wrong!"

"Justin? You're really okay," Daphne's evident concern for her friend helps keep the rest silent.

"Well, I'm not exactly sure if I'm okay or not, Daph," Just Hal smiles at her and holds out his gimp hand as an example. "But I do feel better than I remember being in a very long time and my head is finally clear enough so I can think for myself. Considering what my life's been like for the past couple of years, I'd say that's a pretty good start. Now, the rest of you, shut up and lay off Brian!"

Just Hal sits back down and smiles at me. I'm so fucking happy. I can't believe he stood up for me like that. With all the shit being thrown at me the past few days, I really needed that. I think I could like having someone to take care of me. I'll finish fixing Just Hal, and then he can take care of me while I get fixed. Then we'll just take care of each other.

"Justin, why didn't you tell anyone about such a huge change in your health status," Doc Travis speaks up, looking sternly at the recalcitrant patient.

"Why? Shouldn't you professionals be observant enough to have noticed on your own?" My pissed off Just Hal snaps back at him. "Well, apparently not, since you've barely taken any notice of me the entire two plus years I've been here. Nobody around here even cared enough to see that I was being given the correct meds until Brian arrived. So why should I come to you with any of my other concerns? Besides, I wasn't aware there was a time limit on being crazy - what, is there some rule that you must notify the authorities within 24 hours after emerging from a catatonic state? Anyway, it didn't happen overnight, exactly. I've been getting better a little bit at a time ever since Brian started taking care of me. And when the effects of the meds started to wear off I wanted to take my time to figure things out on my own."

That effectively ended that topic of discussion. Go, Just Hal! Go. Go. Go!

"Excuse me," Ted injects into the ensuing break in the conversation, "What I don't understand is why Brian never told us Justin was here. I've been visiting every week. Why didn't you ever say anything, Bri?"

"I, I, I did. I told you about My Hal! I told you about the blue and needing yellow instead for his head and fixing his meds. I told you everything, Ted, Ted, Ted."

"But . . . Justin is Hal? I don't understand Brian. Why have you been calling him Hal?"

"I didn't think he was real?" I admit, my voice subdued.

"What?" Ted, Emmett and Daphne all ask in unison.

I look over at Just Hal now and I can barely understand it myself. I know now that he's real. He's Justin. But he's also still My Hal. How can I explain so they'll understand when I'm not sure I do?

"I didn't think he was real," I repeat. "When I first got here, I thought I was just imagining that it was him. I used to see him all the time, everywhere, only it never was him for real. So, then I got here and I saw him and at first I thought it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Tricky me. Tricking me. But then he opened his eyes and he looked so much like the real Justin, but it couldn't be Justin, Justin couldn't be here, here, here. He couldn't be mine. He was just in my mind. Just in my mind. Just in my dreams. So, I figured I had just made him up again. My own personal delusion. My hallucination. My Hal."

Does that sound as crazy to them as it just did to me?

“You thought I was imaginary?" Just Hal asks, smiling humorously at me. "I thought you were imaginary at first too. I thought it was impossible that Brian Kinney would have come here to my own personal hell to save me. But, you simply refused to disappear, so I had to admit you were real."

"I thought I was just exceptionally crazy and had a really great imagination," I assert. "I kind of still don't always know what's real, Just Hal. You won't, won't, won't leave me now because of that, will you? I'm not fixed like you yet. Not yet. Yet. Yet. You bet. Just don't go yet."

"No. I won't leave you, Brian. I won't ever leave you again," Justin promises and I know everything will be okay now.

"Good, Just Hal. My pal. Pal. Pal. Cause doc here said I could decide to be not crazy and then go be normal. And, I've decided doc. Just Hal and I need to get the hell out of here. We need some privacy. That, You, Gene, won't like it if we fuck in the ward and Lily will give us dirty looks and tell me about the rules. AGAIN. So, I think I'd like to leave now, as long as I can take Just Hal with me, of course. If not, well, I won't leave, not even if I get to be sane."

And then they all start laughing even though I was being totally serious.

<~><~><~><~>

 

<~> Three Months Later <~>

<~> Justin's POV <~>

"What if he doesn't like the yellow? Some people don't, you know. Some people even like blue, Just Hal. Do you think Gus likes blue. Blue. Blue, too?" Brian asks, getting ready to change his shirt for at least the tenth time.

"No, Brian. I'm sure Gus will like your yellow shirt. And if you go change again we'll be late, so you're just going to have to wear what you're wearing and hope for the best," I tell him, rebuttoning the top three buttons he'd already started to undo, while turning him around and pushing him towards the door of our brand new loft that we'd moved into only a month before.

