the Old …
Image courtesy of Sandi
Author’s Note: Can be read as a stand alone, but fits into the Homecoming universe a few months after they move into the new house. In other words, post S5, with Justin back from New York for good.
‘Twas the week before
Christmas and all through the house... was fucking Christmas shit, Brian
grumbled to himself. Fucking pine needles and bits of tinsel straying all over
the floors - even migrating up the fucking stairs; the TV room was full of
wrapping paper and shit; even the study, usually his minimalist haven, had been
taken over by the pile of cards that his fucking partner insisted he had to
sign. Any suggestion that Justin could just write his name had been met with
“but Brian, they have to come from both of us”.
Fucking little twat.
Brian was tired and exasperated. The end of the work year was filled with the usual demands for Christmas bonuses and Christmas parties for lazy as shit staff who suddenly seemed to feel free to take time off the clock to go do Christmas shopping that they should have fucking done weeks ago, or to go see some idiotic school play put on by their boring and talentless offspring, or some other ridiculous fucking Christmas-related reason - any sort of excuse not to do a full day’s work.
Meanwhile, New Year campaigns for three clients had all developed last minute glitches - poster print run wrong here, TV slot scheduling mix up there, and, best of all, the front man in the ads for a new brand of condoms - a campaign designed primarily to target gay men - had had some sort of fucking pre-Christmas meltdown and announced that he’d ‘seen the light’ and was renouncing all his evil ways to marry some poor bitch who was too fucking dumb to know her marriage was fore-doomed to failure because she didn’t have a dick. Never mind that they’d had this fucking asshole foisted on them by the chairman of the company who’d insisted he was ‘perfect’ despite all Brian’s mis-givings, never mind that the moron had over-ridden all Brian’s best advice against using a fucking amateur, Kinnetik were being held responsible for all costs involved in finding the asshole’s replacement and getting all the work re-done.
Hopefully, the lawyers could sort that one out, but in the meantime, the campaign had been shot totally in the foot, and Kinnetik’s reputation and credibility were on the line unless Brian could work some kind of miracle.
He needed to come home, and fuck, and then have some peace and quiet to work through his list of possibles and see if there were any who might fit more or less seamlessly into the campaign and who were miraculously available at short notice to do this before Christmas in three days. He did not fucking need to come home to a house reduced to fucking chaos. He had to get all this shit out of the way. The Munchers were coming home for Christmas, and Lindsay had agreed to let Gus spend a night or two at the new house. Brian was nearly frantic with the need to get all the work shit out of the way so he could spend some time with his son.
His mood was not improved when he walked into the kitchen and found it knee deep in mess.
To his somewhat jaundiced view it seemed that flour was distributed across every conceivable surface, frosting and coloring were splattered everywhere and the whole fucking kitchen was one huge fucking tray of sugar, carbs and fat loaded bombshells - otherwise known as Christmas cookies.
And there was still no sign of his fucking partner.
Then he heard a mischievous giggle, followed by a torrent of whispers, and saw the two dark smudges on the end of the glass wall, and despite the day he’d had, despite all the dramas at work, despite himself even, his heart leapt.
Gus was here already.
He stuck his tongue into his cheek.
“I wonder who is going to eat all these cookies?” he said aloud. “Perhaps I should pack them all up and take them to work, and …”
“No, Daddy!” his son protested, hurtling round through the doorway at the end of the glass and throwing himself into his father’s waiting arms. “They’re for us. Me and Dus made them.”
“Really?” Brian asked, lifting Gus and standing with difficulty. His son was getting bigger. “Are you sure? They look really good to me. Maybe you bought them at the store.”
“No!” Gus protested. “We made them all ourselves. Didn’t we, Dus?”
“That’s right,” Justin responded, reaching up to give Brian a welcome home kiss, and then turning to get a mug and pouring the coffee he’d switched on as soon as he heard the car turn into their driveway.
Gus wriggled to be put down, and then reached excitedly towards the cookies, pointing. “I made this one just for you, didn’t I, Dus?”
“You sure did.”
“See, it’s a Daddy snowman, with a tie an’ a case and ev’t’ing.”
Brian felt something in his chest tighten as he looked down at the rather skinny snowman - complete with red tie and something that might have been a briefcase.
Ignoring the flour and the frosting, he sat at the table, sipping his coffee and agreed to try one of the cookies. Not his special one - he wanted to save that, he told Gus. But he shared with his son a bell-shaped cookie with frosting that had clearly been done by inexpert little fingers, and then a star, and finally a Christmas tree, before ‘Dus’ insisted that they’d had enough before dinner.
“I called,” Justin said, “to let you know, but you’d just left. So we thought we’d surprise you.”
Over Gus’ head, their eyes met. Justin smiled at him reassuringly, his heart tightening at how tired Brian looked. Sometimes, when he looked like that, memories of the weeks when he’d been having treatment and Justin had been so afraid of losing him, came flooding back. Justin reminded himself that Brian had had yet another all clear from his doctor only a few weeks ago, and smiled brighter. At the same time he made a mental note to try to persuade his perfectionish A-type partner to let Ted and Cynthia, who were both more than competent, take some of the load off him.
