Now That You're Here
Chris sighed and tightened his arms around Zander as he heard the front door close. “Good, now that they’re both home, we can relax.”
“Uh…I wouldn’t necessarily say that,” Zander replied hesitantly.
“What makes you say that?” Chris asked.
“From your reply, I take it you haven’t noticed the way Brian and Justin look at each other, have you?”
“What do you mean look at each other? How’re they looking at each other?” Chris demanded, his voice rising slightly.
“Like you and I used to look at each other before we hooked up, and keep your voice down,” Zander whispered.
“You mean…I’ll kill him.”
Zander couldn’t help but laugh. “Kill who? Will you settle down? You’re not killing anyone. I don’t even know for sure, but it seems that they’re slightly attracted to each other. Maybe it’s nothing. They’re both good looking guys. It could’ve just been innocent looking. Justin just got home from a date, remember?”
“Yeah, a date that caused Brian to storm out in what could be called a fit of jealousy,” Chris pointed out as he attempted to get out of bed. “I’ll kill him.”
“Okay Schwarzenegger, put your muscles away. We don’t know anything for sure and I’m not going to let you storm upstairs and embarrass them, making a fool out of yourself in the process. We’ll just keep a close eye on them and see what happens. Besides, if they are attracted to each other, there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” Zander said as he held on tightly to Chris.
“The hell there isn’t. I’m not going to let them stay upstairs together. They share a bathroom for Christ’s sake. God knows what they could be doing up there.”
Zander was all out hysterical by this point. “Right, and you think that if they didn’t share a bathroom, nothing would happen between them? Who are you kidding? If Brian and Justin want to have sex, you’re not going to stop them. Justin wouldn’t be the first one Brian’s had sex with in this house.”
“Shit, Chris, I thought we agreed that Brian was old enough to make his own decisions and we weren’t going to turn into his parents. You’re sounding awfully like a father to me,” Zander pointed out carefully. “I’m not saying who, and I’m not saying when, but I know for a fact that Brian has seen some action in this house.”
“How can you be so blasé about this? Don’t you even care?” Chris asked accusingly.
“Of course I care, but he’s seventeen years old. Remember what you were doing at seventeen?”
“We’re not discussing me,” Chris retorted.
“Of course not,” Zander laughed. “Look, we really don’t know what’s going on. I’m just going on an assumption here. Let’s give it some time before we get all worked up, okay? I might have been reading something that wasn’t there.”
“Fine,” Chris relented. “But if you’re right and something happens, I’m going to kill them both. And then I’m going to kill you for stopping me from killing them in the first place.”
“You wouldn’t kill me,” Zander replied confidently. “You love my ass too much.”
“Don’t be too sure of that, Blondie. Asses around here are a dime a dozen.”
“Maybe, but none of them fit your cock as perfectly as mine does. In fact, why don’t you lie back and let me prove my point?”
Chris did what he was told and as soon as Zander sank down on him, he groaned. “I guess you’re right.”
“Told you so,” Zander replied as he started moving back and forth, pushing all thoughts of Brian and Justin from their minds.
Justin locked up the house and nearly floated up the stairs. It had been a great night and he looked forward to hearing from Dane again and possibly getting a second date. Once he was in his room, he stripped down to his underwear and went in the bathroom to get ready for bed. Was it strange to not want to brush his teeth after sharing his first kiss with another guy? He laughed to himself as he grabbed his toothbrush and put toothpaste on it. He was just about to put it in his mouth when Brian’s door opened and they came face to face.
“Uh…sorry. I’ll be done in a minute,” he replied, forcing himself not to cover up like a school boy under Brian’s glare. It wasn’t like he hadn’t stripped down in the locker room at school surrounded by his friends.
“Did you have fun?” Brian asked, ignoring Justin’s obvious discomfort.
“Did you have fun with Dane?”
“Oh…yeah, we had a good time. He seems really nice,” Justin said.
“He’s not,” Brian replied.
“No, he’s not. He’s a virtual male slut. He’ll sleep with anyone and has no regard for other people’s feelings,” Brian told him.
“But Steve told me that you two were together for awhile.”
“We were. That’s how I know.”
“Are you still interested in him? Is that why you’re trying to scare me away? Cause if you are, I won’t see him again. I don’t want to get in the middle of anything.”
Brian thought about lying and telling Justin he was still interested, but then decided against it. The last thing he needed was for anyone to think he was still interested in Dane. He wasn’t all that interested when they were together. “No, that’s not it. I just think that you’re getting in over your head with him. I don’t want you to see him anymore.”
“You’re joking, right? Oh yeah, that movie was definitely a big step. If I stayed any longer, he would’ve had my ankles wrapped around my ears right there in the theater,” Justin replied sarcastically. “Look Brian, I appreciate your concern, but I’m perfectly capable of making my own decisions when it comes to Dane, or anyone else for that matter.”
