A Golden Opportunity



Author's Note:  Thanks to Tina for the plot bunny.







“Cut; that’s a wrap,” the director called out after the tenth take on the final scene.

“It’s about fucking time,” Brian replied, glaring at the incompetent, second rate actor he played opposite during the filming.

“Brian,” Cynthia warned, using the tone that only Brian understood. Aside from being his manager, she was also one of his closest friends and knew his moods as well as her own.

Brian shut up, walking off the set and heading towards his dressing room, knowing that Cynthia would be following him. He walked in the room and hit the shower, standing under the hot spray, trying to wash away the stress from the last six months. He had agreed to star in the film as a favor to one of the directors, but hated every minute of it. Now it was over and he would finally be able to take that vacation that he’d been looking forward to. Once the water ran cold, he wrapped a towel around his waist and joined Cynthia, who was waiting for him.

“Brian, we need to talk,” she said as he entered the room.

“Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like whatever it is you have to say?” Brian replied as he poured himself a glass of beam.

“Listen; just hear me out, okay?”

Oh no, he know he wasn’t going to like what she had to say. “Go ahead, I can’t wait,” he said dryly.

“I spoke with Kevin earlier today,” she started.

Brian immediately knew what was coming next. Kevin Baker was one of the top independent film directors of the decade and a good friend of Cynthia’s. He knew exactly what he had said.

“Cyn, I told you before that I was going on a long vacation after this,” Brian reminded her.

“I know Brian, but just listen to me. The roll is perfect for you. I wouldn’t even ask if it wasn’t. The film is called “One More Night” and is about a gay man whose lover just died of AIDS. He’s positive and after he watches the man he loves die, he decides to end his life while he’s still healthy. Before taking his own life he goes out to spend one more night on the town, but meets someone who changes his whole outlook and ends up wanting to live. I really think you should take this one. I promise that after it’s over, you can take your vacation; I won’t even try to stop you.”

Brian had to admit that the film sounded intriguing. Gay films were beginning to make an appearance all over the world lately and Brian felt an obligation to help them along, wanting to do what he could for his community.

“How long do they predict the shooting to last?”

“About three months, if all goes well. The rest of the cast has been set; they just haven’t been able to find their leading man. I tried to hold them off, but Kevin’s anxious to get things moving,” Cynthia explained.

“Fine, have them send over a script and I’ll read it. I’m not promising anything, though,” Brian replied.

“I just happen to have one right here. I’ll leave it with you and you can call me later tonight and let me know what you think. Thanks Brian, I appreciate it,” Cynthia said as she handed the script over.

“Don’t thank me just yet. I haven’t agreed to anything,” Brian said to Cynthia’s retreating back as she walked out of the dressing room.

Brian finished getting dressed and headed back to his condo in one of the nicer sections of LA. He ordered some Chinese food and once it arrived he settled down and began reading. After about the third act, he reached for the phone.

“Hello?” Cynthia answered.

“When does filming start?”

“In three weeks. Does this mean you’re going to do it?”

“Yeah, but this is the last one. After this, I’m going on vacation whether you like it or not,” he stated sternly.

“Deal. Oh, and Brian? You might want to give Ben a call,” she suggested cautiously.

“Oh? And why is that?” Brian asked.

“Because the film is being shot on location in Pittsburgh. Thanks again Brian,” Cynthia said hanging up quickly before she had a chance to hear Brian’s angry words.

“That bitch!” Brian called out to the empty condo.



Justin just finished his shift at the diner and finally made his way over to the guys who were occupying their usual table in the back.

“Hey Boy Wonder, how’s it going?” Michael asked with affection.

“Okay, I guess. I really wish I could find a better paying job though. No offense to Debbie, but I need more money to make it through the next semester without having to spend all my free time working,” Justin replied.

“Have you been looking?” Ben asked.

“Yeah, but with the tips I make there doesn’t seem to be anything that will pay me more than what I’m making here,” Justin sighed in frustration.

“What does Ethan say?” Michael asked, trying to keep the disgust out of his voice. He wasn’t sure why, but he never liked the musician that Justin hooked up with.

“He thinks I should just give up my job completely and let him support me, but that’s not an option. He barely supports himself and I like having my own money,” Justin explained.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure something will turn up soon,” Michael tried to assure him.

Justin hoped that Michael was right. As they all sat around talking about the latest gossip, Justin couldn’t help but think about his life. Three years earlier he had been ready to run out in front of a bus and end it all. His father had kicked him out after finding out he was gay and he had no where to turn. He found his way to Liberty Avenue and ended up meeting Michael. There had been no attraction on either part, but Michael had liked him immediately and once he found out what had happened to the blond, he had taken Justin to his mother and he had been part of the family ever since. He had lived with Michael’s mother Debbie and her brother Vic up until six months ago when he had moved in with his boyfriend Ethan. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a ringing cell phone.

“Oh, that’s mine,” Ben said as he pulled his phone from his pocket. “Hello?”

“Hey Ben.”

“Brian? Hey, how’ve you been? I haven’t talked to you in ages,” Ben said as he got up from the booth to take the call in private.

Michael watched him go, smiling at the way Ben seemed to light up.

“Who’s Brian? Ben seems awful happy to hear from him,” Justin pointed out.

“That’s Brian Kinney. He and Ben grew up together and have been best friends for years. Ben hardly ever hears from him so when he does you’d think that it was the president or something,” Michael chuckled.

“Brian Kinney? The actor?” Justin asked in awe.

“Yeah. I’ve never met him before but Ben talks about him all the time. I feel bad that they never get a chance to see each other.”

Justin nodded in agreement, thinking about the films he had seen with the out and proud actor playing the lead. The man was absolutely gorgeous and a frequent star in many of Justin’s jerk off fantasies. What he wouldn’t give to meet the man in person.



“So buddy, what are you up to these days? I read about the latest film you’ve been working on. How’s that going?”

“We wrapped it up a couple of days ago. That’s actually why I’m calling. I just signed on for one more project before taking a much over due vacation and we’re shooting on location in the Pitts,” Brian explained.

“Really? That’s great! We haven’t seen each other in like what? Five years?” Ben replied, thrilled by his friends news.

“Yeah, something like that. Filming starts in three weeks, so I need a favor.”

“All you have to do is ask,” Ben said.

“I’m going to be there for about three months and I’m going to need some help; a personal assistant to not only be on the set, but also help me around town. Do you know of anyone who’s looking for some extra money? I’m willing to pay through the nose for someone competent.”

Ben looked over to where Justin was sitting talking to Michael, and knew he would be perfect for the job. “Actually, I think I have the perfect person for the job. Give me a little time to talk to him and I’ll get back to you.”

“Thanks Ben; I knew I could count on you. Now I’ve got to run. The Advocate is doing an article on gay actors, and I’ve agreed to give them the next thirty minutes of my time,” Brian laughed.

“You’re all heart, Brian. I’ll call you later tonight and let you know. It was great hearing from you and I’m looking forward to having you here.”

“Later, Ben.”

Ben disconnected his phone and made his way back to the table.

“Hey Ben, how’s your friend doing?” Michael asked as Ben sat back down next to him.

“He’s doing really well. He’s just agreed to work on a film being shot here in Pittsburgh so it looks like you’ll finally get to me him,” Ben replied, unable to hide his excitement.

“Brian Kinney is going to be in Pittsburgh?” Justin asked incredulously.

“Yeah, and he’s asked me to find him a personal assistant for the three months he’s here,” Ben replied casually, enjoying the reaction Justin was having to Brian. “Weren’t you just saying that you needed to find another job?”

“Me? You want me to work for Brian Kinney?”

Ben chuckled. “Well, it’s a thought, but if you don’t want to do it, I’m sure I can find one of my students who’d be willing.”

“No! I mean, yes…I mean, I’ll do it,” Justin stammered nervously. Not only would he actually get to meet Brian Kinney, he’d be working for him.

Ben outright laughed at Justin’s response. “Relax Justin; he’s only a man, just like the rest of us.”

“Only a man? He’s more like a God. Holy shit; I’m going to be working for Brian Kinney,” Justin squealed in delight.

Michael started laughing at Justin, too. “When would he start? He’ll have to give Ma a couple weeks notice.”

“Shooting starts in three weeks. I’ll call Brian tonight and let him know I found someone.”

“Thank you Ben. Thank you so much. I better get home and tell Ethan the good news. I’ll see you guys later.” Justin grabbed his back pack from the seat and raced out of the diner in excitement.

“Do you think he’ll be able to handle it? He seemed awfully excited just knowing he was on the phone,” Michael asked laughing at Justin’s excitement.

“He’ll be fine. Brian is really down to earth. After the first initial meeting Justin will think of him as just a regular guy.”





Justin raced home, anxious to tell Ethan about his new job, but as he entered the tiny apartment they shared, he knew something was wrong. Ethan sat on the couch, his anger obvious to anyone who looked at him.

“Ethan, is everything alright?” Justin asked tentatively.

“Where the fuck have you been?” Ethan barked angrily, jumping up from his place on the couch.

Justin jumped at the sudden outburst. “I…was at the d…diner. I had the afternoon shift, remember?”

“Your shift ended almost an hour ago. It doesn’t take a fucking hour to walk home!”

“I stayed…for a few minutes…I was talking to Michael,” Justin explained, trying to hide the fear in his voice.

“I thought I told you that you’re to come home everyday, right after work. How many times to I have to tell you the same thing over and over again? Why don’t you ever listen?” Ethan backhanded him, causing Justin to lose his balance and fall backwards.

“I’m…sorry Ethan, I guess I forgot.”

“Well, I’ll have to make sure that you remember next time,” Ethan hissed as he pulled Justin up by the hair, only to backhand him once again sending him sprawling across the coffee table.

