Second Best

Chapter 7



Justin awoke the next morning to the feeling of Brian spooned behind him, his strong arms holding him tight. It was such a wonderful feeling that Justin never wanted it to end. Unfortunately, it was going to have to. He had to go to the bathroom. Laying there for a moment in the quiet apartment, Justin waited as long as he could but then eventually started slowly slipping from Brian's arms so he wouldn't wake the sleeping man. He was just about out of bed when those strong arms pulled him back in.

"Where are you going?" Brian asked his voice husky from sleep.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you. I have to go to the bathroom," Justin replied softly.

"Okay, but make it quick," Brian mumbled.

Justin chuckled as he slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom.

Brian lay there waiting for Justin and wondering why his arms suddenly felt so cold and empty. He hadn't spent the night with anyone since he and Dillon split up years ago, but it was as if Justin had been a part of his life for so long instead of mere days. He heard the bathroom door open and within seconds Justin returned to the small room. Brian pulled the blankets back in silent invitation.

"Brian, it's almost eight o'clock. We're supposed to go get breakfast before shopping, remember? It's time to get up," Justin said as he crossed the room and sat down on the side of the bed.

Brian groaned. "I've got a better idea. Come back to bed for awhile and we'll make it brunch."

Justin laughed but could see the potential of Brian's suggestion. He had only been out of bed for five minutes but already missed the feel of Brian's arms around him. He crawled back into bed and smiled when he was once again wrapped up in Brian's arms. "Better?"

"Definitely," Brian said as he nuzzled Justin's neck. He hugged the man tightly then let his hands begin wandering until he found Justin's cock, semi-erect and waiting for him. He began stroking it, enjoying the way it suddenly sprang to life.

"I thought you wanted to go back to sleep?" Justin purred.

"I think this is even better," Brian replied before taking Justin's mouth in a heated kiss. Sleep didn't seem so important anymore.

As they lay there a short time later, waiting for their breathing to return to normal, Justin couldn't wipe the smile off his face. He didn't remember ever feeling as content as he did being in Brian's arms. "We should probably get in the shower now."

"I've got to run down to the car and get my bag first," Brian pointed out as he rolled away and climbed out of bed. He reached for his discarded jeans and started getting dressed, trying hard not to look at Justin for fear of never making it out of the room.

"Why didn't you just bring it up with you last night?" Justin asked as he watched Brian.

"I wasn't even sure if you were home. I wasn't going to assume too much," Brian replied.

Justin just nodded his head in understanding, fighting the urge to tell Brian he was welcome anytime. It was a little too early to make such declarations.

Two hours and a lot of groping later, they finally made their way out of the apartment. Brian drove them to the diner and grabbed Justin's hand as they made their way inside. Neither one of them had time to look around before a loud, booming voice startled them both.

"Brian Kinney, get your ass over here and give me a kiss."

Brian looked up and saw Debbie approaching them and tried to hide the smile that was forcing its way out. "Hey Deb," he said as he was engulfed in a strong hug.

"I haven't seen you around in a while, baby. How're you doing?" Debbie said as she pulled back and looked into his face with a smile before noticing Justin standing there. "Hey Sunshine, I didn't know you two knew each other."

Brian smiled at the nickname Debbie used for Justin. She had nicknames for most of her patrons, but he had to admit that Justin's seemed to fit best. "Deb, Justin is Dillon's brother. We've known each other for years."

"Keeping it in the family, huh? Well sit your asses down and I'll be over to take your order in a minute."

Brian smiled as he led Justin over to a booth in the back. "Sunshine, huh?" he said once they were seated. "I didn't realize you knew Debbie."

"Come on Brian, everyone who's ever been on Liberty knows Deb," Justin replied with a chuckle. "You two seem pretty close."

"She's my best friend's mother. I haven't seen her much since her son and his partner moved away a couple of years ago, but I still keep in touch," Brian explained.

"That's nice," Justin replied with a smile.