“I know, I just don’t think…”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t really care what you think. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to brush my teeth and get to bed. It’s been a long day.”
Brian wasn’t sure what he was more shocked by. Justin’s comment about his ankles around his ears, or his brush off, but he backed up and closed the door, giving Justin the privacy he wanted. He fumed as he stormed to the bed and picked up the phone, calling the only person he could talk to.
“What is it, Kinney? I’m trying to sleep,” Steve grumbled.
“Do you know what he just said to me? He told me he doesn’t care what I think! Can you believe that?” Brian exclaimed as he paced his room.
“Yeah, actually I can. Half the time I don’t care what you think and I’m your best friend,” Steve replied with a chuckle as he sat up in bed. He knew by the tone of Brian’s voice that he wouldn’t be getting back to sleep right away.
“That’s not funny!”
“Alright, settle down. Tell me what happened,” Steve sighed. Then he sat there and listened to Brian’s version of what happened before commenting. “No wonder he told you he didn’t care what you think. I would’ve told you the same thing.”
“How can you say that?” Brian asked angrily.
“Think about it from his point of view for a minute. From what you’ve told me, Justin wasn’t even out back in Pittsburgh. He loses both of his parents and goes through a bunch of shit before finding a place with a cousin he doesn’t know and his family. He’s suddenly thrust into a new life, where he can be who he is without having to hide. On his first night in town he meets a nice guy who’s attracted to him. He goes out on his first date and when he gets home, you attack him and tell him not to see the guy anymore.”
“I didn’t attack him,” Brian replied indignantly.
“Bri, I know how you get when you’re not happy about something. I’m sure it sounded like an attack to him. I warned you to be careful. I knew something like this was going to happen. I suggest you wait until morning and apologize to him for sticking your big fat nose in where it doesn’t belong.”
“My nose is not fat,” Brian huffed.
“Fine, your thin nose. Whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that you were wrong to say anything to him in the first place. I hate to tell you this, my friend, but you’re going to have to sit back and let this play out however it goes, before you alienate him and make him feel like he has no one to talk to. If Dane screws up, like you think he’s going to, Justin’s going to need someone to turn to when he does.” Steve remained quiet after that, giving Brian time to think about what he said.
“So I’m supposed to just sit back and watch those two get cozy?”
“That’s right. Unless, of course, you decide to make a play for him yourself,” Steve added.
“I told you, I can’t…”
“I know, you can’t do that. I think you’re full of shit, but I’m not going to argue with you. Especially in the middle of the night. I’m not working tomorrow so I’ll swing by the store and take you to lunch. Okay?” Steve offered, hoping to be allowed to go back to sleep.
“Yeah, whatever. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Brian replied before hanging up the phone. He hadn’t liked what his friend was saying, but a part of him knew that he didn’t have a choice. Unless he could come up with a subtle way to come between Dane and Justin, he’d have to sit back and just wait to see what happened.
By the time Justin got out of bed the next morning, it was well after nine and he knew he was alone in the house. Chris had an out of town meeting to go to, and Brian and Zander were working at the store. Instead of jumping out of bed, he took a few moments to think back to the night before. The night of his first real date. Dane had been great, making him feel comfortable throughout the entire evening, and the kisses they shared; well, they were the best part of it all. Kissing Dane was nothing like kissing the few girls he had kissed back home. The feel of Dane’s smooth lips, mixed with the slight stubble on his upper lip and chin was an incredible turn on. He couldn’t wait until the next time. Of course, thinking about his date caused Justin to immediately think about Brian’s reaction when he got home. How quickly the high he was on was lost.
Justin had liked Brian from the moment they met, and was hoping that living together would help them become great friends, yet now he wasn’t too sure. He didn’t like feeling as if he was being attacked the night before, and he certainly didn’t like being treated like some immature kid. Maybe he had no experience being a gay teen, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t handle himself when it came to dating. As soon as he crawled into bed after his encounter with Brian, he was filled with a sense of loneliness that he’d hoped he'd be able to leave behind. Looking at the clock once again, he realized that it was already afternoon in Pittsburgh. He pulled himself out of bed and went downstairs to the kitchen, grabbing the phone off the wall on the way to the refrigerator. He dialed the number as he scrounged around, looking for something to eat. Sean answered on the second ring.
“Hey,” Justin replied, wondering if his lifelong friend would still recognize his voice. It had been weeks since they’d spoken.
“Justin? Is that you?”
“Yeah, it’s me. Sorry I haven’t been in touch lately,” Justin said.
“Hey, it’s okay. I know how hard things have been for you. How’re you doing, man?”
“I’m doing okay. Better than I was before,” Justin admitted.