“Ethan, please don’t do this. I promise I won’t forget next time,” Justin pleaded as he watched Ethan reach for him again.

“That’s what you said last time Justin. I just don’t know what to do with you anymore. You never listen to me. You just think you can do whatever you want and the hell with what I want. Isn’t that right Justin?” This time he made a fist, punching Justin in the stomach, causing him to double over in pain and fall to the floor..

“No, that’s not it. I swear I just forgot. I didn’t think you would be home yet. Please Ethan, you promised me that you wouldn’t do this again. You said that you were sorry and you wouldn’t do it again,” Justin was crying openly now, scared for what he knew was coming.

“Well, I guess neither one of us can keep promises, huh? I don’t want to have to do this Justin. It’s the only way I can remind you of who’s in charge.” With those words, Ethan delivered a series of kicks to Justin as he lay helpless on the floor. Once the tears slowed down to soft whimpering, Ethan stopped his attack, leaning down to whisper in Justin’s ear. “Now go start cooking dinner. I’m starving.”

Justin lay in a ball for a few minutes, willing the pain to go away before he managed to crawl over to the chair and slowly pull himself up. The pain in his chest was so bad that he wondered if Ethan had managed to break a few of his ribs, but it didn’t matter. Ethan never let him seek medical attention. He said it was no ones business what had happened between them and doctors would just ask too many questions.

Eventually he managed to fix something for dinner and ate in silence, waiting for Ethan’s mood to change. After cleaning up the kitchen, Justin slowly made his way to the bathroom, hoping a hot shower would soothe his aching body. He jumped slightly when Ethan joined him.

“Baby, why do you always do this? Why must you disobey me and make me mad? You know how much I hate having to hurt you, don’t you?” Ethan said softly.

Justin could tell by the sound of Ethan’s voice that he was now safe for the night. Once Ethan put away his anger, Justin was always safe again for at least a week. He breathed a sigh of relief before answering.

“I’m sorry Ethan; I didn’t mean to make you mad. I promise I’ll come home right after work from now on.” Justin hated having to apologize after one of Ethan’s outbursts, but he didn’t have a choice. He’d do anything to ensure that the rage and violence was over. He let Ethan wash his body, enjoying the tenderness that the other man showed him and was starting to feel a little bit better by the time they climbed into bed. Luckily, Ethan was tired and drifted off to sleep soon after, leaving Justin time to think about the mess he was in.

Ethan wasn’t always so angry. When they first got together, Justin was treated like a prince. Ethan used to shower him with presents, words of love and beautiful songs played on his violin. It wasn’t until they started living together that Ethan showed his bad side, but by then it was too late. Justin had already given up his room at the Novotny/Grassi home and refused to ask for it back. Instead he stayed where he was, keeping what was happening to him a secret from his friends and trying to make Ethan happy. Sometimes it worked, but other times he had no choice but to take whatever Ethan gave him and hope that one day he would have enough money to be able to get away. Maybe with the extra money he was going to be making working for Brian Kinney, he would finally be able to walk away without looking back.




Brian stepped off the plane, thankful to finally be away from the annoying steward that recognized him from his films. If he had to listen to the man another minute longer, he swore he would have found a way to throw him off the plane. He was a week early for filming, which was why he was traveling alone, but he’d decided to fly in early to spend some time with Ben. He missed his friend a lot over the last five years since Ben had moved away, but life had just been too crazy for him to make a trip to the east coast. After finding his luggage and arranging for it to be sent ahead to his hotel, he picked up his rental car, a black Jeep Wrangler just like the old days, and headed over to the Liberty Diner. Ben had given him directions and agreed to meet him there. He couldn’t wait to see his old friend again.

As soon as he walked in, he spotted Ben sitting in a back booth talking to a very cute blond waiter. He took advantage of Ben’s preoccupation and casually slipped in the booth unnoticed.

“So, what’s good on the menu?” he asked, waiting for Ben’s reaction.

“Brian!” Ben exclaimed, jumping up and pulling Brian right out of the booth and into a bear hug. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Me too, but I don’t want a set of broken ribs as a memento,” Brian teased as he pulled out of Ben’s over zealous hug.

“Sorry Man, I guess I got a little carried away. Sit down; how was your flight?” Ben asked as he took his seat, smiling as he saw Justin shy away.

“Uneventful, as always. How are things with you? Where’s Michael? I can’t wait to meet the man who tamed the great Ben Bruckner,” Brian teased.

“Oh please, I think you have that all wrong. You were always the great Brian Kinney while I was just a trusty sidekick. Michael’s at the shop, but he’ll be meeting us later for dinner. He thought we might like some time alone to relive the old days.”

“Okay than, Trusty Sidekick, what’s on the agenda for the afternoon? Is there anything exciting to do in glorious Pittsburgh?” Brian asked, once again noticing the cute blond that was heading back towards their table.

“After living the life you’ve lived, I doubt if you’ll find anything exciting here, but I’ll try. By the way,” Ben said when Justin appeared by the table. “This is Justin Taylor. He’s going to be your assistant while you’re here. Justin, this is Brian Kinney.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Kinney. I’m a big fan of your work,” Justin said nervously, shaking Brian’s hand.

“Thank you Justin, and call me Brian. Are you going to have time to assist me with your job here?”

“Uh…yeah…I’ve already given my notice. Today’s my last day, then I’m all yours,” Justin replied, unable to look away from those penetrating hazel eyes.

“Good; why don’t we meet here tomorrow around lunch time and I can go over what I’ll expect from you for the next three months?” Brian suggested, ignoring the strange feeling he got at the thought of Justin being all his.

“Sure, is 12:00 okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll see you then.”

“Okay; Ben is there anything else? I’m just getting ready to go on break,” Justin asked as he tried to focus on Ben. It wasn’t an easy task. Brian Kinney was even more stunning in person than he was on the big screen.

“I’ll just take the check, Justin. Brian and I are heading out. Tell Ethan I said hello and I’ll see you at Deb’s for dinner Sunday night,” Ben replied as he pulled a few bills from his wallet.

“I will; see you on Sunday. See you tomorrow, Brian,” Justin said before he walked towards the back.

His mind was jumbled with thoughts of Brian Kinney and he couldn’t wait until his new job began. The day seemed to drag on forever and Justin was happy when his shift finally ended. He made his way back to the apartment, hoping to get home before Ethan. He sighed with relief when he called out to his boyfriend and got no answer. He quickly showered and changed into sweats before starting dinner. Ethan always enjoyed coming home to dinner on the table. It was almost done when Justin heard the sound of a key in the lock.

“Hey Babe, I’m home,” Ethan called as he entered to small apartment.

“Hey,” Justin said in greeting. “Dinner’s almost ready. You have time for a quick shower first if you want.”

“Sounds good. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”

Twenty minutes later, they were sitting at the table eating when Justin told Ethan about his day.

“Brian Kinney came into the diner today. Ben said he was flying in early so they could spend some time catching up before he started filming. I’m meeting him for lunch tomorrow so he can go over what he expects from me for the next three months,” Justin explained eagerly.

Ethan frowned at the mention of Brian Kinney. “Justin, I still don’t like the thought of you working for Kinney. From what I’ve read about him, he seems like a real loser.”

“Ethan, we’ve been over this before. I’m going to be making more than double what I’d make at the diner. You know I need the money to help get me through the next semester, especially if my dad follows through with cutting off my tuition money. I’m lucky he’s been paying this long considering he hasn’t spoken to me since I came out,” Justin explained patiently. “Besides, I’m his assistant. I’ll be so busy running his errands that I probably won’t even see him that much.”

“Whatever, let’s just drop it,” Ethan replied angrily.

Justin saw the anger appear in Ethan’s eyes and knew a subject change was in order. “So, how was practice today?”

That was enough to get Ethan out of the dark mood he slipped into. Talking about his music always managed to bring a smile to the man’s face. The rest of the evening went by smoothly and when Ethan finally fell asleep, Justin had plenty of time to think about his new boss.




The next day, Justin was anxiously sitting in the back booth at the diner when Brian walked in, turning heads as he made his way to the table.

“Hey, sorry I’m late. I had trouble finding this place from my hotel. I only had directions from the airport,” Brian explained as he took a seat.

“That’s okay. I wasn’t waiting too long,” Justin replied nervously. He needed to get past his nervousness soon, otherwise working for Brian was going to be near impossible.

Brian looked over the menu and they both ordered before getting down to business.

“Justin, I know Ben has told you some of what I’m looking for in an assistant, but I wanted to give you a more detailed description. I need someone to answer my phone when I’m on set, schedule any appointments that I need as well as running my errands. I’m also looking for someone who knows their way around Pittsburgh. I’ve never been here before and I don’t have time to waste while I drive around in circles. You’ll have an expense account for any personal expenses that might arise, as well as a credit card in your name incase you need to make any purchases for me. Do you have a car?”

“Uh…no…is that going to be a problem?” Justin asked quietly.

“No, not at all. I’ll call the car leasing company and have your name added to the driver’s list for the jeep. I’ll be on set most days so you can just use that. There might be times where I’ll need you to be available at night. Is that going to be a problem?”

“No, of course not,” Justin assured him, wondering how Ethan would react to his evening hours.

“Good, do you have any questions?” Brian asked as the waitress brought them their lunch.

“No, I think you covered everything.”

“Okay then,” Brian replied as he reached into his pocket. “Here’s a cell phone for you to use. My number is programmed in there incase you need to get a hold of me. I expect you to have it with you at all times. I’ll never call you on your off time unless I really need you, but I want to be able to reach you just incase something comes up.”

Justin took the phone, his fingers grazing Brian’s, causing a jolt to shoot right through his hand. “I’ll keep it with me.”

