"Mel, I've got to go out for a while." Lindsay called to her partner. "I'm leaving Gus here, okay?"
Melanie walked into the living room as Lindsay was pulling her jacket on. "No problem. How long will you be gone?"
"Michael wants to talk about this thing with Brian. It shouldn't take long," Lindsay replied, giving her wife a quick kiss before she headed out the door.
Mel didn't comment as her partner left, but she wondered why Michael wanted to talk to Lindsay of all people. As far as she knew, the two of them had never been that close.
Across town, a little while later, Michael answered the door to let his cohort in crime into his apartment.
"Is Emmett home?" Lindsay asked, not wanting anyone to overhear what might be said.
"He's at work." Michael answered. "Brian came by the diner yesterday," he continued as he began pacing around the apartment.
Lindsay's hands fluttered like nervous butterflies. "He did? What did he say?"
Michael snorted. "He had some kid with him. Christ, the twink couldn't have been fifteen. And Brian claims they're partners now."
"Maybe he's just saying that to get back at us," Lindsay offered. "Brian wouldn't really "
"Ted was there," Michael interrupted. "He was Brian's witness at the courthouse when Brian filed the papers."
Lindsay gasped in shock. "Then he's serious. What are we going to do?"
Michael continued to pace, angrily banging his hand against the doorframe as he passed. "Right now, I'm more worried about what he's going to do to us. He's definitely holding a grudge." Michael repeated what Brian had said at the diner the day before.
"But, Michael, they were supposed to help him, like at rehab. It couldn't have been that bad," Lindsay protested.
Michael refrained from commenting. He'd sugar coated it when he'd initially made the suggestion, knowing Lindsay wasn't strong enough to take what would really be done to Brian. "It was probably just him coming off of all the booze and drugs he'd been doing. They say you can feel like you're dying during that time."
"But he should have been over that some time ago," Lindsay objected. "After five months he should have been getting better."
"Linds, Brian didn't want to be there." Michael headed off that line of reasoning. "We may have convinced everyone else that he went to rehab willingly, but you and I know that's not true." Michael paused making sure Lindsay understood what he was saying.
Lindsay's shoulders slumped. "And he left before he was cured, didn't he?" she asked, although it wasn't really a question. "Who is this teenager he's partners with? How did he meet him?"
Michael sighed and sat down. "Just some kid he met at Greenhills." He shrugged that off, then put his hand on Lindsay's knee to get her attention. "Lindsay, Brian is pissed and he knows we're the ones responsible for putting him in that place. He's going to want revenge."
Lindsay looked up, shocked at the intensity of Michael's tone. "But we only did it for his own good. Because we love him," she explained.
Michael nodded. "I know that," he said softly. "But Brian doesn't see it that way. I think we need to come up with some ways to protect ourselves."
"Protect ourselves. Against what?" Lindsay asked, almost in a panic. "What do you think he'll do?"
Having given this a lot of thought since yesterday, Michael forced his voice to give away his doubts. "At the least, he'll just make our lives hell," he answered. "At the worst, he could try to send us to jail."
Lindsay gasped. "Oh, Michael, he wouldn't. He couldn't put his son's mother in jail."
Michael ground his teeth. There was no way he was going to pay for this alone. "Maybe not, but I think we might want to talk to Mel and see if she can help us."
Lindsay nodded. "She's at home with Gus. Why don't we go now?"
Michael agreed and they left for Lindsay's house. The whole way over, he wondered how much he could safely say without showing himself in a bad light. After all, it had been for Brian's own good.
"So, Sunshine, you ready to go back to school?" Brian asked as they reclined on the couch.
Justin groaned. "Can't I just stay here and fuck you all day instead?"
Brian gave his partner a half smile. Sex addict meets horny teenager was proving to be quite a challenge. He almost didn't have the energy to think about tricking. Almost. "I've got to go back to work on Monday and pay for these expensive rings you insisted on," Brian replied. "Not to mention that honeymoon you made me promise to go on."
Justin grinned as he held his hand up to look at his ring. "I'm not the one who said we had to get platinum," he noted. Then he rolled over so that they were face to face. "I wonder what Daphne's going to say about me getting married."
"Ah, yes, that would be Daphne Duck, correct?"
"Yeah, she's going to have a fit when she finds out."
"Maybe you could invite her over. I'd like to meet her," Brian suggested as his hands wandered over the teen's back.
Justin paused for a moment, thinking something about Brian's request was just a little off.
Brian ran a hand through Justin's hair, smoothing it back from his face. He decided to lay his doubts on the table. "Someone needs to keep an eye on you while you're at school, Jus. Just in case your father tries something."
"Do you really think he would?" Justin asked, a spike of fear going through him at the thought. "After all, I'm eighteen now. He can't make me do anything." Justin was a little bitter as he remembered that he'd 'celebrated' his birthday in that hell-hole.
