Summer Lovin



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







Brian was just starting the lunch shift at the Hayworth Diner when a group of kids about his age stumbled in laughing and shoving each other playfully. He sighed as he grabbed his order pad and made his way over to their table. The kids had that air about them. The one that said ‘I’m spoiled rotten because my parents have money’, and that just irritated him. It wasn’t that he was jealous of what they had. Brian was very happy with the life he led. He even enjoyed spending his summers at the shore with his grandmother, waiting tables to make extra money to carry him through the school year. It was the attitude that got to him. The way they looked down their noses at people like him; people who were from working class families as opposed to being born with a silver spoon in their mouths.


“Welcome to Hayworth’s. My name is Brian and I’ll be serving you today. Can I start you off with a drink while you look at our menu?” Brian recited from memory while at least half of the table’s occupants ignored him.


He waited patiently, while everyone decided on their drinks before finally eyeing the blond who had his head buried in his menu. “And you?”


“I’ll have a…uh…a coke?” the blond stammered as he looked up into the waiter’s eyes.


Brian inhaled sharply before quickly regaining his composure as he found himself looking into stunning deep blue eyes.


“I’ll be right back with those drinks,” he said as he turned away from the gorgeous blond and his friends. He never felt a reaction to a guy before like the one he felt looking at the blond and it had him rattled.


Justin sat at the table, confused by the sudden feelings that were taking over him. He was sitting next to Lindsay, his girlfriend of three years, yet no one had ever affected him the way that the waiter had. There’d been a time when he was thirteen that he began questioning his sexuality, but knowing his father the way he did made him stop questioning things and just do what was expected of him. It hadn’t really been that hard. He’d met Lindsay a year later and her sweetness, as well as her artistic abilities, helped him to fall into a comfortable relationship with her. Since her upper-class upbringing prevented her from having pre-marital sex, it kept them from going into territory that Justin wasn’t comfortable with and things between them had been just fine. At least it was; until he walked into the diner and felt his world suddenly spinning out of control.


Brian was filling up the drink order when his buddy came up behind him.


“Hey Brian, is everything alright? You look a little pale and you’re shaking,” Drew said in concern.


“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m fine. I just skipped breakfast this morning. That’s all,” Brian replied with a grin, refusing to confide in his friend how much he was shaken by his customer.


“Why didn’t you say something? Go grab something to eat and I’ll cover for you,” Drew offered.


“No,” Brian barked before quickly steadying out his tone. “That’s okay. I’ll grab something in a little while.” He wasn’t about to give up the opportunity to talk to the blond, no matter how thrown he was by his reaction.


“You sure man?”


“Yeah, I’m fine,” Brian assured him. Without another word, he loaded up his tray with the drinks and headed back to the table.


Justin was still trying to get his heart rate back to normal when the waiter reappeared at the table.


“Okay, here you go,” Brian said as he placed the drinks in front of everybody. “Are you ready to order now?”


Brian had to struggle to concentrate on what everyone was ordering, trying to put the blond out of his thoughts while he scribbled on his pad. It wasn’t easy, especially when he noticed that the guy was staring at him. In fact, he was quite excited when he first realized he was being watched closely. Well, he was until the blond girl sitting next to him began to speak, making Brian think that he had been imagining things.


“Sweetie, will you get an order of fries so we can share them?” she asked in a disgustingly sweet tone.


It took Justin a moment before he realized that Lindsay was speaking to him. “What?”


“Jeez Justin, what’s wrong with you today? You aren’t paying attention to a thing we’re saying,” Lindsay whined.


“Yeah Man,” Ethan agreed. “What’s up with you?”


Justin knew they were right. He had a lot on his mind. It had only been 24 hours since his father had told him about the divorce, but ever since all Justin could think about was how much his life was about to change. Now, on top of all that, he was having strange, unwelcome feelings about their waiter. It suddenly felt like he was entering the twilight zone.


“I’m sorry, I’m just a little tired,” Justin replied feebly before turning back to the waiter. “I’ll have a cheeseburger and fries, please.”


Brian nodded his head and took the menus before going towards the kitchen to put in the order. He wondered how he’d been so off base. His gaydar was rarely wrong and he could’ve sworn that it was pinging loud and clear when he was looking at Justin. Thanks to his apparent girlfriend, he at least had a name. Sadly it wasn’t enough to get Brian what he wanted out of the kid.


All through lunch, Justin tried to listen to his friends as they talked excitedly about their upcoming senior year, but it was hard. He had overheard his mother on the phone that morning telling his grandmother that he and Molly were going to have to transfer to public school in September. It was bad enough to have to change schools before senior year, but public school? How was he supposed to survive that? It wasn’t that he was a snob; far from it. He just knew that country club brats didn’t mix well with others and with his lack of athletic abilities and his love for art, he imagined himself being tossed into many lockers in the upcoming year. His mother had always kept them grounded, telling them constantly that having money didn’t make them better than anyone else, but he saw the way his friends acted around people who they thought were lower than them and he was afraid that some of it might have rubbed off on him. Oh yeah, it was going to be a whole new world for him.


Brian tried to keep his gaze from falling on Justin while he ate, but it wasn’t easy. He couldn’t seem to concentrate on much else and even managed to screw up someone’s order before Drew approached him again, this time with a smirk of understanding.


“He’s hot, isn’t he? But way out of your league,” Drew drawled teasingly.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Brian replied although he knew he was busted.


“I’m talking about Blondie over there. You know, the kid that you’ve been drooling over for the last half hour.”


“Oh, him,” Brian sighed.


“Yeah, him. Not for nothing Bri, but he’s straight and from money. Two major strikes against him. Just push those dirty little thoughts out of your mind right now before the boss notices your preoccupation and sends you home. You know how much he hates when we screw up orders.” Drew winked at his friend before walking away.


“If only it were that easy,” Brian mumbled to himself as he grabbed some menus and walked over to the family of four that just walked in. With any luck, the usual lunch rush would begin and he’d be too busy to think about those deep blue eyes.


After a very long day of hard work and great tips, Brian was ready to head home. One of the night waiters had called out and he had stayed to make the extra money. Just as he hoped, the lunch rush came and took his mind off of Justin for awhile, but as soon as the crowd thinned out, he went right back to the visions he’d been having. Visions that he shouldn’t have been having about a straight kid, and now all he wanted to do was go back to his grandmother’s and forget all about his day. As he waved goodbye to one of his coworkers, he started walking down the boardwalk, wanting the peace that he wouldn’t get if he walked the boulevard. It was a Wednesday night and since it was still early in the season, not too many people were out after 10:00 pm. He was about half way home when he noticed a familiar blond figure leaning up against a lamppost. He thought about just walking right by, but he could hear Justin speaking angrily into his cell phone and hung back, listening curiously to the one sided conversation.


“Mom, I can’t believe you’re doing this…no, I don’t think we need to talk about it… you don’t understand…it’s not fair to Molly and me…we’re not the ones that screwed everything up…no, I know you didn’t do it on purpose…fine…whatever…I’m staying at Ethan’s tonight…I’ll be back sometime tomorrow.”


Brian felt guilty for listening to the private conversation and was ready to walk on by when he realized that the kid started sniffing, indicating that he was starting to cry. He looked around for the friend Justin had mentioned, but didn’t see anyone there. He sighed and decided to approach him, figuring he had nothing to lose.


“Hey,” Brian called softly.


Justin jumped, startled by the sound of someone’s voice and quickly wiped away the few tears that had fallen before turning around and making eye contact with the waiter from the diner. “Oh…uh…hey,” he said softly.


“Is everything alright?” Brian asked hesitantly.


“Not really,” Justin huffed honestly. “But it’s no big deal. I’ll be fine.”


“Are you sure? You seem pretty upset. I might have overheard a little bit of your conversation,” Brian admitted sheepishly.




“So sue me,” Brian chuckled at the glint he saw in Justin’s eyes. “I’m Brian, by the way.”


“I know, I remember you. I’m Justin,” he replied. He started to put out his hand, but than thought better of it when he remembered that his country club days were over.


“I know. I remember you, too. So where’s…uh…Ethan?”


“Ethan?” Justin asked in confusion before he remembered that Brian had been listening to him talking to his mother. “Oh, right. Ethan. I don’t know. He’s probably at home with Stacy, his girlfriend.”


“I thought you were staying at his house?” Brian knew it wasn’t any of his business, but he couldn’t help but ask.


“No, I just told my mother that so she’d leave me alone. I don’t really want to go home right now,” Justin explained.


“Well, what about your girlfriend? How come you’re not with her?”


“I guess I’m just not in the mood for my friends right now. I love them, but they can be a little…uh…much sometimes, you know?”


“Oh, so you’ve noticed,” Brian replied before realizing his mistake. “Shit, sorry about that. I’m sure they’re great friends.”


Justin laughed at Brian’s back peddling. “It’s okay, you don’t have to apologize. They are great, but I know they can be a little hard to take sometimes. We’ve known each other for years, live in the same town, go to the same school, so we’re pretty close. There are just some things I’d rather not share with them right now. Does that make any sense?”


“I understand completely. I have a few of those friends myself, although I’m sure they’re not like your friends,” Brian laughed.


“What? They’re not shallow, self absorbed, and self righteous?” Justin teased.


“Not even close, but they are nosey, overbearing, and crude.”


“Wow, that great, huh?” Justin chuckled, enjoying the easy banter between him and Brian.


“So, what are your plans for the night then?”


“I’m not really sure. I didn’t think that far in advance. I just know I don’t want to go home right now,” Justin sighed at the reminder of his problems.


“You can always come back to my house. I was planning on hanging out in front of the TV and relaxing.” Brian wasn’t sure where the offer came from, but he was happy when Justin didn’t recoil at the invitation.


“Are you sure? You don’t even know me,” Justin told him.


“True, but you don’t seem like the axe murderer type. Besides, I’m staying with my grandmother and she’s pretty good at swinging her cane,” Brian teased.


“I’ve got one of them, too. You learn how to dodge those canes at an early age when there’s a plate of warm cookies on the counter. I swear that she can walk fine. She just likes having a weapon on her for when we miss-behave.”


“So, is that a yes?” Brian asked when his laugher faded.


“Lead the way,” Justin replied with a smile and then walked side by side with Brian, suddenly looking forward to the night ahead of him.






As soon as Brian and Justin walked in the house, a small, somewhat frail looking woman came out of the bedroom with a smile on her face.


“Brian how was work?” she asked with affection.


“Work was fine, Grandma but I’m sorry I wasn’t here for dinner. Joey called out tonight and I decided to take the shift for the extra money. Between my savings and what I’m making now I almost have enough to buy that jeep Dad and I were looking at,” Brian said proudly as he kissed his grandmother hello. “This is Justin. We’re going to watch some TV for a little while, okay?”


“Well, hello Justin,” the woman greeted warmly. “Brian, is he…?”


“No,” Brian said quickly, knowing exactly where the older woman was going with her question. Brian had been out to his family for the past two years and they were all wonderful about him being gay. The only difference now was that instead of telling him he needed to find a nice girl to settle down with, they were hoping he’d find a nice boy. It made it harder when he brought home friends because everyone was always hoping it was the one. “He just needed a place to crash for tonight. He’s hiding out from his friends and his girlfriend.”


Lavena Kinney heard her grandson’s silent warning and couldn’t help the disappointment that ran through her. Brian and Justin just looked right together. She’d always been a big believer in destiny and meeting one’s soul mate and she really wanted Brian to find someone he could be happy with. One look at Justin and she knew he was someone special. She wondered how she could be so far off base. She usually had a good sense about those things. “That’s fine, Brian. Just remember to shut off the lights and the TV when you boys are finished. Now I’m off to bed. This old lady is tired.”


“Okay, goodnight Grandma,” Brian said as he kissed her cheek again.


“Goodnight, Mrs…” Justin hesitated when he realized he didn’t know their last name.


“Mrs. Kinney, but you can call me Lavena. It was a pleasure meeting you, Justin. I’ll see you boys in the morning.” Lavena turned around and slowly made her way to the bedroom.


Justin waited until Lavena was gone before turning to Brian. “She seems really nice.”


“Yeah, she’s the best,” Brian answered with a smile. “Are you hungry? Grandma keeps lots of snacks in the house.”


“Sure, whatcha got?” Justin asked as he followed Brian into the kitchen. It was strange how comfortable he felt being with Brian when they’d only known each other for a half hour at most.


After they grabbed some chips and soda, they settled themselves down in front of the TV and spent hours channel surfing and getting to know each other. Eventually Justin fell asleep on the couch and Brian took a few minutes to watch the blond in slumber. He looked so peaceful, not like the guy he found crying on the boardwalk, and Brian couldn’t help but wonder what it was that had his new friend so upset. Then his mind drifted over their time together and he found himself smiling at how they seemed to connect so quickly. It wasn’t like Brian didn’t have his fair share of friends back home, but the easy banter and long list of mutual interests was surprising to him. He’d never met anyone like Justin before and it was disappointing that he was straight. Justin was definitely someone that Brian could see himself falling for. There were a few moments when he felt Justin staring at him when he thought Brian wasn’t paying attention but Brian just chalked it up to the curiosity of a new friend. Justin had a girlfriend so obviously it couldn’t have been anything more than that. Brian chastised himself for sitting there watching Justin sleep and got up to get him a blanket. After covering him up, he turned off the TV and made his way to his room with a big smile on his face. The day definitely turned out to be better than he thought it would.


As Justin woke up, he could feel a presence in the room and slowly opened his eyes to find Lavena sitting in a chair across the room knitting. He rubbed his eyes and struggled into a sitting position.


“I’m sorry if I woke you. A women can only sit in her bedroom for so long before boredom takes over,” she said when she realized that Justin was awake.


“Oh, please don’t apologize. It’s your house. I just appreciate you letting me stay here. I just didn’t want to deal with anyone last night,” Justin said as he stretched. “Is Brian still asleep?”


“No, he ran to the store to pick up a few things for me. He should be back soon,” she told him. “So, do you want to talk about what’s bothering you? I’m a really good listener and I know how to keep a secret.”


Justin was about to refuse her offer, but realized that he really needed to talk with someone who wasn’t involved. “My parents are getting a divorce,” he said softly.


“Oh Justin, I’m sorry. I imagine that’s got to be rough on you. I don’t understand what’s wrong with people today. The minute trouble starts they run to the nearest lawyer. It’s sad. When I was young we all had our share of problems, but we worked them out. None of this divorce stuff. Are you an only child?”


“No, I have a younger sister. She’s twelve. She’s pretty upset, too.”


“I’m sure,” Lavena nodded in understanding.


“My parents keep telling us that it has nothing to do with us, but they just don’t understand. Everything’s going to change now. My dad’s not going to be living with us anymore and my mom says that she’s going to keep the house, but she doesn’t even have a job. How long will it be before Dad stops paying the mortgage? And we’re going to have to change schools. We’ve been in private school all our lives, going with the same kids since kindergarten. I’m starting my senior year and now I have to do it without my friends. It’s just not fair,” Justin sighed in frustration.


“You’re right, it’s not fair to you and your sister, but you have to look at it from your parents’ side, too. If they’re really unhappy, do you want them to stay together just so you don’t have to make any changes? I’m sure they’re still fairly young. They deserve to find happiness too, don’t you think?” Lavena offered.


“I guess so. This whole thing just sucks. I haven’t even told my friends yet. I’m not sure I’m ready for their pity. I guess that’s why Brian and I seemed to hit it off so quickly. He’s someone who doesn’t know me well enough to feel sorry for me.”


“Brian’s a good boy. I enjoy having him here with me during the summers. I know the day will come when he meets someone special and stops coming to visit so much and it breaks my heart to think about it. As much as I want him to be happy, I guess I’m just afraid that when he meets Mr. Right, he’s going to forget all about me.”


“Mr. Right?” Justin asked suddenly.


Lavena quickly realized her mistake. “Oh dear, I guess I let the cat out of the bag. Brian came out to us a couple of years ago so I sometimes forget that not everyone knows. I hope it doesn’t bother you.”


“No…of course it doesn’t,” Justin lied. Well, it wasn’t a complete lie. It did bother him, but not because he had a problem with gay people. He wasn’t sure what it was but the information made his heart race and his palms sweat. He knew he needed to get out of there. “Thanks again for letting me crash here, but I better get going.”




Justin scrambled to get his shoes on. He wanted to be gone before Brian got back. “No really, I told my mother that I was staying at my friend Ethan’s house. If she calls looking for me and I’m not there, she’ll be mad. Tell Brian…I…uh…I’ll see him around.”


Lavena watched Justin as he rushed out of her house with a frown. “Oh tiddlywinks, when will I ever learn to keep my big mouth shut?”


Brian was walking down the street on his way home when he saw Justin come out of the house and run in the opposite direction. He thought about calling out to him, but something told him to let the guy go. As he entered the house, he saw his grandmother sitting in her chair looking forlorn and knew she was behind Justin’s sudden departure.


“What’d you do?” he asked.


“I’m so sorry, Brian; me and my big mouth. I happened to let it slip that you were gay. He said he was okay with it, and then raced out of here,” she explained sadly.


“Its okay, Grandma. I would’ve told him eventually and he would’ve just freaked out then anyway,” Brian assured her, trying to hide his disappointment. They had such a good time the night before that he’d hoped Justin would be okay with his being gay. “So, what do you want for breakfast?”


“I’m not sure if I can eat with this big old foot in my mouth,” she replied.


“It never stopped you before,” he teased, letting her know that he wasn’t upset with her.


“Oh Brian, I really am sorry. Maybe he really just had to go home. His mother didn’t know where he was. I’m sure he’ll get in touch with you soon.”


Brian didn’t believe that for a second, but he wasn’t going to share his thoughts with his grandmother and make her feel worse. “I’m sure he will. Now let’s eat. I’m starving.”


Justin ran the whole way home, desperately trying to push thoughts of Brian out of his mind. When he entered the house, he was thankful to find that no one was there. He took the stairs two at a time and locked himself in his bedroom before throwing himself down on the bed. He took a few deep breaths, fighting to regain his composure. He needed to think about what he just learned. In the last four years he managed to ignore the questions that had plagued him frequently and force himself to believe that it was just a normal part of growing up. Since seeing Brian in the diner the day before, those questions had managed to find their way back into his mind and caused him all kinds of confusion. Now that he knew Brian was gay those thoughts terrified him. It was one thing to be attracted to men in movies or on TV, but to be attracted to someone like Brian? Someone who not only was right in front of him, but who he enjoyed spending time with? Someone who was gay and not ashamed of it? He couldn’t think about it anymore. He needed to do something to take his mind off of Brian and his improper thoughts. He quickly sat up and reached for the phone.


“Hey Linds, it’s me. You wanna do something today?” he asked as soon as he heard her voice on the line.


Lindsay was just what he needed to make him forget all about Brian Kinney.






Brian had just finished working the night shift and was walking home down the boardwalk when he heard someone coming up behind him. He turned around and was surprised to see Justin approaching him.


“Hey,” Justin said as he walked out of the shadows nervously.


“What do you want,” Brian asked angrily. He hadn’t seen or heard from the blond since the week before when he had run out while Brian was at the store. Deep down he was happy to see him but he wasn’t going to make it easy on the guy.


Justin heard the anger in Brian’s voice and knew it was justified. He was sure that it appeared that he ran away because he wasn’t okay with Brian being gay and he didn’t want him to think that. After spending the last week trying to understand why he reacted the way he did, he was still no closer to an answer, but he knew he needed to make things right with Brian again. He hated the thought of Brian thinking he was homophobic and even though they hardly knew each other, Justin really liked him and cared about what he thought.


“I…uh…just came by to apologize. I shouldn’t have run away like that,” Justin replied.


“It’s no big deal. A lot of people can’t accept it. You’re not the first and I’m sure you won’t be the last,” Brian said bitterly as he turned to walk away.


“Wait,” Justin said quickly. He reached out his hand to stop Brian from walking away and felt a strange sensation at the touch. He pulled away quickly, but didn’t give up. “It’s not what you think.”


“Really? Cause I think my grandmother told you that I was gay and you ran away as fast as you could. Isn’t that what happened?”


“Well technically, but I wasn’t running because you’re gay. I was just…surprised. I had no idea. You don’t look…um…” Justin’s voice trailed off as he realized how stupid and ignorant he sounded.


“I don’t look what? Gay? Forgive me, I left my pink fuzzy sweater and tights at home,” Brian said with his voice dripping in sarcasm.


“That’s not what I meant,” Justin sighed in frustration. “I just meant that…I never met anyone who’s gay before.”


“I’m betting you have, you just didn’t know it. Justin, I take a piss standing up and put my pants on one leg at a time, just like you. The only difference is that I fuck guys. We don’t all walk around wearing spandex and singing show tunes.”


“I know…shit, this isn’t turning out the way I wanted it to.” Justin’s mind was scrambling for something to say to make Brian understand that he didn’t have a problem with him being gay.


“Oh and how did you want it to turn out?” Brian asked curiously.


“I wanted you to accept my apology.”


“Fine, I accept your apology. Can I go now?” Once again Brian started to walk away until he heard Justin start talking again.


“And I wanted us to be friends again,” he said softly.


“Friends again? We were never really friends in the first place. You needed a place to hang out and I gave you one. That’s all,” Brian pointed out.