“Cool, we’ve all been real worried about you, but Jason and I decided to give you some space. We figured you’d call us when you were ready,” Sean told him. “So, how’re things going with the Johnson’s? You know, I almost had my mom convinced that you would be better off moving in with us, but then my grandmother got sick and now Mom’s busy driving into Philadelphia three times a week to check up on her. I haven’t given up yet, though.”
Justin was immediately overcome with guilt. He moved away without so much as calling his friends to tell them. “Uh, listen, Sean. You don’t have to do that. I’m kind of…not living with the Johnson’s anymore. I moved to Arizona.”
“Arizona? When the fuck did you move there? And why the hell didn’t you tell anyone? I thought we were friends. Best friends. How could you leave and not even say goodbye? And what the fuck is in Arizona?”
“I’m sorry. Everything happened so fast and before I knew it, here I was. On Saturday, I got a visit from a cousin I don’t remember. Remember when I told you that my aunt and uncle didn’t want me? Zander’s their son, and apparently nothing like them. He flew in to ask me to move in with him. It’s just been so hard being in Pittsburgh, and there he was, offering me a chance to get away. I was on a plane first thing Sunday morning. Please don’t be mad at me. I would’ve said goodbye if I had more time. And it’s not that I wanted to get away from you and Jason or anyone. I just needed to get away from all those memories. I miss my mom and dad so much, and I thought if I went somewhere new, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much.” Justin struggled to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall.
“Shit,” Sean sighed, hating the anguish he heard in his friend’s voice. “You don’t have to apologize. If anything, I’m sorry for acting like a jerk. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to lose both of your parents, and mine aren’t nearly as cool as yours were. I just…it’s just a shock to hear that you’re gone, you know?”
“I know,” Justin replied. “I should’ve called you before I left. It really did happen quickly though, and I guess I wasn’t thinking too clearly. I mean, here I thought I was all alone in the world, with no family, and then Zander shows up. It was just a lot to take in.”
“Forget it. It’s in the past,” Sean said, changing the subject. “So, how’s Arizona?”
“It seems okay. My cousin lives with his…a roommate and his younger brother. Brian’s our age so at least I know someone around here. He took me out on my first night and introduced me to his friends. They seemed pretty cool. By the time school starts, at least I’ll know a couple of people,” Justin said, trying to sound hopeful, but the reminder of Brian left him feeling angry and confused. He still wasn’t sure why Brian was such an ass the night before.
“Uh…Justin?” Sean hesitated before saying what was on his mind. “You’re not going to let your new friends replace your old ones, are you?”
“Of course not,” Justin assured him immediately. “We’ve been friends forever. Nothing’s going to change that.”
“Good. I’d hate to have to fly to Arizona just to kick your ass,” Sean teased. “Hey, that’s a great idea.”
“What? Kicking my ass?”
“No, shithead. Flying to Arizona. Do you think your cousin would let you have company? My parents are planning a trip to Disney World, but if I ask them, I’m sure they’d let me go see you instead. You can show me around your new digs and maybe introduce me to some of your new friends.”
“Uh…I don’t know,” Justin replied, seeing the problems with Sean’s idea right away. He just couldn’t see himself introducing Dane to Sean as his boyfriend. If that was even what he was. Being out in Arizona was a lot different than being out to his friends in Pittsburgh.
“You don’t think he’d let you have friends visit? I mean, he seems cool if he was willing to take you in. What’s the harm in letting you have someone visit?”
“I’ll…have to ask him. Just let me give it more time. I’ve only been here a few days,” Justin said, stalling for time.
“That’s cool. I’m so excited. I’ve never been anywhere but here and Disney. It’d be cool to see something else for a change. I’ll talk to my mom as soon as she gets home.”
“Sean, maybe you should wait until I talk to Zander and see what he says,” Justin suggested.
“Don’t worry; I’m sure he won’t mind. And I’ll tell my mom that nothing’s definite. Shit, I better go. I’ve got to meet the guys down at the club. We’re life guarding there for the summer.”
Justin felt a twinge of longing when he heard of his friends’ plans. He should’ve been there with them. His parents should’ve been alive and he should’ve been living the life of a normal teenager. “Okay, I’ll give you a call later in the week.”
“Cool…and Justin? I’m glad you have someone looking out for you. We were all really worried about you.”
“Thanks, Sean. Tell the others that I’ll be in touch. Later.”
Justin hung up the phone and sighed at the predicament that he was in. How could he have Sean visit without telling him that his closest friend was queer? Shaking off those thoughts, he went upstairs and took a shower before planting himself in front of the computer. He needed to start setting things up so that he could build Zander’s website. Once all the necessary programs were installed on his new computer, he got to work on the layout for the main page, making a couple of different pages for his cousin to choose from. He really didn’t know what Zander had in mind and wanted to give him a few different options. It felt good to be doing what he loved again and he was glad that he decided to stay home alone. He was also glad to have something to keep him from stressing over Brian, Sean, and how he was going to handle the changes that were taking place in his life.
End of part 8
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