Be Careful What You Wish For
* * *
Brian paced the living room for the hundredth time, anxiously waiting for the phone to ring. He called his office as soon as he knew someone would be there and told them he was taking the day off because he was a little under the weather. He surely wasn't going to tell them the real reason for his absence. That his partner had stormed out the night before in anger and hadn't returned home since. It was going on eleven o'clock in the morning and still no word from the blond. He knew Justin had been upset the night before, but he didn't expect him to stay out the entire night. After he had stormed out, Brian had done what was asked of him, and moved his stuff out of Justin's room. He knew they were going to have to talk about things some more, but figured he'd be best to follow the request until they had a chance to work everything out. After he erased all traces of himself from the room, he sat downstairs and waited to make sure that Justin got home okay. As the hours trickled by, Brian's worry began to grow. He even called down to the bar and talked to Tony, who had assured him that Justin hadn't been seen. By the time the sun started rising, Brian really began to panic and nothing his mind could conjure up was making him feel any better. He finally gave up waiting and reached for the phone, calling the only person he could think of.
"Arthur, it's Brian. Listen, have you heard from Justin today?"
"Justin? No, I haven't spoken to him since he called to wish me a happy birthday the other day. Why? Is everything all right?" Arthur asked in concern.
"I'm not sure. We had a bit of an argument last night and he went out. I haven't heard from him since. It's not like him to stay out all night and I didn't know who else to call," Brian admitted.
"A bit of an argument?" Arthur questioned.
"All right, it was more of a major fight. It doesn't matter. Either way he's been gone since last night. His phone goes right to voicemail and I'm really worried. Do you know where he might have gone?"
"I don't have a clue," Arthur sighed. "Listen, give me a few minutes to make a couple of calls and see if I can find him. I'll call you back."
"Please hurry. I've got a real bad feeling about this," Brian replied softly.
"Me too, Brian. Me too."
Brian waited by the phone for almost fifteen minutes before it rang, startling him and causing him to nearly jump out of his skin. "Justin?"
"Sorry, Brian, it's only me," Arthur replied apologetically. "I called everyone I could think of and no one's heard from him."
"Fuck!" Brian exclaimed harshly. "Now what?"
"Brian," Arthur said tentatively. "Have you thought of calling around to the hospitals?"
Brian shuddered at the thought. "It crossed my mind a few hundred times through the course of the night, but I was hoping it wouldn't come to that."
"I think it has," Arthur replied. "Do you want me to…"
"No, I'll do it," Brian sighed wearily. "Give me the names of the closest two and I'll start there."
Once Brian had the names and numbers of the two closest hospitals, he promised to call Arthur back as soon as he heard anything, and he hung up the phone. He took a deep breath and with a shaking hand he quickly dialed the first number on the list. He breathed a sigh of relief as he was told that no one by the name of Justin Taylor was brought in the previous evening. Feeling a little better, he dialed the second number, and prayed for the same result. After listening to the annoying automated answering service, he pressed the Emergency Room extension and waited for someone to answer.
"Emergency Room, how may I help you?"
"Could you tell me if a Justin Taylor was brought in last night?" Brian asked nervously.
"I'm sorry Sir, but we can't give out any information over the phone," the female voice replied curtly.
"Look, I'm not asking you to give me any information. I just want to know if he's there," Brian insisted.
"Sir, our policy is that…"
"I don't give a fuck what your policy is!" Brian spat angrily. "My partner never came home last night. All I want to know is if he's there!"
"Sir, there's no reason for you to be yelling."
"Don't tell me there's no reason to yell, Godammit! Just tell me if Justin Taylor is there!"
"Please hold," came the cold reply before Brian heard the beginnings of the elevator music that told him that he had indeed been put on hold. He picked up the nearest object, a vase of flowers that he had given to Justin two days before, and threw them at the fireplace, jumping at the sound of the shattering crystal.
"Sir, may I help you?"
Brian groaned at the male voice that was suddenly on the line. "I wish somebody would."
"Sir, our policy is that we don't give out any patient information over the phone, no matter how nicely we're asked," the man said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"I know," Brian said, struggling to hold in his temper. "I'm sorry I lost my temper with your receptionist. I'm not asking for any confidential information. My partner didn't come home last night and no one has heard from him. I just want to know if he was brought into the emergency room. A simple yes or no is all I need."
The man on the line sighed in exasperation. "What's his name?"
"Thank you. His name is Justin Taylor."
Brian waited impatiently while he listened to the sound of papers being shuffled. "Yes, we had someone by the name of Justin Taylor brought in early this morning. And that's all the information I'm going to give you."
