Lost and Found 








Fifteen year old Brian lay in his bed as the morning sun began to rise, wishing there was a way to stop time. Asleep in his arms was little eight year old Justin; so sweet and trusting. Despite the age difference, Brian and Justin had become very close in the two years that they had lived together in Pittsburgh's group home for boys. It was one of the few orphanages that still existed in the city; a place for boys who parents had either died, or just chosen to abandon their children. Justin's parents had been killed in a car accident when he was only six, which was why the child had been there to begin with, but Brian was in the other category. His parents had turned their backs on their only child when he was eleven years old, claiming they just couldn't care for him anymore. During Brian's first year at the home, he was foolish enough to believe that one day and wonderful family would come and take him with them, giving him a loving home. By his thirteenth birthday, his fantasy was gone and all he was left with was reality. No one wanted to adopt a teenage boy; especially one with a chip on his shoulder. Resigned to his fate, Brian chose to spend most of his time alone, reading and studying, and making plans for the future. Plans that included making lots of money and becoming somebody that people look at with respect.


Shortly after that thirteenth birthday, Justin appeared at the home. A shy six year old boy who just lost his parents in a senseless accident. Being only six years old, Justin still had a chance of finding a family to take him in, but the process was slow due to a severe case of allergies that kept him pretty sick most of the time. Brian quickly developed a strong attachment to the poor kid and soon assigned himself protector and big brother to the boy. Never was one of them seen around the house without the other one in tow. It was unusual considering the seven year gap in their ages, but no bothered to question it.


Now here they were, two years later and Brian was trying to figure out how he was going to say good bye to the little boy who had grown to mean so much to him. The night before, Brian had sat down and explained to Justin that he was about to become a part of a family and all Justin could do was cry. He didn't want to leave the place that had been his home for the last two years, but more importantly, he didn't want to leave Brian. It had taken hours for Brian to get Justin to settle down and fall asleep, but even then Justin had woken up a short time later in the throws of a nightmare and crawled into bed with Brian, sighing peacefully before drifting off to sleep. The nightmares used to be really serious in the beginning, but had gradually faded with time. Now, because of the threat of upheaval, the nightmares were coming back, and Brian hoped that Justin's new family would be understanding and help him through the rough weeks and months ahead.


Shortly before eight, Brian heard a light knock on his door and knew what was awaiting him on the other side.


"Brian, I went looking for Justin and when I found his bed empty, I figured I'd find him here. Another nightmare?" Sandy, the house mother asked as she entered the room.


"Yeah, the poor kid. Did you explain to the Slone's about his nightmares? I don't want him waking up at night and being scared," Brian said softly, concern evident in his voice.


"Yes Brian, I explained everything to them. Don't worry so much. I'm sure Justin's going to settle in just fine with his new family. I even told them all about you and they are fine with you sending letter and keeping in touch. I know how hard this is on both of you, but it's what's best for Justin. He's too young to spend his life in a group home. This is his opportunity to have a normal life again. All we can do is pray for him and hope that he's happy. Now why don't you get him up and ready. The Slone's are going to be here in an hour and I want to make sure Justin is ready for them." Sandy's heart went out to Brian. She had been with the home for almost twenty years and in that time she'd never met anyone like Brian before. He had it rough when he first appeared on the doorstep and for the first few years she wondered if he was ever going to open up to anyone. All that changed the day that Justin Taylor moved in. There was some kind of weird connection between the two boys that she'd never seen before, and as happy as she was for Justin to be going to a family, it tore her apart to think about what it was doing to Brian.


"Okay Sandy. I'll get him ready and we'll be downstairs for breakfast in a little while," Brian assured her.


"You're a good kid, Brian."


Brian just nodded his head and waited for Sandy to leave before gently nudging Justin awake. "Come on, Kid. Time to get up."


"Brian? I'm still sleepy. I'll get up later," Justin mumbled, trying to go back to sleep.


"Sorry Justin, you have to get up now. Todays the big day, remember? The Slone's are coming to take you home," Brian replied, trying to sound enthusiastic.


"But I don't want to go with them. This is my home; here with you," Justin whispered, tears starting down his cheeks.


"Hey, we talked about this before. You have to be a big boy and go with them. They're going to be your family now. You don't want them to think you don't like them, do you?"


"No," came a muffled reply.


"Okay then, let's get you up, dressed, and ready to go."


It took some doing, but Brian finally got Justin ready and carried his bag downstairs, placing it by the door. The dining room was almost empty. There were only about seven boys living in the home at the moment and most of them were already playing out in the back yard.


"My, don't you look handsome," Sandy addressed Justin as she saw them enter.


"Miss Sandy? Why do I have to go away? I don't want to leave here. I want to stay with you and Brian and the other boys. Can't you ask them to let me stay? I promise I'll be good," Justin pleaded.


"Oh Sweetie, being good has nothing to do with this. You've been an angel ever since you got here. The Slone's want to take you home so they can be your family. They want to love you and take care of you. It's what all the boys here want. I know you're sad about leaving, but soon you'll see what a good thing this is. I promise," Sandy had to fight to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall. Justin had managed to grab the heart of everyone in the place, hers included and she was going to miss him.


Justin realized that there was nothing he could do to change things, so he sat quietly at the table and ate his breakfast, trying to be a big boy and make his Brian proud. He was just finishing up when he heard a knock on the door, signaling it was his time to go.


The final good bye was a lot harder than Brian thought. Justin clung to him and cried, refusing to leave and in the end, Mr. Slone had to carry the distraught boy out of the house, with Mrs. Slone trailing behind him.


Sandy turned to Brian once the door was closed and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "It's the best thing for him, Brian. I promise."


"I'll be in my room," was all Brian could say as his heart shattered in a million pieces. First his parents dumped him off, now Justin was gone. Was he ever going to be able to love someone without having them disappear?






Present Day 2004...



Brian sat at his desk, watching all the people on the street rushing by and couldn't help but smile at all of his accomplishments. After spending seven years in a group home, he graduated from high school with a full academic scholarship and left for college, ready to begin a new life. He worked hard for the next three years, doubling his work load whenever possible and got his degree in advertising by the time he was twenty one. From there he got a job with the Ryder Agency and quickly moved his way up to top executive. Now he'd just been offered a partnership at the age of twenty five and his professional dreams were finally going to come true. He was finally someone who could hold his head up high and be respected, instead of some poor orphan boy who nobody loved.


Even his personal life was right on track. He had married his college girlfriend a couple years before and he had a beautiful one year old son to love and spoil. They lived in a big house in the suburbs with a two car garage and a white picket fence and had a nice group of friends to complete the picture. It was the perfect life, Brian thought to himself.


Okay, so maybe it wasn't completely perfect. There was the small problem of him liking cock, but that was easy enough to work through. He'd been honest with Lindsay up front and told her he thought he might be gay, but that didn't deter her. She fell head over heals for Brian and he had become very attached to her, so they sat down one night and discussed their options. He chuckled to himself as he thought back to their conversation...



"Brian, you know that I love you, right?" she asked outright.


"I know, Linds. I love you, too; just not in the same way. I wish I did." Brian replied honestly.


"But society will never allow two men to get married and raise a family. You know that as well as I do. Which is why I'm willing to give you the closest thing to a family as possible," she said with a smile.


"And how do you plan on doing that?" he asked curiously.


"Marry me. Marry me and we can have the perfect life. We'll have children, a house in the suburbs; I'll be the perfect executive wife," she offered. "The sex isn't that bad, is it?"


He chuckled at her question. "No Linds, the sex isn't bad but it's not exactly what I need, either."


"Look Brian, I know we can have a great life together. As for the sex, as long as you're discreet, I won't mind if you go out on occasion and get your needs met. As long as you're safe and you come home to me, you'll be free to do what you need to do."


"What?" Brian exclaimed. "You are giving me permission to cheat on you after we're married? Lindsay..."


"It wouldn't necessarily be cheating. You obviously couldn't go sleeping around with other women, but from time to time if you found other men to satisfy your needs, I wouldn't object. They'd be giving you something that I can't," Lindsay explained gently...



It had taken a lot for Lindsay to convince Brian that her idea had merit, but he eventually gave in and proposed, and they'd been happy ever since. True to her words, Lindsay never minded when Brian went out and got his needs met, and in return he only tricked occasionally. The situation worked out better than he imagined it would and he could honestly say that he was pretty happy. There would always be a little part of him that wished things had been different; wished that he'd been able to live the life he knew he was born to live, but he had a good life and that was all that mattered. Besides, he always knew how bad things got when you really loved someone. They always went away in the end. He’d lost enough in his twenty five years and he didn’t want to go through that again.


Reaching for the phone, he quickly dialed his home number, anxious to tell his wife about his promotion.


"Hi Honey, how's your day going?" Lindsay asked when she answered the phone.


"Great! Ryder did it! He offered me the partnership!" Brian replied happily.


"Oh Honey, that's great! I'm so proud of you," she gushed.


"I'm pretty proud of me, too. It's not often that a person makes partner at twenty five. What do you say we find a babysitter for tonight and go out and celebrate?"


"Oh I wish we could, but Gus seems to be coming down with a cold and I don't want to leave him while he's sick," she said sadly.


"Oh, okay. We'll just celebrate when he's better," Brian said with disappointment.


"Why don't you go out tonight on your own? It's been awhile since you've gone out without me."


Brian knew exactly what she was implying. He hadn't tricked in months. He'd been too busy working the long hours it took to get the promotion. "Are you sure? I can wait until Gus is better," he offered. He still hated going out, knowing that Lindsay knew what he was doing.


"I'm positive. You go out and have a good time and I promise that when Gus is better, we'll go out and celebrate together."


"Alright, I guess I'll just see you later."


"Okay, I love you," she said.


"Me too."


Once Brian hung up the phone, he thought about his options. If he wanted to go pick up a random trick, he'd have to drive an hour away to get to the club he frequented. As promised, he'd always been very discreet and never went clubbing anywhere near their home. The thought of driving that far just didn't appeal to him too much. It would mean not getting home until the wee hours of the morning and it had been a long day. Instead, he decided to go to plan B. He called the hotel down the road from the airport and made his reservation for one night. The reservation desk had his information on file, knowing him by name. It wasn't one of those sleazy hotels, and everyone there was under the assumption that he just traveled for work and stayed with them when he had an early flight. No one ever suspected that he had late night visitors while he was there.


The next call he made was to the escort service he used. Again, it wasn't sleazy; Brian Kinney didn't do sleazy. It was an upscale service run by a wealthy gay man that wanted to give people like Brian help in getting their needs met. Brian had found the place two years ago while he was at the country club that he and Lindsay joined. The owner of the service, Mark, was at the club trying to drum up business. Apparently there were a lot of men out there that lived the happy hetero life while getting their needs met elsewhere. Mark and Brian hit it off after an embarrassing moment in the club's shower room and had become friends since. Brian was brought out of his thoughts when Mark answered the phone.


"Hey there Mark, it's Brian Kinney."


"Hello Brian, how's it going? Did you get that promotion yet?"


"As a matter of fact, I did. That's why I'm calling. Gus is ill and Lindsay can't get away tonight so she told me to go out on my own to celebrate. I'm too tired for the club scene so I thought I'd give you a call," Brian explained.


"Congratulations Brian, I knew you could do it. So, you're looking for a little entertainment tonight, huh? I have just the one for you. He's new, only been with me for about a couple of months now, but I hear he's one of the best. A young guy; had a rough life, so I took him in and helped him out a little. Had to get him off the streets. Don't worry, he's been given a clean bill of health and he's very eager to please. I can have him out to you around nine. How does that sound?"


Brian listened to Mark and could read through what the man was saying to understand what he wasn't. Many people didn't know, but Mark used to be a street hustler, living in doorways and selling himself to get enough money for food. One of the reasons Mark opened the business might have been to help the married man get pleasure, but the other reason was to help other kids get off the streets. He treated all of his employees with respect and not only paid them well, but gave them medical benefits and offered temporary housing until they could afford it on their own. He also had a strict policy about violence. If any of his men were to be hurt in any way, there were severe consequences. Brian highly respected Mark and what he was doing for the community.


"Nine sounds good to me. Room 107. Thanks Mark; I'll talk to you soon," Brian said.


"You're welcome, Brian. Good luck with the job."




Once Brian was done making all the arrangements he got back to work, finishing up the pile of paperwork that had been sitting on his desk. By seven o'clock he had grabbed the overnight bag that he kept in his office for emergencies and headed out to the hotel. He jumped in the shower and dressed in his jeans and a t-shirt, then sat down to wait for his entertainment to arrive. At two minutes to nine there was a soft knock on the door, signaling the escort’s arrival. Brian got up and opened the door, horrified by who he saw on the other side.






"Justin," Brian said in surprise.


Justin looked up into the deep hazel eyes before him and couldn't believe what he was seeing. "Brian?"


"Is it really you?" Brian whispered.


"I...I've got...to go," Justin stammered before turning around and running back towards the bus stop.


It took a moment for Brian to realize what was happening, but then he took off, running after the blond without thinking. He didn't have any shoes on, but with his height advantage, his long legs had him catching up to Justin in a matter of minutes. "Wait, where are you going?"


"I'm sorry; I can't do this. Call Mark and have him send you someone else," Justin hissed, out of breath from his attempted escape.


"I don't want anyone else," Brian replied honestly. "Please…just...come back with me. I...just...I want to talk to you."


Justin eyed him suspiciously, but finally relented and allowed himself to be led back to the room. Once they were inside and the door was closed behind them, Brian released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "I can't believe you're here."


"Yeah, well not everyone can be lucky enough to live the life they always dreamed about," Justin spat angrily.


"What? No, I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that I can't believe you're standing here in front of me. Do you have an idea how long I've been looking for you?" Brian explained quickly.


"You've been looking for me?" Justin asked incredulously.


"Yes. I wrote to you soon after the Slone's took you away, but the letter came back address unknown. I was devastated. I hounded Sandy for weeks until she finally agreed to search for you, but there wasn't a trace. It was as if you disappeared. What happened? Where did you go?"


"I...uh...I don't think you really want to know," Justin admitted shyly.


Brian smirked at Justin's shyness; the same shyness he had at eight years old. "Go ahead, you can tell me."


Justin decided to tell Brian the truth. It wouldn’t take long and then he would be free to go. Once Brian knew his history he’d want nothing to do with him anyway. He sighed before answering. "The Slone's were exactly who they claimed to be. About a week or so after they took me we moved to New York. They weren't the nice loving couple that came to the home looking for a child. They didn't want a son, they wanted a slave. I was forced to clean, and do laundry, getting beaten any time I made a mistake or messed up in any way. Mr. Slone was an alcoholic and enjoyed tormenting me every time he had too much to drink. Mrs. Slone left him a few months after we moved, claiming that she was tired of all the drinking. By the time I was thirteen, Mr. Slone and I were living in a dingy one bedroom apartment without enough money to put food on the table. He couldn't hold down a job because he was always drunk, so he..." Justin's voice trailed off.


"Justin," Brian whispered softly. "You can trust me."


Justin wiped away a stray tear that fell and walked over to the bed, sitting down while he drew up the courage to go on. "He needed to find a way to make money. We were walking down the street one night and this dirty looking guy came out of an alley. He reeked of sweat and alcohol and had a strange look in his eyes. He told Mr. Slone that he'd give him a hundred dollars if he could..."


Brian suddenly felt sick as he listened to Justin give details of his life. The life that was supposed to be better with the Slone's than at the home with Brian. He placed a comforting hand on Justin's shoulder, but pulled away quickly when Justin flinched. Taking his hand back, Brian sat as patiently as he could and waited for the rest of the story.


"...if he could fuck my tight virgin ass." Justin finally continued. "Mr. Slone couldn't hand me over fast enough. He stood at the end of the alley as a look out while this guy...hurt...me."


By this time, Justin was openly sobbing and didn't pull away when Brian took him in his arms. It was the first loving touch he felt since he was eight years old and it felt so good.


Brian held Justin in his arms while he cried, wishing there was something he could do to take away the young man's pain. He never wanted Justin to be taken away all those years ago, but he never imagined what the poor boy was going to have to suffer through. If he had, he would have taken him then and run away where no one would ever hurt him. He sensed Justin was gaining back some of his composure and loosened his grip, allowing Justin some space to continue.


"After that, Slone realized how much money he could make off me and pretty soon he had men lined up for me. He took all the money for himself, of course, telling me that my cut went to the roof over my head and the food in my stomach."


"When..." Brian said, finding it hard to ask what he wanted to know.


"When did it stop? About a year ago, I guess. I finally had enough of selling myself to support the bastard. I ran away, making my way back to Pittsburgh and lived on the streets. I figured if I was going to be forced to sell sex for money, I might as well get the money for myself. Everything was okay for awhile...but then one night...well, this guy liked it rough. When I told him that I didn't do things that way, he got really mad. I don't remember much, but somehow I ended up in the hospital. I'd been in a coma for a week and was pretty beat up. When I woke up, Mark was there. Apparently one of the nurses knew Mark from the area and called him when she suspected what I was. He took me in and nursed me back to health. Now I work for him. It's not exactly my dream job, but at least I'm safe and I have a place to live." Justin sat there, staring down at his hands, unable to look Brian in the face.


“Don’t do that, Justin,” Brian said in a broken voice.


“Do what?”


“Hang your head as if you’ve done something wrong. You did the best you could under the circumstances. Believe me, if I knew that any of this would happen, I would never have let them take you. I can’t believe I…” Brian stopped, overcome with emotion.


“Brian, it’s not your fault.”


“But I should’ve…”


“You were what? Fifteen? There was nothing you could’ve done for me,” Justin reassured him. “If fact, if it wasn’t for knowing you I don’t know how I would’ve survived. When bad things were happening to me, I used to pull out the memories I had of us together and focus on them. It made it easier to get through it all.”


“God…I can’t believe that you’re here,” Brian said in awe.


“Yeah, but I should probably go,” Justin replied sadly.


“What? Why?”


“Well, I’m obviously not going to suit your purpose for the evening. If you call Mark now I’m sure he can send someone else in my place,” Justin explained.


“Fuck my purpose for the evening. You’re all that matters right now. I’ve been thinking about you for ten years. Do you really think I’m just going to let you walk out that door?”


“Brian, things aren’t the way they used to be anymore. I have a job now, responsibilities. I have somewhere to be at midnight,” Justin lied. He actually had the weekend off. Brian was supposed to be his last trick, but he couldn’t tell Brian that. He needed to get out of there. He needed to put Brian back into his past where he belonged. If he stayed any longer he’d never want to leave. In less than twenty minutes he started to feel that old familiar feeling of protection and love. He couldn’t allow himself to feel that again. It would just lead to more heartache.


“Cancel your plans,” Brian demanded gently.




“Cancel your midnight appointment,” he said again. “If you’re worried about the money, don’t. I’ll pay for the time.”


“Brian,” Justin sighed.


“Please Justin, don’t go yet. Just stay here tonight with me. We can get up in the morning and grab breakfast. Talk about things. I’m not ready to have you walk out of my life again.”