They ate their brunch while chatting about who they had to shop for and what they wanted to buy, with Debbie jumping in whenever she had a few moments. When they finally left, after both receiving hugs from the quirky waitress, they were more than ready for their shopping excursion to begin. Once they hit the mall, their search for the perfect gifts began. Justin found a beautiful leather briefcase for Dillon while Brian managed to pick up the gifts he needed for his staff as well as something for Lindsay and something he wanted to send to Michael and Ben. The only people remaining on their list by late afternoon were Justin's parents, who seemed impossible to shop for.

"What do you get for a couple who have everything?" Justin finally asked in exasperation.

"How about some kind of jewelry? There's a place down the street called Creationz that specializes in one of a kind items. I do their advertising and Neil has the best," Brian suggested.

"That sounds perfect, but I doubt I'd be able to afford anything like that," Justin replied sadly.

"Hey, you never know. It's worth a shot, isn't it?"

"Yeah, I guess. Otherwise I don't know what I'll do. I refuse to go empty handed."

Brian and Justin carried their packages back to the car before deciding to walk down to the shop. It was a beautiful day and uncharacteristically warm for early December. As they walked inside, Neil came out of the back and smiled when he spotted Brian standing in his shop.

"Brian Kinney, what're you doing here?" Neil asked as he reached out and shook Brian's hand.

"My friend here is looking for something for his parents. They're those rich WASP types who already own everything their hearts desire. Got anything you think they'd like?" Brian asked as his eyes scanned the room.

"I might have just the thing," he replied as he led the men over to the counter. He unlocked the glass and reached inside, pulling out a stunning bracelet made of rare stones that he'd found while on his last trip to Italy. "This is one of my favorites. It took me weeks to think up a design which would show off their beauty perfectly. As for your father, let me suggest one of the new watches I have. The face is made out of one of these stones. It came out better than even I anticipated."

Justin looked the bracelet and watch over and knew they'd be perfect for his folks, but also knew there'd be no way he could afford something so rare and beautiful. He glanced at the price tags and his heart sank. He waited until Neil walked away out of earshot and turned to Brian.

"There's no way I can afford these. Even at the sale price. It's double what I had in mind," Justin told him dejectedly.

"Not necessarily. How fast can you paint a portrait?" Brian asked laughing at Justin's confused expression.

"It depends. If I'm really into a subject, I can have it finished in a couple of days. Why?"

"Did you ever hear of the bartering system?" Brian smiled at him before calling Neil back over. "Have you gotten around to having that portrait done for your wife?"

"No, sadly I haven't. Business has been booming, and trying to get all three kids together while my wife is out hasn't been easy. I'll just have to wait. Maybe by Mother's Day," Neil replied.

"How about if we make a deal? I know your prices reflect a 60% mark up. Give Justin here these items at cost and he'll do your portrait and have it to you before Christmas."

Justin was shocked by Brian's suggestion. "Brian," he whispered.

Neil looked back and forth between the two men. It was easy to see that they shared a closeness that well surpassed Brian's claim to friendship. Brian had been such a good ad man as well as a friend over the years that Neil was willing to help out his 'friend' if he could. Business was good enough that he could afford to let the pieces go at cost. "Is he any good?"

"The best I've ever seen," Brian said proudly.

Neil looked back at Justin and smiled inwardly at the blush that spread across the blond's face. "My wife does volunteer work every Sunday afternoon. Can you come by tomorrow? I'll have the kids ready by three."

Justin was shocked by Neil's request, but thrilled by the opportunity to not only get the gifts for his parents, but to use his artistic ability for something so important. "Three's fine," he replied.

"Good, now let's get these pieces wrapped for you and see what we can do about the price," Neil replied with a smile.

A half hour later they were on their way back to the mall with Justin carrying a small bag containing the bracelet and watch. "I can't believe you did that."

"Why not? I've always had expensive taste but didn't always own my own company. I learned early on that if you have what other's want, there's always a deal to be had," Brian explained as he took Justin's hand.

"Thank you," Justin said. "I don't know what I would've done if you hadn't stepped in."

"You can thank me properly later," Brian said with a devilish smirk.

