Be Careful What You Wish For
* * *
After Brian and Justin's reunion of sorts on the day of Lyle's party, things between the two of them stayed good. Neither one of them had spoken about the distance that Brian put between them for the whole month before, and Justin was reveling in the attention Brian was giving him. Their time together was very limited due to the success of Kinnetik, but he understood how busy Brian was and used his spare time to work on his art. He was still trying to decide if he was ready for a showing in New York. If he agreed, he'd only have a couple of months to pull together enough of his work to satisfy the gallery manager, and John's illness, mixed with his non-relationship with Brian, hadn't left him with a lot of desire to paint.
Brian did manage to find just enough time to fly home to Pittsburgh for an afternoon and let Vance know he was leaving the company. The older man seemed to be thrilled with Brian's announcement until Brian pointed out the clause in the contract which stated that if for any reason Brian wanted out of the partnership, Vance was required to buy him out at 20 percent of the company's net worth. Otherwise Brian had the right to sell his shares to an outsider. Brian returned to Denver with 400 grand more in his bank account and a satisfaction that he never felt before.
About six weeks after the party, Brian got a call from Lindsay right in the middle of a hectic day.
"What do you want, Linds? I've got three more meetings to sit through today plus a deadline that's almost impossible to meet," Brian said somewhat irritated. After the argument they had a couple of months before, Brian usually had his assistant tell her he was in a meeting and only talked to her briefly when he called to ask about his son.
"Brian, when are you going to stop being mad at me? We had our argument months ago and I've already apologized countless times," Lindsay replied.
"This has nothing to do with my being mad at you. I've just opened my own agency. I've been really busy trying to make a name for myself. I'm not punching a time clock here, you know. I'm working sixteen hour days," Brian snapped, fighting to keep some of his annoyance out of his voice.
"Too busy to spend a day or two with your son?"
"Huh?" Brian asked in confusion.
"Well, Gus has been asking to see you so I thought we'd fly out this weekend for a visit. I know you're busy and we couldn't stay long anyway. Business at the gallery is picking up and so are my responsibilities. I thought we could fly late Friday afternoon and stay until Sunday. Do you think you could fit us into your busy schedule?" Lindsay knew she was baiting him, but she was beginning to think that his feelings for Justin were stronger than she originally thought and wanted to see how they were getting on in their own setting.
"Hold on for a second," Brian replied as he put Lindsay on hold and buzzed Amanda. She appeared in his doorway immediately.
"What's up boss?"
"I need you to make sure my calendar is clear from Friday afternoon through the weekend. No Saturday morning meetings this weekend. Is that doable?"
"That shouldn't be a problem. Mr. McAvoy just called to reschedule your Friday meeting for Monday because of a family issue. I'll make sure to keep it clear. Does this mean you're planning on getting a life?" Amanda teased. She used to be a little afraid of her new boss when she was first hired, but she learned in her time at Kinnetik that he was a fair man whose bark was worse than his bite.
"Are you planning on getting a paycheck?" he quipped back.
"I rescind the question," she laughed as she left the office.
Brian smiled to himself. He was really beginning to like Amanda. She reminded him a lot of Cynthia. Shaking his head, he hit the hold button and reconnected with Lindsay.
"It's all set. I'll make the flight arrangements and let you know the details later tonight."
"Brian, you don't have to do that. I can pay our way."
"Consider it a gift. It's no big deal. It's just going to be the two of you, right?"
"Well, as much as Mel would love to see you, I think she's going to pass this time," Lindsay joked.
"Tell her I'll miss her," Brian replied sarcastically. "Look, I've gotta run. I'll call you tonight."
"Okay. And thanks Brian. Gus really misses you. He's going to be so excited when he finds out," Lindsay said.
"Later," Brian said before hanging up the phone and getting back to work.
The rest of the week flew by and Brian was becoming more anxious as time went on. He was surprised at how much he missed his son. He never really made much of an attempt to see him while in Pittsburgh, but then again, he didn't have to. Lindsay made sure to stop by once or twice a week so he didn't have to. He never really had time to miss him before.