“That’s not all. Look Brian, I really like you. You’re different than all my friends from home. We hit it off immediately the other night. We started building a friendship and I know that if I hadn’t run away we would’ve continued to build that friendship. That’s all I want now. I want us to be able to hang out and have fun. We have the whole summer ahead of us. Think of the fun we could have.” Justin hated the desperation he heard in his voice, but he couldn’t help it. After just one night, the thought of not seeing Brian again saddened him.


Brian thought about refusing, but Justin was right. If he hadn’t run away, they would’ve continued on with their friendship. They had so much in common and Brian had really enjoyed hanging out with him that night. Whatever it was that sent him running; it had to be more than Brian’s sexuality. Otherwise he wouldn’t have tracked him down to apologize. “What are you doing now?”


“Huh?” Justin asked in confusion.


“I was just on my way home to watch the new Star Wars movie. You want to come along?”


Justin smiled when he realized that Brian was giving him a second chance. “Let’s go. I’ve been dying to see it,” he replied eagerly.


For the next few weeks Brian and Justin spent a lot of time together, just hanging out and getting to know one another. They really did have a lot in common and never found themselves at a loss for things to talk about. Slowly it began to dawn on Brian that he’d never met any of Justin’s friends. Aside from their first meeting when Justin and his gang made their way into the diner, Justin was always alone when he sought Brian out. At first, Brian didn’t mind too much but after awhile he started becoming annoyed with Justin’s obvious embarrassment of their friendship. He decided to confront Justin about it as soon as he had the opportunity.


The opportunity finally presented itself one night when Brian and Drew were working the late shift. The diner had finally emptied out and Drew was getting ready to lock the door when Justin walked in.


“Hey Justin, I was just about to lock up. Come on in. Brian’s just out back taking out the trash,” Drew greeted him.


“Thanks Drew. I was just in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by and see what you guys were up to,” Justin replied. He and Drew had gotten to know each other over the last couple of weeks and Justin liked him right from the start.


“I don’t know what Brian’s plans are for the night, but I have a hot date with some guy that I met last week at the beach. We’re going clubbing as soon as I can get out of here,” Drew told him.


“That’s cool.”


Before Drew could say anything else, Brian appeared, causing Justin to suddenly loose interest in anything else.


“Hey Brian.”


“Hey Justin, I thought you had plans with Lindsay tonight?” Brian said as he walked over to where his friends were standing.


“I did, but I dropped her off early. I figured I’d come by and see if you were busy. Thought maybe we could hang out and watch a movie,” Justin explained. He saw Drew give Brian a strange look before walking away and wondered what was going on between them.


“Justin, I think we need to talk. Give me a few minutes to finish up here and we can take a walk,” Brian said.


“Is everything okay?” Justin asked quickly.


“That’s what I’d like to know,” Brian replied. “Just give me ten minutes.”


Justin told Brian that he’d be waiting out front and left the diner with a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. The last few weeks had been really great for Justin. He liked Brian and had enjoyed their time together, and if he found himself thinking about his new friend at odd moments, like when he and Lindsay were making out on the beach at night, he just excused it all away by telling himself that it was because Brian was new. He was different because he hadn’t known Justin since grade school. He wasn’t there for all those school gatherings and holidays that the Taylor’s shared. He didn’t look at Justin with pity if the subject of the divorce came up. It had nothing to do with his piercing hazel eyes, or the way his lips glistened in the light, and it certainly had nothing to do with his well toned body and soft skin. Justin was straight and he was with Lindsay. His time with Brian was nothing more than an important friendship that he was enjoying while it lasted. But now it appeared as if it wasn’t going to last as long as he thought. There was definitely something bothering Brian and Justin knew whatever it was, it was going to change things between them.


Brian quickly finished up his work, anxious to get to Justin and talk about whatever was going on with him. The last thing he wanted to do was put pressure on his friend. He knew that Justin had enough going on with his parents divorce looming over his head, but he didn’t like feeling as if he was somebody’s big secret. Once he was sure that all the work was done, he went to find Drew and tell him he was leaving. He found him in the kitchen.


“Hey, I’m all finished so I’m going to head out.”


“Are you going to talk to Justin about what’s bothering you?” Drew asked curiously. He and Brian had discussed Justin’s behavior in great length for the last few days and Drew was beginning to think that Blondie was hiding something. He also had a feeling he knew what he was hiding but hadn’t mention his suspicions to Brian yet.


“Yeah, it’s driving me crazy. I know I don’t have the background that he’s used to, but I do know how to behave in public,” Brian said as he tried not to feel too slighted by Justin’s behavior.


“Maybe it’s not as simple as that? Maybe there’s a bigger reason why he seems to be keeping you to himself?” Drew offered.


“Like what?” Brian could see the doubt in Drew’s eyes and grew more suspicious. “Do you know something that I don’t? What aren’t you telling me?”


“No, of course I don’t know something that you don’t. I barely know the guy. It’s just that…” Drew’s voice trailed off as he thought of the best way to say what was on his mind.


“It’s just that…what?” Brian prodded.


“Look Brian, I might be way off base here, but did it ever occur to you that maybe Justin has feelings for you? Feelings that he’s not exactly sure what to do with?”


“What are you talking about?” Brian asked. “We’re just friends. He’s straight, remember? He’s got a girlfriend for fuck’s sake.”


“Yeah, one he drops off at home early so that he can come here and see you. Not everyone has it as easy as you did coming out. You’re one of the lucky few that have understanding and supportive parents. I dated the same girl through all four years in high school and I’m as gay as they come. The only difference is that while I lied to everyone around me, I never lied to myself. I always knew I was gay, but others don’t. Other guys live in the land of denial, never allowing themselves to believe that they’re anything but what’s expected of them. They bury their feelings so far down that there’s a chance that they’ll never feel them again unless they meet someone so incredible that it rocks their world.”


“And you think that’s what I did?” Brian asked incredulously.


“Truthfully? I think that’s exactly what happened. I think Justin’s been denying who he really is for so long and then when he met you everything started to come apart. I think that’s why he was so freaked out when he found out you were gay. Think about it. He meets this really great guy that he’s attracted to and starts hanging out with. It seems safe enough for him until he finds out the guy is gay. It makes it harder to ignore what he’s feeling. As long as he hangs out with straight people, he can keep pretending that he’s just like them. But with you, he can’t do that. You bring the whole issue right to the front burner by being out and proud.” Drew stopped talking; giving Brian a minute to absorb what he’s telling him.


“Then why did he come back? Why did he track me down to apologize?” Brian was more confused than ever. Some of what Drew was saying made sense, but he still wasn’t sure there was any real merit to his reasoning.


“Because he couldn’t stay away. Despite his fear of facing issues about himself that he doesn’t want to face, the bottom line is that he fell for you and he can’t seem to stay away. He needs to be with you and your friendship is allowing him to do that without forcing him to admit to something he’s not ready to admit to,” Drew explained.


“So what do I do?” Brian asked in wonder. “If what you’re suggesting is true, am I supposed to just sit back and wait to see if he ever comes forward?”


“That depends on what it is you want? If he was out and proud, would you want to have something more with him? Would you want to have more with him than just your friendship?”


Brian didn’t even have to think before answering. “Definitely.”


“Then you definitely need to talk to him. See if you can get him to open up to you,” Drew suggested.


“How? What am I supposed to say? Drew thinks you’re a fag?”


Drew broke out in laughter. “No, I don’t think that’s the right approach.”


“Well than what is? Help me out here cause I have no idea what I should do.” Brian sighed.


“You’re going to have to play it by ear, my friend. Look for signs; see where the conversation leads you. That’s all you really can do.”


“Shit, this sucks,” Brian muttered.


“Yeah, and not in a good way,” Drew agreed. “Just see what happens. I may be wrong and then you have nothing to worry about, but I don’t think I am. I’ve seen the way he lights up when his eyes find you. He’s probably not even aware of it, but his expression is very telling. There’s no rush. You don’t have to beat the truth out of him tonight. Just keep what I’ve said in the back of your mind and be more aware of his words and actions. It’s the only advice I can offer.”


“Thanks Drew, I appreciate it. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Brian said before walking towards the door.


“Yeah, good luck,” Drew called after him, wishing he could do more for his friend.






Justin jumped slightly when he heard Brian’s voice behind him.


“You ready?”


“Uh…yeah,” Justin replied nervously. His mind had been running through possible scenarios while he waited for Brian, each one making him more confused and scared. “Where do you want to go?”


“How about if we take a walk down on the beach?” Brian suggested. He could sense Justin’s fear and wondered what had him so afraid of their talk. “Justin, relax. It’s nothing bad.”


“It’s not?” Justin asked hopefully.


“No, it’s not. Why would you think that?”


“I don’t know. You just sounded so serious and when someone says they need to talk it’s usually bad news. I just thought that maybe…”


Brian waited for Justin to finish but when it appeared that he wasn’t going to, Brian encouraged him. “You just thought that maybe what?”


“I don’t know. That maybe you were tired of me always stopping by. That maybe you decided that you didn’t want to be friends. Or that I did something to make you mad at me,” Justin said, finishing his thoughts.


“Did you do something that would make me mad?”




“And if I was tired of you always stopping by, don’t you’d think I’d just come out and tell you?” Brian continued as they jumped off the wooden planks and dropped down on the sand below.


“I guess. It’s just that I like you and enjoy our friendship. I have so much fun when we hang out together. I was worried that you didn’t feel the same way.”


“Then why doesn’t anyone know we’re friends?” Brian asked, taking the opportunity to voice his concerns.


“Huh? What are you talking about? Your grandmother knows, Drew knows, even your boss knows,” Justin pointed out.


“Yes, they do. But they’re my friends and family. What about your friends and family? Why haven’t I been introduced to Lindsay or Ethan, or even your mother?”


Justin suddenly realized where the conversation was going and began to panic. He wasn’t exactly sure how to answer Brian’s questions, since he wasn’t really sure himself. “I…don’t know. It’s just…well, my mom’s going through a lot right now, you know? I wouldn’t feel right bringing someone home to that right now. And my friends? They don’t know about the divorce. I haven’t told them yet. I haven’t told anyone but you and Lavena. I don’t really want anyone to know,” Justin admitted.


“Why? Justin, your parents getting a divorce has nothing to do with you. It’s their problem, not yours. If anything, I would think that your friends would be there to support you.”


“They would, I guess. You just don’t understand. They’re not like you.  They’re selfish and self-centered. I love them and all, but with them it’s all about what you have, not who you are. I don’t want their sympathy. I don’t want to think about them whispering behind my back, talking about all that I’m going to lose. I know what I’m losing. I’m losing everything that I’ve taken for granted my whole life and it sucks. Seeing their pity would just make it worse.” Justin could hear the trembling in his voice while he spoke and hated the weakness he was showing.


Without thinking, Brian took Justin in his arms, trying his best to comfort him. “Shhh…it’s okay. I’d never betray your confidence, but if this is the way you want it, I’m fine with that,” Brian lied. He still hated being in the shadows, but it was better than seeing Justin hurting like he was.


Justin allowed Brian to hold him, trying hard not to think about how good it felt. How right it felt to be held and comforted by him. It wasn’t working. As Brian ran a hand lightly up and down his back, Justin felt himself begin to harden; a reaction that Lindsay had never caused during all of their close encounters and make out sessions in the last three years, and it terrified him. He jumped back quickly, startling both him and Brian at the sudden movement.


Brian felt Justin’s cock beginning to come to life, but before he had a chance to react, Justin was out of his arms and taking a few steps back. “Justin,” he said softly.


“I’ve…got…to go,” Justin stammered before turning and running away from Brian as fast as he could.


It took a minute for Brian’s brain to register what was happening, but as soon as it did, he took off after Justin, his long legs making it easy for him to catch up. “Justin wait,” he called out as he got closer.


Justin could hear the sound of Brian’s feet hitting the damp sand as he got closer and knew he’d never out run him. Brian was the star of his soccer team at home while Justin spent all his time with his head buried in his sketch pad. He slowed down and began pacing around, trying to catch his breath. When Brian was finally at his side, he looked away before facing those penetrating hazel eyes.


“Please Brian, just let me go. I need to go,” he pleaded.


“Why Justin?”


“I just have to get out of here.”


“What are you so afraid of?” Brian demanded gently because he knew that’s what was happening. He knew without a doubt that Drew was right. Justin had a reaction to being in Brian’s arms and it scared him; terrified him so bad that he wanted to run and hide. But Brian wasn’t going to let him. He refused to be Justin’s yo-yo, being pulled closer than pushed away, over and over again.


“I’m not afraid of anything,” Justin replied trying to sound sure of himself, but failing miserably.


“You can talk to me, you know. You can tell me anything and I won’t judge you or laugh at you,” Brian assured him.


“There’s nothing to talk about. I’m fine, I just have to go,” Justin insisted and turned to walk away, only to be stopped when he felt Brian’s hand on his shoulder.


“Don’t do this Justin. Don’t do this to me, but more importantly, don’t do this to yourself. I’ve been there before and denying who you are and what you’re feeling doesn’t make it easier. It just causes you more pain in the long run.”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about? I’m not like you. I’m with Lindsay, remember? She loves me and she believes in me. We’re going to get married one day!” Justin exclaimed his voice going higher and higher with each word.


“Of course she loves you, but do you love her? Does your heart skip a beat every time you see her? Do you wake up every morning and go to sleep every night wishing she was beside you? Does she make you hard just by holding you in her arms?” Brian asked before adding, “Like I did?”


Justin’s breath caught in his throat by Brian’s words and tears started rolling down his face. “Why are you doing this to me?”


“The question is why are you doing this to yourself?” Brian corrected him.


“I’m not doing anything to myself. We’ve only know each other for a few weeks and you think you know me so well, but you don’t know anything about me. You don’t know how I feel or what I’m thinking, yet you have the nerve to stand there and…” Justin’s thoughts were halted when he felt himself being pulled into Brian’s arms moments before feeling his lips being covered by a warm mouth.


Brian had heard all he wanted to hear and pulled Justin into a kiss, desperately trying to quiet him. It was only supposed to shock Justin into silence, but the minute their lips met, it was as if the earth had stopped turning. Justin’s lips were so soft and warm that Brian found himself snaking his tongue out to seek entrance. What startled him more was hearing Justin moan as he opened his lips and invited Brian inside. Their kiss quickly turned into a passionate union and it took all of Brian’s willpower to finally pull away. The last thing he wanted to do was take advantage of Justin’s confusion.


Justin was so lost in kissing Brian that he gasped in surprised when he found himself being gently shoved away. It didn’t take long for him to realize that not only was he enjoying the kiss, but that he wasn’t the one to end it. If Brian hadn’t pulled away, who knew how long it would’ve lasted or how much further things might have gone. He shuddered at the thought as he looked down at his feet, avoiding Brian’s gaze.


“Justin, look at me,” Brian said. He waited for Justin to look up and when he didn’t move, Brian placed his hand under his chin, gently forces their eyes to meet. “I know how confused you are right now and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have kissed you like that. I don’t want to hurt you.”


“I really just need to go,” Justin sighed sadly.


“Okay, let me walk you home,” Brian offered.


“I’m…uh…not going home. I can’t go home right now. I need time to think. I just can’t face my family right now,” Justin admitted.


“Then where are you going?”


“I don’t know. I’m just going to walk for awhile and see where I end up.”


“Why don’t you come home with me?” When Brian saw a look of fear cross Justin’s face, he smiled slightly. “I promise not to kiss you again. I just don’t want you walking around when you’re so upset. Just come with me. You don’t have to talk…unless you want to. You can take my room and I’ll stay on the couch. You’ll have all the privacy you need. I just want to know that you’re safe.”


Justin was touched by Brian’s concern and nodded his head in agreement. He really didn’t want to go home for awhile and the idea of walking the streets didn’t appeal to him. At least at Brian’s he would have a place to be alone and think about all that had happened and been revealed.


Brian and Justin walked to the house in silence, each one lost in thought. They were both happy to find that Lavena was already in bed. Neither one of them wanted to explain what had them so upset. Brian locked the door behind them and walked towards his bedroom, calling out to Justin over his shoulder.


“Just give me a minute to change and then the room’s all yours.”


“Brian, you don’t have to give up your room. I’ll be fine on the couch,” Justin told him.


“It’s okay. I promised you time to yourself and you’re going to get it.” Brian pushed his door closed and quickly changed into a pair of sweats and a t-shirt before going back to Justin. “Just do me a favor.” He waited until Justin looked up at him before continuing. “If you want to talk, come get me. I won’t push you, but I’m here if you need me.”


“Thanks,” Justin whispered.


Brian reached out his hand to caress Justin’s cheek, but stopped himself before he actually made contact. He hadn’t even realized what he was doing until it was almost too late. The last thing he wanted to do was freak Justin out even more and cause him to leave. “I’ll see you in the morning?”


It was more of a question than a statement, but Justin didn’t answer. He just looked into Brian’s eyes one more time before walking into the bedroom and closing the door behind him.


Brian sighed as he made his way to the couch and threw himself down. He didn’t even bother to turn on the TV since he knew that he wouldn’t be able to concentrate anyway. His thoughts were too jumbled to focus on anything except for the blond in his bedroom. When he told Justin he wanted to talk earlier, he had no idea that they would end up in the situation they were now in. Brian just hoped that when all was said and done, Justin would still be his friend. Otherwise he was going to regret ever opening his mouth.






Justin lay in Brian’s bed, trying to make sense of what happened on the beach. Not only did Brian kiss him, but he enjoyed it; really enjoyed it, which didn’t make much sense. How could he respond to Brian when he was straight? And what about Lindsay? Yet Brian was right, he never got hard from being in Lindsay’s arms. He never felt like he did when Brian’s mouth touched his. It felt so right with Brian; like he finally found what he’d been looking for. It terrified him to think about it like that, but being alone in the dark allowed him the privacy to explore his thoughts a little bit. Could it be that all those feelings he had when he was younger weren’t a phase? No, that wasn’t possible. Justin was just having a strange reaction to the turmoil going on in his life. Brian had been a good friend over the last few weeks while he dealt with his parents’ upcoming divorce. It was just causing Justin to become emotionally dependant on the only person who knew of his problems. That had to be it. That was the only logical explanation for what he was feeling.


Once Justin had the answers he so desperately needed, he began to feel better about everything. He got up and walked out of the bedroom, heading towards the bathroom when he ran into Brian on his way to the kitchen.


“Hey, how’re you feeling?” Brian asked.


“I’m okay now. Sorry about freaking out on you before. I just…I had to sort some things out,” Justin explained quietly.


“And did you?”


“Yeah, I did. Look Brian, I’m not exactly sure what happened tonight, but it’s not what you think. I’m really not like you. I’ve just been under a lot of pressure lately and it’s been fucking with my head.”


“I see,” Brian replied bitterly. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but it wasn’t Justin’s denial. “So, you’re saying that you kissed me back, grew hard against me, because you’ve got problems at home?”


“Something like that.”


“And you honestly believe that? You honestly believe that straight guys all over the world get hard from other men every time life gets a little stressful. I’m sure that all those married men that find themselves in the backrooms of the clubs would be so relieved to know that.” His words were sarcastic and angry.


“I’m…not saying that everyone feels the same way, but for me…”

Brian cut off Justin’s words as he pulled him in for another kiss. He didn’t want to make it harder for Justin than it already was, but he couldn’t stand there and allow him to make what was building between them seem insignificant. As soon as he felt Justin’s lips part, Brian took the invitation and plunged inside, reveling in the warmth. He fully expected Justin to pull away, but when that didn’t happen Brian pushed forward. He continued to explore Justin’s mouth as he slowly began to steer them back towards the bedroom. Again he was getting no resistance. Once they were in the room with the door closed behind them, Brian gently pushed Justin back on the bed, following him down carefully. The soft moans that Justin was making were all the encouragement that Brian needed. He made quick work of discarding Justin’s clothes, kissing and nibbling each piece of flesh as it was being exposed while looking for signs of distress. His cock was painfully hard and pulsing as he began kissing his way down Justin’s naked form, eagerly finding his way to his goal.


Suddenly the fog in his brain lifted and Brian realized what he was doing. Whether he agreed with Justin’s analogy or not, the guy claimed to be straight. It was wrong of Brian to be taking advantage of a weak moment, yet when he looked up at Justin, ready to put an end to their dance, the lust staring back at him caused him to once again lose all rational thought. He took Justin’s leaking member in his hand and lightly ran his tongue over the leaking slit, evoking a loud groan from Justin. He may not have been able to admit to himself that he liked cock, but his actions were speaking louder than words and Brian was going to take it as far as Justin would allow.


It all happened so fast and before Justin knew what was happening, he found himself naked on Brian’s bed. He wanted to stop him, wanted to insist that what they were doing was wrong, but as he opened his mouth the only sound he could make was one of sheer pleasure. The way he was feeling, the way Brian was making him feel, was like nothing he ever felt before and he was powerless to stop it. When he felt Brian’s tongue come in contact with the head of his dick, he nearly shot off the bed in ecstasy. Lindsay’s hand, shit his own hand, had never made him feel the burning desire that Brian was causing him. His body was on fire, his mind was in overdrive and he knew that there was nothing he wanted more than what Brian was doing to him.