Justin could see the sincerity in Brian’s eyes, as well as the pain, and knew he wouldn’t be able to just walk away. Yes, he’d have to say good bye eventually, but what would one night hurt? Just one night of feeling safe and secure. That couldn’t be too much to ask, could it? “Alright, I’ll stay,” he finally replied.


“Thank you,” Brian sighed in relief. “Are you hungry? I could run over to the diner and get us something to eat.”


“Yeah, that would be great. I’ll…uh…just call Mark and let him know of the change in plans.”


“Okay, I’ll be back soon. You’ll still be here, right?” Brian asked as he grabbed his wallet and room key.


“Yeah, I’ll be here.”


As soon as Brian left, Justin took a few deep breaths, trying to calm his rapidly beating heart. He couldn’t believe that after all this time he was back in Brian’s presence again. He wasn’t sure what he did to deserve it, but he was going to enjoy every minute of it while it lasted.


Brian went to the diner and ordered a variety of food, not really sure what Justin liked. He was pretty sure hot dogs weren’t his favorite food anymore. It took longer than he thought and by the time he headed back to the room, he was praying that Justin was still there. To his relief when he opened the door, Justin was curled up on the big king sized bed sound asleep. The sight brought a sad smile to Brian’s face. They had been like brothers for two years and had missed out on so much for the last ten. He made a promise to himself right then and there that he would make sure that they didn’t miss out on anything more.


Placing the packages on the table, Brian slipped off his shoes and lay down on the other side of the bed, content to just watch Justin sleep. He thought about calling Lindsay and telling her he wouldn’t be home, but for some reason he didn’t want to talk to her right then. He didn’t want to talk to anyone except for the blond lying next to him. As he drifted off to sleep, his mind was filled with images of a little blond haired boy with bright blue eyes and a sunshine smile.






Brian woke up a little disoriented, but memories from the previous night quickly came back to him when he looked down and saw Justin sound asleep in his arms. Apparently sometime in the night the blond managed to gravitate towards him, just like when he was little. Brian took a few minutes to watch him sleep, trying hard not to think about what he had learned the night before. He couldn’t believe all that Justin had been through in the ten years they’d been apart and wished there was a way to turn back time for them both. A short time later, Justin began to stir and Brian’s mind scrambled for something to say to keep Justin from running away; something that he knew the kid would want to do.


“Uh…good morning,” Justin mumbled nervously as he pulled out of Brian’s arms. “Sorry about that.”


“It’s okay,” Brian replied, saddened by the loss.


Before either one of them could say anymore, Brian’s cell phone rang and he knew without checking the caller ID who it was. As much as he wanted to ignore the call, he knew he had to answer it. Lindsay was probably worried sick. As he reached for the phone, Justin climbed out of bed.


“I’ll give you a few minutes alone,” he offered softly.


“You don’t have to do that,” Brian replied as he answered. “Hey Linds.”


“Brian, where are you? When I woke up this morning and realized that you weren’t home I started to worry,” Lindsay replied anxiously, causing Brian to feel guilty.


“I’m sorry, I should’ve called. I ran into an old friend of mine and we were catching up. How’s Gus?” Brian quickly changed the subject, seeing Justin watching him intently.


“He’s still a little congested, but I don’t think we have anything to worry about,” Lindsay assured him. “Brian, is everything alright? You sound a little strange.”


“Yeah, everything’s fine. I’m gonna go grab some breakfast first, and then I’ll be on my way home.”


“Oh…okay. I guess I’ll see you in a little while, then. I love you,” she said softly.


“Me too,” Brian replied before disconnecting the call and looking at Justin. “How about we go get the breakfast I promised you?”


“Brian, if you have something to do, it’s okay. I can just go catch the bus…”


“No!” Brian exclaimed quickly. “I mean, no I don’t have anything to do. I want to go get breakfast so we can talk.”


Justin was hoping for a quick get away, but obviously Brian had other plans so he just resigned his fate to another hour with Brian before saying good bye. “Alright, let me just jump in the shower first.”


Brian could sense that Justin was nervous about having breakfast and he was once again reminded of how different things could have been if only…he shook his head, refusing to go there again. Justin was right. At fifteen, there was nothing Brian could have done.


Once Justin was out of the shower, Brian led him out of the room and towards the diner. Something about Justin’s demeanor told him that if he took the time for his own shower, Justin would be gone before his was finished.


Once the waitress took their orders, Brian looked up at Justin and smiled. “I still can’t believe that you’re here.”


Justin chuckled at Brian’s comment. “I think you might’ve mentioned that before.”


“Sorry; it’s just that I was beginning to think that I’d never see you again.”


“Yeah, well if there’s one thing I learned in the last ten years, it’s that life is strange.”


“I guess you’re right,” Brian sighed. “So, what time do you have to be at…uh…work today?”


Justin thought about lying, but decided against it. He may not be a shining example of a good citizen, but he always prided himself on his honesty. “Actually I have the weekend off. Mark was worried that I was working too much so he insisted that I take a couple of days to relax.”


The wheels began turning in Brian’s head. “Come home with me; and before you say no, just hear me out. We were like brothers for two years. You may not remember all of it since you were so young, but I remember everything. I just want a chance to get to know you a little bit.”


“Brian, I don’t think…” Justin’s voice trailed off as he saw the disappointment in Brian’s face and relented. “Oh alright, but I’ll need to stop home first and change. I don’t want to spend the day in yesterday’s clothes.”


“Thank you,” Brian whispered, breathing a sigh of relief.


“So, tell me a little about yourself. What do you do?” Justin asked, trying to steer the conversation on to something safe.


All through breakfast Brian talked about his job, explaining exactly what it was he did and proudly telling Justin about his promotion. By the time they left the small diner, they were laughing and enjoying each other’s company without the awkwardness of the previous night.


As promised, Brian stopped by Justin’s apartment, waiting in the car while the blond went upstairs to change. While he waited, he thought about what Lindsay’s reaction to Justin would be. She was the only one aside from Sandy who knew about Justin and their connection and he had a feeling that she was going to be happy for him. He contemplated telling her about Justin’s past, but wasn’t sure if he should. Knowing Lindsay, she’d smother the poor kid with love, refusing to let him out of the house. It would probably scare him to death. For some reason, he still hadn’t mentioned Lindsay or Gus to Justin and Brian wondered if he figured anything out from over hearing his phone conversation. Once Justin was back in the car, Brian headed towards home. Justin sat beside him quietly staring out the window and was surprised when Brian pulled up outside a beautiful home.


“This is where you live?”


“Yeah, home sweet home,” Brian teased as he killed the engine and got out of the car, meeting Justin on the other side.


Brian led Justin into the house, finding that he was a little nervous to have Justin meet Lindsay. Neither one of them discussed their sexual orientation, but had to be obvious that Brian was gay since he was the one to order an escort. Being forced into prostitution at the age of thirteen, he had to wonder how Justin felt about it all. As soon as Brian walked into the living room, Lindsay appeared in the doorway looking relieved.


“Brian, please don’t do that to me again. If you’re not going to come home, at least call me and…” she stopped suddenly, noticing Justin at Brian’s side looking nervous. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had anyone with you.”


“Hey Linds, this is…uh…Justin,” Brian replied.


“Justin? You mean…”


“Yeah, I told you I ran into an old friend,” Brian explained smiling at Lindsay’s reaction. “Justin, this is my wife Lindsay.”


“Your wife?” Justin asked incredulously. “I…uh…it’s nice to meet you.”


“You too. I’ve heard so much about you. Sit down, make yourself at home. Would you like something to drink? Are you hungry? I could throw something together?”


Brian laughed at Lindsay’s ramblings. “Relax Linds, we just had breakfast. Justin, why don’t you have a seat and I’ll be right back.”


Brian watched Justin sit down and then led Lindsay into the kitchen, wanting to explain about the night before.


“Oh my God Brian, I can’t believe you found him. When did this happen? How did you…”


“Okay, if you stop talking for two seconds I’ll be able to tell you,” Brian teased.


“Sorry, I guess I’m just surprised.”


“Imagine how I felt. Last night I was too tired to drive to my usual hang out so I called Mark and asked him to send someone over. When I opened the door, Justin was on the other side,” Brian explained.


“Wow, that’s amazing. After all these…wait a minute. You mean he’s a…”




“But…he’s only like what? Seventeen?”




“Oh, that poor kid. What happened? How did he end up working for Mark? I thought a nice family adopted him. Where are they?” Lindsay’s heart was breaking for Justin as she thought about the life he was living.


“Let’s just say that things aren’t always what they seem. I’m not really sure if it’s my place to tell you what he’s been through in the last ten years. Besides, it doesn’t matter. He’s here now and I’m not going to let him disappear again,” Brian assured her.


“Of course not. He’s not going to continue working now, is he?”


“Lindsay, my finding him doesn’t change the fact that he still has to work to feed himself and pay the rent.”


“Yes it does. He can move in here. Yeah, that’s perfect. He can go to school, get a degree and put this whole nasty mess behind him.” Lindsay’s head already started reeling with all the possibilities.


“Okay, slow down a minute. What are you talking about?”


“Come on, Brian. Justin can’t really be happy doing what he’s doing, so tell him to quit.”


“Just like that? I haven’t seen him in ten years. I don’t think he’d be real happy if I just start telling him what to do. Besides, do you really want him to move in here with us?” Brian could feel the beginnings of hope growing inside of him, but he tried to push it aside.


“Brian, he’s family. I know how much he means to you, remember? I comforted you while you cursed the Gods that took him away on the night you called off the investigation. He’ll always be welcome in our home,” Lindsay stated. “Now all you have to do is convince him of that.”


Brian was overcome with emotion as he pulled Lindsay into a warm embrace. “Thank you,” he whispered.


Once Brian pulled himself together, he made his way back to Justin who was staring at the photos hanging on the wall.




“Hey, who’s the beautiful baby in these pictures?” Justin asked.


“That’s my son, Gus. Want to go meet him? He’s due to be waking up from his nap about now.”


Justin tried not to let his surprise show as he nodded his head. He’d known that most of Mark’s clients were married, but for some reason after finding Brian in the hotel room he didn’t picture him married with a son. He followed Brian up the stairs and into a nicely furnished nursery where the baby from the pictures was lying in the crib, playing with his feet.


“Hey there Sonny Boy, did you have a nice nap?” Brian cooed as he reached down and picked up his son. “There’s someone I want you to meet? This is your Uncle Justin.”


Justin was stunned by Brian’s introduction and didn’t know what to say. His head was still swirling with the events of the last day and he wasn’t sure how to deal with any of it.


“Do you want to hold him?” Brian asked Justin noticing a strange look cross his face.


Justin nodded and reached out, taking the baby in his arms. “Hey Gus, how’s it going? God Brian, he’s beautiful.”


“Thanks.” The sight of Justin holding his son was something that Brian always dreamed of but never thought he’d see. “Let me change him and then we’ll go back downstairs. It won’t be long before he starts looking for something to eat.”


Justin hesitated before replying. “Can I change him?”


“Sure, if you want to. Everything’s over there by the dressing table. I’ll go downstairs and let Lindsay know he’s awake.”


Brian went to walk out of the room, but turned at the door to see Justin carefully placing Gus on the changing table. He watched for a moment, in awe of the gentle way Justin handled his son before leaving them alone and going to find Lindsay.


“Where’s Justin?” she asked as he walked down the stairs.


“He’s changing Gus. They’ll be down in a few minutes,” Brian said as plopped down in a chair.


“You’re going to talk to him, right?” she asked, noticing the strange mood Brian was in.


“I don’t know what to say to him, Linds. You don’t know what it took to get him to stay last night. He tried running away as soon as he saw me. What if I upset him and he runs again?”


“Maybe he won’t; but if he does, he’s not going far. He works for Mark. You know how to reach him if he runs away. I know you, Brian. You’re not going to be able to just sit back and let him do what he’s been doing. He shouldn’t have to. Look, my mother’s been bugging me to bring Gus over to visit. How about if after I feed him, I’ll take him there for awhile and give you two some time to talk? Feel him out a bit and see how things go. Maybe he’ll be more accepting to the idea than you think,” Lindsay suggested.


Brian sighed, knowing deep down inside that he was going to have a battle on his hands. “Alright, I’ll see what I can do.”


After Gus was fed, true to her word Lindsay bundled the baby up and went to her mother’s, leaving Brian and Justin alone. Brian was nervous about talking to Justin and wasn’t sure where to start.


“So, how did you and Lindsay meet?” Justin asked nervously, trying to fill the silence.


“We met in college and seemed to hit it off. She fell for me almost immediately,” Brian said, thinking back to his college years.


“What about you? I mean, aren’t you…” Justin’s voice trailed off when he thought about what he was planning on asking. “Never mind; it’s none of my business.”


“If you have something you want to know Justin, just ask,” Brian replied honestly. “And yes, I’m gay. I told Lindsay that I thought I was, but she didn’t care. By that time we’d been dating and sleeping together for awhile and I felt it was only right to be honest with her. While the sex wasn’t bad, it wasn’t what I really needed. She felt that we’d make a perfect couple so she came up with a plan and I agreed to it.”


“A plan?”


“Yeah, we got married and we live together as man and wife and when I want to get my needs met, I do.” Justin was the only person Brian ever told the details of his marriage to and he suddenly realized how cold it sounded.


“Which is how you know about Mark and his services? So you have a wife and a son at home but yet go out fucking around whenever you want with your wife’s permission,” Justin blurted out before thinking about what he was saying. “Shit, I’m sorry Brian. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s none of my business what you do with your personal life.”


“You make it sound so horrid. It’s not like that. I don’t go out every weekend to get laid. I only trick about once a month or so, and it’s just because I need something that Lindsay can’t give me,” Brian explained. “It’s what she wanted.”


“Brian, it wasn’t what she wanted. It was the only way she could think of to get the man she loved to marry her,” Justin pointed out. “I’m not knocking you or Lindsay. It’s your life and whatever works for you both is no one else’s concern. I just think that you’re both going to be missing out on a lot in life if you stay together for the wrong reasons. What happens if you meet someone; the perfect someone and realize that Lindsay and your little hetero family isn’t what you want? Where does that leave her?”


“That’s not gonna happen,” Brian insisted.


“How can you be so sure?”


“Because I’m a man. True love doesn’t happen between men. It’s a hetero thing; or at least I think it is. I’m not even sure if I believe in that, either. I love Lindsay. She’s my best friend. That’s enough for me and obviously it’s enough for her,” Brian assured him, becoming uncomfortable with the conversation.


“Well, as long as neither of you mind then that’s all that matters. If you ask me, I say your both fooling yourselves, but like I said; it’s none of my business. We have different point of views. I believe in love, whether it’s between two men or a man and a woman. My life may not be perfect, but I hope to one day find my prince and live happily ever after. One day I hope to have a normal life away from all the bullshit,” Justin said with a sigh.


“Maybe I can help you with that,” Brian replied tentatively.




“I think you should move in here,” Brian suggested quickly, taking the opportunity that he was given.


“What? Why would I do that? I have a place of my own now. It’s not like I’m living on the streets anymore.”


“Yeah, but look at what you’re doing to pay the rent. Justin, you deserve so much better than that. You’re eighteen years old. You should be in school; having fun, not…doing what you’re doing,” Brian explained.


“Yeah, but if I learned anything in the last ten years, it’s that life isn’t always what you want it to be. I’m not your responsibility anymore, Brian. I’m a big boy and I can take care of myself.”


“By fucking men for money,” Brian replied dryly, his anger coming to the surface.


Justin sat there in shock, hurt by Brian’s words. He may have been right, but having Brian throw them at him seemed to stir something inside of him. Before he had a chance to replied, his cell phone started ringing. He pulled it out of his pocket, glancing at the caller ID before answering.


“Hey Mark, what’s up?”


“Justin, I know I gave you the weekend off, but Mr. Clemmons just called requesting your companionship tonight. Is there anyway you’ll be able to work? I’ve give you off Monday instead,” Mark pleaded. Mr. Clemmons was one of his best clients and Mark hated to disappoint him.


Justin looked over at Brian and chose his words carefully. “Sure Mark. Tell Mr. Clemmons that I’d be happy to see him tonight. The usual place?”


“Yeah, thanks Justin. I knew I could count on you. By the way, did everything go alright last night?”


“Last night?” Justin saw Brian listening intently. “Last night was fine. A trick’s a trick. I’ll talk to you later, Mark.”


Brian knew that Justin was baiting him with his conversation with Mark so he tried to ignore the feelings he had at being referred to as a trick. Especially since nothing happened between them.


“Well, I’ve got to go. Duty calls. Thanks for everything Brian, but as you can see, my life is just fine the way it is. Don’t worry, I’ll find my own way home,” Justin said as he walked towards the door. “It was good seeing you again. Take care of yourself.”


“Justin wait!”


“What for, Brian? There’s nothing left to say,” Justin replied sadly. “You have your life and I have mine.”


“Just take my card,” Brian insisted, pulling a business card out of his wallet. “If you need anything or just need someone to talk to, call me.”


Justin took the card, his eyes never leaving Brian’s. “Thanks,” he whispered before walking out the door without looking back.


Brian watched him go for the second time in his life, but this time hurt more than the last. This time is was Justin’s choice to walk away.






Two weeks had passed since Justin had walked out of Brian’s door. Not a moment had gone by the he hadn’t thought of the hazel eyed man, but he had some how managed to resist the urge to call. It wasn’t as if he wanted to put distance between them. He just felt as if he had no other choice. Spending two years in a group home together didn’t make them related and he didn’t want Brian to feel obligated to take care of him, which was exactly how he felt. Why else would Brian insist he move in with him and his wife? They hadn’t seen each other in ten years and had nothing in common. Brian was a successful business man with a house in the suburbs and a loving family. Justin, on the other hand was a whore with little education and no future. It was definitely better that Justin just stay away and let Brian live his life without complications.


It was a Saturday night and Justin was just stepping out the shower, getting ready to go to work when his phone rang. Looking at the caller ID, he saw it was Mark and took a deep breath before answering. He was probably calling to give Justin his bookings for the night and despite what others thought, Justin didn’t enjoy his job like some of the others did. He just liked it better than walking the streets.


“Hey Mark, what’s up?”


“Hey Justin, you must have been a real good boy the other week. You’ve been requested for a repeat performance,” Mark said enthusiastically.


“I’m always a real good boy, Mark. You know that. Who is he and where do I have to go?” Justin laughed as he grabbed a pen and paper.


“It’s Kinney and he’ll be back at his usual hotel. This time he’s in suite 411,” Mark told him.


‘Shit,’ Justin thought. He knew it had been too easy. “Uh…Mark, I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to meet Kinney again. Can’t you send someone else? What about Scott? He’s usually a favorite.”


“Sorry, no can do. He requested you by name. Besides, he usually only books once a month or so. Having him call after only two weeks tells me he was very pleased last time. I don’t think he wants someone else.”


“But Mark,” Justin tried again.


“Look Justin, you’re a good kid and I like you, but this is business and I’m your boss, remember? Do I have to spell it out for you?” Mark left the casual threat go unspoken.


