Southern Sunshine

Chapter 4

Justin lay on his bed in the apartment. He was finishing up another sketch of Brian Kinney. He had the face down almost perfectly now. And what a perfect face it was! Justin finished the last few strokes with his pencil and gently shaded the mouth. It was sucked in the way it had been that morning after Brian had kissed him. With a sigh Justin looked at the sketch and then clutched it to his chest.

Dee walked down the hall past Justin's bedroom. "You've got it bad, haven't ya?" she said as she stuck her head in the door and saw Justin clutching the sketchbook to his chest. She knew that Justin had been drawing Brian ever since he had first seen the man. And Justin had been chomping at the bit to tell Dee about the kiss.

Justin grinned at her. "Maybe," he smiled.

"Let's see," Dee asked as she plopped her bum on the edge of Justin's bed.

Shyly Justin handed Dee the book.

"Wow! That's fucking perfect! I've seen Kinney look exactly like that many times."

"Thanks," Justin said with a sheepish grin. He loved being complimented on his sketches even though he never thought they really were that good. He wished he had more training in art. He had always done well in his art classes in high school until … until… He felt tears well up.

"What?" Dee asked seeing Justin's face. "It was a compliment."

"I know," Justin said fighting back the tears but a stray one ran down his cheek betraying him.

"What's wrong?"

"I … I was thinking about …"

"Back home?"

Justin nodded. "And about what happened."

"I bet you're homesick too. Why don't you call your mother?"

"I … I couldn't. At this time of night my father's sure to be home."

"Call her in the morning then, after the time your father goes to work."

"You think I should?"

"Of course, why not?"

"They sent me away. I don't think they ever want to talk to me again."

"I can't see your mother thinken like that."

Justin looked at Dee, considering what she had said. He knew it was really his father that had kicked him out. His mother had tried to help him, had given him money and told him where to go so he would be safe. And he was doing pretty well for himself in Pittsburgh. Maybe his mother would like to know that.

"Do you think she'd talk to me?" Justin asked.

"How can you even ask that?"

"Maybe … maybe I'll call in the morning."

"Good, now get some sleep. You seem to be having fewer nightmares these days."

Justin hugged the sketchbook to his chest. Every night he slept with Brian Kinney and that seemed to keep the bad dreams away.

"Justin," Dee said as she hesitated at the doorway. "Don't get too caught up with Brian. The skinny is that he's a real slut. He fucks them once and kicks them out. Never does repeats. You don't want that."

"Maybe I do," Justin said defiantly. "For my first time. If he's such a great fuck, he might be the one for me."

Dee shook her head. She knew Justin was heading for a fall. Kinney was fucking hot, but he also had a reputation as the ultimate asshole. As she walked down the hall, she had major misgivings about what Justin seemed intent on doing.

Justin, on the other hand, clutched his sketchbook in his arms. He wanted Brian Kinney, and that kiss at the diner had told him that he might just be able to have him.


When Justin woke the next morning, Dee had already left for work. She had decided to let Justin sleep. She thought he could use some extra sleep after all the nightmarish nights he had spent recently. And Justin didn't have an early shift at the diner. He needed to be there for lunch and she was sure he would wake up by then.

Justin got some cereal after he had his shower. He kept looking at the phone. He wanted to pick it up but he was afraid. He didn't think he would be able to stand it if his mother refused to speak to him.

He looked at the clock as he finished his cereal. He had three quarters of an hour before he needed to be at the diner. Plenty of time to call his mother. Deciding that it was now or never, he dialed the long familiar number.

After three rings a female voice said, "Hello."


"Justin, oh my God! Are you all right?"

Justin felt the fear flood out of his body and the tears fill his eyes. His mother was still worried about him. She cared. "I'm fine, Mom. I just wanted you to know that."

"Thank God. Are you with Derek?"


"How … how are you? Is everything all right?"

"You mean besides the fact that my father kicked me out? Yeah, I'm fine," Justin replied unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice.

"Let's not talk about your father, honey."

