Be Careful What You Wish For
* * *
The following morning Brian got up early and wandered around the grounds for awhile before anyone in the house was awake. The yard was amazing and he spent the time alone thinking about what he had learned the night before. Apparently his uncle did love him all those years ago and it pissed Brian off to know that his bastard father had managed to keep that love from him. By the time he made his way back inside, it appeared that the house was alive with activity. He quietly made his way upstairs and jumped into the shower, trying to wash away his renewed anger towards Jack. Once he was feeling a little more relaxed, he went downstairs and was thrilled when the scent of coffee washed over him. He entered the kitchen and found Arthur lingering about, talking with the cook.
"Good morning," Brian greeted them. "Is it possible to get my hands on a cup of coffee?"
"Sure thing, Mr. Kinney. Coming right up," the cook replied as she went in search of a cup.
"Good Morning, Mr. Kinney. How did you sleep?" Arthur asked.
"Good, thanks. Is my uncle up yet?"
"Uh…no, he's not," Arthur said solemnly. "From what I heard, he didn't have a very good night last night."
"What? Why didn't anyone come and get me?" Brian barked angrily.
"I guess no one wanted to wake you. Don't worry though. Justin was with him most of the night. He knows how to handle him," Arthur explained rather quickly.
"I don't give a shit what Justin knows. He's my uncle and I should've been notified if there was a problem." Brian was fuming and he took a deep breath as he tried to calm himself down.
"Mr. Kinney," Justin said from the doorway. "Please try to refrain from yelling at the staff. Your uncle is fine. He was just having a rough night. It happens sometimes. I'm more than capable of taking care of things. I've been doing it for quite some time now."
"I told you, it's Brian," Brian snapped as he spun around and came face to face with the blond. He immediately saw the signs of fatigue on the pale man's face. "And that's not the point. While I'm here, I want to be informed of any trouble he has. Is that clear?"
Justin wanted to put the man in his place. He was about to point out that he and John had been doing just fine without any interference from anyone, but he bit his tongue. During the early morning hours, after the worst was over and John began to settle down, he had asked Justin to be nicer to his nephew. The older man had picked up on Justin's animosity and wasn't pleased with him. Justin had agreed to give Brian a chance and as much as he hated the thought, he would do his best to follow John's wishes.
"Perfectly, although as I said, John is doing okay now. He's been asleep for hours without so much as a hint of discomfort. Now why don't you tell Margaret what you'd like for breakfast while I go shower and then we can go see the sights like I promised."
"Are you sure that's a good idea? What if…"
"Its fine," Justin said, stopping Brian from continuing. "John will probably sleep most of the day now and I have my cell phone and a pager if something should change. I'll meet you back down here in an hour."
With that, Justin walked away, wondering how he was going to spend the day with a man who irritated him so much.
Brian wasn't very hungry, but agreed to some whole wheat toast and was soon sitting out on the back patio trying to eat his meal. He was really starting to worry about John. As weird as it was, he still didn't know exactly what was wrong with the older man. All he was told in the letter was that he wasn't well. Brian automatically assumed it was cancer; the same disease that killed his father. He didn't want to seem rude by asking on his first night there. He'd have to pump the blond for information while they were out seeing the sights. At least it would give them something to talk about. Otherwise it was going to be a very long day.
By the time Brian and Justin reached downtown, both men were a lot calmer than they'd been back at the house. Justin tried his best to be a good tour guide, bringing Brian to all the hot new shops and museums. He also made it a point of showing him the Kinney Gallery and Brian had been impressed with his uncle's business. The fact that the place was covered in Justin Taylor originals didn't surprise the older man in the least. Once they were done seeing the town, Justin called Arthur to check on John and then took Brian to a small bistro for a late lunch. They remained fairly quiet while they looked over the menu but once their orders were placed, Brian asked the question that had been on his mind for most of the day.
"So, what's wrong with him? His letter claimed that he was sick but it didn't elaborate. My old man died of cancer. Is that what John has?"
"Brian, I don't think it's my place to tell you," Justin began.
"Come on, Justin. I'm his nephew. He obviously wants me to be a part of his life or he wouldn't have contacted me. I feel kind of awkward asking him about it. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you told me," Brian replied.
Justin thought about it and knew for a fact that John wouldn't mind at all. John had wanted to explain it all to Brian when he contacted him, but felt it wouldn't be right to throw that type of information out in something as impersonal as a letter. He also secretly feared that learning of his disease would scare Brian away before he got a chance to see him. Justin hoped that Brian wouldn't be horrified to learn the real reason for his uncle's illness. A lot of people walked away when the older man became sick, refusing to accept having a friend who was positive.
