Be Careful What You Wish For
* * *
Brian and Justin spent another week in Pittsburgh before flying back to Denver. In that time, Justin made it a point to stay away from Michael as much as possible. He had felt the man's glare through dinner at Deb's the night before, but refused to let it get to him. He was easy for Justin to ignore, since he knew they were catching an early morning flight back home.
After claiming their luggage, the two men made their way through the airport and out to the limo that was waiting for them. Once they were inside, Justin carefully reminded Brian of the charade they needed to put on. In Pittsburgh they had been careful in front of others, but in the loft they could be themselves and not worry about appearances. In Denver they had a whole house staff to watch over them and pick up on anything out of sync.
"Don't worry, I'm getting used to having to watch what I say," Brian replied to Justin's reminder. "Aside from Michael's delusions, everyone in Pittsburgh believed that we were together, didn't they?"
"Yeah, but we spent most of our time alone at the loft. It's different here, remember? Arthur is going to be around a lot and if he notices anything off…I don't know what he'd do. I'd like to think that he'd go along with our plan, but I can't be sure. He was awful loyal to John," Justin said.
"I know, and I promise to be careful," Brian told him. "Now, since we have another twenty minutes until we reach the house, what do you say we find a way to occupy ourselves?"
"Brian, we've already had sex twice this morning," Justin pointed out incredulously.
"Yeah, what's your point?" Brian smirked as he pulled Justin to him and went for round three.
As soon as Brian and Justin got settled in the house, Justin went in search of Arthur. He found him in the study, looking over some files that were scattered across the desk.
"Hey Arthur, we're back. How's everything going around here?" Justin asked as he pulled up a chair.
"Okay I guess. It's just so empty here without John, you know?" Arthur replied sadly.
"I know what you mean. Being in Pittsburgh had its advantages. John's memory wasn't in every square inch of the loft like it is here. I felt his absence as soon as we pulled up out front," Justin agreed. "Anything you need me to do? Any problems arise while I was gone?"
"Everything has been going pretty smoothly. The phone still rings occasionally with sympathy calls from people who hadn't heard about John's passing, but otherwise it's been quiet around here. I've been going through all of John's files and trying to tie up any loose ends he may have left," Arthur explained. "There was one phone call that you need to know about. I thought of calling you in Pittsburgh, but decided to wait until you returned.
"Uh oh, I don't like the sound of that," Justin sighed. "What is it?"
"I got a strange phone call a few days after you left from a Craig Taylor."
"My father?" Justin asked in horror. "What the hell did he want?"
"I'm not sure. Listen, Justin, John and I had been really close for years. He told me about your past and what happened after your prom. I hope this doesn't offend you, but I know what an asshole Craig Taylor is," Arthur replied.
"Arthur, I may not like it, but the truth doesn't offend me. He is an asshole," Justin said calmly. "So, did he say what he was calling for?"
"He seemed to be quite upset and wanted to speak with you. I told him you were away for awhile and he wasn't happy. He wants you to call him."
"Shit, this isn't what I need right now," Justin murmured. Then a thought occurred to him. "Maybe something happened to my mother or sister. Did he say why he wanted to talk to me?"
"He didn't say," Arthur said. "Maybe I should've called you right away, but I didn't want to upset you. You've been dealing with enough shit over the loss of John. I didn't want to add to it."
"No, that's okay, Arthur. My family turned their backs on me years ago. They'll wait until it's convenient for me before I get back to them."
Arthur nodded his head in understanding. "So how was Pittsburgh? How are you and Brian getting along?"
"Pittsburgh was good. I met Brian's family and friends. Aside from Brian's best friend, everyone seemed really nice. It felt good to get away."
Arthur paused for a moment as he chose his words carefully. "Justin, are you sure getting involved with Brian is a good idea? I handled some of the investigating that John did into his past and he's not exactly partner material. I think you deserve better than him."
