Brian, Dee and Emmett met up at the diner early the next morning. Brian slid into the seat next to Emmett as Dee was sending him death glares.
"Deb, can I get some coffee over here?"
"Just a minute, I've only got so many hands."
"You woke me up, asshole," Dee growled.
Brian arched a brow but said nothing.
"All right, you two cut it out. We need to help Sunshine. Someone has a real hard on to hurt him." Emmett shot Brian a look. "For once it isn't you. We need to come up with a plan to trap the bastard."
Brian patted Emmett's shoulder. "Ok, Nancy Drew. Actually I agree; it ends now and I have a plan."
The two southern boys looked at Brian intently not a bit surprised. Brian was, after all, the idea man.
"Whoever it is likes to get Justin alone, when he's most vulnerable. We should work in shifts to make sure he's not. The next prime opportunity for attack would be tonight when Justin goes to class."
"So what's the plan, oh great one?" Emmett teased.
"I'll drive Justin to class; he won't think anything of it. I'll take an alternate route while Dee here impersonates Justin."
"Why do I have to be the bait?"
"You two could pass for twins especially from behind and he likes to attack from behind, so be on your guard. You gotta break in those taekwondo lessons sooner or later."
Dee smiled slyly, "All right, I'm in. Don't get a lot of chances to whoop some ass."
"That's the spirit," Brian smiled.
Emmett bounced in his seat. "Oh, this is so exciting. What's my job?"
"Your job is Dee's back up, not that she'll need it. Once we catch the bastard, whoever it is, you'll both drag his ass to Babylon. I'll pull some strings to get the keys. No one will be around at that time and we'll have a little chat with the fucker."
"I like it," Emmett nodded.
"Me too," Dee agreed.
Brian nodded. "Good, now I need to get to work. Justin is not to know about this." Brian got up and threw some money on the table then was out the door.
"Oh, he's got it bad."
Emmett and Dee giggled in the back booth.
Around noon Justin woke up, extracted himself from his warm cocoon and padded sleepily to the bathroom. Once he relieved his full bladder he splashed cool water on his face to clear his head. He went to the kitchen and made himself lunch. Once the beast that was his stomach was fed Justin decided to start his other assignment. He had lots of time before he had to go to class. Justin thought he could probably get the other assignment done too. It would look better if he showed up with both assignments done and eager to learn. He wanted the teacher to know that he was very serious about completing his courses.
Justin curled up on the sofa with his pad of paper and began to write his autobiography. He started with being born and raised in a tiny town in Georgia where everyone knew everyone else. He went on to describe his childhood, happy and healthy as it was. Justin listed his achievements from small art fairs, singing and dancing, cooking and writing. He tried to downplay it a bit; he didn't want to come off as a pompous ass that was full of himself. He mentioned briefly when he started to realize he was different and had feelings for other boys. His writing slowed to a stop as he got closer to what had led him here. Justin glanced at the few pages he'd written so far and deemed it a good place to take a break. Maybe if he just had some time to think the rest would fall into place and write itself.
Justin decided to call his mother. It helped to hear her voice every now and then. He was nervous about going to his first class and could use some motherly reassurances.
"Justin, baby, how are you?"
"Oh, I'm good. Guess what?"
"You have more exciten news to tell me?"
"Uh huh, tonight I start my first class. I've almost got both assignments done."
"Oh baby, I'm so proud of you."
"I'm nervous, mom. I want to do well."
"Justin, now you listen to me. You are doing just fine. There's nothing for you to worry about; you've always done so well in school. If you need help Dee will help you and I'm sure you've made at least a few friends. Never be afraid to ask for help. Oh, before I forget I have some news of my own to share."
"What is it?" Justin asked curiously."
"Chris Hobbs is back. Apparently he's been visiting family in Wyoming. Took himself a little vacation to get his head straight."
Justin heard the snort and had to agree on the likelihood of that ever happening.
"That's great news, mom. I was more than a little nervous not knowing where he was."
"That's understandable, sweetie. Oh dear, your father's pickup just pulled up. He's home early. Take care, baby, and good luck."
"Thanks, mom, I love you."
"I love you too, Justin."
