Now That You're Here


Chapter 3

A short time later, Zander and Justin were driving back to the Johnson’s so that Justin could pack some of his things. Zander had called Chris and had him purchase a plane ticket for Justin. It was decided that he would fly to Arizona the next day and Zander would arrange to have the rest of his things sent to him the following week. Justin was rather quiet on the drive back, trying to wrap his mind around all that had happened since he woke up that morning. It was a lot to take in.

“So it’s just you and Chris?”

“Actually Brian lives with us, too. He’s Chris’s younger brother and your age. He’s offered to show you around town and introduce you to some of his friends. I think you two will get along really well,” Zander assured him.

“Brian?” Justin asked nervously. “Does he…is he okay with…you know. You and Chris?” It was a stupid question. Obviously he was okay with them if he was living with them, but Justin couldn’t help but ask.

“As a matter of fact, he is,” Zander said with a smile. “Brian’s gay too, which is pretty ironic. Jack Kinney is the biggest homophobic bastard I know and he ended up with two gay sons.”

“Is that why Brian’s living with you? Because he’s gay?”

“Yeah, but I’d rather not share his story. It’s his to tell, but once you get to know him, I’m sure he’ll share it with you.”

“Is that why you haven’t spoken to your parents?”

“Actually, that has nothing to do with it. My parents didn’t even know I was gay when we had our falling out. I only told them as a final fuck you before I walked out of their lives.” Zander saw Justin’s curious glare and decided to share his own story. “My father’s always been overly impressed with himself. I don’t know what you know about him, but he started out with nothing and became a big financial success in his twenties. Instead of being grateful for what he had, he always wanted more. He had this idea of what his money and influence could buy him. My mother wasn’t any better. When I was growing up, they constantly badgered me on what they expected from their son. I’m not sure, but I think that was one of the things that he fought with your mother about. I remember one specific fight they had while Aunt Jen was pregnant with you. I was outside riding my bike and ran into a bush. I think I was around eleven at the time. I got myself pretty banged up. When my dad saw me he was furious. We were going to some kind of fundraiser that night and I was supposed to go with him. He ranted that he couldn’t take me out looking like a pauper. Aunt Jen ended up staying with me while they went out.”

“Looking like a pauper? You fell off your bike! You were just a kid!”

“I know, but he didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to be seen with a black eye. Anyway, he continued to harass me throughout my childhood. God forbid I got anything lower than an A on a test. I’d end up grounded in my room for weeks. You can imagine how hard it was for me when I realized that I was gay. Kevin Morgan would never tolerate having a gay son. Once I graduated from high school, I went off to Dartmouth just like he wanted. By that time, I didn’t care about where I went. I just wanted to get away from him. The plan was that I’d graduate with a degree in business so that I could join the family business. Like I said, I didn’t really care as long as I got out of his house. That all changed when I met Chris. I don’t know about him, but it was love at first sight for me. I was twenty-one and a junior then. He was twenty-seven at the time. He was from Arizona, but he was in New Hampshire staying with a friend while he worked on writing a novel. He was bartending at one of the local pubs to bring in a paycheck until he could sell some of his work. I found out later that he was staying with his friend while he found the courage to come out to his parents. Anyway, one thing led to another and I realized that I didn’t want to follow in my father’s footsteps. I didn’t want to work side by side with him. I couldn’t stand being in the same room with him. I wanted to tell him right away, but I knew that if I wanted to finish up with school and get my degree, I’d have to let him think I was happy with his choices for me. I planned to tell him the truth after graduation, but by then, Chris had come out to his parents and they disowned him. He was devastated. Not only because they refused to talk to him, but because they wouldn’t let him see Brian anymore. They wouldn’t even let him say goodbye to his own brother. Brian was ten at the time.”

“That must have been hard on him,” was all Justin could say as he listened to the horrible details of Chris and Zander’s life.

