Promise Me

 

 

 

 

Justin looked around the loft one last time, wanting to make sure he had everything he needed before he walked away once again. He didn't notice the tears that were streaming down his face or the soft sobs that kept escaping. All he could focus on was the fact the he was leaving, probably for good this time. His mind drifted back over the fight they had the night before.

 

Justin had just left Debbieís house after trying to console her over the loss of Vic. The world seemed like an unfair place to him. Vic was supposed to die years ago from the HIV that overtook his body, but he survived. He fought back against the disease and won. He had four more years left and in that time he had lived a good life, even finally finding someone he loved who could love him back. Now it was all gone and Justin had to push aside his feelings to offer support to Debbie. He knew he would mourn later. He had grown to love Vic like a father, just like everyone else in the fucked up family. Especially Brian.

 

No one really knew how close Brian and Vic were. No one but Justin, who was lucky enough to have a brief glimpse into the relationship between the two men. No one knew that Vic helped guide Brian into adulthood when he needed guidance the most. That was why Brian said what he did to Deb. He knew how Vic felt about the years he had since his near death experience. Maybe Brian shouldnít have said anything at that moment, but that was how Brian handled pain. Everyone should have known that by now. Glancing at his watch, Justin saw that it was after midnight, and wondered if Brian was home from tricking yet. His other form of pain management.

 

As he slid the loft door back, Justin was startled to see Brian sitting in the dark at the table, a bottle of beam in his hand.

 

"Hey Brian, are you okay?"

 

"Why wouldnít I be? I won our bet. Good old Shane was a master," Brian replied dryly.

 

Justin could sense something in Brianís voice that he couldnít quite read, but it scared him none the less.

 

"I guess that means I have to go back to school, huh?" Justin laughed.

 

"Actually, I had something else in mind," Brian said, his voice emotionless.

 

"Oh? Whatís that?" Justin asked tentatively. He didnít like the way the conversation was going.

 

"You need to go."

 

"Okay, go where?"

 

"You need to pack up whatever shit you have here and get out," Brian demanded.

 

"What? What are you talking about?" Justin cried, trying to understand what Brian was saying.

 

"Iím talking about you over staying your welcome. Itís been fun, Sunshine, but itís time to move on. Lifeís too short to be settling down," Brian explained as if he was talking to a child.

 

Justin looked at Brian in shock. He couldnít believe what he was hearing. What had happened since Brian had left him behind at Debís? Could it just be the shock of losing Vic? Somehow Justin didnít think so. "Brian..."

 

"I said get out! Now go!" Brian yelled, grabbing his keys off the counter and heading out the door.

 

Justin dropped to his knees in agony and cried himself to sleep, confused by the scene he had just witnessed. He woke up the next morning on the floor, and the memory of the night before hit him with such force that it actually took his breath away. After looking around the loft, he realized that Brian had never made it home. Without thinking he reached for the phone to call his cell, worried that something might have happened to the man. Of course Brian didnít answer, so Justin left a message telling him to at least call him and let him know he was alright. He then called Kinnetic, hoping to catch Brian there, but Cynthia said he was in meetings and told her he was not to be disturbed. Cynthia sounded uncomfortable when she told him that Brian had added Justin to the list of people that were not to be put through. In all the years, Justin had never been on that list.

 

Now here Justin was, saying goodbye to the loft once again. When he slid the door shut behind him, the sound echoed through the floor, matching the sound of his breaking heart. Justin caught a cab and headed back to his and Daphneís place, happy that she wasnít at home. He didnít want to talk about what had happened, and since he was still technically living there, it would be a few days before she realized that he and Brian had broken up again. Maybe by then he would be able to talk about it without feeling as if his heart was being ripped from his chest, although somehow he doubted it. He threw himself on his bed and eventually drifted off to sleep on his pillow soaked with tears. He faintly wondered how many tears a person could cry.

 

Justin woke up hours later to a darkened room. He had slept most of the day and for that he was thankful. Anything to keep him from experiencing the heartache was welcome. Without conscious thought he got up and took a shower, deciding to head to Woodyís and have a few drinks. Maybe Brianís pain management would work on him, although it never had before.

 

As he took a seat at the bar, Justin noticed Shane sitting a few stools down. He was the last person Justin wanted to see, but he continued to order drink after drink, blocking out the world around him; including the gorgeous man to his right. After he finished his third drink and was beginning to feel a good buzz, Justin noticed that Shane had taken the seat beside him.

 

"Hey, you seem to be power drinking tonight," Shane said, remembering the blond from the other night. After Brian had come in and taken him away, someone had told them that they were a couple.

 

"Fuck off! Mind your own fucking business!" Justin retorted.

 

"Look, Justin is it? I know how hard it must be on you, but I donít think drowning you troubles is going to help your boyfriend any, do you?" Shane asked in a gentle voice.