“No Mark, I understand,” Justin sighed. He knew that if he refused a trick he would be unemployed and back on the streets in no time.


“Okay then, have a good night and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”


Justin hung up the phone; fuming at the position Brian had put him in. Why would he pay Mark to see him again? Unless he realized that he had missed out the last time and was going back for what he was owed. Whatever the reason, Justin had every intention of making sure Brian left him alone in the future.


Brian sat around his hotel suite, nervously waiting for Justin to arrive. He hated bringing Justin to him under the current circumstances, but it was obvious that the kid wasn’t going to use the phone numbers Brian had given him so he had no other choice. When he finally heard the soft knock at the door, he wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans, laughing inwardly at his nervousness, and answered the door.


“Hey Justin,” he greeted him as they came face to face.


“Hey,” Justin replied, walking past Brian and into the room. He noticed the room was a lot nicer than the last one and was a little touched knowing he was the reason for the upgrade.


Brian took a deep breath before closing the door and turning to face Justin, only to find him taking off his clothes. “Uh…what are you doing?”


“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m getting undressed,” Justin replied dryly.




“Brian, I’m a whore, remember? You called for a whore and here I am,” Justin spat, ignoring the sad expression that crossed Brian’s face.


“That’s not why I called for you,” Brian said softly.


“Then why am I here? What do you want from me?” Justin had stopped undressing and was staring at Brian waiting for answers.


Brian looked at Justin standing there shirtless, with his pants undone revealing a small patch on blond hair that Brian knew traveled down further and his breath caught in his throat. The thoughts that were plaguing him were unsettling. This was Justin standing in front of him. The little boy who’d made his way into Brian’s heart all those years ago; Justin, who was like a brother to him for two years and who he mourned for when he was taken away. Brian pushed away those thoughts, trying to concentrate on telling Justin what it was that he wanted.


“I…want us to get to know each other again. I want us to be close, like we once were. I want to help you be the person you would’ve been if you hadn’t been taken away by those assholes,” Brian explained gently. “I want to go to sleep at night knowing that you’re safe for the first time in ten years.”


“Brian,” Justin whispered.


“No, let me finish. Not a night has gone by where I haven’t lain in bed, remembering our time together. I used to hold you at night after one of your nightmares and promise that nothing would ever hurt you again; that now that I was there I would protect you and keep you safe. I didn’t do it because I had to; I did it because I wanted to. I wanted to be there for you. You were the closest thing to a family that I had and…” Brian stopped, fighting the tears that were threatening to fall. “I let you down. I wasn’t there for you. I wasn’t able to protect you like I wanted to. Give me this chance to make it up to you. Let me help you now, while I can.”


“Brian, I’m not your responsibility; I never was. You were fifteen years old; too young to be responsible for some eight year old orphan. You’re not obligated to take care of me,” Justin tried to explain; his heart breaking at the pain and regret in Brian’s eyes.


“You’re not a fucking obligation!” Brian barked angrily. He saw Justin wince at his anger and tried to calm himself down a bit. “I’m not asking you because I want to fill some old obligation. I’m asking you because I care about you and I want you to have a chance at a good life. Do you have any idea how I felt as I watched them drag you away? Do you even remember that day?”


“Barely,” Justin admitted.


Brian took Justin’s hand and led him over to the bed, sitting down along side of him. “We had just come downstairs for breakfast and you were pleading with Sandy to let you stay. You promised to be good if she didn’t send you away. She explained that going with the Slone’s was going to be a good thing and that you were lucky to get a family; something that everyone there was hoping for. I saw the way you tried to be brave. You ate you’re breakfast like such a good boy and I really thought that it was going to be okay. Then the Slone’s showed up and you ran to me, clinging to me for dear life. You were crying so hard and it hurt so bad to see you in so much pain. Finally, Mr. Slone had to take you against your will. If I close my eyes, I can still hear you screaming my name as you were being dragged away. After you were gone, I went up in my room and cried for the first time in four years. I refused to talk to anyone or leave my room. Sandy kept bringing me food, but I wouldn’t eat. Finally, Sandy came to me one day and told me that she had talked to the Slone’s and that you were okay. She said that you were adjusting to your new family and that you were happy with them. It helped ease the pain a little and I eventually started to heal.”


“But the Slone’s lied,” Justin sighed.


“No, actually Sandy did. A few weeks later I sent a letter to the address that Sandy was given, but it came back address unknown. I was so upset that Sandy finally confessed that she made up the story about how happy you were. She’d tried contacting the Slone’s to set up a visit but realized that you had disappeared. She was worried about me; said that I was bordering on dehydration and that she feared I would end up in the hospital so she made up the story to get me to eat. I was angry with her and tried to run away, but she convinced me that I had to stay there incase you tried contacting me. I realized that she was right so I stayed, praying every night that I would hear from you. After the first year, Sandy agreed to help me try to find you, but it was too late. You were gone without a trace. I vowed to find you and bring you home, but it wasn’t that easy. I eventually went off to college on a full scholarship and as soon as I graduated, I got a good job and hired a private investigator to try and find you. He got a couple of leads, but they never panned out. Lindsay finally convinced me it was time to give up and move on. She said that I was only hurting myself by hanging on to you. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I realized that she was right and I called off the investigation. That was about a year ago. Since then I’ve tried to put you in the past, but I couldn’t. The day I opened that door and saw you standing there it was like everything was right again in the world. I feel like I finally have a chance to have a family again and I don’t want to lose that.” By the time Brian finished speaking his eyes were damp with tears. He looked over at Justin and saw silent tears running down his face and it gave him hope.


Justin listened to what Brian had to say, trying desperately to keep control over his emotions. He’d been so young when he was taken away that he only had his memories to keep him going. He began to think that the connection he had with Brian wasn’t as strong as he remembered it. That maybe he had built it up out of need as he tried to shut himself off from the life he was forced to live, but hearing Brian’s side made him see that it wasn’t a fairytale in his overactive imagination. He really had someone to love him and care about him. He had family.


“Okay,” Justin finally whispered.


“Okay?” Brian asked in confusion.


“Okay, I’ll take you up on your offer. As long as you understand that I’m not a child that needs to be taken care of. I will accept your help until I’m able to find a way to support myself. I’ll work and pay rent and as soon as possible I’ll find another place of my own. I don’t want to be a burden to you and Lindsay,” Justin explained.


Brian thought about telling Justin that he’d never be a burden, but decided to let it go, thankful that he was getting the opportunity to help Justin start a new life. “Thank you.”


“What are you thanking me for? You’re the one that’s giving me the chance to become something more than the whore that I am.”


“You’re not a whore. It’s what you do, not who you are; but that’s over now. It’s time to put the past behind us and move on. Now what do you say we get out of here? Our family is at home waiting for us,” Brian said as he stood up, pulling Justin with him.


“Waiting for us?”


“Yeah, Lindsay told me that if I couldn’t convince you to come with me that she was going to come over here herself and drag you home. She’s a tough little blond when she wants to be,” Brian laughed.


“Well then we better not keep her waiting,” Justin replied, touched that not only Brian but Lindsay too, accepted him into their family. For once in his life, he didn’t feel all alone.






Once Brian had checked out of the hotel, he and Justin headed towards the house. Justin was nervous about going to talk to Lindsay, be he had to admit that the thought of being able to give up tricking was very appealing. He’d wanted to go back to his apartment for the night so that he could be alone with his thoughts, but Brian insisted that he stay at the house. Justin figured he was worried about him changing his mind. That wasn’t going to happen. He wanted out and Brian was right there, giving him the option. He just hoped that one day he’d actually be able to look at himself in the mirror again without disgust; something that he hadn’t been able to do in a long time. He spent most of the time looking out the window and thinking about how much his life was about to change thanks to Brian. He wondered if he’d ever be able to repay the man for his generosity.


Brian noticed how quiet Justin was during the ride, but decided to give the kid some time to take in the changes that he just agreed to. As they neared the house, Brian pulled out his cell phone and called home.


“Hey Lindsay, we’re almost home,” he said when Lindsay answered.


“He’s with you? Oh Brian, that’s wonderful. I’ve been setting up the guest bedroom for him. I put a fresh set of sheets on the bed, gave him his own towels; am I forgetting something? I’d better start on a list for food shopping. When he gets here I’ll have to ask him what he likes to eat. We should probably go out and buy him a TV for his room. He’s eighteen years old. I doubt if he’ll want to sit around with an old married couple ever night,” Lindsay gushed, her excitement evident in her voice.


“Lindsay, slow down or you’re going to scare him away,” Brian warned. “Let’s just take it day by day and see how things go.”


“I’m sorry, Brian. You’re right. I’m just so happy for the two of you. I know how important he is to you and I really want everything to work out.”


“It will, Linds. Now, do we need anything from the store before I get home?”


“No, I think we’re alright for the moment,” she replied.


“Okay, then we’ll see you in about ten minutes.” Brian disconnected the call and glanced over at Justin, who was watching him intently. “I think I’d better warn you before we get home.”


“Warn me?”


“About Lindsay. She’s always been one to fight for a worthy cause and right now…”


“I’m her worthy cause,” Justin finished for him.


“It’s not like that, Justin,” Brian began.


“Sure it is. Adopt a hustler. Haven’t you heard of it?” Justin replied dryly.


“Justin, it’s really not like that. She loves me and wants me to be happy. She’s the only person I ever told about you and she knows how much I hate the thought of you…doing what you’ve been doing. Besides, you’re family to her and family comes first. She really wants to help you; almost as much as I do.”


“I’m sorry Brian. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I appreciate everything you both are doing for me. I guess I’m just a little overwhelmed. I haven’t had anyone try to help me in a long time. I used to taking care of myself,” Justin explained quietly.


“I think that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard, especially coming from the mouth of an eighteen year old. Even I had Sandy,” Brian replied.


“How is Sandy? Do you still talk to her?” Justin asked, happy to change the subject.


“No, she passed away about five years ago from cancer. Until then we stayed in touch. She knew that I was still trying to find you and she wished me luck. She used to call us her boys and told me that we were always her favorites,” Brian said with a small chuckle.


“That’s so sad. She must have been pretty young. I remember how she used to make sure that I had dessert every night even if I didn’t finish all my vegetables. I missed her almost as much as I missed you once I was gone.” Justin’s mind drifted back to the loving woman that used to care for them.


“She was the best. I still miss her, even though I moved out of the home seven years ago. We used to talk about once a month and I visited her as often as I could when she got sick,” Brian admitted.


“I’m sure she liked that. Wow, I can’t believe she’s gone. I always pictured her old and gray, running the home and helping boys like us.”


After that, the conversation stilled and they rode in silence until Brian pulled in the driveway. Lindsay was standing in the doorway before the even got out of the car.


“Justin,” she called as they walked up the driveway. “I’m so glad you’re here. Come on in and I’ll make us some tea.”


“Lindsay,” Brian warned.


“What Brian?” she asked innocently as she kissed her husband hello. “I’m just offering tea.”


Justin smiled at Lindsay’s enthusiasm. “Tea would be nice Lindsay. Thank you.”


Lindsay threw Brian an ‘I told you so’ glance before heading off towards the kitchen, leaving Brian and Justin alone.


“Why don’t we sit down and talk about what happens next? Are you up for that?” Brian asked as he hung up his and Justin’s coats.


“Uh…yeah, I guess,” Justin replied nervously. He felt very awkward under the circumstances and hoped that he’d adjust quickly to his new arrangements.


They made themselves comfortable and once Lindsay had brought in their tea, coffee for Brian, they began discussing Justin’s past education.


“So, you never finished high school?” Lindsay questioned after listening to Justin’s history.


“No, Sloan pulled me out as soon as I hit sixteen. I was just finishing up my junior year. He said I didn’t need an education for what I was doing,” Justin replied sadly.


“That fucking bastard!” Brian exclaimed.


“Honey, settle down. There’s no need to upset Justin,” Lindsay said when she saw Justin wince at Brian’s outburst.


“Sorry Justin. How were you doing while you were in school? What kinds of grades were you getting?” Brian asked, fighting to keep his cool.


“I was an honor roll student. I loved going to school. Aside from enjoying the hours away from Slone, I really liked learning. I had hoped to get a scholarship for academics and go to college, but of course I never got the chance.”


“Well, now’s your chance. The first thing we need to do is get your records from your old school and see where you stand. Once we know that, we’ll be able to go from there. We’ll contact them first thing on Monday,” Lindsay assured him. “I’ll also contact Carnegie Mellon and get the information we need to get you enrolled when the time comes. Do you have any idea of what you want to do?”


“Not really,” Justin lied. He’d learned early on to keep his love for art a secret. Slone used to tell him was a waste of time. No one made a living off of drawing pictures. “I guess I’ll have to start thinking about it though.”


“Well, the school has a lot of guides that will help you decide what interests you the most. I’ll have one of my friends get together a packet for you.”


“Lindsay was an art professor at Mellon up until she had Gus. She took a year off to be home with him, but she’s going back in the fall,” Brian explained to Justin.


“An art professor?” Justin asked.


“Yeah, if you look around the house, all of the paintings you see are hers. She’s really talented, but wanted to teach so she took a job that gave her the best of both worlds.” Brian beamed with pride.


“Wow,” Justin said, rising to go take a closer look. He was amazed by Lindsay’s talent. “These are incredible, Lindsay.”


“Thanks Justin.” Lindsay blushed at the praise. “Now have you thought about how you’re going to tell Mark that you’re leaving?”

”Not really, but I’m not worried. He’s seems really cool about people leaving to get out of the business. I was thinking about staying for a few more months though so that I can get some money saved up.”


“No, you’re not.” Brian stated.


“But Brian, who knows how long it’s going to take for me to get a job? I need to have money to support myself. I’ll have to move out of my apartment since it’s one of Mark’s places and is used for his…employees, but I was thinking that if I saved up enough money, I might be able to find a small apartment of my own,” Justin explained.


“You don’t need a place of your own. We have more than enough room here. You’re not going back.”




“You’re not going back,” Brian repeated, his tone leaving no room for discussion.


Justin wanted to debate it further, but decided to let the matter drop for the time being. He would discuss it further once Brian calmed down a little. They continued talking for awhile longer before Lindsay stood up claiming fatigue. Brian knew that she was just giving them some time alone and he was thankful for that.


“I’ll see you guys in the morning,” she said as she leaned down and gave Brian a deep but gentle kiss.


“Good night, Lindsay. Thank you for everything,” Justin said as she turned to walk away.


“Your welcome, Justin. That’s what family is for.” Lindsay smile at Justin before heading upstairs.


Once Lindsay was out of ear shot, Justin turned to Brian and expressed his thoughts. “She’s great. I can almost see why you married her, although I still don’t understand the whole gay man marries woman thing.”


“What’s to understand? She’s my best friend and I love her. We have a really good life together,” Brian insisted.


“Hey, you don’t need my approval. All I’m saying is that I don’t understand it. I’m not even sure if I believe in happily ever after. All I know is that if I ever decide to settle down with anyone, I want the whole package. Someone who I love and can count on as well as someone I can share my bed with. I wouldn’t want to have to go out looking to get my needs met.” Justin noticed a far away look cross Brian’s eyes and instantly regretting saying anything. “Shit, I’m sorry Brian. I didn’t mean to make it sound like I was judging you or your marriage. It’s none of my business how you live your life. As long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. I…uh…think maybe it’s time for me to go to bed. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”


“Yeah, uh…Lindsay got the guest room all ready for you. I’m kind of tired myself. Tomorrow morning we can go to your place and start packing your things. Is Mark going to have a problem if you quit without notice? I mean…do you have…appointments set up or anything?”


“A few, but I know someone who would be more than happy to cover for me. I really don’t see it being a problem,” Justin said as he and Brian turned out the lights and started up the stairs.


“This is your room,” Brian pointed out. “I just hope that you don’t get woken up by Gus in the mornings. He hasn’t learned the art of sleeping in yet.”


“That’s okay Brian, I don’t sleep late usually either. This is fine for me. Good night. I’ll see you in the morning,” Justin said before closing himself in his room. He looked around, taking in the comfortable feel of the room and smiled. Maybe everything would be okay after all.


Brian entered his bedroom quietly, seeing that Lindsay was asleep and brushed his teeth before stripping down and climbing into bed. He was exhausted, but unfortunately sleep wasn’t going to come easy. His mind kept replaying all that Justin said about having someone to share his bed at night. Glancing over at his wife, Brian wondered what it would be like to be with someone everyday who could satisfy all of his needs. Someone he could roll over to in the night if a need were to arise. As much as he loved Lindsay, and enjoyed being with her, he still felt like he was missing out on something. Their sex life had always been lacking and usually left Brian to jerk off in the shower once Lindsay had fallen asleep. He couldn’t help but wonder if he’d done the right thing by agreeing to marry her, and after talking to Justin, he felt even more uncertain. Staring at the ceiling with his mind full of doubts, Brian eventually fell into a restless sleep.






It only took a few days for Justin to get settled into Brian and Lindsay’s house. He didn’t have much in the way of possessions. His apartment came furnished and he didn’t have a lot of money to spend on personal belongings. The little bit he did have was able to be transported in the back seat of Brian’s jeep in one trip. Mark was sorry to see his prize employee go, but understood the opportunity Justin was being given and was happy for him. By the second week, Justin had found a job as a waiter in a small restaurant a few blocks away from the house. Brian tried to encourage Justin to take some time off, but Justin refused. He insisted on working and trying to pay his own way. Lindsay used some of her contacts and managed to get Justin’s transcripts from his old high school. It turned out that he was just shy of enough credits to graduate and only needed to take a couple of classes to get his diploma. He immediately enrolled in the fall semester that was starting a few weeks later. Everything seemed to be falling into place for the blond and he still needed to pinch himself every day to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. He couldn’t help but feel as if he was silently waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things were going too well and something was bound to go wrong. He tried to push his negative thoughts away and focus on the good things in life, convincing himself he was over reacting; until the night he realized that things weren’t going to be as easy as they seemed.


He’d just gotten done a double shift at the restaurant and was exhausted. All he wanted to do was to go home and fall into bed. As he quietly unlocked the front door and walked inside, he found Brian sound asleep on the couch in front of the TV. He smiled to himself, knowing that Brian was playing the over protective big brother and waiting up for him like he’d done on so many occasions, and walked over to wake the older man up. As he approached the couch, something happened that startled Justin, causing him to stop in his tracts. As he watched Brian sleep, he suddenly noticed the other man’s features. His hard toned body, the soft auburn hair tousled from sleep, his soft raspberry lips that looked so inviting. Justin’s heart began to hammer in his chest as his thoughts turned erotic and he realized that he was falling for Brian. Somehow in the last few weeks, Justin began to have feelings for Brian; feelings that he shouldn’t be having for the man he had considered a big brother. He gasped at the realization loud enough to rouse the older man and draw attention to himself.


“Hey, you’re home,” Brian mumbled as he came out of his sleep.


“Uh, yeah. I was just going to wake you and send you up to bed,” Justin replied, hoping that his rapid heartbeat couldn’t be heard in the silence of the room.