Justin was just as anxious to see Gus and Lindsay as Brian was. Even though he got the feeling that Lindsay liked him when they met in Pittsburgh, he was worried about her entering their lives in Denver. She'd be staying with them in the house, watching their interaction together, and possibly picking up on anything unusual. Not that he and Brian weren't getting along. They'd gotten past their problems and seemed to have moved on. The worry came from having someone as close as Lindsay observing them for an extended period of time. She knew Brian better than anyone and the last time they were around friends, Michael picked up on something instantly. What would happen if Lindsay did too?
Justin was a complete wreck by the time Brian arrived home on Friday with Lindsay and Gus in tow. He took a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves, when Gus walked into the living room.
"Justin!" the boy shrieked as he raced towards Justin and threw himself into his arms. "I missed you!"
"I missed you too, kid," Justin replied with a smile, enjoying the feel of little arms around his neck. He took a moment to savor the acceptance before focusing on the boy's mother. "Hello Lindsay, it's good to see you again."
"Hi, Justin, thanks for having us. Gus really wanted to see his father," Lindsay replied warmly.
"Oh, no need to thank me. This is Brian's house, too. You're welcome here anytime," Justin told her.
"As long as you call first," Brian teased.
"Daddy said you have a pool inside," Gus said. "Can we go swimming?"
"Honey, we just got here. Why don't we get settled first and then we'll see about a swim?" Lindsay said.
"It's okay, Lindsay. Why don't you get settled and spend some time with Brian. I'm sure you've got a lot of catching up to do. I'll take Gus to the pool and you two can join us when you're done," Justin offered.
"Yeah Mommy, can I? Can I go swimming with Justin?"
"Are you sure you don't mind?" Lindsay asked Justin.
"Not at all. We'll have fun, won't we, Gus?"
"Yep! See Mommy, we're going to have fun!" Gus exclaimed.
"All right, come with me, little man. We'll go get your suit on and then meet Justin back here," Lindsay said, giving in to her son. "Brian, can you show us to our room?"
"Yeah, come on, Gus." Brian took Gus from Justin's arms, leaning in to give him a chaste kiss before leading Lindsay up the stairs. Justin noticed the surprised look on Lindsay's face, but said nothing as they disappeared.
Brian helped his son get ready while Lindsay quickly unpacked their things, and then the three of them made their way back down to Justin. Brian smiled as he watched Justin lead Gus out of the study.
"You really got it bad, don't you?" Lindsay asked as soon they were alone.
"I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that," Brian replied, feigning innocence. "Would you like a drink?"
"Mineral water, if you have it, and you know exactly what I mean. I guess I owe you an apology. I was upset when you told me you were staying in Denver. I didn't understand why you'd want to be so far away from your friends and family. I knew you had feelings for Justin; I just never realized how strong they were. I can see it now."
"See what exactly?"
"I can see that you love him. I've never seen you look at anyone the way you look at him. I guess Peter Pan finally grew up."
Brian wanted to argue with her, tell her she didn't know what she was talking about, but he couldn't. Insisting that he wasn't in love would be counter-productive to their plans, so he had to bite his tongue and let her believe what she wanted. He was relieved when she noticed the portrait of John hanging beside the fireplace.
"Is that your uncle?"
"Yeah, that's him."
"Wow, Brian, you look exactly like him. It's amazing," Lindsay said as she looked closely at the painting on the wall. She immediately noticed Justin's signature on the bottom. "Justin's talent is pretty amazing, too. Maybe he can do a portrait of Gus one day."
"He already is." Brian laughed at the surprised look on Lindsay's face. "He did some sketches from memory while we were in Pittsburgh. He's using them."
"Brian, I know this is none of my business and that I can't tell you what to do, but…"
"Here it comes," Brian replied sarcastically.
"It's just that…well; you're not the only one involved with Justin. I just want you to be careful. Gus seems to have taken to him quickly. If things don't work out between the two of you, he's going to be pretty upset. I don't want to see him hurt."
