Now That You're Here


Chapter 29


Brian was sitting at one of the outside tables, listening to Steve, Matt and Trent laughing with each other and couldn’t help the smile that came across his face. He was so lost in thought that he never noticed Chris sit down across from him.

“What are you thinking about?”

“Huh?” Brian asked as he focused on his brother. “Oh, sorry. I was just watching everyone and thinking about how lucky I am to have such good friends.”

“Yeah, you are very lucky,” Chris agreed as his gaze swept the backyard before refocusing on his brother. “Listen, I didn’t get a chance to talk to you earlier, but I wanted to apologize for yesterday. You and Justin being together seems to bring out the worst in me, but I want you to know that it’s not you and him together as much as the complications surrounding our living situation. Hey, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Justin Taylor and if he was living across town, I’d be pushing you guys together. I just don’t want to see you get into a bad situation and not be able to get out of it because you share a bathroom. You may think you’re in love now, but most people don’t end up with their first love and not everyone finds a way to remain friends after a break up. We’re family, Justin included. Regardless of what happens between you, that doesn’t change. I’m not going to cut Justin out of my life if he happens to break my little brother’s heart. He’s here to stay, and I know Zan feels the same way about you. Just promise me that you’ll be careful.”

“I promise,” Brian assured him. “And believe me, Justin and I have already had this discussion. No matter what happens, we’ll find a way to stay friends if we break up. Like you said, we’re family. We have to stick together. Oh, speaking of my favorite blond…”

Justin walked up and took a seat alongside Brian, his eyes going back and forth between the brothers. “Is everything okay here?”

“Yes, everything’s fine. I’ve just apologized to Brian and I want to apologize to you, too. As long as you follow those simple rules we set up, I promise to stay out of your relationship,” Chris said. “Now I’d better get back to the grill before Zan comes over and drags me away.”

“Well, that wasn’t what I expected,” Justin said as he watched Chris walk away.

“I knew he’d come around eventually. He’s not normally such an ass, but when he is, he gets over it quickly,” Brian told him. “Where’s Jason?”

“He’s upstairs getting dressed. He spent most of the afternoon finishing up the work that his teachers emailed him so that he’s ready to go back to school on Monday. He should be down soon. I hate thinking about him leaving tomorrow. Who knows when I’ll see him again?”

“Maybe the next trip should be you flying back to Pittsburgh?” Brian suggested.

“I don’t know about that. I’m not sure that I want to go back. Jason’s the only one I’ve kept in touch with since I left. I don’t think I want to go back and open up those wounds again. Besides, Jason likes it out here, especially with the cold weather approaching. Do you have any idea what a Pittsburgh winter is like?”

“Well, it’s up to you. But just so you know, I’d be willing to go with you if you ever felt the need to go back home,” Brian told him.

“Babe, I am home. Being with you is home. Everything I want is right here. I’m not going anywhere,” Justin said and then kissed Brian soundly.

Jason walked up just as Brian and Justin were pulling apart. “Quit it, you two,” he teased. “Some of us haven’t found Mr. or Miss Right yet and don’t want to watch happy couples drooling all over each other. Do either of you need anything?”

“Jas, we’re not invalids. We can get up and get whatever we need,” Brian replied. “And right now what I need is another kiss from Blondie.” Unfortunately that kiss never came because Zac showed up with Dane by his side. Steve was the first person to come forward.

“Uh Zac, what is he doing here?”

“Look Steve, it’s not Zac’s fault,” Dane began. “I heard about the accident and was worried, so I’ve been calling Zac all week for updates. He happened to let it slip that he was coming over here, so I showed up at his house and followed him here. He asked me not to, but…look, I know I fucked up and you guys hate me now and that sucks. But none of that changes my history with Brian or my feelings for him. I needed to see for myself that he was okay.”

Justin could see the concern in Dane’s face and knew he’d been really worried. Suddenly their past didn’t matter. Life was too short to hold grudges, whether they were deserved or not. “Dane, I’m going to go get myself something to drink. You want anything?”

