Author's notes:  This story was also written for QueerAsChristmas on LJ.  Thanks to herefordroad on LJ for the beta and to Sabina for the banner.


Exactly two weeks after Justin left for the bright lights and big art galleries of New York City, Brian made his first of many visits.  Justin smirked, knowing that this time would be different.  This time they had grown to the point of being ready for marriage, but had to put that aside until they could both find professional success to accompany their personal success.

“I knew you wouldn’t be a big enough ass to stay away this time.”

Brian just rolled his eyes and then kissed and fucked away the conversation at hand.

Exactly two months after Justin left for the Big Apple, as Emmett liked to call it, he found an agent who believed his work had enough promise to take him far and wide.  She was able to place two of his pieces in a prestigious show, entitled, “Artists of the Future, the New Wave”.  Following his philosophy to celebrate achievement, Brian made sure to be at his partner’s side for the event -- not that this would have been a surprise.  Since Justin had left to take a bite out of said Big Apple, Brian had visited every weekend, except one when he had sent Justin a ticket to fly home for Michael’s birthday.  This would alleviate the problem of having to keep Debbie far away with the hatchet to cut off his balls, “...even if I have to go to fuckin’ New York City to do it.”

The show was a great success for several artists but the New York Times art critic took a special liking to Justin’s work -- and he was straight, so there was no question about desiring ass in exchange for the favorable write-up.

Exactly four hours, one hell of a fuck, and one session of passionate love-making, Brian looked at Justin as they rested, sated and truly happy.

“Are you ready?”

“Brian, I’ve been ready long before you were.”

“So are we really going to do this -- finally?”

“I don’t think there’s anything final about it.  I just needed to feel like I wasn’t about to become the little woman.”

“You have never been little, and you are definitely NOT a woman, or I wouldn’t be here.”

The two laughed and exchanged rings, in a bed, in an expensive hotel because there was no way Brian was going to celebrate anything in, “...that shit-hole you call an apartment.”

The two made promises to accompany the rings.  In addition to some of the typical vows about health and wealth, and even monogamy, since neither could find satisfaction with any other random dicks or asses anymore, they added a few special vows of their own.

Brian added, “I promise to listen and respect your need to show your work in places that might take you all over the country -- shit, all over the world.  And I promise not to assume you won’t come back to me.”

Justin smiled softly and added his own promises, now knowing the value of a promise and wanting to finally make the mature vows of one adult to another adult; one with whom he was deeply in love.  “I vow to make sure that I encourage both of us to be all we can be.”

“Are we joining the army?”

Justin swatted Brian on the arm. “Shhh, let me finish, this is serious.”

“Okay.”  Brian bit his lip and added his own little vow to try and cut back on the snark.

“I promise not to get in the way if Kinnetik takes you to places that I can’t always go and in turn I won’t say no to opportunities that may send me farther away than I could ever imagine.”  Justin took a deep breath.  “But, I want us to both promise we’ll always be together, at Britin, on our birthdays -- don’t argue, I love birthdays so you’ll just have to deal with it.” Brian smiled and nodded. “And on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.”

Brian almost added as a joke, “What about Valentine’s Day?” but realized that would belittle Justin’s feelings. 

“I know you love and care about those holidays and celebrations and no matter what, I’ll always make sure we’re together.”  Brian placed Justin’s ring on his finger.

Justin nodded and promised the same, slipping Brian’s ring on his finger.

Exactly four and three-quarter years later, Justin and Brian had kept their vows.  While they never talked about the business that had Brian flying all over the world, in the private jet owned by Kinnetik, or the shows, exhibits and workshops Justin attended all over the United States and Europe, they were always together on those days they had set aside as sacrosanct. 

Those were the days that kept them going when they sometimes had to be apart for a month, or more, at a time.  The two would always reunite at Britin, making love, renewing their promises to one another and eventually enjoying time with their family.

But this year, Justin was in London and the gallery he was dealing with was associated with a new, modern art museum that was thinking of adding a Justin Taylor original to their collection.  The negotiations were taking much longer than expected and even Justin’s agent, despite seeing dollar signs dancing before her eyes, was getting disgusted with the demands on her client’s time.

The museum wanted to, get to know the artist to see if they could work with him for publicity and public relations purposes, before they would sign on the dotted line. 

Just prior to all this, Justin had flown home for Thanksgiving and spent a glorious week with Brian, having learned from his agent that his days of extensive travel would soon be over, now that he had made a name for himself.  She would be able to share his art online and his reputation was ready to speak for itself.

Brian and Justin had reveled in the news and looked forward to the time that Justin would only be painting in his Britin studio, and the two would finally be able to fuck, suck and make love to each other every day.  They had even discussed hiding away during the week between Christmas and New Year’s to begin this new stage of their lives.  It had taken ten years of determination to reach this point and neither wanted to miss a moment.

But as Justin’s December 22nd flight back to the United States was canceled for another on December 23rd, things began to look grim.

“Look, Sunshine, you do what you have to do.  I love you, and I’ll be here when you get back.”

The words hit Justin like a ton of bricks.  Those were almost the same words he had said to Brian over six years earlier when Brian ran off alone to have cancer surgery.  Had it gotten so bad that Justin was losing perspective on what was really important?

He began to think back to all the promises he’d made to Brian over their tumultuous first five years, and all that he’d broken in the process.  A chill ran up and down his spine.  Alone in his elegant suite in the London theater district, Justin sat on the edge of his bed.  He noted the large bouquets of flowers and huge fruit baskets that would soon begin to spoil.  Then he looked further at the things he brought with him on every trip -- the laptop, whose primary purpose was for video sex with Brian, the picture of the two of them he always set on any nightstand, in any hotel he was in, and finally, the card Brian had given to him on their first Christmas as a married couple.  It read:


Dear Justin,

I know I initially teased you about the promises you desired, guaranteeing we be together to celebrate certain annual occasions, but you were right. 

The Christmases of my youth were filled with booze and pain, and the Christmases of my recent past were filled with loneliness (despite the presence of Debbie, Michael and the others). 

You’ve given this special holiday meaning it never had before.  I love you, Justin, for all you’ve taught me and all you’ve brought into my life.




Justin leaned over and placed his head in his hands.  Another promise broken, another disappointment, another letdown, courtesy of the great artist, Justin Taylor.

This was the moment he was about to become a legend in his own time.  A painting of his would hang in a museum, permanently.  How could he leave this?  They were so close, and Brian did understand -- fuck, Brian always understood.

Brian -- Fuck!  Justin made two quick calls, packed his ever-present duffel (that he planned to burn before New Year’s Eve) and took off.

Exactly four and three-quarter years and two days later, after a series of flight delays, overbooked flights, and angry people, Justin arrived on the Kinnetik jet in Pittsburgh.  Justin would have to make sure Brian gave Ted a fucking huge Christmas bonus -- more than he’d already gotten.

Exactly two hours, and a shit-load of traffic later, on December 24th at 8:00 PM, Justin walked into a very quiet and very dark Britin.  Shit!  He couldn’t have already left to be with the family?

Then he saw the glow in the fireplace.  The fireplace that was the backdrop for the marriage proposal to beat all marriage proposals. 

Brian lay on the floor, surrounded by pillows, with two glasses of VSOP Brandy.

“Brian, how did you know?”

“I knew you wouldn’t break your promise.” 

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