"Let's not," Justin agreed. He felt a warmth spread through his body at the term "honey".

"So tell me what you're doin'?"

"Do you care?" Justin knew he was being a bitch but he couldn't help himself.

"Of course I care. I sent you to Derek so that you'd be safe."

"I'm safe," Justin whispered feeling bad for what he had said. She really did seem to care. "I have a job. I work in a diner."


"You're disappointed."

"No, I mean, I hoped somehow you could continue your education."

"That's kind of difficult when I have to work all day to support myself."

"Yes, of course."

"Is Dad at work?"


"Does … is he still mad at me?"

"He doesn't speak of you, honey."

"It's like I never existed."

"Don't say that, Justin."

"Does anybody miss me?"

"I do."

There, she had said it. "Anybody else?"


That answered his question. Nobody cared. "I … I should go."


"I have to get to work."

"Can … can you call again … sometime?"

Justin felt a little smile on his lips. "I'll try."

"Bye, honey."

"Bye, Mom."

Justin hung up the phone. He wanted to laugh and he wanted to cry. His mother did miss him, even if nobody else did. She wanted him to call again, but it did sound like she would never call him. She didn't even ask for his number. He was proud to tell her that he had a job and was supporting himself, but he hated hearing the disappointment in her voice that he wasn't continuing his education. He liked his life here in Pittsburgh, but his heart ached with homesickness. Justin swiped at his tears and went to get ready for work.


Justin was doing very well at the diner. He was still considered a busboy, but Deb was letting him wait on tables more and more. The wages weren't great, but the tips were good. He discovered that a lot of the clientele at the Liberty Diner seemed to be kind of fascinated with him. He was always getting propositions and ass pinches as he walked by the tables. Sometimes men stuffed his tip and their number in his pocket. They usually managed to cop a feel while they were at it. The tip was way big when they did that. Justin had been horrified at first, but he quickly learned that he made a lot more money when he let it happen. He always turned down any propositions and that gave him an air of mystery and unattainability. That only served to increase his tips too. He could hardly wait until Debbie told him he could be a waiter or waitress, as the case may be. Then his tips would be really great. He might even look into night school when that happened.

"Sunshine! Sunshine! Sun-fucking shine!" Debbie screeched at him. "Earth to Sunshine. Your order's up."

"Um, sorry, Deb." Justin grabbed the plate and quickly served it to a somewhat disgruntled patron. He gave the guy his best sunshine smile and the guy smiled back. Big tip. Justin smiled more as he walked back to the counter.

"What the fuck is up with you today?" Debbie demanded as he slid onto a stool at the counter. It was mid afternoon and very quiet.

"I … I called my mother this morning."

"Oh! Is she all right?"

"Yeah, why?"

"You looked kind of sad and you've been lost in thought since you came in."

"Debbie, do you think I could go to night school … or something?"

"You want to go back to school?" Debbie asked in amazement. "Most kids your age are trying to get out of school."

"I'd like to take some art courses … maybe at night. I'd like to get my high school diploma. I didn't quite finish."

"Why don't you stop by the high school over on King St? They should have some brochures that will answer your questions. You could probably talk to a guidance counselor too."

Justin absorbed the information. "Maybe I will. But first I need to be made waiter so I can earn more."

"Don't you mean waitress?" Debbie laughed.

"No, I mean waiter, but that's between you and me."

Debbie winked. "Gotcha. And consider yourself promoted."

Justin grinned from ear to ear and then grabbed Deb in a big hug. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"Well, isn't this cozy," a voice interrupted them.

"What the fuck do you want?" Debbie asked.

"I came for my pay," Cody stated looking daggers at Justin. "Is this my replacement?"

"Oh, nobody could replace you, Cody. You broke more dishes than any six other busboys. Here's your money; don't let the door hit you in the fucking behind."

Cody grabbed the bills that Debbie held out to him. "Fuck you and fuck this job. And fuck you too," he added looking at Justin.

"Back atcha," Justin yelled as Cody marched out the door.

