Be Careful What You Wish For
* * *
Brian woke up before the sun the following morning, trying hard not to think about what was happening between him and Justin. He took a moment to look at the blond who was asleep next to him before climbing out of bed. He vaguely remembered waking up on the floor downstairs and leading Justin up to his bed, but it was pretty much a blur. The only events that stood out in his mind were the hot, steamy sex that they shared more than once. Hot steamy sex that caused Brian to feel things he never felt before. He had to find a way to get past those feelings though, because in another few days he would be going home, and leaving Justin to carry on with his life.
After a quick shower, Brian got dressed and made his way downstairs. He needed a cup of coffee almost as much as he needed oxygen to breathe. When he boarded the plane in Pittsburgh almost a week before, he never imagined how emotional this trip would be. Now, not only was he feeling things for a guy he hardly knew, but his thoughts were all over the place where John was concerned. He never imagined he'd feel anything for anyone, let alone someone who shared his blood. The feelings were all so new and almost scary. It broke what little heart he had to think that he lost the only family that ever really cared about him. He finished up his first cup of coffee and poured his second by the time Justin appeared in the doorway, looking sad and lost.
"Hey, why didn't you wake me?" Justin asked, his voice still a little husky from sleep.
"I figured you needed the rest. We didn't really get much sleep last night," Brian replied.
"No, I guess we didn't." Justin felt a small blush climb up his cheeks as he thought about why they didn't get much sleep. "What time is everyone supposed to be here?"
"Arthur said we were meeting at ten. That gives you an hour to get ready. I'm going to go take a walk around the grounds. I have a few phone calls I have to make. I'll meet you in the library at ten."
Justin could sense that something was bothering Brian, and hoped it wasn't regret for what they had done the night before. Justin knew that he was getting in over his head with someone like Brian, but couldn't bring himself to regret anything they had done since his arrival. "Okay, I guess I'll see you in a bit."
Once Justin was gone, Brian downed his coffee and checked to make sure he had his phone before walking outside. The first call he made was to Cynthia. He needed to check the status on a few of his accounts. The time he spent throwing himself back into work helped to push away his confusion over his private life. The next call he placed was to Lindsay. She didn't seem surprised to hear from him.
"How's everything go?"
"A funeral's a funeral. People came, they cried, they left," Brian replied sarcastically. "John's lawyer is coming by in less than an hour to read the will, and then it'll all be over."
"Maybe for you," Lindsay said angrily, hating the way Brian always pushed aside his feelings. She knew from their recent conversations that he wasn't as unaffected as he claimed to be. "But what about poor Justin? He just lost someone who meant a lot to him. It won't be over for him for a long time. I suspect that it won't be all over for you that quickly either. Brian, its okay to care about someone and mourn their death. It doesn't make you less of a man."
"Sometimes I wonder why I even bother telling you shit," Brian sighed.
"Because you know I'm the only one who tells it like it is, not how you want it to be," she answered. "Please, just take some time to mourn your loss and figure out where things stand between you and Justin. For once in your life, don't let drinking, drugs, and anonymous sex keep you from feeling something."
"I've gotta go." He ended the call without listening to whatever else she was trying to say. "I should've called Mikey. He would've just told me to get my ass back home," he muttered to himself as he walked back towards the house.
At precisely ten o'clock Brian, Justin, and Arthur were sitting in the Library with Lyle Henderson, John's attorney. Brian could clearly see the pale features on Justin's face and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder as Mr. Henderson began speaking.
"First off, let me just say that this isn't easy for me. I've been a close friend of John's for over twenty years now, and I'm deeply saddened by his passing. Today is mostly an informal meeting. There are stipulations that John made that need to be followed out before the will can actually be settled. I will be explaining everything further to both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kinney in a few moments. I feel it's better for all parties if I take care of the small business first. As I'm sure none of you are aware, John contacted me a few weeks before his death to make some changes and to be sure that everything was in order. He knew his time was limited and wanted to make sure everyone received what they were due. I spoke with his physician to be sure he was in sound mind, although after the tongue lashing I received for my actions, I was convinced that John was not only coherent, but also very capable of putting me in my place," Lyle chuckled.