It had taken that long to get everything sorted out after that momentous morning when Brian discovered I was real and everybody else discovered I was awake and mostly back in the land of the sane again. Not that The Banks didn't want to be rid of us - they really couldn't wait to get both Brian and I out of their facility after all the allegations of impropriety, both by us and against us - but there was such a fucking mess with the legalities. That very night we left The Banks and temporarily went to stay with Ted but it took a while until our freedom was declared official.

Of course we'd both been declared legally incompetent and neither of us had any money or a place to live or jobs or anything else. It took several weeks to get the court to rule me to be legally competent, even with my doctors signing off on everything. And no, I'm not completely well yet - I still struggle with depression and anxiety and the other lingering PTSD effects left over from the bashing - but I'm no longer paralyzed by my condition or my medication. I've even started back into physical therapy for my hand, and this time I don't think Brian will let me give up until it's as good as new, or at least good enough that I can draw again. Brian's not only my strongest advocate, he's my motivation.

I also filed a lawsuit against The Banks, for multiple counts of malpractice, abuse of a patient and neglect. My lawyer advised me to include Craig Taylor and Jennifer Taylir as defendants in the suit, since they were the persons the courts had declared to be my legal guardians after I was committed, and they were probably equally to blame for the shoddy medical care I recieved all those years. The defendants were all more than happy to settle the suit out of court for a rather tidy sum - which was more than enough to pay for my half of the purchase of this loft. I plan to use the rest to pay for art school as soon as I get my hand functional again.

The day after we returned to the world, Brian set to work getting his own situation sorted out. It took eighteen phone calls, the lawyer serving Michael with the legal papers that were filed with the court the prior afternoon and the threat of pursuing him personally for damages for abuse and neglect in his position as Brian's legal guardian, before Michael finally relented and agreed to see Brian in person. The two-faced little idiot eventually came crawling over to Ted's, and apologized profusely to Brian for not coming to visit him, for not taking more interest in his condition and for not listening to Ted about Brian's wishes regarding Gus. Michael still claims ignorance as to Brian's real condition and maintains he was too traumatized by seeing his friend like that to visit. Brian still hasn't forgiven Michael and I'm not sure he ever will completely.

Brian did agree to drop all legal claims against Michael provided that his former POA immediately sign all legal documents necessary to turn over Brian's money and guardianship to Ted. It took a little longer to get Brian's legal rights restored than it did mine. Lindsey got her parents to provide funds for an attorney to fight Brian's renewed custody and visitation claims to Gus. And one of their first underhanded but effective legal tactics was to fight and thereby delay Brian's competancy determination. Brian had to jump through a fucking lot of hoops including multiple medical and psychological exams before he was finally able to convince a judge he was not impaired enough by his condition that he couldn't competently handle his own care and finances. Neither of us will EVER forgive Lindsey for putting us through that.

But, after three months of struggling, legally and personally, things are finally resolved. Lindsey will definitely NOT be taking Gus to France and the family law judge didn't seem very happy with her constant attempts to belittle Brian and his mental health status in court. Lindsey lost big time.

So, today is the big day. Today we get to have our first overnight visit with Gus. Brian is, understandably, a bit nervous.

"I'm not ready, Just Hal. I'm not ready. Ready. Ready." Brian whines, trying to get away from my guiding hands.

"Yes, you are, Brian. You've been wanting to see Gus for months. You are more than ready for this. You know you're ready. Your doctor says you're ready. Your lawyer and the Court and the Child Welfare Case Worker say you're ready. Now, grow some fucking balls already and let's go see your son!" I demand, pushing him all the way out the door and pulling it closed behind us.

"You're really pushy for an hallucination, Just Hal," Brian teases me but seems to have regained some of his resolve as we head down the stairs together. "You know, if you're not nicer to me, I could always just imagine myself a new hallucinatory lover. And this one would be much nicer to me. He wouldn't ever yell at me or denigrate my balls. You should be nice. Nice. Nice. Or I'll put you on ice!"

"Fine," I say, kissing my reluctant partner on the cheek as I link my arm through his. "You go right ahead and try, Brian. But you know you'll never come up with another hallucination that has an ass as great as mine!"

"Fuck! You're right," Brian concedes. "I guess I'm stuck with you, Just Hal! Now, come on and let's go get OUR son, son, son, Sonny boy. We've got a whole new life to get started on!"

And we all lived happily, and mostly sanely, ever after.

<~><~><~><~><~><~>

The End!