They spent the rest of the hour going over what would happen the following week and by the time Justin said good bye he was even more excited for his new job to begin.





The first couple of weeks as Brian’s assistant went really well. The job had been fairly easy and Justin found that he enjoyed spending time on the set of the film. He and Brian hit it off right from the start and Justin began to think of him as a friend. They talked a lot and shared details about their life with each other. Brian knew all about Ethan, although Justin never mentioned the anything about the beatings. That was something that he’d never share with anybody. Justin was still incredibly attracted to the man, but it was more of a “God, he’s hot” attraction as opposed to a “He’s a star” attraction. The job hadn’t been too demanding and so far Ethan hadn’t had a reason to object to his new position. Justin always managed to make it home in time to cook dinner. He just hoped that everything would continue to run so smoothly.

Brian was taking a ten minute break when he saw Justin walk in and motion that he had a phone call. He walked over to Justin and grabbed his cell, seeing Justin mouth the word Cynthia.

“Hey Cyn, what’s up?”

“Hey Brian, I just love your assistant. He seems like such a sweet kid. Did you know that he plans to be an artist?” Cynthia asked.

“Of course I know that, Cyn. He’s my assistant. The question is how do you know that?” Brian questioned, watching Justin’s ass as he walked away to give him some privacy.

“How do you think? I talk to him more than I talk to you. He seems to really like you, too. He must not have gotten to know you yet,” she chuckled.

“Fuck off; why are you calling me anyway?” Brian growled, slightly annoyed by Cynthia’s teasing.

“Out Magazine called me today. They want to do an interview with you. They said they’d meet you in Pittsburgh if you’d give them twenty minutes of your time,” she explained, moving into professional mode.

“God, I can’t wait to go away on that fucking vacation. Fine; I’ll have Justin call them and set something up,” Brian sighed, hating all the bullshit that went along with his acting. He was only doing something that he loved; why must everyone get so crazy over it? “Is there anything else?”

“No, not really; unless you want to put off your vacation a little longer. I got a call from…”

“Forget it Cynthia! No fucking way!” Brian exclaimed.

“Alright, alright; just thought I’d mention it. I’ll let you get back to the set. Give me a call and let me know when you get the interview set up. I’ll talk to you soon,” Cynthia replied, knowing that it wasn’t the time to push.

“I will. Later Cyn,” Brian said, looking for Justin. He found him off to the side talking to one of the camera men. “Justin, I need you to look through my schedule and see when I have time for an interview with Out magazine. Also, it looks like today’s filming is going to run late. Will it be a problem for you to stay?”

“Uh…no, I’ll just call Ethan and let him know,” Justin replied, hoping that Ethan had a late practice so he wouldn’t be too upset.

“Good, maybe we could go grab a bite to eat after we’re done here.”

“Sounds good. I’ll go look at the schedule now and see what I can work out.” Justin walked in to Brian’s trailer and closed the door behind him, wanting a little privacy while he called Ethan. He was thrilled when he got his voice mail.

“Hey Ethan, it’s me. Filming is running over today so I won’t be home until late. There’s a pot of Chili in the fridge. All you have to do is heat it up for dinner. I don’t know what time I’ll be home so go ahead and eat without me. I’ll talk to you later.”

Justin had a sinking feeling that Ethan was going to be less than pleased when he got home, but he didn’t have a choice. His job was to be there for Brian when he was needed so he’d just have to deal with everything else later.

They finally finished up around seven and by the time Brian was showered and changed it was almost 8:00. Justin suggested that they go to a little Italian place that was around the corner from the studio and sat quietly in the jeep as Brian drove the couple of blocks and parked.

“Is everything alright?” Brian finally asked after they were seated.

“What? Oh yeah, everything’s fine. I was just thinking about Vic. It’s his birthday in a couple of weeks and I really want to get him something nice,” Justin lied, refusing to admit that he was worried about what Ethan was going to do when he got home.

“Yeah, Vic seems like a really great guy. Michael is lucky to have people like Vic and Debbie. I wish I had that growing up,” Brian admitted.

“Me too; my parents couldn’t kick me out fast enough. I’m lucky that they’re still paying for school.”

“Why are they still paying? I mean, if they aren’t talking to you anymore, why would they still write checks out every semester?” Brian asked, curious to learn more about Justin and his life.

“It has to do with a deal that we made right after they threw me out. I went to see them once and they were in the middle of throwing a dinner party. My father was so afraid that I’d embarrass them by announcing that I’m gay to all of his country club friends that he agreed to pay my tuition as long as I kept my disgusting lifestyle to myself. I never had any intention of outing myself to anyone, but I took advantage of the opportunity and accepted his money.” Justin couldn’t help but shudder at the memory of that day.

“What an asshole. If he was any kind of real man he would take pride in his talented son instead of being ashamed.” Brian thought back to his own parents and cringed. Craig Taylor and Jake Kinney could be brothers.

Before Justin had a chance to reply, his cell phone went off and he knew who it was before answering.

“Hey Ethan.”

“Where the fuck are you?”

“Uh…I left you a voice mail. Didn’t you get it? The filming ran late today,” Justin explained quietly.

“I heard your fucking message. It’s after eight. Your ass should be home where it belongs. I knew working for Kinney was a bad idea!” Ethan yelled angrily.

“It’s no big deal. I’ll be home soon, I promise.”

“You’ve got twenty minutes!” Ethan barked before hanging up.

Justin could feel himself start to shake. He knew what was going to happen when he got him and wished he had another option. “I’m sorry Brian, I’ve got to go. Ethan needs my…help…at home.”

“But we haven’t even eaten yet,” Brian replied, noticing the sudden change in Justin.

“I know. I’ll have to take a rain check,” Justin said, grabbing his jacket as he stood up. “I’m really sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. Here, let me drive you home,” Brian offered.

“No!” Justin exclaimed quickly. “I mean…that’s okay. You stay here and get something to eat. My apartment isn’t far from here. I’ll just walk. See you tomorrow.”

Before Brian even had time to reply, Justin was gone, leaving Brian very disturbed by his actions.

Justin ran all the way home, preparing himself for the wrath he knew he was going to face. When he reached the door, he took a few deep calming breaths before walking in and calling out to his boyfriend.

“Ethan, I’m home.”

Almost without warning, he felt a hand grab his hair, sending him flying across the room.

“How many fucking times have I told you to come right home after work?” Ethan yelled as he approached Justin, who was now cowering in the corner of the room.

“I…did…I…t...told you I’d be…late. The filming…”

“Liar!” Ethan screamed, kicking Justin with force. “I went to the fucking studio! No one was there!”

“Ethan…” Justin pleaded, shielding himself from the repeated blows that Ethan was giving him. “Please.”

Ethan continued his assault for another few minutes before finally walking away. He grabbed his jacket and stormed out the door, leaving Justin in a heap on the floor.

Justin heard the door slam shut and breathed a sigh of relief. He tried to get up, but he was in too much pain to move very far, finally deciding to lay still for awhile until some of the pain subsided. He didn’t shed a tear; it wasn’t worth it. This was his life and he’d just have to be more careful about making Ethan mad in the future. The last thought he had before drifting off to sleep on the hard, cold floor was of Brian and his warm hazel eyes.

Brian lay in bed half the night, unable to fall asleep as he thought back to the reaction Justin had to the call from Ethan. Justin seemed fine up until the call, and then he suddenly became agitated and rushed out, not even allowing Brian to drive him home. It was the same reaction he used to have when Jack was looking for him all those years ago and Brian couldn’t help but wonder if it was for the same reason. Would Justin be foolish enough to stay in an abusive relationship? He’d have to start paying a little more attention to Justin and see if there were any warning signs he might have missed. Aside from the fact that Justin was gorgeous, he was a great kid and Brian didn’t want to see him hurt by someone who claimed to love him.

When Justin awoke the next morning, he was surprised to find himself still on the floor with Ethan nowhere to be found. He slowly dragged himself up and towards the shower, stopping to get a glimpse in the mirror. Just as he suspected, the side of his face was slightly swollen and a little discolored. Ethan always made sure to stay away from Justin’s face so that no one would figure out what was going on, but last night at one point, Justin had fallen into the table, hitting the side of his face as he went down. Now he was going to have to come up with a good excuse for the mark he was sporting. Looking away quickly, Justin climbed into the shower and rushed around getting ready, walking onto the set ten minutes late.

“Nice of you to show up,” Brian said teasingly as he approached Justin from behind.

“Sorry I’m late. I…uh…must have slept through my alarm. It…won’t happen again,” Justin stammered nervously.

“Relax Justin, I was just teasing you. It’s no big deal. We’re running behind anyway,” Brian assured him, confused by Justin’s nervousness. Taking a closer look he noticed a slight bruise on the blond’s face. “Shit! What happened to you?”

Justin saw Brian’s hand reaching up to touch his face and jumped back out of reach. “Uh…nothing. I…uh…tripped over the cat last night and fell. I must have hit the floor harder than I thought. It’s no big deal,” Justin explained quickly. “I need some coffee. Do you want any?”

Brian had a feeling the bruise had more to do with Ethan’s anger than the cat, but knew it wasn’t the time or place to push the issue. “No thanks, I’m good.”

“Okay, I’ll be right back,” Justin replied walking away before Brian could ask anymore questions.

Brian watched Justin go and noticed he was walking a little slower than usual which meant one of two things. Either his trip over that cat was pretty bad, or Ethan really did a number on him. Brian had feeling that the cat wasn’t involved.

The rest of the day went smoothly; filming seemed to go pretty quick and the director called it a day around four which Justin was thankful for. He was really sore from the bruises he sustained the night before and all he wanted to do was go home, take a hot shower and lay down. He packed up his things and headed towards Brian’s dressing room, wanting to make sure he wasn’t needed before he left. He knocked lightly on the door and waited until he got a response before going inside.