"Yeah, he never lost that capability," Arthur smiled sadly.
"No, he didn't. Anyway, I won't bore you will all the legal mumbo-jumbo. John left all the household staff the sum of $100,000.00 each, along with written recommendations for them if they decide to move on and seek other employment. That, of course, would have to be decided as the future of the home is determined. Arthur, he asked that you help me take care of the details."
"Of course, Lyle. I'll pull the records as soon as you're finished with me," Arthur replied as he brushed away the dampness in his eyes.
"Thank you. John also asked that you continue your employment here with Mr. Taylor for as long as you both see fit."
"I'm completely okay with that as long as Justin agrees. We've been like family."
"Thank you, Arthur," Justin said, fighting his emotions. "I feel that way, too."
"Okay, we've taken care of that. Arthur, John has left you the sum of $250,000.00 as well as your car, which I will transfer into your name as soon as possible. He also transferred the mortgage on your condo into your name and paid for the next five years. He figured that you may want to relocate in the future so any proceeds from the sale are yours at that time. Any questions?" Lyle waited a few moments while Arthur took the time to pull himself together.
"Uh…no. No questions at this time," Arthur replied tearfully.
"Okay, than I'll get down to the important matters. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kinney, John's plans for the rest of his fortune, aside from some very substantial donations to charities, will be determined at a later date. He has recorded a video for each of you, to be watched separately, that should explain a little bit about his intentions." Lyle handed each of them a video tape with their names carefully written down the side. "Take your time and listen to what he is asking of you. I'll be back tomorrow morning to answer any questions and see what you have both decided."
Brian was dumbfounded as he reached for his tape, unsure of how he felt. He hadn't known John long and was touched that he was included in his will, but something about the video tape made him feel a little uneasy. He glanced over at Justin and noticed that his face was once again pale and filled with emotion. "Are you all right?" he asked softly.
"I'm not sure," Justin replied honestly. "The thought of watching John…"
"Mr. Henderson," Brian began when he realized how emotional Justin was. "Is there a way we can have a little more time? Justin isn't ready for this just yet."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Kinney, but John's directions were detailed. He specifically stated twenty-four hours. I know it sounds strange, but I can't carry out the rest of his wishes until you've both had a chance to watch the tapes and make your decision. You'll understand it all a little better soon," Lyle replied, looking slightly uncomfortable.
"Its okay, Brian. I honestly don't think I'd be able to wait to do this anyway," Justin said. "If that's all for now, I think I'd like to go to my room for a little while. I guess I'll see you in the morning, Lyle."
"Certainly Mr. Taylor. I'll be back at ten a.m. to continue," Lyle promised him.
"Okay…okay…good." Justin stood up; the tape firmly gripped in his hand, and directed his attention to Arthur. "Could you do me a favor and make sure we're not disturbed?"
"Of course, Justin. You both go on ahead and I'll get Lyle the information he needs and look after things here," Arthur assured him.
"Thank you." Justin watched Brian walk towards the door before following in the same path. Once they were out of the room and headed upstairs, he asked the question that was racing through his mind. "What do you think he says on the tapes?"
"I'm not sure, but there's only one way to find out," Brian replied. "Are you sure you're up for this?"
"I'm not sure. A part of me is thrilled to have a chance to see John alive again, but the another part of me is horrified at the thought. It's almost morbid to think about him laying there dying while recording himself talking to us," Justin explained. "I wonder when he did all this. It had to be before you got here because he's been too sick lately to orchestrate something like this."
"I tend to agree with you, although I'm beginning to see that John was one of a kind and I get the feeling that nothing would've stopped him from doing what he wanted to do," Brian said, a small smile on his lips.
"You're very perceptive," Justin chuckled, thinking back to the times when someone tried to tell John he couldn't do something. He stopped when they reached the top of the stairs. "I guess I'll see you later."