“I guess I fell asleep,” Brian noted as he slowly sat up. “How was work?”


“Okay, I guess. The tips were good, but I’m exhausted. I think I’m going to head on up to bed,” Justin said, needing to forgo their usual nightly chats.


“Is everything alright?” Brian asked, noticing Justin seemed a little nervous.


“Yeah, everything’s fine. I’ll see you in the morning.” With that, Justin turned and headed up the stairs, taking them two at a time and leaving Brian confused by his actions.


Once Justin was showered and lying in bed, his mind raced with confusion over his new reaction towards Brian. He’d never noticed exactly how beautiful the older man was, not even upon seeing him that first night all those weeks ago. He wondered if it was the excitement and fear of running into his past that gave him the blinders that he’d been wearing, but now those blinders were off and Justin was even more afraid of what that meant. He couldn’t be lusting after Brian; it wasn’t even an option. It wasn’t only the fact that they were like brothers, despite their lack of blood relation. It was also the fact that he and Lindsay had been so good to him, taking him in and giving him a future away from the tricks, not to mention the obvious; he was a hustler and Brian only used hustlers to get his needs met. He was a married man with a son, definitely not a person who would waste his time associating with someone like Justin. He sighed as he snuggled down under his blankets and tried pushing away his thoughts, finally succumbing to sleep hours later.


Brian had climbed into bed next to Lindsay, wondering what was going on with Justin. It was apparent that something was bothering the younger man and Brian was worried that something had happened at work to upset him. On his second night at the restaurant, an old trick had recognized Justin and propositioned him discreetly while Justin was clearing the plates. It had really upset Justin and Brian wondered if he’d had another encounter or if it was something more. In the few weeks that Justin had lived there, everyone seemed to be adjusting to the changes well. Justin appeared to be happy and loved to sit around with him and Lindsay and talk for hours about nothing in particular. His sudden change in demeanor was troubling and Brian thought about going in to try talking to Justin again, by decided to let it go and see how things were in the morning. It was the weekend and neither one of them had to work the following day. Brian finally drifted off to sleep thinking about how much everything had changed in such a short time.


When Brian eventually dragged himself out of bed the next morning and headed downstairs, he heard was Lindsay in the kitchen preparing breakfast and talking softly to Gus. He sauntered in to greet his family.


“Hey Sonny Boy,” Brian said to his son as he kissed the top of his head.


“Morning Honey, breakfast is almost ready. I was just about to go up and wake you,” Lindsay smiled as she flipped the pancakes she was cooking.


“Yeah, I can’t believe I slept this late. Where’s Justin?” Brian’s mind flashed back to the night before as he poured himself a cup of coffee.


“He’s gone. He said he had to take care of some things and that he would be gone most of the day. He told me not to count on him for dinner,” Lindsay replied casually.


“Things? What things?” Brian asked quickly. He really wanted to talk to Justin and find out what had him so upset. “Did he seem alright to you?”


“He didn’t tell me what things, but now that you mention it, he did seem kind of distracted to me. Did something happen?” Lindsay asked with concern.


“I don’t know. I was sleeping when he got home last night so we really didn’t get a chance to talk much, but he seemed weird. I was going to ask him about it this morning. Damn, where the fuck did he go?” Brian began to pace the large kitchen, trying to think of where Justin could be.


“Relax Brian; I’m sure he’s fine. Besides, he’s a big boy who’s used to taking care of himself. I’m sure that whatever is bothering him, he’ll be able to handle it.” Lindsay wanted to say more, but the phone rang interrupting her.


Brian sat down by his son and listened to Lindsay while she spoke to her sister. From the one-sided conversation it didn’t sound like good news. Brian waited until she hung up before asking her what was wrong.


“Lynnette took a fall down a flight of stairs and she was just released from the hospital. The baby is fine and the doctor said that since she’s so early in her pregnancy, he’s pretty sure there would be no complications but he wants her on complete bed rest for the next two weeks just to be on the safe side. I’m sorry Brian, but Gus and I are going to have to go stay with her and help out with the kids until she’s able to do it herself.” Lindsay was already straightening up the kitchen as she finished cooking so that she could get ready to leave.


“No problem. I’ll miss you, but I know how important your family is to you. Let me eat and then I’ll take a shower and drive you up there,” Brian replied as he got up to help Lindsay clean up.


“Brian, you don’t have to do that. I’m not an invalid and it’s six hours round trip. There’s no reason for you to spend your day driving,” Lindsay pointed.


“It’s no big deal. I don’t have anything planned for today anyway and I’d feel better knowing that you and Gus are okay.”


Lindsay smiled at Brian’s protectiveness. “Oh alright, you win. Thanks Honey.”


An hour later, after writing a quick note to Justin incase he returned early, Brian, Lindsay, and Gus were on the road on their way to Lynnette’s rescue.


Justin wandered the streets most of the day, trying to figure out what he should do about his new found feelings for Brian. It really shook him to the core to realize he was lusting after the only family he had. He contemplated going back to Mark and pushing Brian out of his life, but aside from not wanting to lose the older man again, he knew that Brian would be devastated by that and he didn’t want to hurt him or Lindsay after all they’d done for him. He was also enjoying being Uncle Justin to Gus and wanted to be a part of the child’s life. By nightfall he had decided that he’d just have to be man enough to push aside his feelings and pretend that nothing changed. He was sure that in time his infatuation would disappear and everything would be just fine. Until then he’d just have to make sure that he wasn’t alone with Brian very much. Lindsay was usually around anyway and the less time he spent with Brian alone the better off he would be. Smiling with the knowledge that he had everything worked out in his mind, he headed back towards the house feeling much better about the situation.






By the time Justin walked through the front door it was almost 9:00 pm and the house seemed extremely quiet. He closed the door behind him and walked into the living room, flipping on the light switch as he went. He jumped suddenly when he saw Brian sitting in the corner of the room.


“Holy shit Brian! You scared me. What are you doing sitting here in the dark?” Justin tried to calm his rapidly beating heart.


“Where the fuck have you been?” Brian asked angrily, without answering Justin’s question.


“Excuse me?” Justin asked in confusion.


“Where the fuck have you been? I’ve been sitting here for hours wondering if something happened to you.” Brian stood up and began pacing the room, trying to control his anger.


“Brian, I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself. I was just out,” Justin replied as he watched Brian pace.


“Out? Out where? You’ve been gone all day and didn’t even have the decency to call me and tell me that you were okay.” Brian knew he was being ridiculous but he didn’t care. He’d been going crazy for hours wondering if Justin had decided to run back to his old life.


Justin could tell that Brian was really upset, but he didn’t know what he had done wrong. He was old enough to do his own thing and didn’t think he had to answer to anybody about where he went or what he did. “Wait a minute, Brian. I’m not sure why you’re so mad. I wasn’t aware that I was on house arrest or that I had to check with you before I made plans. I thought I was free to come and go as I pleased.”


“You are, but…” Brian’s voice trailed off.


“But what?”


“I thought that you left. You were acting really strange last night and then when I woke up this morning, you were gone. I thought that maybe something happened to you and that you took off. I thought that I wouldn’t see you again,” Brian admitted softly.


“What?” Justin asked in surprise. “Brian, I wouldn’t do that to you. Even if I did decide to leave, I would never just take off without telling you. You and Lindsay have been so good to me. I wouldn’t never just disappear without at least saying goodbye.”


“So, you are leaving?”


“No! Brian, I’m not going anywhere. Why would you think that?”


“Last night…”


“Last night I was upset. Something…something happened that freaked me out a little so I took off today so that I could be alone to think. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to leave. I like being here with you and Lindsay. It’s the closest thing to a family that I’ve ever had. I love being Uncle Justin to Gus and being a part of his life. I have every intention of following through with my plans for the future and getting a degree. You and Lindsay will be so sick of me that you’ll be kicking me to the curb eventually,” Justin teased. “Besides, I want to make you proud of me.”


“Justin, I am proud of you,” Brian replied seriously.


“Proud of what? My hustling abilities?”


“No, you little shit. I’m proud of the way you survived all the crap life has thrown at you. I’m proud of the person you’ve become despite being raised by that asshole. Your hustling has nothing to do with the person you are. It’s something you did to survive.”


“Thanks Brian,” Justin said softly, becoming uncomfortable with the praise. That was why he needed to keep a safe distance from Brian. His days of being comfortable with the man were gone due to his new found feelings for him. “Where’s Lindsay? Is she already in bed?”


“No, she’s not here. Her sister took a fall last night and is on bed rest for a couple of weeks. Lindsay took Gus and went to help out with the kids until Lynette is allowed out of bed,” Brian explained.


“Oh.” Shit, Justin thought to himself. So much for keeping that distance between them. “Well, I’m pretty tired so I think I’ll go up and take a shower and try reading for a little while.”


“Justin, is everything alright? You still seem a little upset by something. Maybe talking about it will help.”


Well Brian, I think I’m falling in love with you. Yeah right, Justin thought. He somehow doubted that Brain would enjoy that conversation. “No, everything’s fine. I just did a lot of walking around today and I’m kind of tired. I’ll see you in the morning.”


Brian didn’t believe him for one minute, but chose not to pursue it at the moment. “Alright, good night Justin.”


“Good night Brian.” Justin quickly headed upstairs, trying to come up with plan B, since plan A obviously wasn’t going to work. He took a shower, standing under the hot water as he tried to think of what to do next. When nothing came to mind, he turned off the water and dried himself off, wrapping the towel around his waist before leaving the bathroom. As he stepped out of the bathroom, he almost ran right into Brian, who was on his way to his own room.


“Sorry,” Justin mumbled as he made his way around Brian and into his room, closing the door behind him.


Brian stood there in shock, his mind filled with the image of Justin’s wet body, covered only in a small towel that was wrapped around his waist. For someone his age, Justin had a well toned body and seeing it still damp from the shower caused Brian to react in a way that he wasn’t used to reacting. It took a few moments for Brian to clear his head, pushing away the vision that was burning its place in his thoughts. He suddenly came back to reality and found his way to the bedroom, slamming the door behind him.


What the fuck was that? he thought to himself as his heart began hammering in his chest. He tried to push away the unwelcome feelings that were plaguing him, but his mind wouldn’t cooperate with him. All he could think about was Justin’s body and what he wanted to do with it; how he wanted to

run his hands along every inch, followed by his mouth. God, how did he not notice how beautiful Justin was before? How did he manage to go this long without seeing Justin as a man? And what was he going to do now that his eyes were opened? Brian knew instinctively that sleep would be a long time coming with so many thoughts running through his head so it was no surprise that he was still looking at the clock at three am. The house had been so quiet that he immediately heard Justin when he cried out in the silence. Thinking that something was happening, Brian raced into the younger man’s room without knocking and found him thrashing around in what appeared to be a nightmare.


“Justin?” Brian said as he gently tried nudging the blond awake. When Justin showed no signs of acknowledgment, Brian continued. “Justin, wake up. Come on, wake up. It’s only a dream.” Brian jumped back in surprise when Justin shot up in bed, fear etched in his face.


“Brian? Where am I?” Justin asked in confusion, his heart beating rapidly. He blinked a few times, trying to pull himself together. He must have been having another nightmare; this one seemed more real than most; more terrifying.


“It’s okay, you’re home in bed. That must have been some dream,” Brian assured him soothingly as he sat down on the edge of the bed.


“It was,” Justin muttered. “I’m sorry I woke you up.”


“You didn’t. I was already awake. Do you want to talk about it?” Brian could see how shaken Justin was by whatever he’d been dreaming about.


“I…uh…not really. You can go back to bed. I’ll be alright,” Justin assured him as he climbed out of bed. “I think I’ll just go downstairs for a little while and watch TV.”


“I’ll come with you,” Brian said as he began to follow.


“That’s okay. I’d rather just be alone for awhile.” Justin quickly walked away, leaving no room for discussion.


“But you’re not alone. Not anymore,” Brian whispered to the empty room, wondering what he could do to help Justin through whatever was bothering him.






The next morning Justin woke up with a pounding in his head. A usual side effect from the nightmares he’d been plagued with since his teens. He lay in bed thinking about the night before and how much he had wanted Brian’s company while he tried to pull himself together. He wanted to throw himself into Brian’s arms and seek the comfort that the older man was offering, but that wasn’t possible. His attraction for Brian was growing more and more with each passing hour and Justin needed to find a way to move past it before it got completely out of hand and he did something stupid. Finally realizing that hiding in his room wasn’t an option either, Justin threw on a pair of sweatpants and a t shirt and made his way downstairs. He could hear Brian in the kitchen and took a deep breath before quietly entering. He saw Brian standing at the stove with his back to the door and took a moment to stare at him before making his presence known.


“Good morning,” Justin said softly as he walked towards the table.


“Hey,” Brian replied, turning around to greet Justin. “How are you feeling this morning?”


“Okay. I guess. Sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to disturb you,” Justin replied sheepishly.


“It’s no big deal. I was still up anyway. You used to have some pretty serious nightmares when you were little. Does it still happen often?” Brian asked as he poured Justin a cup of coffee.


 “Not all the time anymore, but occasionally,” Justin admitted.


“Do you want to talk about it?”


“Not really, but I guess I should explain. I don’t remember having them as a child. My memory starts in my teens. I had my first nightmare the night that Slone sold me. I was walking alone down a dark street and someone was following me. I started walking faster, but the footsteps behind me picked up their pace, too. I couldn’t see the person’s face, but he was always behind me. Since then the dreams have varied in different ways, but they’ve always had the same circumstances. Someone who I can’t see is following me and I can’t seem to get away from them. They seem so real and I usually wake up in a panic. I’ve been on my own for awhile now so I never realized that I was calling out in my sleep. Slone was always passed out so I guess he never heard me.”


“Maybe you should talk to someone about them,” Brian suggested as he went back to finish making breakfast.


“You mean like a therapist?” Justin asked in surprise.


“Yeah. Justin, what happened to you was a horrible experience. I’m sure talking to a professional about it couldn’t hurt and maybe it will help you get past the nightmares.”


Justin thought about it for a moment and wondered if maybe Brian was right. Maybe telling someone about the life he endured would help him put his past to rest. He certainly didn’t want to talk to Brian about it. He hated telling him the little bit that he already did. There was no reason for him to know all of the gory details. “Maybe you’re right. I give it some thought.”


“Good, now are you hungry? I’ve been slaving over a hot stove all morning,” Brian teased, effectively changing the subject.


After the food was gone and the dishes were washed and put away, Brian and Justin decided to go out and do some shopping; neither one of them wanted to sit at home and think about the night before nor what was to come over the next few weeks. Brian, being somewhat of a label queen, made Justin enter every designer shop they came across in the shopping district while Justin dragged Brian into Old Navy and the Gap. Overall, it was a good day and they enjoyed spending time together. They returned back at the house around dinner time and Justin offered to cook while Brian put away the countless bags he had accumulated and called Lindsay. By the time he made his way back to the kitchen, the smells that filled the air made his stomach rumble in anticipation.


“Something smells good. Whatcha making?”


“Chicken Parmesan; it’s always been my favorite,” Justin replied with a smile. “Why don’t you set the table while I make the salad?”


Brian did as he was asked; all the while thinking about how comfortable he felt doing the things with Justin that he’d always done with Lindsay. It made him wonder again if he had been fooling himself in believing that he could be completely happy in a marriage of convenience, which caused a wave of guilt to wash over him. His wife was away with his son, taking care of her sick sister and he was thinking about how different his life would be if he was with someone who could make him complete. Someone who he not only loved, but that he was attracted to and made love to, someone who gave him everything Lindsay did and more. Pushing aside those thoughts, Brian finished up the table and went down to the basement to get a bottle of wine out of the refrigerator they kept there. He and Lindsay shared a love for fine wine and always kept enough on hand for chilly evenings and company.


Dinner was delicious and Justin spent the time asking Brian all sorts of questions about his life. He enjoyed hearing stories about Brian’s college years and managed to push aside the guilt he was feeling when he heard Lindsay’s name mentioned in almost every story. He didn’t have a right to feel the resentment he felt as he thought about all that he could’ve had if Slone hadn’t taken him away. Slone did take him and his life was what it was. There was no use in wishing that the past wasn’t the past.


Two hours later, everything had been cleaned up and Brian and Justin were continuing their conversation in the living room when Brian asked Justin one of the questions that he’d been dreading.


“So, I’m sure you have some good memories that you can share, right?”


“Um,” Justin said, trying to come up with something positive to say. “Not really. I mean things were pretty grim for a long time. There was this one time when I met this really sweet woman. She would always tell me the best stories. She wanted to be a writer so she was always coming up with interesting ideas in her head. She said I was a great sounding board for her because she knew I was always telling the truth. I was about fifteen at the time.”


“Where is she now? Did you keep in touch?” Brian asked, glad that Justin had someone who was nice to him.


“No, we didn’t keep in touch. Once I got out I never saw her again,” Justin replied.


“Got out? Got out from where?”


“From the hospital. She was a nurse there and worked the graveyard shift. I couldn’t sleep at night so she used to sit with me during her breaks,” Justin explained.


“The hospital? What were you in the hospital for?” Brian asked even though he had a feeling he really didn’t want to know.


“It’s not important.”


Brian really wanted to let the subject drop, but he couldn’t seem to let it go. This was Justin’s life and as gruesome as it was, he wanted to know a little more about what he’d been through. Maybe if he understood better he’d be able to help a little more with the nightmares. “Justin, you can tell me anything. There’s no reason to be ashamed.”

Justin took a deep breath, wondering if telling one of his stories was the right thing to do. All he wanted to do was forget his past and look towards the future, but maybe Brian had a right to know exactly what he was getting into when he took in a hustler. “Slone set me up with some guy he met on the street. The rent was due but he didn’t have the money to pay it. The guy gave him the whole months rent in advance to spend the night with me. He took me to his hotel room and ordered room service. At first he was really nice and I found myself having a good time, but eventually that changed. The guy liked it rough and when I wasn’t willing to do the things he asked me, he got really upset. He told me to get dressed; that he was taking me home, but he didn’t. He took me to some abandoned building where he…he…beat me up pretty badly then forced…well, you can imagine the rest. I lost consciousness half way through, thank God. When I finally woke up I could barely move. It was so cold in the building though, that I knew if I stayed there I would die of hypothermia. So I dragged myself out into the street. Eventually someone came along and called 911. I was in the hospital for two weeks with a broken pelvis, a slight concussion, and a dislocated shoulder. They knew that I had been…raped…I had some injuries there, too so Slone told them that I had run away. I thought about telling the truth, but Slone threatened to finish the job that the trick started if I did so I just enjoyed my days in the hospital. Aside from the pain and humiliation from my injuries, it was the best two weeks of my life.”


“Those fucking bastards!” Brian exclaimed as he jumped up and stormed over to the window.


“Brian, it’s okay. I’m okay now,” Justin assured him as he walked up behind the older man and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.