Brian was lost in the taste and feel of Justin and as he took the rigid shaft into his mouth, he moaned in pleasure. When he felt Justin’s hands tangling in his hair, he brought one of his fingers to his mouth, wetting the digit quickly, before moving his hand to Justin’s virgin hole. He continued to suck as he lightly grazed the opening with his finger, anxious to plunge inside, but wanting to give Justin time to object. When no objection came, Brian gently eased inside, but stopped suddenly when Justin cried out.


“Are you okay?” Brian asked softly. He had stopped all ministrations and waited for a reply.


“Uh…no…I don’t know…it hurts, Brian. We can’t do this…I…can’t…do this,” Justin panted huskily.


“You want me to stop?”


“Yes…no…I don’t…” Justin’s voice trailed off as Brian gently began to move his finger, taking care so as not to hurt him.


“Say the word, and I’ll stop. Tell me you don’t want this; tell me that this doesn’t feel good and I’ll stop right now.” Brian knew that he was pushing, but he sensed Justin’s hesitancy and knew that it was fear causing him to doubt what was happening. Fear of going too far to turn back to his straight little world, and Brian wanted to help him face the reality of his sexuality. “God, you taste so good. Let me do this for you. Let me show you how good it can be.”


“Oh…Brian…please.” Justin started mumbling incoherently, giving up the fight. “Please…I need…”


“I know what you need, Justin. Just lie back and let me give it to you.” Brian picked up the pace in Justin’s ass as he once again engulfed the leaking member in his mouth. The incessant babble coming from Justin was encouraging and Brian began giving everything he had to Justin, wanting to make the moment special for him. It didn’t take much longer before Justin let out a loud groan, shooting his load down Brian’s throat.


Justin felt his orgasm building and let go, Brian’s name on his lips as he went head first over the edge. The stars he saw as the room spun around him were incredible and Justin wondered how much of it was the amazing blow job and how much was because it was Brian between his legs. He continued to lay there at a loss for something to say when he felt Brian straighten up and lay down alongside him.


“How’re you feeling?” Brian asked cautiously. He was prepared to be tossed out of the room, or to have Justin get dressed and storm out, but he wasn’t prepared for Justin’s quiet acceptance.


“Could you just hold me?” Justin whispered softly, tears starting to work their way down his cheeks.


Brian took Justin in his arms, trying to comfort the trembling blond as best as he could. They continued to lay there in silence, neither one of them sure of what to say. Amazingly enough, it was Justin that broke the silence.


“This doesn’t change anything, you know. I’m still with Lindsay. We’re still going to be together. I don’t have understanding parents like you. My father would kill me if I tried to tell him I’m gay. My life has been planned out to the very last detail for a long time and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s fucked up…I’m fucked up, and I’ll understand if you don’t want to waste your time with someone like me.” The slight tremor in his voice was the only sign of his confusion and distress.


Brian was horrified to hear that Justin was going to continue living a lie, but he knew that there was no way he’d ever be able to turn his back on him. They had almost two months ahead of them to be together and Brian wasn’t going to give up on him. Besides, once summer was over, they’d be going back to their own lives and moving on anyway. He’d find a way to play by the rules until it was time to say goodbye. “It’s your call, but I don’t consider being with you a waste of time. I won’t tell anyone about us, but just do me a favor and don’t lie to me. That’s all I ask.”


“Like I could,” Justin chuckled. “You always manage to see right through me.”


“That’s only because you let me. Now we’d better try to get some sleep. It’s getting pretty late.”


“What about you? You didn’t…um…” Justin felt himself blushing and was happy that the only lighting in the room was the glow from the full moon outside the window.


“It’s okay. Tonight was all about you,” Brian assured him with a smile. “Do you want me to go back to the couch?”


“No…can we…uh…just stay like this?” Justin asked tentatively, fighting back a yawn. It had been a long and emotional night and he was completely exhausted.


“For as long as you’d like,” Brian replied, smiling to himself as he began drifting off to sleep enjoying the feel of Justin in his arms.






Brian woke up the next morning surprised to find Justin lying alongside of him watching him sleep.


“I expected you to be long gone by now,” Brian mumbled sleepily.


“I thought about it, but I figured what’s the point? I’d only end up back here again anyway. I’m done trying to run from you,” Justin replied shyly.


“I’m glad to hear that, although I don’t want to pressure you. I’d never make you do anything you didn’t want to do.”


“I know; that’s what’s making this more bearable. You need to understand what my life is like. My parents are pretty powerful people. Well, my father is. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to my mother now, but I’m my father’s only son. He’s been grooming me to take over the family business ever since I was able to write my name. Even the thing with Lindsay; I know that arranged marriages went out centuries ago, but my father made it clear since day one that she’d be a good choice for my wife. It was easy to go along with it because she’s such a great person and we have so much in common. I figured better her than someone I have nothing in common with,” Justin explained, his pain evident in his voice.


“What about what you want? That’s got to count for something, right?” Brian asked.


“You’re joking,” Justin replied bitterly. “What I want doesn’t matter. It never did. All that matters is what Craig Taylor wants. It’s the way it’s always been. Who am I to question it? Which is why I just went along with his plans for me. When I was younger, I started noticing that I wasn’t like the other boys my age. While they were starting to notice girls, I was starting to notice them. I was so scared and confused; especially when I heard my father laughing and making fun of one of the obviously gay waiters at a local restaurant. I knew right then and there that any interest I had in boys had to be buried. There was no way I could let anyone know about my feelings. Craig Taylor would never accept having a queer son.”


“That’s just fucked up,” Brian replied angrily.


“After awhile I just got used to it. I never had a problem living my life the way everyone expected me to until I saw you in the diner that day. You were so beautiful you took my breath away.” Justin smiled, gently running a hand across Brian’s cheek. “My life is what it is and there’s nothing I can do about it. When the summer ends, I’ll go back home, finish up my senior year, and go off to Dartmouth just like my father wants me to. Until then, the next two months are mine to do what I want to do, and what I want to do is spend them with you…that is, if you still want me.”


Brian looked at Justin, taking in his tear stained face, and knew he could never refuse him anything. For what it was worth, he wanted to give the blond a summer to remember. Something that he could look back on fondly while he lived his life doing what others expected instead of what he truly wanted. “I’m all yours,” Brian whispered softly.


Justin smiled through his tears as he leaned in and kissed Brian, expressing everything he couldn’t bring himself to say because if he was honest about how he was really feeling, it would be that much harder when it was time to say goodbye.


After Brian and Justin’s heart to heart conversation, things between them just fell into a comfortable routine. Justin still spent time with his friends, but always managed to ditch them as often as possible so that he could spend his time with Brian. Their nights together were wonderful, a passionate coupling as well as a learning experience for Justin. Brian was a patient and gentle lover and when he finally entered Justin for the first time, it was a moment that neither one of them would ever forget. Their first month together was spent just enjoying each other, but during the month of August, their impending separation weighed heavily on both of them, causing almost as much anguish as it did happiness. They agreed in the beginning that they wouldn’t waste their time talking about what would happen when it was time to say goodbye, but the faster the days rolled by, the harder it was to abide by that agreement.


Eventually all good things must come to the end, and Brian and Justin found themselves out on the beach on their last night together. Brian was leaving first thing in the morning to head home, and Justin’s mother was planning on leaving around mid-afternoon. The time had come to say goodbye and they both lay on a blanket, wrapped in each others arms, wishing there was a way to prolong their departure for one more day.


“I don’t know what I’m going to do without you,” Justin finally said, breaking the silence that surrounded them.


“You know, we can keep in touch. We don’t live that far away from each other,” Brian said, knowing he was just wasting his breath. He suggested the same thing at least once a week since their whirlwind romance began, but Justin always refused.


“Brian, you know that’s not possible. It’s going to be hard enough going back to living a lie without having a constant reminder of what I so desperately want, but can’t have,” Justin replied sadly. He knew leaving was going to be hard, but he never imagined it would hurt as much as it did. He felt like his heart was being torn in pieces and would never be able to mend.


“But maybe if we just…”


“No, this is the way it has to be,” Justin insisted. “It’ll be better this way.”


“For who? You? Cause it sure as hell won’t be better for me,” Brian barked angrily.


“Please don’t do this. It’s hard enough having to say goodbye to you. I can’t walk away knowing that you’re mad at me.” Justin’s voice was thick with emotion and he had tears silently running down his face.


“I’m not mad at you. I could never be mad at you. I just hate knowing that I’ll never see you again,” Brian admitted, his own face wet with tears. “Come home with me. Stay with me tonight.”


“I can’t,” Justin replied tearfully. “I can’t be there…It’ll kill me to watch you drive away knowing that…I just can’t.”


Brian nodded in understanding. “Well, then I guess this is it,” he whispered.


“I love you. You know that right?” Justin asked as a small sob escaped. “Our time together has been incredible and I’m so thankful that I met you. As hard as this is, I don’t regret one minute of my time with you. You’ve given me so much happiness…”


Brian held on to Justin as they cried together, trying to offer as much comfort as he could. “I love you, too.”


It was all too much. Their love for one another, saying goodbye, knowing that they’ll never see each other again. Brian didn’t regret a moment he spent with Justin either, but a small part of him wished they’d never met, because he knew that he was changed because of it and that he’d never be the same.


“I’d better go,” Brian said his voice hoarse from his tears.


They stood up and reached for each other, clung to each other, trying to hang on to the moment for as long as possible. Finally Brian pulled away, staring at Justin one last time before walking away with his head down and his heart broken. He listened to Justin’s sobs as they faded away with each step he took, fighting the urge to go back for one last kiss. What would be the point? It was over and time to go home.


Justin threw himself back down on the blanket and cried, the pain in his chest making it almost impossible to breathe. He never imagined he would meet the love of his life and lose him all in one summer. It wasn’t fair, life wasn’t fair, and Justin knew that he would spend the rest of his days thinking about the one person who mattered more to him than anyone else ever could. The next day he would get in the car and go home, but he would never be complete. How could he be when a huge part of him died right there on the beach when Brian walked out of his life forever?






Brian dragged himself out of bed the next morning, despite his lack of sleep, and got an early start on his journey home. He had been hoping that Justin would show up at the last minute to say goodbye, but when the taxi came to take him to the bus stop, there was no sign of the gorgeous blond. Once he was settled on the bus, his mind immediately went back to the last two months and the time he spent with Justin and as the bus pulled out of the terminal and headed back to Pittsburgh his heart broke a little more with each mile it pulled them further apart. It was a long trip, with quite a few stops along the way, and Brian was thankful when he finally reached his destination. His mother had wanted to pick him up from the terminal, but he assured her that he didn’t mind taking a cab and would see her at home. As soon as the cab pulled up outside his childhood home he saw his best friend sitting on the front porch waiting for him. He smiled at her as he paid the driver and pulled his luggage out of the back. It only took a moment before he found himself being thrown off balance by the brunette in his arms.


“I’m so happy you’re home. I missed you this summer,” Melanie cried as she hugged Brian tight.


“Whose fault is that? No one told you to go off to Europe and leave me all alone,” Brian teased as he hugged her back.


“That’s not fair, asshole. No one in their right mind would give up a summer backpacking through Europe to go to the Jersey shore,” Mel replied, pulling back to get a good look at her friend. The moment she looked into his eyes, she knew something was wrong. “Brian? What happened?”


“What do you mean? Nothing happened, it was just a long trip home,” Brian lied, wanting to avoid the details of his summer for as long as possible.


“Bullshit, don’t you dare try lying to me. I’ve known you since we were eight years old for Christ’s sake.”


“Jeez Mel, you’re starting to swear like a truck driver. Is that what you learned in Europe?” When Brian saw that Mel wasn’t going to let up, he sighed in resignation. “Look, it was a long trip and I’m beat. Give me a chance to go see my parents and relax for a little while. I’ll come by around seven, take you out for pizza, and spill my guts, okay?”


“Fine, but I want all the details,” Mel demanded gently. “Just tell me this. Are you alright?”


“Not really,” Brian admitted, grabbing his bags and leaning in to kiss her cheek. “But I will be. See you at seven.”


Mel watched her friend walk away with his head down and his shoulders slumped and glanced at her watch, wondering how she would get through the rest of the day until she could find out what had happened while she was away. From the looks of things, whatever it was, it wasn’t good.


Brian walked into the house and called out to his mother.


“Mom, I’m home.” He dropped his bags in the hallway and started towards the kitchen where he knew he would find her.


“I’m in here,” Joan called out, wiping her hand on a dishtowel. She turned around just as Brian walked inside and took him in her arms. “God, I’ve missed you. How was your trip home?”


“Uneventful as usual. Where’s Dad? Is he still at work?”


“Yeah, but he should be home soon. How are you holding up?” Joan looked deep into her son’s eyes and saw his pain reflected there. “I take it saying goodbye was pretty hard, huh?”


“You have no idea. I just don’t get it, Mom. We were so happy together. I don’t see how he can go back in the closet and pretend that the last two months never happened,” Brian said, fighting back the emotions that were threatening to overtake him.


“Oh sweetheart, it’s not always that easy. Not everyone can be as brave as you were when you told your father and me. Besides, remember what happened to poor Jimmy? His parents disowned him when he came out. Thank God his uncle was understanding and took him in. Otherwise who knows where he’d be right now. You just have to put your faith in a higher power and hope that one day Justin will be able to live the life God wanted him to live,” Joan said softly, rubbing a soothing hand on Brian’s back. “It’s all in His hands.”


“Mom, what made you and Dad so supportive? I know how important your religion is to you. Isn’t being gay a sin in most churches?” Brian asked, still confused by his parents acceptance after all this time.


“In most of them, yes it is, but I wasn’t really given a choice, was I? You’re my son and I love you. I either had to accept you or lose you and losing you wasn’t something I was willing to consider. Besides, God created us and he wouldn’t make a mistake. If He made you gay, He did it for a reason. Who you love has nothing to do with the person you are and you shouldn’t be punished for it. Now why don’t you take your things upstairs and rest for a bit? Dinner will be ready in a couple of hours.”


“Yeah, I’m kind of tired. I’ll sit with you and Dad while you eat, but I promised Mel that I’d take her out for pizza. She was waiting out front when I got home and knew that something was bothering me the minute she looked at me so I might as well fill her in on my summer now. You know how relentless she can be,” Brian said with a smile.


“Don’t I know it. That girl drove me nuts all morning while she waited around for you,” Joan said with affection. “Now go on, I’ve got things to do.”


Brian smiled at his mother and hugged her again before heading upstairs to his room. He put his bags in the corner, too tired to unpack them, and laid down on his bed. As hard as it was to leave Jersey, it felt good to be home and it only took a moment before he drifted off to sleep from sheer exhaustion.


Joan waited until she heard Brian go upstairs before reaching for the phone. “Jack, it’s me. Brian’s home. When are you getting done?”


“I should be on my way in an hour or so. How is he?” Jack asked.


“Not good. I’ve never seen him like this before. He’s so sad. It just breaks my heart,” Joan said, wiping away a tear.


“Well, he’s back home now. Maybe getting back to school and his friends will help,” Jack said, hoping that he was right.


“I hope so. I don’t like seeing him like this. I guess I’ll see you in a little while. Bye dear.”


“Bye Joanie,” Jack replied before hanging up the phone. He quickly jumped back into his work so that he could finish up and head home to his family.




Justin settled himself into the car and waited for his mother to finish locking up their shore house. He already figured it would be the last time he saw the place. From what he had overheard during one of his parents arguments, they were selling most of their shared assets before the divorce. Once Jennifer and Molly got in the car, they were on their way. He noticed how quiet his mother was and knew that she had something on her mind. It was driving him crazy and by the time they reached the Turnpike, he had decided to confront her.


“Alright Mom, out with it. What aren’t you telling us?”


“Justin…I don’t know,” she stopped mid-sentence, glanced at her son, and sighed. “Alright, there is something that we need to talk about. Your father and I decided to wait until after the summer so it didn’t ruin your vacation, but I guess now’s the time. We sold the house.”


Justin looked at his mother in horror. “What? Already? How could you do that without telling us?”


“Justin honey, we didn’t have a choice. You know I don’t have a job. Your father has agreed to pay for our living expenses for a year, until I can find work and support us, but he can’t pay the mortgage on our house, plus his own. It’s too much. We needed to find something smaller,” Jennifer explained as calmly as she could.


“How much smaller, Mommy?” Molly asked from the back seat. “Will I still have room for my toys and stuff?”


“Of course you will, Sweetheart. Our new house has three bedrooms and a pool. It’s not a shack. It’s just not what we’re used to,” Jennifer assured them both.


“This is unbelievable. How long do we have until we move into this non-shack?” Justin asked bitterly.


“Actually,” Jennifer replied nervously. “Your father hired movers to take care of everything so we’re all moved in. We’re going there now. All we have to do is unpack our personal belongings and we’ll be all settled.”


Justin glared angrily at his mother before turning his head away to stare at the scenery. He had nothing more to say. What would be the point? His feelings obviously didn’t matter one bit. They were going to do whatever they wanted to do without regard for their children or their feelings.


Jennifer saw the pain in her son’s eyes before he turned away and felt a lump rising in her throat. She felt terrible about everything they were going through at the moment, but what choice did she have? The divorce wasn’t her idea. It was Craig’s. His and his twenty year old girlfriend, no doubt, and she just had to live with it. Their whole world was just turned upside down and she vowed to do whatever she could to make things as easy as possible for her children.






Brian walked out of the house for his first day of senior year and couldn’t contain the smile that spread across his face at the jeep sitting in the driveway waiting for him. His father had surprised him the day before by taking him to the used car dealer and paying the difference between Brian’s saving and the price of the vehicle. Brian had been thrilled and promised to do extra work around the house as a way of expressing his eternal gratitude. It was the first time he actually smiled since leaving Jersey. As he made his way over to his pride and joy, Melanie came running over from her house next door grinning from ear to ear.


“Thank God we don’t have to ride that lame bus again this year,” she said as she jumped into the passenger seat.


“Tell me about it. If I never sit on another bus again it’ll be too soon,” Brian agreed as he started the jeep and backed out of the driveway. “Well, I guess this is it; our final year at Pittsburgh High.”


“Yeah, I can’t believe we’re finally seniors. Although with the class load I have, I’m not sure it’s going to be as much fun as I thought it would be,” Mel sighed as she thought about what was waiting for her.


“I know. What were we thinking when we signed up for our classes. The only easy subject I have is lunch and we don’t get graded for that,” Brian replied with a smile. “It’s going to be a long year.”


“I know…I can’t wait,” Mel laughed excitedly.


“Yeah,” Brian sighed, trying hard not to think about Justin and all the changes that were probably going on with him now that the summer was over.


“Bri? I know you told me the other night that you were doing okay, but I also know that you’re full of shit. How’re you really doing?” Mel asked suddenly sobering.


“I’m alright, I guess. I miss him though. When we first started fooling around I never thought I would get so attached to him.” Brian laughed bitterly.


“Well, school’s starting and pretty soon you’ll forget all about Justin and find someone even better,” Mel said, trying to be supportive.


“Not likely, but thanks for trying,” Brian replied as he pulled into the school parking lot. “Ready for our first day of hell?”


“As ready as I’ll ever be.”


Brian and Melanie made their way to the building, all talk of Justin Taylor put aside for the moment.


Justin was sitting in the principal’s office, waiting for his mother to finish asking all her questions so that he could start his first day of public school. He was trying his best to keep a smile on his face when all he wanted to do was go back to his new room and hide away from life. He talked to Lindsay the night before and as much as she tried to keep an upbeat attitude, they both knew that everything was going to change between them now that their lives were going in different directions. She would be spending her days at Saint James with all of their friends and Justin was being thrust into a new school with a bunch of strangers. The saying life’s not fair kept ringing in Justin’s ears, drowning out the sounds of those around him.


“Justin, are you ready?”


Justin looked up at the voice coming from behind him and turned around to see a woman standing there with a piece of paper in her hand waiting for him.


“Uh…yeah, I guess,” Justin said standing and walking towards the door.


“Have a good day, Honey,” Jennifer called after her son.


Justin turned around and looked at his mother before following the woman out of the room without responding.


“Okay Justin, here’s your class schedule and I copied a map of the school on the back to make it easier for you to get around. You’ve already missed homeroom so I’m going to take you to your first class, which is Advanced English. Your teacher’s name is Mr. Simmons and he’s one of the best here. I’m sure you’ll have no problems from there but if you do, my name is Maureen and I’ll be in the office all day if you need anything, alright?”


“Okay,” Justin replied weakly. His heart was racing as Maureen knocked on the classroom door before walking inside.


“Mr. Simmons, this is Justin Taylor. It’s his first day here at Pittsburgh High,” Maureen said gently nudging Justin forward.


“Well, nice to meet you Justin. Welcome to Advanced English. Go find a seat and we’ll talk a moment after class,” Mr. Simmons said with a smile.


Justin nodded his head and turned to find a seat when his eyes locked with a pair of very familiar hazel ones making it almost impossible for him to breathe.


Brian and Melanie were sitting in the back of the room talking during the brief interruption when Brian faintly heard the name Justin Taylor being said. Recognition set in immediately and he shut Mel off as he focused his attention on the gorgeous blond at the front of the room. As soon as his eyes locked with Justin’s everybody else in the room disappeared but the two of them and he stifled a soft groan.


“Brian is that…” Mel’s voice trailed off as she saw the recognition between Brian and the new student, answering the question she was about to ask. Brian’s year just got a whole lot better…or worse, depending on what happened next.