Justin quickly blinked the tears from his eyes. He still missed his mother terribly. He settled back on the sofa relieved to know that Chris wasn't behind the recent attacks, but someone sure was. Justin picked up his notebook and began soldiering on. He thought it best if he kept it real and honest. Since it was for school he edited out parts but gave a general idea. Also he kept in mind that he might have to read it out loud. He wrote of how hard it was to pick up and leave for a big city to live with a cousin he barely knew. For entertainment value with a splash of humor he wrote what it was like to dress up as a female. He wrote how he eventually embraced his sexuality and found a wonderful boyfriend. Justin omitted the attacks, he'd written more than enough. After looking over the pages he'd written he used Dee's computer to type up the assignment. It would be faster that way and look better.
Justin had a light dinner with Dee. He was way too nervous to eat but managed to get a little something down. After dinner Dee disappeared into her room while he watched the clock anxiously. When it got to be the time he should leave he packed up his backpack and tugged on his jacket. With a heavy sigh he opened the door. His face instantly lit up when he saw Brian lounging against his Jeep smoking a cigarette.
"Brian, what are you doen here?"
Brian shrugged nonchalantly. "I thought you might like a lift and I was in the neighborhood."
Justin smiled; he could read Brian as plain as day. It made his heart flutter that Brian wanted to lend him moral support. He happily got in the passenger side and settled back with his bag resting on his lap.
"Brian, thank you."
Brian nodded a bit uncomfortable; he didn't want Justin's gratitude.
Once Brian and Justin had left, Dee, who looked more like Derek stepped out of his bedroom. He had to borrow some of Justin's clothes; it was a good thing they were both the same size. Derek checked himself out in the mirror and shook his head. The things he would do for his little cousin. He grabbed up his old messenger bag and threw some things into it to give the illusion that he was just a schoolboy off to get an education. Derek tugged on Justin's red hoodie, all the more to draw attention with, he grinned. He slung the bag over his shoulder and stepped out into the night. He felt the electrical zing through his body. Truthfully he couldn't wait to get attacked. He was more than eager to try out the moves he'd learned.
Brian pulled up in front of the building. Justin bit his lip and clutched his bag nervously.
Justin turned at the sound of Brian's voice. Brian leaned in and pulled Justin closer, he kissed Justin tenderly. Justin smiled shyly up at Brian.
"Well, I guess I should be goen."
"Knock 'em dead, Sunshine."
Justin reluctantly left the safety of the Jeep and headed towards the building.
"Good luck," Brian whispered.
Justin kept his eyes forward and didn't look back. When he reached the door he grabbed the handle, took a deep breath, yanked it open and stepped inside. Brian watched Justin till he disappeared inside the building. He had a fleeting thought of Gus. When the time came would it be just as hard taking him to his first class? No doubt it would probably be worse. At least he had quite a few more years before he had to deal with such things.
Derek walked along at a moderate pace. He concentrated on walking like Justin and not his usual feminine swish. To entertain himself he kept up a soft commentary.
"It sure is dark and I'm all alone. Hope no one attacks me. I'm just a poor defenseless little southern boy. Come out, come out, wherever you are. Come and get me. I'm right here. Here, Mr. Attacker," Dee said softly like calling a dog.
Finally Derek did hear footsteps behind him. He decided to test the potential attacker. He slowed his pace to a slow stroll and sure enough the footsteps slowed too. Then as if he were trying out for a spooky movie he paused and looked nervously around, keeping his face in shadowed profile. Then as if spooked, he picked up his pace as did the footsteps. While it appeared he was getting away in reality he was not. He timed the footsteps then in his rush to get away he pretended to stumble. Rough arms grabbed him from behind. Derek shrieked in mock fear as he grabbed the arm around his chest, yanked down, rolled his shoulder and dropped to one knee. The force of the momentum had his would-be attacker sailing over him and landing none too gently on his back. Derek stood up brushing his hands off.
"Well, that was rather anticlimactic."
He had one sneakered foot resting daintily on his attacker's chest in case the scum decided to slither away. Emmett rushed to Dee's aid.
"Dee honey, you ok?"
"Yeah, I think I knocked the stuffing out of him though."
"Jesus, when I heard you scream I thought you were in trouble. You definitely missed your calling as an actress."
"Hmm, you think?"
Emmett looked down at the unmoving attacker. "Who do we have here?"
Derek bent down and pushed the hood aside. "Well, that just figures." Derek kicked him in the side. "Fucking bitch."