Justin was touched by Arthur's concern, but had no intention of letting the man's warnings change his mind about his plans with Brian. "Arthur, I appreciate your concern, but I know what I'm doing. Brian's had some issues in the past, but deep down inside he's not the asshole he likes everyone to believe. He's actually a very caring man, and I'd be very lucky to have him in my life."
"Well, it's your call. I just wouldn't feel right if I didn't at least say something to you. I meant what I said in our meeting with Lyle. You're like family, and I only want good things for you," Arthur told him.
"Thank you, Arthur. I feel the same way," Justin replied. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go for a swim and try to decide what I'm going to say to my fath…Craig when I call him."
"Okay Justin, I'll be here until about five if you need anything. I'm taking tomorrow off to handle a few personal issues, but I'll be able to be reached on my cell if anything arises that needs my attention."
Justin went down to the pool and stripped off his clothes, not caring whether anyone saw him or not. Hearing that his father called brought up a bunch of memories that were better off left behind. He swam lap after lap, with his personal demons chasing him until he sensed someone's presence and came up for air to find Brian watching him curiously.
"Hey, did you need me for something?" he asked as he reached out and grabbed his towel off the edge and wiped his face.
"I just saw Arthur and he asked me how you were doing. Did something happen?" Brian asked as he sat down on the side of the pool and put his feet in the water.
"Not really," Justin replied. "My father called while we were in Pittsburgh. I'm just trying to figure out why."
"Wouldn't it just be easier to call him and ask?"
"Probably, but I'm not sure I really want to know. I haven't spoken to him since I was eighteen. I guess I just need a little time to prepare myself before talking to him again," Justin admitted before pushing thoughts of his father out of his mind. He swam over to where Brian's legs were dangling in the water and wrapped his hands around the older man's calves. "Why don't you join me?"
"I can't. I'm trying to get some work done. I was just coming down for a cup of coffee when I ran into Arthur and just wanted to see if you were okay."
"Oh come on, Brian. You can work later."
"No, I really need to…"
Brian never got a chance to finish his sentence as Justin grabbed his legs tighter and pulled him down into the pool. The water was on the cool side, but actually felt good to Brian as he sank down to the bottom before coming back up sputtering.
"Why, you little shit!"
Justin could see the humor in Brian's eyes and knew that he wasn't in trouble, but decided to play along. "I'm so sorry, Brian. It was an accident."
"Accident, my ass," Brian laughed. "Now you're going to get it."
"I hope so," Justin said over his shoulder as he quickly swam to the other side of the pool.
Brian stripped off his wet clothes and tossed them out of the pool before diving under the water and finding his way over to Justin. He came up for air mere inches from where Justin was standing. Justin shrieked and trying to swim away, but his attempt failed as Brian caught him in his arms and captured his lips in a heated kiss. Craig Taylor was forgotten as they lost themselves in passion, neither one of them caring whether any of the house staff walked in on them.
Three hours later, Justin was sitting in John's room with the phone in his hand. He was trying to strike up the nerve to call his father and wished his older friend was still there with him. The best he could do was sit in the bedroom he'd spent so much time in during John's final months. It was where he felt the closest to him. He finally let out a huge sigh and dialed the phone number that used to be his own, back in another lifetime. He hoped that his father was out. He'd been praying that his mother would answer, making the phone call a little easier than it was. Unfortunately luck wasn't on his side and Craig answered on the third ring.
"Uh…Dad…I got a message that you called," he said hesitantly.
"Don't call me that!" Craig barked in anger. "How could you, Justin? How could you let your name, the Taylor name, be associated with the likes of John Kinney? Didn't you realize how big his name was in the business world? Do you have any idea how embarrassing it was to have my colleagues come up to me at work and tell me that your name was all over the headlines? The papers claim that you were Kinney's lover? Can't you at least be discreet about that disgusting lifestyle of yours?"
Justin was horrified by the outburst. "Dad…I mean, Craig…I wasn't…"
"I heard he died from AIDS. He got what he deserved. I guess you'll be next. See what being a queer gets you? People like you pass that disease around like breath mints. One of these days you'll all be dead and then good people like your mother and I can live our lives again without being disgusted by your kind. Until then, for God's sake, keep your name out of the papers and stop embarrassing your mother and me!"