"Yeah, later," Brian replied as he watched Justin walk down the hall towards his own room. He watched until the blond was out of sight before going into the privacy of his own room.
Once he was alone, he stared at the tape before heading towards the entertainment center that was in his room. He had barely noticed it when he first got there, but now it seemed to stand out in the large room, taunting him to see what his uncle had to say. Ever since the night before when he opened more gifts from his childhood, he'd been having momentary flashes in his memory. He couldn't say for sure if they were of John; he'd been too young to have actual memories. They were more like little flashes of emotions, telling his brain that he was loved and cared for. He knew they had to be related to his uncle. There was no way Jack or Joan made him feel anything but worthless. Shaking off those thought, Brian turned on the TV and placed the tape into the VCR. He grabbed the remote and backed up, dropping himself down on the edge of the bed. He took a deep breath before pressing the play button and waited until he saw John's face appear on the screen.
"Hello, Brian. I found out today that you've agreed to come out to meet me. I can't tell you how much that means to me. Regret is a terrible thing to have in life and one of my biggest regrets is that I allowed my brother to separate us so many years ago. I wish we had more time to get to know one another again, but I'm afraid my time is running out. There are so many things that I want to say to you, but the most important thing for you to know is that I'm so proud of you. I don't know any of the details surrounding your childhood. I hope that Jack treated you kindly, but knowing my brother the way I do, I've had my doubts. Despite that, you've grown into an intelligent and successful man. I've been keeping track of your accomplishments through a few friends I have in Pittsburgh and I know that you've taken the advertising world by storm. I have no doubt that you'll continue to thrive in that world. I must say that I'm a little concerned though. Being the stud of Liberty Avenue is a family tradition, but take it from someone who knows, it's not always the greatest of lifestyles. It tends to be cold and lonely at night when you have no one waiting for you after a long day at the office.
Justin has been my rock over the years, giving me a reason to smile when I wasn't sure there was one, but it still isn't the same as having a lover to share your life with. I'm sure by now you're growling and thinking that I'm just some sick old man feeling sorry for myself, but I'm not. I've accepted the fact that I'm dying and I've made peace with my life. My only concern now is that you don't follow in my footsteps. Now before you get pissy with that Kinney temper and turn me off, listen to what I have to say. You've accomplished so much with your career up to this point, more than most people are able to do at your age, but there's one thing that still eludes you and that's having your own agency. I know Gardner Vance from the business world. He's an asshole, plain and simple. Wouldn't it be nice to tell him to go fuck himself? To take away all those high priced accounts you brought in, along with the ones he acquired? I can help you make it happen. You're the only living heir that I even consider family, and I have the means to make all your dreams come true. What would you do first if you were given access to more money than you ever imagined having?
Now, there is one minor detail. I'm willing to give you the money and power you need to rise to the top of your profession and all I ask is for one thing in return. It's something that I've always wished for you. Something that you're not even aware that you need. You have until your 35th birthday to settle down with a partner. That should give you some time to get used to the idea and find the person who's right for you. I realize that you're against relationships and anything resembling commitment. I always was, too, but I also know that falling in love changes a person. Unfortunately I realized that after it was too late for me. I don't want the same thing to happen to you. I want you to have every opportunity in life with someone you love standing beside you. Think about my offer with an open mind. It's not as unappealing as you're probably thinking right now. If you choose to turn down my offer, the money will be given to charity, and you can go on with the life you've become accustomed to. You've lost nothing. But if you decide to accept the terms of my will, on your next birthday you will be handed the reins to my fortune, ready to make a start at the life you always dreamed of. Until then you will be given a tidy sum of money to hold you over while you seek out your soulmate and prepare for your future. The choice is yours. I just hope you make the right one.
I love you, Brian; and although our time together in this life was short, I cherished every minute of it.
