Title: Graveyard Shift
Fandom: Queer as Folk (US)
Rating: R (mostly for language)
Word Count: 1684
Summary: Post 122. "If you ask me, what would help him the most is if he knew that you came here every--" "No." Brian visits Justin in the hospital without telling anyone.
Disclaimer: Showtime and Cowlip and Russell T. Davies and others are the owners and make the money. I write for fun and intend no copyright infringement.
A/N: There really isn't enough fic about the time between episodes 122 and 201. This is my offering to fill the void. I'm not sure if I'm happy with this, but I can't do anything more with it, so I'm posting it as it is.
It starts because there’s no way he’s leaving the hospital until they know Justin’s going to live. Because it simply isn’t possible for Brian to leave, to walk away from this, or from Justin. Not now. Not after everything. Not after… the fucking prom, and that thought makes Brian feel like an eighteen-year-old girl mooning over the most magical night of her life.
But what it boils down to is that he simply can’t leave.
When the doctors finally give them the good news that Justin is no longer in critical condition, it hits Brian like a fucking tidal wave, and he almost falls over. After the announcement, people seem to feel they can go home, that it’s okay to leave Justin, now, and Brian follows the rest of them outside in a slow, trickling line that reminds him too much of a funeral procession. He stands there on the curb, reassuring them all that he’s fine; he’s going to walk home because he needs the air.
As the last person disappears into the parking garage, Brian turns around and heads back inside. He refuses to leave Justin alone. Everyone else can desert him just because some fucking asshole with a medical license says he’s okay, now, but Brian is staying. Justin shouldn’t be alone if he wakes up in the middle of the night.
A few hours after sunrise, Brian finally forces himself to leave. Jennifer will be arriving soon in time for official visiting hours, and he doesn’t want to see her. Every time he looks at her, he can see the blame in her eyes.
Daphne calls him late that afternoon to tell him that the doctors are worried because Justin should be awake by now. She asks him when he’s coming by the hospital, and Brian tells her it’s none of his business now that Justin’s not going to die, and could she please leave him the fuck alone because he has work to do.
That night, he puts on his tightest jeans and the shirt he wore to Justin’s art show at the GLC, and he walks into
It’s the start of a ritual, and when the nurses try to tell him he can’t be here, he tells them to fuck off; he’s not going anywhere, and they can suck his cock if they think they’ll get him to move. After the second night, they ignore him, for the most part, and nightlife at the hospital goes on around him as he keeps vigil over the Boy Wonder.
He sleepwalks through work, and Cynthia picks up the slack without a single comment. Brian thinks he should say something to her, tell her that she doesn’t need to look after him like he’s some kind of helpless pussy, but he’s too grateful to her for keeping Ryder off his back. And when he falls asleep at his desk, she wakes him up with a cup of coffee so strong it makes him gag.
As the days and nights go by, and Brian sleepfucks his way through the backroom and then heads to the hospital, he begins to forget what life was like before. It doesn’t matter, anyway. His life, now, is sitting or standing outside Justin’s door, watching as he sleeps and sleeps. Watching as though, if he doesn’t, Justin might slip away. Watching and wondering if this is some kind of fucking fairy tale and if he could just walk in there and kiss Justin, all tongues and shared breath like they always did it, maybe Justin might wake the fuck up, already.
On the ninth day, he learns that the night nurse’s name is Helen, and she seems to think well of him, which makes him want to laugh and tell her she obviously hasn’t heard that all he cares about is getting his dick sucked. But he doesn’t say that, because she keeps him informed about Justin’s condition and the doctor’s prognosis.
Not that there is ever anything new with Justin’s condition. Nothing changes, and Brian has nightmares that he might actually grow old; that one day, he’ll be eighty and still coming here at night and watching Justin not wake up.
Then, after weeks of sleeping only two or three hours a day, Brian walks into the diner for coffee one afternoon. He’s braced for yet another outraged tirade from Debbie about what a heartless bastard he is, and would it kill him to go to the fucking hospital and sit with Justin for two goddamned minutes. Instead, she tells him the news.
Justin is awake.