Emmett stopped him. "Come on; let's get this sack of shit to Brian, and see what he wants to do with the cunt."
They each picked up an arm and began dragging their burden to the meeting place.
Justin lurked in the doorway of his classroom, observing the other students. The teacher happened to notice him.
"Come on in. You must be Justin, right? I'm Ms. Stone."
Justin hesitantly stepped inside the room. "Yes." He took out his assignments and handed them to her. "I finished the assignments."
"That's wonderful, Justin, why don't you take a seat."
"Um, I don't have to read them aloud, do I?"
"No dear, this is just fine."
Justin smiled and found a desk off to the side. Ms. Stone stood at the front of the classroom. "Take out your notebooks. Today I thought we'd do a different sort of writing exercise. Your assignment is to write a fairy tale using the people in your life as the characters."
Justin got a big smile on his face; he couldn't wait to get started. It sounded like a rather interesting assignment.
"Your fairy tale can be modern day or set in any time you choose. It must be at least five pages long. When you hand it in it must be neatly written or typed. You may begin working on it now."
Emmett and Dee hauled in their cursing and hissing cargo. Unfortunately the bitch didn't know when to stay unconscious. They unceremoniously shoved him into a chair. Brian stepped out of the shadows looking imposing. He stalked over to the chair glaring down at the pathetic excuse that was Justin's attacker.
"Well, if it isn't Darren or should I say Shanda."
Darren wanted to say something nasty and snarky but couldn't form the words under Brian's intense menacing stare.
"Ok, you sick piece of shit, I want to know why you repeatedly attacked Sunshine."
"You don't have any proof it was me."
Brian arched a brow. He turned to Emmett. "Go get a few things that might convince Shanda to talk."
"Gladly." Emmett pranced off to one of the rooms that held the costumes. Shanda kept several of her best gowns and shoes there for special performances. When Emmett came back with the gowns and shoes Darren lunged for them but Brian pushed him back down.
"Those are my gowns! What are you doing with them?"
Emmett playfully snipped a big pair of shears in the direction of the expensive gowns.
"What do you think, Dee; these gowns could use some alterations?"
"Why, I do believe you're right, Emm."
"You wouldn't dare," Darren gasped.
"Watch us," Dee firmly snapped a heel off a pink Prada pump.
Darren nearly went into an epileptic seizure over the sight of the pump being destroyed.
"Now that we have your full attention; start talking," Brian growled.
Darren's lips were pressed together tightly so they were nothing but white slits. Emmett cut a long zigzag up the Dior gown. Darren gasped and went white.
"Do you know how much that cost?"
"Not as much as Justin's life, you sick fuck, so start talking or they will cut up every pretty gown you own."
"All right, all right. Jesus, fuck, yes, it was me."
Dee snapped the heel off a baby blue pump.
"Hey! I just confessed."
"That was for Sunshine, you ugly bitch."
"I want to know why," Brian's voice was cold and hard.
Darren grimaced and spat out, "Sunshine is so fucking perfect at everything. There wasn't a thing that he couldn't do better than me and everyone loves him. He took my catering job. That diva crown should be mine. That slut doesn't deserve it."
Both Emmett and Dee cut and broke more of Shanda's possessions in defense of Sunshine while Darren cursed and wailed. Brian tried to keep his temper under control, trying being the operative word.
"So you pushed Sunshine in the freezer?"
Brian's hands clenched into fists. "He could have lost his life."
"You found him," Darren said looking none to remorseful.
"You drugged his drink?"
Brian arched a brow and Emmett resumed cutting up a beautiful black Versace gown till Darren shrieked for him to stop.
"Damn you, I'm telling the truth. I made Cody do it."
"You stalked him and hurt him and left him horrible notes," Brian continued.
"Yes, I did."
"Was it you in the SUV?"
"Yes, and I sent the fucking flowers. Now what are you going to do about it?"
Brian got deadly quiet. "You want to know what I'm going to do about it. I'm going to ask you to leave Pittsburgh. I don't care what fucking rock you crawl under it just better not be in the state of Pennsylvania."
Darren snorted, "I'm not leaving; this is my home."