“Hey Brian, if you don’t need me anymore I’m going to head home,” he called out to Brian who was obviously still in the bathroom.

“Hang on for a second. I want to talk to you before you go,” Brian called back, trying to stall for time. He’d been wracking his brain all day trying to decide how to address the subject of Ethan without stepping over the line. He had no proof that Justin’s morning story had been a lie. He was just going on what he lived through as a child and he didn’t want to just assume anything and risk hurting Justin or ruining their building friendship, yet he couldn’t turn his back and pretend that his suspicions weren’t there. He finished getting dressed and headed out to where Justin was waiting to find him staring out the window lost in thought.

“Hey,” Brian said, laying a hand on Justin’s shoulder only to have him jump and pull away. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“No…it’s okay. I just…I didn’t hear you coming. You wanted to talk to me?” Justin asked trying hard to hide the pain he was feeling from the jolt to his ribs.

“Are you alright? You don’t look so good.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I guess I fell harder than I thought last night. That should teach me to watch where I’m going,” Justin chuckled, holding his side.

“Did you go to the hospital and have that checked out? I noticed you’ve been in a lot of pain today,” Brian said, encouraging Justin to talk.

“No, I’m okay; really. I’m just a little sore,” Justin assured him, feeling uncomfortable by Brian’s attention.

“Where’s it hurt? Your ribs? Why don’t you let me take a look? I’ve broken mine a few times in the past and know how much it hurts.”

“No really…it’s no big deal. I’ll just go home and lay down for awhile. I’m sure I’ll be feeling better by tomorrow.” Justin could hear the anxiety in his voice and prayed that Brian didn’t pick up on it.

“Justin, let me look,” Brian demanded gently, taking a step closer.


“You can trust me.”

Looking into Brian’s hazel eyes, Justin lost his resolve, stretching his arms out so that Brian could look at his injuries.

Brian took a deep breath before closing the gap between them and lifting Justin’s shirt. He gasped at the sight before him. Not only did Justin have several bruises splattered across his chest and stomach, but Brian could see the traces of past bruises, faded with time.

“That fucking bastard!” Brian exclaimed suddenly.

“Brian, it’s not that big a deal,” Justin said softly, the words sounding empty even to his own ears.

“Not that big a deal? How can you say that?” Brian asked incredulously. “This was because you were late getting home last night, wasn’t it? It was why you rushed out of the restaurant after Ethan called?”

“Ethan had gotten my message that I was going to be working late so he came by the studio to see me, but we had already left. He knew I wasn’t working. He’s told me over and over again that he wants me home right after work. I shouldn’t have gone out with you in the first place,” Justin explained sadly.

“Justin, we weren’t doing anything wrong. I’m your boss and we had to work late. There was no harm in us grabbing something to eat. It wasn’t as if I had plans to fuck you on the table,” Brian replied angrily. “Do Ben and Michael know?”

“No! And you can’t tell them. They don’t really like Ethan very much to begin with. If they knew…please don’t tell them,” Justin pleaded, tears forming behind his eyes that he tried to hold back.

“Justin, you can’t actually be thinking about staying with him, can you? You have to leave him before he does this again. You don’t deserve to be used as anyone’s punching bag.”

Justin’s temper flared at Brian’s suggestion. “That’s easy for you to say! You’re an actor making lots of money! Before I met you I was a waiter in a small diner. I have no where to go and no way to support myself!”

“What about the Novotny’s? I’m sure you could go back with them,” Brian suggested.

“They’ve done enough for me already. Besides, with Vic being sick, Debbie doesn’t need anyone else to worry about. At least with Ethan I have a roof over my head and food on the table.”

“At what expense? What happens next time if he really hurts you…or worse?”

“Ethan loves me. He wouldn’t do anything to really hurt me. I just have to stop making him so mad,” Justin said sternly.

“He loves you? You mean he loves controlling you. Don’t you see that? Justin, take a look at yourself in the mirror. Can you actually look at those bruises and still say that he loves you?”

“Look, I’ve got to go. Promise me you won’t say anything to anyone.” Justin waited for a response and when nothing came, he said again. “Promise me, Brian.”

“Justin, I can’t…” his words trailed off as he saw the look of genuine fear cross Justin’s face. “I won’t say anything for the moment, but we’re going to talk about this again. I’m not going to sit back and watch him hurt you.”

“Brian, it’s not your problem; it’s mine. I’m a big boy and I can take care of myself,” Justin assured him with more confidence than he felt. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Justin had enough time to get home, shower, and start dinner before Ethan walked in the door carrying a huge bouquet of roses.

“Hey Babe, I’m home,” he called as he walked inside.

“Dinner’s in the oven. It should be ready in about twenty minutes,” Justin replied, refusing to look Ethan in the eye.

“Hey, don’t I get a kiss…” Ethan got a glimpse at Justin’s face and gasped in horror. “Oh Babe, did I do that?”

Justin nodded and tried to turn away, but Ethan had a grip on his arm, stopping his movement. “I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you.”

“You know what, Ethan? Let’s not pretend that you didn’t want to hurt me, alright? You may regret your actions the following day, but while you’re hitting me, I have no doubt that you’re trying to hurt me. Now let go of my arm. I need to go lay down. I’m not feeling so good.” With that, Justin pulled his arm free and walked over to the couch, slowly lowering himself down.

“What’s the matter? Are you coming down with something?”

Justin actually chuckled at Ethan’s concern. “No, I’m not coming down with anything. My boyfriend beat the shit out of me last night and I’m still a little sore. You don’t mind finishing dinner yourself, do you? I’ve had a bitch of a day.”

Ethan looked startled by Justin’s response, but didn’t bother commenting. Instead he rose from where he had sat on the coffee table and headed into the kitchen, giving Justin the space that he needed. Justin didn’t know where the nerve to confront Ethan had come from, but he had a feeling it had something to do with his talk with Brian. He may not be in a position to leave at the moment, but it didn’t mean he had to sit back and quietly take whatever Ethan dished out. It may not have been much, but Justin was proud of the way he managed to put Ethan in his place for the time being.




The next few weeks were busy ones for Justin. Filming was really going good, but it was a lot harder than he thought keeping up with a movie star and his demands. He and Brian continued to build their friendship, but it was a little strained ever since Brian had confronted him about Ethan. On one particular Friday, Justin was saying good bye to Brian when he found out some rather disturbing news.

“I’ll see you on Monday, Brian,” Justin called as he walked towards the door.

“Actually, I’ll see you on Sunday,” Brian replied casually.

“Sunday? Why, is there going to be an extra shoot?”

“No, I’ll see you at Debbie’s. Ben and Michael invited me to one of your family dinners. Since I had nothing else planned, I agreed to go,” Brian explained.

“No! You can’t!” Justin cried in horror.

“Why not? Don’t you want me there?” Brian asked innocently.

“No, it’s not that. It’s just that Ethan’s going to be there…” Justin trailed off.

“Really? I didn’t realize that,” Brian lied. When Ben made the offer, Brian was going to refuse, having never been much for family gatherings, until he realized it would give him a good chance to meet Ethan and see for himself exactly who Justin was dealing with.

“Please Brian, you can’t go. It would be too awkward to have both of you there. Ethan still resents you for keeping me away from home so much. Having you there would just piss him off,” Justin pleaded.

“Which he’ll take out on you when you get home,” Brian finished for him.

“No, of course not. Ethan and I talked after the last time and everything’s been great since then.” They may not have actually talked, but Ethan seemed to get the message by Justin’s confrontation and things between them had been better. He wasn’t even upset on the few occasions that Justin got home a little late.

“Then my being there shouldn’t make a difference. Besides, Debbie already knows I’ve accepted the invitation. She would be upset if I didn’t show up,” Brian reasoned.

Justin knew he was right; just like he knew she’d be upset if he tried to cancel, too. “Well, then I guess I’ll see you on Sunday,” Justin said, knowing he wouldn’t win.

“Yeah, see you on Sunday.”

Justin went home and told Ethan about Brian’s appearance on Sunday and although the violinist wasn’t thrilled that Brian was making his way into the family, he didn’t totally flip out, which pleased Justin enormously.

By the time Sunday night rolled around, Justin was a bundle of nerves. Ethan seemed more moody than usual and Justin was dreading the whole dinner. When they finally made their way into Debbie’s house, Brian was already there being the center of attention as always. Everyone seemed to be enthralled by the star and the topic of conversation was focused on his shining career. Justin introduced Ethan to Brian and they shook hands, but everyone could feel a strange undercurrent between them which no one but Justin understood.

Luckily, the meal itself was good and the focus was taken off Brian and put on the latest gossip around town. Justin pretty much remained quiet, feeling two sets of eyes watching him all through dinner. By the time everyone had finished eating; Justin needed a few minutes alone and made his way out back for a cigarette. He heard the door behind him open and was surprised to see Brian walking towards him.

“What are you doing out here?”

“I could ask you the same question. Is everything alright?” Brian asked. He’d seen how uncomfortable Justin was all through dinner and saw him stiffen every time Ethan touched him.

“Everything’s fine, Brian. Now please go back inside before Ethan comes out and finds us together. I’ll see you in the morning,” Justin said softly.


“Just go, Brian. Please.”

Brian sighed, but did as he was asked and headed back towards the house. Neither one of them were aware of the eyes that were watching them from the window intently.

Justin waited a few more minutes before going back inside and joining the others. A little while later, Ethan announced that he was tired and had an early morning rehearsal before suggesting that he and Justin go home. He waited until they reached the apartment and locked up for the night before turning his anger on Justin.

“What the fuck was that all about?” he yelled, giving Justin a shove.

“What? What are you talking about? What did I do?” Justin asked in confusion.