"It could happen." Brian didn't want to scare the blond, but didn't want him to become complacent either. He knew that this wasn't over by a long shot. "But not if Daphne's keeping an eye on you."
Laying his head on the brunet's shoulder, Justin mulled over what Brian had said. He knew Brian had a point about school. "What do you think Daphne's going to be able to do if someone does come after me?" he asked. "She's not exactly a heavyweight."
"She can call me," Brian replied simply. "The sooner I know something's happened, the sooner I can do something about it."
Justin sighed, then another thought crossed his mind. "What about you? Who's going to watch your back when I'm not with you?"
"Cynthia always knows my schedule. I'll tell her to call you if I don't show up where I'm supposed to be during the day," Brian replied, more to calm the teen than because he thought it was necessary.
Anymore discussion was halted as a knock sounded on the loft door. "Fuck, looks like our reprieve is over, Sunshine. Time to face the inquisition."
However, Brian was surprised to find Melanie on the other side of the door holding Gus.
"And to what do I owe this unpleasant surprise?" Brian asked as the woman walked in and set Gus on the floor. A smile lit his face as Gus toddled off. The infant had only been crawling when Brian had last seen him.
"I thought you might like to see your son," Melanie responded dryly. "And I thought we might discuss some business." After Lindsay had left, Melanie had debated over coming here, but then decided to get it over with before her partner returned home and talked her out of it. "Of course, I heard you had another baby," she added, seeing Justin watching them from the sofa.
Brian ignored the remark and walked over to where Gus was exploring the loft. "Hey, Sonny Boy. You remember your old man?" he asked as he knelt next to the toddler.
Gus held his arms up, his signal to be picked up, which his father willingly did. Brian walked over to where Justin was watching with a smile. "So, what do you think of your new dad, Sonny Boy?"
Giggling a little, Gus shifted himself from one man to the other, then wiggled himself back down again. "Keep an eye on the little guy, Sunshine," Brian said. "I need to see what the wicked step-mother wants."
Melanie clenched her jaw, knowing the smart-ass answer that came to mind wasn't going to get her what she wanted right then.
"So, what really brings you here, Mel? It certainly wasn't to let me spend time with my son."
"Fine, I'll cut to the chase," Mel said, pulling some papers from her jacket. "We had an agreement that you would sign over your rights to Gus and I've brought the paperwork over. We didn't get around to it before you committed yourself into rehab, so I'd like to take care of it now, before you disappear on us again."
Brian narrowed his eyes. "Is that what Lindsay told you? That I willingly went into that hell-hole?"
Melanie stopped, expecting the attitude, but not on that subject. "Of course. Michael said you and he had a heart to heart and he convinced you to give it a try."
"That's bullshit," Brian ranted, then forced himself to calm down.
Melanie was a little startled at Brian's response. "So what are you saying, that Michael forced you into rehab?" She said sarcastically. "It was probably the smartest thing you've ever done."
Justin walked over, carrying Gus who was now eating a cracker, and handed him to Brian. "Neither of us were there because we wanted to be," he interrupted.
"And what do you know about it?" Melanie asked. "You're still in high school, for Christ's sake."
"I know that when I found Brian, he was so out of it, I had to half-carry him out of the building. He could barely even tell me his name, they had him so drugged up," Justin began hotly. How dare this woman come into their home and insult his partner!
"Justin," Brian said softly, putting a restraining hand on the blond's shoulder. It wasn't anyone else's business what had gone on there.
However, Justin had other ideas. He held up his hand, showing Melanie the red marks around his wrist. "They had me strapped to a table. I had to work my way free and then I was so light-headed and sick, I could barely stand. And you want to know why I was there?"
Melanie narrowed her eyes at the blond's assault. "Drug problem?" she asked.
"No. I'm gay." Justin paused to let that sink in. He could see the doubt in the woman's eyes and went in for the kill. "My dad sent me there because I'm an embarrassment to him. They were going to brainwash me into being the perfect little straight boy so my dad could walk around with his head held high." Justin's tone was derisive as he spoke.
Melanie wasn't going to be swayed so easily though. "The place came highly recommended," she stated. "What you're talking about would be illegal."
Brian snorted. "No shit."
Melanie looked from one man to the other, not wanted to believe what they were saying. "Well, since I'm obviously not going to get what I came for, I guess it's time for us to leave."
Brian passed Gus back over to her, saying good-bye to his son.
Justin turned to Brian as the loft door closed. "Who the fuck does she think she is? Can't these people understand what happened to us?"
Brian actually smiled as he grabbed the blond and pulled him into his embrace. "Who knew I was marrying such a little pitbull?" he observed.
Justin blushed a little bit. "Yeah, well, wasn't that the deal? We're partners. We have to watch out for each other." He melted into Brian's arms and rested his head against the taller man's shoulder.
Brian felt a strange flutter inside at the teen's words. "That's right, Sunshine," he said softly. "That's what partner's do."
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