Justin found a seat in the front of the room and slipped down into the desk, trying to hear over the humming in his ears. Of all the schools his mother could’ve enrolled him in; she had to pick the one school that had Brian Kinney on the roster. He couldn’t seem to concentrate on a single thing Mr. Simmons was saying and was thankful when the bell finally rang, signaling the end of class.


“Justin, could I see you for a moment,” Mr. Simmons said as the rest of the class piled out of the room.


Justin looked towards the back and was thankful to see that Brian had left. The last thing he wanted was to have a confrontation with him at that moment. He needed time to figure out what to do next, since it was obvious that his plan of putting his secret lover in the past was shot to hell. He reluctantly stood up and made his way to the teacher’s desk.


“So, where are you from? Are you new to Pittsburgh?” Mr. Simmons asked.


“No, we just moved across town. I used to go to Saint James Academy but…well, I’m here now,” Justin replied shyly.


“I see,” Mr. Simmons replied, noticing the small blush that spread across the boy’s face. He knew that there was more to the story, but didn’t want to pry into his personal life. “Well like I said before, welcome. I run a pretty tight ship around here, but I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle. If you have any trouble keeping up, just let me know. Do you need help getting to your next class?”


“No, I should be fine. Maureen pointed it out on the way here. I’m going right to the next hall,” Justin said.


“Okay then, enjoy your first day.”


Justin wanted to say that he doubted that was possible, but decided against it, mumbling a thank you before heading out of the room.


Brian walked out into the hallway and leaned against the wall waiting for Justin to come out. He could see the concerned look on Mel’s face and turned to her with a small smile. “You can go, I’m alright.”


“Are you kidding? I’m dying to meet him,” Mel replied excitedly.


“Not now, Mel. It’s probably not the best time to introduce him to my friends,” Brian pointed out, hoping she’d get the hint.


“But Brian,” she said noticing the look in his eyes and giving in. “Oh, alright, but I want all the details later. You sure you’re alright?”


“Just peachy, now go,” Brian said, gently shoving Mel away.


He waited patiently until he saw Justin walk out of the room and start walking in the opposite direction. He shoved himself away from the wall and quickly walked up alongside of him. “Hey.”


Justin should’ve been surprised to hear Brian’s voice alongside of him, but he wasn’t. He knew that it wouldn’t be that easy to lose him. “Hey,” he said softly.


“So I uh…I guess this kind of ruins your plans of us never seeing each other again, huh?”


“Look Brian, I don’t have time for this right now. I don’t even know what to say at this point,” Justin sighed as he continued walking to his next class. The bell was about to ring and the halls were emptying out.


“Will you sit with me at lunch? I think we need to talk.” He could sense that Justin was about to object and stopped him before he had a chance. “It’s your first day. You don’t want to sit alone in the corner, do you?”


Justin wanted to do just that, but when he looked up into Brian’s eyes, he found that he couldn’t refuse his offer. “Okay, fine, I’ll see you at lunch.”


“Cool, later,” Brian said as he picked up his pace and quickly headed to second period, leaving Justin behind to watch him feeling too many emotions to sort out.


The rest of the morning went by fairly smoothly for Justin. He was thankful that he didn’t run into Brian again and almost wished he could just skip lunchtime, but what would be the point? If nothing else, he still had to face the guy everyday in English. As he walked into the almost filled cafeteria, his eyes scanned the room until they fell on Brian sitting alone at a table in the back. He made his way over, bypassing the food line since he was sure he wouldn’t be able to eat anyway.


“I see you made it through the morning,” Brian said as Justin sat down across from him nervously.


“Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. Everyone pretty much ignored me since I’m the new kid on the block. It’s a lot different than it was at Saint James,” Justin replied honestly. “What about you? Why are you sitting all alone?”


“My friends and I usually meet in the bathroom before coming here, but I ditched them so we could have a few minutes alone first. Look, I won’t say anything to them about what happened between us; well except for Mel. She already knows about the summer but she won’t say anything. They’ll only know whatever you tell them so it’s up to you what you share,” Brian assured him, wanting to make everything easier for him. “As far as they’ll know, we met in English.”


“Thanks, but…I’m not sure…that our being friends is a good idea. I mean…well, it didn’t really work this summer, did it?”


“I think it worked out perfectly,” Brian said with a smirk. “But don’t worry. I won’t pressure you anymore. I already forced myself on you enough.”


“Brian, you didn’t…” Before Justin could finished his sentence, a small perky brunette plopped down alongside Brian and kissed his cheek. He instantly recognized her from first period.


“Hey Bri…and you’re Justin, right? I heard a lot about you,” she said, laughing inwardly at the blush that appeared on Justin’s face.


“Mel, be nice,” Brian warned. “Justin, this is Melanie. She can be a real pain in the ass, but she’s pretty harmless.”


Justin noticed the closeness between the two and realized that she was the friend Brian was always talking about. “Hello Melanie.”


“You can call me Mel. Everyone else does,” Mel replied with a smile before turning to Brian. “I was just talking to Ben and he said that Kevin and Steve broke up. Did you hear anything about it?”


“No, but it doesn’t surprise me. Kevin’s been talking about dumping that loser for months.”


“Yeah, I’m just surprised that he did it. I didn’t think he had the balls,” Mel laughed.


“Who’s talking about my balls,” Kevin asked as he sat down across from Mel.


“Mel was just mentioning that you grew a pair over the summer,” Brian teased his friend. “By the way, this is Justin. He’s new here.”


Kevin looked over at Justin and smiled brightly at the hot looking blond. “Hey there Justin.”


“Uh…hey,” Justin replied nervously.


Brian noticed the looked Kevin gave Justin and didn’t like it one bit. “Don’t even think about it Kev. Now tell us what happened with Steve.”


“Oh that loser? I finally realized that I could do so much better and told him to take a hike. I’ve been free since August and loving ever minute of it,” Kevin replied.


“It’s about time. I never liked that asshole,” Brian said as he saw Ben approaching. “There you are. I was beginning to think you were ditching us.”


“I’ve been trying to ditch you guys for years and it hasn’t worked yet,” Ben teased as he joined his friends, immediately taking notice of the new face. “Who do we have here?”


“I’m Justin. I just started here today,” Justin offered to the newcomer.


“Well then what are you doing with these freaks?” Ben joked, laughing at the slap Mel gave him.


“Look who’s calling us freaks,” Brian laughed. “Justin’s in my English class so I invited him to have lunch with us. I figured it was better than sitting alone.”


“Barely,” Ben replied with a chuckle. “Has anyone seen Davis yet today? I heard he’s been seeing Stacy for the last few weeks and I haven’t seen him around for awhile.”


“Stacy Gray? You mean he finally wore her down? What’s he going to do when he finds out she’s a dyke?” Mel asked.


“She is not,” Ben said before taking the time to think about it. “Is she?”


“Well she was when we were fooling around in her parents’ car after the spring dance last year,” Mel explained proudly.


“No shit,” Brian said as he laughed at the expression on Ben’s face.


Justin sat there listening to the friends catch up with each other and he couldn’t help but envy Brian. His friends seemed really nice. Anyone who listened to them could hear the easy camaraderie they shared, yet they didn’t seem to have the snobbish air that his friends from Saint James had. It was almost refreshing to listen to their teasing and jokes. Brian dragged him into the conversation regularly and by the end of lunch he felt very comfortable around them all. When the bell finally rang, Justin stood up ready to go on to his next class.


“So Justin, where are you headed?” Mel asked as she cleaned up their table.


“I have advanced Chem. next,” Justin replied after checking his schedule.


“With Mr. Planks? Me too. I’ll walk with you. See you guys later,” Mel said as she waved to her friends.


Brian watched them walk away and sighed, wondering if he would see the blond again before their morning class. He never heard Ben approaching him.


“So what’s going on with Justin?”


“Huh? Oh nothing. I told you we’re in English together,” Brian replied casually.


“Bullshit. You might be able to fool everyone else with that story, but I know you better. There was definitely someone going on with you two, now out with it,” Ben insisted as they walked towards gym class.


“It’s a long story. Meet me out front after last class and I’ll tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone else. Only Mel knows and I want it to stay that way,” Brian said.


“You know you can trust me. It sound like it’s something good.”


“Oh believe me, it’s incredible,” Brian smiled as they entered the locker room.


“I can’t wait,” Ben replied.


“So Justin, I guess you were surprised to see Brian sitting in your first class this morning,” Mel sad, trying to strike up a conversation.


“Uh…yeah. He…uh…said that he told you about…us,” Justin stammered.


“Yeah, we’ve been best friends since grade school so we pretty much tell each other everything. Don’t worry though, I won’t say anything to anyone,” Mel assured him.


“Thanks, I appreciate that,” Justin said, sighing in relief.


“Justin, I know it’s not any of my business…but what are you going to do now?”


“I’m not really sure. Things between Bri…us…well they weren’t supposed to get so out of hand. I have a girlfriend…and well, none of my friends; they wouldn’t understand,” Justin admitted softly.


“Just be careful, okay? I don’t want to see Brian get hurt,” Mel said in gentle warning.


“Neither do I,” Justin replied quietly as they walked into their classroom. Somehow he had a feeling that if anyone was to get hurt over the course of the next year, it wasn’t going to be Brian; it was going to be him.





Justin was so happy to hear the final bell ringing signaling the end of his first day. He had to admit that Pittsburgh High wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be, but he missed his friends and his old school. He hurried to his locker, throwing his books inside and quickly made his way to the front of the building so he wouldn’t miss the bus. His father had told him he’d get him a car after the summer, but so far he hadn’t followed through with his promise. As soon as he stepped outside he heard someone calling his name and turned to see Brian’s friend Ben waving him over.


“Hey Justin, you need a ride home? Us seniors shouldn’t be subjected to riding the bus,” Ben said with a chuckle. He’d been wracking his brain trying to figure out what was going on with Brian and the new kid and decided to do a little digging on his own. Mel had already confirmed that Brian had met someone during summer break and Ben had a feeling that Justin was the one she’d been referring to.


“That’s okay, I don’t mind the bus,” Justin replied shyly. Ben seemed like a nice enough guy, but Justin didn’t really know him and wasn’t sure if taking a ride with him was a good idea.


“Oh come on, I always obey all traffic laws,” Ben teased, sensing Justin’s nervousness. “I swear.”


Justin was about to refuse again but then decided to accept. If he was a friend of Brian’s he couldn’t be all that bad. “Okay, thanks.”


“Cool, my car’s in the lot over there. We just need to wait for Brian. I told him I’d meet him out front at the end of the day,” Ben said as they started walking towards the parking lot.


Justin panicked when he realized that he would be seeing Brian again and was about to change his plans when the object of his tortured thoughts sauntered up behind them.


“Hey guys, how was your first day?” Brian asked as he fell into step beside them.


“Boring as always,” Ben replied. “How was yours?”


“Same as always. The coach cornered me in the hallway right after last period and asked me about my plans for the team. That why I was so late getting out,” Brian explained, noticing how quiet Justin was.


“No problem. I was just going to give Justin a ride home,” Ben said, looking closely for a reaction from Brian. He immediately saw the way Brian tensed at the information and knew for sure that there was something more between them. “By the way Brian, I haven’t seen you since you got back from Lavena’s. How was your summer? Meet any hot guys?”


Brian saw the glint in Ben’s eyes and knew he was up to something. He’d already promised to tell Ben what was going on, and was pissed off when he found out that his friend was giving Mel the third degree during their math class. “Maybe,” he replied casually.


“Look, maybe I should leave you two alone and take the bus home,” Justin suggested quietly. “I’m sure you want to catch up with each other.”


“Nonsense Justin, I’ll take you home. Brian and I can catch up later, right Bri?” Ben said with a touch of sarcasm.


“Justin, will you excuse us for a minute? I need to have a chat with Ben,” Brian said through gritted teeth.


Before Justin had a chance to reply, Brian dragged Ben a few feet away, keeping his voice low enough so that no one would hear them. “Alright Ben, what the fuck are you doing?”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about?” Ben replied innocently.


“Cut the shit. You’ve already figured out that I’ve known Justin since before first period. I told you I’d tell you everything. There’s no reason for you to question Mel or Justin for more information,” Brian said angrily.


“You’re right,” Ben sighed. “I’m sorry. It’s just so weird between us now. We used to be best friends before we started going out and now…I just hate the distance between us. I feel like I don’t even know you anymore.”


Brian wanted to deny what Ben was saying, but he couldn’t. Ever since their very public break up, things between them had been different. They didn’t share everything going on in their lives the way they used to and Brian hated it. “Look, why don’t you come over later and we’ll talk about it, alright?”


“Alright. I’m working until five so I’ll be by after that, okay?” Ben asked, suddenly feeling a little better about things.


“Sounds good. Mom’s making her lasagna tonight. I’ll tell her to set an extra place,” Brian replied.


“Cool, that’s still my favorite. I guess I better get Justin home so I’m not late for work.”


“Nice try, but I’m taking Justin home.” Brian saw Ben getting ready to object and stopped him. “Not one word.”

”Okay, okay…you can take Justin home. I’ll see you later,” Ben said, waving to Justin before walking towards his car.


Brian walked over to Justin and saw the question in his eyes. “Ben’s got to get to work so I’m going to take you home.”


“Brian, it’s really no big deal. I can easily catch the bus,” Justin said.


“No you can’t. See?” Brian replied pointing to the buses that were pulling out of the lot. “Relax, it’s no big deal. I promise not to attack you on the way.”


“I know. I just don’t want you to have to go out of your way.”


“Where do you live?” Brian asked as they made their way over to the jeep.


“I live on Sycamore Street. We just moved in,” Justin told him, hoping that it wasn’t in the opposite direction of Brian’s house. Brian immediately started laughing. “What’s so funny?”


“I know exactly where that is. It’s the street right before mine,” Brian explained, noticing the shocked look on Justin’s face. “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the Gods were trying to force us together.”


Justin didn’t find their circumstances the least bit amusing so he decided to change the subject. “I see you managed to save up enough money to get your jeep.”


“Yeah, although my dad did help out a little. What about you? I thought your dad was going to get you a car after the summer?” Brian asked as he started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot.


“Yeah, well he hasn’t exactly followed through with anything he said he was going to do,” Justin replied bitterly.


“He sounds like a real asshole to me,” Brian blurted out before realizing what he was saying. “Sorry, I’m just going by what I know.”


“You don’t have to apologize. He is an asshole. You wouldn’t believe the shit he’s pulled since we left Jersey.”


“Why don’t you come back to my house with me and you can fill me in.” At Justin’s hesitation he added. “I promise to behave myself.”


“It’s not you I’m worried about,” Justin mumbled.




“Nothing. I…uh…promised my mother I’d come right home from school. Besides, Lindsay’s supposed to come by later,” Justin said.


Brian nodded his head in understanding and the rest of the trip was made in silence. Neither one of them knew what to say to each other under the circumstances. Brian pulled up in front of Justin’s house just as his mother was checking the mail.


“Shit, it looks like I’m going to have to introduce you now,” Justin said.


“Don’t worry, I know how to be polite. In fact, most parents love me,” Brian smirked.


“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that with everything going on right now, I’d rather keep my personal life to myself. Let’s go.”


Brian climbed out of the jeep and followed Justin over to where his mother was standing waiting for them. “Hey Mom.”


“Hi Honey, how was your first day?” Jennifer asked as she looked at the boy standing beside her son. “I see you’ve already made a new friend.”


“Yeah, Mom this is Brian. He’s in my English class and lunch. He lives the next block over so he offered me a ride home. Brian, this is my mother.”


“It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Taylor. Welcome to the neighborhood,” Brian said as he reached out and shook the woman’s hand.


“Why thank you, Brian. That’s very sweet of you. I feel so bad that Justin had to change schools right before his senior year. It’s nice to know that he’s making friends so quickly,” Jennifer smiled. “Why don’t you come inside? I baked some chocolate chip cookies this morning.”


“Thanks Mrs. Taylor. That sounds great,” Brian replied before noticing the angry look on Justin’s face. “But I should probably just head home. I’m sure my mother’s waiting for me to tell her all about my first day. She still thinks I’m five.”


Jennifer laughed at Brian’s reply. “You have to forgive her, Brian. Mother’s have a hard time accepting that their children are growing up. Well, the offer stands. You’re welcome to come by anytime.”


Brian smiled sweetly in Justin’s direction. “Thanks Mrs. Taylor. I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot of me in the future.”


“Please, call me Jennifer. All of Justin’s friends do,” Jennifer smiled. “Oh Justin, I almost forgot. Lindsay called and said she couldn’t make it over tonight. She said she’d call you tomorrow.”


“Oh…okay,” Justin replied sadly. He knew things were going to change after the move, he just didn’t know it would happen so fast.


Brian saw the flicker of sadness cross Justin’s features and wished he could take the blond in his arms and make him smile again. Instead he decided to get out of his hair and leave him alone for awhile. “Justin, since we live so close to each other, I might as well pick you up in the mornings. There’s no reason to take the bus if you don’t have to. Mel and I ride in together, but she stays to work part time in the office in the afternoons. There’s plenty of room.”


Justin wanted to protest, but couldn’t come up with a reason to since his mother was standing right there. She knew how much he hated riding the bus and was bound to point it out if he tried to refuse. He was going to have to accept the fact that for the moment he was stuck with Brian Kinney. “Sure…uh…thanks.”


“No problem. I’ll pick you up at 7:30 tomorrow. Take care, Jennifer.” Brian smiled as he walked back to the jeep, very pleased with the way his first day of school went.


Justin watched Brian walk away in total confusion. A part of him was afraid of what the future held. Brian was supposed to be a summer fling, never to be seen again and now they were neighbors, even classmates. Yet another part of him, a bigger part deep down inside was thrilled to have Brian in his life, which terrified him even more.





Brian walked into his house with a huge smile on his face and greeted his mother by grabbing her and dancing around the living room. He was still ecstatic over the way his first day of school worked out.


“Brian!” Joan shrieked as her son spun her around the room. “What’s got you in such a good mood? Even during the best of years, you don’t come home dancing on your first day of school; only your last.”


“Well, it’s not every year that the school gets a new student in the form of a gorgeous, blue-eyed blond,” Brian replied with a chuckle, releasing his mother.


“A gorgeous, blue-eyed…you mean…”


“Yep, that’s exactly what I mean. Justin Taylor is a new student at Pittsburgh High,” Brian confirmed. “He’s also practically our new neighbor. He just moved in on Sycamore Street.”


“Wow, that’s got to be kind of…”


“Wonderful?” Brian offered.


“I was thinking more like scary,” Joan said, noticing the strange look cross Brian’s features. “Honey, think about it. He was able to enjoy himself with you over the summer because you weren’t a threat to him. He figured that eventually he’d go back to his safe little life without having to deal with the truth. Now he’s thrown right smack in the middle of your world. The poor thing’s got to be terrified.”


“But Mom, it’s not like I’d ever do anything to hurt him. He knows that.”


“I’m sure that deep down inside he does, but with everything that’s changing around him, his insecurities have to be running wild. I hope you didn’t push him today. I think the best thing for you to do is leave him alone for awhile and give him some space to get used to the new life he has. Let him come to you. If things are meant to be, he’ll know it in time.”


Brian thought about what his mother was saying and realized what a complete jerk he was to Justin. He practically forced himself on the kid, insisting that they ride to school together in front of his mother so that he couldn’t refuse. The guilt hit him like a bolt of lightning and he knew that he had to fix the colossal mistake he made.


“I’ll be right back,” Brian said as he raced out the door, ignoring his mother’s questions.


Brian decided to make the walk to Justin’s instead of driving so he could think about what he was going to say. The last thing he wanted to do was make Justin feel any more uncomfortable than he already did. He finally climbed the porch steps and knocked on the door, waiting patiently for someone to answer. A moment later, Jennifer appeared, looking surprised.


“Brian, come on in. Did you change your mind about the cookies?”


“No, but thanks again for the offer,” Brian chuckled. “I forgot to tell Justin something. Is he here?”


“Sure, he’s up in his room. It’s the first door on the left when you get up stairs. Go on up. I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you,” Jennifer said as she closed the door behind them.


Brian somehow doubted that, but he just smiled and made his way upstairs. He hesitated at the door, trying to draw up the courage to knock, laughing at his nervousness.


Justin was sitting upstairs in his room, trying not to drown in self-pity. He had tried calling his friends to see how their first day at school was, but no one seemed to have time to talk to him. Even Ethan, who was supposed to be his best friend, told him that he was too busy to chat. He finally gave up and sunk down on his bed, grabbing his sketch book; his only real friend. He wasn’t surprised to eventually see the face that began to take shape on the page. If there was color, he knew that hazel eyes would be staring back at him. He stopped drawing for a moment and thought back to the day he had.


To say he was surprised to see Brian in his first class would be an understatement. Even though they spent most of their summer together, neither one of them shared too much personal information with the other. It was an unspoken rule between them. It made it seem easier to keep their growing relationship from crossing an invisible line into something more than a summer fling. Or at least that’s what Justin kept telling himself.