Brian's heart skipped a beat as soon as he got the confirmation he'd been dreading to hear. "Thanks," he mumbled before he hung up the phone. He raced up the stairs, two at a time and dressed as fast as he could before grabbing his wallet and phone and racing out of the house.
He called Arthur and told him what he found out and then got the directions to the hospital, all while driving like a crazy person. He pulled into the parking lot in record time and ran into the ER entrance, quickly seeking out the reception desk.
"Excuse me; I'm looking for Justin Taylor."
The woman behind the desk looked up at him with disdain. "Let me guess. You're the idiot that started yelling at me on the phone."
Brian had the decency to blanch at her words. "I apologize for losing my temper, ma'am, but I've been sitting at home for more than twelve hours imagining Justin lying in a ditch somewhere. Surely you can understand why I might have lost my temper."
The woman sighed. She did understand; she just didn't like being yelled at for doing her job. "Have a seat, Mr…"
"Kinney. Brian Kinney," Brian offered.
"Have a seat, Mr. Kinney, and I'll get someone to come out and talk to you."
"Thank you," Brian replied before walking over to the waiting area where he began pacing the large room aimlessly. He could tell that the people waiting there were watching him closely, but he didn't care. All he cared about was finding Justin. Finding him and knowing that he was going to be all right.
Justin was still drifting in and out of sleep when he heard the sound of someone approaching. Hospitals were definitely not the best place to get rest. That was for sure. He carefully opened his eyes, mindful of the bright lights overheard and tried focusing on the figure before him. It took a minute to recognize the doctor who had treated him when he was brought in.
"How're you feeling, Justin?"
"Better than I did a few hours ago, but not as good as I did yesterday," Justin mumbled softly, his mouth protesting the small movement due to the bruised jaw he sustained when his face hit the steering wheel right before his airbag deployed. "When can I go home?"
"Not for another couple of hours. I want to keep an eye on you considering this is the second concussion you've had. Head trauma can be tricky at times. I want to make sure everything is working properly before I release you." The doctor pulled out his pocket light and once again looked into Justin's eyes, careful of the bruising all around his left eye socket. "So far everything seems to be okay. I finally got the results of your x-rays and it looks like you're a very lucky man. You're going to be sore as hell for the next week or so, but nothing is broken. Are you sure there's no one you want us to call for you? I'm sure there's someone out there that's got to be missing you by now."
Before Justin could reaffirm that there was no one to call, one of the nurses came through the door with a strange look on his face. "Excuse me, Doctor, but there's a man outside by the name of Brian Kinney that's here to see Justin. He's the guy that called earlier and gave Penny a hard time."
"Brian's here?" Justin asked, hating the way his chest fluttered at the sound of Brian's name. "How did he find me?"
"Well, why don't I go get him and you can ask him yourself?" the doctor replied.
"Do I have to see him?" Justin asked without thinking.
"Well, we can always tell him that you don't want any visitors, but I don't think it would be that easy. He was rather unpleasant on the phone earlier and now he's pacing the waiting room like a crazy person," the nurse explained hesitantly. He saw Justin cringe at the information and briefly wondered if the asshole in the waiting room had anything to do with the condition the blond was in, but then banished the thought. The police had pulled the young man from the wreckage themselves and verified that he was the sole passenger of a car that careened into a set of trees off of route 88. "Do you want me to get security and have him escorted off the premises?"
"No," Justin sighed. "It's all right. You can send him in."
The nurse nodded his head before going to get Brian, leaving Justin alone with the doctor once again. "Look Justin, you've just been thought a traumatic ordeal. If seeing this person is going to be upsetting for you, maybe it would be best if you waited a few days."
"That's not possible, Doctor. Brian's my…partner. I doubt if I'd be able to hide this from him even if I wanted to," Justin admitted.
"I thought you said there was no one to call?"
"No, I said there was no one I wanted you to call," Justin replied sheepishly.
Before the doctor could respond, Brian barged into the room and stopped short by the sight of Justin lying in the bed covered in bruises. "Justin, what the hell happened?"
"I'm fine, Brian," Justin said softly."
"Like hell you are?" Brian spun around quickly and came face to face with the doctor. "What's wrong with him? Is he going to be okay?"
"Justin is going to be just fine. He has no broken bones or internal bleeding that we've detected. Just some bruises and abrasions and a slight concussion. We'll be keeping him for a couple more hours and then he'll be free to go, provided that he'll get plenty of rest and take it easy for a few days."
"Believe me, he'll be taking it easy," Brian assured him before turning his stare back to Justin.