When they got back to Justin's apartment, he was more than ready to show his appreciation to Brian, but the man had other ideas. "Why don't you pack an overnight bag and come back to my loft with me? This way we can sleep in and I'll drive you to Neil's in the afternoon."

Justin didn't have to be asked twice. He placed the gifts he bought on the coffee table and headed into his room to get his things, giving up on hiding his joy.

Justin enjoyed meeting Neil's kids the next afternoon and after quickly doing some preliminary sketches and taking a few pictures to work from, he was satisfied that the portrait would come out perfectly. They left right before Neil's wife was due home and Brian drove them back to Justin's apartment. He pulled up outside the building, but didn't turn off the engine.

Justin wasn't ready to say goodbye just yet. He and Brian had been together since Friday night and he enjoyed their time together. "Do you want to come up for awhile? I could make us dinner."

"As much as I'd love to, I brought home a ton of work and haven't even thought about it all weekend. I should really get home and put in a few hours of work," Brian replied.

"Oh," Justin said trying to hide his disappointment when suddenly he had an idea. "That's okay. I'll just go inside all by myself and use the memories of the last few days to jerk off."

Brian felt his cock begin to harden at the mention of Justin touching himself to memories of them together. "Well, maybe I could spare another hour."

Five hours later, Justin was naked on his bed, wrapped in a sheet while watching Brian get dressed.

"Stop looking at me like that or I'll never get home," Brian growled.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Justin replied innocently. "Are you sure you don't want something to eat? I offered to make you dinner."

"As tempting as that sounds, I really do have to go," Brian replied softly. He finished putting on his shoes and leaned over, placing a gentle kiss on Justin's lips. "I'll call you later in the week. Sweet dreams, Sunshine."

Justin's heart fluttered at Brian's use of Debbie's nickname. "Later," he replied.

*   *   *    *   *   *    *   *   *    *   *   *    *   *   *

It took every once of willpower for Brian to keep from calling Justin on Monday. Not only did he have way too much work to do since the blond kept him distracted all weekend, but he wanted to put a little distance between them. He realized sometime on Saturday how easy it was to spend time with the man but he wasn't sure if giving in to that pleasure was such a good idea. He had visions of tossing aside the promise he made to himself about steering clear of relationships and wasn't sure if he was ready for that.

After a long night of tossing and turning with very little sleep, Brian found himself walking into Starbucks the next morning and searching the small shop for a familiar blond head. He told himself he was just there for a cup of coffee, despite the fact that there was a coffee shop right next door to Kinnetik. He found Justin standing in line and walked up beside him, leaning over and whispering in his ear.

"Mind if I cut in?"

Justin smiled as he turned around and looked up into Brian's eyes. "What're you doing here?" Justin listened to Brian's excuse for wanting a decent cup of coffee, but knew it was something more. Justin himself had found it hard to sleep alone the last couple of nights and had to fight the urge to call Brian on more than one occasion. He didn't want to seem needy, but missed the man terribly. They stood in line for another ten minutes before placing their orders and waiting for their coffee. Once they picked up their steaming cups, Brian led Justin outside.

"You want a ride to work?" Brian asked, hoping to get a few more minutes alone with the blond.

"That's okay. It's only right down the road," Justin replied.

Brian tried not to let his disappointment show. "So how's the portrait going?"

"Pretty good. I spent a few hours last night working on it. I figure if I do a little each night and spend most of Saturday on it, I should have it finished in plenty of time," Justin told him as he sipped his coffee.

"Good. Well, I better get to the office." Brian leaned down and kissed Justin quickly. "I'll talk to you later."

"Later," Justin replied as he watched Brian get in the car and drive away. He walked down to Galactic with a smile on his face.

*   *   *

Brian was sitting in his office on Wednesday, once again thinking about Justin instead of work when Cynthia walked in. "I have the information packet all ready for Galactic. Do you want me to courier it over to them."

Brian was about to say yes, when an idea popped in his head. "No, that's okay. I need to get going anyway, so I'll just drop it off."

Cynthia thought it was strange that Brian would suggest delivering the packet in person, but she wasn't about to question him on it. "All right, I'll leave it on my desk. Have a safe trip and I'll see you next week."

