08 June 2007 @ 12:20 pm
The Crash.  
Title: The Crash
Timeline: Post-513
Rating: PG-13 (coarse language)
Author's Notes: Written for the [info]qaf_challenges In Cars Challenge. Thank you to the world's best beta, [info]xie_xie_xie, for her help and hand holding encouragement.

“Come on Brian, please?”

“It's late, Justin; can't we just stay at the loft?”

“But I really want to get up early and work in the studio, and if we stay at the loft it'll be hours before we get back home. We'll have to shower first, you'll want to go to the diner...”

You'll want to go to the diner.”

“Okay, I'll want to go to the diner, since there's never any food at the loft when I want it. It'll take forever. Can't we please just go home?”

“God, alright already. Let's go.”

* * *

“Let's go, Justin.” It's my mom. I didn't even hear her come in.

“Go where?” My voice is scratchy. I clear my throat. “I'm not going anywhere.”

“Let's get you cleaned up. You can't stay in those clothes any longer.”

I look down at my shirt and pants, the dark brown stains. I suddenly want to scrub them off, scrub at my clothes and my skin until this all disappears.

“Come on,” she says gently. “The doctors say he's not going to wake up for a while yet.”

I notice she carefully avoids mentioning what time exactly. The doctors aren't sure when he'll wake up. Aren't sure of the extent of the damage. Because of the swelling. To his brain.

I glance at Brian. His forehead is covered by a bandage. The left side of his face is one massive bruise. Machines hum and beep.

I look for a sign of movement, but there's nothing.

I let my mom lead me out to her car and I hesitate for a moment. I don't want to get in. She senses it, but pushes me in anyway and closes the door behind me. She starts the engine and pulls away. “The house?” she asks.

“No, the loft. It's closer.” I don't want to be away for too long if I can help it.

We arrive, and I head for the bathroom.

“I'll make you a sandwich, sweetheart,” Mom says.

“Don't bother. There's no food here,” I call back, and I'm suddenly overcome with a wave of guilt and anger welling up in my gut. I drop to my knees in front of the toilet and throw up.

“Are you okay, Justin?” I hear mom knocking at the door.

“I'm fine. Go away,” I manage to gasp out.

“Are you sure?” I hear her ask, but I turn on the shower and drown out her voice.

I head to the sink to rinse out my mouth, and I'm surprised by the face looking back at me.

It was only yesterday Brian and I were getting ready for Babylon, but it seems like weeks ago.

We'd just gotten out of the shower and I was brushing my teeth. Brian came up and kissed me behind the ear. I smiled a goofy, foamy smile at him, and he caught my eye and smiled back. Sometimes he smiles at me a certain way, and I swear to god my heart stops for a second.

Then he turned around and bent over to dry his hair. I kept brushing and watching him in the mirror, smiling to myself as his ass wriggled in time with the movement of his arms. I remember feeling completely happy.

Now, I almost don't recognize the face staring back at me. Brian's blood streaked onto my neck and lips. My eyes blank.

* * *

I've been back in Pittsburgh for three months. After 18 months in the city, I was ready to come home. Months of missing Brian like crazy. Months of weekend visits marked with fierce fucking and staying in bed for days. Months of putting every little bit of myself onto canvas - new experiences, new feelings, and old ones, too. Months of self-sufficiency. Months of focus on my work, of developing my techniques, my style. Getting an agent, shows shared with other upcoming artists, and finally, a contract for a solo show. There was pride then, too. In myself, and Brian's pride in me. That was the best feeling of all.

That's when I knew it was time to come home. There was nothing left to learn in New York. There would be no “what ifs” later. All I wanted was to come home, move into the beautiful house Brian had bought for us and live happily ever after. I know that's bullshit, but we've been doing a pretty good job so far. We're in what Deb calls our “honeymoon phase.” She calls it that every damn time she sees us, usually accompanied by a pinch to both our cheeks. If by honeymoon she means fucking our brains out every single night and wearing permanent dopey grins, then yeah, I guess we are.

The honeymoon's over.

* * *

I step out of my jeans and pull off my white shirt. The fabric feels rough, blood dry and crusted in.

I shower quickly, scrubbing at my face and arms, then wrap a towel around my waist and head to the bedroom to find some clean clothes. I pull on pants and grab one of my shirts off a hanger, but at the last minute, I put on one of Brian’s, instead. I'm dressed and ready to go a couple minutes later, but mom has other ideas.

“Sweetheart, you should lie down for a while. Get some sleep.”

Is she crazy? “Are you crazy? I'm not going to sleep. I have to get back in case Brian wakes up. Are you taking me, or do I need to call a cab?” She knows I'm serious.

She sighs and says she'll take me. I have to wonder, for a minute, how she treated Brian when he was in the situation I'm in now. Did she offer him a sandwich? Tell him to get some sleep? Did she tell him to stay away?

They get along so well now. He calls her Mother Taylor, which she says she hates, but secretly loves. It wasn't always like that, though. I'm sure she thinks she's doing the right thing by me, but sometimes, just sometimes, she's wrong.

I wonder if Brian felt like this too. Like I can't stand to even be near anyone. Not my mom. Not Daphne, who came to the hospital last night and sat with me, one arm around my shoulders while I was itching to throw it off.

I'd called her, after they'd wheeled Brian through the emergency doors, spouting medical jargon to each other, none of which I really heard. I felt like everything was happening in slow motion. Like I was walking underwater. None of this felt real.

I remember sitting in the passenger seat of the 'vette as we drove home. Feeling drowsy and content. I remember Brian smiling at me as I settled myself sideways into the seat to doze as we sped home on the quiet streets. Then I remember Brian swearing, and the car swerving to avoid something on the road. I remember Brian reaching out his arm to hold me back in my seat as the car turned sideways and slammed into a tree.

