Now That You're Here
Justin woke up to the strange feeling of being in someone’s arms. He started to panic at first, until memories of the night before replayed in his head and he remembered what happened. A quick glance over his shoulder told him what he already knew. Brian was the one spooning him from behind. He needed to go to the bathroom, but didn’t want to break the warmth of being in Brian’s arms. It felt too good; for reason’s he didn’t want to think about at that moment. Instead he chose to lay there and think about what happened the night before. After talking for hours, Brian finally got Justin to admit that what happened between him and Dane wasn’t his fault. There was no way that he encouraged Dane by bringing him upstairs. He never indicated that anything was going to happen between them at all. Yet that realization didn’t make him feel any better. In fact, it almost made him feel worse. If he had unintentionally given off the wrong signals, then he could’ve understood what caused Dane’s reaction. As it was, the only explanation he could come up with was that Dane’s interest in him had nothing to do with the person he was; only what he could offer if he had given in and they had a quick roll in the hay. It angered Justin, but more than that, it made him feel insecure and self conscious. He was finally in a place where he could be himself, but it didn’t seem like that was going to be enough.
“You’re thinking too much,” Brian mumbled, pulling Justin from his thoughts.
“I know,” Justin sighed, noticing that Brian was awake but not pulling away. That stirred something inside him. “I can’t help it.”
“I told you last night that it wasn’t your fault, and I meant it. Now stop dwelling on Dane and go back to sleep. It’s too early to be up.”
almost noon,” Justin told him.
“What!” Brian exclaimed as he jumped out of bed. “Shit, Chris and Zander are going to be home in a few hours. We’ve got to get this house cleaned up before they get here or I’m dead.”
Justin laughed at Brian’s near panic. “Relax. Just let me jump in the shower and then I’ll meet you downstairs. I’m sure we can get the place cleaned up before they get here. I tried to keep the kitchen clean as we went, so it shouldn’t be too bad.”
“Alright, but make it a quick shower or I’m coming in and flushing,” Brian replied somewhat teasingly.
“Thanks for the warning. I’ll lock the door,” Justin laughed as he got out of bed and went into the bathroom, locking the door behind him.
Brian couldn’t help but smile as he heard the lock click in place. He and Justin had fallen asleep with their clothes on the night before, so he quickly stripped down and threw on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt, refusing to think about the night he’d spent in Justin’s bed. He didn’t have time to think about anything except getting ready for his brother’s return. As he walked down the stairs, the first thing he noticed was how clean everything looked. He went over to the French doors that led to the patio and saw that the backyard was as clean as the living room. His confusion grew as he went to the kitchen and once again saw that everything was in its place. He found a note on the table.
I hope Justin is okay. I’m sorry I didn’t take your concerns about Dane seriously. I never realized how fucked up he is. Matt and I stuck around and straightened up for you. I figured you would be up late and probably sleep in, and I didn’t want to have to worry about finding a new best friend when Chris and Zander killed you. Too much work. You owe me one.
Call me later,
Brian smiled and said a silent thanks to his friends before starting the coffee. He knew he needed it. Even though they’d slept until almost noon, he and Justin were up talking until some time after four and he was exhausted. He stood by anxiously, waiting until the coffeepot produced the last drop before pouring himself a cup and sitting down at the table, trying to decide what to do about Dane.
Justin hurried through his shower, wanting to finish up so that he could go help Brian. He felt bad enough about making Brian miss the end of his party. He certainly didn’t want to leave him with the clean up. Once he was back in his room, he dressed quickly in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt before going downstairs, expecting to find a mess. He was a little surprised when he saw that the living room was clean, but his shock came when he looked out back and saw that everything there was clean and in its place. Confused, he went into the kitchen and found Brian drinking his coffee.
“I didn’t think I was in the shower that long.”
“You weren’t,” Brian laughed. “Apparently Steve and Matt cleaned up before they left last night.”
“Wow, that was nice of them,” Justin replied as he went over and poured himself some coffee.
“Yeah, they’re the best,” Brian agreed. “If it wasn’t for Steve, Dane wouldn’t have made it out of the house last night.”
Justin sighed. He’d been hoping that Dane wasn’t going to be a topic of conversation anymore. “What do you mean?”
“Nothing. Never mind,” Brian murmured.
“Brian, what did you do?” Justin asked as a sinking feeling started in the pit of his stomach. He listened to Brian mumble something under his breath that he couldn’t understand. “What was that?”
“I said I might have gotten a little physical,” Brian replied a little more clearly.
“What? You hit him?” Justin exclaimed.
“No, I didn’t hit him. Thanks to Steve. I just kind of slammed him up against the wall and told him to stay away from you.”
“Brian, why would you do that? Dane’s your friend.”
“Not anymore he’s not,” Brian insisted.
“Look Justin, Dane may have been a friend of mine before, but after what he did, I don’t care if I never see him again. He hurt my family and family comes first.
Justin was touched by Brian’s declaration and decided not to push the issue anymore. “Thanks Brian. I appreciate that.”
“Hey, it’s the truth. You, me, Chris, and Zander; we’re a family here. We have to look out for each other, right?”
“Cool. Now let me run upstairs and change into a pair of shorts and then we can go swim a few laps, okay?”