"Thanks Cyn," Brian replied as he shut down his computer. Once he was sure he had everything together, he left the office, ready to implement his plan.

*   *   *

Justin was sitting at his desk, trying to focus on the work in front of him instead of the images in his mind. He couldn't stop thinking about Brian and after three days with nothing more than a few minutes in a coffee shop, he was really having trouble focusing. He glanced at the clock and saw that it was lunch time. Maybe if he got out of the office for awhile, he'd be able to regain his focus when he got back. Just as he was saving his work, he heard someone clear their throat and looked up to find Brian standing in the doorway.

"Hey you, what're you doing here?" Justin asked as his heart started beating a little faster.

"I was in the neighborhood and wondered if you were free for lunch," Brian replied as he took in Justin's features. The man was absolutely stunning.

"Actually I was just thinking about taking lunch so your timing is perfect. I've got an hour. How about if we go to that little deli across town? I think it's called Gino's or something like that?"

"We'll see," Brian said with a smirk as he waited for Justin to shut down his computer. They walked outside after Justin told the receptionist that he was leaving and headed to Brian's car. Once they were inside, Brian reached behind his seat and grabbed the bag that was waiting there, dropping it on Justin's lap.

"What's this?" He asked curiously.

"Its lunch," Brian replied casually as he pulled out into traffic.

"But I thought we were going out to eat."

"Well we could, but then we wouldn't have enough time to go back to your place." The gleam in Brian's eyes was obvious.

"Good thinking," Justin laughed as he settled back for the short trip to his apartment, his cock becoming painfully hard at the thought of what awaited him.

Justin barely had time to shut his door before Brian pushed him up against the closest wall and began attacking his mouth passionately. He reached down in between them and found the button on Brian's pants and began making quick work of removing the offending garment. Their union was hard and fast, filling a need they both had been trying so hard to fight for the last few days. Once their orgasms were over and they were trying to get comfortable on the small couch, since they couldn't seem to make it to the bed, Justin started laughing.

"This is the best lunch break I've ever had."

"Yeah, if they were all like this, I'd take more lunches," Brian teased. "I thought I'd come by and let you know that I'll be out of town for the next few days. I'm flying to Denver this afternoon for an account. I won't be back until Saturday."

Justin was saddened by Brian's trip, but knew how important his work was. "Maybe we can get together when you get back. I should be finished with Neil's project by then," Justin suggested.

"I'll take you to dinner," Brian told him.

"Or I could make us something and we can stay here in bed all night," Justin suggested.

"That sounds even better."

Justin watched Brian drive away before going back into Galactic, missing him already when they'd just said goodbye. He was falling fast for the hazel-eyed man and that thought scared him to death.

When he finally walked into his apartment later that night, he felt a strange sense of loneliness from knowing that Brian was out of town. It didn't make any sense but it shook him all the same. He took a shower and made himself a quick sandwich before going to work some more on the portrait. He wanted to have it finished before Brian got back on Saturday. Once he got started, he lost himself in his work and was startled when the phone rang, interrupting his creative flow. Since Dillon was usually the only one to call him late at night, he thought about letting it ring, but then decided against it.


"Hey Sunshine," Brian said as soon as he heard Justin's voice.

"Brian?" Justin asked in surprise.

"It's me. Were you in bed?"

"No, actually I was working on the portrait. Is everything all right? I didn't expect to hear from you until Saturday," Justin replied.

Was everything okay? That was the million dollar question. Should he admit that he called because he needed to hear Justin's voice and hated knowing that they weren't in the same city? "Everything's fine. I just thought I'd call to say hello," Brian finally said.

"Oh well, in that case, how was your flight?"

They talked for the next hour and a half until Justin couldn't hold back his yawning and Brian remembered the two hour time difference. He finally bid Justin goodnight, promising to call when he got back into town. Justin had cleaned up his painting supplies and crawled into bed while they were still on the phone so as soon as they hung up, he drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face.