Brian continued to stare at the TV long after his uncle's image disappeared from the screen. The nerve of the sick old man to think that he could dictate how Brian lived his life. He chuckled at the thought of him finding someone to settle down with. Brian Kinney didn't do love and relationships and no amount of money thrown in his face was going to change that. He had to hand it to John though, he had determination. Unfortunately, he had wasted it under the circumstances. Brian had every intention of meeting with Lyle in the morning and declining his share of the inheritance.
* * *
Justin locked himself away in his room and toyed with the idea of having a few drinks before watching the video tape. He wanted something to calm his nerves, but eventually decided that he needed a clear head to see John for the very last time. With shaking hands, he set up the TV and inserted the tape into the VCR. He settled himself down in his oversized chair before pressing the play button and watching John appear before him.
"Hey there, Justin, how're you holding up? I know that of all the people in my life, you're the one taking my death the hardest. I'm sorry for that. I wish there was a way I could make this easier. I'm actually hoping that the plan I've concocted will do just that, but first there's something that I want to say. Your presence in my life has been nothing but wonderful. Since the first day I met you back when you were in high school, I saw something that I rarely see in the world. I saw an innocence that few people have anymore. Oh, don't laugh at me. I know that you've been far from innocent in recent years. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about emotional innocence. You're loving and kind and always looking for good in people even though it's almost impossible to find. I've never regretted taking you under my wing and you've made me so proud of who you've become. I don't think I told you that enough. You're smart and beautiful and so incredibly talented. Make sure you never give up your dreams.
Okay, so here is my plan. I thought about keeping it from you, but I realize that your knowledge will be more beneficial in the long run. I heard today that my nephew has agreed to come for a visit. I can't tell you how happy I am about that. He's a good man, even though he refuses to admit it. The problem is that I'm worried about him. He's shut himself off from his emotions. He's living his life convinced that he doesn't need anyone and refuses to let anyone get close to him. I guess it's in the genes. I lived most of my life like that and now I'm paying the price by dying alone. As much as I love you, and know that you love me too, it's not the same thing as having a lover hold your hand late at night. It's too late to fix things for me, but it's not too late to change things for Brian. That's where you come in. I want you to help him find love. I want you to give him a reason to open up and accept another person into his life. You two are the most important people in my life and I'll rest easier knowing that you have each other to share the good times and weather the bad.
It won't be easy. God knows that he's a Kinney which makes him stubborn as a mule, but I have faith in you, blondie. I know that you can get through to him. Trust me on this; he'll be as good for you as you're going to be for him. You know I'd never steer you wrong. I only want what's best for you and he's it. Now you just keep this between the two of us. Only Lyle knows what my plans are. You see, I threw a little stipulation into my will that should make Brian see things a little differently. In fact, I'm sure you'll hear all about it as soon as you see him again. I wouldn't call it manipulation. I'm just giving him a little shove in the right direction. According to my calculations, he's probably getting ready to run back to Pittsburgh right now. Don't let him go. If you do, you'll be making the biggest mistake of your life. Trust me on this one, Justin. I promise you, you'll never regret it. I know you've been telling yourself that you don't believe in relationships, but I also know that you don't really believe that. You're a hopeless romantic that had his eyes closed because of a single moment in time. Don't let your bashing keep you from loving the right person.
As for your financial needs, they've all been taken care of. Now don't you balk at me. I know you've never been after my money. If you were, you wouldn't be my Justin. None the less, I've made sure that you have more than enough to tide you over so you can focus on your art. Lyle will give you all the details once you're ready for them.
Until then, try not to shed too many tears for me. You've given me so much in our years together and I am eternally grateful for that. I love you, Blondie. Don't ever forget that.