“Don’t play dumb with me! I saw you two outside looking all chummy! Did you think I wouldn’t notice the two of you disappear? Was that the plan all along? You’d give Brian the signal then meet outside for a little rendezvous while the rest of them kept me occupied?”

“Ethan! God no…I didn’t know Brian was going to follow me outside. I swear! He only came outside to tell me something about tomorrow’s taping,” Justin lied, hoping to defuse some of the anger.

“You really think I’m pretty stupid, don’t you!” Ethan screamed, slapping Justin across the face hard enough to draw blood. “I’m so fucking tired of your lying and cheating! You think I don’t know what’s going on behind my back? I know you’ve been fucking around with Kinney since the beginning and I’m not going to sit back and let it happen anymore!”

Before Justin could respond, he felt himself being thrown against the wall with alarming force. He tried to get away, but wasn’t fast enough and was soon being pulled back to his feet by his hair. Time passed slowly while Justin felt himself being beaten unmercifully and by the time Ethan grabbed his jacket and walked out the door, Justin was in a heap on the floor, barely able to move. Knowing Ethan as well as he did, Justin knew that he had at least an hour until Ethan returned and he knew that he had to find a way to be gone before that happened. He tried a few times to stand up, but once he realized that he wouldn’t be able to get away on his own, he carefully reached into his pocket and pulled out the cell phone Brian had given him. Without thinking about anything but his safety, he called the only person who knew what was happening and waited for Brian to answer.


“Brian,” Justin hissed into the phone.

“Justin? Are you alright?” Brian asked, hearing the pain in Justin’s voice.

“No…I need…help,” Justin whispered through his silent tears.

“Tell me where you are and I’ll be right there.” Brian took down the address and grabbed his jacket, all the while blaming himself for whatever happened since he’d seen the blond. Justin had asked him to stay away from Debbie’s but Brian refused and now he was hurt once again because of the man who claimed to love him. “Hang on Justin, I’m on my way.”

Once Brian was in the jeep, he called Ben to get directions to Justin’s apartment since Justin was barely able to give him the address. When Ben asked why he needed them, Brian made up an excuse about finding Justin’s allergy medication in the jeep and wanting him to have it if he needed it. Brian wasn’t even sure if Justin had allergies, but had heard him sneezing a lot in the weeks since they met so he took a chance. Ben never questioned him, so he figured he was right in his assumption.

When he reached the door of the apartment, Brian knocked lightly and opened the door, horrified by what he found. Justin was laying on the floor; his body broken and battered.

“Justin,” Brian called softly as he made his way over to where Justin was.

“Brian,” Justin whimpered. “We have to get out of here. If Ethan comes back…”

“Shhh…don’t worry. He’s not going to hurt you again. Now I’m going to slide my arms under you so that I can pick you up. I want you to try to wrap your arm around me and hold on. Do you think you can do that?”

“I don’t know. It hurts,” Justin replied tearfully.

“I know. Just do the best that you can. I don’t see any other way to get you out of here. I’m going to count to three. Just try to relax and we’ll do this as quickly as we can, okay?” Brian said gently.

Justin nodded and took a deep breath. When Brian got to three and lifted Justin, he cried out in pain.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah...let’s…just get out…of here,” Justin cried.

By the time Brian had gotten them downstairs and to the jeep, he was exhausted but still running on pure adrenaline. He carefully placed Justin inside the jeep and raced around to the other side. Once they were on the road, Justin was sound asleep, whether it was from sheer exhaustion or from the pain, Brian wasn’t sure. Without thinking twice, Brian pulled out his cell phone and called 911. He explained that he had an injured friend and was new to the area so he didn’t know how to get to the closest hospital. The operator gave him good directions and stayed on the phone until they got there, dispatching an officer to meet them.

Justin woke up as Brian pulled up outside the emergency room, dazed and confused. As soon as he realized where they were, he tried to protest, but Brian refused to leave. He knew Justin was hurt pretty badly and needed a doctor’s care. An orderly came outside with a wheel chair and brought Justin inside while Brian parked the jeep and met up with the officer. He gave the cop all the information he had and smiled when he said he would have Ethan picked up for assault and battery. The fucker deserved to rot in jail as far as Brian was concerned.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, a nurse came out and told Brian he could go back and see Justin. He tried not to let his feelings show on his face when he saw Justin in the bed, looking like he’d been hit by a truck. His left arm was in a sling and his whole face was swollen and covered in bruises.

“Hey, how’re you feeling?” Brian asked as he entered the room.

“Better now that the pain medication is kicking in,” Justin replied weakly. “I…um…thanks for…coming to get me.”

“That’s what friends are for,” Brian said softly.

Before either of them had a chance to say anything else, the doctor appeared carrying Justin’s x-rays.

“Well Mr. Taylor, it seems as if this friend of yours really did a number on you. Aside from three broken ribs you also have small fracture in your left arm. There’s not much we can do for the ribs other than give you a brace that will help elevate the pain, and a technician will be in shortly to cast the arm. I’ll give you a prescription for some pain medication and you’ll have to follow up with your doctor in a couple of days. In the mean time I suggest you take it easy until those ribs start feeling a little better. Any questions?”

“Don’t worry Doc, I’ll make sure he takes it easy,” Brian assured him, ignoring the surprised look that Justin was giving him.

The doctor looked over at Brian, recognition dawning in his eyes. “You’re Brian Kinney, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I am,” Brian sighed. He hated being recognized when he was away from the spotlight.

“My wife’s a big fan of yours. She dragged me to more than one of your films. I have to say, I’ve enjoyed every one of them,” the doctor said with a smile.

“Thanks, that’s nice to hear.”

“Brian, why don’t you give Dr. Simmons an autograph for his wife? I’m sure it would make her day?” Justin suggested.

“That it would, but I don’t want to impose,” the doctor replied.

“Oh, it wouldn’t be an imposition at all, would it Brian?”

Brian had no choice but to agree with Justin. “Not at all. Do you have something that I can sign?”

The doctor pulled out his prescription pad and a pen and handed them over to Brian who signed them with a smile.

“Thank you Mr. Kinney. I’ll send that technician in right away to take care of your friend so you can get out of here. Take it easy Mr. Taylor, and good luck.” The doctor smile one last time at Brian before walking out of the room.

“That’s it! No more talking to Cynthia. She’s starting to rub off on you,” Brian said dryly as soon as the doctor was gone.

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

“Oh please. Let me guess, she told you that if I was ever going to be as famous as Tom Cruise I was going to have to greet more fans and do back flips for them, right?”

“Well, not back flips exactly, but she did say that you tend to shy away from your fans. I don’t understand. If you don’t like acknowledging your fans, why did you become an actor?” Justin asked, curiously.

“I act because it’s something I enjoy. I don’t do it for the money or fame. Tom Cruise can keep it,” Brian explained.

“I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear that,” Justin laughed before becoming quiet.

“Uh oh, what’s going on in that head of yours?” Brian asked, noticing the sudden change in Justin.

“I was just thinking about what happened earlier. As mad as Ethan has been in the past; I’ve never seen him as upset as he was tonight. Hopefully by the time the cops release him he’ll be calmed down. I don’t think I’m up for another round tonight.”

“What?! You can’t actually be thinking of going back to him!” Brian exclaimed.

Justin jumped at Brian’s anger, wincing at the pain from the sudden movement. “I don’t have much of a choice, Brian. I’ve saved as much as I could out of the paychecks you’ve given me, but it’s still not enough to get a place of my own right now. I’m just going to have to stay with him for awhile longer until I can afford to move out.”

“No fucking way! You are not going back to him!” Brian yelled, not caring who heard him.

“Brian, it’s not that simple. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since…the last time. I’ve dropped out of school and put away as much as I could, but until I get some more money in the bank there’s no other option. I’ve still got another six weeks with you…minus a week or so thanks to this, to save up some more money and once I have enough I’m leaving; I swear, but until then I have to go back.”

“You’re staying with me,” Brian told him without hesitation.

“What?” Justin asked incredulously. “I can’t ask you to do that Brian. I got myself into this mess; I’ll get myself out.”

“Ethan must have hit you harder than I thought if you think I’d ever let you go back to him,” Brian snapped. He noticed Justin pale slightly at his words and tried to calm himself down. “Look, you’re going to stay with me until the end of the shoot. My hotel suite is more than big enough for the two of us and since it’s already paid for, you’ll be able to save even more money for after I’m gone.”

Justin felt his stomach drop at the reminder that Brian would be gone soon, but ignored the sadness that washed over him. “And if I refuse?”

“I’ll have the doctor give you something to knock you out. When you wake up you’ll be locked away in the suite and won’t have a choice,” Brian replied seriously.

Justin looked in Brian’s eyes and didn’t doubt for a second that he would indeed follow through with his threat. “Well, since you put it that way, I accept.”

Two hours later Brian helped Justin walk into his suite. It had been a long night and both men were completely exhausted. Brian had called ahead and requested to have extra towels brought up as well as a tooth brush, an extra robe, and a sweat suit from the gift shop downstairs. It was amazing what having money could do.

“Why down you go get changed and I’ll call down and have some food sent up. You didn’t really eat much at dinner and with the medication you should probably put something in your stomach,” Brian suggested as he led Justin to his room.

Justin looked down at his clothes and couldn’t help but agree. “Thanks, maybe just some toast. Getting kicked in the stomach causes a man to be a little queasy.”

“Gottcha,” Brian replied, leaving Justin alone to get ready.

Once room service was called, Brian called the director and told him something had come up and he needed to have the next day off. Knowing the Brian was normally a workaholic; he didn’t question him much and agreed to work around his character during filming. Twenty minutes later, the food arrived and Justin still hadn’t appeared, so Brian tipped the guy and sent him on his way before knocking lightly on Justin’s door.