“Yeah, it was. He was so upset that he couldn’t even concentrate on his writing and there was nothing I could do to cheer him up. I decided to put off telling my parents about my decision. Instead I asked my father for a year off to travel before settling down in an office. He wasn’t happy about it, but I managed to convince him it would help me become more mature and ready to take on the responsibilities that he expected of me. He gave me access to a bank account he had opened for me and told me to have fun while it lasted because once I was under his employ, I’d have certain rules to follow. While he thought I was traveling around like an irresponsible playboy, I was actually helping Chris get over the pain of his parents’ ignorance. I convinced him to move back to Arizona so that he could be closer to his brother in hopes of getting in touch with him and when he asked me to go with him, I didn’t hesitate. Once my year was up, I flew home and sat down with my father. I told him that I had no desire to join the family business. I told him that I fell in love and was building a life in Arizona. He demanded that I leave my life behind and do what he said. What was expected of me. By that time I’d been with Chris for two years and there was no way I was walking away from him. When I refused to be intimidated by him and bow down to his wishes, he told me that I was no longer his son. My last parting comment was that he wouldn’t have wanted me by his side anyway. I told him I was a faggot and happily living with my boyfriend. I heard him screaming as I walked out of the house, but I never looked back. I tried calling my mother a few weeks later, but she refused to talk to me. That was the end of that. I anticipated his reaction so I withdrew what was left in my account before talking to him. I used that money and the business degree he paid for to open a bookstore in Sierra Vista and have been doing fine without him ever since. Chris and I have been together for eight years now and I don’t regret one minute of it.”

“Wow, I’m sorry you had to go through all that. It sounds like your father’s a real asshole,” Justin replied before realizing what he was saying. “I mean…I didn’t…”

“It’s okay, Justin,” Zander laughed. “I agree with you.” He thought about the way Brian called his parents assholes the other day and couldn’t help but smile. Brian and Justin seemed to think alike.

Justin and Zander spent the rest of the day packing Justin’s things. They put what Justin needed into two suitcases and boxed the rest up to be sent later in the week. Mrs. Johnson made dinner for everyone and they all sat around talking until almost ten o’clock. By then Justin was showing signs of fatigue and Mrs. Johnson insisted that Zander take him to the hotel for the night. She claimed it would be easier for them to catch their flight if he stayed at the hotel. Zander knew that she was using that as an excuse to say goodbye to him then instead of dragging it out until morning, but he didn’t say anything. He could see how sad she was to be losing her foster son and vowed to make sure Justin called her occasionally to say hello. They were settled into Zander’s hotel room by eleven. Justin immediately fell asleep, probably exhausted from the events of the day, but Zander was too wired to sleep. Instead he pulled out his cell phone and called Chris, wanting to hear his voice.

“Hey babe, how’d everything go?” Chris asked when he answered the phone.

“Good. Justin’s all packed. I told Mrs. Johnson I’d arrange to have someone pick up the rest of Justin’s things during the week. He doesn’t really have a lot. Just some mementos he took from his house before he was taken away. He left most of his other things behind. He said he didn’t want them.” Zander’s mind flashed to the sad teenager who quietly packed up his things earlier. “Shit, Chris, I feel so bad for him. He didn’t have parents like ours. His actually cared about him. Now they’re gone and he’s being moved around from house to house.”

“But he wants to come home with you, right?” Chris asked.

“Yeah, I think so. He said that he did,” Zander replied softly.

“Then he’ll be okay. We’ll make sure of that. Brian’s already told all his friends about the newest addition to our family. They’re planning a little get together at the river tomorrow night to welcome him,” Chris told him, hoping to ease his fears.

“That’s some brother you’ve got there,” Zander said, smiling to himself. Brian was the perfect little brother and hopefully just what Justin needed to help him fit in. “I miss you guys. I can’t wait to get home.”

