As they entered Paul sat up straighter and hugged his knees close to his chest. His eyes widened
as he looked at the visitors. Michael mistook it for recognition and lurched towards the hospital
"Brian I knew you'd recognize..." Michael stopped short when Paul pulled further into himself.
"Michael step back." Justin admonished, he cringed when he saw Brian's reaction.
"I thought...I'm sorry." Michael stepped back and stood next to the door.
"It's okay Paul. Mr. Novotny is just a bit anxious." The doctor turned to glance at Michael who
was clearly fighting his emotions. "Michael is a long time friend of Mr. Kinney's and this is
Justin Taylor he's Brian's...uh." The doctor stumbled for the accurate word.
"Boyfriend." Justin finished for the doctor. "We've been together about four years. I mean
Brian and I have been." Justin too had to hide the tears that were pooling. Brian didn't
recognize them and it hurt like hell.
Paul looked from Michael to Justin searching his rattled brain for some kind of recognition. The past two days had been mostly a confusing blur. The only thing he could actually remember was hustling at a truck stop somewhere on Interstate 80.
"Paul do you recognize Michael or Justin?"
The patient shook his head. A loud sob from Michael broke the silence. Michael fled the room.
Justin scrubbed his hands over his face wiping away all traces of wetness as he did.
"I...I'm sorry that I'm not your friend." Paul spoke softly and sincerely. He silently wished that he had recognized his visitors. He had no one and felt a bit jealous that this person Brian Kinney had two people who cared very deeply for him. "I hope you find him and he's okay." Paul offered.
Justin's throat had become so tightly constricted he could only nod acceptance of Paul's
"Paul I'd like you to look in this mirror for me." The doctor stepped forward holding out the
small hand mirror.
"Doc I told you that guys not me. I know what I look like."
"Please humor me." Doctor Landry smiled.
Paul took the mirror and looked at himself. He lightly traced the cuts and bruises left by his
attacker. Doctor Landry took out the picture and held it up for Paul to compare his reflection to
Justin folded his arms tight across his chest and took in a deep breath hoping for something,
anything positive from Brian...Paul.
"I don't get it." Paul finally spoke looking up at Justin.
"What don't you get Paul?" The doctor asked his curiosity killing him.
Paul turned his attention to the more familiar face.
"They think I'm their friend. I don't look like this person. Like I said before he's a good
"Paul...I...I'm don't usually look at guys in that way, but I do notice exceptionally attractive
people and in my opinion you fall into that category." Dr. Landry shifted uncomfortably from
side to side.
"No way, my nickname at the home was fugly, ugly Paul! How can you say that? Don't
you see it?" Paul looked to both of the men incredulously.
"See what Paul?"
"The scar! I've had it for as long as I can remember. You don't see it?" The two men shook
"Paul you don't have a scar on your face that we can see."
"This is nuts." Paul placed his index finger to the out side of his right eye and traced it down his
cheek to the corner of his mouth. "See it pulls the right side of my eye down. And if you're
trying to compare me to this guy." Paul pointed at the picture. "My mouth is smaller. My nose
has been broken three times and my eyes are small and narrow. Like I said the only thing I have
in common with this guy is hair and eye color."
"Stop it Brian!" Justin couldn't stand it anymore. He walked up to Paul and snatched the mirror out of his hand forcing it close to his face. "Look again dammit!"
"Mr. Taylor I don't think..."
Justin turned to the doctor. "You don't think? You don't know anything. You're just some backwoods quack whose only 'read' about this sort of thing." Justin snarled at the doctor dismissing him as anything but and idiot.
"And you're too close to the situation. He has to remember on his own if you force this..."
"Shut up!" Justin shouted and turned back to Paul who was now curled into himself trying to avoid further confrontation. "Brian...Paul." Justin softened his voice. "Please look at me. I love you. You've been through a lot of shit in the last year, but I know you'll come out of this. You're a strong person. I'll help you please let me." Justin reached out to touch his lover's face. He wanted to erase the fear he saw there."
"Please don't touch me. I don't like to be touched." Paul pleaded and closed his eyes hoping Justin would honor his wishes.
Justin backed away slowly.
"I'm not gay." Paul said weakly and seemingly out of no where.
Justin stumbled backwards towards the door as if he'd just been shot in the chest. "You can't believe that." Justin managed to find enough breath to speak.
"Because I'm a hustler? Lots of us are straight its about surviving not sex. I don't want to love a guy...I mean guys aren't suppose to love guys its not right, ya know." Paul flinched at the effect his words had on the blond. He didn't want to hurt him, but he had to know.
Justin could barley see through the tears that flooded into his eyes as he entered the hallway.
Finding the nearest wall he slumped against it and slid down until he was seated on the floor. He
felt a hand touch his arm. Michael was sitting next to him neither spoke as Michael's hand slid
down to tightly clasp Justin's. A few seconds later a loud crash came from Paul's room causing
them both to look up.
Dr. Landry ducked as the mirror shattered against the wall to his left.
"Why did you do that?"
"I didn't aim it at you doc." Paul spat out. His anger and confusion growing.
"I mean why did you tell Justin you're not gay?"
"Because its TRUE!"
"Did you say it to hurt him?" The doctor's voice remained calm.
"No! Geez doc he's in love with this guy." Brian held up the picture. " And I think he and his friend are so desperate to find him they're trying to convince themselves I'm him."
"Paul the guy in that picture is you. Three people have now confirmed you are without a doubt
their missing friend." Landry watched to see Paul's reaction.
"Well they're wrong!. My name is Paul Smith, I'm 19 and I suck dick for a living because I'm
not good for anything else. I've been alone all of my life, don't you think if I had people like
that in my life who cared about me I'd remember?"
"Did you tell him to push him away?"
"Back to that...get off it doc. I'm not gay. I hate sucking dick, but it's a living." Paul got out of
bed, pushed past the doctor, and retrieved his bag from the closet.
"Paul calm down. No more questions. No more visitors. Okay...just get back in bed you need
"I'm done resting. I gotta go. Tell'em I'm sorry 'bout the mix-up. I'm sure their friend will
turn up." Paul winced as he pulled off the hospital gown. His body covered in cuts and bruises
he gingerly put on a very worn pair of jeans and a dirty t-shirt.
"Paul think about it, the person who did this to you might be looking to finish the job. You're
"I don't care and how do you know it was one guy? Maybe I was gang banged. Maybe I like
getting beat up. Maybe it turns me on." The sarcasm dripped from Paul's angry words.
"Please Paul you're really in no condition to leave. You don't even have shoes for godsake."
The patient side-stepped the doctor and swung the door open. On the other side he came face to face with Justin and Michael. Paul's eyes locked on the beautiful blue ones staring at him. That's when it happened it was only a glimmer lasting a split-second, but Justin caught it... recognition.
Brian drew in a ragged breath and whispered 'Justin' as he reached out for him the gray nothingness once again seized his brain and he fell forward into the arms of his partner.