"I know what I'm doing, Linds. No one's going to get hurt," Brian assured her confidently. He just wished he believed what he was saying.
"Do you?" When Brian only nodded his head in reply, Lindsay gave up. She had said what she came to say. Now it was out of her hands. "So, what do you say we go join the boys in the pool?"
"Sounds good to me."
Brian led Lindsay back to the pool, trying not to think about what would happen when his time with Justin was through.
The weekend flew by quickly and all too soon it was time to say goodbye to Gus. Brian stood back and watched the scene between his son and Justin, memories of his conversation with Lindsay ringing in his ears. Gus had grown attached to Justin during his visit and he wondered what was going to happen when he and Justin went their separate ways. He didn't want to spend the rest of his time in Denver without seeing Gus, but he knew that giving the two of them more time to bond wouldn't be a smart move. He didn't want Gus to be hurt in the end.
Once all the goodbyes were done, Brian drove Lindsay and Gus to the airport. Having Gus throw his arms around his neck and tell him he loved him caused Brian to become a little choked up and it was all he could do to keep Lindsay from noticing how emotional he was. Once they were gone, Brian headed back out to the highway, but instead of going home, he headed to Kinnetik. He just needed to be alone with his thoughts for awhile. He called Justin and told him of his plans, claiming to be behind because of the visit, but he could hear the uncertainty in Justin's voice. Justin always managed to know what he was thinking, and that pissed him off.
As Brian walked into his office, he looked around at the décor, seeing Justin's touch in every corner of the room. He remembered the day they went shopping, how much enjoyment Justin got in helping Brian set up his space, how much fun they had together. He plopped down on the couch and thought back to the months since meeting the blond and realized how much things had changed for him. How was he supposed to go back to being the stud of Liberty Avenue after living with Justin for over a year? Then again, how could he not? How the fuck did he get himself in this mess in the first place?
* * *
Justin sat in his bedroom wondering if he should call Brian. It had been a week since Lindsay and Gus went back to Pittsburgh. Brian had not come home several nights. Those that he had, he had spent in his own bedroom. Justin had not actually talked to Brian since the dinner. With a long sigh Justin stood up. He needed to clear his mind and then decide what he was going to do.
Walking down the stairs, Justin noted the fresh flowers on the table in the foyer. They were very pretty but not as pretty as the ones Brian had given him. He had received flowers twice now from Brian. Both times they had been a surprise, and both times he had been blown away.
"Cut it out, Taylor," he mumbled to himself as he walked down the hall that led to the pool. He stepped inside the pool area and looked into the pristine blue water. He could almost feel Brian's lips on his as they kissed against the side of the pool. He could see them racing each other in the water, Brian trying to catch him, and then he would let Brian do just that. His reward for losing the race was always much better than the satisfaction of winning would have been. Justin felt his anal muscles tighten as he thought about Brian's beautiful cock sliding inside him. Why did he have to think about things like that and make himself all hot and bothered when there was no relief in sight?
Justin thought about heading out to a club and finding someone to fuck in the back room. He could do that and nobody would be any the wiser. Except that he would know. And Brian had promised not to fuck anyone else while they were pretending to be together. Brian said he hadn't done that, even though they had not seen each other for long periods of time, just like now. And Justin did believe Brian. If Brian was anything, he was honest. If he said something, you could take it to the bank. So, how could he go and fuck someone else when Brian wasn't allowed that luxury?
Justin slid back one of the glass panels that enclosed the pool and stepped out into the cool fall air. He looked around the gardens noting where fall flowers had come up to replace the more colorful ones of the spring and summer. Fall flowers always seemed to be yellow and orange and burnt umber with deep, deep green foliage. They were pretty but Justin had to admit that he loved the pansies and irises and roses of earlier in the season. He slumped down on one of the benches that were interspersed throughout the gardens.
He stared up at the house, to the window that he knew was the one for John's room. "Why couldn't you have stayed with me a little longer?" Justin whispered. "I need your advice."