When Justin awoke the next morning still smiling, he realized that for the first time that he could remember, he was happy. He had a good job with opportunity for advancement, a decent apartment, and something wonderful with Brian. As he lay in bed thinking about the immediate future he decided that it was time for a little Christmas spirit. He suddenly jumped out of bed like a man on a mission and quickly got ready for work. As soon as he got to Galactic, he threw himself into his latest project, working right through his lunch hour. By five o'clock he had finished what he'd been working on and started on something new. Taking the completed project, he made his way to Tom's office, knocking softly on the door.

"Tom, I don't mean to interrupt. Carly wasn't at her desk and I knew you wanted these boards as soon as they were done," Justin said as he walked inside the large office.

"You're finished already? I didn't expect them until next week," Tom replied as he took the boards from Justin. "Wow, these are great."

"Thanks Tom. I worked through my lunch hour so that I could finish them in hopes of being able to work a half day tomorrow. I have a few things I need to take care of before Saturday," Justin explained.

"Oh, hot date?" Tom teased. He liked Justin from the moment he had met him during the interview and was glad that he had offered him a job. He'd been a huge asset to the company in the short time he'd been employed there. He smiled at the blush that crossed the man's cheeks. "I'll take it from the color of your face that I hit the nail on the head."

"Maybe," Justin laughed.

"You know Justin, my wife's always telling me that I'm worse than a woman when it comes to gossip. Carly told me that after Brian Kinney dropped off some paperwork here yesterday, he asked her where your office was. Then she saw the two of you walking out together. I happen to know that he stopped here before leaving on a business trip that would keep him away until Saturday. Is it safe to assume that he's the reason for your inspiration to finish up early and take care of things?" Tom couldn't help but smile at Justin's unease. "Relax Justin, my brother is gay and I'm more than accepting of his life. I've even been known to show myself at a Pride event or two. Brian seems like a good man. I'm sure you could do worse. Take whatever time you need. Consider it my way of saying thank you for all the hard work you do."

"Thanks Tom. I really appreciate it," Justin replied with a smile. "Now I better get back to my desk. I have a few things that I want to finish up before I leave for the night. See you in the morning."

Justin went back to his desk and put in another hour of work before heading out. He stopped at the tree farm on the way home and arranged to have a six foot Douglass Fir delivered to his house the following night. Again when he got home, he threw himself into the portrait, working diligently to finish the job He finally crawled into bed after midnight exhausted but content with all he had accomplished. The next morning, the alarm clock went off too early for Justin's liking but as soon as he remembered the reason for his sleepiness he smiled and climbed out of bed. He stopped at Starbucks for his usual shot of caffeine before making his way to the office. By one o'clock he had finished everything he hoped to complete and said goodbye to Carly on his way out of the building. He grabbed a cab and headed to the mall, his mind mentally going over what he would need. He hadn't decorated a Christmas tree since he moved out of his parents' house. He never felt any need to have one since he always traveled to his parents' house for the holidays. This year was different. Since he wouldn't be seeing Brian over the holidays, he wanted to have something at home to share with the man. Visions of Brian sprawled out naked on a blanket in front of the sparkling lights kept invading his mind and he had to fight to keep his erection down while he shopped.

When he was finished, he was surprised by the amount of money he had spent, but knew it was worth it. He stuffed his purchases into the trunk of the cab and climbed inside, exhausted from his shopping excursion. He sat back while the cab wove in and out of traffic, thinking about the night ahead. The tree would be delivered in less than an hour and as soon as it got there he planned on decorating. By the time he got all his packages inside and sorted through them, the delivery men arrived. Justin had cleared a space over in front of the windows and the men helped him set it up before leaving. He couldn't believe how good it felt to actually look forward to a holiday again. Pretty soon he was lost in the preparations. He strung the lights evenly around the large tree before placing the balls on. The whole time he was decorating, his mind kept going back to Brian. He was looking forward to seeing the man the next day. The following weekend he would be in New York so he wanted to make the most of their weekend together.

By ten o'clock the tree was done and Justin was showered and sitting in front of the shining object of his hard work. He planned on working on the portrait some more but found himself enjoying a quiet night of relaxing. He was on his second glass of wine when he heard a knock at the door. The room was semi-dark, only lit by the Christmas lights, so he carefully made his way to the door and pulled it open once again startled to see Brian standing there.