He really wanted to believe that he’d be able to spend their time together just enjoying what they had and say goodbye at the end of August without any complications. He never planned on falling in love, but unfortunately that was exactly what happened. Ever since their last night together on the beach, Justin hadn’t been able to put the hazel-eyed kid out of his mind for more that a few minutes at a time. He missed him so much over the last week and even though he wondered if he’d ever be able to completely forget what they shared, he was determined to try. Now he knew that his plans were ruined. Brian was living just a block away from him; they shared not only a class, but also a lunch period and now he was being forced to ride back and forth to school with him everyday until his father finally followed through on his promise and got him a car. Justin felt as if he was in over his head and instead of fighting to climb his way out of the awkward situation, he just kept sinking deeper and deeper. He heard a knock on his door and sighed, knowing that his mother was never going to let him be until he told her all about his day. He managed to sneak away when he first got home, but apparently his time was up.


“Come in,” he called as he went back to his drawing, making sure to keep the page hidden from his mother so that she wouldn’t see his secret obsession. He already had one whole book filled with drawings of Brian. He heard the door open, but didn’t bother looking up. “I’m kind of in the middle of something Mom, so can I just talk to you later?”


“It’s not your mother,” Brian said, chuckling softly.


Justin’s head shot up in surprise. “Brian…what are you doing here?”


“I…uh…I came to apologize,” Brian admitted tentatively.


“Apologize? For what?”


“For being a complete jerk earlier. Just because we had…well, whatever it was we had this summer, that doesn’t mean we have to be the best of friends. I know I kind of forced you to have lunch with me this afternoon and then offered to drive you to school knowing that you wouldn’t refuse in front of your mother. I wasn’t being fair to you and I’m sorry. You have enough to deal with, without having me making things harder for you.”


Justin stared at Brian, unsure of what to say. Yes, Brian did make him uncomfortable during the day with his attitude and his assumption that they were going to be friends, despite what they had agreed on during their time together, but a small part of him was sort of glad that Brian had done it. It took the pressure off of him as to what their next move would be. But now Brian was there, giving him an easy out and Justin wasn’t sure how to respond. Brian mistakenly took his silence as relief and continued.


“Well, I’d better go. I won’t come by in the morning so you can take the bus and do whatever it is that you need to do. Just remember that I meant every word I said to you over the summer and if you need me, I’ll be here for you.” Brian turned and left the room without waiting for a reply, leaving Justin behind to decide what he really wanted.


By seven o’clock, dinner was over and Brian and Ben were alone in Brian’s room upstairs talking about their classes and all the latest gossip. Brian knew that the subject of Justin Taylor was right on Ben’s lips and figured he might as well get the explanations over with.


“I met Justin in Jersey. His parents have a house there,” he finally said.


“Oh, so it was just a summer fling?” Ben inquired, knowing that the blond meant a little more than that. His thoughts were confirmed by the obvious jealousy Brian showed in the parking lot after school.


“It was supposed to be…well, not supposed to be…but supposed to be.”


Ben laughed at Brian’s answer. “Well that explains everything.”


“It’s complicated,” Brian said.


“Well why don’t you start at the beginning?”


Brian sighed before beginning his story. “The first time I ever laid eyes on Justin was when he came into the diner with his friends. He looked so down but none of his friends really seemed to care. They’re from money, so you can imagine how self-absorbed they are. I noticed him right away but he was with his girlfriend so I didn’t do much but look at him on occasion.”


“His girlfriend?”


“Yeah, her name’s Lindsay. She’s a cute little thing, but so not Justin’s type; even if he was straight. After they left, I pretty much got back to work and tried to put Justin as far from my mind as I could given how hot he was. Later that night, when I was walking home from work, I found him out on the boardwalk. He was really upset and I just sort of invited him to the house. I knew his problems had a lot to do with his family and he wasn’t ready to go home. We had a lot in common and seemed to really hit it off. Pretty soon we were spending a lot of time together. He was constantly blowing off his friends and girlfriend to hang out with me. I didn’t understand it at the time. One of the guys I work with was the one who suggested that Justin was secretly falling for me. I eventually confronted him about it. He denied it at first, but you know how persuasive I can be.” Brian smirked at the last comment.


“Yeah, I know,” Ben agreed with a smile. “So then what? Did he come out to his friends?”


“Hardly,” Brian snorted. “He gave me some bullshit about his father and what’s expected of him. He said that he was going to marry Lindsay one day and be the good little family man. It was what his father wanted and he couldn’t do anything about it. I wanted to tell him to fuck off, but I just couldn’t. I was really starting to care about him and he looked so lost and unhappy. We agreed to spend as much time together as we could and just enjoy the summer. We also agreed that after we left Jersey we wouldn’t have anymore contact. Little did we know that his mother was going to move him into my neighborhood or enroll him in our school. His parents are getting a divorce and they made all these arrangements without letting their children know what was going on. Justin had been going to Saint James up until this year. The whole situation is just so completely fucked up. It was hard enough saying good bye to him last week, thinking that I wasn’t going to see him again, but now? How am I supposed to live a block away and sit in class with him knowing that we can’t be together?”


Ben saw the sadness in his friend’s eyes and knew exactly what it was that he didn’t say. “You love him, don’t you?”


Brian sighed. “Yeah, I do. More than I ever thought I would, but what difference does it make? He doesn’t want anything to do with me. He was horrified when he saw me sitting in English this morning and I almost had to force him to sit with us at lunch. He’s prepared to live the happy, hetero life and its best if I just stay out of his way.”


Ben wanted to argue, but he didn’t know Justin well enough to offer his advice on the subject. “I’m sorry, Brian. I wish there was something I could do to help. Maybe if you just give him time he’ll come around.”


“Maybe, but I’m not getting my hopes up. The ball’s in his court now so I guess I’ll just wait and see.”


“Well no matter what happens, I’m here if you need me and I promise not to tell anyone what you’ve told me. Justin seems cool and I wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt him,” Ben assured him with a slight smile.


“Thanks,” Brian smiled back, enjoying the return of their closeness. “Are we okay now?”


“Yeah, we’re alright. It just got so weird for awhile there. I guess you were right. Friends shouldn’t be involved romantically. After we broke up everything got so out of control. I lost my boyfriend and didn’t have my best friend to talk to about it. I think our summer away from each other was a good thing. I don’t feel so awkward being alone with you anymore.”


“Good because even though I still had Mel, she doesn’t always give the best advice when it comes to cock, ya know?” Brian asked with a hint of humor in his eyes.


“I wouldn’t think so, since she has no idea what to do with one,” Ben laughed.


The two friends spent another hour talking about their summer and all that had happened while they were a part and Brian was happy with the turn of events. It almost made him forget about the blond on the next block; almost.






After Brian’s departure, Justin got to thinking about everything that had been going on over the last few months. Aside from the warm kisses and great sexual encounters, Justin really enjoyed Brian’s company; more than he ever enjoyed his childhood friends. Even Ethan, as close as they were, got to be a little too much at times. It was a pleasure to have a conversation with someone who talked about more than banging girls and trust funds. He laid in bed for hours wondering if he and Brian would be able to carry on a friendship without the sex. It was impossible for them over the summer, but the circumstances were different then. He was away from his hometown and didn’t have to worry about constantly running into people he knew; people who traveled in his parents’ social circle. New Jersey was a completely different world where none of the rules he usually lived by applied. How hard could it be to follow the rules in Pittsburgh and still maintain a friendship? Especially since it was obvious that his friends were abandoning him.


Brian’s friends seemed really nice and welcomed him into their little group on his first day, no questions asked. It was as if moving across town threw him into a different world. By the time the sun started peeking out of the night sky, Justin had made his decision. He would put aside his feelings for Brian but keep their friendship intact. With his mind finally at ease, it didn’t take him long to drift off to sleep, grabbing the hour that his alarm clock would allow.


Brian woke up feeling a lot better after his talk with Ben. He was glad that things between them were going to go back to normal and the uneasiness between them was over. Now all he had to do was hope that he and Justin could come to the same understanding. As much as he wanted the rekindle the fire that they shared in Jersey, he would be happy just having their friendship continue; at least for the time being. He had tossed and turned a lot the night before, trying not to think about the blond, but failing miserably. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him since the day they met and knowing that their lives were becoming intertwined just made it harder to stop the thoughts that invaded him. He was glad that he went and talked to him the night before. He didn’t realize what an awkward position he had put the guy in by forcing himself into his life; especially considering all the changes that were taking place without his consent. No, he’d just have to back off and pray that Justin would approach him in the future.


After dragging himself out of bed, Brian took a shower and got ready for school. When he finally made his way downstairs, his mother was in the kitchen fixing his breakfast.


“Morning honey, did you sleep well?” Joan asked as she watched her son walk through the door.


“Okay, I guess. It took awhile to fall asleep. I kept thinking about Justin,” Brian admitted as he poured himself some juice. “I feel really bad for him. It has to be hard to start over in a new school for senior year.”


“Yeah, that’s such a shame. Plus, with his parents divorce, that poor kid can’t seem to catch a break. That’s why I think it’s important that you give him some space. I know how much you care about him, but he needs to find his way on his own right now. He knows where to find you if he needs you.”


“You’re right. I just hope that he remembers that.” Brian was stopped from saying anything further by the sound of the doorbell. “I’ll get it.”


Justin stood outside Brian’s house, his heart racing in fear. He was glad that Brian had given him a ride home the day before because it made it easier to find his house. Brian had told which street he lived on so all he had to do was look for the Jeep. After ringing the door, he waited nervously for someone to answer and felt his breath catch in his throat when he heard the faint sounds of someone approaching.


Brian pulled open the door and froze when he saw Justin standing on the other side.


“How did you find me?”


“I…uh…you told me you lived on the street before mine. I…uh…just looked for the jeep,” Justin stammered. He took in Brian’s appearance, his hair still obviously damp from his morning shower, and allowed his mind to drift back to the day when Lavena was out with her friends and he and Brian showered together. It was the most erotic thing he ever experienced. The feel of Brian’s skin all wet and soapy; it was pure heaven. Justin blushed from the memory when he realized that Brian was talking to him. “Huh?”


“I asked what you’re doing here.” Brian repeated, wondering what had Justin so distracted.


“Oh…uh…I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have just dropped by. I can…go and uh…just see you at school.” Justin turned to leave, feeling the heat of embarrassment flush his cheeks.


“No,” Brian said suddenly, causing the blond to jump at the sound. “I mean, you don’t have to go. It’s fine that you’re here. I’m actually glad to see you. I mean, I just meant that I didn’t expect you to be here. It’s still early. Do you want to come in and have something to eat? My mom always makes too much for just one person.”


“I…uh…can we talk for a minute?” Justin hated the uncertainty he heard in his voice and chastised himself for his stuttering.


“Yeah, sure,” Brian replied. He stepped out on the porch, pulling the door closed behind him and moved over to the swing that hung off to the side of the deck. “Is something wrong? I promised not to push you anymore so if that’s what you’re worried about...”


“No, that’s not it,” Justin said, interrupting Brian before he finished. “I just wanted to say that I appreciate you giving me space. I’m just really mixed up right now. What happened between us over the summer…well, it wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m not saying I’m sorry it happened. It just wasn’t supposed to happen. And well, aside from that I like you. We had fun together and I just…I was wondering if maybe we could be friends. Just friends. I’ll understand if that’s not okay with you. In fact, this was probably a stupid idea. Never mind, just forget that I even came here.” Justin stopped his rambling and started to walk away.


“Wait…Justin…don’t go,” Brian called out to him as he made his way down the steps. He took a deep breath and waited for Justin to turn around before walking down the steps and stopping before the blond. “Look Justin, I’m not going to lie to you. My feelings for you haven’t changed any, but if being friends is all you want, I’m fine with that. We did have fun together over the summer and I’d like for that to continue.”


“Are you sure?” Justin looked up into Brian’s hazel eyes and had a moment of doubt. He couldn’t help but wonder if he was playing with fire agreeing to be friends with someone who made him feel the way Brian did, but as he saw the smirk appear on the face before him, he knew he had no choice. He needed Brian in his life, one way or another.


“Come on, let’s go have breakfast,” Brian replied, silently assuring Justin that he was more than okay with what he was offering.


Justin followed Brian into the house, surprised to find it similar to the one he had just moved into. “Wow, this place looks almost exactly like mine.”


“Yeah, when the builder made the plans for the development he decided to pick a few different designs and carbon copy them through out. He’s a friend of my dad’s. Come on, the kitchen is this way, but then again, I guess you know that.” Brian smiled at Justin before leading him into the kitchen.


Joan heard voices coming from the living room and was about to go investigate when Brian walked back in, followed by a very good looking boy with blond hair and beautiful blue eyes. She immediately recognized him from Brian’s description, although her son’s words didn’t even begin to do him justice.


“Mom, this is Justin. I invited him in for breakfast. That’s okay, right?” Brian asked, looking pleadingly at his mother.


“Of course that’s alright. You know your friends are always welcome here. It’s nice to meet you, Justin. Brian’s told me a lot about you.” Joan noticed an almost fearful look cross Justin’s features and realized her error. “It’s okay, Justin. We don’t judge anyone around here.”


Justin smiled at Brian’s mother, feeling very comfortable in her presence. “Thank you Mrs. Kinney. It’s nice to meet you, too.”


“Have a seat Justin,” Brian said, thankful that his mother didn’t ruin things by admitting to knowing about Justin. “Is breakfast almost ready, Mom?”


“Yep, just give me a minute to butter the toast,” Joan replied as she went back to her preparations.


Brian and Justin ate their breakfast while talking about the classes they had. It was a comfortable conversation and Brian was thrilled with the newest turn of events. Once they were done, Brian glanced at the clock and saw it was almost time to go. Mel would be banging on the door any minute. “So I guess you’re going to take me up on my offer of driving you to school?”


“Well, like Ben said, seniors shouldn’t be subjected to riding the bus,” Justin replied with a bright smile.


Brian’s heart skipped a beat when he saw Justin’s face light up. He hadn’t seen that particular smile in weeks and he knew then that he would do whatever it took to see it more often; even if it meant keeping his hands to himself. He chuckled to himself when he realized that his mother’s electric bill was bound to go down. He had a feeling he was going to be taking a lot of cold showers for awhile.


Mel was walking across the yard on her way to get Brian when she saw him walking out of the house with Justin behind him. She smiled to herself, hoping that it meant that the boys found a way to be friends. Brian had been so depressed ever since returning from New Jersey and the happiness that she saw on his face when Justin was around warmed her heart. She quickly made her way to the jeep, meeting up with them at the same time.


“Hey Mel,” Brian said as he noticed his friend. “We’re going to have company in the mornings from now on.”


Mel saw Justin look at her questioningly, as if waiting for her approval. She smiled at him before turning back to look at Brian. “Cool, now at least I’ll have someone interesting to talk to in the mornings,” she teased.


“Bitch,” Brian spat playfully.


Justin laughed at the friends’ banter. “Why do I get the feeling that I’m going to be refereeing you two everyday?”


“Maybe because you know what an ass Brian can be?” Mel offered with a chuckle.


“No, it’s because I told him what a bitch you are,” Brian replied with a smirk.


“Alright children, that’s enough. Some of us mature people actually want to get to school on time,” Justin said, trying to sound stern, but failing miserably.


“Mature my ass,” Brian laughed. “Get in the jeep, Blondie before I tie you to the roof for the ride.”


Justin stuck his tongue out at Brian, feeling hopeful about the future for the first time in weeks. Maybe everything was going to work out after all.






The next few months flew by quickly. Brian and Justin became inseparable after their talk and spent most of their time together. Neither one of them talked about their summer together, and any sexual tension between them went unmentioned. None of their friends commented on their fast building friendship. Mel and Ben were the only people who knew about their history and chose to keep their opinions to themselves.


Justin’s relationship with Lindsay was still intact, but hanging by a thread. They hardly ever saw each other, but neither one of them had the guts to officially end it. All of Justin’s other friends had disappeared from his life, just like he suspected they would, but that was fine with him. He felt a lot more comfortable with his new friends than he ever did around Ethan and the gang. At first he was a little worried about everyone finding out about the affair between him and Brian, but other than Ben and Mel, who stayed out of it and never talked about it, no one had a clue as to what happened in Jersey.


Things were a little more difficult for Brian. Being openly gay made it that much harder to go back in the closet, which was pretty much what he did. Not only did he have no interest in anyone with Justin being so close, but the first time he did make a comment about a hot guy amongst his friends, he saw a look of sadness cross Justin’s face and decided to keep his comments to himself when Justin was around; which was all the time. His days were filled with Justin and his nights were filled with cold showers, his right hand, and some wicked wet dreams.


As Christmas drew near, Brian began to notice some subtle changes in Justin. He became more withdrawn and had a short temper. Their afternoons and weekends were becoming filled with tension and silence. Finally it all became too much for Brian and he knew he was going to have to talk to Justin about what was bothering him. After making his decision, he waited until the weekend when they were hanging out bored out of their minds. On that particular morning, Brian kept making suggestions of things they could do, but Justin shot down every idea until Brian reached the end of his rope and was unable to hold back.


“Do you want to tell me what the fuck is wrong with you?”


“What?” Justin asked in confusion, startled by Brian’s question.


“You’ve been moping around for weeks now, biting my head off and being a complete asshole. I think I deserve to know the reason why,” Brian explained.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Justin got up and tried to leave the room, but Brian grabbed his arm, stopping him.


“Bullshit. You might be able to get other people to buy your act, but don’t fucking lie to me. I know you better than that.”


Justin was about to deny it again, but something in Brian’s eyes stopped him before the lie could escape his lips. “I’m leaving on Friday for two weeks,” Justin finally admitted.


“Leaving?” Brian asked, wondering why he suddenly had a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach.


“Yeah, my father is taking his teenage girlfriend to Aruba for the holidays and my mother decided that it would be too hard for her to spend her first Christmas without him in town. She’s taking us to Europe instead,” Justin sighed.


“Well that’s good, right?” Brian replied, trying to be supportive. “Mel spent her summer there and she loved it.”


“That’s because she’d never been there before. Plus, she’s a part of a happy family. I’ve been to Europe at least a dozen times and I don’t care if I ever go back. The last thing I want to do during vacation is spend it watching my mother put on a happy face while dabbing her eyes. I’d rather be here with you.” Justin immediately realized what he almost admitted to, and tried to cover it up. “And Ben and Mel; my friends.”


Brian listened to Justin while he tried to fix his little slip and smiled inwardly at the implications of the slip. He’d rather have Justin there with him, too instead of half way around the world. “Why don’t you just stay here?” Brian asked, surprising both Justin and himself.




“Stay here. I know my mom won’t mind and this way your mom can get away for a few weeks without ruining your vacation,” Brian said, realizing it was the perfect solution for both of them. “In fact, why don’t we go talk to your mom now and see what she says?”


“I don’t know Brian, two weeks is a long time,” Justin replied. “Besides, your mom’s not even home. Shouldn’t you ask her first?”


“Trust me, she won’t care. We really need to talk to your mom soon. Otherwise you’ll be on a plane in less than a week.”


Justin wanted to protest but knew he didn’t have a choice. As much as he feared the thought of staying with Brian for two weeks, the thought of leaving him was even worse. “Alright,” he sighed. “Let’s go.”


Jennifer was in the kitchen baking cookies when Justin walked in with Brian behind him. It was a rarity, since Justin usually spent most of his time at the Kinney home. In fact, Jen had been hoping to get Brian alone for a few minutes to talk to him. Justin had been very moody in the past few weeks, but every time she tried talking to him about it, he insisted that he was fine. She hoped Brian might be able to shed some light on what was bothering her son.


“Hey Mom, you’re baking cookies again?” Justin asked as he went to the fridge and pulled out a couple of cans of soda for him and Brian.


“Yeah, your sister is having a sleepover tonight and asked me to make them, but I’m glad you’re here. Could you do me a favor before you disappear again?” Jennifer asked as the wheels in her brain started turning.


“Sure, but then I need to talk to you about something, okay?” Justin replied, happy for the reprieve. He wasn’t sure how he was going to approach the subject of staying behind for the holidays.


“Okay dear, I just need you to run next door to the Campbell’s. They’re loaning us a sleeping bag for tonight.”


“Alright, I’ll be right back,” Justin said before turning to Brian. “You coming?”


Brian was about to say yes when he saw Jennifer give a gentle shake of her head. “Uh…no, I think I’ll stay here.”


Justin nodded in acknowledgement before walking out of the kitchen, leaving Brian and his mother alone. Brian gave Justin enough time to get out of the house and then looked at Jennifer questioningly, waiting for an explanation.


“Thanks for staying. I’ve been wanting to find a way to talk to you. Have you noticed how moody Justin’s been lately? I keep asking him if something is wrong, but he just blows me off, telling me that everything’s fine. Is there something I should know? Did something happen at school?”


“Jennifer, it’s not my place to tell you what’s going on with Justin,” Brian began.


“I know Brian, and I don’t want to put you in an awkward position. I’m just really worried about him. Ever since his dad and I split up he’s become distant. He never talks to me about anything, he hides in his room when he’s here, and in the last few weeks it’s just gotten worse. I just want to know that he’s okay,” Jennifer explained tearfully.


“He’s okay, he just has a lot going on in his head right now,” Brian told her. “Just do yourself a favor and listen to him when he gets back.”


“Listen to him? Why? What’s going on?” Jennifer asked anxiously.


“I can’t tell you. You need to wait for him. Just listen to him and think about what he’s saying before you respond.”