 

"What?" Justin asked in confusion.

 

"Before anyone panics, Brian needs to have a series of tests done. It may not even be cancer, but even if it is, that doesnít mean he canít be treated and live a normal life," Shane assured him.

 

All of the sudden the bar started spinning, and not because of the alcohol Justin had consumed. He looked over at Shane and knew the man thought he knew about whatever must have happened between him and Brian.

 

"Tell me again what you told Brian. I was so worked up that I donít remember all the details," Justin lied, needing to get the right information.

 

Twenty minutes later Justin was headed towards the loft, his mind racing with what Shane had told him. Apparently while Shane was giving Brian a blow job, he happened to notice a lump in one of Brianís balls. Being a doctor, Shane told Brian about it. Heíd bought the man a drink and explained what he was going to have to do to get it checked out and treated. Justin immediately understood what Brian had been thinking when he threw him out of the loft and his life. Justin was angry. He knew why Brian was always trying to protect him from bad things, but he was getting tired of being pushed away every time something went wrong. It was time for him to confront Brian about the way he was treated.

 

When Justin pulled back the door to the loft, he was surprised to find the room dark except for the orange glow coming from the bedroom.

 

"Brian?"

 

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Brian asked, his voice choked with emotion.

 

Justin saw Brian standing by the windows looking out at the night sky. Without saying a word he walked over and turned Brian around. Seeing the dampness on the older manís face startled Justin, but he wouldnít let it stop him from doing what he came to do. He took Brian in his arms and held him close, offering unspoken strength.

 

"How did you find out?" Brian whispered, knowing that Justin had heard.

 

"I ran into Shane at Woodyís while I was trying to drown my sorrows. He figured that I was upset by the news," Justin explained, stepping back to look into Brianís eyes. "Thatís not the way I should have found out."

 

"Itís none of your concern, Justin. Itís my problem, not yours," Brian replied looking away.

 

"Bullshit! What affects you affects me, too. When are you going to see that? When are you going to realize that I love you, and that no matter what youíre going through, Iím going to be here for you?" Justin asked, a stray tear sliding down his cheek.

 

Brian looked down into Justinís eyes and hated the pain he saw there; the pain that he once again was responsible for. He brought up a hand and wiped away the tear, trying to control his own emotions.

 

"I donít want you to have to go through this with me. I donít want to see the look of pain and pity in your eyes every time you look at me. I can do this on my own," Brian replied, hating the shakiness in his voice.

 

"I know you can do this on your own. Youíre the bravest man I know. But you donít have to do it on your own. You donít have to be strong for me. Thatís the whole point of having a partner; to let someone else in to help you when you need it. You donít have to keep everything inside anymore. Let me help you," Justin pleaded, openly crying now.

 

Brian looked down at Justin, no longer caring about the tears that started running down his face. "Justin...Iím scared."

 

Justin pulled Brian into another embrace, trying to keep from becoming hysterical at the pain Brian was feeling; that they both were feeling. "I know you are, Brian. I am, too. Weíll get through this, though. I promise. Iíll be right by your side the whole time, and if you need to break down occasionally, thatís okay. Iíll be strong enough for both of us."

 

Brian held Justin in his arms, allowing the damn to break. He had been trying to keep his emotions in check ever since Shane had told him about the lump, but he couldnít do it anymore. Not when Justin was there, offering to carry some of the burden. He stayed in the embrace for a few minutes, relishing the feeling of having someone to lean on, before finally pulling away.

 

"Are you sure you want to do this? We donít know whatís going to happen. I donít want you to feel like youíre trapped down the line if things donít turn out too good," Brian admitted sadly.

 

"Everything is going to be okay, Brian, but if for some reason it isnít, Iíll still be here for you. Loving you with everything that I have. There is only one thing I need you to do for me," Justin replied quietly.

 

"Give you one of my famous blow jobs?" Brian teased, trying to lighten the mood.

 

"No matter what the doctors find, or what happens from here, I need you to stop trying to protect me. I need you to stop trying to do everything on your own. I need you to promise me that you wonít push me away," Justin whispered, ignoring Brianís stab at humor.

 

"But what if..."

 

"Promise me, Brian. I need you to promise me," Justin insisted.

 

Looking into Justinís face, he knew he wouldnít be able to deny him anything. "I promise, Sunshine."

 

"Thank you, Brian. Now why donít we try to get some sleep? We can figure out what to do next tomorrow," Justin said, leading Brian to bed.

 

Once they were in bed, Justin took Brian in his arms trying to offer comfort in any way that he could. The drinks that he had earlier, coupled with the emotions racing through him, were making it hard for him to stay awake. He was almost asleep when he heard Brianís gentle whisper in the quiet room.

 

"Iím glad youíre here, Sunshine."

 

"Me too, Brian. Me too."

 

The end

5/23/04

 

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