“It’s not okay! Those fucking bastards hurt you. So help me God if I ever find them…”




Brian spun around so that he was face to face with the blond. “Don’t you dare say that it’s okay. No one should have to endure something like that; especially during their childhood. If I had…”


“I told you, Brian. It wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you could’ve done. And besides, it’s over now. I survived and now I’m safe here with you,” Justin’s voice cracked with emotion at the last comment and caused a small tear to run down his face.


Brian reached out and wiped away the tear as he looked deep into the blue eyes staring at him. He felt something shift in his chest and wanted nothing more than to taste Justin’s perfect lips. He was looking towards Justin to push him away, but the only thing he saw in those eyes was raw lust staring back at him. “Justin, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here.”


“Neither am I,” Justin whispered.


“I want you so much right now, it hurts. I’m not sure if I can stop myself,” Brian admitted softly.


“If you can’t, then I will. Not because I want to. I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anyone in my life, but it’s not right. Lindsay is a wonderful woman and she’s your wife. I refuse to disrespect her by jumping her husband while she’s out of town taking care of a sick relative. I may be a whore, but I do have some morals; self taught of course. I’m going up to bed now. Good night, Brian. Thanks for a great day.”


With that, Justin walked away from the man he was falling in love with and headed up to his room. It took every ounce of strength he had to do it, but deep down inside he knew it was the right thing to do. He just hoped that he’d be able to continue being strong, because now that he knew that Brian wanted him, too…well, as much as he wanted to do the right thing, he was only a man; a man who was finally finding love after a lifetime of heartache and pain. Something told him that it was going to be a long two weeks while Lindsay was away.






Brian watched Justin walk away and cursed himself for what had happened. The last thing he wanted was to make Justin uncomfortable around him. Aside from his attraction to the blond, Brian found that he enjoyed his company. Even though Justin was only eighteen, he was very intelligent and was able to carry on a conversation about anything with more flare than most men twice his age. He thought about Lindsay and what she would say if she knew what had almost happened. He expected to feel guilty, he did feel guilty, but not as much as he thought he should. Lindsay knew who he was when they got married. She encouraged him to go out all the time. Brian wondered if she ever worried that he would find someone who could cause him to reevaluate his life and his future. Without thinking, he reached for the phone and called Lindsay’s cell phone.


“Hello?” Lindsay answered sleepily.


“Hey, I’m sorry for calling so late,” Brian said softly.


“Brian? It’s okay. Is everything alright?” she asked, sitting up in bed.


“Yeah, it’s just…” What? What was he going to say? That he was falling in love with someone else while she was gone? “I’m worried about Justin. He’s been having these nightmares. Apparently he’s been having them for awhile. He wakes up at night screaming out in fear. I don’t know what to do for him.”


“Brian, I don’t know if there’s anything you can do for him other than to be there if he needs someone to talk to. I don’t know much about his life, but from the little bit I’ve heard I’m sure he’s got a lot going on in his head. Maybe he just needs some time. He’s safe now and the hustling is a part of his past. Maybe a little time will help him clear his mind. Have you suggested talking to someone?”


“Yeah, he said he’d think about it,” Brian told her.


“Good, then that’s all you can do. Don’t worry too much. He’s a strong young man. He’s survived everything up till now. He’ll survive this, too,” she assured him.


“I guess you’re right. How’s Gus doing?’ Brian asked, changing the subject.


“He’s doing fine. I think he’s enjoying all the attention he’s getting from his cousins.”


“Good, and Lynette? How’s she feeling?”


“She’s getting stronger every day.”


“Good. I better let you get back to sleep. I’m sorry I woke you. I guess I just needed to hear your voice,” Brian admitted.


“That’s okay Brian. I’m always here for you. I love you and I’ll call you tomorrow. Good night, Sweetheart.”


“Good night,” Brian replied before hanging up the phone. He did feel a little bit better after talking to Lindsay. She was probably right. Justin just needed some time to get past all that had happened.


Lindsay put down the phone and quietly got out of bed. She heard the anguish in Brian’s voice and wished there was something she could do for him, but he needed to work things out of his own. It was the reason she was staying with Lynette to begin with. Yeah, she had taken a fall and her doctor had suggested she take it easy for a few weeks, but she had the money to hire someone to help around the house. Lindsay had just used it all as a reason to get away. Ever since Brian had found Justin she noticed the difference in him. She saw the way he looked at the blond when he thought no one was watching. It was the way she always wished he looked at her. She didn’t think Brian even figured it out yet, but she could see it all as plain as day. As she walked into the kitchen she was startled to see Lynette sitting at the table drinking a cup of tea.


“What are you doing up? I thought you were sleeping,” Lynette asked as Lindsay sat down at the table.


“I was, but Brian called and woke me up,” Lindsay explained.


“Is everything alright?”


“I don’t know. He’s really worried about Justin and frankly so am I. He’s been though so much in his short life. How does anyone survive something like that?” Lindsay asked rhetorically.


“I’m not sure. Did you say anything to Brian about why you’re really here?”


“Of course not. I told you Lynette, I need to handle this in my own way.”


“Oh Lindsay, I still don’t understand how you got yourself into this mess,” Lynette sighed.


“I love him. I really thought that I could make him happy,” she replied sadly. Lynette was the only person who knew about the circumstances surrounding her marriage.


“But he’s gay, Linds. How did you think he’d be happy with you when he’s attracted to men?”


“I don’t know. He’s always been so detached. He didn’t believe in love between two men so I just thought that if he was able to get his needs met when he had to, that he would be happy with a wife and family. And he would’ve been, too if Justin hadn’t appeared.”


“So you’re blaming Justin?” Lynette asked in horror.


“God no, Justin is just a sweet innocent kid who has been given a really bad lot in life. That’s part of my problem. If it was anyone else I’d fight for my husband and family, but I can’t. Justin needs Brian more than I do. I always wondered if something like this would happen. I always knew that there was a possibility that Brian would find someone he could love completely. Now that it’s happened, I’ll do whatever I can to make it easier on him. That’s why I’m here. I’m giving them time alone to figure things out for themselves. I know it sounds strange, but all I want is for Brian to be happy and if Justin can give him that, then who am I to stand in their way?”


“Wow Lindsay, you’re a better woman than I am. If someone tried to come between Steven and me, I’d kill them,” Lynette said, only half teasing.


“Yeah, well you haven’t seen the two of them together. I’ve never seen two people more right for each other than Brian and Justin. I just hope they both realize it before it’s too late. Do you need anything before I go back up to bed?”


“No, I’m good. I’m just going to finish my tea and head back up. All this bed rest is making me a little restless. I can’t wait until I can go back to my normal routine. Good night Sis. I love you,” Lynette said as she squeezed her sister’s hand.


“Love you, too. See you in the morning.”


Once Lindsay was back in bed she couldn’t help but think about the direction her life was taking. She noticed an attraction between Brian and Justin almost as soon as Justin moved in. She really believed that both men were oblivious to the situation, but they seemed to be so in tune with each other. They were always looking at one another, helping each other whenever possible. At first she wondered if it was just the brotherly connection that they shared so many years ago. Then one night she had woken up from a thunderstorm that had rolled in. She was always a little afraid of them so she snuggled up closer to Brian like she always did. Unfortunately, he was sound asleep and as he took her in his arms he whispered Justin’s name. That was when she started having doubts. After that she watched them more closely. Brian would insist on waiting up for Justin when he worked late at night and the anger he expressed when a former trick confronted Justin during one of his shifts was almost scary.


Once she faced the fact that both Brian and Justin were beautiful men and both gay, she began to realize that something more was going on between them. Then one day while she was doing laundry, she’d come across a picture that Justin had sketched. At first she was blown away by his talent. He never told them that he could draw, but once she took a closer look she was horrified by what she saw. Staring up at her from the page was a drawing of Brian. It was sketched with such care and the look on Brian’s face was one that was created out of love. She was an artist herself so she knew the difference.


On the morning she had left she had been downstairs in the kitchen when Justin had come down looking tired and haunted. He seemed hesitant when he walked into the kitchen, looking around for Brian. When Lindsay had told him that Brian was still sleeping he noticeably sighed in relief. He said that he had some things he needed to do and that he would be gone all day. He raced out the door without looking back and Brian’s reaction to his disappearance caused her to questions things even more. When Lynette called about her fall, Lindsay used it as an excuse to give Brian and Justin some time alone to deal with whatever was going on. It was a hard decision to make, but she knew she was doing the right thing. When she got back to Pittsburgh she’d see where things stood. There was always the possibility that she’d been imagining things but somehow she doubted it. She knew deep down inside that her marriage was over. Brian Kinney had finally found the one man he could love. The man he’s loved since he was a little boy.






By the time Brian finally fell asleep it was after 3:00am, so it didn’t surprise him when he woke up the next morning and saw that it was almost noon. He laid in bed for a few minutes wondering how Justin was going to react towards him before climbing out of bed and starting down the stairs. He immediately sensed that he was alone in the house and began to worry until he spotted the note Justin had left for him in the kitchen by the coffee maker.




My boss called me and asked me to pick up an extra shift today. I thought about saying no, but figured I could use the money. I should be home around 7:00. I’ll eat my dinner there on my break, but maybe we could rent a movie or something. Have a good day.





Okay, so it seemed that Justin wasn’t going to let the previous night come between them. That was good. Now all Brian had to do was figure out what his next move was. He went upstairs and showered, dressing in his exercise gear and headed to the gym; a good work out always made him feel better about things. About half way through his routine, Brian began to notice someone watching him out of the corner of his eyes. He’d been cruised before while working out, but never followed through with anything. After what had happened between him and Justin the night before; or more importantly what didn’t happen, Brian decided to let loose and allow himself to get pleasure from the obviously interested man. He signaled the guy to follow him and headed towards the locker room, hoping that a quick blow job would push images of Justin out of his mind for a little while.


He had been wrong. Not only was the guy lousy at giving blow jobs, but he reminded Brian too much of a certain blond that he was trying to forget. Why hadn’t he noticed the resemblance earlier? After taking a shower and making his way out of the gym, Brian put his bag into the jeep and started walking in hopes of clearing his mind. Justin had wanted him, too. Of that he knew, even before the young man admitted it. The problem was that Brian didn’t know what to do about it. He’d spent the last ten years thinking about Justin a lot, but always in a brotherly manner. When had it all changed? When had Justin gone from being the little brother Brian had loved all those years ago to being someone that Brian was willing to change his life for? And was he ready to change his life? Gus was only a baby. Could he walk away from his family for a life with Justin? Could he keep his life and his family and forget about his feelings for Justin? He was so lost in all the thoughts that were plaguing him that he never noticed the car that was coming at him as he stepped off the curb in a haze.


Justin was just finishing up his shift when his boss told him he had a phone call. He assumed it was Brian wondering when he was leaving and made his way into the office.


“Hey Brian, what’s up?” Justin asked as he untied his apron.


“Is this Justin Taylor?” the unfamiliar voice asked.


“Uh, yes it is. Who’s this?”


“My name is Maureen Boyle. I’m a nurse over at Alleghany General. Mr. Kinney asked me to call you,” she explained in a businesslike manner.


“Brian? What happened to Brian? Where is he?” Justin asked in a panic.


“Relax Mr. Taylor. Mr. Kinney is fine. He had a little accident earlier this evening, but he’s going to be okay. The doctors are just running a few more tests to be sure before releasing him. He asked me to call you and tell you that he’s fine. He was afraid that if you went home and found him gone you would be worried.”


“Damn right I would be. I just finished work. I’ll call a cab and be there as soon as possible. Let him know I’m on my way,” Justin replied quickly before hanging up on the woman. He couldn’t think straight as he ran out of the office and quickly found his boss.


“Justin is everything alright?” his boss asked when he saw that all the color had disappeared from Justin’s face.


“I’m not sure, but I hope so. The friend I’ve been staying with was in some kind of accident. I have to get to the hospital,” Justin said, his voice choked with emotion. He needed to calm down. The nurse said he was fine. She wouldn’t lie about something like that, would she?


“Shit Justin, I’m sorry. Go get your things and I’ll go outside and hail a cab for you. Don’t worry about your shift tomorrow. I’ll get it covered for you. Just call me and let me know how he is and if you’re going to need more time off.”


“Thanks Mr. Davis, I appreciate that,” Justin replied before heading towards the back room.


It took twenty agonizing minutes before the cab deposited Justin at the hospital. He entered the emergency room and ran up to the desk. “I got a call that Brian Kinney was here.”


“Are you a relative?” the woman asked in a clipped tone.


“Yes, I’m his brother,” Justin answered without hesitation. It wasn’t a lie. There was a time when they were like brothers.


“Okay, let me see what I can find out…”


“Listen to me. I got a call from one of your nurses telling me that Brian was here and I want to see him now!” Justin exclaimed, raising his voice in anger. He had been in a panic ever since receiving the call and he needed to see Brian and know that he was okay.


Before the cold woman behind the desk had time to respond, a woman appeared from the behind her and intervened. “Excuse me, are you Justin Taylor?”


“Yes, where’s Brian?” Justin asked, recognizing the woman’s voice as the one who had called him.


“He’s just getting back from his Cat scan. Give me a minute and I’ll come around and take you back there,” she said.


“Thank you,” Justin sighed, shooting daggers at the woman at the desk.


True to her word, Maureen came out to get Justin a few minutes later, bringing him down the hallway and pointing out where Brian was. She told him that they could have a few minutes alone before disappearing into another room. Justin entered the small room and stopped short when he saw Brian. He was lying back in the bed with his eyes closed and Justin’s eyes immediately focused on the bruise that was starting to take up the right half of his face. There was a small bandage covering what Justin assumed to be a cut above his right eyes and his arm was in a cast. The sight caused Justin’s heart to lurch and he let out a small gasp that must have alerted Brian to his presence since he opened his eyes.


“Hey, you didn’t have to come all the way down here. I told Maureen to tell you I was fine.”


“She did, but I needed to see for myself,” Justin replied as he slowly walked towards the bed. “What the fuck happened?”


“After my work out at the gym, I decided to take a walk. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. When I stepped off the curb I was hit by a car. It’s no big deal,” Brian explained casually.


“No big deal? Brian, you were hit by a car! You could’ve been killed!” Justin lost what little control he had. He’d been trying to hold it all together up until then, but hearing Brian make light of the situation cause him to snap. “How could you not be paying attention when crossing the street? That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”



“Don’t! Don’t talk to me with that tone; like I’m over reacting. You scared me to death. I was just finishing up my shift when I get this call from some woman telling me that you’re in the hospital…she said you were okay, but I…I was scared. I’ve just found you again after all this time. I finally have someone I lo…care about and I thought I was going to lose you! I thought…” Justin’s voice trailed off as silent tears of fear and frustration began running down his cheeks.


Brian saw how upset Justin was and felt guilty for being the cause of it all. “Come here,” he demanded gently as he held out his good arm to comfort him.


In seconds, Justin was in his arms, holding on tightly to the man he loved, reassuring himself that he was okay. “I’m sorry, I just…” he whimpered.


“Shhhh…it’s okay. I’m going to be just fine.” Brian tried to swallow the lump that was forming in his throat as he fought the emotions that were threatening to overtake him. There he was lying in a hospital bed after being hit by a car and all he could think about at that moment was how good it felt to have Justin in his arms.






It took two more hours for the doctors to get the test results back and sign Brian’s release papers. While they were waiting, Brian insisted Justin take a cab to the gym, pick up the jeep and go back to the house and grab a change of clothes for him. The ones he was wearing had been ruined in the accident. Once they were finally on their way home, Justin breathed a sigh of relief that Brian was going to be okay. The ride to the house was made in silence, both men pretty overwhelmed with the day’s events. When they arrived, Justin helped Brian into the house and onto the couch before grabbing the phone and handing it to him.


“What’s that for?” Brian questioned.


“You need to call your wife and tell her what happened, remember?” Justin replied.


“Shit, I didn’t think about that. She’s going to freak out and over react,” Brian sighed. “Can’t it just wait until tomorrow?”


“No Brian, it can’t. She has a right to know. She’s your wife,” Justin insisted.


“Oh, alright,” Brian agreed childishly before dialing the phone. He secretly hoped she wouldn’t answer. He didn’t feel like listening to her hysterics. Unfortunately luck wasn’t on his side and she answered almost immediately.


“Hey Brian, what’s up?”


“Hey Linds; listen, I don’t want you to get all worked up, but I wanted to let you know I was in a minor accident. I’m fine, though. Really. I’m home now and everything’s okay,” he assured her.


“An accident? Oh my God, what happened?”


“I was walking downtown by the gym and I was hit by a car. It wasn’t going that fast and I’m really okay. I have a small concussion and a broken arm, but other than that I’m perfect,” he explained.


“You were hit by a car? Brian, what were you doing walking around downtown? You never walked around down there.”


“Yeah, well I had a lot on my mind and just wanted some time to myself. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. It’s not that big a deal. I’m home and I’m fine now. Justin came down to the hospital and made sure I was okay and by the looks that I keep getting from him, I’m sure he’ll be hovering over me just like you would be doing if you were here.” Brian glanced at Justin and noticed a small blush rise in his cheeks.


“Do you need me to come home?” Lindsay asked, ignoring Brian’s remark.


“No, Lynette needs you more than I do. I can manage fine here without you,” Brian replied sincerely.


Lindsay tried not to let Brian’s words hurt too much. Every woman likes to think that she is needed and apparently she wasn’t. “Okay, as long as you’re sure. Can I talk to Justin for a minute?”


“Jeez Linds, I told you everything,” Brian snapped. “Fine, talk to Justin. I’ll call you tomorrow.” Brian handed the phone over without saying goodbye.


Justin took the phone and smiled weakly at Brian. “Hey Lindsay.”


“Justin, is he really okay?”


“Yeah, he’s fine. He’s a little banged up but the doctors ran all kinds of tests and everything came back normal. I’m taking a few days off work so I’ll be able to take care of him until he’s had more time to recover. You have nothing to worry about, I promise,” Justin said, trying to reassure her.


“Alright then, if you’re sure I’m not needed there. Just let me know if anything changes.”


“I will. Good bye, Lindsay.” Once Lindsay said good night, Justin hung up the phone and sat down along side Brian. “Do you need anything?”


“I…uh…I think I need a shower. I feel dirty. Meeting the ground at top speed can do that to you,” Brian teased, trying to lighten the mood. “I’ll probably need a little help getting it ready, though.”


“Are you sure that’s a good idea? Maybe if you wait until tomorrow…”


“I’m not waiting. Now, are you going to help me or do I have to do it on my own?” Brian replied angrily.


“Fine, I’ll help you. Let’s go.” Justin rose and helped Brian stand up, trying to ignore the way Brian swayed unsteadily.


Once they were upstairs, Brian went into his room to get a pair of sweats and a t-shirt while Justin went into the bathroom and started the water. At the last minute he remembered Brian’s cast and went downstairs to get a plastic bag. By the time he reached the bathroom again, Brian was there, wrapped in a towel.


“Um…here. We better put this on. You, uh…don’t want to get your cast wet,” Justin stammered, focusing on anything but the sight of Brian’s almost naked body.