Jennifer looked at Brian and saw something there in his eyes. Something that confused her, but she didn’t have time to question it because Justin returned at that moment and interrupted her thoughts.


“I put it in the family room. Do you need me to do anything else while I’m here?” Justin asked, trying to stall the inevitable.


“No honey, that’s it. Now what did you want to talk to me about?”


Justin looked over at Brian and took a deep breath before speaking. “Mom, I know how excited you are about our trip and I know you deserve it, but I really don’t want to go. I’m just getting used to everything now and I have friends here. I want to spend my vacation with them. Ben asked me to go skiing with him next weekend and Mel’s having a get together for her birthday. I want to be with them, not traveling around Europe.”


“But Justin, I thought you loved Europe?” Jennifer asked in surprise. She had no idea Justin didn’t want to go away.


“I did, the first few times we were there, but I’ve already seen everything I wanted to see.”


“Justin, you’re only seventeen. I don’t feel comfortable leaving you here alone for two weeks and your father’s going to be out of town, too,” Jennifer replied.


“I know. Brian said I could stay at his house. Please Mom, I just want to stay here with my friends and enjoy my vacation,” Justin pleaded.


Jennifer looked at Justin and saw how important it was to him to stay in Pittsburgh. Glancing at Brian, she realized that was what he was warning her about. He knew how much Justin wanted to stay and was preparing her for his request. She really didn’t like the idea of leaving him behind while she left the country, but she also knew how hard the last few months had been on him. After the shock wore off while in Jersey, Justin seemed to accept the changes that were waiting for them. He actually seemed to be happy for awhile, but once they got home, he immediately became depressed again. Meeting Brian and his other friends seemed to help a bit, but there was still something bothering him that he wasn’t ready to share. Maybe allowing him to stay behind and enjoy his vacation would be good for him. She didn’t want to think about being separated from him through the holidays, but she’d do anything to make her children happy; even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness for them.


“Brian, what about your mother? Is she okay with Justin staying there for two weeks?” Jennifer asked.


“She’s not home, so I haven’t talked to her yet, but she’ll be fine with it. She always lets my friends hang around the house and Justin’s there most of the time now. I can have her call you later if you want,” Brian offered.


“Does that mean I can stay?” Justin asked excitedly.


“If it’s alright with Joan, then you can stay with them I guess. I’ll just miss you during the holidays,” Jennifer replied sadly.


“I’ll miss you too, Mom. Thank you…thank you so much.” Justin threw himself at his mother, hugging her tight. “You’re the best.”


Jennifer laughed at Justin’s excitement. “Just remember that the next time I tell you no about something,” she teased. “Now run along. I still have a lot to do before Molly’s friends get here.”


Justin grabbed Brian by the arm and happily jogged out of the house, dragging Brian with him. Once they were outside and walking down the street, Justin turned to Brian. “That was easier than I thought it would be. Are you sure your mom won’t mind? I don’t want to get my hopes up and then have her say no.”


“Trust me, she’s not going to say no,” Brian said, a little preoccupied. “Now what was this about Ben asking you to go skiing?”


“He asked me yesterday at school what I was doing next weekend. He said his parents have a cabin in the mountains and wanted to know if I want to go up there with him. Didn’t he ask you, too? I told him I was going to be away, but it looks like I’ll be able to go after all.” Justin was too excited to see the scowl on Brian’s face.


“Justin, my mother may not want you going away while you’re staying with us,” Brian said, wondering where the little white lie came from. “I mean, she’s going to be responsible for you while your mother’s away.”


“Oh, I didn’t think about that. Well, it’s no big deal. I just won’t go with him this time. I’m sure there’ll be other chances,” Justin replied.


“Not if I have anything to say about it,” Brian mumbled.




“Nothing. Now come on, let’s go get some lunch. I’m starving,” Brian said, mentally planning the call he’d be making to Ben. He’d have to remind his friend that Justin was off limits. The guy was still very much in the closet and if he ever decided to come out, Brian had every intension of being there for the big event.






Friday finally arrived, bringing along with it strong feelings of anxiety and fear. Justin had spent the week trying to decide the best way to spend two weeks with Brian and not give in to the urges that had been plaguing him ever since he saw him in class on his first day at school. They somehow managed to become the best of friends without letting their previous relationship, or whatever it was, take over. Now they were going to be living in the same house for the next two weeks and that thought terrified Justin. So much so that he’d considered going away with his mother rather than risking the possibilities of what could happen in their time together. He considered it, but didn’t give in. He didn’t want to go away for the holidays. More importantly, he didn’t want to leave Brian for the holidays.


The first week passed by quickly. They’d still had a few days left of school and with the preparations for Christmas they managed to keep busy and everything was normal. Just like it always was between them. That changed on the night before Christmas Eve. Jack and Joan had a Christmas party to go to, leaving Justin and Brian alone to fend for themselves. Brian had been in a weird mood all day and by the time that his parents left, he was pacing the house like a caged animal. He finally gave up trying to relax on his own and went down to the basement, returning with a bottle of wine in his hand. Justin watched him in horror.


“Brain, what’re you planning to do with that?” Justin asked.


“I plan on drinking it. What did you think I was planning on doing with it?” Brian replied casually as he opened the bottle.


“Are you nuts? What about your parents? They’ll know it’s gone and you’ll get in trouble,” Justin said, his voice sounding slightly hysterical.


Brian chuckled at Justin’s reaction. “Relax Justin, my mother lets me have a glass or two every now and then. It’s no big deal; especially if I don’t leave the house. Do you want some?”


Justin thought about refusing, but he didn’t want to seem like a baby. Besides, his mother had given him a glass or two of champagne on special occasions so having a little bit of wine was really no big deal.


Brian decided to forgo the glasses and took a long swig from the bottle before handing it to Justin and leading him back into the family room. Within a half hour, the bottle was almost gone and neither Brian nor Justin were feeling any pain. They were sitting side by side on the couch when Brian decided to throw caution to the wind and began rubbing the side of Justin’s leg with his hand.


Justin felt his heart jump up in his throat as he felt Brian’s hand rubbing his leg. “What are you doing?’ he finally asked.


“How do you do it?” Brian asked, ignoring Justin’s question. “How do you see me every day, spend all your time with me, and forget all that we meant to each other?”


“Brian,” Justin whispered, tears suddenly burning his eyes.


“No, I really want to know. I need to know,” Brian said as he placed the bottle on the table in front of them and jumped up, turning to face the blond as he continued. “I’ve tried, Justin, I really have, but I can’t pretend that there was nothing between us. I can’t pretend that I don’t still love you. It hurts too much and I can’t do it anymore.”


Justin stared at Brian in shock. All this time he’d been thinking only of himself and how he was dealing with things; he never once thought about how hard it would be on Brian to continue their charade. He stood up, looking into Brian’s eyes, trying to offer his comfort the only way he knew how. “Brian, I’m sorry.”


“You’re sorry?” Brian laughed bitterly. “What exactly are you sorry for? Sorry that you met me? Sorry that you gave yourself to me during the best summer of my life? Sorry that your mother moved you into my neighborhood and by extension, my life? What exactly are you sorry for?”


“I’m sorry that I hurt you,” Justin said as his tears finally fell down his cheeks. “I’m sorry that I dragged you into this mess to begin with. I’m sorry that…that I can’t be who you want me to be.”


“But you are who I want you to be. God Justin, don’t you get it? You are Justin Taylor, beautiful, blond, intelligent…and gay. It doesn’t matter what you chose to do with your future, you’re always going to be gay. Forcing yourself to deny who you are isn’t going to change that.”


“But I…I’m…” Justin stammered, unsuccessfully trying to get his point across.


“Justin,” Brian said, his voice softening as he a step towards the blond, wrapping his arms around him and pulling him close. “I know you’re scared, but please stop hurting yourself, stop hurting us by trying to be somebody your not.”


Justin looked up into Brian’s damp eyes and felt something inside him give, sending a mixture of emotions running through his chest. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hands before finding his voice. “Will you help me?”


“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Brian whispered before lowering his mouth to take Justin’s in a passionate kiss that left them both breathless. When he finally pulled back he saw a hint of fear in Justin’s eyes, but also noticed a hint of relief, too. “Let’s go upstairs.”


Justin allowed Brian to lead him up the stairs and into his bedroom, fighting the urge to run away. In his heart he knew Brian was right, but a part of him still clung to the hope that he didn’t have to cross the line. He didn’t have to take the final step in homosexuality. Because he knew once he did, his life would never be the same.


Brian saw the doubts cross Justin’s face and wished there was a way to erase them, but he knew that only time would ease the pain and fear of what he was about to do. He closed the door behind them and took Justin by the hand as he made his way over to the bed. He lay down and stretched his arms out in invitation, holding his breath while he waited to see Justin’s reaction. With only a moment’s hesitation, Justin climbed up on the bed and lay down beside him, resting his head on Brian’s chest. They lay there in the quiet, content to just be in each other’s arms, when Justin finally spoke up and broke the silence.


“I’ve missed this so much; just being in your arms, touching you without the fear of crossing that invisible line. Will you…I mean…I want you to.”


“Are you sure? There’s no rush,” Brian replied, not even bothering to pretend he didn’t know what Justin was asking for.


“Yes, I’m sure. It’s been too damn long already,” Justin assured him with a small smile.


Their reunion was gentle and tender; both of them overcome with emotions as they reconfirmed their feelings for one another, and when Brian finally entered Justin for the first time in four months, it dashed the little bit of hope he’d been hanging on to. In that moment, Justin finally knew what he’d been denying for so long. He was gay, and being with Brian was all that mattered.






Brian woke up a little disoriented and glanced at the clock noticing it was a little after midnight. Justin was sound asleep in his arms and for the first time in months it felt like everything was right with the world. Before he had time to think about what transpired between them, he heard a light tapping at his door.


“Come in,” he called out softly.


“Hi honey, I just wanted to let you know that your father and I are…” Joan’s voice trailed off when she noticed Justin was there. “I didn’t know he was in here with you. Is everything alright?”


“I’m not sure,” Brian replied hesitantly. “I guess I’ll find out in the morning.”


“Just don’t push too hard. He’s a sweet boy and he’s going through a very confusing time right now. I don’t want to see him hurt. Now go back to sleep. I’ll see you in the morning,” Joan said before slipping quietly out the door.


Brian continued to lie there thinking about what his mother said. Was he pushing too hard? Coming out is hard on anyone. Brian remembered the fear he felt before he finally admitted to his parents that he was gay and they were accepting. He couldn’t even imagine how hard it would be for Justin. Maybe he just needed to step back and let the blond work things out on his own. As much as he hated the thought of going back to just being friends, he didn’t want was to cause Justin any more pain. He finally decided that no matter what, he’d let Justin make the first move. If he woke up in the morning and regretted their reunion, Brian would accept his decision and forget it ever happened. Once his decision was made, Brian finally drifted off to sleep, almost dreading what the morning would bring.


Justin woke up to the sun shining through Brian’s window and couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face at the feeling of being in Brian’s arms. He gently lifted his head and stared at the sleeping form, his breath taken away at the sight before him. How could he have thought for even a moment that he’d be able to resist being with Brian? The last four months had been agony on him and he was finally ready to give in to his feelings and take the next step with Brian at his side. He still wasn’t sure what he was going to do about his parents, but he’d worry about them later. Right now, neither one of them were anywhere even remotely close to him and he was going to enjoy every minute of his new found freedom. Deciding that he’d been deprived too long of what he really longed for, Justin lightly ran his hand down Brian’s chest until he found his mark and grasped the semi-erect cock. Brian let out a slight moan at the contact, but didn’t wake up. Justin was not discouraged. He gently pulled back the covers and began placing kisses down the same path his hand had just taken until his mouth was a mere inches from Brian’s shaft. He licked his lips before taking the hard member in his mouth, relishing in the taste that was uniquely Brian.


Brian was being pulled from his sleep by the feel of a warm mouth wrapped around him. His eyes shot open in surprise and came in contact with Justin’s blue ones looking up at him innocently.


“Hey, I…uh…I thought that…oh God…that you might,” Brian stammered as Justin’s tongue continued its sweet torture. “Justin…Justin…you need to stop.”


Justin was startled by Brian’s request and let his cock slip from his mouth. “Stop? Why? Am I doing it wrong? I know it’s been awhile but…”


“Doing it wrong? Fuck no, you were doing everything right,” Brian assured him with a smile. “I just think we should talk first.”


“Talk? Why don’t you let me blow you first and then we’ll talk?” Justin suggested seductively before resuming his position.


“No Justin, wait…I really think…”


“Don’t think, just feel,” Justin whispered before picking up the pace, leaving Brian with the inability to form a coherent thought.


Brian gave up trying to talk to Justin and allowed the sensations the blond was evoking to wash over him as he quickly moved closer to release. When his orgasm finally hit, Brian bit his lip to keep from screaming out Justin’s name, just incase his parents were sleeping. He felt the warm tongue lapping at his softening member before reaching down and grabbing Justin by the arms, pulling him in for a heated kiss. When he finally pulled away and looked into Justin’s eyes, he saw amusement reflecting back at him.


“You wanted to talk?” Justin asked casually, biting back a laugh at the look on Brian’s face.


“Talk?” Brian asked in confusion before remembering what it was he wanted to talk about. “Listen Justin, I feel really bad about pushing you so hard last night.”


“Brian, you didn’t push me too hard. You just reminded me of who I am. I can’t keep ignoring my feelings and living a lie. I want to be happy and I can’t be happy trying to be someone I’m not,” Justin replied.


“You won’t get any argument from me, but if you’re not ready for this, I’ll understand. It’ll really suck, but I’ll understand,” Brian chuckled.


“Look, I’m not ready to announce to the whole world, including my parents, that I’m gay. It may take a little longer for that,” Justin laughed. “But I am ready to start living my life the way I want to, and that would include being with you.” Justin stopped his little speech and looked away before looking back into Brian’s intense hazel eyes. “That is, if you’ll have me.”


Justin’s doubt was absolutely adorable and completely unfounded as Brian was quick to point out. “Oh, I’ll have you alright. Over and over again,” he teased.


Justin leaned in again and kissed Brian softly, trying to tell him without words just how much his support meant to him.


A short time later, after Brian returned the blow job that Justin had so expertly given him, they lay together in bed, talking about their plans for the next week. Justin suddenly remembered the strange dream he had and laughed as he began to tell Brian about it.


“It was the weirdest thing. I had this dream that I was lying here next to you and your mom walked in.”


“Uh…I hate to break it to you Jus, but that wasn’t a dream.” Brian laughed at Justin’s horrified expression. “Last night my mother came in to tell me they were home. She does that when they go out at night. She didn’t know you were here. I guess she thought you were in the guest room.”


“Oh my God! Your mother was in here? She saw us in bed together? Shit! Fuck!” Justin exclaimed as he jumped from the bed and started scrambling for his clothes.


“Justin, relax,” Brian said calmly as he climbed out of bed and wrapped his arms around Justin. “She’s not your mother, remember? She knows I’m gay and she’s fine with it.”


“I know, but still…she saw us in bed together,” Justin said.


“It’s not the first time she’s walked in while I wasn’t alone. That reminds me, I need to get a lock for my door. She’s only ever caught me before or after. I really don’t want her to walk in during one day.”


“You mean she knows you have sex in here and she’s okay with it?” Justin asked incredulously.


“At first she was kind of upset. I told her that if I wasn’t free to bring people back here, I’d end up going out to God knows where and wasn’t it better to know that her son was safe? She quickly agreed. The next day I came home from school and found an extra large box of condoms on my bed. She’s been cool with it ever since. Don’t get me wrong, she’d flip if I started bringing tricks home. But if I have a boyfriend, I’m allowed to have them here, no questions asked.”


“Wow, your mom’s so cool,” Justin replied in awe.


“Yeah, she’s pretty amazing. Now we’d better get downstairs. Everyone’s going to be here tonight at eight for our annual Christmas Eve gathering and I promised we’d help her get everything ready,” Brian said as he quickly kissed Justin one more time. “Wanna take a shower with me? It would save us some time.”


Justin saw the gleam in Brian’s eyes and knew saving time was the last thing on his mind. “Lead the way,” he replied with a grin.






Justin was upstairs getting dressed when he heard the doorbell ring. He had sent Brian down earlier, claiming he needed extra time to get ready, but in reality he just needed a few extra minutes alone to gather his thoughts. He’d decided that morning after their shower that he was ready to jump right into his new found freedom by officially outing himself to Mel and Ben at the party that night. It was a simple place to start since both Mel and Ben knew what went on in New Jersey, but they’d never said anything about it to Justin and it was the first step in becoming who he wanted to be. As he finished getting dressed and tousled his hair just right, he tried to push away his nervousness, telling himself that they were his friends and coming out to them would just deepen that friendship. It was a waste of time. He didn’t feel any better. As he walked out of Brian’s room and reached the top of the stairs, he took a deep breath and then began making his way down. The living room was filled with people, most of them Jack’s co-workers who Justin didn’t know, so Justin pushed his way through and walked into the kitchen. Joan was in there pulling a tray of appetizer out of the oven.


“Joan, is there anything you need me to do?” he asked quietly from the doorway.


“Thanks dear, but I’ve got everything under control. Melanie and Ben are here. Brian took them down to the basement away from us old folks. Why don’t you join them?” Joan replied with a smile.


“Okay,” Justin said before adding. “If you need any help, just let me know. If it wasn’t for you I’d be stuck in Europe right now.”


“Oh Justin,” Joan laughed. “There are worse things than being stuck in Europe for two weeks, but you’re welcome here anytime.”


Justin smiled and then headed down to the basement, trying his best to be casual. He could feel his hands shaking and his palms sweating and laughed to himself over his nervousness. Coming out to gay people shouldn’t scare him that much. As he walked down the stairs, he heard Ben and Brian in a heated discussion and stopped before he could be seen to listen.


“I don’t see what the big deal is,” Ben said. “Justin and I are friends, remember? All I did was invite him skiing with me.”


“All you did? Come off it, Benny boy. You’ve been trying to get in his pants ever since you met him. I’ve told you before to back off and I meant it,” Brian replied angrily. He’d been avoiding Ben ever since he found out about the skiing invitation, but he’d already invited him for Christmas so he had no choice but to see him.


“I don’t see what the big deal is anyway. It’s not like he’s your boyfriend or anything. He’s still in the closet, remember? Maybe he just needs a little help finding his way out.”


Justin could hear the taunting in Ben’s voice and knew the moment of truth had come. Ignoring his nervousness, he strutted his way downstairs and walked right over to where Brian was, reaching out and pulling him down into a heated kiss. The minute their lips met, Justin immediately forgot all about Mel and Ben and lost himself in the fire that ignited within him. The kiss deepened and lasted until Brian finally pulled away breathless and confused.


Justin smiled reassuringly at Brian before turning to the other two people in the room. “Hey Ben, Mel; it’s good to see you guys.”


“It’s uh…good to see you too,” Ben stammered as his eyes traveled back and forth between Brian and Justin. “Uh…Merry Christmas.”


“Thanks Ben, it’s actually a very Merry Christmas now that Brian and I are together again,” Justin said, making sure to get his point across. “Now, is there anything to drink down here? I’m thirsty.”


“Um…yeah, my mom said we could share a bottle of wine. Justin, why don’t you come upstairs with me and help me get some glasses?” Without waiting for a response, Brian grabbed Justin’s hand and led him up the stairs and into the kitchen. He closed the door for a little privacy before turning to the blond. “What was that all about?”


“I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” Justin replied innocently.


“You kissed me.”


“Yeah…so…I thought we were together now. Am I supposed to ask permission to kiss you?” Justin asked suddenly, feeling a little self conscious.


“No…of course not,” Brian assured him. “I just didn’t expect it. I mean, after everything that’s happened.”


Justin stopped him from continuing. “Brian, I told you this morning that I’m ready to be with you. I don’t know how it’ll all work out, but if I can’t be honest with our friends, then what’s the point? Besides, I heard you and Ben right before I came in. I heard him taunting you and wanted to let him know that I don’t need his help. I have you.”


“God I love you,” Brian whispered before pulling Justin in for a kiss. It was interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat in the background. Brian pulled away quickly and turned to see his father standing in the doorway. “Hey Pop.”


“Sorry to interrupt, but I assumed it was safe to walk into my own kitchen. Can’t you two wait until you’re alone?” Jack teased, winking at Brian.


“Sorry Jack, I…uh…we shouldn’t…” Justin voice trailed of nervously.


“Jus, he’s just teasing us,” Brian laughed. “Don’t do that, Pop. You’re scaring him.”


“I can’t help it, Sonny Boy. He’s just too easy,” Jacked laughter rang through the room. “What’re you two doing up here anyway? I thought Ben and Melanie were here.”


“They are,” Brian replied. “We just came up for some glasses. Mom said we could have a bottle of wine.”


“Oh, use the ones in the cabinet over there. And remember, not too much for Ben if he’s driving home. I don’t mind you kids indulging on occasion, but you have to be responsible about it,” Jack said.


“I know, Pop.”


Brian went to the cabinet and took down the glasses, handing two to Justin before they made their way back to their friends. Brian poured them all a glass of wine and settled on the couch, pulling Justin down alongside of him. Melanie was the first one to break the silence.


“Alright you two, spill it. What’s going on?”


Brian looked over at Justin, silently asked for permission to share their story. When he saw Justin nod his head in approval he turned back to Mel.