"Fucking asshole!" Debbie reacted.

As the dinner rush was easing off, Justin saw Emmett come in. He was talking intently with some guy. The guy wasn't particularly good looking but he had a certain air of arrogance about him. Justin was a little upset that Emmett didn't even acknowledge his existence.

Debbie waited on them as they continued their conversation. Justin watched as he passed by the table again and again delivering his orders. Emmett never spoke to him; he was so engrossed with this guy. Justin wondered if this might be Emmett's boyfriend, but they seemed so serious. They didn't seem to be having fun or enjoying each other.

By the time the diner had pretty well emptied out the man with Emmett stood and prepared to leave too.

"Let me know soon," Emmett called to the guy as he left. He received a cursory flick of the arm from the departing figure.

"Did he kind of flip you off?" Justin asked as he poured Emmett a little more coffee.

"Naw, but he's such a drama queen."

"Who is he?"

"That's Darren. I'm trying to talk him into cooking with me."

"Cooking?" Justin asked suddenly interested. He loved to cook. His mother had taught him some great recipes.

"Yeah, Vic, that's Debbie's brother, and I have started a little party planning/catering business."

"I didn't know that," Justin said. He handed the coffee pot to Debbie who went to fill the cup of the last remaining customer other than Emmett. Then he slid into the booth opposite Emmett.

"We've done a few jobs so far, but Vic's health isn't the best and I want someone else who can cook to be backup and extra hands if we need them."

"And this Darren can do that?"

"He makes wonderful desserts. If he can do that, I'm sure he can cook anything."

"Oh," Justin said disappointed to hear that.

"But he's such a fucking drama queen."


"He wants me to wine and dine him and convince him to do this. I mean it's not like it's all day every day. But noooooooooo…he has to make a big deal of how busy he is and how it might get in the way of his career."

"His career … as what?"

"He's Shanda Leer."

"What kind of a chandelier?" Justin asked bewildered.

"He dresses in drag and lip syncs to old tunes. He's actually pretty good. But as far as a career goes? Who knows?"

"Oh," Justin replied somewhat bewildered as to what Emmett was talking about.

"We should go some night when he's performing and you can see for yourself."

"Maybe. Um … Emmett, I can cook," Justin said bashfully.

"That's nice, sweetie."

"No, I mean … I could help you if you need someone."

"Oh, thanks for the offer, but this is more than just cooking, Sunshine."

"I bet I could do it," Justin stated thinking he might like this opportunity. He knew he would like working with Emmett.

"Well, I've offered the job to Darren. He's thinking about it … supposedly. I hope the cunt isn't just stringing me along. I really need someone for a party next week."

"Keep me in mind," Justin said standing up. It didn't sound like he would get the job.

"You'll have to show me what you can do," Emmett replied using his best businessman voice.

"I … I could make you dinner," Justin offered. "What if you came for dinner day after tomorrow? That'll give me time to figure out what to make."

"Ooh, I love a free meal," Emmett laughed. "I'll be there."

When Justin left the diner half an hour later he was planning the menu for Emmett's dinner in his head. He walked along the street lost in thought thinking about how he would arrange everything in the apartment. He needed to talk to Dee and make sure it was okay with her.

"Hey, watch where you're going," a voice yelled at him as he bumped into someone.

"Um … sorry," Justin said rubbing his arm where it had banged into someone. He looked up to see a familiar face.

"Hey," the guy grinned. "I've seen you around before."

"You're the fiddler guy, aren't ya?" Justin asked.

"What gave me away?" the guy grinned showing Justin his violin case. "And I'm a violinist, not a fiddler."


"There is a difference, you know."

Justin felt like saying that he didn't see any difference but the guy was smiling so genuinely at him that he didn't want to be cruel. "If you say so."

"I could show you the difference."

"I … I'm kind of in a hurry."

"I'm Ethan," the violinist said holding out his hand.

"Sunshine," Justin replied shaking the extended hand. He felt Ethan caress the knuckles of his fingers almost like he was searching for something.

