All in a Good Day's ... Work?
When the loft
phone rang for third time that morning, Brian nearly threw his laptop across the
room in frustration. He was working on a presentation that was due next week
for a major new client. Half his staff were off sick with some damned bug.
Justin was out of town - an unexpected opportunity to meet with a gallery owner
in Philadelphia who was interested in including a couple of his works in some
fucking Pennsylvania Promise show. His cell phone had died completely
that morning so he needed the loft phone to keep in touch with both Justin and
He’d just hung up after speaking to Debbie and organizing for her to take Molly (in return Molly, who like most kids her age knew her way round a hard drive, would help Deb with the card for JR), when the phone rang again.
This time it was Ben. He was looking for ideas from Justin for the cover artwork for his new book. He’d struck a deal with some small publisher and Brian had the feeling they were both hoping Justin would do the work for free.
He was about to blow Ben off big time when an idea struck him.
Ten minutes later having suggested that Ben talk to Mikey about using an image of the original Rage cover to front his book on ‘gay subtext in super hero comics’ or whatever the fucking thing was about, Brian was about to call Daphne to tell her that Ben would be delighted to help her prepare for her interview when the phone rang in his hand.
Brian pressed the talk button, ready to deliver a blast of thermo-nuclear proportions to whoever was interrupting him this time.
Fortunately, before he could get a word out a well-known and very much loved voice said tentatively, “Daddy?”
Brian took a deep breath, thanking his lucky stars he hadn’t had time to snap out the “what the fuck do you want?” that had been the least offensive of all the things that had been trembling on his lips.
“Hi there, Sonnyboy,” he said.
“Is Dus there?” his son asked.
Brian was maybe a little put out, so his voice might have been a tad sulky when he responded. “No, sorry. He’s not.” He did his best to keep any hint of pleading out of his tone when he added, “Won’t your old man do as well?”
There was a long pause, then Gus said shyly, “Mommy said you’d think it was silly.”
Brian bit back a stinging comment about Mommy’s ability to think, and forced himself to speak mildly. “Well, I don’t think you’d call about anything silly. What is it?”
Much heartened by his father’s interest, Gus responded eagerly, “I have to do a pwroject. For school.”
Clearly he was quite proud of the fact that he’d reached the age of doing important big kid things like school projects.
“Okay,” Brian said. “So what’s this project about? And what do you need from Dus and your old man?”
Gus giggled a little nervously. He instinctively knew his father’s reaction to anything vaguely sentimental. But he did need help if he was going to do the project the way he wanted to.
“It’s about our parents. And I wanted some photos of you and Dus.”
Brian was a little bewildered. “But, Sonnyboy, you’ve got photos. You’ve got photos of us all together. We took some just the other week.”
Gus sounded a little frustrated at his father’s slowness to understand. “I mean old photos,” he explained. “From the beg’ninning photos."
“Mommy said Dus might have some.”
Brian thought for a moment. “Dus” probably did - on the laptop he’d taken with him to Philly, or locked away from Brian’s sarcastic response under his password on the desktop they shared. But … Brian was surprised by his sudden sense of something like shame that he didn’t have any himself. Well, only one. Or two. And, for some reason he didn’t want to think about too closely in case it revealed that even he, Brian Asshole Kinney, had a sentimental side hidden away somewhere, they were private. He didn’t have any that he was ready to share.
But unless he was very much mistaken he knew who would have.
He promised Gus he'd try and find some photos and after a few more moments precious chat with his son, he hung up the phone and made another call, wondering as he did how many more fucking people were going to call demanding “Justin’s” help today.
Daphne squeaked with relief over Ben’s “offer” and then squealed her gratitude into Brian’s ear until he finally shut her up with his conditions. She giggled (and Brian knew his partner would hear about his request almost immediately) but promised to email some photos to Gus as soon as she got back from meeting with Ben.
Then Brian called Mikey to tell him to expect an email from Jenn with his fucking recipe.
Then he went back to his presentation, gloomily realizing that he wasn’t going to get it done today, and would have to work on it over the weekend. So much for Philadelphia.
Brian wasn’t all that surprised when his email pinged later and he found he’d been cc’d on the one Daphne had sent Gus.
He stared at the attached photos for quite a while - one of him and Justin at that lame-assed GLC art show; one of them making out at some dinner at Deb’s; one of them throwing a ball back and forth outside Jennifer’s condo; one dancing at Pride that had been published in Pittsburgh’s gay weekly. And, of course, that photo. The only one Brian had from their first year together. The one of them dancing at Justin’s prom - taken by some awestruck girl and passed on to Daphne months later. Justin had been with Ethan by then, but Daphne had sent Brian a copy anyway, and it had lived in his own password protected private folder ever since.
For a long moment Brian stared at the image of them captured in time - young and happy and beautiful and very clearly so much in love. He almost hated how revealing the shot was. How revealing they all were. If it was so damned obvious, even to a fucking camera, how come it had taken him so long to recognize - or at least admit it?
He clicked open the folder he’d originally used for the prom photo, and opened one more image. A photo taken by a press photographer outside Babylon on the night of the bombing. It had never been printed, but a friend on the paper had seen it and thought he might like a copy. It was from a distance, and showed two figures, clinging together, in the red light from an ambulance.
Well, Brian thought ruefully, at least he’d admitted it finally - even if it had literally taken a bomb to make him do it. What a fucking stupid twat he was.
Shaking off any
lingering sentimentality over the memories, Brian saved the rest of the photos
to the same folder and spent a few blessedly uninterrupted hours working on the
damned presentation. He was just wondering when it had gotten so dark outside
and if he should order something for dinner when he heard the loft door squeal
open. Seems Sunshine had realized his partner wasn’t going to be able to join
him, and had come home early instead.
To Brian’s complete frustration, Justin just laughed when Brian unloaded on him about his interrupted day and berated him for exposing his frazzled partner to the demands of their needy friends.
“Why didn’t you just tell them to fuck off?” he shrugged. “That’s what I would have done if I’d been busy.”
Brian wondered why people considered him the asshole.
But then he remembered that he still had to persuade Justin to let Ben use the Rage cover. He wondered if a blow job would do it, but before he could go too far down that track, he was forestalled.
There was a reason Justin had decided not to waste a night alone in Philly, and taking in Brian’s air of real tiredness and stress, he knew that if his partner was going to get his presentation done, Brian would need a little help to relax.
It was help Justin was very ready to give, and that Brian was more than willing to accept.
After all, he’d been answering everyone else’s pleas for help all day. It was time he reaped his reward.
19th May 2009
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