“Justin and I had a long talk last night and he decided that he couldn’t hide who he was anymore. So now we’re together, although aside from Mom and Pop, you two are the only ones who know so far.”


Melanie looked over at Justin, who was sitting there rather quiet through Brian’s explanation. “So you’re ready to come out now? Are you sure?”


“Am I sure? Well, I’m sure that I want Brian. I’m sure that I don’t want to live my life being who my parents want me to be. I’m not so sure how I’m going to go about telling my parents yet, but I don’t really have much of a choice. I love Brian and I can’t sit back anymore and not be with him. Whatever happens down the line, at least I know I’ll have him there by my side…and I’m hoping to have my friends there for me, too.” Justin looked at both Ben and Mel, his eyes asking for their support.


“That’s so sweet,” Melanie replied with tears in her eyes. “Of course we’ll be there for you. Right Ben?”


“Yeah,” Ben said, feeling a little foolish for what he said to Brian earlier. Anyone who knew about Justin and saw him with Brian had to see their love for each other. “We’ll all be here for you; for both of you. That’s what friends are for.”


“Thanks,” Justin said as his smile lit up the room. He felt so free and happy for the first time since leaving New Jersey and having his friends by his side made his future seem a little less scary.






To Justin it seemed that in the blink of an eye his mother and sister were back in Pittsburgh and he was back to sleeping alone in his bed. His first night home seemed to drag on endlessly as he listened to stories of Europe and tried to sound interested when all he could think about was how much he missed Brian. The first week at the Kinney’s was fine but the second week was incredible. With Jack and Joan being so accepting, Brian and Justin were able to be together and develop their relationship without fear of being caught. It was even better then when they were in New Jersey. His mother insisted that he spend at least one night at home, which was why he was there to begin with, but he couldn’t wait until the morning. Brian was picking him up early and they were driving to Philadelphia to spend the day walking through the museums and sight-seeing. They were staying overnight at Brian’s uncle’s place, just outside the city. It would just be the two of them since his uncle was out of town and Justin was looking forward to it. He pulled himself out of his thoughts when he realized that his mother was talking to him.




“I said that you got mail while we were away,” Jennifer repeated, handing a letter over to her son. “It’s from Dartmouth.”


Justin looked at the envelope in his mother’s hand before reaching out and taking it from her with a shaky hand. His father had helped him apply to colleges a few months back, but he’d forgotten all about the applications as soon as he put them in the mail. He opened the envelope and pulled out the letter, his eyes scamming over the paper until he found what he was looking for.


“Well?” his mother asked, watching him closely for a reaction.


“I got in,” Justin replied quietly.


“Sweetheart, that’s wonderful,” Jennifer gushed as she grabbed him in a tight hug. “Your father’s going to be so proud of you.”


Justin didn’t reply. Instead he stood there with the offending letter in his hand as he tried not to think about the future. When he applied at Dartmouth as well as a few others, he wasn’t with Brian so the location of his school wasn’t an issue. Now it was. He couldn’t imagine going away to school and not being with Brian. It had only been a few hours since they said goodbye and he was already missing him.


“Mom?” he finally said when his brain started working again. “Do you think Dad would be really disappointed if I didn’t go to Dartmouth? If I stayed around here instead?”


“Justin, why would you want to do that? Dartmouth is a great school. You should be thrilled that you got accepted,” Jennifer replied, surprised by her son’s reaction.


“I know, but Pittsburgh is my home. I have friends here, not to mention you and Molly. I don’t know if I want to go away and live in some dorm room with a bunch of strangers.”


“Well, let’s not talk about it now. Think about it some more and we can discuss it later. I know your father was counting on you going there just like he did,” Jennifer said.


“Yeah well, we also counted on him being a good father and husband and look how that turned out?” Justin replied bitterly.


“Justin Taylor, that’s a horrible thing to say. What happened between your father and I has nothing to do with you and your sister. We just grew apart.”


“Bullshit Mom, he just couldn’t keep his pants on and you know it. Stop making excuses for him,” Justin said angrily. He was so tired of listening to her defend the selfish bastard. “I’m going to bed.”


Justin ignored her calls as he ran upstairs and locked himself in his room. He didn’t mean to pick a fight with his mother on her first night home, but thoughts of leaving Brian were tearing at his heart, making it hard for him to breathe. He settled on the bed and reached for the phone, needing to hear Brian’s voice.


“Hello?” Brian answered on the second ring.


“Hey, it’s me,” Justin said quietly.


“Hey me, how’s the family reunion going?” Brian asked as he sat back on his bed. He’d been missing Justin since he left and was hoping to hear from him.


“Not too good,” Justin replied honestly. “I miss you.”


“Yeah, me too but I’ll be there early in the morning and we’ll have the rest of the weekend to be together.”


“I can’t wait,” Justin sighed.


Brian heard the sadness in Justin’s voice and knew something was bothering him. “Okay, what’s wrong?”


“What makes you think something’s wrong?” Justin asked.


“Because I know you and I can tell by the sound of your voice that you’re upset about something. Now out with it,” Brian demanded gently.


“Bri, what’re your plans for college? Do you know where you’re going to go?”


“Yeah, I’m going to Carnegie Mellon. They have an excellent marketing program there. Why? What’s up?” Brian asked in confusion. He wasn’t exactly sure where the conversation was going.


“I got an acceptance letter while I was away,” Justin said softly.




“It’s for Dartmouth.”


“Oh,” Brian replied, trying to push down the lump that immediately took up residence in his throat. He never thought about what their future held. “Well congratulations. Dartmouth is one of the best schools in the country.”


“But it’s in New Hampshire and Carnegie Mellon is here,” Justin pointed out unnecessarily.


“Yeah, what’s you point?”


“My point is that I miss you already and we’ve only been apart for a few hours. How am I supposed to move that far away from you?” Justin asked, his voice breaking with emotions.


“It’s easy. You pack your shit and you say goodbye. We’ll email each other, talk on the phone once a week, and get our educations. You can’t give up an opportunity like this because of me,” Brian said, keeping his voice even.


“Just like that? You don’t even care that I’ll be living over 600 miles away?” Justin yelled, not even bothering to hide his pain.


“What do you want from me?”


“How about the truth? How about if you tell me exactly how you feel about it? Forget what you think is best or what you think I should do. Tell me what you want to happen.” Justin managed to lower his voice a bit, but he was still fuming over Brian’s cavalier attitude.


“Fine, you want to know what I really feel?” Brian barked. “I don’t want you to go, alright? I’m a selfish bastard, but I don’t want you to go away and leave me behind. I want us to be together and if that means giving up going to college and getting a job in a convenience store in New Hampshire for minimum wage just so we can be together, then I’m willing to do it. Are you happy now?”


“Ecstatic,” Justin replied happily, wiping away the tears that began to fall during Brian’s admission. “I’m not going to Dartmouth. If my father likes it there so much, he can go back, but I’m staying in Pittsburgh.”


“Justin, you can’t give up a school like Dartmouth for me,” Brian replied quietly.


“I’m not only doing it for you. I’m doing it for me, too; for us. We’re finally together again, really together and there’s no way I’m going to leave you behind to go follow my father’s dreams. I have dreams of my own and without you, they aren’t worth shit,” Justin insisted.


“Are you sure?”


“Absolutely positive,” Justin assured him.


“I love you,” Brian whispered, feelings of relief washing over him.


“I love you, too. Now I better go. I have a report due on Monday and I haven’t even looked at it since school let out,” Justin laughed.


“Justin, I’m shocked. What’s more important than keeping up with your school work?” Brian said in mock-horror.


“Touching you, kissing you, having you inside me,” Justin said huskily.


“Well then, you better get started because I plan on touching you, kissing, you, and being inside of you a lot in the next two days,” Brian teased, although they both knew it was no joke. That was exactly what Brian had planned.





By the time Brian and Justin had finished their sightseeing, both of them were happily exhausted. Brian parked his jeep in his uncle’s assigned parking space a hopped out, pulling his bag from the back. He reached into his pocket for the apartment key and never heard the blond approaching from behind. All he knew was that suddenly his arms were filled with Justin and his breath was taken away by the power of the kiss Justin was giving him. It lasted until they were both breathless and panting with need.


“What was that for?” Brian asked as he tried to regulate his breathing.


“That was for making today so special,” Justin replied with a smile.


“Special? You haven’t seen anything yet, kid,” Brian teased as they moved towards the building.


“Kid? Please Brian, you’re only three months older than me. I’ll be eighteen in a couple weeks, remember?” Justin said indignantly.


“Oh that’s right. I do remember something about an upcoming birthday.” They had reached the apartment and Brian opened the door and walked in with Justin close behind before finishing. “And what do you want for your birthday?”


“Nothing,” Justin replied casually.




“Nope, I already have everything I want right here,” Justin replied before throwing his arms around Brian. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”


“Well my bank account thanks you,” Brian laughed before leaning down and taking Justin’s mouth in a heated kiss.  No more words were spoken as the two lost themselves in the passion between them.


Two hours later, Brian was lying on the couch with Justin in his arms when Justin’s cell phone rang, pulling them out of their post lovemaking haze.


“Sorry, I have to get that,” Justin said as he got up and went in search of his phone. He gave Brian an apologetic look before answering. “Hello?”


“Justin, I…uh…I think you better come home,” Jennifer said tearfully.


“Mom? What’s wrong?” Justin asked as fear gripped his heart. He could tell something was really wrong by the sound of his mother’s voice.


“I…would rather wait until you get here. I just…”


“Mom, what is it?” Justin said interrupting her before she could finish. “Tell me.”


“Oh Justin, it’s your father.”


“Dad? What’s wrong with Dad?” Justin asked frantically, his brain barely registering Brian’s arms wrapping around him from behind.


“There was an accident, honey. I just got a call from Alleghany General,” Jennifer explained as calmly as she could.


“Is he alright?”  Justin waited for his mother’s reply but all he could hear were her soft sobs. “Mom! Is he alright?”


“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” was all she could say.


Justin felt the room spinning around him as her words sank in. “I’ll be home as soon as I can,” he said softly before turning off his phone.


Brian continued to hold Justin, feeling his body begin to tremble and waited for him to speak. When it was obvious that he wasn’t going to say anything, Brian turned him around in his arms, forcing eye contact. “Jus?”


“My dad…there was an acci…accident. He…he’s gone,” Justin stammered before throwing himself into Brian’s arms and giving in to the sobs that quickly overtook him.


“Shit…Justin,” Brian whispered as he held on to Justin, offering what comfort he could.


“Oh God, Brian,” Justin whimpered through his tears. “Why? Why is this happening?”


“I don’t know, Jus,” Brian replied weakly. Listening to Justin’s sobs broke his heart and he wished there was something he could do to make it all better, but there wasn’t. All he could do was hold him while he cried over the death of his father and the unfairness of the world. “Shhh…I’ve got you.”


Once Justin had calmed down enough for Brian to let him go, they quickly gathered their things and locked up the apartment before making their way back to the jeep. Brian made the long drive back to Pittsburgh in silence, holding Justin’s hand and glancing at him now and then to assure himself that he was okay.


Justin had finally stopped crying and just sat quietly in the jeep, staring out into the dark sky thinking about the last time he’d seen his father. It had been right before Christmas. Craig had stopped by the house before leaving on his trip to Aruba. He had promised Justin that when he got back, they would go out shopping for the car he was promised. Justin hadn’t believed him, but he didn’t let on. Instead he threw his arms around his father and thanked him, calling him daddy just like he did when he was a kid. He was glad that he wasn’t the jerk that he’d become since the separation. He had no idea that he was seeing his father for the last time. It seemed like forever before they finally pulled up outside his house. Justin never heard Brian get out of the jeep, and was startled when his door opened and Brian was standing there.


“I don’t want to go in there,” Justin finally said softly. “Once I do, it’ll seem more real.”


“I know Jus, but you have to. Your mom and sister need you and you need them,” Brian replied.


“Come with me. Please don’t leave me right now,” Justin’s voice cracked with emotion as he grabbed Brian’s hand. “I just…”


“It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll stay for as long as you need me,” Brian promised him as he squeezed Justin’s hand and helped him from the jeep.


“Thank you,” Justin whispered.


They walked hand in hand up to the door. Justin took a deep breath and wiped his eyes, kissing Brian quickly before opening the door and walking inside. It was strange, but having Brian with him seemed to make the whole mess a little easier. As soon as they got inside and closed the door, Justin saw his mother approaching them, tears evident on her face.


“Honey, I’m so glad you’re home,” she said as she took her son in her arms. She held him tight for a moment before pulling back and looking into his sad blue eyes. “Your sister’s up in her room. I think she wants to see you. Why don’t you go on up. I’ll keep Brian company down here.”


Justin nodded his head and looked over at Brian before heading upstairs, his heart growing heavier with each step he took. He could hear the faint sound of his sister’s tears from outside the door and struggled to pull himself together before knocking on the door.


“Come in,” came the muffled response.


He opened the door and saw Molly tear streaked face staring back at him. “Mol,” he said from the doorway.


“Oh Justin,” she cried when she saw her brother standing there. “I can’t believe Daddy’s…”


Justin quickly walked over to Molly, pulling her into an embrace. “I know, Molly. I know.”


The two siblings stood there crying together, sharing their anger and pain at the cruel circumstances that took their father away from them.






6 Months later…



Brian sat alone in his room as he contemplated what the next couple of months would hold for him. Ever since Craig Taylor died, things between him and Justin had been strange. He wasn’t sure what he expected. They’d only been together for a couple of weeks when the accident happened, but what he didn’t expect was for Justin to go on as if nothing happened. During the days leading up to the funeral, Justin had been quiet and withdrawal; exactly what someone would expect from a teenager who lost one of his parents unnecessarily. But once the actual burial was over, Justin returned to the same almost carefree kid that he’d always been, insisting to anyone who asked that he was fine. After countless arguments between them, Brian finally gave up trying to get Justin to open up and waited for the other shoe to drop. It never did. Now here they were, graduation night, and Brian was still worried about the blond. He knew that he’d been holding all of his feelings so deep inside that they couldn’t make their way out. Brian thought about talking to Jennifer about it, even attempted to bring the subject up once or twice, but she was as bad as her son, insisting that everything was fine.


Now, on top of everything else, Brian was getting ready to leave Pittsburgh for the summer, giving in to his grandmother once again. She begged and pleaded with Brian to spend the summer with her like he’s always done and Brian couldn’t seem to refuse. Maybe it had something to do with the tiredness her heard more prominent in her voice now, or the slight wheeze he heard in her breathing, and maybe it even had a little to do with his need to take a break from pretending that everything was okay. He was so tired of being with Justin, talking with Justin, making love with Justin, but yet not really knowing him at all. Not anymore. Not since the night when fate intervened and took a father away from his son.


“Brian, are you ready?” Joan asked from the doorway, pulling Brian from his thoughts.


“Uh, yeah. I guess,” Brian replied softly. “Is Dad here yet?”


“No, he’s running late but promised to meet us at the school,” Joan explained. “Brian, I just wanted tell you how proud I am of you. I can’t believe my little boy is all grown up.”


“Mom,” Brian groaned, knowing what was coming next. “Don’t start with the tears again. We don’t have time for you to fix your make-up.”


“I know, I know. I just…oh, forget it. You won’t understand until you’re a parent yourself,” Joan laughed, fighting back her tears.


“Uh…Mom? News flash…I’m a fag, remember? Last time I checked, fags couldn’t have kids.”


“Maybe not the old fashioned way, but you never know what the future holds.” Joan was stopped from saying anything else by the sound of Brian’s cell phone ringing. She recognized the ring and knew that it was Justin. “I’ll be in the car.”


Brian waited until she was gone before answering the phone. “Hey, where are you?”


“I’m in the car on the way to school. Where are you?” Justin replied.


“I’m leaving now. Are we still on for later tonight?”


“Yeah. I…uh…guess you’re all packed?” Justin said, trying to keep the sadness out of his voice. He couldn’t believe that Brian was leaving him. Going back to New Jersey for two months and leaving him in the Pitts.


“Yeah, the jeep is all packed. You know, Jersey isn’t that far away. You can come and visit me. I know Lavena would love to see you,” Brian said as he made his way downstairs and out the front door.


“We’ll see,” Justin sighed. “Anyway, I’d better go. My mom’s giving me that look again. The one where she’s about ready to burst out into tears because her little baby’s all grown up.”


“I know exactly which one you mean. I’ve been getting it for the last week,” Brian laughed. “If I don’t see you before line up, good luck.”


“You too, Brian.”


Brian shut off his phone as he climbed into the jeep and fastened his seat belt. He waited until they were on the road before turning to his mother once again for advice. “Mom, I’m really worried about him. What should I do?”


“Brian sweetie, there’s nothing you can do but let him know you’re there if he needs you. You can’t make him talk if he doesn’t want to,” Joan replied. She had been worried about Justin, too. From what she and Jack had seen as well as what Brian had told them, Justin was living in ignorant bliss, refusing to face his father’s death head on. It wasn’t healthy and she worried what would happen when he finally broke down and allowed himself to grieve. She was worried about both Justin and her son.


The ceremony was long, the students were restless, and after what seemed like an eternity, the master of ceremonies dismissed the graduation class of 2005. Brian had finally caught up with Justin after making his rounds and saying goodbye to his acquaintances. The people who he’d known most of his life, but would probably never see again. Ben’s parents were throwing a party for them all, but Brian and Justin bailed out, wanting to spend time alone before Brian left the next morning. They went out to their secret spot, a rundown old farmhouse off the interstate and made love under the stars, neither one of them mentioning their impending separation. Brian finally brought Justin home after two, wishing they had more time together. He was hoping that time apart would help Justin cope with his life a little better, but it didn’t mean that leaving his favorite blond behind was easy for him.


“I guess this is it?” Brian whispered in the silence of the jeep.


“Not yet. Come inside for a minute. I have something I want to give you,” Justin said with a smirk as he climbed out of the jeep.


Brian was curious as he followed Justin inside and upstairs to his room. Once they were in his bedroom, Justin walked over to the nightstand and opened the drawer, pulling out a small box.


“I bought this for you last week, but wanted to wait until now to give it to you. It’s not a graduation present. It’s more like a going away present,” Justin explained as he handed the box to Brian.


“What is it?”


“Open it and find out,” Justin chuckled.


Brian looked into Justin’s eyes before opening the box. Inside was a stunning white gold ID bracelet with his name scripted on the top. “Wow, it’s great,” he said in surprise.


“Look on the other side,” Justin instructed, holding his breath while he waited for Brian’s reaction.


Brian pulled the bracelet out and flipped it over to see what was engraved on the other side. “Justin loves Brian,” he read aloud.


“I just…don’t want you to…forget me while you’re gone,” Justin whispered.


“Like that could ever happen,” Brian replied weakly. “Come here.”


They were immediately wrapped in each other’s arms, the emotions of the night stirring their passion once again. Neither one of them were consciously aware of the world around them as they quickly peeled their clothes away, their mouths never losing contact with one another’s. Days later, or in reality only minutes that seemed like days, Justin was on his back and Brian was sheathing his throbbing cock as he kneeled in between Justin’s legs. He had a brief thought of the days that lay before him without Justin in them, but pushed those thoughts away as he pushed inside Justin’s tight hole, seeking the connection he could only find when he was buried inside his soul mate. After a moment of adjustment, Brian began thrusting inside Justin, praying for that moment in time to last forever. Neither one of them heard the door open and were started when they heard a strangled sob coming from the other side of the room.




“Mom!” Justin cried out in horror, as both he and Brian scrambled from the bed, their moment shattered. “It…uh…I mean…let me explain.”


“I…don’t want your…explanations.” Jennifer replied with a deadly calm that she didn’t feel. “Just pack your things and get out. You’re not welcome here anymore.”






“Mom, it’s me. Sorry I woke you,” Brian said softly as he drove through the deserted streets of Pittsburgh.


“Brian,” Joan said as she struggled to sit up in bed, glancing at the clock. “It’s almost three in the morning. Where are you?”


“I’m on my way to Grandma’s house. I just wanted to let you know so you don’t worry,” Brian explained, sneaking a look over at Justin, who still hadn’t said anything since leaving his house.


“Why? I don’t want you driving there in the middle of the night by yourself. I thought you were going to leave in the morning.”


“I was, but something came up. Justin’s with me so I’m not alone,” Brian replied.


“Justin is with you? Is everything alright?”


“Not really. I’ll explain later.”


Joan heard the silent plea in her son’s voice and decided not to push. Whatever was wrong, Brian was a smart boy and she knew he would take care of things. “Alright, but I’ll be waiting for that explanation. In the mean time, be careful. Call me when you arrive so I know you got there safely.”


“Yes Mother,” Brian teased.


“Don’t be a smart ass,” Joan scolded with affection. “I love you, Brian.”


“Love you, too Mom.”


Once Brian turned off his phone, he stared out the windshield, watching the road and thinking about what transpired at the Taylor house. After Jennifer told Justin to leave, Justin did his best to try to explain things to his mother. He was openly crying and begging his mother to listen to what he had to say, but she refused. Justin had finally given up and started packing those things that meant the most to him. Once he was done, he walked over to the window in his bedroom, silently staring out at the dark sky.