"Justin, I'll be back in a little while to check on you. In the meantime, if you need anything just buzz the nurses' station and they'll take care of you," the doctor told Justin before directing his attention towards Brian. "Make sure he doesn't get excited or I'll have to ask you to leave."
Brian growled at the doctor's back as the man walked away before turning back to Justin. "What happened?"
Justin thought about telling Brian it was none of his business, but the concern he saw in those hazel eyes kept him from doing so. "It's no big deal. I was in a minor car accident."
"A minor car accident? How minor? Were you drinking?"
"Of course not! Why would you think that?" Justin asked incredulously.
"Because the last time I saw you, you were really upset. I thought that maybe you stopped at a bar and had a few drinks."
"I haven't had a drop of alcohol in weeks. I was driving down 88 when a deer ran out in front of me. The roads were slippery from the rain and when I tried to avoid hitting him, I slid on the pavement and crashed into a couple of trees. My car's totaled, but no one else was injured and as the doctor said, I'm fine. I'll be as good as new in a few days," Justin assured him.
"Do you have any idea how fucking worried I was? Why didn't you have someone call me and tell me what happened?"
"Because we're not together anymore, not that we ever really were. There was no reason to call you. I'm a big boy and I can take care of myself," Justin stated confidently.
"Don't do that," Brian barked angrily.
"Don't do what?"
"Don't treat me like I'm just some acquaintance that you hardly know. Don't punish me because I can't be the happy homo, wearing matching rings and looking forward to years from now when I can spend my evenings by the fireplace talking about the old days. I…I care about you, but I was always honest with you. You knew the rules from the very beginning. Why did you have to go and break them?"
"Forgive me, but I'm not like you. I can't just turn off my feelings because they're inconvenient. Believe me, I'd rather be in love with someone…anyone else right now, but I'm not. It's you. And I was beginning to think that you might feel the same way about me. Pretty pathetic, huh?" Justin huffed.
"Justin, I wish things were different. If there was anyone out there that I would want to be with, it would be you. It's just not possible. I am who I am and nothing is going to change that. I've seen first hand what happens to people who tell themselves that they're in love. The love they claim to have slowly eats away at them until there's nothing left. I don't want that. I don't want that for me, and I definitely don't want that for us. Friendships can last forever, but love…love disappears in the blink of an eye and all anyone is ever left with is bitterness and anger."
"Wow," Justin whispered. "You're even more jaded that I thought. You actually believe that love is bullshit, don't you?"
"Yeah, I do," Brian admitted softly.
"You know, I used to believe that, too. I used to think that being alone was better than facing the possibility of having my heart ripped out by someone I thought I loved, but John changed that. I used to sit by his bedside at night, watching him grow weaker, and listening to him list the many regrets he had in his life. The biggest regret he had was that he didn't find someone special to share his life with. He had friends who cared about him, and God knows I loved him dearly, but he was missing that one person that means more than anyone else. That was when I realized that I was wrong. Having your heart ripped out hurts, but not nearly as much as coming to the end of your life and realizing that you never allowed anyone to get close enough to touch your heart in the first place." Justin stopped for a moment and gently wiped away the dampness from his eyes before continuing. "I have to take that chance. I have to open up enough to let someone in and hope that the person I chose will love me enough to leave my heart intact, but if they don't. Well, at least I know that I tried. I wish, more than anything else, that you could be that person, but you can't. Or you won't, and that sucks. That just really sucks because I think that we could really have something between us, but I can't force you to feel something, believe in something that you don't. Who knows, maybe one day we could be friends. Maybe one day you'll come to Denver and I'll be able to go out to the bars with you and just have fun with my friend Brian, but not now. Not when my heart is being ripped out of my chest. I'm sorry Brian, but right now all I can do is keep my distance and hope that one day I'll be able to think about you without feeling so completely and utterly sad."
"Brian, would you please just go? Don't worry about me. I'll find my own way home."
Brian wanted to argue, but he knew that he couldn't. He really did care about Justin and he hated seeing the pain in his eyes, knowing that he was the cause of it. As much as he wanted to stay and take care of him, he knew that he owed it to Justin to let him have his space. He had caused enough damage. Now it was time to step back and let Justin have the time he needed to heal from that damage. Walking over to the bed, Brian leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on Justin's bruised mouth before pulling away and heading towards the door. He turned around briefly, and said the only thing he could think of that wouldn't make the situation any worse. "I really am sorry."
Justin nodded his head and waited until Brian was gone before carefully turning his aching body to the side and weeping for all that he had lost.