“Come in,” Justin called.

Brian walked inside and saw Justin sitting on the bed, still dressed in his clothes. “Why haven’t you changed?”

“I…uh…I can’t do…it myself,” Justin stammered in embarrassment.

Brian couldn’t help but chuckle at the little boy look Justin gave him. “Here, let me help you,” Brian offered, ignoring the strange feelings that came over him as he helped undress Justin.

After Justin was dressed and they made their way out to the food, Justin broke the silence by telling Brian what had been on his mind.

“I’m not sure how long I’ll be laid up. If you’d rather find someone else to take my place for awhile, I’ll understand.”

“Forget it Taylor, it took me a long time to break you in properly. I’ll wait until you’re better. Besides, it’s not like you can’t still help me out. I’ll leave my cell phone here with you and you can just forward the important calls to the studio and handle everything else from here. This way you’ll still be earning your pay.”

“Are you sure?” Justin asked, knowing that Brian was just trying to be a good friend by offering.

“I wouldn’t have offered if I was sure,” Brian assured him.

“Thanks,” Justin said, looking at the clock. “It’s getting late. You’d better try and get some sleep. You have to be at the studio early tomorrow, remember?”

“No I don’t. I called Kevin earlier and told him something came up. He’s going to shoot without me tomorrow.”

“What? Why would you do that? Justin asked in confusion.

“I figured you might need a little help tomorrow. Someone’s going to have to take you to get your things from the apartment, remember?” Brian saw the look of fear cross Justin’s face and it pained him to think of why it was there. “It’s okay Justin. He’s never going to hurt you again.”

Justin took a deep breath and smiled. “Thank you.”

“Anytime, now why don’t you try to get some sleep? We’ll worry about tomorrow in the morning.”

“Yeah, I am kind of tired. Good night, Brian.”

“Good night Justin.”

The next morning, Justin woke up to the sound of breakfast being brought in the room. He could hear Brian talking to the guy from room service and his stomach started growling in anticipation. He slowly dragged himself out of bed, every muscle in his body protesting the movement, and couldn’t wait to get his hands on another pain pill. As he made his way out of the bedroom he saw Brian setting the food up on the table by the window, already obviously showered and dressed for the day.

“Good morning,” Brian said as he noticed Justin enter the room.

“Morning,” Justin replied. “How’d you know I’d wake up starving?”

“I’ve heard that stomach of yours rumbling enough in the mornings to know you’d be hungry when you woke up. I ordered French toast; I hope that’s okay,” Brian told him as he finished setting the table.

“That’s fine. Where are my pain pills? I think I’m going to need one,” Justin asked as he slowly lowered himself in the chair.

“I figured as much,” Brian chuckled as he handed the open bottle to Justin.

They ate leisurely, talking about the film and what shots they thought would be next, neither one of them mentioning the night before or what lay ahead of them for the day. Once they were done, Brian noticed a far away look on Justin’s face and wondered what he was thinking about.

“Care to tell me what’s going on in your head now?”

“I was just wondering how I was going to take a shower. I obviously have to cover the cast and with the broken ribs, I don’t think I’ll be able to raise my arms let alone wash my hair,” Justin sighed in frustration.

Brian had thought about that earlier while he took his own shower and realized how difficult it was going to be for the blond. He had an idea, but wasn’t sure how Justin would feel about it. “I…can help you. I mean, if you think you’ll feel comfortable enough with me in there with you, I can always…” his voice trailed off at Justin’s shocked expression. “Or we can hire a nurse to come in and help you,” he added quickly.

“I…um…” Justin wasn’t sure how to respond. The last thing he wanted was to have Brian paying for a nurse to come in and help him shower, but he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to be naked with Brian without his feelings being obvious to the older man.

“It’s okay. The hospital gave me the number of one of those home health care services. I’ll just call them and see if they can send someone over,” Brian assured him, getting up to make the call.

“No…it’s okay. That would cost too much. You can help me…I mean if you don’t mind,” Justin mumbled shyly.

Brian saw the blush creep across Justin’s face and wondered if the offer he made was a smart one. He’d been attracted to the blond ever since he’d seen him that first day in the diner and having them both naked in the shower could prove to be pretty painful, but he knew Justin didn’t have money or insurance and would refuse to let Brian pay. He was going to be mad enough when he found out that Brian paid his hospital bill in cash.

“I wouldn’t have offered if I minded. Let me clear away these dishes and put the tray out in the hall and then we’ll get you all cleaned up.”

Justin got up and went into the bedroom, trying unsuccessfully to undress himself. His damn ribs were so sore that every movement was excruciating. Brian found him there a few minutes later, cursing his helplessness.

“What are you doing? I told you I’d help you,” Brian asked as he approached him.

“This fucking sucks!” Justin exclaimed angrily. “I’m almost twenty years old and I can’t even undress myself. I feel like such a fool.”

“Justin, it’s okay.”

“It’s not okay! I should have left Ethan after the first time he hit me, but I was too scared to be alone. After living with Debbie and Vic, I couldn’t stand the thought of being by myself. He didn’t hurt me that bad and he seemed so apologetic afterwards. I believed his bullshit. I actually believed that he loved me. I thought that it was a one time thing. After about the third of fourth time I just figured that it was what I deserved. I was obviously doing something wrong to make him hurt me and I tried so hard to be better, but nothing I did was ever good enough for him. I knew it was wrong but I didn’t know what else to do. My parents don’t want me; Debbie and Vic have lives of their own. Even Michael and Ben have each other. I have no one to turn to Brian. There’s no one out there to help me and I don’t know if I can do this on my own.”

By the time Justin have finished with his outburst he was sobbing openly and there was nothing Brian could other than take him in his arms and whisper reassuring words to him.

“You have me now, Justin. I’ll help you get through this, I promise.”

It took Justin almost fifteen minutes to calm himself down and by that time he was mortified by his behavior.

“I’m sorry Brian, I don’t know what came over me,” he said as he wiped away his tears, refusing to look Brian in the eyes.

“Hey, it’s okay. You’ve been through a lot lately and probably needed to get that out. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have to rely on someone else. I’ve been on my own since I was eighteen and I think I would rather slit my wrists rather than ask anyone for help; but I’m here for you and you have nothing to be ashamed of. We’ll get you through this together and you’ll be a stronger person for it in the long run.” Brian wasn’t sure where the speech came from, but seeing some of the despair fall away from Justin’s face made him happy that he found the right words to say. “Okay, how about that shower?”

Brian gently helped Justin get undressed and led him to the bathroom. He started the water and once Justin was inside, he quickly stripped off his own clothes and joined him. Justin’s movements were very limited and Brian knew that there was no way Justin would be able to take care of himself on his own; at least not for a few days. He could see all the bruises more clearly under the bathroom light and realized just how badly Ethan had hurt him. The poor kid’s entire body was covered with them as well as a few cuts and scrapes here and there. Brian grabbed the soap and a wash clothes to begin his task.

“I’m going to be a gentle as possible. Just let me know if I’m hurting you, okay?”

All Justin could do was nod through his embarrassment.

Brian slowly began to wash Justin’s body, carefully avoiding the harsher of the injuries. When his hand worked his way down towards Justin’s semi hard cock, Brian stilled his movements, unsure of how to proceed.

“I…uh…I think I can take it from here,” Justin stammered.

Brian saw Justin blush once again and chuckled softly. “Are you sure? I don’t mind.” As he said the words, he let his hand reach down, touching Justin’s cock, and could feel the member stiffen through the wash cloth while listening to the groan that escaped Justin’s lips. He meant for the touch to be playful, but it quickly turned heated and Brian lost all ability to think rationally as he used his other hand to pull Justin close and kissed him deeply. Again, Justin groaned, causing Brian to come to his senses quickly and pull away.

“Shit Justin, I’m sorry. I didn’t offer to help you so I could take advantage of you. Turn around and let me wash your hair.”

Justin was confused by not only Brian’s actions, but also by his own feelings of having tasted Brian’s lips. He had done a reasonably good job of pushing aside his attraction for the man ever since he started his job, but being in such an intimate setting was bringing his feelings back up to the surface and he was in a daze as he turned around, allowing Brian to wash his hair. He wondered if Brian was feeling even half of the desire Justin was or if he was just reacting to being naked in the shower with someone else. All too quickly, Brian reached around him and turned off the water.

“All done. See, that wasn’t so bad. Now let’s get you dried off and dressed. You’ll have to wear the sweats again until we get your things.” Brian heard himself rambling, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself. He was trying desperately to pull himself together, but Justin’s taste still lingered on his lips and he wondered if Justin noticed the hard on he was sporting.

Once they were both dressed and ready to go, Brian drove Justin back to the apartment to get his things together. Brian had called the police station, only to find out that Ethan had been brought in and processed, but had posted bail and was already back out on the streets. He’d planned on giving Justin some time alone in the apartment to gather his things before helping to move them, but there was no way he’d let the blond go in alone knowing that Gold could walk in at any moment. When they pulled up out front of the building, Brian saw Justin stiffen in fear and placed a comforting hand on his thigh, causing him to jump at the contact.

“Sorry to startle you, I just wanted to reassure you that I’m here. Nothing’s going to happen to you in there, okay?”

Justin looked back up at the window that he knew was above the bed before looking back at Brian. “I know; now let’s go get this over with.”

They climbed out and headed upstairs, the sounds of their feet echoing in the quiet stairwell. Justin took a deep breath before pulling out his key and opening the door, slowly walking inside to find Ethan pacing the room.

“Justin! Thank God you’re alright. I’ve been worried sick about you,” Ethan said before noticing Brian behind standing in the doorway. “What the fuck is he doing here?”