With that thought in mind, he said quickly, “Cyn said to tell you that Wes Holloway is available to do the reshoot for the condom ad tomorrow, and Ted said to tell you that the TV slots thing has been sorted, and that the poster run has been done again and to specification this time. He’s going to courier a couple over so you can check them and give approval for their release.”
Brian felt something in him shift - partly with relief, but also with a degree of discomfort. When did his assistants become so fucking competent that he wasn’t needed any more?
Justin saw the expression on his face and had the temerity to laugh at him.
“I know - what a shock, Brian Kinney isn’t indispensable,” he giggled.
Brian’s eyes lit up with sudden mischief. “Oh, I think you’ll find I’m indispensable for some things,” he answered.
Justin grinned at him happily. No doubt about that. Just as indispensable to this honest to God fucking relationship as Justin was himself.
Then their eyes drifted to Gus and saw him sitting on the floor, covered in mess, licking flour and frosting from his fingers.
“Gus!” Justin said, maybe a little sharply.
Gus looked up startled. Immediately, Brian slid from his chair onto the floor beside him, rubbing his hands through the flour mix, and wiping one finger in a streak down Gus’ face.
“Now you look like a Red Indian,” he laughed.
“Brian!” Justin protested, both at the definitely non-PC language and at the mess.
Brian sat on the floor amongst all the floury mess in his latest Prada suit and looked up at him.
Justin couldn’t resist. His finger swiped through a batch of frosting on the counter and then down his partner’s perfect nose in one swift movement.
With an outraged squawk, Brian tackled him round the knees and pulled him down to join him and Gus. For a few moments, flour, frosting and anything else that had found its way to the floor was smeared across faces, hands and hair.
Finally, still laughing, the three of them got up, and made at least some effort to tidy things a little. Hands and faces were given a quick wash at the kitchen sink. Cookies were put safely away in containers - Brian’s special cookie going into its own airtight container so that he could take it to work, where it would live for many a month in his bottom drawer. The tabletop, stove and counter were wiped and the floor swept. The cleaner could wash it when she came in tomorrow.
Then the three of them made their way upstairs and into the large shower in the master bedroom. Brian spent one sad moment looking at his lovely new suit till Justin came up and took it from him, promising that the cleaners would be able to make it good as new. Brian shrugged. It didn’t matter, he realized suddenly.
His son had laughed, instead of crying as Brian had so often done after Jack had come home and found the kitchen messy or toys in the living room. That was worth the sacrifice of more than a suit.
Christmas in the Kinney household of his childhood had been not so much red and green and silver and gold, as black and blue and purple and bloody.
That was not how it was going to be for his son.
His son was going to have the Christmases he’d longed for - the ones he’d seen on TV, the ones other families had.
That’s why there was a tree in the huge living area at the back of the house; why there were pine needles and tinsel all over the place; why the TV room was full of wrapping paper, and the store room had been taken over by already wrapped gifts.
If up till now the Kinney Christmas tradition had been based on fear and pain and loneliness and un-assuaged longing so that, even as an adult, it had become more about pain management than joy, now there was going to be a new tradition. For the Taylor-Kinneys it was going to be about laughter and love and being silly and not being afraid to make a mess and never, ever crying over spilt milk. Or anything else, if Brian could help it.
So he gave his son a piggy-back down the stairs, while Justin came behind to make sure Gus didn’t bump his head, and they all helped get dinner ready and then swept aside the wrapping paper to eat dinner in the TV room watching “A Muppet Christmas Carol”. Gus was asleep before it ended, so his Daddy carried him up to bed, and Dus helped tuck him in, in the tiny room at the front of the house that he’d claimed as his own, under the murals Justin had painted for him of the three of them dressed as pirates. Then Daddy and Dus went back down and watched the rest of the movie, because Justin really loved it, and Brian was content to simply sprawl with him on the couch and enjoy his enjoyment.
The courier had brought the posters, so Brian spent some time carefully checking them, before getting his partner to run his own eye over them.
Justin studied them for a while, then gave his partner a hug. “See, this is what they need you for. Not for all the administrative shit. I’d know this for your work anywhere. No one is better at coming up with these concepts than you, or knowing exactly how they should look when they’re finished. Leave the other shit to Ted. He’s good at that. And he loves it. Ted relishes the challenge of dealing with all the ridiculous fuck ups and getting them sorted out, while all it does is piss you off.”
Brian shrugged. But he gave his partner’s words a lot of thought over the next few days, and in the New Year, both Ted and Cynthia found their jobs had been restructured, with Ted in charge of all matters relating to Finance and Administration, while Cynthia was charged with looking after the “talent” - casting for the ads, managing egos, schmoozing, massaging egos, soothing ruffled sensibilities, catering for egos - all those years working with Brian had taught her a thing or two that the agency would find extremely useful.
But right now, with his son safely asleep under the roof of this house that already was truly a home and his partner by his side, to stay this time, Brian felt the memories of his childhood Christmases fading, and losing their bitterness. He turned off all the lights, except the tree, and the lovers relaxed in front of their fireplace with a glass of wine, before starting another Taylor-Kinney Christmas tradition - fucking under the mistletoe hung high on the rafters above.
December 14, 2008
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