Justin heard the line go dead and sat there in shock. He had no idea what he was expecting when he placed the call, but whatever it was, it wasn't his father's anger and hate. A small part of him even hoped that his father had come around and was ready to make peace again. How could he have been so stupid? He tried to fight the tears that were threatening to fall. He'd already shed enough tears for his asshole father. But he couldn't help it. The little boy that was still inside of him longed for the acceptance that he knew he'd never get. He was lost in his own misery and wasn't sure how long he sat there before he felt someone beside him. He turned to find Brian staring at him with concern.
"Hey, I didn't hear you come in," he said softly as he replaced the phone in its charger and wiped his eyes. "I just…just talked to my fath…Craig."
"I'm taking it that the call didn't go well." Brian reached out and wiped away a few tears that Justin had missed. "What did he say?"
"Apparently some of his colleagues read about John's death in the newspapers. I was mentioned as his lover. Good old Craig hit the roof. He said…he said that John got what he deserved and that I was probably next." Justin's voice was choked with emotion as he relayed his story. "He said that we passed around the disease like breath mints and that he couldn't wait until all us queers died off so he didn't have to be disgusted by our kind."
"That fucking asshole," Brian yelled, startling Justin. "If anyone's disgusting, it's a father who would throw away his own son because he didn't agree with the person he was."
"Forget it, Brian. He's not worth our anger. I just want to forget all about Craig Taylor and his hate," Justin said softly. "Can you make me forget?"
Brian could see the sadness in Justin's eyes and knew he needed to pull back his anger. Justin needed him to help ease his pain, not make it worse by pointing out the obvious. "Yeah, I can make you forget. Let's go to bed."
Justin nodded his head and took Brian's hand, allowing the man to lead him out of John's room and down to the one that they were now officially sharing. And just as promised, Brian pulled out all the stops, causing Justin to not only forget Craig Taylor, but his own name as well.
The next morning Justin woke up to find a small note lying on Brian's pillow. A quick glance told him that Brian had some errands to run and that he'd be back by lunch time. Justin stretched before crawling about of bed and heading for the shower. Between the emotions that Craig stirred up and the lovemaking that he shared with Brian the night before, he was completely worn out and couldn't seem to shake the sleepiness in his brain.
Once he was dressed, he went down towards the kitchen to find some coffee. He was surprised to see a large vase of roses sitting on the table by the door. He walked over to the beautiful arrangement and sniffed the fragrant flowers before finding the card. The words written in Brian's familiar handwriting were just what he needed. Seven simple words that washed away his fatigue and made him smile, remembering their passion from the night before.
Can't wait to forget again tonight.
Craig Taylor could go to hell. There was nothing wrong with the feelings he had for Brian, and nothing disgusting about what they shared behind closed doors. With a spring in his step, Justin proceeded to the kitchen to get his coffee. He refused to waste anymore of his time thinking about the past. From now on he was only going to focus on his future.
* * *
Brian stepped up to the receptionist and handed her his card. "I'm here to see Mr. Taylor," Brian said stiffly.
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No, but I think Mr. Taylor will be interested in what I have to tell him," Brian said confidently.
"One moment," the receptionist said, putting a call in to Mr. Taylor.
Brian heard her telling him that Mr. Kinney from Vangard Advertising was there to see him. He smiled to himself.
"He'll see you in a few minutes. Have a seat over there."
Brian let out a sigh. He hated waiting for anyone, and this was no different. However, some things needed to be pointed out to Mr. Craig fucking Taylor. When Brian had first made the decision to seek out Craig Taylor, he had wanted only one thing. And that was to beat the motherfucker to within an inch of his life. During the ride into Denver, Brian had readjusted his thinking. Now he wanted to see what the miserable son of a bitch who hurt Justin so badly looked like. Brian really had no idea what he was going to do when he came face to face with Justin's father.