Brian stepped forward at the sound of anger in Ethan’s voice. “I brought Justin here so that he could pack his things without having to worry about you hurting him again.”

“Pack your things?” Ethan asked Justin. “What’s he talking about Justin? Why are you packing your things?”

Brian took a step forward, ready to beat the piece of shit into the ground until Justin stopped him with a look confidence that he hadn’t seen in awhile.

“I’m leaving Ethan. Last night finally showed me that I can’t stay here anymore. I’m not going to be your punching bag anymore. Find someone else to beat on.” With that, Justin tried to walk by Ethan, but the other man stood in his way.

“You can’t mean that, Justin. I love you. Last night was a mistake. I was angry and did some things I’m not proud of, but I never meant to hurt you. You have to believe that,” Ethan pleaded.

Justin laughed at Ethan’s words; laughter bordering on hysteria. “You never meant to hurt me? You’ve got to be kidding! You didn’t think that kicking me while I was lying on the floor was going to hurt me? Just get out of my way and let me get my things, Ethan. It’s over and after I walk out that door, I never want to see you again.”

Ethan seemed shocked by Justin’s words and stepped aside to let the blond pass, glaring at Brian the whole time. It only took about ten minutes for Justin to gather his things since he didn’t own much more than his clothes and a few sketch pads, and once he had them all together, he signaled for Brian to come take his bags. Justin walked out of the apartment first, without a backward glance, but Brian stopped at the doorway and turned around to address Ethan one last time.

“If you ever come near him again, I will kill you with my bare hands.” Satisfied by the look of fear that appeared on Ethan’s face at the threat, he continued out the door, ready to help Justin put the whole mess behind him.

By the end of the week Justin was beginning to feel a little better, but Brian refused to let him go to the studio, promising him that if he was feeling up to it on Monday, he’d be allowed to try working half days. Justin was bored out of his mind sitting inside the suite alone all week and wanted to get out for a little while. He even placed a call downstairs to request a cab, but changed his mind at the last minute because he knew Brian would be upset if he left. Instead he spent his time thinking about how close he and Brian had become during their week together. By the middle of the week Justin had been able to shower alone, but the intimacy they’d experienced during the first shared shower still filled Justin’s head every night as he lay in bed, thinking about the man across the hall. He’d never had anyone care about him and take care of him like Brian had, and it made him dread the day when Brian would leave Pittsburgh behind. He would be alone once again, with no one to turn to and that thought scared him.

Getting up from the couch, Justin began pacing around the room, ready to go crazy from boredom. As he passed the large mirror that hung on the wall, he stopped to take a look at himself and was happy to see that the bruises on his face as well as the cut on his lip were starting to fade. A few more days and no one would know what Justin had been through aside from the cast on his arm. As he stood there looking at himself, he couldn’t help but wonder what Brian saw when he looked at him. Shaking the foolish thoughts out of his head, Justin went back to lie on the couch and eventually drifted off to sleep.

Brian walked into the suite a little after five, trying to push aside the bad mood he was in. He’d called Cynthia earlier that day, only to find out that his sister had been looking for him. He hadn’t spoken to her since she found out he was gay almost five years ago and was sure that whatever she wanted was bullshit, but returned her call away. He’d been right. His sister had read an article about him in Us Magazine and knew that he was becoming famous so she called to beg him for money. After giving her a piece of his mind, he slammed the phone down in her ear and had been in a rotten mood for the rest of the day. As he walked towards the couch, he noticed Justin sleeping and quietly walked over and crouched down in front of him. He wasn’t sure what had come over him, but the next thing he knew he was lightly caressing Justin’s cheek.

Justin felt someone touching his face and his eyes flew open, taking a moment before registering Brian kneeling next to him. “Hey, is everything alright?”

Justin’s words brought Brian out of his haze and he felt foolish for touching the younger man in the first place. “Umm…yeah. I didn’t mean to wake you. I just wanted you to know that I’m going out for while. I’ll be back later.” Brian quickly stood up and walked out, leaving a confused Justin behind.

Ben walked into Woody’s later that night, looking to pass some time while Michael was busy helping him mother with one of her PFLAG meetings. He was surprised to find Brian drunk and alone at the bar. Pulling up a barstool, Ben sat beside him and ordered a beer.

“Hey Buddy, what are you doing here? I haven’t seen you so down since the last big argument you had with your mother.”

Brian glanced over at Ben before ordering another shot, never replying to Ben’s question.

“Uh oh, what did she do now?”

“It was Clair,” Brian slurred. “Apparently she read about me in Us magazine and called to beg me for money. Can you believe the nerve of her? I’m sure Joanie’s call will be next. I may be a piece of shit, but obviously they don’t mind taking a fag’s money.”

“Brian, you can’t let them get to you like this. Their problems are exactly that; their problems. There’s nothing you can do except put them behind you and move on. We’ve had this discussion before. There’s nothing you can do about their homophobic views. They’ll never change and you can’t keep letting them hurt you like this.” Ben hated the pained look in his friend’s eyes. “Now why don’t you let me drive you back to the hotel? Or better yet, come stay with me tonight. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be alone.”

“I’m not alone. I have Justin with me,” Brian replied without thinking.

“Justin’s with you? What do you mean? He’s home with Ethan, isn’t he?” Ben asked as he looked around for the blond.

“Shit! I forgot I wasn’t supposed to say anything. Never mind,” Brian said, pushing aside his drink and trying to stand up, but failing miserably.

“Alright Buddy, let’s get you to my car and then we can talk about Justin.”

After Ben got Brian to the car, which wasn’t an easy task, he settled himself in behind the wheel and turned to face his friend. “Okay Brian, what’s going on with Justin?”

“I can’t tell you. He made me promise,” Brian replied, slightly sobering up from the night air.

“Brian, Justin’s a part of our little fucked up family. If he’s in any trouble, you have to tell me.” When Ben realized that he wasn’t getting anywhere, he tried again. “I’m your best friend. You can trust me. I won’t tell the others.”

“Not even Michael?”

“No, not even Michael. I care about Justin and I want to know that he’s okay. He is okay, right?”

Brian took a deep breath. He hated to break a confidence, but he also knew that he’d be leaving soon and Justin would need someone who he could count on, who know what he had been through. “Ben, haven’t you ever noticed anything strange going on between Justin and Ethan?”

“Strange? I’m not sure what you mean,” Ben replied.

“I mean the little things, like how Justin always rushed home after his shifts at the diner, or the way he always worried about what Ethan thought.”

“Well now that you mention it, he did seem to always cater to Ethan, but I just assumed that he was in love and trying to make his boyfriend happy. That wasn’t it, was it?” A feeling of dread washed over Ben as he started to realize what Brian was trying to say.

“No, that wasn’t it. Ethan’s been beating on Justin almost since they moved in together,” Brian admitted softly.

“That fucking bastard!” Ben exclaimed. “How did you find out?”

“Well, we had a late shooting one night and afterwards Justin and I went to grab a bite to eat. Ethan called before we even got our meals and Justin raced out of there so fast, he wouldn’t even let me give him a ride home. The next day he showed up at work stiff with a slight bruise on his face. He claimed to trip over the cat, but I knew better. I think I even used that excuse once with one of my teachers after a run in with Jack. I eventually called him on it, forcing him to show me where he hurt. His chest and stomach with covered with both new and old bruises. He made me promise not to tell anyone. He was so scared that I made the promise, but told him we would talk about it again.” Brian took a deep breath, while Ben waited for the rest.

“Sunday night after the dinner, Ethan did it again. He saw Justin and I outside talking and attacked him as soon as they got home. Once Ethan left, Justin called me on his cell phone and asked me to help him. I found him pretty beaten up, lying on the floor barely conscious. I took him to the emergency room. He has three broken ribs, a fractured arm, and quite a few cuts and bruises.”

“I’ll kill that fucking piece of shit!”

“Relax, I’ve already threatened to kill him myself if he ever goes near Justin again,” Brian assured him.

“You talked to him?”

“Yeah, when I took Justin to go get his things. Can you believe he was going to go back to that bastard?”

“What? Why would he even consider going back to him? And why didn’t he come to one of us? We would’ve helped him.”

“He’s embarrassed. He thinks he should be old enough to take care of himself and didn’t want to burden any of you. He was hoping to save up enough money to move out on his own. He’s already dropped out of school to save some money.”

“Shit, that’s a shame. How’s he doing now?” Ben asked with concern.

“He’s getting better. I gave him the week off with pay so that he wouldn’t have to worry about money. I leave him my cell phone so he thinks he’s actually working, but I’ve had most of my calls forwarded to the studio so he can get some rest,” Brian chuckled.

“Good, that’s probably the best thing for him. So what happens next?”

“I don’t know. I’m going to keep him at the hotel until I check out so that he can save enough money to get a small place of his own, but I don’t know how he’ll make it on any salary he’s going to make around here. I even thought about asking him to continue on as my assistant after I leave. He could come back to LA with me if he wanted to, maybe enroll in art school out there…but I don’t know if that would be a good idea because…” Brian’s voice trailed off as he realized what he was about to admit.

“Because why?” Ben prodded.

“Never mind, let’s just go, okay?”

“Brian, what is it you’re not telling me?”



“It’s just…I like this kid,” Brian mumbled.

“I know; we all do. He’s a great kid,” Ben agreed.

“No, I mean I really like this kid. There’s just something about him…”

“Brian, when you say you like him…”

“I haven’t tricked since my second week here,” Brian admitted.

“Shit,” Ben sighed.

“Exactly, that’s why I think it’s best that I just leave at the end of filming and not look back.”

“How does he feel about you?”

“How the fuck do I know? Does it really matter? He’s only nineteen years old. He’s too young to settle down with anyone, especially an emotional cripple. He needs to meet other guys his own age and have fun.”