"You're right. He wouldn't. John has AIDS," Justin said softly, watching for signs of disgust on Brian's face.
"I see," Brian replied, momentarily stunned. Of all the things that had been going through his head, AIDS was the farthest thing from his mind.
Justin waited for more from Brian, but when he said no more, Justin became defensive. "I should've known. There aren't that many people out there willing to have anything to do with someone who's sick with AIDS. I was hoping that you were going to be different. Just do me a favor and don't say anything to John about this. It would break his heart. I'll just tell him that you had to get back to work and he'll never have to know."
"What are you talking about?" Brian asked in confusion.
"Well, it's obvious that you're not comfortable with John's illness. I just don't want him to be hurt by your rejection," Justin explained, his voice low so the other people in the restaurant couldn't hear them. "I'll make sure he knows how sorry you were to be called away."
"You little shit," Brian snapped, his voice not nearly as quiet as Justin's was. "How dare you judge me! I'll have you know that my best friend happens to be partnered with someone who's positive and aside from a slight concern that he could become infected by accident; I'm more than okay with their relationship. And I never even batted an eye when they adopted a kid hustler who happens to be positive, also. Forgive me for taking a minute to register what you were telling me. It's not every day that I'm told that the uncle who I don't remember, but who was obviously the only family that ever gave a shit about me, is dying of AIDS."
"Excuse me. I need some air." Brian got up from the table and headed towards the exit, leaving Justin to stare after him, startled by his outburst.
The minute Brian stepped outside he reached for a cigarette, hoping the nicotine would ease his irritation. The nerve of Justin to presume to know how he felt. The blond had only met him the day before but yet he claimed to know what Brian was thinking. And John; learning that he was suffering from AIDS had been a shock. Brian had just assumed that it was cancer. He probably shouldn't have been too surprised though. HIV and AIDS were something that every gay man faced. Sometimes things happened to even the most careful people. It was the reason he wasn't too thrilled about Mikey meeting Ben in the beginning. Yet despite his concerns, Ben turned out to be a good match for his friend and Brian didn't worry as much as he used to. Brian would never turn his back on anyone just because they were infected. And Justin Taylor could go fuck himself for thinking anything else.
Justin waited almost a full five minutes before deciding to go find Brian. He signaled to their waiter and explained that Brian had just received some disturbing news and stepped out for some air. The waiter promised to hold their order and Justin thanked him before going in search of Brian. He found him standing outside, leaning against the building smoking a cigarette.
"Those things will kill you, you know."
"So I've been told," Brian replied without looking at the blond.
"Look, I'm sorry about before. You're right. I have no right to judge you and make assumptions based on past experiences. It's just that when John found out that he was positive a lot of his so-called friends turned their back on him. He was devastated, although he tried to pretend he didn't care. I just don't want to see him hurt like that again. I was trying to protect him." Justin waited for Brian's response and when he saw the other man give a small nod; he figured that was the best he was going to get. "Why don't we go back inside? The waiter is holding our meal."
Brian looked over at Justin before snubbing out his cigarette and heading inside, leaving Justin to follow behind him.
The meal was good, but the conversation was a little strained between the two men as they talked about the town's history and recent news, keeping the subject matter away from John and his illness. Once they were done, they headed back to the house in silence. As soon as they walked through the front door, Justin turned towards Brian, wanting to find a way to ease the tension between them.
"I'm going to go check on John and then go for a swim. You want to join me?"
"Right. Sorry. Why don't you go check on John and then meet me for a swim?" Justin amended
"I'll meet you by the pool in an hour," Brian replied before heading towards the stairs. He stopped before he reached the bottom and turned back to the blond. "Thanks."
Justin just gave him a small smile and then watched Brian walk up the steps, hoping that he was doing the right thing. In his twenty-two years he had learned that there were few people on the earth that could be trusted. He really hoped Brian Kinney was one of those people.
Brian found himself standing outside John's room, taking a deep breath before lightly knocking on the door. He heard a faint response and walked in, happy to see his uncle wide awake.
"Hey, how're you feeling?" Brian asked cheerfully as he approached the bed.
"Better," John replied. "I guess you heard that I didn't have the best of nights last night. It happens sometimes, more and more often these days unfortunately. Has Justin explained this all to you?"