“Um, no. That’s okay, but thanks Justin,” Dane replied, hesitantly.

Justin stood up and leaned down, kissing Brian quickly before whispering in his ear. “I think it’s about time to forgive him and move on, don’t you?” And then he walked away.

Dane waited while everyone followed Justin to the other side of the yard before sitting down at the table opposite Brian. “Hey, how’re you feeling?”

“Better than I was,” Brian replied softly.

“Good,” Dane said before continuing. “Look, Brian, I am so sorry about what happened this summer. I know it’s no excuse, but I was pretty messed up. I was just dealing with some family shit, and instead of talking to someone about it, I started trying to drink away my problems. I never meant to hurt Justin. I really liked him and wanted to get to know him. Not that it would’ve mattered since you guys are obviously together. I never would’ve stood a chance up against you. But I really am sorry. You have to know that I would never hurt anyone. Not intentionally.”

Brian thought for a moment. He had been ready to kill Dane back when he tried forcing himself on Justin, but again, after almost losing his life in an accident, nothing seemed as simple as it was before. It was obvious that Justin was ready to forgive Dane. Maybe it was time that he did, too. “You ever do something like that again, with anyone, and I find out about it…well, let’s just say that nobody will have the strength to hold me back a second time.”

“You got it, Buddy, but there’s nothing to worry about. I gave up drinking and started seeing a shrink twice a month. I’m going to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, I promise.” Dane got up and walked around to Brian, taking him in his arms. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered.

“I’ve missed you, too,” Brian replied as he returned the hug.

Justin was watching from the distance with a smile on his face when Jason walked up behind him. “Who is that? I don’t think I’ve met either of them.”

“Well, the guy hugging Brian is Dane. You remember me telling you about him, don’t you?”

“The shit who tried to…”

Justin grabbed Jason’s arm as he started walking towards Dane and Brian. “Stop it, big guy. It was ages ago and it’s time to put it in the past. The other guy is Zac. I believe he was out of town when you were here last time. In fact, come on and I’ll introduce you.” Justin took Jason’s hand and led him over by the pool where the rest of the guys were standing, watching Brian and Dane closely. Zac saw them approaching first.

“Justin, I really am sorry about this. He heard what happened and stopped me in the hall Tuesday morning. He seemed really upset so I told him what was going on. He started checking in with me so I just gave him updates. I didn’t know he was going to follow me here, or that he’d have the nerve to actually come in.”

“Relax, Zac, it’s okay. I’m so over what happened between the two of us. I told Brian that I think it’s time to forgive him and move on. Life is way too short to hold grudges. I wanted you to meet Jason. He’s a good friend from Pittsburgh. Jas, this is Zac.”

Justin watched with a smirk as Zac slowly raked his eyes over Jason from head to toe before holding out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Jason replied hesitantly.

Steve seemed to notice the attraction as well. “So, Jason, when are you flying back?”

“Huh? Oh, um…tomorrow,” Jason said.

“Tomorrow?” Zac’s disappointment was evident in his tone. “Well then why don’t we go have a seat and get to know each other before you go?”

Justin couldn’t hold back his laugh as he watched Zac and Jason walk away. He and Brian had talked about introducing the two of them ever since learning that Jason had an attraction to guys. Their reason was so Jason could talk to someone who knew how it felt to be attracted to both sexes. It never occurred to either of them that there would be an attraction between Zac and Jason. He couldn’t wait to hear Brian’s reaction.

“Hey, isn’t your friend Jason straight?” Steve asked in confusion.

“Well, as it turns out, he might have more in common with Zac than we originally thought,” Justin chuckled.

“Oh no, not another one,” Steve groaned.

Justin laughed harder. “I’m not exactly sure yet. He and I have been talking a lot lately about his attraction to guys, but he’s never acted on it. In fact, he’s been getting pretty close to a girl back home.”

“Maybe he’s just afraid to admit to being gay. Do you think he could just be trying to hide in the closet?”

“No, that’s not it. His aunt is a lesbian and he’s been around gay people his whole life. He really just hasn’t had a chance to explore this other side of him yet. Although it looks like Zac might be willing to help him out with that,” Justin said. “Damn, I wish he wasn’t going home tomorrow. This could be fun.”