“Are you sure you don’t want us to pick you up from the airport?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. I think it’ll be best if Justin and I just take a cab. I don’t want any awkward introductions at the airport. I’ll call you when we land though, so you know we’re on our way.” Zander heard Justin stirring in his sleep and glanced at the clock, surprised to see that it was almost one. “Speaking of which, I better get off the phone and get some sleep. I have an early morning flight to catch and I definitely don’t want to miss it.”

“Okay, I’ll let you go then. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow. Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Zander shut off his phone and climbed into bed, passing out moments later with a small smile on his face.

The flight to Arizona went by quickly without any complications. Justin was a little subdued through most of it, but Zander chalked it up to nerves and left him alone with his thoughts. He called Chris as soon as they got off the plane and let him know they were on the ground. After a quick stop at baggage claim, they walked outside and hailed a cab. It was a fifteen minute trip to the house and Zander watched Justin tense up more and more as they got closer.

“Hey, are you alright?” he finally asked.

“I guess I’m a little nervous,” Justin admitted shyly. “Do you think they’ll like me?”

“They’re gonna love you,” Zander assured him. “Brian especially. I think he likes the thought of living with someone who’s not old and uncool.”

Justin laughed at Zander’s reply. “You seem pretty cool to me,” he said softly.

“Thanks.” Zander flashed him a big smile. “I just hope you feel that way after you’ve been here for awhile.”

“I’m not making any promises,” Justin teased.

Zander laughed at Justin’s attempt at humor, enjoying Justin’s first smile of the day. As the cab pulled up outside the lavish Cape Cod, the front door flew open and Brian appeared, looking anxious and excited. He jogged over to the car just as Zander was climbing out and pulled the older man into a hug.

“It’s about time you got home.”

Zander hugged Brian back as he laughed. “I was only gone for two days. Was Chris that horrible while I was gone?”

“You have no idea. He’s been moping around trying to get himself invited to every place I went. That man needs a hobby,” Brian joked as he looked past Zander and his eyes rested on the gorgeous blond behind him. “Hey, I’m Brian.”

“Hi, I’m Justin,” Justin replied quietly. He wasn’t sure what he was more surprised about; Brian’s obvious love for Zander, or Brian himself. He didn’t remember ever seeing anyone so beautiful before.

Zander was immediately aware of a spark between Brian and Justin and for the first time since he received a call about his aunt and uncle, he began to wonder if moving Justin in with them was a good idea. He didn’t know how he and Chris would handle having two horny teenagers living in the same house if they were attracted to each other. “Okay, let’s get the bags in the house.”

“Why don’t you go in and say hello to Chris? I know you’re dying to. Justin and I can handle these,” Brian said with a smirk. Chris refused to come rushing out for fear of overwhelming Justin, but Brian knew he was waiting just inside the door for Zander. They hated being separated from each other for more than a few hours.

“Are you sure?” Zander asked as he looking at the house longingly.

“Zan, we’re seventeen, not seven. I think we can handle carrying in a couple of suitcases. Now go,” Brian demanded as he reached for one of the bags.

Justin watched Zander head inside, feeling a little self conscious being alone with Brian. Even though he’d admitted to himself and eventually his parents’ years ago that he was gay, he’d never acted on his desires. He was never really sure how to go about meeting other people like him, and although his mother had become a registered PFLAG member, he never really felt comfortable going to the meetings. Now he was suddenly thrust into a family that was entirely made up of gay men and he wasn’t sure how to react. Add to that his sudden attraction to Brian and he was scared to death. The sound of Brian’s voice coming from behind him caused him to nearly jump out of his skin.

“Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to scare you,” Brian apologized.

“That’s…that’s okay. I guess I wasn’t paying attention. What did you say?” Justin asked nervously.

“I said that we should go inside. I’ll show you to your room. The house is a Cape Cod which means that the only thing upstairs is two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a small hallway. That’s where we’ll be. Chris and Zander’s room is downstairs. It works out good if you’re looking for privacy,” Brian told him as they walked towards the house.

Once they were inside, Chris came forward, ready to meet their new housemate.

“Hi Justin, I’m Chris. Come on in and make yourself at home. Zander and I will show you to your room.”