Justin was floored. What was John thinking? What had he done? It was a sweet gesture for him to want to protect Justin even after he was gone, and he was right. Lately Justin had begun to admit to himself, if no one else, that finding the right person was starting to look more appealing to him. Especially since he and Brian fell into bed. Was it really only just a few days ago? But that didn't mean that he was willing to trick the man into a relationship. As much as he loved John, there were still certain lines he wouldn't cross. Forcing Brian to go against his beliefs was one of them. As he wiped his eyes, he knew that he had to go find the man in question and straighten things out. If he was indeed getting ready to run back to Pittsburgh, he'd help him pack. As sad as he was at the thought of saying goodbye to the first man to make him feel something he thought he'd never feel again, he had no choice.
Justin found Brian down at the pool, swimming laps as if the devil himself was hot on his tail. Justin could see that he was agitated and knew it had to do with John's request. As he stood by the pool and watched the gorgeous man going back and forth, seeing his body as it made its way through the water, Justin couldn't help but think back to their nights together. There had been two of them. Two glorious nights where Justin had experienced more passion than he ever thought possible. It pained him to think that he'd never have that kind of passion again. Brian Kinney was different than any man that Justin had come into contact with and it showed, not only in his actions and demeanor, but also in the way he operated in bed. He really would miss the older man once he was gone.
Brian finished his final lap and reached out, grabbing onto the side of the pool, to try and catch his breath. He'd spent the last twenty minutes or so going back and forth, trying to swim away his agitation. How dare John dangle money in his face, using the one dream Brian still had, to try and get him to settle down. Of all the dreams that Brian had in his life, being the owner of the most prestigious ad agency in the country was the only one he still held onto, and John obviously knew that. Yet as tempting as it was, there was no way Brian was going to agree to his uncle's foolish plan. Brian Kinney didn't do relationships and having a fortune thrown at his wasn't going to change that. In the morning, Brian would tell Lyle thanks but no thanks, and then catch the first flight back to Pittsburgh. With his decisions made, Brian hoisted himself out of the pool and grabbed his towel, before turning around and coming face to face with Justin.
"Hey, are you all right?" he asked as he dried himself off.
"Yeah, I'm okay. A little shaken, but okay. How're you? John mentioned something about you staying in Denver?" Justin asked, keeping his knowledge to himself.
"Well, you were misinformed. As soon as I speak with Lyle in the morning I'm going to be heading back to my life. I've spent too much time here already. There's nothing for me here," Brian replied bitterly. He refused to think about what he was giving up.
"Oh…I guess I just thought…" Justin's voice trailed off as a wave of sadness washed over him. He expected Brian to react badly over John's offer, but a small part of him was hoping for a little more time with Brian. "That's a lot of money to throw away."
"So, you know about John's offer?"
"He didn't really go into details," Justin lied. "He just said that if you stuck around, you'd inherit most of his fortune."
"Yeah, if I stuck around and sold my soul, that is," Brian replied dryly. He saw a confused look cross Justin's face and continued. "I get his money if I have a partner by my next birthday. As if I would fall for something like that. I don't do relationships. There's no way in hell I'm going to subject myself to some hetero ritual, like all the other brainless overly sentimental fags out there."
"Brainless overly sentimental fags?" Justin asked in horror. "You mean than any man looking to find someone to spend his life with is brainless? You don't think it's possible that maybe they just want to find a little bit of happiness? That maybe they're just tired of the club scene? That the drinking, the drugs, and the tricking just get old after awhile? John used to be against relationships and look where that got him."
"Yeah, and that was unfortunate, but that doesn't mean that I'm willing to give up my life to become a Stepford fag. I'll leave that up to my friend Mikey," Brian replied.
"I never realized that you were so cynical." Justin could feel his anger rising at Brian's view of settling down and wasn't sure where it was coming from. Up until recently, he used to believe that love was impossible between two men, but hearing Brian trash it made him want to prove the older man wrong. He just wished he knew a way to do that. "Well, it's your decision. I'm going to go lay down for awhile. I guess I'll see you at dinner."
"Yeah," Brian said as he watched Justin walk away. He could sense the blond's anger at him and wondered where it came from. What difference did it make if he turned down the money? It wasn't like Justin had a stake in it. Sighing in frustration, Brian wrapped his towel around his waist and headed up to his room.