“You’re a nut,” Steve teased as he ruffled Justin’s hair. “Now let’s go over and see what Brian and Dane are talking about. I’m willing to forget what happened if you guys are, but it doesn’t mean that I’m ready to trust that shithead yet.”

“Hey, I said we should forgive him. I never said anything about trusting him.”

The barbecue had been fun, but considering that Brian and Justin were still recovering from their accident, it didn’t last too long. They were both shooed upstairs while Chris, Zander, Jason, and the gang hung back to clean up. It was fine with them. As much as they each hated to admit it, they were completely exhausted. Justin helped Brian into the shower and then stayed close by in case he was needed. Once Brian was out, Justin took his own shower and then joined Brian in his room. The sound of car doors slamming told Justin that people were leaving. He walked to the window and looked outside, somewhat surprised by what he saw.

“What are you looking at?” Brian asked as he walked up behind his favorite blond.

“That,” Justin replied as he pointed down to the two figures kissing by Zac’s truck.

“Well, I guess Jason and Zac really did hit it off.”

“Apparently,” Justin laughed. “Although it sucks that Jason’s flying back to Pittsburgh tomorrow.”

“I’m sure he’ll be back. Maybe now he’ll have even more of a reason to visit,” Brian pointed out.

“I don’t know about that. It’s not like they’re going to suddenly be in a relationship. They practically live on opposite sides of the earth.”

“Jus, Pittsburgh’s not quite that far away,” Brian laughed. “Well, whatever they decide to do, at least Jason has someone to talk to who can understand him.”

“Yeah, at least he has that,” Justin agreed. “Now let’s get you into bed. I have a feeling that Jason might want to talk when he gets in. Did you take your medicine?”

“Yes, Dad,” Brian teased as he walked over and slowly climbed into bed. He made himself as comfortable as possible and then propped himself up on one arm. “Come give me a kiss.”

Justin leaned down and kissed Brian gently, forcing himself to keep his desire to deepen the kiss to himself. Until they were both further down the road to recovery, they needed to keep things between them G-rated. Not an easy task when Brian made his heart race just by walking into a room. When Justin heard a low groan coming from Brian, he knew it was time to pull away. Brian was not pleased.

“Damn it, Jus. There’s got to be something we can do that won’t hurt us,” he pleaded.

“There is. It’s called waiting until we’re healed. Now get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Brian mumbled.

Justin turned out the light and walked to the door before turning back around. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Brian replied tenderly. He laid his head back and was asleep in seconds.

Justin climbed into his own bed, wondering where he got the strength to keep turning Brian down. There were too many times where he wanted to throw caution to the wind, but just thinking about Brian getting hurt seemed to be enough to keep his head on straight. His own shoulder was still sore, but he was pretty sure that he could manage some careful fooling around, but he’d never let Brian know that. Then he’d suddenly be fighting a losing battle. He made himself comfortable and waited about twenty more minutes before Jason walked through the door.

“So, it looks like you and Zac hit it off tonight,” he said as his friend started preparing his bed.

“Um…yeah. He seems pretty cool,” Jason said casually, without turning to face Justin.

“Yeah, he is cool. But I have a question for you.”

“Oh yeah? What?”

“How’s he taste?”

“What?” Jason exclaimed as he finally looked over at his friend, growling at the smirk on his face. “You saw us.”

“Silly me. I just happened to look out the window and there you were. You know, if you didn’t want anyone to see you, maybe you shouldn’t have been swapping spit right in front of the house,” Justin teased.

Jason blushed to his toes. “It’s not like I was trying to hide. I mean…I didn’t really think about it. In fact, I didn’t expect him to kiss me.”

“Are you sorry he did?” Justin asked.

“Oh hell no,” Jason replied quickly. “That was…I mean, he’s…wow.”

“You’re very articulate tonight. Did Zac kiss you stupid?” Justin teased.