Brian saw the lust in Justin’s eyes and smiled to himself at the reaction. If he didn’t feel like shit, he would’ve had fun with the blond. Instead, he held out his arm and let Justin wrap him in plastic before dropping his towel and climbing inside the tub. The warm water felt good, soothing the aching muscles that were starting to tighten up. It was hard showering with one hand, but he immediately felt better once he had washed himself clean. What normally took about ten minutes took more than twenty, but Brian was proud of himself once he was done. He carefully climbed out and dried his hair one handed before wrapping the towel back around his waist and making his way back to the bedroom. It took all of his energy to dress himself and by the time he was done, he only had enough left to lay down on the bed before succumbing to sleep.


Justin had run from the bathroom as soon as he knew Brian was okay and closed himself into his room. The sight of Brian dropping his towel was more than Justin could take and he needed to put some distance between them. It had been hard enough for him to walk away the night before but after the fear he felt receiving the call from the hospital his brain was on over load. He stayed in his room until he heard Brian leave the bathroom. Apparently he was able to get out okay. Justin stayed where he was a little while longer until he began to feel guilty. He was supposed to be helping Brian, not hiding in his room.


He finally left the room and padded across the hallway, knocking lightly on Brian’s door. When he didn’t get a reply, he slowly opened the door and caught a glimpse of Brian laying on the bed. He pushed the door open further when he realized that the older man must have fallen asleep. Standing there watching Brian’s chest rise and fall in sleep, Justin’s mind raced with all sorts of feelings he’d been trying to push away. Feelings of love, lust, and desire that he had no business feeling. Taking one more minute to observe, Justin finally walked back to his room, leaving Brian’s door open incase he needed help during the night. Noticing that it was almost midnight, Justin shed his own clothes and climbed into bed, praying that he was tired enough to fall asleep without thinking too much. He didn’t have to worry. He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.


Brian was brought out of sleep by a burning pain in his arms. His sleep-ridden brain figured he was just sleeping on it wrong, but when he tried to move it, reality set in. His arm was in a cast and it hurt like a bitch. Coming awake fully, memories of the day before swept through his brain and he remembered the accident. He couldn’t believe how stupid he was to try to cross the street without looking. His parents may have been terrible, but he did learn about looking both ways before crossing. He was extremely thirsty, but every muscle in his body was screaming in agony and he didn’t think that he could make it down the stairs. He remembered Justin telling Lindsay he’d be taking care of him and wondered if he should bother him for a drink. He could also us another pain pill since the one he took at the hospital had obviously worn off. Deciding that he needed a pill more than Justin needed his sleep, he began calling out to the blond over and over again, but got no response. Finally giving up, he dragged himself out of bed and over to the door, stopping to rest before continuing on to Justin’s room. He pushed open the door and saw Justin sleeping soundly, looking like an angel in the dim moon light. Pushing that thought away for the moment, he tried calling out to him again.




“Mmmm,” Justin murmured.


“Justin, wake up. I need another pain pill,” Brian said more loudly.


“Bri? Shit, Brian? Are you alright?” Justin asked as he jumped out of bed. “What are you doing out of bed? What time is it?”


“It’s 3:00am and I’m out of bed because I desperately need a drink and a pain pill. The one from the hospital wore off and I hurt like a bitch,” Brian explained, noticing that Justin had been sleeping in nothing but a pair of nicely cut underwear.


“Then way didn’t you call me? I would’ve gotten them for you,” Justin said as he grabbed a pair of sweats from his drawer.


“I’ve been calling you for ten minutes. You’re a pretty sound sleeper, you know. I had to drag myself out of bed and come over to get you.”


“Oh God Brian, I’m so sorry. I left both of our doors open a little so that I would hear if you needed me. I can’t believe I slept through it. Go back to bed. I’ll go get you a drink and your pills. Are you hungry? I could get you something light to eat. You never had dinner and it’s not good to take medicine on an empty stomach,” Justin said as he led Brian back towards his bedroom.


“Maybe just a piece of toast. I’m not that hungry,” Brian replied as he slowly climbed back in bed.


“Okay, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”


Justin ran downstairs and into the kitchen quickly toasting some bread and pouring Brian a glass of juice. On his way back through the living room, he grabbed the pills that the hospital had given them and went back up to Brian’s bedroom. When he walked in, he saw Brian struggling to get back out of bed. He could see the pain etched in his face.


“Where are you going now?”


“I’m…trying…to go…take a…piss,” Brian stuttered in pain.


“Shit, hang on for a second.” Justin put down the things he was carrying and helped Brian out of bed and into the bathroom.


“Damn, I feel like I got hit by a truck. It didn’t even hurt this much when it happened,” Brian whispered.


“It was a car, and you didn’t feel it because you were knocked unconscious. Now, can you manage this by yourself?”


Brian looked down at his sweatpants then back up at Justin with embarrassment. “I don’t think so.”


“I was afraid you were going to say that,” Justin mumbled softly.




“Nothing, here let me help you.” Justin helped Brian with his sweats and waited while he finished going to the bathroom before helping him back into bed again.


Justin sat by while Brian ate his toast and took his pill, then helped him get comfortable again. Well, as comfortable as he could get until the pill took effect. He thought about how he hadn’t heard Brian calling to him before and decided that he needed to stay close by.


“Brian, I’m going to go get my pillow and a blanket and lay down on the floor so if you need me again I’ll hear you. I’ll be right back.”


“Justin, why don’t you just sleep in the bed? I promise not to bite. Especially not while I’m in this condition,” Brian said with a chuckle.


“Are you sure? I don’t want to be in the way,” Justin replied.


“It’s a king size bed. You couldn’t be in the way if you wanted to. Besides, you’re taking care of me and I appreciate it. I’m not going to make you sleep on the floor.”


Justin hesitated before climbing into the large bed, careful not to cause too much movement. He stayed close to the edge, needing as much distance between them as possible. He wondered how he was going to fall asleep being so close to Brian and yet so far away, but he didn’t have much of a choice. Brian needed him and there was no way he was going to let the older man down.


“Good night, Justin,” Brian mumbled as he drifted off to sleep.


“Good night, Brian,” Justin whispered, before allowing Brian’s steady breathing to eventually lull him to sleep.






Brian woke up with the feeling that someone was watching him. He slowly opened his eyes to find Justin sitting in the chair across the room looking at him with an unreadable expression.


“Hey,” Brian mumbled softly.


“Hey, how’re you feeling?” Justin replied as he stood up and made his way over to the bed.


“Like I got hit by a car,” Brian teased, letting out a groan as his body moved causing every muscle to ache.


“Very funny,” Justin chuckled. “Lindsay called a little while ago to check on you. I assured her that you were going to be okay. She called Ryder and filled him in on what had happened. He’s going to reassign your accounts for the next week and wants you to call him in a couple of days and let him know how you’re feeling. I also made a shopping list of things we’re going to need so that I can feed you this week. I spoke with my boss and he’s alright with my taking the week off.”


“You don’t have to do that, Justin. I’ll be fine here by myself,” Brian insisted.


“Last night you couldn’t even go to the bathroom by yourself, remember? It’s no big deal. Now, what do you want for breakfast? You need to eat some more before taking another pill.”


“I don’t care. Whatever’s easy is fine by me,” Brian replied, hating the fact that he was dependent on someone else.


“Okay, why don’t you let me help you to the bathroom and then I’ll go make breakfast. I’ll do the shopping while you’re taking a nap.” Justin moved to help Brian but noticed the older man hesitate. “What the matter? Are you okay?”


Brian wasn’t sure how to reply to that. What was he supposed to say? He needed a few minutes to will down the hard on he was sporting from the dream he’d been having? The one where the blond had been the star? Somehow he didn’t think that would go over too well. Instead he opted for more acceptable excuse. “I don’t have to go right this minute. Why don’t you go downstairs and fix breakfast? Maybe by the time it’s ready, I’ll have to go.”


“Oh, okay. Then I’ll be back as soon as I can,” Justin replied, giving Brian a smile before leaving the room. He wondered if Brian’s reason for not needed the bathroom had anything to do with the state of arousal he was in. Not that he would ever admit it, but when Justin had woken up about a half hour before, he found himself pressed up into Brian; the man’s hard on was obvious. When Justin first attempted to get up, he heard Brian moan his name, causing a surge of heat to course through his body. He quickly climbed out of bed and rushed to the bathroom before his movements woke Brian up and caused an awkward moment. Justin had shamefully jerked himself off to thoughts of what it could’ve been that Brian was dreaming about.


By the time Justin made it back upstairs; Brian had already gone to the bathroom and was in the middle of dressing himself.


“What are you doing?” he asked in frustration.


“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m getting dressed,” Brian replied dryly.


“You could’ve waited for me, you know. I wasn’t gone that long.”


“I know, but I can manage it by myself. It’s no big deal. I even managed to go potty all alone,” Brian said sarcastically. He wasn’t about to admit that it had been agony and that more than once he wished for Justin to appear and help him.


“Brian, you shouldn’t be pushing yourself so much. I’m here to help you so why don’t you stop being so stubborn and let me help?” Justin reached out to help Brian put his shirt over his head when he felt the older man pull away.


“I said I could fucking do it myself, now would you back off?” Brian snapped.


Justin jumped back, started by the anger that Brian was showing. “I’m…uh, sorry. I’ll just…leave your breakfast on the…um…night table,” he stammered before turning and rushing out of the bedroom.


“Justin,” Brian called out to his retreating. When he heard the foot steps continue on down the stairs, he knew he had fucked up. “Shit!”


Justin ran downstairs and out into the back yard, ignoring the sound of Brian calling his name. All Justin was trying to do was help. He didn’t deserve to be to be yelled at like that. Was it really only an hour earlier when he’d woken up feeling safe and secure in Brian’s bed? And maybe that was the problem. Maybe his fantasies have been allowing him to feel things he shouldn’t be feeling causing him to push too hard. If Brian wanted his help, he would’ve asked for it. It just felt so good to feel needed for something other than his body and his money making abilities. Well, Justin wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Brian was on his own unless he specifically asked for help.


As Justin sat outside thinking about what he should do next, Brian was inside slowly making his way downstairs. He’d taken the pain pill that Justin had left for him, but it hadn’t kicked in yet and the throbbing in his arm and head was starting to take a toll on him. By the time he reached the living room, he was out of breath and energy. He staggered over to the couch and put his head back, where he almost immediately drifted off the sleep.


Justin sat outside for a little bit longer before deciding he was being petty. He wasn’t going to hover over the older man anymore, but he could at least be close by if his help was needed. He made his way back inside and stopped short when he saw Brian sound asleep on the couch. Apparently he managed to get downstairs all by himself. He could just imagine the stubbornness that took under the circumstances. Justin went upstairs to Brian’s bedroom and saw the tray of food that he’d left behind. The only thing missing off of it was the pain pill and some juice. Sighing in frustration, Justin took the tray back downstairs and dumped the uneaten food in the trash, washing the dishes and straightening up the kitchen. He then settled himself down in the living room and watched Brian sleep. It was becoming his favorite pastime.


Mark was sitting in his office working on the schedule before him when he heard a soft knock at the door.


“Come in,” he called out, his eyes never leaving the paperwork in front of him.


“Mark, there’s a Mr. Slone here to see you. He says it has to do with one of your employees,” Kathy explained.


Mark took in the disgusted look on Kathy’s face and knew that his visitor was a sleaze. He and Kathy had been working together for years and they had a signal for when she suspected trouble. In their line of work, sleazy people were a common nuisance and by getting a heads up, it allowed Mark to have his guard up in case of trouble. “Thanks Kathy, send him in.”


As soon as Slone walked in Mark knew what had Kathy so disgusted. The older man was haggard and drawn and it appeared that he hadn’t showered in days. Mark gestured to the chair in front of the desk.


“Have a seat Mr. Slone. What can I do for you?”


“I’m looking for my son. I was told that he’s being employed by you so I came here to find him and bring him home,” Mr. Slone explained calmly as he took the chair offered to him.


The story Mr. Slone told immediately sent Mark on alert. He ran a high class escort service but the bottom line was that he dealt with hustlers. It was a rare occurrence that a family member would come looking for someone. “Well, I’m all for bringing family members together,” Mark lied. “So, what’s your son’s name?”


“Justin Taylor.”


Mark did his best to hide his surprise from the man before him. He knew a lot about Justin’s childhood, but had never known the name of the man responsible for his torture. His blood boiled under the surface and he had to fight the urge to beat the hell out of the lowlife before him. “Justin Taylor. Hmm, let me see.” Mark shuffled around the papers on his desk.


“I know he’s one of yours so don’t even bother trying to deny it. All I need from you is his address so I can go see my son and then I’ll be out of your hair,” Mr. Slone replied.


“Oh, Justin Taylor. I knew that name sounded familiar. I’m sorry Mr. Slone, but Justin doesn’t work for me anymore,” Mark said as he looked up from his desk.


“Oh, and I guess you expect me to believe that, huh?”


“Mr. Slone, I don’t care what you believe. I’m telling you that he’s no longer employed with me. In fact, the little shit slipped out on me without paying his rent. I wouldn’t mind finding him myself.” Mark figured that if he appeared to be angry with the blond, Mr. Slone would be more inclined to believe his story. There was no way in hell he’d tell the man where Justin actually was.


Slone looked carefully at the other man, trying to decide if he was telling the truth. He’d come too far to be turned away unnecessarily. “Well, I’ll be in town for a few weeks. If you hear from him, please let me know. I’ll be staying at the Motel 6 on Dresher Avenue if you need to reach me.”


“Alright Mr. Slone, if I find out anything I’ll let you know,” Mark assured him.


After Slone was gone Kathy appeared in the doorway, her disgust still evident. “What did he want?”


“Justin. He wanted Justin. Do me a favor and get in touch with the guys. Tell them that if anyone asks, they’re not to offer any information. That man is nothing but trouble.”


“I’ll take care of it right away,” Kathy replied. “Boss, you know where Justin is, right? You might want to give him a call and warn him that someone’s looking for him.”


“That’s just what I plan on doing. Thanks Kathy.” Mark waited for the woman to leave his office before he reached for the phone.


Justin was still watching Brian when the phone rang, startling him out of his thoughts. He quickly ran to the kitchen to answer, hoping that Brian wouldn’t be woken up by the noise.




“Justin, its Mark. How you doing, Kiddo?” Mark asked when Justin answered.


“Hey Mark, I’m good. How’re you?”


“I’m good. Listen Justin, I wanted to call you and give you a head up. I had a visitor today who was looking for his son. He said his name was Slone,” Mark explained, waiting to hear what Justin’s reaction would be.


Justin froze at the mention of Slone’s name. His whole body went cold and he started shaking uncontrollably. “Wha…what did you te…tell him?”


“I told him that you took off, skipping out on the rent. The asshole gave me the creeps the minute he walked in. I take it he was the sleaze that adopted you?”

“Uh…yeah. Um…thanks for the heads up, Mark. I’ve gotta go.” Justin barely managed to hang up the phone before he collapsed on the floor in sobs. It was his biggest fear; Slone coming after him and dragging him back to the city. After a few months he began to relax a bit, but he never totally felt safe from the man that caused him so much pain and humiliation. And now he was back and Justin knew there was only one thing he could do.


Pulling himself up off the floor, he quickly made his way upstairs and started throwing his things in a bag. He needed to get away. He had to get as far away from Pittsburgh and Slone as he could. If he stayed, chances of being found were too good for Justin to risk. Luckily he hadn’t had much in the way of possessions to begin with so it didn’t take him long to finish. He thought about leaving Brian a note, but figured it would be easier to just disappear. Brian would eventually forget all about him and continue on with his life. The guilt he started feeling when he thought about leaving Brian while he was injured didn’t sit well with him, but he had no choice. He couldn’t stay there any longer and drag Brian and Lindsay into his mess with Slone.


He made his way back downstairs and slowly walked over to where Brian was still sleeping on the couch. The older man’s beauty took his breath away and tears started running down his cheeks once again as he realized that there was a possibility that he’d never see him again. How cruel life was that he was going to lose Brian for a second time in his life. Fighting back a sob, Justin placed a light kiss on Brian’s forehead before turning around heading towards the door. He just hoped that one day Brian would forgive him for walking away.





Brian felt soft lips touch his forehead and struggled to pull himself out of the sleep induced fog he was in.


“Justin?” he mumbled as he tried focusing on the retreating back. “Where are you going?”


Justin stopped in his tracks, sighing at his misfortune. He knew he shouldn’t have kissed Brian and taken the chance of waking him up, but couldn’t leave without some kind of contact. Now he felt like a teenager being caught climbing out their window after curfew. He gently laid his bag down, hoping that Brian wouldn’t notice it and moved back towards the couch.


“I have to run an errand,” Justin offered by way of explanation.


Brian immediately became aware of Justin’s puffy, tear stained face and glanced over to see his bag on the floor. “Do you always take all your belongings with you when you run an errand?”


“Look Brian, I just…need to...take care of some things,” Justin replied quietly.


“And you can’t do that from here.” It was more an accusation than a question.


“I…just…I can’t…” Justin stammered nervously.


“What happened to Nurse Nightingale, who was going to take care of me while I was recovering?” Brian spat bitterly as he carefully pulled himself into a sitting position.


“You don’t understand.”


“No, of course not. How could I understand when you weren’t planning on explaining it to me? You were just going to disappear while I was sleeping. Did you even bother to leave me a note?” Seeing the guilt cross Justin’s face gave him his answer. “I see.”


“No, you don’t see!” Justin exclaimed, lashing out at Brian as the tears started rolling down his face once again. “He’s back, Brian. Slone’s back and he’s looking for me. I can’t stay here anymore. I can’t chance him finding me here and dragging you and Lindsay into his sick games.”


Brian watched Justin fall apart with anxiety and fear as the reality of the situation settled in. Justin wasn’t running from him, he was running from the sick bastard that made his life a living hell. For some strange reason, that thought seemed to calm him. “Come here,” Brian demanded gently as he held out his good arm for comfort.


Justin hesitated for a split second before carefully throwing himself into Brian’s arm, giving into the sobs that were threatening to overtake him. “I’m sorry Brian, but I have to go. It’s not my choice. Slone took away any choices I had. I can’t let him find me, I just can’t.”


“Shhh, it’s okay,” Brian whispered, comforting the blond the best he could. “It’s going to be okay, I promise. Just take a deep breath and tell me what happened.”


Justin took a few moments to pull himself together, hating the weakness he still had when it came to Slone. “Mark called. Apparently Slone somehow found out that I was working for him and showed up at the office looking for me. Mark told him that I took off, skipping out on the rent, but I know Slone. He won’t give up that easily. He’ll comb the entire city if he thinks I’m here. I was his meal ticket; the one who paid the bills. He needs me to support his drinking habit. Without me he’d have actually work, and he hasn’t been able to hold down a job longer than six months at a time in years.”


“Well, then I say it’s about time he learned. You’re not going anywhere,” Brian replied.


“But Brian,”


“No Justin, I’m not going to let him take you away from me again. You’re with your family, where you belong. He’s not going to force you back out on the streets again. Let the sick bastard come here looking for you. So help me, God I won’t be responsible for what I do to him,” Brian stated calmly, but inside he was shaking with rage. “Now take your things back upstairs and unpack. We’ll find a way to deal with this together, alright?”