After a hot shower, Brian dressed casually and then headed back downstairs. He walked out to the yard and pulled out his cell phone. He needed to call Cynthia and have her arrange a flight for him. It took him a few minutes to get her on the line.
"Brian, I'm so glad you called. Vance wants to talk to you immediately. All hell's breaking loose here and he's throwing a fit that you're not here to deal with it," Cynthia said in exasperation. "He's being a complete asshole."
"What the hell happened?" Brian asked in confusion.
"Leo Brown has been calling nonstop looking for you. Apparently he requested some ideas for their new sneaker campaign and isn't happy with what Vance suggested. He's demanding to talk to you," Cynthia explained.
"Cyn, I've only been gone for about a week," Brian pointed out.
"I know. Promise not to kill the messenger?"
"Out with it," Brian demanded, feeling his blood begin to boil.
"Well, it seems that the request was made almost a month ago and Vance didn't bother to tell you. He decided to handle it on his own. Now Leo is fuming and demanding your immediate attention and Vance is flipping out that you're not around."
"That fucking asshole," Brian barked. "What the hell was he thinking trying to handle one of my accounts?"
"I'm not sure, but he's really made a mess of things. Do you want me to transfer you to him?"
"Yeah, but I need you to do me a favor first. I want you to look through all my accounts and see if that bastard has done this with anyone else. I'll give you an hour and then call you back. I want to know exactly what Gardner's been up to before I talk to him."
"You got it, Boss. I'll do it right now."
Brian slammed his phone shut and fought to keep from throwing it across the yard. Gardner Vance had been a thorn in his side ever since he bought out Marty Ryder. In fact, the Brown account was his way of proving his worth to the egotistical jerk. He had no right to try and steal the account away, which was exactly what he was trying to do. Brian never had a problem working with assholes before. Ryder could be one of the biggest assholes in Pittsburgh when he wanted to be. But Ryder could also be trusted. He never crossed the line with it came to integrity. Gardner, on the other hand, was one step up from pond scum and had been since day one. Brian had been trying to hang in there until he could find the means to go out on his own, but it looked like his time was running out.
Brian walked around for an hour, thinking about what his next move should be, before calling Cynthia back.
"What did you find out?" he demanded as soon as he heard her voice.
"He's had his hand in at least four of your accounts, as far as I can tell. Maybe more, but I had to stop looking when that bimbo secretary of his started snooping around," Cynthia told him. "What're you going to do?"
"I'm not sure, but for now let's keep this between us and transfer me to that asshole. I'll call you tonight at home and let you know what I've decided," Brian replied.
"You've got it, Boss. Hang on a minute."
Brian waited a good three minutes, listening to that God awful elevator music that Gardner was determined to have piped through the phone system, before the call went through.
"Brian, where the hell are you?" Gardner yelled into the phone.
"I'm in Denver, remember?" Brian reminded him, forcing himself to keep the anger out of his voice. "I told you I had some family stuff to take care of."
"Well get your ass back here. We've got a company to run."
"Sorry, Gardner, but you're going to have to handle things on your own for a little while longer. My uncle died and I have some loose ends to tie up here before I can get back," Brian explained calmly.
"That's what lawyers are for. You've got 48 hours to get your ass back in Pittsburgh. As partner, you've got responsibilities here and your contract states that any leave time must be approved by me. My approval is up. Your leisure time is over."
This time Brian couldn't stop himself as he threw his phone in anger. Gardner pushed him too far.
* * *
Justin woke up a little disoriented and was surprised to see that it was almost six. He got up and jumped in the shower before dressing quickly and heading downstairs. He sighed in relief when he realized that he'd beaten Brian to the dining room. He just managed to take his seat when Brian strode through the door looking highly agitated.
"Is everything all right?" he asked hesitantly.
"Everything's just peachy," Brian replied sarcastically. "By the way, do you happen to know of anyone looking for a partner?"Return to Be Careful What You Wish For