“Ha ha.” Jason stuck his tongue out at Justin in a very childish manner before becoming serious. “Um, did Brian see us?”

“Yeah, I was with him when I saw you.”

“Shit, I remember you mentioning that he and Zac used to have a thing. Is he going to be mad?” Jason asked nervously.

Justin smiled at his friend. “Relax, he’s fine with it. Their thing was that they were friends who used to hook up occasionally when neither one of them were involved with anyone. It wasn’t a constant thing and it meant nothing. Believe me, Brian and I had a long talk about it when he and I first got together.”

Jason’s serious look quickly turned into a goofy grin. “Good.”

“So, how was it? You know, how did it feel to kiss a guy for the first time?”

“It was good,” Jason said as he stared off into space. His grin widened. “Yeah, it was really good.”

Justin giggled. “You’re too cute. So, what’s next?”

“I don’t know,” Jason said as his grin faded. “We swapped numbers. He said he wanted to get to know me better, but with the distance…I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“Yeah, the distance is going to suck. I guess you’ll just have to play it by ear. It’s not like long distance relationships aren’t possible. What about Alyssa?”

“There really isn’t anything going on with us. I mean, I thought we were headed in that direction, but it hasn’t gotten anywhere yet. I was going to ask her to the Halloween dance at school, but I don’t think I will now. I may not know what’s going to happen between Zac and me, but I know that regardless of the outcome, I want to explore my attraction to guys more. It wouldn’t be right to lead Alyssa on.”

“Well, I hope things work out the way you want them to. You know that you’re welcome to fly out here anytime you want. After coming out and helping like you did, Chris and Zan would probably let you move in if you asked,” Justin replied, only half teasing.

“Thanks, I was just glad I could be here to help,” Jason replied honestly. “The week went by really quick though, didn’t it? I can’t believe I have to go home tomorrow.”

“I know. Maybe you can come back for a few days over winter break.”

“I’ll have to talk to my parents and see what my finances are. Maybe I’ll ask for a plane ticket for Christmas,” Jason laughed.

“Perfect,” Justin smiled and the yawned. “I think I need to go to sleep.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Justin waited until Jason was settled in his bed before turning out the light. “Good night, Jas.”

“Night, Jus.”



It was four weeks after the accident before Brian made it back to Megan’s office. He was feeling much better and ready to talk about his feelings since that night.

“Well, Brian, I have to say that I’m thrilled to see you. When your brother’s partner called to cancel your appointment and I learned of the accident, I was very worried about you,” Megan said as soon as they took their seats.

“Thanks. As you can see, I’m doing okay.”

“And Justin?”

“He’s fine, although he’s been having nightmares lately. I think our accident on top of the one that killed his parents is getting to be too much for him. I’ve been trying to get him to talk to someone, but he won’t listen.”

“One of my colleagues is a great grief counselor. If you get him to agree, call the office and ask to have an appointment with Dr. Mitchell. He’ll be able to help,” Megan replied. “Now, on to you. How have you been feeling?”

“Well, my jealousy of Justin is completely gone?”

“Oh yeah? And why is that, do you think?”

“I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with realizing how short life is. I almost died a month ago, and Justin could’ve easily died too. It terrifies me to even think like that, but it’s true. Who cares if he’s got his act together more than I do or if he’s finding his way in life while I’m still struggling? The only thing that matters is that he’s here with me and that he loves me as much as I love him.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that. What everyone in this world needs to understand is that having money, a career you love, stunning good looks, whatever it is; it just doesn’t matter if you don’t have people to share it all with. Friends, family, a connection with other people are all anyone really needs.”

“Yeah, I see that now,” Brian said and then took a breath before continuing. “Which is why I think I want to go back and talk to my parents.”

“Okay, that came out of left field. The last time we spoke about them you insisted that you wanted nothing to do with them.”

“I know,” Brian sighed. “I just…I started thinking about them when I was in the hospital. I couldn’t help but wonder how they would’ve reacted to hearing that I had been in a coma, you know? Would the possibility of me dying make them see how wrong they were? I’ve actually reached for the phone a few times to call them since I’ve been home…”

“But you didn’t call,” Megan stated. “Why not?”

