Written for Yuletide 2004.

It hasn't always been this way. At the beginning, you were the one who needed saving. Strung out, days blurring into one another, a lost soul in a sea of music and drugs. Now he's the one who's drowning.

You never know why. You're barely keeping afloat yourself but you'll try, for him. You'll try to save him. But you're never sure why. Could be Mandy and the way they've been drifting apart. Could be your own disintegrating relationship, the one you're both pretending not to see the cracks in. Could be the whole Maxwell Demon façade, a story that's gone on far too long, a pretence that needs to end. Could be creative frustration, a song that won't emerge perfectly formed but instead needs to be crafted piece by piece, so that the end result is nothing like the dream of it inside his head. Could be existential angst, a fit of wondering why he's here, what he's really achieving. Could be more practical, wondering what happens after this, where to go from here. Could be any number of things. You don't know.

Even when his eyes are wet with tears, smudging the lines of black beneath the rims, there is no hint of the why, no clues given. All you know that there is something inside, something tearing him up, and you struggle to reach it, to quench it, to destroy it, before it destroys him.

You do this the only way you know how. You trace your finger over his lips. You suspect they are still painted with lipstick, though you can't tell. The room is in darkness, save a chink of light that catches the glitter of his eye-shadow, makes his eyelids sparkle. His mouth responds to this touch, captures your fingertip and flicks his tongue over it, caresses it.

Your other hand reaches out to brush away the teardrops, and you can imagine the smudging that is ensuing. Today's perfect make-up job is being corroded as night descends. It's impossible to strike a pose and express real emotion simultaneously. Emotion, true feeling, the thing that is real and lives within you still, lives within Brian still – that's never what's on show. A show is a work of art, and a real artist creates beautiful things and puts nothing of his own life into them, you know that.

Brian, you know, sometimes forgets that he is real, that beneath Maxwell Demon, beneath the invention of Brian Slade, rock star, idol, pioneer of glam, instigator of revolution, beneath the outrageousness in every aspect of his life, everything from the music he creates and the stage shows that surround it to the decadent lifestyle and the people he loves, beneath it all, he is a real human being, just as vulnerable as the people on the streets with their mundane lives. He can be hurt just as easily, in both body and soul. He is not immortal.

You wonder if it is the fear of his own mortality that spurs him on, but you would rather not resort to cheap meaningless psychobabble to explain and understand your own lover.

Your lover. You sleep with this man and yet insight eludes you. You know you love him, but love and understanding do not always go hand in hand. He is a thing of beauty, a creation so intensely perfect that it never fails to take your breath away.

Your lips curve around his lower one, sucking gently before lifting your head slightly to kiss him properly. His mouth, warm and wet, opens up to you, and your tongue slides inside. Your hands pull at his shirt, travelling along his smooth chest. He doesn't speak, but there are no more tears forthcoming, only a quickening of breath as your hands move down into his trousers. Too tight, far too tight, stylish and gorgeous but utterly impractical, and so you yank them down. His cock hardens as you stroke it ever so gently – like the rest of Brian, it is beautiful, and you've fucked a lot of men in your time and never described a penis as beautiful before – and you take it into your mouth, dragging your tongue along the underside, hardening yourself when you hear his gasps, when you feel his fingers in your hair. His nails dig into your scalp when, with a jolt, he comes. You don't cry out. Not only is your mouth too full but you simply wouldn't, anyway. You swallow. It is something of him inside you, becoming a part of you.

He reciprocates, almost mechanically, his mind, no doubt, still occupied with things that you will never know about. You're grateful for the release, no matter what the package is like, and in the dark you can never be sure anyway. In the dark, with no audience, no screaming fans, do either of you really exist? Does any of this really matter?

His body curls around yours as he drifts into sleep. He clings to you, and you let him. The world is changed because of him. Your world is changed. You will, of course, be his lifeline, though you are ill-equipped for the job, though you know that more and more fractures are appearing every day, and that nothing lasts forever.

Even culture, which you try so hard to shape and mould and bend to your own desires, even the world itself – they are no more immortal than Brian.

He shifts slightly, still keeping his arm around you, and you realise that you too should sleep. Your eyes are shut but your brain is still whirring. You know that this peaceful sleep, this tranquil existence, is temporary. It is fleeting. It will shatter far too soon, because of you, because of him, because of both of you, because of neither of you, because of the world, and you will both be left in fragments of your former selves, your former creations, the exquisite stylised versions of yourselves.

What is inside of him will devour him, and you, and more. But of course you would like to believe that this is a fiction, a tale that will never come to fruition. So much of your life, and his life, is a myth – why not this, too?

Love and sex and music and glitter can hold it all together. That is the myth you try to believe in, as you give in to slumber.