“Like the fun he was having with Ethan?” Ben saw Brian wince at the mention of Ethan and knew he hit a nerve. “What Justin needs is someone that cares about him, maybe even loves him.”

“What the hell do I know about love? I’m not even capable of loving someone.”

“That’s bullshit, Brian. What about Cynthia and me? We love you and I know you love us, too,” Ben pointed out.

“That’s different,” Brian argued.

“How is it different?”

“Because loving you two is easy. I know that no matter how badly I fuck up, you’ll never walk away. You’ll never turn your back on me like my own family did.” Brian hated the insecurity he heard in his voice.

“Brian, loving someone is a wonderful experience. I never understood that until I met Michael. He’s so kind and caring. There’s always a risk when you give your heart to someone, but believe me; it’s worth the risk. If, God forbid, I lost Michael tomorrow, I’d never regret the time I’ve had with him. You can’t keep shutting yourself off from those around you because of what your family did to you. You’ll end up missing out on so much happiness.”

“Can we go now?” Brian asked once again.

“Only if you promise to think about what I’ve said,” Ben answered.

“Alright, alright…I’ll think about it. Not can you just start the fucking car?” Brian snapped in irritation.

“Testy, aren’t we? Fine, let’s get you back. I won’t tell the others, but sooner or later they’re going to figure out that Justin and Ethan aren’t together anymore and want to know what happened.”

“I know. Maybe by then Justin will be ready to talk about it, but right now he just needs so time to work things out in his head. Don’t worry, I’ll look out for him,” Brian said reassuringly.

“I bet you will,” Ben teased.

“Okay, don’t make me regret telling you, Asshole.”

Ben laughed as he drove through the streets of Pittsburgh hoping that his friend would actually find a little happiness out of the whole mess he and Justin were in.

Two more weeks had passed, giving Brian about three more weeks left in Pittsburgh, and he was still doing battle with his inner demons where Justin was concerned. The broken ribs were all but healed and aside from the cast, which was due to come off in a couple of weeks, there was hardly a trace of what had happened with Ethan. Living together had proven to be a pleasant experience for them both. They went to work together in the morning, went home together at night and really enjoyed each other’s company. They talked a lot about their lives and got to know each other better, something that Brian hadn’t done with anyone in years and all it did was confuse him even more. He even shared the details of his childhood and listened while Justin shared his. Every day he became a little more attached to Justin and every day his mind battled over what he should do about it if anything at all, until one night when the situation was taken out of his hands.

Brian had to work late but urged Justin to take a taxi and go home early. They both didn’t need to stand around the studio waiting for one of the lightening technicians to fix a faulty spotlight. Justin agreed to go, promising to wait until Brian got home to eat. Without thinking about the consequences, Justin stopped at a deli and picked up the makings for a picnic along with a bottle of wine. When he got back to the suite, he called down to room service, requesting candles, plates and wine glasses to help him achieve to proper ambiance. Once he was done, he sat on the couch staring at the spread he laid out, wondering if he was just going to make thing between them uncomfortable.

Over the last few weeks, as he and Brian grew closer, his feelings for the older man also grew deeper and it was time to come clean and admit what he was feeling. He wasn’t sure if Brian shared any of his feelings, but he had noticed the strange looks he’d been receiving lately and still remembered Brian’s reaction to him during their shower. It wasn’t much to go on, but in another few weeks, Brian would be gone and if Justin didn’t take the chance he was given, he’d always wonder what might have been.

When he heard the sound of Brian’s card at the lock at the door, Justin jumped up and turned off the lights, letting the room be engulfed in the glow of the many candles he had lit throughout the room. He walked towards the door, greeting Brian as he normally did when he was home before him.

“Hey, how’d the rest of the shoot go?”

“Okay…um, what happened to the lights?” Brian asked as he entered the darkened room.

“I…uh…just thought it would be nice to eat by candle light. It’s been a little weird for me living in a hotel for the last few weeks,” Justin replied nervously. “Come on, dinner’s waiting for us. I stopped at the deli you like so much and got you your favorite.”

Brian glanced around the room, noticing the blanket laid out with their dinner on it and the wine chilling and realization dawned on him. Even the great Brian Kinney, as Ben called him, could see the romantic gesture in the setting. His heart rate kicked up a notch, although he wasn’t sure if it was in fear or anticipation. Taking a deep breath, he decided to take things slow and see what progressed. He was still clueless about what to do, but maybe Justin could show him the way.

“This looks nice, Justin. You didn’t have to go through all the trouble, though.”

“I know…I just thought that,” Justin immediately wondered is his idea was a bad one after all. “If you’d rather eat at the table…”

“No, this is good,” Brian replied, noticing for the first time how nervous Justin was. “I’m starving actually. Let’s eat.”

At first they began to eat in uncomfortable silence, but pretty soon their easy camaraderie took over and by the time they were done eating they were laughing over the events of the week just like they normally did on Friday night. Justin stood up, ready to clear away their dishes when Brian grabbed his arm, stopping him.

“Why don’t we take our wine and go sit on the couch for awhile. The dishes can wait and I think we should probably talk.”

“Oh…uh…okay,” Justin stammered, kicking himself for his inability to speak. He grabbed both glasses and made his way to the couch, waiting for Brian to join him.

Brian was nervous as hell, never having been in a situation where he had to talk about his feelings before, and wasn’t sure where to start. He slowly got up from the floor and sat on the couch next to Justin trying to figure out what to say.

“So, what did you want to talk about?” Justin asked, trying to remain calm.

“This,” Brian replied, sweeping his arms towards the room. “I think there was more to this dinner besides your being tired of the hotel.”

Justin panicked, not sure of what Brian was going to say and quickly began rambling. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done this. It’s just that I really like you and I was beginning to think you liked me, too. I thought that while we were in the shower…never mind. I don’t know what I was thinking. It won’t happen again, I promise. I’ll just go clean everything up and we can forget this ever happened.”

Justin tried to stand up again, but again Brian stopped him. “What if I told you I don’t want to forget about it?”

“I…th…think…my heart would stop beating,” Justin chuckled nervously.

“Okay, we can’t let that happen. I’m not up on my CPR. Let’s back up a minute. I do like you, Justin. We’ve become really close in our time together, even before you moved in. What you saw in the shower was an uncontrollable response to being close to you like that. I just…I don’t know if this is something we should continue to explore. You’re so young. You should have years ahead of you before you even think about jumping into anything and when you do, it should be with someone closer to your own age.”

“Like I had with Ethan? He was my age,” Justin pointed out.

Brian smiled at Justin’s response; the same one Ben had given him two weeks before. “I also don’t want you thinking that you owe me something for helping you with Ethan. What I did, I did out of friendship. I wanted to help you get away from that bastard and get your life together.”

“So you think I’m just interested in you out of obligation? You saved me so now I have to return the favor somehow?”

“No, that’s not what I meant. See, I’m lousy at this whole talking thing,” Brian sighed in frustration.

“Let me ask you something Brian. How do you feel about me?”

“Jeez, do you have to start out with the hard questions? Couldn’t you just ask me my favorite color or something?” Brian teased.

“Blue…okay, how about this. How do you feel about leaving Pittsburgh in three weeks and never seeing me again?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve been trying not to think about it,” Brian replied honestly.

“Well let me tell you how I feel when I think about it. I get this unbearable pain in my chest and I feel like I can’t breath. That’s why I did this. I knew that I had to take a chance before it was too late and you were gone for good. I don’t know what will happen in the future; we’ve only known each other for ten weeks. All I do know is that I’ve never felt like this before and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to find true happiness. I’ve waited a long time to find it and if it’s staring me in the face, I want to reach out and grab it.”

Brian stared at Justin for a moment, realizing that everything he’d just heard was exactly how he was feeling. Maybe it was time for him to put away the pain of his past and look towards the future. His decision made, Brian pulled Justin in, kissing him with all the pent up passion that he’d been holding back.

Justin returned Brian’s kiss with everything he had, trying to hold on to the moment as long as he could. When he pulled back and looked into Brian’s eyes, he saw the promise of love staring back at him. “What was that for?” he asked breathlessly.

“I was reaching out for what was staring me in the face. My opportunity for true happiness,” Brian explained softly before pulling Justin back to him for another kiss.




Brian watched the last of his luggage being placed in the trunk of the cab before turning towards his friend to say good bye.

“Thanks for everything, Ben. I’ve enjoyed having you close by for the last three months. It was almost like old times,” Brian said.

“Yeah, it was great having you here. Now you make sure to enjoy that vacation of yours and I want all the details when you get back. I’m going to miss you, Buddy,” Ben replied his voice choked with emotion.

“Me too.” Brian pulled Ben to him, hugging his friend as he almost choked on his own emotions.

Ben held on tight for a moment, whispering in Brian’s ear. “Take care of him.”

Brian pulled back and glanced over to where Justin was standing, giving them a few minutes alone. “Believe me, I will.”

Ben nodded and then turned towards Justin and pulled him in for a hug. “Make sure you keep in touch with the family. Otherwise they’ll be on a plane to LA to kick your ass.”

“I promise,” Justin chuckled. “And don’t worry; I won’t do anything to hurt him.”

“I know you’ll both be very happy. Now get the hell out of here before I start crying like a big baby,” Ben teased.

“We’re going, we’re going. Say good bye to everyone again for me, and I promise we’ll call as soon as we get back from Italy.”

“We’ll be waiting,” Ben called as he watched Brian and Justin climb into the back of the cab.

Brian and Justin waved one final time before their cab took off down the street, taking them to the airport.

“Any regrets?” Brian asked as the got on the highway.

“How could I have any regrets? I’m exactly where I want to be,” Justin replied with a smile.

“Me too, Justin. Me too.”

The End

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