"Interesting name, for a guy."


"I've had my eye on you. Those knuckles tell me that you're a guy and I bet there's other things that would tell me even more." He looked suggestively at Justin's crotch.

"I … I have to go," Justin said hastily pulling his hand out of Ethan's grasp.

"Don't be like that. I don't bite unless you want me to." Ethan grinned at him.

Justin was feeling overwhelmed. He liked the attention on some level, but he still remembered where being gay had got him back home. "I really have to go." Justin started down the street.

"We're going to have coffee one of these days," Ethan called. "And then much more," he muttered to himself as Justin turned the corner and disappeared from his sight.


When Emmett arrived for his dinner with Justin and Dee, he was surprised at what he found. The two had really spruced up the place and Justin had managed to make the mismatched dishes look quite attractive on the table. Emmett was impressed.

"Something smells wonderful," Emmett gushed as he kissed his two hostesses.

"And tastes better," Dee smiled trying to support Justin. He had told her he really wanted to work with Emmett.

Justin poured them some wine while they waited for the dinner to finish cooking. Justin refused to tell them what was baking in the oven.

"So, has Darren taken my job yet?" Justin teased although he held his breath waiting for the answer.

"He's still thinking about it," Emmett sighed. He knew Darren could cook. He was a known quantity and Justin was little more than a kid. He liked Justin a lot better than he liked Darren though. "I told him I needed an answer by tomorrow."

"So I still have a chance," Justin asked hopefully.

"Of course, Sunshine," Emmett said affectionately, but he didn't really think Justin was what he was looking for.

"Okay, so let's have some salad," Justin said. They moved over to the salad where Justin dished it up. He had made his mother's poppyseed dressing. He always loved her salads with that dressing and it was one of the first things she had taught him to make.

"This is very good," Emmett smiled as he crunched away on the salad.

Justin smiled and blushed a bit at the compliment. He poured them some more wine. While Dee and Emmett finished their salads Justin went to the oven and began plating the main course. He had made chicken stuffed with asparagus and cheese and a big dish of roasted vegetables and potatoes. He arranged the food carefully on the plates and then removed the salad plates before serving the main course.

Emmett was very impressed. The food was somewhat simple for the kind of parties that he would be doing, but Justin had a knack for bringing out the best flavors in food using just the right spices and combination of ingredients. He complimented Justin highly on the meal.

Justin was pleased as he watched Emmett and Dee devour the food. He was too nervous to eat anywhere near what he normally did. When they were finished and had polished off the bottle of wine, Justin suggested that they move into the living room while he cleared the table, started the coffee and got dessert ready.

"Ooh dessert too," Emmett cooed. "I love sweets."

Justin smiled. He knew he would love working with Emmett. He hoped all his efforts would be successful. He could hear Emmett and Dee laughing and talking as he cut the squares he had made for dessert. It was a baked dessert with layers of graham cracker crumbs chocolate, coconut, nuts, cherries and his secret ingredient. He set a square on each of the three plates and topped it with a small scoop of ice cream. The coffee was just about ready so he took the desserts to the living room and then came back for the coffee.

"Justin, this is incredible!" Dee gasped her mouth full of it.

"Very yummy," Emmett agreed. "I bet we could cut these smaller and use them as finger food."

"Could we?" Justin chuckled as he handed Emmett his coffee. He liked the sound of that.

"I recognize everything in here," Emmett said taking another bite and rolling it around in his mouth. "But there's something else. I can't put my finger on it."

Justin merely smiled. It was his own invention. He remembered the first time he had added it to the dessert that his mother was making. They had both been blown away by the taste and had made the dessert that way ever since.

"Are you going to tell me what it is?" Emmett asked.

"Maybe when you hire me," Justin replied coyly.

"You are a little devil, Sunshine," Emmett laughed. He really liked the kid. Maybe working with him would be a lot better than working with Darren.

"So do I have the job?"

Emmett sighed. "No, but you're definitely in the running."