Brian glared down at Darren. "I'll tell you what will happen if you don't leave. I will stand back and let these two gossip hounds loose on Liberty. They'll tell anyone who will listen that you are really an ugly woman and have been playing the guys of Liberty Ave. If one hair on Justin's blond head is harmed or one more note is found I will place a call. It won't be to the police. It will be to the biggest bear I know. He'll then call his buddies and they will make you their bitch. Now, are we clear?"
"Crystal," Darren squeaked. He shifted in his seat and found his pants a bit damp.
"Good, now get the fuck out of my sight! I want you gone."
Darren flew out of his chair and raced out of Babylon like the hounds of hell were after him.
When class let out Justin looked around for the Jeep but didn't see it. He shrugged and decided to walk home. As he crossed the street he sensed someone was following him. He picked up his pace and walked a little faster. With all the attacks lately he couldn't be too careful. It was late and he wanted to get home. Much to his dismay the footsteps quickened. Justin was still far from the safety of the apartment. His eyes darted around trying to find a safe place to escape to. Panic overtook him and he began to run. He could hear the pounding footsteps behind him. He flashed back to the time he was caught after school by the football players. He let out a choked sob just as a hand grabbed his shoulder.
"Hey! Would you slow down?"
Justin spun around. "Cody, what do you want?" Justin took a step back.
"I just wanted to talk. I wanted to tell you who was behind the attacks. I know who it is."
"Why would he want to hurt me?"
"Duh? Cuz he's jealous of you."
"Why are you tellen me this now?"
"He was making me do some of his dirty work for him and I'm tired of it. He was going way too far, the crazy bitch. He gave me the shit to slip in your drink and I delivered the flowers, that's all. So now you know."
Cody turned around and walked away. Justin stood there for a moment stunned then continued on home.
When Justin got home he wanted to tell Dee what he had found out but she wasn't home. He took his backpack to his room and left it on his bed. He walked back out to the living room in time to see Dee come in.
Justin gaped at Dee. "What in the world? Hey, those are my clothes!"
"Oh gee, look at that, so they are."
"What's going on, Dee?"
"Um, I had to take care of something and I needed to borrow some of your clothes."
"I almost forgot what you looked like as a guy." Justin tilted his head to the side. "Weird."
"Hey! I look just like you."
Justin smiled and hugged his cousin tight. "I was kidding."
Dee swished to her bedroom. "Well, you can have your clothes back. I much prefer frilly skirts and pretty dresses."
"I know who's been attacken me."
Dee stopped. "You do?"
"Yeah, it was Darren. Cody told me. What am I going to do; he's so jealous of me."
Dee sighed and tugged Justin's hand so they were both sitting down on the bed.
"I don't think you have to worry about Darren/Shanda anymore. We took care of it."
"We?" Justin asked in surprise.
"Brian, Emmett and I. Look I pretended to be you. Darren attacked me, rather badly I might add. We ripped up his dresses till he confessed and Brian ran him out of town with some well placed threats. You won't be seeing the likes of Darren again."
"And you guys weren't going to tell me?" Justin asked incredulously.
"It was Brian's idea to keep it quiet."
Justin nodded deep in thought. "Um Dee, can I borrow your cell phone?"
"Sure." She handed Justin a pink cell.
"I'm goen out; don't wait up." Justin smiled brightly.
After Justin left, Dee smirked, "Brian."
Justin walked to the loft and let himself in. As he climbed the stairs he dialed Brian's number.
"Justin, how was class?"
"Oh it was great; I like the teacher. You'll never guess what the next assignment is."
"I'm sure you'll tell me."
"I have to write a fairy tale using the people in my life as the characters."
"Well I guess we know who gets to be the handsome prince."
Justin laughed, "Pretty sure of yourself, aren't you?"
"Confidence has nothing to do with it."
"You know a funny thing happened when I got home. Dee was wearen my clothes."
"Maybe she was taking a walk on the wild side."
"Whatever you say. Thank you, Brian, you really are a prince."
Brian fell silent uncomfortable with thanks and praise.
"I'm goen to ask you out on a date."
Brian smirked, "You are, huh?"
"Yes, and you're goen to say yes."
Justin wasn't sure if Brian was asking a question or agreeing. He knocked on the loft door. "Better answer your door."
Brian yanked back the door to reveal his smiling Sunshine. Brian hugged him and kissed him lovingly. Brian leaned down and whispered in Justin's ear, "If you ask me out I'll say yes."
Brian tugged Justin into the loft and pulled the door shut.
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