Brian feels betrayed for a moment, that Justin woke up when he wasn’t there. And then he worries that maybe no one was there, at all, that Justin woke up in those few minutes after Brian left the hospital and before Jennifer got there, and he feels something twist inside at the idea that Justin might have been scared and confused, with no one there to comfort him.
It’s a thought that fucking horrifies Brian, and he says something crude in the hopes that it will drive any sentimentality from him. It makes Debbie hit him upside the head, but anything’s better than thoughts like those.
But then he learns that Justin doesn’t remember what happened, and Brian feels betrayed again. Feels cheated. He wishes he’d fucking killed that little cunt, Chris Hobbs, because wasn’t it enough that he’d made Justin bleed? Wasn’t it enough that he’d kept him in the hospital for weeks and caused him brain damage and kept his smile away from Brian, now he had to steal the memory of that night away from them, too?
That night; their night. Their dance. That wordless, shared acknowledgment that things had changed, and Brian wasn’t pushing Justin away.
All gone. In the swing of a bat.
Justin is awake, and he doesn’t remember anything about that night.
Brian keeps going back to the hospital, though, because he needs to know that Justin is still there. Still breathing and living and there for Brian to see. He won’t go in the daylight, though; won’t go see Justin when Justin can see him, because those blue eyes see too much, and they’ll see how things have changed, except that they haven’t, because Justin doesn’t remember that.
So, instead, Brian continues to visit at night, to watch Justin and watch over him. He’s afraid that if he’s not there, Justin will fall back into the kind of sleep where he doesn’t wake up. And he can’t stop now, anyway, because Justin doesn’t sleep peacefully anymore. Before, in Brian’s bed, Justin used to sleep so deeply and simply that it was easy for Brian to grow accustomed to his presence.
But now Justin shakes and flails and whimpers, struggling and fighting against the demons in his head. And Brian needs to be here, not to ward off the dreams, because it’s clear there is fucking nothing that can stop them from coming, but to keep watch in case something real comes to threaten Justin, to make him afraid. And maybe in case Justin wakes up and needs someone, anyone, to tell him that the dreams aren’t real. (Except for the ones that are, that wield bats and make you bleed all over cold concrete.)
Justin never wakes up, though. He weathers each nightmare, easing back into a calmer sleep, only to fall headlong into another nightmare, and Brian wonders why no one ever goes in to wake him up and put a stop to it.
Brian would do it, except that a sick part of him is grateful to the nightmares for making Justin move, reminding him that Justin did wake up and will wake up, and that it’s not like it was when he would just lie there while the doctors’ predictions grew steadily more pessimistic.
The day he comes home from work to a message from Daphne, Brian is so used to his life as it is now, the comforting routine of it, that he can’t move for five minutes when he hears that Justin has gone home. The hospital has released him, and his mother took him home.
He won’t be at the hospital, anymore. He won’t be there for Brian to see when he visits at night. Brian won’t be able to watch him sleep or listen to his breathing, deep and regular when things are alright, fast and ragged when he’s in the throes of a bad dream. Brian won’t be able to reassure himself that Justin is alive and not permanently asleep, and that Justin does, in fact, exist.
For a moment, his mind conjures wild images of him sneaking in to Jennifer’s condo or climbing a ladder outside Justin’s window. Just to see; to know.
But he’s not that fucking far gone. It’s not like an empty hospital room means Justin has died or anything. It doesn’t mean that at all. Anyway, it’s about fucking time Brian got back to his own life, his real life, and forgot about fucking fairy tales. He’s no goddamned prince, that’s for fucking sure, and Justin is sure as hell not Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty or any other maiden fair.
Brian remembers Justin’s cock with great fondness.
So he can’t watch Justin sleep, so what? Brian lived twenty-eight years—okay, twenty-nine—without ever observing that particular phenomenon, and he can get by just fine without it, now.
Besides, knowing the little twat, Brian is certain to see him sooner rather than later, anyway. And eventually, he will be doing his sleeping back in Brian’s bed where he belongs.
Where Brian can watch and listen and remember that Justin didn’t die.