Justin grinned. Now if Darren would only turn it down.

"Are you working tomorrow?" Dee asked.

"Yeah, I have the early shift."

"So will you be ready to go out tomorrow night?"

"I guess."

"I thought another trip to Babylon might be in store," Dee smiled.

"Um … sure," Justin replied getting hard just thinking about dancing with Brian Kinney. "Will you be there, Emmett?"

"I usually am on a Friday night."

"Maybe we'll see you there then," Dee told him. It was always fun dancing with Emmett. She loved his 'praise Jesus' move.


When Dee and Sunshine walked into Babylon the next night, Justin was nervous. He had heard nothing from Emmett all day, and he really wanted to know if Darren had taken the job or if he still had a chance. And he might see Brian Kinney again. They headed for the bar where they noticed Emmett standing with Ted and Michael.

"Hey," Dee said.

The men replied in kind except for Michael who looked at Sunshine and sneered. "Drag princesses," he muttered.

"Is Brian here?" Justin asked hopefully.

"He's in the back room," Ted said. "As usual."

Justin was about to defend Brian when Emmett pulled him aside. "I wanted to talk to you about the job," he practically yelled above the music.

Justin felt his heart leap in his throat. It was going to be bad news. He just knew it. Darren had accepted the job. "It's okay, Emmett. I can understand why you would want someone older."

"I don't," Emmett replied.


"I want you, if you still want the job."

"You mean it? But what about Darren?"

"That pussy has been unavailable all day. I asked him to call me and I haven't heard a word. His phone goes to voicemail. I'm sick of waiting for him. He's obviously not interested. So the job is yours."

Justin grabbed Emmett and hugged him tight. "That's fabulous. I can hardly wait. When do you want me to start? What do I need to do?" Justin's questions poured out.

"Whoa, Sunshine. We can talk about all that tomorrow. Tonight we're here to dance. Come on."

Emmett pulled Justin out onto the dance floor where they began a playful dance. Justin was so happy he was oblivious to all the interested looks he was getting.

"What a little tramp," Michael bitched watching them.

"Give the kid a break," Ted replied. "He's cute and sweet."

"Fuck! Not you too!"

"Come and dance, Michael, before you ruin the evening for everybody." He pulled Michael out onto the floor.

Justin had his eyes closed letting the music flow through him. Suddenly he felt himself pushed aside. He opened his eyes to see Darren grabbing Emmett's arm and pulling him towards the entrance of Babylon. He had a sinking feeling that his new job was going with them.

Dee joined him and pulled him towards the door following Emmett. "I want to see what happens," Dee explained. They could see the two men in heated discussion. "I bet Emmett's telling him that he hired you," Dee said.

"Or he's giving him the job," Justin replied fearing the worst. "I don't want to know. I'm going to the rest room."

"Be careful in there," Dee cautioned as she continued to watch Darren and Emmett.

Justin managed to find an empty stall and locked the door. He sat down on the toilet and let some tears flow. He had wanted that job, if only that fucking Darren hadn't come here. He knew that Emmett really preferred Darren and was probably offering him the job. Justin wiped his eyes as someone pounded on the door. He stood up and let the two men into the stall. He watched them devour each other before they slammed the door shut.

Why was that so fucking easy for everybody else and not for him? His life was such a fucking mess. Nothing ever went right for him. He decided to find Dee and tell her he was going home He'd had enough for one night.

As he approached Dee he saw Darren throw him an ugly look and then stomp out of Babylon. Emmett came over to his two friends.

"Did you give him the job?" Justin asked his eyes still moist from tears.

"I told him to fuck off. I'm sick of him screwing me over. He decided that he wanted the job, but so fucking what? He's too late. I told him I already gave the job to Sunshine."

Justin's smile was luminous. "Oh, thank you, Emmett. I was sure you were going to give it to Darren."

"Who needs to work with an asshole like that?"

"Not us," Justin said triumphantly. The three friends made their way back onto the dance floor. Justin was on a high as they bopped together. Now all he needed was Brian.

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