I remember the loud, sickening crunch of metal twisting and glass shattering. I remember looking over at Brian, slumped over the wheel. Blood pouring from his head. I remember not being able to wake him up. I remember calling 911 and waiting a lifetime until I finally heard sirens approaching.

I remember Brian strapped to a gurney. More blood than I've ever seen before.

I remember having a light shone into my eyes, and having to answer ridiculous questions and being prodded and poked and wanting to scream. I kept repeating “I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay,” and wanting them to concentrate on Brian instead.

I remember following the paramedics out of the ambulance and into the hospital.

I remember calling Daphne. But I don't remember what I said to her. She must have called my mom, because soon, she was there. So were Debbie and Carl, and then Michael and Ben and Ted and Emmett. They were all crowding around me asking me questions. I couldn't answer them. I couldn't even speak. I felt like I couldn't breathe and I remember walking away. I couldn't stand anyone. I knew no-one had any fucking clue how I was feeling. The only person I wanted to talk to was Brian, and Brian was the only one who couldn't.

I went up to the roof of the hospital to try and get away. I was just so fucking angry. I screamed. Just screamed at the top of my lungs for a full minute.

Then I pulled myself together and went back downstairs to wait for the doctor.

* * *

I'm about to walk back into Brian's room, but I notice Lindsay and Gus are in the room already. I stand and watch through the glass window. Gus is sitting on Lindsay's lap and talking animatedly, waving his arms. They arrived yesterday, along with Mel and JR.

“So that's why you have to wake up, Daddy,” I hear. Lindsay moves a hand up to her face, wiping away a tear. I walk in.

“Hi guys.”

“Justin!” Gus scrambles down and comes over to hug me. Lindsay stands up to hug me too. She's been really good to me over the years. Giving me a couch to sleep on, calling Brian on his shit about me, and she was great while I was in New York. She gave me good advice when I needed it, helped me make a lot of contacts, and of course, she organized my first sale, thanks to the Pittsburgh Emerging Artists show. It was intoxicating – having collectors buy my work. Selling something that I created. I wanted to do it again and again, and New York was a good place to do that.

After the Rage movie failing, it was good to know I could be a success again. And Brian knew it, too, and that I needed to do it on my own terms. He was fucking amazing. I loved him more than ever, then.

* * *

I've only been gone 15 minutes. Long enough to grab a coffee from the cafeteria, and when I get back, Michael's in with Brian. It's not until I get closer to the bed that I hear him sobbing. “I don't know what I'd do without you,” he's saying.


“Michael, a word.” And I grab his arm and drag him outside.

“What the fuck was that?” I'm livid.

“Lower your voice,” he hisses.

“Do not tell me what to do, Michael. How the fuck can you be so selfish? Brian doesn't need to hear that shit while he's in there. I can't believe you. He needs us to be strong. He does NOT need to hear your whiny shit, and if you can't pull your head out of your ass long enough to see that, then stay the fuck away from here. Do you understand?”

I walk back into Brian's room. He looks the same. Chest rising and falling steadily, but no other movement.

I lean in close to his ear.

“Brian. Listen to me. Are you listening? You are going to wake the fuck up. You are going to get through this, beautifully, as always, and then we are going to live the rest of our lives in all their fucked up, perfect glory, or so help you god you are going to be fucking sorry. Do you hear me?”

I wait a moment. There's a flicker behind his eyelids.

“Good. Whenever you're ready.” And I sit back.

* * *

I feel movement under my hand, and I stir. It's dark in the room, and a look at the clock tells me it's 11 pm. Then I realize why I'd stirred.

“Brian.” Nothing.

I squeeze his fingers.

“Brian, can you hear me?” And then I see his eyes for the first time in four days. I feel relief flow through my entire body. Muscles I didn't even realize were tense, suddenly loosen. It's like a pressure valve's been released.

“Hey,” I say and squeeze his fingers again. He squeezes back. Gently, but definitely a squeeze.

The grin on my face must be contagious, because he smiles back faintly, then goes back to sleep.

* * *

“Hey.” He's sitting up in bed.

“Hey yourself. Are you alright?” he asks. “They said you were, but I wasn't sure.”

“I'm fine. Not a scratch. I bet you have a bitch of a headache though. But don't worry, you're going to be up in no time. You hear me?”

“I hear you,” he says. I smile and he returns it, and suddenly it all catches up with me at once. I bury my face against his neck, blinking back tears.

I exhale noisily. “You have filled your lifelong quota of being in a hospital. No more. Do you hear me?”

“Yeah, I heard you, remember? Christ I don't know who's the bigger drama queen, you or Mikey.”

A laugh bubbles up from inside me.

“So I beat your coma by a day, huh. Not bad.”

I have to shake my head and laugh again. “God, I fucking love you.”

“C'mere,” he reaches out to me and I take his hand. Lay my face on his pillow. He turns his face to me and we just look at each other. I trace a finger across his lips, down his nose, gently over the bruises. I don't know what he sees on my face but he stops my fingers and brings them to his lips, kissing them. I press my face to his neck, breathing him in, and his hand moves to stroke my hair. “S'ok, Justin. It's ok.”

After a minute he says, “We'll be fine, Sunshine. Now, go get the doctor. I need to get started on my all-clear so we can get back to our perfect, fucked-up life.” He kisses me. “Go.”

I'm at the door when he calls me.

I turn around.

“I love you, too.”

I smile and nod, and go to find a doctor. We'll be fine. We always are, in the end.