Once Brian was gone, Justin sat at the table and enjoyed the warm feeling that Brian’s words gave him. After losing his parents, he wondered if he’d ever feel like he belonged somewhere again. Now after only one week in Arizona, he felt like he was home. He still missed his parents everyday, but the pain of their death was lessening thanks to Chris, Zander, and Brian. Getting up, he put both his cup and Brian’s in the dishwasher and rinsed out the coffeepot, making sure everything was in place before going to grab a few towels. He was just walking into the living room when the phone rang. He took a detour to answer it.
“Justin, it’s me.”
Justin froze. “What do you want?”
“Look, we need to talk,” Dane replied softly.
“No, we don’t. There’s nothing to talk about.”
“Come on, Jus. I’m sorry about last night. I just had too much to drink. It’s no big deal,” Dane said.
“No big deal? Are you out of your mind? You tried to force me to…”
“Oh, would you relax? I said I was sorry. Besides, I forgive you for kneeing me in the balls. Let’s just forget last night even happened.”
“You forgive me? Well, thank God for that. Maybe now I’ll be able to sleep at night,” Justin replied sarcastically. “Do me a favor, Dane. Forget you ever met me. I’m just a cock-tease anyway, remember?” Justin looked up to see Brian coming down the stairs. He didn’t even have a chance to hear Dane’s reply before he felt the phone being yanked out of his hand.
“Listen you asshole. If you call this number again, I’m not going to be responsible for what I do to you. Steve, Zac, and Trent may have saved your ass last night, but I guarantee they won’t be able to do it a second time.” Brian turned off the phone and threw it across the room, fighting the anger that was racing through his veins.
“The nerve of that asshole!” Brian exclaimed as he began pacing the room. “I can’t believe he would call here after what he did. Steve should’ve let me kick his ass last night in the first place.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Justin said as he laid a comforting hand on Brian’s arm. “It’s over now and I’d rather not think about Dane or last night.”
Brian looked closely at Justin, searching for signs of distress. When he was sure that there were none, he relaxed. “Alright, I’ll let it go for now, but if he’s dumb enough to call you back again, no one is going to stop me from finding him and beating the shit out of him.”
“Okay, I can live with that,” Justin laughed. “Now let’s go for that swim.”
“Lead the way, Blondie.”
The rest of the day went by quickly. Chris and Zander got home late in the afternoon and insisted on taking Brian and Justin out to dinner. They talked about the trip to Boston, and the actual radio show, and even about their upcoming trip. The only topic not discussed was Dane and what he had done. Zander asked Justin if he had seen him, but the look on both Brian and Justin’s face made him quickly change the subject.
Once they got home, the four of them watched a movie and took a late night dip in the pool before Brian and Justin went up to bed. They were still a little tired from staying up the night before, and since Brian had to work the next day, he wanted to get some sleep. They said goodnight in the hallway before going into their separate rooms. Brian easily fell asleep, but Justin didn’t. It was the first time he’d really been alone all day and his mind started running through the events of that morning. Waking up in Brian’s arms had been wonderful. It made him feel safe for the first time in a long time. The only downfall was Brian’s insistence that they were family. It was stupid. He liked thinking of himself as part of the family. It felt good to feel as if he belonged somewhere. No, the problem was that from the first moment Justin had laid eyes on Brian, he hadn’t been thinking about him in terms of family. He was pretty sure that family members didn’t lust after each other the way he was lusting after Brian. He really needed to get a grip. He was kind of hoping that being with Dane would keep his mind off of Brian, but obviously that wasn’t going to happen. He needed to find a way to stop his feelings, or at least bury them deep inside, where no one would see them. No one could find out what he was thinking or feeling. Brian was out of his league and Justin wasn’t about to make a fool out of himself by thinking otherwise.
Chris laid in bed with Zander in his arms, waiting for his heartbeat to return to normal. It still amazed him sometimes, that after eight years together, they still had the same passion, the same spark between them as they did when they first met. Every time was as exciting as the first time.
“Did you notice anything strange going on between Brian and Justin?” Zander asked, pulling Chris from his thoughts.
“You mean the way Justin seemed to get a little down and every time he did, Brian would be watching him carefully, looking really concerned?” Chris replied.
“So you noticed it, too? I wonder what happened while we were gone.”
“Well, whatever happened, it’s obvious that we aren’t supposed to know about it. Otherwise they would’ve told us. Do you think it’s something serious? I could go up and try to talk to Brian about it. If something’s bothering Justin, we should be told. The kid’s gone through enough shit in the last couple of months. He needs all the support he can get,” Chris said as he moved to get up.
“No, let it go for now. Other than the few times Justin grew distant, everything seemed to be alright. We’ll just keep an eye on him. I don’t want to go to Brian behind his back. He obviously feels comfortable enough with Brian to trust him. I don’t want to ruin that.”
“I guess you’re right,” Chris agreed. “I just hate not knowing what’s going on.”
“That’s because you always feel that you need to take care of everyone, and I love that about you, but sometimes you just need to let people deal with their problems on their own. Justin knows we’re here if he needs us.”
“Yeah, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to remind him of that. I think I’ll take him to the mall tomorrow and get him that cell phone we promised him. If he still seems off, I could casually ask him about it. He might open up to me if it’s just the two of us,” Chris suggested.
Zander once again realized how lucky he was to have Chris in his life. “I don’t know what I’d ever do without you.”
“Don’t worry, Blondie. You’ll never have to find out,” Chris said before taking Zander’s mouth in a heated kiss, showing his partner without words just how much he loved him.
End of part 12
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