“I guess I’m just not ready to be rejected by them again,” Brian admitted softly. “You know, when I figured out that I was gay, I knew there were going to be people who would hate me for who I was. I just never imagined it would be my own parents. I want to know why. Hell, I want to know how. I want them to tell me how anyone could raise two sons and then turn their back on them because of something that they have no control over.”

“So, you want to go back for answers? What happens if you don’t get them?”

“Nothing. I’ll just go along like I have been. And I’m okay with that. I have Chris and Zander, not to mention Justin. I don’t need their love or approval anymore,” Brian insisted.

“Are you sure about that?” Megan asked carefully.

“So, you don’t think I should go see them?”

“Truthfully Brian? I know I’m supposed to be the expert here, but I don’t know what you should do. I don’t know if there’s anything that would make your parents change their views, and as your therapist, I don’t want to see you hurt even more by them. I’ve spent the last few years listening to all of your self-hatred and doubt and insecurities, all brought on by those two people. You’ve come a long way since our first session. I’m usually all for families working through their problems, but I’m not sure reconciliation is possible in this case,” Megan admitted. “But it’s not my decision to make and whatever you choose to do, I’ll be here if you need me. Just do me a favor and think about it a little more. Maybe even talk to Chris about it before making your final decision, okay?”

“Yeah, okay.”



When Brian got home he walked into an empty house. He smiled when he thought about to his first few sessions with Megan over the summer. Back then, there was always someone at home waiting for him. His emotional reaction to therapy was pretty severe back then and even though he chose to be alone afterwards, someone was always close by in case he needed it. He’d come a long way since then and was proud of his accomplishments. He really wished he knew if going back to Bisbee was the right thing to do. Glancing at the clock, Brian saw that it was almost time for Justin to get home. After serious debate, they’d both agreed that Justin quitting the swim team was not an option. He enjoyed the activity too much. Although it took some time for his shoulder to heal, and he still had some stiffness that he was trying to work out, he hadn’t missed a practice since his return to school after the accident; even if it meant sitting on the sidelines and cheering his fellow teammates on.

Brian hadn’t been as lucky. He’d had some minor complications after his surgery that weren’t life threatening, but caused the doctor to order him away from the soccer field for the remainder of the season. Brian didn’t mind too much, though. He had the yearbook to occupy his time and his doctor didn’t object to him carrying around a camera and notepad. He ran upstairs and changed into sweats before heading to the kitchen to start dinner. Zander was the first one home.

“Hey, Bri, how was your session?”

“It was good. You’re home early. I guess Katherine is working out pretty good.”

“Yeah, she’s great. I wanted to give her a few more days before leaving her to close alone, but she insisted that she could handle it. Stacy’s going to swing by around eight and check on her,” Zander explained as he poured himself a glass of wine.

“Cool. I can’t believe that business is so good that you needed to hire someone else. That’s got to be a great feeling.”

“It is,” Zander admitted. “It’ll also make it easier for me to take off in case I want to go out of town with your brother. With your schedule these days, finding any real time off would’ve been hard.”

“Zan, you know we would’ve worked something out. You definitely deserve to take off now and then if you want to,” Brian replied. “Hey, can you do me a favor and go start the grill? I’ve got chicken marinating in the fridge.”

“Sure, just let me get changed first.” Zander reached out and snatched a piece of cucumber that Brian was slicing for the salad on his way out of the kitchen.



Later that night, Justin was just getting out of the shower when Brian walked into the bathroom without knocking.

“Uh…excuse me. I’m in here,” Justin said as he quickly wrapped his towel around his waist. It seemed stupid considering Brian was his boyfriend, but Justin still felt shy around him when it came to his body. After that first mind-blowing blow job, they had agreed to slow things down a bit. Then the accident happened and now they had certain rules to follow. Add a really hectic school/activity/work schedule into the mix and they really hadn’t spent much time alone. So maybe it was weird that Justin could comfortably change in a locker room filled with teenagers, but still be shy around Brian. Then again, those teenagers didn’t look at him like Brian did. Their eyes didn’t grow dark with lust; their eyes didn’t roam over every inch of his body with an obvious hunger in them. “Bri?”

