Whatever I do, I can’t limp. If I limp, he’ll know. If he knows, he’ll get all torqued. So he can’t know. He has enough to deal with right now. So I can’t limp. Why the fuck would I pick now to try snowboarding for the first time? I’m a decent skier, maybe not black diamond ready, but close enough. But do I stick with that? No. I have to try snowboarding because it looks like so much fun. And it was. For about five minutes until I hit air and the board and I parted company. I landed funny on my left ankle. It’s not broken or anything, I know that would make it impossible for me to move it, but it hurts. I sit down on a bench at the chalet, waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel, and loosen my boot so I can get a look at it.
Maybe a little swollen, but nothing major, I decide. I try to rotate it and it will do as told, but it hurts. “Are you okay?”
I look up at Dr. Trick. He appears very pro in his tres chic ski gear. I don’t really want to admit vulnerability to him, but he is a doctor and maybe he can just tell me that I’m fine. “I think I twisted my ankle.” Why does that sound like something a female ingénue would say in a 1930’s romantic comedy? He sits beside me and pats his thigh.
“Put it up here.”
I oblige and he gently removes my boot and my sock. The cold air bites right into my naked toes. Ouch. He takes off his gloves and pokes around and prods and rotates and pokes some more. Is he really looking for an injury or just torturing me for being Brian’s partner? He then puts my sock back on my foot and I manage to stuff the injured limb into my boot once again. “Well?”
“I’d prefer to see film of it to be sure, but it feels like a sprain. Keep it iced and elevated, take Advil, and don’t constrict it. It will probably swell and discolor, and you may want to wrap it loosely later to protect the joint. Stay off of it as much as you can for twenty-four hours. If it gets worse or throbs or feels hot, go to emergency and get an xray. I think it’ll be fine.”
I can’t do all that without tipping Brian. Oh well, maybe Brian will just have to deal. What was that he said about two gimps do not a whole make? Something that rude.
“You and your boyfriend are making your own little hospital ward out of that hotel room,” he teases me. I shrug.
“This trip wasn’t about skiing anyway.” He can take that any way he wants. He gives me a smile that I don’t particularly like.
“What do you mean?”
“Brian said you were ‘separated’.”
“Not exactly separated. Not how you mean.”
“How many ways are there to be separated?”
“A lot.” I’m liking him less by the minute.
“Being involved with Brian Kinney has to be a thankless job.”
“Someone has to do it, and that would be me,” my look for him adds the words, “not you”. We share the shuttle back. He sits beside me, uninvited.
“Funny thing,” he says, and why do I think I’m not going to laugh? “I’ll bet I’ve known Brian longer than you.”
“Doubt it. Unless you went to school with him or something.”
“No, but years ago, we first fucked in the empty bed of a room at the hospital while his friend was in a coma in the bed next to ours,” he chuckles at the memory. “The fact that his friend was near death a few feet away certainly didn’t take the edge off for Brian.”
I suddenly feel buried in an avalanche of snow. Brian fucked this guy in my room while I was in a coma? One thing I love about Brian is the image of him lingering around my room while I was vegged out, just hanging with me, watching over me. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t celibate while I was hospitalized. Why would he be? But getting it on in the bed next to mine while I was in such terrible shape? That hurts. I don’t remember there being a second bed in that room, but maybe they moved me later, when I woke up. So much of that time is lost to me. I don’t want to give away any of my pain to Dr. Trick, so I say nothing, and stare out the window, willing him to leave me the fuck alone.
When I make it to our suite, he mutes some game he’s been watching and smiles at me. He could use a shave. I’m not in the mood to help him with that. I might just cut his throat.
“How was it?” he asks. “Let me live vicariously.”
“Good, until I fell and twisted my ankle.” So much for being a martyr. I sit on the sofa and remove my boots and socks. I wrap some ice in a towel and press it to my ankle as he stares at me.
“Do you need to see a doctor?”
“I did. Your doctor.”
“Where did you see him?” He asks with a wince as I glare at him.
“We shared the shuttle. He looked at it and said it was a sprain. No big deal. But it hurts.”
“I’m sorry. Maybe we need to look for sunny beaches instead of snow.”
“Brian, he told me you tricked him in the bed next to mine when I was in a coma.”
“Why would he tell you that?” His tension is apparent from across the room. I seize the moment.
“Because he’s making a point about how long he’s known you. But that’s not the issue. The issue is, you fucked him in the same room with me when I was in a coma?”
“Why would he make it up? How else would he even know that I was in a coma?”
“Are you calling me a liar?”
“One of you is lying.”
“And you think it’s me?”
I can feel his Irish rising all the way over here. I begin to doubt Dr. Trick. Brian isn’t a liar. He’d tell me if he did it. “Why would he say that?”
“It was Teddy.”
I shake my head, completely confused. “Huh?”
“Teddy was in a coma in the next bed. In fact, he woke up while we were in the middle of it. You can call him to verify, since you obviously don’t believe me.”
Oh shit. Ted had that overdose right when I first met him. Dr. Trick was right. He has known Brian as long as I have. And he never said I was the one in the next bed. I just presumed. “Fuck,” I say softly and Brian glares at me.
“You really think I’d fuck someone in your room while you were hovering between life and death? Is that what you think of me?”
Damage control. “No, Brian.” The bloody scarf, the devastation everyone said he felt, the guilt he carried after what happened, the re-creation of the dance that day in the loft with Daphne helping, the gentle caution he showed while bringing me back to life, how could I doubt him? I limp over to him and scrunch my ass into the chair with him. I can feel him stiffen, and not in a good way. “I’m sorry.”
He shakes his head. “I thought you had a higher opinion of me than that.”
“I said I’m sorry. I do have a high opinion of you, but put yourself in my place. Coma, hospital, why would I not think of myself? It was a major event in my life, you know? And he so wanted to minimize our relationship. And why did you do him again? You don’t do that.”
“Don’t try to shift this over to me.”
“I’m not. It’s a serious question.”
He ponders that for a moment and then says, “I was lonely. It was Christmas Eve. I had a bad scene with Lindsay. I went into a gay bar in Toronto and he remembered me. I didn’t remember him until he told me. It was just easy, Justin. There was no pursuit involved. Not on my side, anyway. Did he follow me here? I think so. He’s predatory. But even if you weren’t here, it wouldn’t have done him any good. I would’ve told him to pound sand.”
“I don’t need complications in my life. You’re complicated enough. Now get your fat ass up and put ice on your ankle.”
“Fat? You are so going to pay for that!”
I retrieve the ice and the room service menu and snuggle up with him again. “I’m hungry.”
“There’s a news flash.”
“Hey, I’ve been exerting myself physically while you vegetated in this chair.”
“I think my flesh is growing into the leather.”
“There goes my appetite.”
He laughs. We’re back on familiar ground. I place an order for us and then he says, “When do you leave?”
“Trying to get rid of me?”
“I have to go back to work, there’s money to be made. I’m scheduled to leave tomorrow.”
“Me too. Will you be up for a flight?”
“Sure. Are you going back to Pittsburgh or to New York?”
“For how long?”
I stare into those guarded hazel eyes of his and say, “I don’t know. I think we need to talk about that.”
He nods, but I can see the glimmer of hope twinkle in his expression as he pulls me in a little closer and punches the sound up on his game. I have no idea what we’ll decide about what time I spend in Pittsburgh. We each have legitimate concerns that haven’t really been addressed, but I share his optimism for now, content to let it unwind at its own natural pace.