“It’s okay, Chris. I’ll show him. You guys can go back to doing whatever it is you do in your room for hours after one of you has been away.”

“Brian! Stop making it sound like we’re sex fiends. You’re going to scare Justin,” Chris scolded before turning to Justin. “Don’t listen to him.”

“It’s…uh…okay. I don’t want to put anyone out or anything. Brian can show me where to put my things,” Justin replied.

Zander walked in then, unaware of what was transpiring. “Justin, follow me and I’ll show you to your room.”

“Don’t worry about it. The little shit volunteered to do it,” Chris said sarcastically.

“The little shit? Uh oh, Brian, what did you do?”

Brian looked at Zander innocently. “I don’t know what he’s talking about.” He saw the scowl on his brother’s face and knew he had to make a fast getaway. “Come on, Justin. Let’s go”

Justin looked back and forth between Zander and Chris before following Brian out of the room in confusion. He waited until they were walking up the stairs before asking any questions.

“Are you going to get in trouble now or something? Your brother looked mad.”

“Nah, he’s cool. I just like to tease him. About six months after I moved here I went out one night, but when I got halfway down the street I realized that I forget the cell phone Chris bought me so I came back to get it. I caught Chris and Zander in a compromising position and have been teasing them endlessly about it ever since. I mean, come on, I was only gone a few minutes. You’d think they could’ve at least waited until I was off the block.” Brian couldn’t help laughing at the memory. “That’s my room over there.” Brian pointed to the door on the right before turning left. “This one’s yours.”

Justin was surprised by the size of his new bedroom. It was bigger than the one he had at home, with a walk-in closet just waiting to be filled. He glanced at his two small suitcases and doubted he’d even make a dent. The room was painted a very light blue and had a queen size bed in the middle, covered in a deep blue duvet, and matching night tables on either side. There was also a long dresser along one wall with a large mirror attached to it. The other side of the room housed a decent size desk, equipped with a computer as well as a phone. On the fourth wall there was a door that was open slightly, giving Justin a glimpse of the bathroom. “This is all for me?”

“Home sweet home. Chris, Zander, and I cleaned it out and painted it before he flew east. Chris and I picked up the furniture yesterday after you agreed to move in. I hope you like it. It matches my room except for the color. My room is green.” Brian watched Justin look around the room in awe and couldn’t help but smile. He remembered how overwhelming it was to be treated so well by Chris and Zander in the beginning. “They’re really good guys. They’ll do anything to make us happy; within reason, of course. The bathroom is both of ours. We each have access to it from our rooms. We’ll just have to work out a system so we don’t walk in on each other during the wrong times. I haven’t had to worry about it since I’ve been the only one up here all this time.”

“I’m sorry. Do you want me to use the bathroom downstairs?” Justin asked nervously. He didn’t want to put anyone out because of his appearance.

“What? No, I didn’t mean it like that,” Brian said, feeling guilty over his choice of words. “Look, Chris and Zander asked me what I thought about you moving in here. I told them the same thing I’m going to tell you. You’re a part of this family. That bathroom is as much yours as it is mine. I want you here. We all want you here.”

“Thank you, Brian,” Justin whispered, overcome with emotion.

“Hey, no problem. Now why don’t you unpack and take a better look around? When you’re finished you can come out back. I’ll be in the pool.” Brian started to walk out of the room, but turned back to Justin from the doorway. “But if you’re tired, you might want to lay down for a bit. We have plans tonight.”

“We do?”

“Yeah, we do.”

Justin watched Brian walk away with mixed feelings. He wasn’t sure what he meant by plans for the night, but the last thing Justin wanted to do was make Brian feel like he had to drag him around and include him in his plans. He didn’t want to cramp the guy’s lifestyle by tagging along like a little brother. He was perfectly content to sit at home and watch TV or work on his sketches. Brian, Chris, and Zander had done more than enough for him already. He was just happy to finally have some family again.

End of part 3


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