“Huh?” Brian mumbled before he realized he was staring. He shook his head to push away the x-rated thoughts that seeing Justin’s wet, naked body conjured up. “Oh sorry. Um, don’t make plans for Saturday night.”

“Okay, what’s up?”

“I think it’s about time for us to go on a proper date,” Brian said.

“A proper date?”

“Yeah, you know. Dinner and a movie. Parking somewhere and making out like the teenagers that we are. It’s been quite awhile since it was just the two of us and I miss you,” Brian explained.

“I miss you, too,” Justin replied, feeling somewhat choked with emotion. He’d never get tired of hearing Brian say that he missed him…or that he loved him. “I’m all yours on Saturday.”

“Cool. Now give me a kiss so I can get into bed. I was up until three o’clock this morning cramming for a test and I’m exhausted. I need to get some sleep.”

“Lucky you. I’ve got some work to do on Zan’s website and a history test tomorrow. I’m actually waiting for Matt to stop by so we can go over our notes and make sure we have what we need.” Justin reached up and wrapped his arms around Brian’s neck, pulling him down for the requested kiss. It was meant to be brief, but as soon as Justin felt Brian’s hands yank off his towel and start kneading his ass, he let out a soft moan and deepened the kiss.

Brian knew better. He knew that he and Justin had to keep their cool in the house, especially when Chris and Zander were home. Yet the moment his lips touched Justin’s, he couldn’t help but want more. Knowing that the only thing separating him from Justin’s body was a simple bath towel, Brian wasted no time in pulling off the offending material and allowing his hands to roam freely over Justin’s heated flesh. Hearing Justin release a moan as he deepened the kiss didn’t help Brian gather his common sense. Instead it caused his cock to thicken even more. He lifted Justin up and spun around, depositing the blond on the counter and placing himself between Justin’s legs. He brought one of his hands around and grabbed Justin’s leaking cock. He was so lost in the building passion that he almost didn’t hear the voice coming from the doorway to Justin’s room.

“Um…I knocked. I guess you guys didn’t…um…hear me,” Matt stammered from the doorway, causing the two teens to pull back in horror.

“Shit!” Justin exclaimed as he hopped off the counter and reached for his discarded towel, quickly covering up his hard cock. “Sorry Matt, we were just…”

“Yeah, I saw what you were doing,” Matt chuckled.

“Has anyone ever told you that you have lousy timing?” Brian asked as he straightened his sweats, not even bothering to try to conceal his hard on. He’d been friends with Matt for years and despite the awkward position they’d been caught in, he wasn’t embarrassed. Justin, on the other hand, was sporting a lovely shade of red.

“No, actually no one has ever told me that before,” Matt replied. “Just be thankful that it was me, not your brother. Aren’t you guys under some kind of rules about what you can and can’t do while in the house? Somehow I doubt that what I just saw was on your can do list.”

“It’s not, and I’m so sorry,” Justin said as he brushed past both Brian and Matt and entered his room. He went to his dresser and pulled out a pair of shorts, quickly slipping them on under his towel. He grabbed an old t-shirt and put that on too before turning back to face Matt again. “I’m so embarrassed. We don’t normally…I mean, we’re not…this was…”

“Relax Justin; it’s really not a big deal. I have to say I was a little surprised to find you two like that, but it’s cool. It would’ve been cooler if you were two girls going at it hot and heavy like that, but I can deal. Are you ready to go over those history notes now?”

“Um…yeah,” Justin replied. “Bri, I’ll uh…”

Brian walked over and placed a soft kiss on Justin’s lips. “Yeah, I’ll see you in the morning. Love you.”

“Love you too,” Justin said softly as he watched Brian walk away.

Matt watched the exchange between the two teens and then saw the way Justin's eyes never left Brian until he was completely gone from sight. “You really love him, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do. He means everything to me,” Justin replied honestly. “Now about those notes.”

End of chapter 29

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