"You, Mr. Kinney, are just full of surprises," he said with a bright smile.

"Yeah well, my meetings ended early so I decided to fly back and see how the portrait was coming," Brian replied. "I see you've been busy."

"I…uh…had a sudden desire to express a little Christmas spirit," Justin said, stepping back to allow Brian to enter. "What do you think?"

"Well I'm not usually into the whole tree and decorations scene, but it seems right in here," Brian said as he took in his surroundings.

"Thanks," Justin said, blushing at the praise. "Would you like a glass of wine?"

"Yeah, that'd be great."

Brian watched Justin disappear into the kitchen and looked back at the tree standing in front of the windows, happy that he had made the early flight home. He decided not to tell Justin that he'd practically begged his client to speed up their meeting so he could get home. He explained that he had a hot blond waiting for him. The client was a breeder so he naturally assumed that Brian meant a woman, but the excuse still had the desired effect and now he was back in Pittsburgh.

As Justin poured Brian's wine, he thanked the Gods for pushing him to decorate first. Now with any luck, he'd be able to witness his ideas come to life. He had every intention of having Brian naked in front of the tree within the hour. As luck would have it, he only had to wait thirty minutes and when their lovemaking was done and they lay on the blanket in front of the twinkling lights, Justin confessed to his plan.

"So you did all this for me?" Brian asked incredulously.

"Not necessarily for you, but because of you. The last couple of weeks have been great and it definitely put me in the holiday spirit," Justin explained as he rested his head on Brian's shoulders. "Besides, it's not like we're going to be seeing each other for Christmas. You'll be here and I'll be suffering in silence in New York. Shit, that reminds me. I still have to make my flight reservations."

"You haven't booked your ticket yet?"

"No," Justin sighed. "I guess I was hoping that Christmas would be cancelled at the last minute and I wouldn't have to go. You know, Brian, I love my family. I really do. It's just that they make me feel so insignificant and insecure. I thought getting the job at Galactic would help them to see that I'm more than capable of taking care of myself. Now they're just focusing on my love life. I think they're afraid that I'll never find that someone special. They think I should be settling down; or at least have a boyfriend or something. I can't wait until the day I get to bring someone home for the holidays."

"Well then why wait?" Brian asked.

"Excuse me? I don't think I'm following you."

"You can bring me," Brian said, looking down into Justin's eyes.

"To New York?"

"Why not? Your parents always liked me, and Dillon and I parted amicably. I wouldn't mind seeing them again. I'm sure it'll be easier on you if you have someone there in your corner," Brian said. "Unless of course, you don't want them knowing that we've been…seeing each other."

"No, that's not it," Justin assured him. That thought never even entered his mind. "Are you sure you want to go with me? I mean, don't you have people who you'd rather be with for the holidays?"

"No, there's no one I'd rather be with," Brian admitted honestly.

Justin reached up and placed a gentle kiss on Brian's lips before pulling back and looking him in the eyes. "Thank you," he whispered.

"Now that that's settled, why don't we move to the bedroom? As nice as it is out here, I've been looking forward to fucking you in your bed for days."

"Always the romantic," Justin chuckled.

They quickly locked up the house and unplugged the lights before heading into the bedroom where they lost themselves once again in their passion for one another before falling asleep in each other's arms.

Justin woke up the next morning as he felt Brian crawling back into bed and purred contentedly as he reached out and wrapped his arms around his lover.

"Where'd you go?"

"I had to make a phone call. I took care of our flight reservations for next weekend," Brian told him as he kissed the top of his head.

"Brian, you didn't have to do that. It was going to be my treat as a way of thanking you for coming with me," Justin protested.

"It was no big deal. Liberty Air is one of my biggest clients. I called in a few favors and got a huge discount. I guess you're going to have to find another way to thank me," Brian's voice held a hint of lust that Justin would've recognized anywhere.

"I think that can be arranged," Justin replied as he began kissing his way down Brian's body, his cock stirring at all the ways he was prepared to thank the older man.

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