"Yeah, he did. My best friend is with someone who's positive so I know a lot more about all of this than most people. How long have you known?"
"I guess deep down inside I've known for quite awhile, but I wasn't officially diagnosed until three years ago. Before then I chose to live in blissful ignorance. I was always extra careful so as not to infect anyone else, but I figured that if I didn't know, I didn't have to worry," John explained with a small chuckle. "Pretty foolish, huh? My doctor was not pleased to learn that I didn't seek medical advice when I first suspected there was something wrong. I guess, given the circumstances, I'm lucky to be here."
"So, you know how?"
"Yeah. There was this guy once upon a time. We weren't really in a relationship. I was never much for those things, but he was more than just a trick. We were fooling around one night when the condom broke. I told myself there was nothing to worry about. I mean, what were the chances that anything would happen? I thought we were both clean. Imagine my surprise when I heard that he died a year later. I spent a long time convincing myself that I was fine. I didn't have any symptoms. I was as healthy as could be. I made sure to eat right, exercise, and take my vitamins just in case, as if that would've helped me with anything. About three years ago I came down with what I thought was a nasty case of the flu. After about two weeks, Justin finally convinced me to go see a doctor. Eventually I recovered and have been pretty healthy for the last couple of years. About six months ago I was rushed to the hospital. Turned out that I wasn't as healthy as I thought I was."
Brian didn't know how to respond. "So what do the doctors say?"
"That I don't have much time left. That I should make sure all my affairs are in order. My body is failing at an alarming rate. I don't think they expected me to be here this long. I've made peace with that. Every I is dotted and every T is crossed. What I worry most about is Justin. He likes to think that I'll be here forever. I'm worried about what he'll do when I'm gone. I'm really all he has." John waited for Brian to digest what he was saying before continuing. "Brian, I sensed that you two didn't hit it off too well in the beginning, but he really is an exceptional young man. He's smart, talented, and not too hard on the eyes. I really hope that you two can get past your differences and at least get to know each other a little better."
"I think we've pretty much called a truce for the time being. Don't worry about us, though. We're both grown men. Well, I am at least," Brian teased, smiling at John wickedly. "Besides, I'm not here to make friends with Justin. I'm here to get to know my uncle."
"You have no idea how much it means to me that you came all the way out here for me. I really wish we had more time to get to know each other."
"I'm glad I'm here, too. We'll just have to make the most of the time we have. Now why don't you rest for awhile? You look a little tired. I'm meeting Justin down at the pool. If you're too tired to come downstairs later for dinner, maybe Justin and I could come up for dessert."
"I'd like that," John replied, trying to stifle a yawn. "Oh, and please assure Justin that I'm feeling okay. I don't know what you did to keep him from charging up here the minute you got home, but I'm sure he's worrying his pretty little head over me."
"I'll let him know," Brian promised, then stood back and watched his uncle succumb to sleep before quietly slipping from the room to go join Justin at the pool.
* * *
When Brian arrived at the pool he was wearing one of his thongs under his jeans. He wasn't sure he wanted to be swimming naked with Justin Taylor. He felt like he needed something on and his thong would be as close to a swimsuit as he could get. He wasn't sure why he felt that way, because being naked had never bothered him before. But somehow, it just didn't seem right under these circumstances.
Justin was already in the pool swimming laps. He looked up as he reached the side of the pool. His smile warmed Brian somewhere deep inside.
"Hi, I thought you weren't coming," Justin said.
"I stayed with John until he fell asleep."
"Is he all right?" Justin asked concern on his face.
"For now he's fine, but he's tired. I told him we'd bring dessert up and have that with him later."
"That was nice," Justin grinned. "Are you coming in?"
"I didn't bring a swimsuit with me so I hope this is all right." Brian slid off his jeans and revealed a very skimpy thong that left little to the imagination. He watched Justin's face.
Justin felt the color rise in his cheeks. Unless Brian had found some way to enhance his natural endowments inside that miniscule piece of fabric, there was no doubt that Brian had a large and probably very beautiful cock. Justin ducked his head under the water to cool his burning cheeks and to give him time to control his own cock which seemed to have suddenly found a life of its own.
Brian grinned at Justin's discomfiture and dove into the pool. He began swimming laps and soon found Justin swimming alongside him. They did that for several minutes until Brian stopped at the end of the pool holding onto the side and regaining his breath.
"That felt good," Brian said. "I hardly ever swim back in Pittsburgh."