"Mr. Taylor will see you now," the receptionist said, nodding towards a door with Craig Taylor's name emblazoned on it.
Brian stood and walked towards the door. Before he got there, the door opened and a nice looking man extended his hand. "Mr. Kinney, I'm Craig Taylor."
Brian hesitated before he extended his hand and let this man shake it. He felt such revulsion at the contact that he couldn't get his hand away quickly enough. "I represent Vangard Advertising," Brian said, suddenly at a loss for what to say.
"I've heard of Vangard. You're out of Pittsburgh, aren't you?" Craig asked. Brian nodded. "What brings you to Denver?"
"Drumming up new business," Brian said with a bit of snark.
"Surely our little electronics firm didn't bring you all the way here?" Craig joked.
"You and several other companies," Brian continued keeping his voice flat.
"Come in and sit down," Craig said ushering Brian into his office. Brian sat across the desk from Justin's father wondering what the fuck had made him go there. "I'm flattered that you're interested in doing the advertising for our company, but we don't have a huge advertising budget."
"I didn't think you did," Brian said, looking disparagingly around Craig's office.
Craig frowned, suddenly finding this man's demeanor less than satisfactory. "Why are you here, Mr. Kinney?"
"Do you have children, Mr. Taylor?" Brian asked.
"I have a daughter, but why do you ask?" Craig replied, wondering who this fool was.
"No son? I have a son."
"Good for you. No, I have no son."
"Did something happen to him?" Brian asked with a little smile.
"I beg your pardon. I said I have no son."
"I saw the article in the paper after John Kinney's funeral. You have a son."
"He is no longer my son," Craig said firmly, beginning to regret that he had agreed to see this stranger.
"Then I am no longer in the market for your business," Brian replied as he stood up.
"What the fuck! Who are you?"
"I'm your son's lover. Justin told me how you treated him on the phone. I felt compelled to stop by and tell you what a fucking asshole you are."
Craig sputtered, trying to think of something rational to say. "Get out!" he shouted finally. "Get the fuck out of here!"
"Gladly. And I'll tell Justin you said hello."
"Get out!" Craig shouted again as Brian opened the door, walked through and slammed it behind him.
The office all turned to stare at Brian after the door slammed. "Excuse the disruption. Mr. Taylor doesn't like fags. And I don't like homophobes. Have a pleasant day," Brian said with a big grin as he walked out of Taylor Electronics.
When Brian walked into John's house a few hours later, he felt really good. He had a potential client for his new company. Cynthia had passed on some scuttlebutt about a company in Denver that was looking for a new direction with their advertising. Brian had been quite persuasive in his pitch. He was pretty sure he could land the account once he formed his new company.
"Hey," he said as he walked into Justin's studio.
"Hey, yourself," Justin smiled and wiped off one of his brushes.
"What are you working on?"
"Just getting some bad shit out on canvas," Justin said, looking at what he had painted.
Brian came up behind him and put his arms around Justin's waist, resting his chin on Justin's shoulder as he studied the picture. "That is certainly dark," Brian observed, looking at the swirls of red and black with what could only be described as a white spear piercing through them.
"That was the idea."
"Should I guess what inspired it?"
"You already know."
Brian debated telling Justin about his visit with his father. But then he decided against it. He held Justin a little tighter. "It's very powerful," was all he said.
"Thanks." Justin smiled a little bit. He liked these kinds of moments with Brian. "Where did you go this morning? Oh, and I loved the flowers."
"Good," Brian said giving Justin a kiss on the cheek. "I think I have a client lined up for my new company."
"Here in Denver?"
"Yep, Cynthia tipped me off about a company looking for a new ad agency."
"And you were brilliant with them."
"Of course," Brian smirked.
"That's great. When do you think you might actually start this company?"
"I think we should talk to Lyle about John's will. I'd like to start as soon as possible," Brian said.
"I see," Justin said, staring straight ahead. He wondered what that meant for him.
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