The next two months flew by for Brian as he threw himself into work and prepared for his return to Pittsburgh. His staff at the Denver location were shocked to learn of Brian's plans, but readily agreed to stay on and help keep things afloat in his absence. Cynthia had finally left Vangard and was busy setting up the new office, located just blocks from the loft, and hiring the new staff. Word finally got out to his friends and family that Kinnetik was branching out and everyone sounded thrilled to know Brian was going home, but no one mentioned whether Justin would be joining him. He was glad for that since things between him and the blond were not so great.
Justin was released from the hospital later that same afternoon, and true to his words, he had gotten a friend to pick him up and drive him home. Since then they had been living in the house like strangers, murmuring their hellos and goodbyes if they happened to run into each other. On the days that the house staff was around, which was only twice a week now, they made sure that no one picked up on the distance between them, but when they were alone together, the tension between them was so thick it could be cut with a knife.
Brian's birthday finally rolled around and with it, so did his apprehension. He had been hoping that he and Justin would form some kind of truce before he left, but it didn't look like that was going to happen. His plane was scheduled to take off the following morning and they still only managed to throw basic small talk at each other, and only if they had to.
Brian had an appointment with Lyle scheduled for noon and forced himself to leave the office in just enough time. It was hard leaving, knowing that he wouldn't be back for awhile. He looked around the rooms one last time, feeling such a sense of pride and accomplishment over all he had done. His home might have been in Pittsburgh, but his dreams began to come true in Denver.
As soon as he reached Lyle's office, he was escorted into the conference room and told that Mr. Henderson would be with him shortly. Brian sat down at the table and waited for a moment before he heard the sound of the door opening behind him. He turned around and was surprised to come face to face with Justin.
"What are you doing here?"
"The same thing as you. Lyle has some forms that need my signature. I guess he figured that we'd be coming together anyway. Don't worry; I'm sure you have a lot to talk to him about. I'll just say that I have an appointment and get out of here as quickly as I can," Justin promised.
Lyle walked in, halting any further conversations between them and got right down to business. He pulled out the forms for Justin to sign and got them out of the way so that Justin could get to his "appointment" on time. Brian was surprised when Justin leaned down and gave him a brief but almost passionate kiss before leaving the room. He knew he was playing a part, but the feel of those soft lips stirred up all kinds of emotions that he didn't want to consider. Instead he turned back to Lyle and was floored by what he heard.
"Brian, I'm very disappointed with you. I really thought you and Justin were going to try to make a go of things. I guess I was wrong."
"What?" Brian asked incredulously.
"Come on, Brian. I wasn't born yesterday. Do you honestly think I didn't know what was going on here?" Lyle gave him a pointed look and then continued. "Don't worry. I'm still going to release the money to you. I thought it was stupid for John to put that stipulation in the will to begin with. I tried talking him out of it, but the one thing about John Kinney was that once his mind was made up, nothing could change it. When you and Justin came to me and told me about your relationship, I began to think that maybe he was right. Maybe he just needed to give you a push in the right direction and everything would work out. I even saw the way you and Justin looked at each other through your time together and thought, wow, he actually did it. He brought them together. I should've known better. All he managed to do was hurt the two people he cared about most. I've never seen Justin look so devastated and you obviously haven't been doing much better. I'm not going to pry. What goes on between you two is none of my business. Just do yourself a favor and think really hard about what happens next. Finding someone special to share your life with is a rare gift. One that should never be turned away.
Now, I just need you to sign a few forms and then you're free to go. I have a meeting across town that I need to get to, but you know my number. If you have any questions or just need some advice, give me a call."
Brian signed where Lyle told him to, and took the necessary paperwork that he needed all in a fog. He couldn't help but think about the kiss Justin had given him or the pure sadness that still haunted his deep blue eyes. That, coupled with Lyle's words, had him wondering if he was doing the right thing. He and Justin had been living together as partners for almost a year and it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. Was it because he was wrong about all those beliefs that he'd been living with, or was it because he knew that what they had wasn't forever so he was able to sit back and enjoy it? It had to be the latter. It had to be, because if not, that would mean that everything he stood for had all been bullshit; and he wasn't prepared to admit that he'd been wrong.
"One last thing," Lyle said, pulling Brian from his thoughts. "John wanted me to give this to you. It's another videotape. I have no idea what's on it, just like the last one, he did not share that information with me. I will tell you though, it's just for you. Justin doesn't get one this time. There's no time frame for when you have to watch it. I don't need any decisions from you and everything you were owed is now yours. I guess this was just John's final goodbye."
Brian took the offered package and then shook Lyle's hand. "Thank you for everything."
"You're more than welcome. Take care of yourself," Lyle replied sadly, feeling sorry for the two young men who had become very special to him over the last year.Return to Be Careful What You Wish For