Dragging his eyes away from John's window, Justin stared out over the gardens. What was he going to do? He loved Brian Kinney, but at the moment he didn't like him very much. He wasn't sure he could stand another session of Brian being all attentive and loving and wonderful, because then he would inevitably draw back and run away. That was the pattern that they had developed, and it just hurt too much.
It would be so much easier if he didn't love Brian, and Brian didn't love him. Justin was sure deep down in his soul that Brian Kinney already loved him, but he also understood how much that very idea scared Brian. In fact, Justin was beginning to believe that Brian might never come to terms with it. Brian might never be able to admit that he loved Justin, that he loved anyone other than Gus. For all his honesty, Brian seemed to be totally incapable of dealing with his feelings. Maybe that came from the fucked up childhood that he had had.
"If only you could have stayed in Brian's life, John," Justin whispered to the gods of the garden. "You could have shown him how to love unconditionally, just like I know you loved me and I loved you. There must be some of your Kinney love somewhere inside the big oaf. If only…" Justin stopped there knowing that wishing and speculating were not going to accomplish what he wanted.
"Did you say something?" Arthur asked as he came up beside Justin's bench.
"Shit!" Justin said as he jumped in surprise. He had thought he was totally alone. "What are you doing out here, Arthur?"
"Just taking a break. I thought I heard you say something and wasn't sure if you were speaking to me."
"I … I was talking to John," Justin admitted. "Sometimes I miss him so much."
"I do too," Arthur said. "May I?" he asked, indicating that he wanted to sit down beside Justin. "You look tired, Justin. Is there anything I can do to help?"
"No, no," Justin replied. "I'm fine. I just have some decisions to make, and I haven't been sleeping too well until I make up my mind about them."
"Want to talk about it?"
"I…" Justin almost said yes, but he knew he couldn't talk to anyone about the situation with Brian. He shook his head slowly.
"Is it about Brian?" Arthur probed. "I know he hasn't been around much lately."
"Since you helped him get his office up and running, he's spending all his time there. He really wants to make his new company a success."
"I would say he already has, based on the reports I've been hearing."
"You think so?" Justin asked with a smile. He did want Brian to succeed. After all that's why they were carrying out this farce. Maybe he should consider just giving up and letting Brian go ahead and make it on his own. If Brian was doing well, he wouldn't need John's money so much., and they could just go their separate ways.
"Justin," Arthur said. "Justin?"
"Oh, um, sorry."
"You were a million miles away. Are you sure you're okay?"
"I should go," Justin said hastily. "I have a phone call to make."
Arthur watched Justin walk back towards the house. He wondered if his suspicions were right, and things were not going so good between Justin and Brian. The housekeeping staff had informed him of Brian's absences. He himself had not seen Brian in days. When he had helped Brian set up his office, he had gotten to know John's nephew a little better. It surprised him that someone as reticent to talk about himself as Brian Kinney was would so quickly leap into a relationship with Justin, with anyone. Relationships seemed to be far down Brian's list of priorities. At first Arthur had been pleased that the two men seemed to have found each other, but now that seemed to be coming unraveled. Arthur did not want to see Justin get hurt, or Brian either, for that matter.
With a feeling of foreboding, Arthur watched Justin disappear into the house.
Justin went up to his bedroom. He looked at the clock beside the bed and decided to make his phone call.
"Gerard," he said into the phone. "I've decided to go ahead with the show at your gallery. In fact, if you could find me some reasonable studio space, I'd like to come to New York and work there as the lead-up to the show. That sounds good. I'll see you day after tomorrow."
Justin spent the following day crating and arranging for the shipping of his paintings that he wanted in the show. The show wouldn't open for two months, but everything would be ready to be sent when it was needed. In the meantime he would stay in New York, far away from the brunet whose life he was supposed to be sharing. Two months in New York City before Christmas might prove interesting, and it would surely tell him once and for all if he and Brian Kinney had any hope of ever truly getting together.
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