Justin wanted to object, but he couldn’t. It felt so good to finally have someone to help him; to want to protect him from the bad things in life. He didn’t know how things were going to turn out, but he didn’t want to lose Brian again. The first time had been hard enough. He nodded in understanding and wiped his eyes before getting up and grabbing his bag. “If you don’t need anything right now, I’d like to go lay down for awhile.”


“I’ll be fine. Go get some rest and we’ll talk some more when you get up,” Brian assured him.


Once Justin was gone, Brian slowly stood up and made his way to the phone, as his mind went back to the kiss Justin had placed on his forehead. He was thankful that Justin had cared enough to kiss him goodbye, otherwise chances are that by the time he woke up, Justin would’ve been gone for good. That thought sent a wave of anger through him. It was about time someone taught that asshole what it was like to live in fear.






Mark was sitting at his desk, working on the schedule for the following week when the phone rang. He continued to stare at the page before him as he reached for the phone.




“Mark, it’s Brian Kinney,” Brian said as soon as he heard Mark’s voice.


“Brian, somehow I had a feeling I would be hearing from you,” Mark replied as he set aside his pen. “I take it this is about that Slone guy. What a creep.”


“You don’t know the half of it. I need your help,” Brian admitted. “Justin was ready to take off as soon as he heard Slone was looking for him. I need someone who can make that asshole see that he needs to leave Pittsburgh and never come back. Do you think you can help me with that?”


“Oh, I think that could be arranged. How’s our boy doing?” Mark asked concern evident in his voice.


“Not too good. He’s upstairs lying down right now and doesn’t know I’m calling. Believe me, I’d take care of this myself, but I had a little accident yesterday and I’ve got a cast on my arm. Slone has no idea how lucky he is for that. Otherwise, I’d kill the bastard and worry about the consequences later,” Brian replied angrily.


“I bet. So I was right to guess that he’s the prick that caused a sweet kid like Justin to end up in my employ in the first place, huh?”


“Yeah, that sick fuck shouldn’t be allowed to breathe our air,” Brian confirmed.


“Well, I’ll have a few of my boys pay him a visit. He was stupid enough to tell me where he was staying so it won’t be that difficult to track him down. Tell Justin he’s got nothing to worry about. I’ll take care of everything.” Mark assured him.


“Thanks Mark, I owe you one,” Brian said, breathing a sigh of relief.


“Don’t worry about it. Justin’s a good kid and I’ll do what I can to make sure he’s safe. He got a shitty lot in life, so he’s overdue for a little happiness.”


“Yeah, he is. I’ll be in touch.”


After hanging up the phone, Brian went back into the living room and thought about what his next move was going to be. Coming that close to losing Justin again made him realize that he needed to make some changes in his life. Now all he had to do was figure out where to start.






Brian spent the next couple of hours thinking about his life and how he was going to make the changes he knew he needed to make without causing too much pain to those around him. He didn’t want to hurt Lindsay or his son, but he couldn’t keep up the charade much longer. Finding Justin again showed him how wrong he’d been to agree to Lindsay’s request in the first place. Even if things didn’t work out like he wanted them to, he couldn’t live a lie anymore. It was time for him to come out of the closet and live his life the way he was meant to. No excuses, no apologies, and no regrets. He just hoped that when all was said and done, he really didn’t have any regrets. Taking a deep breath, he reached for the phone and called his wife, just needing to hear her voice.


“Hey Brian, how’re you feeling?” Lindsay asked when she saw the number appear on her caller ID.


“I’m alright, although the pain pills are probably the cause of that,” Brian replied with a chuckle. “How’s Gus?”


“He’s good. Still loving all the attention he’s getting from his cousins. How’s Justin? Is he taking proper care of you?” At Brian’s silence, Lindsay sensed that there was something that Brian wasn’t telling her. “Brian, is everything alright?”


“Slone showed up at Mark’s looking for Justin,” Brian sighed.


“Oh no, is everything okay? Mark didn’t tell him where Justin was, did he?” Lindsay’s concern touched Brian and made him feel like a shit for how he was feeling.


“No, Mark lied and told him that Justin took off. Then he called Justin and warned him. I was sleeping but woke up in time to find Justin trying to run away. I managed to convince him to stay, but he’s pretty shaken up about it.”


“That poor kid. So what did you do about it?” Lindsay asked.


“What makes you think I did anything about it?”


“Please Brian, spare me the modesty. I know how you are when it comes to the people you love. There’s no way that you would just sit back and let that jerk cause problems for Justin. Now again, what did you do?”


Brian smiled at Lindsay’s response, knowing there was no point in denying what she was asking. “I called Mark. He’s going to have a few of his friends pay Slone a visit and make sure he understands that he’s not welcome in Pittsburgh,” Brian admitted.


“I guess it’s a good thing you’ve got a cast on your arm. Otherwise I’d be trying to pull enough cash together for bail, wouldn’t I?” she teased.


“Probably,” Brian laughed. “So, how’s Lynette doing? When are you coming home?”


Lindsay took a deep breath before replying. “I’m not. At least not for awhile.”


“What? What are you talking about? I thought Lynette only needed a few weeks in bed. Is it more serious that you originally thought?”


“Brian, I think it’s about time we stopped playing games, don’t you?” Lindsay wiped the tears that started falling silently. She refused to let Brian know how heartbroken she was.


“Linds, what are you talking about? What games?” Brian asked in confusion.


“Come on Brian, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I love you too much to allow this to go on any longer and I refuse to stand in the way of your chance at happiness.”


“Okay, I’m still lost,” Brian replied.


“No you’re not; at least not anymore. Brian, this isn’t the way I wanted to tell you this, but I think it’s time we talked about getting a divorce.”


Brian sat there holding the phone to his ear, momentarily stunned by what Lindsay was saying. He knew in his heart that what she was saying was true, but it still hurt to think about ending his marriage. Above all else, he loved Lindsay and the life that they shared.


When Brian didn’t respond, Lindsay decided to bring everything out in the open. “You love him, don’t you?”


“Lindsay,” Brian whispered, unable to answer.


“I’ve known for awhile now. You’re so different with him, so loving. The way you look at him; I wish you looked at me like that,” she admitted quietly.


“I’m sorry Linds. I never meant for this to happen. I never wanted to hurt you.” The anguish in his voice was obvious.


“I know, Brian. It’s my fault. I never should have pushed you into marriage in the first place. I always knew that this was a possibility. That one day you could meet someone and fall in love, and believe it or not, I’m happy for you. You’ve made me very happy in our years together. You deserve a chance at happiness, too,” Lindsay told him, wiping away her tears.


“I can’t believe this is happening. Where do we go from here?” Brian asked.


“Well, I’ve been giving it a lot of thought and I think it’ll be best if I stay here for a little while longer. It won’t be forever; my home is still in Pittsburgh. It’s just until you and Justin can get things settled. Then I’ll try and find a small apartment and make a nice home for our son,” she explained. “Do you know what you’re going to do about Justin?”


“I don’t have a clue. I wasn’t expecting any of this. I knew things had to change; I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. I don’t even know how he feels about me,” Brian replied.


“He loves you, too. Trust me on that. You weren’t the only one making goo goo eyes. Of course, he wouldn’t ever have done anything about it because of us. Now there’s nothing standing in his way.”


“Linds, are you sure about this? I mean, I would’ve thought you’d at least put up a fight or something.” Brian couldn’t help feeling guilty over the way Lindsay was just stepping aside.


“Why fight fate? There’s a reason Justin appeared on your doorstep, Brian. You two were meant to be together. Who am I to stand in your way? Believe me if I thought I had even the slightest chance of winning, I’d be there right now fighting with everything I had. I know when it’s time to throw in the towel and admit defeat and this is it. I made a huge mistake when I proposed to you, but it’s not too late to fix things, and that’s what I’m doing. Listen Brian, I have to go now. You do what you have to do and I’ll be in touch with you soon.” Lindsay quickly hung up the phone before giving into the sobs that were threatening to overtake her.


Brian heard the sadness in Lindsay’s voice as she spoke and then heard the dial tone. She was gone and he wasn’t sure exactly how he was feeling. So many different emotions were running through him and he wasn’t sure what he should be doing. A part of him was sorry to see his marriage end. He and Lindsay had a good life together and before Justin came along, everything was just fine. But Justin did come along and now everything was different and an even bigger part of him was excited at the prospect of being with Justin the way he’d been longing for. Without thinking about what he was doing, he got up and searched for the bottle of beam he kept around for company. He wasn’t much of a drinker anymore, but the situation he found himself in warranted a drink or two.





Justin woke up a few hours later surprised to see that he’d slept away a lot of the day. His thoughts immediately went back to Slone and he could feel himself shiver in fear. Brian had said that they’d deal with everything together, but Justin still had his doubts about dragging the people he loved through his past bullshit. Deciding to put it aside for the time being, Justin dragged himself out of bed and went in search of Brian. He was surprised to find him lounging on the couch with a half empty bottle of beam in his hand.


“Brian, what are you doing? You’re not supposed to be drinking with the medication you’re taking,” Justin said, taking the bottle from his hand.


“Its okay,” Brian slurred. “I’m a big boy now.”


Justin could tell by the sound of Brian’s voice that something was really wrong and wasn’t sure what to do. “Brian, are you okay? What’s going on?”


“I’m just sitting here playing a game.”


“A game?”


“Yeah, did you ever hear of it? It’s called the What If game. You know, what if Slone never took you away? What if I never married Lindsay? What if I took you…” Brian’s voice trailed off. He wasn’t ready to get into details with Justin over his feelings and the state of his marriage. Not yet. “Never mind,” he finally mumbled.


Justin was confused by Brian’s behavior and concerned about what had happened while he was sleeping, but knew the best thing to do was to get the older man to lay down for awhile and sleep off the alcohol. Maybe he’d make more sense when he sobered up a little. “Brian, let me help you up to bed. I think a nap would be a good idea.”


Brian looked into Justin’s eyes and saw a tenderness there that touched his heart. “Maybe you’re right,” he agreed.


It took some time but Justin finally got Brian upstairs and into bed. He pulled the covers up and turned to leave when he heard a soft voice call out to him.


“You’ll be here when I wake up, right?”


“Don’t worry, Brian. I’m not going anywhere. I promise,” Justin assured him.


Brian smiled in response before immediately falling asleep, leaving Justin with a lot of questions and no answers.






When Brian opened his eyes, the first thing he noticed was that it was already dark out. He distinctly remembered it was afternoon when he laid down. The next thing he noticed was that he had a pounding headache. That’s when it dawned on him why he was in bed and what was causing the headache. Lindsay knew he was in love with Justin and asked for a divorce. Then he’d gotten drunk. He groaned as he rolled over and struggled to get out of bed. It wasn’t an easy task, but he eventually made it to the bathroom. When he finally managed to relieve himself, another difficult task, and opened the door he came face to face with Justin.


“I see you’re up. How’re you feeling,” Justin asked hesitantly.


“Like shit,” Brian answered as he swayed and grasped on to the door jam to steady himself. “What time is it?”


“It’s almost eight. I was just coming up to check and see if you were still breathing. Why don’t you come downstairs and I’ll fix you something to eat?” Justin wanted to ask him about what had caused the drinking, but decided to wait until after he ate and felt a little better.


“Okay, just give me a few minutes. I want to hop in the shower,” Brian replied as he started for his room.


“Do you need any help?”


“No, I think I can manage. I’ll be down soon.”


Justin mumbled acknowledgement and headed back downstairs while Brian closed himself in his room and sat down on the bed. His mind was racing with all kinds of thoughts, from what he was going to do about Lindsay and Gus to how he was going to handle things with Justin. Slone was still an issue, too. Until that man was out of the city, Brian wasn’t going to feel comfortable letting Justin leave the house alone. He realized that all the thinking was causing his head to throb more and pushed away his thoughts for the moment. He just wanted to take a hot shower and have a little something to eat. Then he could take another pain pill and relax a little before making any decisions.


Justin went into the kitchen and started setting the table. He had prepared a stew while Brian had been sleeping, his thoughts more on what was going on with the older man than what he was cooking. In the time since he had found Brian again, he hadn’t known him to be much of a drinker, so finding him drunk while on medication had Justin very worried. He hoped that he’d be able to get Brian to open up to him during dinner, but was still trying to find the right words to broach the subject. Once everything was ready, he dropped down in a chair at the table, lost in thought, and didn’t hear Brian enter.


“Something smells good,” Brian said as he walked into the kitchen.


“Oh…that was quick,” Justin said in surprise.


“Yeah, I think I’m getting the hang of being a one armed bandit,” Brian joked. “What’s for dinner?”


“I made stew. Sit down and I’ll get you some.” Justin busied himself with the stew while Brian took a seat at the table. No one mentioned the big pink elephant that was in the room.


As Brian ate in silence, he could feel Justin’s eyes burning through him and knew he needed to say something about what had happened that afternoon.


“Justin, I’m sorry about earlier,” Brian said softly.


“Do you want to talk about it? Something must have happened after I went to lie down to cause you to drink like that,” Justin replied.


“Something did, but I’d rather not talk about it right now,” Brian admitted.




“Look, I promise to explain everything to you eventually, but I really just can’t do it right now. I have a lot to figure out on my own and until I do I just can’t talk about it. Okay?”


Justin wanted to say no, that he didn’t understand. He wanted to know what was going on, but he didn’t have a right to push. If Brian said that he needed time, he had to respect his wishes and give him that time. “Okay, but if you need me, I’m here.”


“Thanks…for everything,” Brian sighed in relief.


“But I’d better not find you drinking again with the medication or I’m going to take the pills and flush them down the toilet,” Justin warned, a small smile taking out some of the sting of his words.


“I promise,” Brian laughed.


After that things between them returned to normal, talk about Lindsay and Slone put aside for the time being while Brian and Justin enjoyed each other’s company.


The rest of the week passed by rather quickly. Brian spent as much time as he could working through all the conflicting thoughts that were plaguing him while trying to keep an eye on Justin. He still didn’t want the younger man going out alone and had to insist that he’d be taken every time an errand needed to be run. It wasn’t easy, since Justin kept pushing him to rest while he recovered, but Brian could be relentless when he had an agenda. Finally on Saturday morning Brian realized while lying in bed that it was time for him to have that talk with Justin. It was time for him to lay his cards on the table and see where they ended up.


Justin had received a call from his boss the night before, asking if he could come back to work the next day since the flu had invaded the restaurant and had half the staff out sick. Justin agreed immediately, anxious to get out from under Brian’s thumb. He recognized the protectiveness in Brian at the beginning of the week and knew the man was being cautious because of Slone, but it didn’t make it any easier for Justin to handle being so close to Brian for such a long time. His attraction to Brian had grown even more during their week together, which was something that Justin didn’t even think was possible, and he needed to get away. His sense of guilt had also grown, considering that Lindsay was counting on him to take care of her husband while she was away. He had to work a little bit harder to get a place of his own. It was the only way for him to save his sanity when it came to his attraction to the unavailable man. Dressing in his work clothes, Justin finished getting ready and walked over to Brian’s door, knocking softly before entering.


“Brian, are you awake?”


“Yeah, I’m up,” Brian replied.


“I just wanted to see if you needed anything before I head to the restaurant,” Justin told him as he sat down at the foot of the bed.


“No, I’m good. Why don’t you let me drop you off? I wanted to run an errand anyway.” Brian climbed out of bed and reached for his sweats.


“Brian, I know what you’ve been up to this week and I appreciate it, but it’s not necessary. I’m perfectly capable of going to work all by my self,” Justin sighed.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Brian said innocently.


“Please, you haven’t let me out of your sight since we found out that Slone was looking for me. I know I queened out the other day, but I’m fine; really. Besides, he may have had control over me when I was younger, but I’m an adult. It’s not like he’s going to kidnap me and take me away. I’m only going to work and back. I promise I’ll be safe.”


Brian looked into Justin’s eyes and saw a confidence that wasn’t there the other day and knew that Justin had accepted Slone’s presence and refused to let it scare him away. He was proud of his courage and knew that he needed to let him be his own man. “Oh alright; go ahead, but I’m going to hold you to that promise of being safe,” Brian teased.


“I will be,” Justin assured him as he stood up.


Brian walked over to Justin and without thinking about the consequences, kissed him softly on the mouth. “I’m counting on it.”


Justin felt Brian’s lips touch his briefly and pull away before his mind could even register what was happening. He looked up at Brian in shock, confused by what had just happened, but unable to respond. Instead he just nodded his head and walked out of the room, desperate for some time alone. He suddenly had so much more on his mind than he did when he woke up an hour earlier.






Once Justin was gone, Brian got up and showered as he mentally planned the evening ahead of him. It was time for Brian to come clean and let Justin know how he felt. He’d given it a lot of thought during the week and knew that his future depended on how the night went. Luckily Brian’s arm was feeling much better and he was finally used to working around the cast that he was going to be sporting for another month or so. After he dressed, Brian went out to do some shopping. His first purchase was a set of deep blue satin sheets. He could just imagine how beautiful Justin would look, his pale skin in such stark contrast to the sapphire color. He threw in a couple of candles, laughing at his lesbian behavior, but knowing that Justin was worth it.


From there, Brian went to the market to buy some food for dinner. With the cast, he was limited in what he could do, but he still wanted to make an effort. After circling the store for the third time he finally decided to order in food already prepared, but grabbed one of those salad kits. Even he could mix up a salad on his own. He also grabbed a bottle of wine. He skipped his pain pill that morning so that Justin couldn’t object to a glass of wine.


When he finally got home, Brian took his purchases inside and started preparing everything quickly. Once that was done, he called the restaurant, happy when he was told that Justin was busy so he couldn’t be questioned. He left a message, letting Justin know that he wasn’t to eat before he came home, like he was known to do from time to time. Then he called the Thai place down the street and preordered dinner, arranging dinner to be ready by five. That would give him a half hour to get everything ready before Justin got home. Everything was all set and all Brian had left to do was find the words that he wanted to say that would express exactly how he felt about the man he loved.


The restaurant was extremely busy during the lunch hour, which kept Justin from thinking too much about what had happened that morning between him and Brian. Their kiss, although short, was earth shattering and left Justin more confused than ever. It wasn’t as if he didn’t know that Brian was attracted to him. He mind still flashed back regularly to the night Brian admitted to wanting him. Had it really only been a week before? It felt like years.


The problem was that Brian was married and Lindsay deserved better than to have her husband sneaking around behind her back. She may have agreed to letting Brian get his needs met, but Justin knew that their connection was more than a matter of needs and didn’t want to hurt the woman he’d become very fond of. When it came time for his dinner break, Justin was about to get himself a plate of food when his boss stopped him.


“Oh Justin, that friend of yours called earlier. He told me to tell you not to eat.”


“Oh…okay, thanks,” Justin replied as he wondered what Brian was up to.


He snatched a small piece of Italian bread to hold him over and grabbed a newspaper before going outside for a few minutes alone. As he sat down on the small bench outside the back door, his eyes fell on the headline of the paper and Justin gasped in shock.