"How come?" Justin asked. Brian was obviously an accomplished swimmer.
"There's no pool nearby where I live. I don't relish the idea of swimming in a public pool."
"Don't want to fraternize with the hoi polloi?" Justin laughed.
"Something like that. I always find those places have such warm water and high levels of chlorine."
"Do they?" Justin hadn't have much experience with public pools since he was a child. He didn't remember that being a problem.
"Makes you wonder what they're killing off with the massive amounts of chlorine and what they're incubating with the overly heated water."
"Geez, I never thought of it like that. Sounds vile," Justin said.
"I guess you've always had John's pool to swim in." Brian watched Justin tense at his words.
"I've been with John for a few years now, and I have to admit I really enjoy the pool. But, and I repeat, BUT, it's only a small part of the reason I'm here."
"Care to tell me the big reasons why you're here?" Brian asked with a quirk of his brow.
Justin let out a long sigh. He hated discussing this with anyone, let alone a stranger and someone he had yet to learn to trust.
"I really would like to hear about why you're here," Brian said seeing Justin's hesitance. "Maybe it will help me get a handle on this situation."
Justin decided it was all going to come out eventually and maybe if Brian learned about the kind, loving man that his uncle was, he would appreciate whatever remaining time he had with John. He started into his story about the first time he met John at his art show. He left out the part about his black eye though. Brian Kinney didn't need to know that.
When he got to the bashing at his prom, Justin felt his determination waver. He still found it difficult to talk about that period in his life. As he was starting to lose it, he felt Brian's strong arms come around him and pull him close. Justin resisted at first, but gradually gave in to the warmth and safety of Brian's hug.
After a couple of minutes, Justin whispered into Brian's chest," Maybe we should get out of the pool. I'm starting to prune up."
"Wouldn't want that," Brian said almost adding 'especially on that fine bubble butt'. However, he caught himself in time. Gently he released his hold on Justin and they climbed out of the pool. "I really want to hear the end of your story," Brian said gently.
"I want to tell you," Justin admitted as he toweled off. Brian's tenderness and warmth had meant a lot to him. "How be we go get changed and I'll meet you in the library for a drink?"
"Sounds good," Brian said and they walked together in silence out of the pool area.
Some time later they were seated in the library each with a drink in his hand.
"Brian, I want you to know that your uncle was a lifesaver for me. I was … just about at my wit's end in the hospital after the bashing. My father had found out that I was gay and he had told me he no longer had a son. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was very frightened. I … I even thought about going to the roof and taking a final step off."
"Justin," Brian said gently. "If that was the case, I'm glad John was there for you."
"Thanks. He walked into my hospital room at the lowest point of my life. That's when he said I could come and live with him. He's helped me through school, and I'm starting to get established as an artist in this area. He's been so good to me."
"It's strange to hear of a Kinney who actually gives of himself, and isn't always taking."
Justin looked at Brian strangely. "What has your life been like, Brian?"
"I think that's a story for another day," Brian said polishing off his drink and standing to get another. He motioned to Justin with his glass but Justin shook his head.
As he watched Brian pour another drink for himself, Justin wondered what sort of trauma Brian had had in his life. There had to be some sort of story that Brian wasn't willing to share with him … at least not yet.
"We should go in for dinner soon," Justin said.
Brian took a mouthful of the bourbon he had poured. "Whenever you're ready. It must be nice to have staff to cook for you all the time," Brian observed.
"They cook for John and I usually eat with him," Justin said defensively.
"But he doesn't come down for many meals now."
"No, not since his bout with pneumonia. It sapped a lot of his strength."
"So, do you eat alone in the big dining room?"
"What exactly are you implying?" Justin asked. It sounded like Brian was questioning Justin's right to have the cook make meals for him … or to eat in the dining room if John wasn't there.
"I guess I just wondered how accustomed to this sort of lifestyle you have become," Brian said waving his glass around the library but obviously meaning the mansion, the servants, everything.
"I guess you could say I have got used to it," Justin said frostily, "but what does that have to do with anything?"
"Just curious," Brian said with his usual smirk.
"I'm hungry," Justin stated unwilling to be given those looks by this arrogant man. "Are you coming in for dinner? Perhaps you would prefer a tray in here or in your room."
"No thanks, I like the dining room," Brian smirked. He had obviously hit a nerve with the young man. He wondered what Justin expected to get when John died … maybe everything. Brian had a feeling there would be little chatter between them tonight while they ate. He had pissed off the blond once again.
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