Man found dead in hotel room out on the interstate:


A picture of Slone was staring at him alongside an article that explained that the Pittsburgh native was found dead in his hotel room from an apparent drug overdose. The rest of the article began to blur as tears of relief began running down Justin’s face. It was finally over. He could finally put his brutal childhood behind him and move on without always looking over his shoulder. He never heard the back door open and was startled when his boss spoke to him.


“Justin is everything okay?” he asked in concern.


“Yeah, everything’s just fine,” Justin replied with a smile. He stood up and wiped away the dampness at his eyes. “”My break’s over. I better get back inside.”


It was finally time to go home and as Justin walked the few blocks to the house, he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. He had a brief moment of guilt when he cheered the man’s death, but quickly realized that it wasn’t a sin to be happy over the loss of someone as evil and heartless as Slone. What the man had done to him was a crime. Being thankful that he wasn’t able to hurt anyone else was just a natural reaction; like sending someone to the electric chair. Slone may not have killed anyone physically, but he destroyed the boy Justin had been when he was younger and that alone deserved some kind of punishment.


When he finally reached the house and walked inside, he was greeted by Brian, who had just walked out of the kitchen.


“Dinner’s going to be ready in about ten minutes. You have just enough time for a quick shower,” Brian told him, trying to hide his nervousness. As time passed all afternoon, Brian began having second thoughts about his talk with Justin. It wasn’t as if he didn’t want to finally come clean. He just had an overwhelming fear that if Justin didn’t return his feelings, it was going to be awkward between them after all was out in the open.


Justin immediately sensed that something was on Brian’s mind and he quickly remembered the kiss that had plagued him all morning. After learning about Slone, his mind seemed to focus more on that than on the kiss, but seeing Brian standing there looking incredibly sexy brought back all his doubts and fears. He needed the few minutes a shower would offer to decide what he should do about what had happened that morning.


“Alright, I’ll be back down soon.”


Brian watched Justin go upstairs and noticed a small spring in his step. It seemed that something must have happened during the day to take a lot of the tension out of the blond. The smile he was wearing when he walked in was brighter than anything that Brian had seen before and he was anxious to find out what had put it there. Shaking off his thought, Brian went back in the kitchen where he had dinner warming, and began to dish out their food. By the time Justin found his way to the dining room, Brian had their plates laid out and a big bowl of salad on the table.


“I still can’t cook properly with one arm, but I made the salad. The actual dinner is from the Thai place down the road,” Brian explained as he took his seat.


“Brian, you don’t have to make excuses. I’m supposed to be taking care of you, remember? You didn’t have to do all this. I could’ve just grabbed dinner for both of us at the restaurant.” Justin looked around at all the preparations that Brian had made and began to feel a little uneasy. Brian obviously had something on his mind and the blond wasn’t sure if it was something that he wanted to hear.


“I know,” Brian replied, bringing Justin out of his thoughts. “I just thought this would be nicer. Would you like a glass of wine?”


“Uh…yeah. You’re not drinking it, are you? With you pain med…”


“I didn’t take any this morning, Mom, so you don’t have to worry,” Brian teased as he poured them both a glass.


“Oh, so I guess you’re really feeling better, then.”

“Yeah, if it weren’t for the cast I wouldn’t even remember it’s broken,” Brian told him with a smile.


“That’s great. I’m sure you’re anxious to get back to work. Have you talked to your boss?”


From there the conversation turned towards work and what Brian’s plans were for the following week. As they ate their meal, both men were aware of the chemistry bouncing between the two of them, but refused to let it ruin their night. Once they were done, Justin insisted on cleaning up and forced Brian to take the wine into the living room and wait for him. Brian knew better than to argue so he did as he was told and sat alone with his thoughts while he waited. The time had come for him to step up to the plate and he silently rehearsed everything he was going to say, so that by the time Justin joined him, he was ready.


“So, do you want to watch a movie?” Justin asked as he entered the living room. “I think that new Brad Pitt movie is on Showtime tonight.”


“Um…Justin…could you sit down for a minute? There’s something I need to say to you…but I just…want you to hear me out before you reply,” Brian stammered.


“Okay,” Justin replied tentatively. He took a seat next to Brian and looked in the man’s eyes, noticing a small amount of fear lurking there. “Is something wrong?”


“Um…no, nothing’s wrong. At least I hope nothing’s wrong, but I guess it depends on you. I mean, I don’t think…”

”Brian, stop rambling and just tell me whatever it is,” Justin demanded gently, interrupting Brian’s rambles.


“Right, sorry. Okay, I guess I’ll just start at the beginning. Well, I told you before that I had been searching for you for ten years. The night you showed up on my doorstep I thought it was a miracle. I’d pretty much given up hope of ever finding you again. I never really believed in the phrase meant to be until then, but there was a reason you were the one Mark sent to me that night. At first I thought it was because you needed me, but now I know it was because I needed you, too. I’ve spent the last few years trying to be a good husband to Lindsay when deep down inside I knew it wasn’t what I needed. I think in my heart I was waiting for you.”


“Brian,” Justin whispered, touched by the other man’s words.


“Just hear me out.” When Brian saw Justin nod his head in agreement, he continued. “It took a little while for me to realize my attraction for you and then a little while longer for me to get over the guilt I was feeling about it. We were like brothers all those years ago and my thoughts of you are anything but brotherly. Since you told me last week that you wanted me, I’ve been torn between elation and fear. As much as I wanted and yearned for you, I knew that I had to make some changes in my life before I was able to really allow myself to go after what I wanted. I wasn’t sure how to go about it, but apparently Lindsay took the matters into her own hands. She’s leaving me.”


Justin sat there in shock, unsure of how to respond to what Brian was telling him. “She’s leaving you?”


“Yeah,” Brian replied with a small chuckle. “Well, I guess I should say that she left me. When I spoke to her the other night she told me that she’s not coming back for awhile.”


“Wait a minute? I thought she was just looking after her sister. What happened?”


“I guess she knows me better than I thought she did. She told me that she knew I was in love with you and that the only thing to do was to get a divorce so that I could be free to live my life the way I was meant to…with you,” Brian explained softly, holding his breath while he waited for Justin’s response.


“Oh God Brian, I’m so sorry. I knew moving in here was going to be a problem for you. I should’ve listened to my doubts and stayed away. I’ll just go pack my things and be out of your way and then you can try to work things out with her.” Justin jumped up from the couch and started walking towards the stairs before feeling Brian grab his wrist.


“No, that’s not what I want. She’s right.”


“But Brian…”


“Justin,” Brian whispered huskily. “She’s right.”


It took Justin a minute to understand exactly what Brian was saying, his thoughts still jumbled by what he was hearing. “She’s right?”


“I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way I fell in love with you. I’m not sure if you feel the same way, or if you ever could. I just know that I can’t go back to the way things used to be. I’m not the same person I was before I found you again and there’s no turning back.” Brian looked into Justin’s eyes and saw a mixture of confusion and guilt hidden there. “It’s not your fault.”


“Oh no? Exactly how do you figure that? If I never came back here…if Mark had sent someone else to your hotel room that night, you’d still be here with your wife,” Justin replied angrily.


“You’re right,” Brian admitted, watching Justin wince at his admission. “But I wouldn’t be happy. I was content to live as Lindsay’s husband, but I wasn’t happy. As much as I love her, it was never enough. I need more. I need to wake up every morning and know that I can face the world being the person I was meant to be; not who everyone thinks I am or should be. I’ll never regret my time with Lindsay, especially because it gave me my son, but it’s over now. At twenty five years old I’m finally going to be free of other people’s expectations and start being my own person. The only question I have is whether I’m going to be doing it alone or with you by my side.”


Justin wasn’t sure how to respond to what Brian was asking. A huge part of him wanted to throw his arms around the older man and never leave. But there was a small part of him that felt so much guilt over the break up of their marriage. A marriage that was just fine until he showed up. Maybe Brian wasn’t completely happy living a lie, but he hated that it was his presence that caused everything to fall apart. “Brian? I think I need some time alone. I…uh…just need to think about things for awhile.”


Brian tried his best to hide his disappointment. He had been hoping that when the truth came out, Justin would throw himself into his arms and vow to never leave. Maybe he had overestimated Justin’s feelings for him. “Yeah, sure. Justin, there’s no pressure. You take the time you need. It’s your call. I just wanted you to know what I was thinking and feeling. None of this has any bearing on you or your place here. You’re free to continuing living here and going to school just like you planned. It’s not contingent on what you decide.”


“Thanks…I appreciate that. I think I’ll go up to bed now.” Justin stood up and walked out of the room, his mind racing with so many different thoughts running through his head. Once he was in his room with the door locked, he allowed himself to give in to the tears that had been threatening since Brian had admitted to loving him. It was all too much for him to take in. Brian, the man he loved, actually loved him back. He had to be dreaming. Any minute he’d wake up and be alone in his tiny apartment. Or worse, back in New York with Slone. Things like this didn’t happen to people like Justin. Hustlers didn’t all of the sudden wake up one day and have their dreams come true. He threw himself down on the bed and blinked back the tears, wondering what he should do. It killed him to walk away from Brian, but he needed time to think; to try to make sense of what was happening. As he lay there, he thought back to all Brian had done for him; hell what he and Lindsay both had done for him and felt so guilty for bringing so much heartache and turmoil to their lives. But then again, if what Brian said was true, he knew he played a big part in giving Brian the chance to be happy and he couldn’t regret that. Even if he never saw the man again, at least he’d know that he had helped him be true to himself; something that he should’ve done years ago. He eventually heard Brian come up the stairs, his footsteps stopping by his door before continuing on to his own. He replayed their conversation again in his head and finally registered the fear and longing in Brian’s eyes. Brian had opened up to him, offered his heart to him, and left it up to Justin to decide what their next move was. He needed to pull himself together and make that decision before anyone got hurt; although a part of him knew deep down inside that the decision had already been made.


Brian glanced at the clock for the fifth time in the last hour. It had been four hours since Justin had gone off to his room and Brian was going crazy with doubts and fear. He hoped that confronting Justin was the right thing to do but he was starting to think that he would’ve been better off leaving things between them alone. It hadn’t been that long since they were reunited and maybe Brian was trying to move things along too quickly. Or maybe he never should’ve admitted to loving him in the first place. Lindsay had been sure that Justin had felt the same things as he did, but maybe she was wrong. Maybe the feelings Justin had for him were more brotherly than anything else and now he was going to feel pressured to get away. Maybe all he managed to do was jump from the frying pan to the fire where his personal life was concerned. He thought about getting up and going out, putting more space between him and Justin when he heard a soft knock on the door, causing his heart to race.


“Come in,” Brian called out quietly.


“Hey,” Justin said tentatively as he walked in the room. “Were you sleeping?”


Brian huffed out a laugh. “No, I’m awake.”


“Are you sure?” Justin asked suddenly.


Brian knew what Justin was asking, but needed to hear it from Justin. “Sure about what?”


“Sure that you don’t want to try to make things work with Lindsay? Sure that you really want to be with someone who’s lived the life I’ve lived?” Justin replied his voice choked with emotion. “Sure that you love me? Take your pick.”


Brian got up and made his way over to Justin, stopping when he was in front of the man, their faces only inches apart. “Yes,” he whispered. “To all of the above.”


Justin released the breath he didn’t know he was holding and pulled Brian to him, kissing him with all the pent up passion he’d been hiding since he realized he’d fallen in love with the older man. When they finally broke apart, Justin looked up into Brian’s hazel eyes and whispered the words he’d been longing to say. “I love you, too.”


Brian’s only response was to take Justin’s hand and lead him to the bed, where the two of them undressed each other slowly and showed their love for one another over and over again.


When Brian opened his eyes the next morning, he found Justin lying awake, watching him sleep and sighed in relief. “Thank God,” he whispered.


“Thank God what?” Justin asked in confusion.


“I thought it had all been a dream,” he admitted softly.


“I know what you mean. I pretty much had the same reaction when I woke up a little while ago. I’ve been lying here watching you, wondering if I somehow died and gone to heaven. Things like this don’t happen to people like me,” Justin said, mimicking the same words he told himself the night before.


“People like you? You mean intelligent, loving and beautiful?”


“Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant,” Justin laughed.


“I told you before; hustling was something you did, it’s not who you are. It’s time to put it all behind you and move on,” Brian replied.


Brian’s words reminded Justin of what he’d learned the day before and he realized that he never told him the news about Slone. “You’re right; especially now that Slone is gone.”




Justin told him about the article he’d seen in the paper and laughed when Brian let out a shout of joy.


“This calls for a celebration,” Brian said cheerfully.


“What do you have in mind?”


“How about another round?” Brian’s voice turned husky.


“If that’s your idea of a celebration, we’re going to have to start celebrating things more often,” Justin replied with a smirk.


“My thoughts exactly,” Brian said before pulling Justin into an earth shattering kiss and beginning one of many celebrations for the day.





Epilogue…one year later:


“Brian, are you sure you don’t mind?” Lindsay asked for the third time.


“Linds I told you before, it’s fine. Justin and I have Gus every other weekend anyway. What’s an extra couple of days? Now go off to your teacher’s convention and have a good time. Us men will be fine here without you,” Brian assured her as he placed his son in the playpen.


“I know you will. I just feel so guilty having to leave him. It’s bad enough that I have to drop him in daycare every day,” Lindsay replied tearfully.


“I’m not daycare, remember? I’m his father. Now get out of here before you miss your shuttle and blame me for it,” Brian demanded as he steered her towards the door.


“You’re right. I’m being silly. Have fun and I’ll see you on Sunday.” Lindsay turned and kissed Brian’s cheek before walking out the door without looking back.


Once she was gone, Brian returned to his son and ruffled his hair. “Mommy’s crazy, isn’t she Gus?” He laughed when Gus giggled as if he understood and agreed. “I guess it’s just you and me until Daddy Jus gets home from class. What should we do with ourselves?” Before Brian had time to decide, he heard the front door open and was surprised when Justin walked in.


“Hey,” Justin greeted him innocently.


“What are you doing here?” Brian asked immediately.


“I live here?”

“That’s not what I meant. What are you doing here now when you’re supposed to be in class?”


“Would you believe me if I told you they closed school because they felt that no one should have to sit in a classroom on such a nice day?” Justin asked with a smile.




“Okay, how about the school was taken over by aliens and they sent everyone home for their protection?” Justin tried again.




“Fine, how about I couldn’t concentrate because I knew my two favorite men were going to be home alone today and I needed to be with them?”


“Well, at least that’s an honest explanation,” Brian laughed as he pulled Justin to him and kissed him hello. “But you can’t keep doing this. I’ve taken the whole week off to stay home with Gus while Lindsay is away. You can’t miss a whole week of class.”


“I know, but it’s not fair,” Justin whined. “How am I supposed to get any work done when all I can think about it being here with you?”


“I told you, it’s called self discipline, something you’re really lacking,” Brian said with a smile.


“I didn’t hear you complaining last night when instead of sleeping, I was sucking your…” Justin looked over at Gus before lowering his voice and whispering, “Cock.”


“That’s different,” Brian replied with a chuckle. “Well, I guess since you’re here you might as well come to the park with us.”


“That beats art history any day,” Justin laughed as he hugged Brian tightly.


After an active day which included not only a trip to the park, but also a trip to the art gallery and one to the local toy store, Brian was happy to put Gus down for the night. He loved his son, but having him having him for a week was more than he was used to and he knew he was going to need as much sleep as possible. Once he finally made it to the bedroom, he was pleasantly surprised to find Justin lying naked on the bed with candles lit throughout the room.


“What’s all this?” He asked as he began stripping off his clothes. “Are we celebrating something?”


“Uh…no…what would we be celebrating?” Justin asked, trying to mask his disappointment.


Brian held back the smile that was trying to break free. “Oh, I thought that maybe you wanted to celebrate our first year together.”


“You remember?” Justin gasped in shock. Brian had been a wonderful partner over the last year, but Justin wasn’t sure if he’d remember what the day was.


“Of course I remember. It was one year ago today when you changed my life by telling me you loved me. How could I forget something like that?” Brian walked over to his night stand and opened the drawer, pulling out a small box. “This is for you.”


Justin stared at the man he loved for a moment before taking the offered package. He was actually shaking as he looked at the object closely.


“You know, if you open it, you’ll actually know what it is,” Brian teased when Justin made no move to unwrap his gift.


Justin smiled then began pulling the paper off. As he opened the box, he was surprised at the contents inside. With a shaky hand, he carefully pulled out the pair of rings that were inside and looked up at Brian with tears in his eyes, unable to respond.


“I know that we can’t get married in this close-minded state, but it doesn’t mean we can’t proudly wear a ring to show our love and commitment.” He took the smaller ring out of Justin’s hand and gently placed it on his left ring finger. “When you look at this, I want you to remember that you’re not alone anymore.”

Justin sniffed and wiped at the dampness around his eyes before taking the larger ring and placing it on Brian’s hand. “I’ve never loved you more than I do at this very moment,” he whispered huskily. “I have a little something for you, too but it’s nothing compared to this.”


“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” Brian replied, fighting his own tears.


Justin nodded his head and got up, walking out of the room to retrieve the painting that he had made for Brian. In the last year, he finally had gotten the courage to show Brian some of his drawing and at Brian’s urging, as well as Lindsay’s; he agreed to pursue a career in art. During his very first art class in college, his professor told him that he was a natural and since then Justin had been working diligently to expand his knowledge and talent. The reward for his efforts was a transfer to PIFA for his sophomore year and although it was just beginning, he was extremely happy with his progress. To show his appreciation for not only Brian’s support, but for his love, Justin had been using his school studio to creating a painting of him and Brian gazing into each other’s eyes, showing their obvious love and affection for each other. He showed his professor the finished product and the man had been blown away, assuring Justin that he was amazing. Justin replied by saying that when it came to his partner, it had been an easy project. He just painted it with love.


As he made his way back into the bedroom, he smiled brightly at Brian, who was patiently waiting for him. “Here you go.”


Brian took the rather large package and carefully opened it. He knew what he was going to find inside, but had no idea the reaction he would have to seeing what Justin had created with them in mind. “Wow Justin, this is incredible.”


“Thank you. It’s not a real present,” Justin said shyly.


“No, it’s even better. It comes from the heart,” Brian assured him as he continued to stare at the painting for a minute longer before putting it alongside the bed. “Come here,” he murmured.


Justin climbed up on the bed and found himself being pulled into a pair of strong arms. It was his favorite place on earth. “Brian, I just want to thank you for bringing me here and making me that happiest man on earth. My life was nothing before I found you.”


Brian was touched by Justin’s words. “Make that the second happiest and I should be thanking you. You’ve given me the life I was meant to live. When I think back to the night you appeared on my doorstep…I never realized how my life would change. I owe every bit of happiness I have to you. I love you, Justin Taylor.”


“I love you, too.”


They spent the rest of the night lost in a sea of passion and love, knowing that they were right where they were meant to be. Fate had brought them together all those years ago, but love would keep them together this time around.


The End