Brian had watched the whole incident unfold, standing by for support without interfering. When Justin hadn’t moved from the window, Brian walked up behind him and wrapped his arms around Justin’s slender body. He waited for what seemed like hours before hearing Justin whisper tearfully.


“I have nowhere to go.”


“Yes you do. We’re going to New Jersey.”


That was the last thing said between them and now, as they were getting ready to get on the turnpike, Brian couldn’t take the silence anymore.


“Justin, just give her some time. I’m sure she’ll come around eventually.”


“I’ve never seen her like that,” Justin began. “Dad was always the one to freak out. Mom always said that a person had to stay calm in any situation. That there’s an explanation for everything and if you listen with an open mind, confrontations can be kept to a minimum. What a fucking joke.”


“I’m sorry, Justin. I shouldn’t have let things get that far,” Brian said as feelings of guilt washed over him again. He should’ve known better than to fool around in Justin’s house. Especially with Jennifer home.


“It’s not your fault, Brian. It’s mine. I knew my mother was home. I shouldn’t have even brought you in. We said our goodbyes at the house. I just…I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess it’s easy to forget how different our mothers are. As afraid as I was to come out to mine, I never thought she’d throw her own son out of the house.” Justin felt the tears of bitterness and betrayal begin to fall again and focused his attention back out the window. He didn’t want to seem like a big baby. He was eighteen years old. It was time for him to start living his life anyway. “What’s done is done. Now all I have to do is figure out what happens next.”


“Well there’s no rush. We can spend some time in New Jersey while you decide what to do. You said your father set up a trust for college, right?” He saw Justin nod out of the corner of his eye before continuing. “So at least you still have that. And I really think your mother will come around. Give her time. Finding out your son is gay by walking in on him taking it up the ass is not the best situation.”


“You’re so eloquent,” Justin replied sarcastically. “She didn’t see her son taking it up the ass. What she saw was her son sharing something special with the person he loves.”


“But she doesn’t know that. Justin, she doesn’t know anything about who you are or what we mean to each other. All she saw was her little boy doing something she probably thinks is disgusting in her home. How can you expect her to understand when she doesn’t have all the facts?”


Justin sighed, seeing the point Brian was trying to make. But what was the difference? She refused to give him a chance to explain anything to her. “She’s my mother. I don’t care what she saw; she still should’ve listened to me. She should’ve given me a chance to explain. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Just leave me alone.”


Brian tried not to be hurt by Justin’s anger. He knew it wasn’t directed at him. In fact, Brian thought Justin was holding up well under the circumstances. He didn’t know what he would’ve done if his own parents hadn’t been as understanding as they were. He decided to just give Justin time to absorb what happened on his own. He’d come around eventually and Brian would be there for him when he did.


By the time they reached the shore house, Brian was completely exhausted. It was almost seven in the morning and he hadn’t slept since waking up early the day before. He parked the jeep in the driveway and got out, reaching in the back for his overnight back. The rest of his things could stay where they were until he got some rest. As he walked towards the door he noticed that Justin was still standing by the jeep in deep thought.


“Are you coming in?” he asked quietly.


“I think I’m gonna go for a walk first, okay? I just…I want to be alone for a bit,” Justin replied softly.


Brian put down his bag and walked over to Justin, stopping right in front of him. “You know I love you right? And that I’m gonna be here to help you through this.”


Justin looked up at Brian and gave him a small smile. The first one since they left Pittsburgh. “I know. That’s probably the only thing keeping me sane right now. I love you too and I’ll be back soon,” Justin said as he reached up and gave Brian a quick kiss before walking down the driveway and heading towards the beach.


Brian watched him go, saddened by the dramatic change in him before going back to grab his bag. He had a key to the house so he quietly let himself in, calling out to Lavena as he walked inside.


“Brian? What are you doing here this early? I didn’t expect you until later this afternoon,” Lavena said as she walked over and hugged her grandson.


“There’s been a change of plans. Justin’s with me. He went for a walk but should be back soon. You don’t mind, do you?”


“Of course not. I always thought Justin was such a sweet boy. I was thrilled when you told me you worked things out with him. Now come in, sit down, and tell me what happened to bring about this change of plans. I can see by the look on your face that something’s wrong. Maybe your old grandma can offer you some of her vast wisdom,” Lavena laughed as she led Brian into the living room.


Brian smiled as he sat down and tried to think of where to begin. As close as he was to his parents and as much as he loved them, his grandmother was his favorite person on earth and he was happy that he’d been spending the next month or so with her. If anyone could help him and Justin figure out what to do next, it was her. He spent the next twenty minutes telling her everything that happened, from the difference in Justin since his father died up until his mother throwing him out, relieved that he finally had someone to talk to. Once he was done, he sat back on the couch and waited for her reaction.


“Oh dear, how horrible for that poor boy. Makes me want to catch the next greyhound and go beat some sense into Mrs. Taylor. She should be proud to have Justin as a son, regardless his orientation,” Lavena replied angrily. “Well I’m glad you brought him here with you. He needs to be around people who support him no matter what. We’ll give him some time and then I’ll talk to him. Maybe I can help him see the bright side of this whole mess.”


“What bright side?”


“Well, I know Mrs. Taylor acted like a complete bitch, but a mother’s love is a powerful thing. Given time, I think she’ll come around. But at least he doesn’t have to hide anymore. Now he can be exactly who he wants to be with fear of being discovered. A huge weight has been lifted off him and eventually he’ll feel the freedom.”


“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I just hate to see him this way. I really love him Grandma, and I don’t want to see him hurting so much,” Brian said as his mind flashed to the pain and disappointment he saw in those baby blues before Justin left for his walk. “Do you think I should go try to find him? I know he said that he wanted to be alone, but I’m worried about him.”


“Then go find him. Just don’t push him to talk about anything right now. What he needs most is to know that you’re there when he’s ready.”


“Thanks Grandma,” Brian said as he kissed her cheek and stood up. “I’m so tired, but I know I won’t be able to sleep until I know he’s going to be okay.”


“He’s going to be okay, sweetie. He’s got you.” Lavena winked at his as she got up and patted his cheek affectionately. “Now you go get him while I get your room ready. Just remember how thin these old walls are. I don’t want to miss out on my sleep because of you two.”


“Grandma!” Brian exclaimed with a laugh as he walked out of the house with a smile. Yeah, it was good to be back in New Jersey.


Brian found Justin sitting on the beach lost in thought, and walked over dropping himself down in the sand beside him. He thought about what his grandmother had said and didn’t say anything, giving Justin the option of speaking first. They sat there for awhile side by side until Justin finally started talking.


“I think what hurts the most is that she refused to listen to what I had to say. She didn’t give me the chance to explain, she just washed her hands of me at the first sign of disappointment. I wanted to tell her that I love you and that I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I wanted her to know that I found the love that she always wanted for me, just in the form of a guy instead of a girl. If she listened to me and still wanted me gone, then I would’ve left. I can’t make her except me if she doesn’t want to. But I at least wanted her to love me enough to give me a chance to explain.”


Justin’s voice was tearful and sad and all Brian could do was take him in his arms and offer what comfort he could. He knew nothing he said would ease the pain so what was the point of trying? After a few minutes had passed, Brian pulled back and cupped Justin’s face with his hands, brushing his thumbs under his eyes to dry away his tears.


“My grandmother is getting our room ready. Why don’t we go back and try to get some sleep? We can talk when we wake up and try to figure out what to do next.”


Justin nodded in agreement and stood up; taking Brian’s offered hand as they made their way back to the house. Lavena was conspicuously absent when they arrived and Justin was grateful for that. He was suddenly so tired and he knew he wasn’t up to anymore talking at the moment. He let Brian lead him into the bedroom they shared last summer and smiled at the memories that ran through his mind. There was nothing he could do about his mother at the moment, but at least he had Brian by his side to help him through the coming days. As they collapsed together in the small bed, Justin felt Brian wrap his arms around him and drew strength from them.


“Don’t let go,” Justin whispered as he gave in to his exhaustion.


“I won’t. I promise,” Brian replied softly as he, too drifted off to sleep.





“Are you sure?” Justin asked to the person on the phone, wanting to make sure that he heard everything correctly.


Brian sat at the kitchen table listening to Justin’s one-sided conversation with curiosity. They had managed to get a few hours of much needed sleep, but as soon as they woke up, Justin began to worry over what he was going to do next. Lavena was the one to suggest that he call his father’s longtime friend and financial advisor and confirm that Jennifer didn’t have the power to take away his college money. She didn’t think the woman would stoop that low, but it was better for Justin to find out now rather than wait until school started. Then she left to go to her weekly bridge game at a neighbor’s house, leaving the two boys alone to do what they had to do. Brian continued to watch Justin as he paced the room oblivious to the watchful eyes on him.


“Okay Robert, I will. Let me give you the number of where I’m staying incase you need to contact me. Otherwise I’ll call you when I get back to Pittsburgh.” Once Justin had given Robert Lavena’s number, he hung up the phone and stared off into space, trying to absorb what he just learned.


Brian waited as patiently as he could for Justin to tell him what this Robert guy had said, but after a few minutes, his curiosity got the better of him and he couldn’t wait anymore.




“Huh?” Justin mumbled, startled by Brian’s voice. “Oh, sorry…I guess I was lost in thought.”


“Obviously, now what did Robert have to say?”


“Apparently my dad took extra steps to make sure my mother couldn’t get power over my money. The college trust has been set up for years and is being executed by Robert.”


“That’s good then, right? Now you don’t have to worry about your tuition being paid,” Brian said as he stood up and walked over to Justin.


“That’s not all. Um…can we sit down?”


Brian noticed how distracted Justin was and began to worry. He led him over to the couch and sat down, waiting for an explanation.


“Robert said that my dad a three life insurance policies. One of them was to be used to take care of his burial, his bills, and his home; one was for Molly, and one for me. The money was set up in a trust to be handed over on our twenty-first birthday or to be distributed to us by Robert if he felt it was needed. He never said anything to me about it because I still had three years to go until I would be able to receive the money anyway, and I was so upset after Dad died that Robert didn’t want to throw anything else at me. My mother doesn’t even know about it. Robert said that under the circumstances he’s willing to set up a monthly allowance to help me cover the cost of expenses since my mother obviously refuses to support me,” Justin explained, his mind still reeling from the information.


“Okay, how much money are we talking about?”


“Five hundred thousand,” Justin replied evenly.


“What?!” Brian exclaimed.


“I know. That’s kind of how I feel, too. I was so mad at my father for leaving us and all this time he’s been looking out for us incase something happened to him. I feel horrible about the way I treated him.” Justin sighed as the enormity of the situation overwhelmed him. “I should’ve been a better son to him.”


“Justin, don’t beat yourself up about it. You were just reacting to a bad situation. I’m sure he understood. Divorce isn’t easy on anyone. I can’t imagine how I’d react if my parents split up,” Brian said, trying to comfort Justin. “So what happens now?”


“Well, Robert is going to withdrawal enough money for me to secure an apartment, buy some furniture, and get the utilities turned on. Then I’ll get a check every month to cover the cost of rent, bills, and money for food and other necessities. I have to be back in Pittsburgh in two weeks to sign some papers and look for an apartment. Will you come with me? I…I’m a little scared. I thought I had four more years before I had to go out on my own,” Justin replied shyly. He was suddenly so overwhelmed with the changes that were taking place in his life.


“Of course I will. I told you I’d be here if you need me. We can check out those apartment buildings by Carnegie’s campus. I actually looked into them a little bit last year. I wanted to get one but I can’t afford it unless I work full time and I don’t know if I can handle a double major and a 40 hour work week.”


“Now you don’t have to. The rent and utilities are already taken care of. All you’ll need is money to cover gas and personal expenses,” Justin said softly, waiting for Brian’s reaction as his words sunk in.


“What?” Brian asked in confusion.


“I said now you don’t have to worry about a full time job. Our rent is already covered. That is if you don’t mind sharing an apartment,” Justin replied nervously.


“You want us to live together?”


“The thought did cross my mind. We’ve been spending most of our time together anyway. It would be more convenient for you to move in rather than have to run home all the time just to sleep and shower. Plus it’s closer to school than your house so you could sleep later in the morning.” Justin couldn’t read Brian’s expression and suddenly wondered if he was pushing too hard. They’d only been together for six months. Maybe Brian didn’t feel the same way he did. “Never mind. Forget I said anything. I just thought…it doesn’t matter. It’s obviously not something you want to do.”


“Wait. Just give me a minute here,” Brian said as his brain tried to take in what Justin was saying. “I didn’t say that I didn’t want to do it. I just haven’t really thought about it. Spending a lot of time together is one thing. Living together is something completely different. It would mean spending most of our free time together, being together morning, noon, and night aside from school or work. I don’t know if we’re ready for that yet.”


“You’re right, like I said just forget I even suggested it.” Justin tried to hide his disappointment but knew he was failing miserably. He couldn’t help the feeling of rejection that washed over him. “I’m hungry. Why don’t we go down to Hayworth’s and get something to eat?”


“Damn it, Justin. Knock it off. You can’t just throw something like this at me and then take it back because I’m not reacting the way you want me to.” Brian stopped for a moment and took a deep breath before continuing. “Look Justin, you know I love you. I think I’ve made that perfectly clear by now. I just don’t want to rush into anything that we’re not ready for and then end up ruining things between us. I’ll help you find the perfect place and we’ll take it from there.”


Justin thought about what Brian was saying and as much as he hated to admit it, he was starting to see that maybe Brian was right. Maybe moving in together was rushing things a bit. So many things had happened in the last six months, from his coming out to his father’s death and now his mother’s betrayal. Maybe getting his life together again before making any more life altering changes was the smart thing to do. “Do you promise to spend at least three nights a week at my place?”


“I was thinking more like five,” Brian replied with a smile, happy that Justin seemed to accept his decision to take things slow. “Now let’s go. I promised Drew that I’d stop by as soon as I got here.”





Brian and Justin spent the next two weeks having fun and refusing to think about the future. They felt they earned the right after all the stress of the last six months. Brian chose not to return to work at the diner. He wanted to be able to spend his days with Justin and since they were heading back to Pittsburgh in two weeks for who knew how long, it just made sense to leave his schedule free. On the day they were leaving the shore, Lavena pulled Justin aside, wanting to offer her advice to the boy before he left.


“Justin, I won’t tell you what to do. You’re an adult now and old enough to make your own decisions. Just do me a favor? Don’t totally give up on your mother just yet. Her reaction may have been a little extreme, but she’s your mother and I’m sure she loves you.”


“Oh yeah, I can tell,” Justin huffed sarcastically.


“Hey, you’ve got to remember everything she’s been through in the last year. Her marriage fell apart. She was forced to give up her home and probably some of her friends. Then when your father died… I know they weren’t together anymore, but I’m sure she still loved him. On top of all that, you just graduated from high school. That alone is pretty hard for a mother to take. She had to face the fact that her little boy is all grown up. Now this. I’m not saying that you should just forget what happened. All I’m asking is that you don’t rule out the possibility that she’ll come around. Everyone makes mistakes, especially where their children are concerned. I have faith that she’ll come around soon enough. I just want to know that you’ll give her another chance if she does. Now is that too much to ask?”


“No, I guess not. But I have no intention of going to her. She’s going to have to come to me,” Justin replied.


“Fair enough,” Lavena laughed as she pulled Justin in for a hug. “I’m going to miss you boys. If you have some time after getting everything squared away at home, I hope you’ll come back before school starts.”


“We will,” Justin said as he allowed the older woman to hold him. “Brian’s so lucky to have you.”


“Remind him of that the next time he thinks I’m nagging him too much,” Lavena teased.


“You can count on it,” Justin assured her with a smile.


Brian walked back into the house after loading up the jeep to find his grandmother and Justin laughing. “You’re not talking about me again, are you?”


“Of course we are,” Lavena replied. “I was just telling him about that time when you were six and you…”


“Okay then, we better get going,” Brian said, interrupting his grandmother before she could tell yet another one of his most embarrassing childhood stories. Justin already knew enough dirt on him. “I’ll call you when we get back and let you know we made it okay.”


“Yes, please do. Now come here and give your old grandmother a hug.” Lavena always hated saying goodbye to Brian. At her age, she never knew if she’d see him again. “And drive carefully.”


“Yes ma’am,” Brian joked as he hugged his grandmother tight. “I love you.”


“I love you too, Sweetie. Send your mom and dad my love.”


As soon as Brian and Justin made it back to Pittsburgh, they jumped head first into arrangements for Justin’s new life. He stayed at the Kinney’s while he found an apartment in the complex that Brian suggested, picked out furniture, and even found himself a used car to get around in. Robert was a Godsend to him, helping where he could with references and making sure that Justin had access to enough money to get things settled. When all was said and done, they even had enough time to get back to New Jersey for a week before classes started. Justin still hadn’t spoken to his mother or sister, but he refused to let it get him down. He was eighteen years old, desperately in love, and getting ready to start his freshman year in college. He didn’t have time to think about the mess his family life had become.


Another high point in his life was the fact that he didn’t have to hide who he was anymore. Now that his mother knew he was gay, the pressure to stay in the closet was off and he felt completely free for the first time in his life. He and Brian decided before the start of school that while they wouldn’t walk around carrying banners announcing their sexuality, they weren’t going to hide who they were, either. By the second day it became apparent that there were a lot of people on the campus that felt the same way. Same sex couples were just part of the scenery and although there weren’t orgies throughout the grounds, it was easy to distinguish who was gay and who wasn’t. It was a wonderful feeling for both Brian and Justin and they thrived on being themselves without fear of being attacked. Of course there were still students out there that weren’t necessarily gay friendly, but they pretty much just ignored those they disapproved of and life was good.


By the second month, Brian and Justin had a whole new group of friends as well as the ones that stayed in town for school. Ben and Melanie both seemed to fit in as well as Brian and Justin had and everyone was really enjoying their college experience. Brian had gotten a part time job in the college bookstore to pay for his gas and some necessities that he needed, so his free time was more limited than he would’ve liked, but he still managed to make time for Justin and stayed with him at least three nights a week.


During the second week in October, one of their new friends decided to throw a party to get everyone together in one place. The guy still lived with his parents, but they were away for the weekend and he had the whole house to himself without anyone watching over him. For some reason, Justin had an uneasy feeling about it, but Brian insisted they go, claiming if things started getting out of control, they could leave early. Justin relented, but after the first hour he began to relax and have fun. Ben and Mel were both there as well, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. They were all sitting around in the living room when Justin got up to go to the bathroom. He was just coming back out when Tony, someone he’d just met that night, stopped him in the hallway.


“Hey Tony,” Justin greeted him cheerfully. The couple beers he had making him a little tipsy.


“Hey Justin, are you having fun?” Tony asked with a smile.


“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come tonight, but I’m glad I did. I’m having a great time,” Justin replied honestly. “What about you?”


“Yeah, this is cool. Stan and I went to high school together so I practically grew up here. This is the first time his parents ever went away and left him alone. I hope they do it more often,” Tony chuckled. “So are you hanging out all night or do you have to be home at a certain time?”


“I’m not sure what I’m doing yet, but I definitely don’t have to be home at a certain time. I have my own place so there’s no one at home to tell me what to do,” Justin answered.


“Really? That’s cool,” Tony said, his eyes raking over Justin’s body. “Maybe we could get together sometime.”


It took Justin’s alcohol affected brain a minute to register what Tony said but before he had a chance to comment, he felt a pair of warm lips on his. It took another minute before Justin raised his hands and pushed Tony away, struggling to maintain his cool. “Sorry Tony, but that’s not going to happen. I’m with Brian. We’ve been together for almost a year now and I’m very happy with him.”


“Shit, I’m sorry man. I didn’t know. I mean…I know you guys seemed pretty close but I didn’t realize,” Tony said nervously. He didn’t want to start any trouble. “I really didn’t mean anything by it. I mean…you’re hot and all, but if you’re with someone else, that’s cool. I honestly didn’t know.”


“It’s okay, Tony,” Justin replied with a chuckle. It was obvious that Tony had no idea about him and Brian. It was an honest mistake and he wasn’t going to hold anything against him. “If things were different, I would’ve loved to get together, but I love Brian. In my eyes, there’s no one else.”


“He’s a lucky guy,” Tony replied sheepishly, still feeling like an ass.


“Well I happen to think I’m the lucky one, so I guess we’re both lucky to have each other,” Justin replied teasingly, happy to have the awkwardness past them. What he didn’t know was that Brian had entered the hallway just as Tony leaned in to kiss him and didn’t bother to wait around for the outcome.






Brian stormed out of the house, stunned and pissed off, and so crazy with rage that he never heard the sound of the door behind him being opened and closed.


“Brian?” Ben called out as he took in the sight of his friend. “Is everything alright? The way you rushed out of there had me worried.”


“Leave me alone Ben. Go back to the party,” Brian sneered, trying to keep from losing the little bit of control he was managing to hang on to. He couldn’t believe what he just witnessed. All he wanted to do was grab a few minutes alone with Justin, away from the watchful eyes of everyone else. Most of them knew that Brian and Justin were a couple, but he always refrained from groping his boyfriend around anyone outside their own little circle. He didn’t know that he’d be the one getting the surprise when he went in search of his favorite blond.


“Brian, what happened? You were fine when you left the room. I figured you went to find Justin for a quickie. Did you two have a fight?” Ben prodded.


“It’s hard to fight with Justin when he has his tongue stuck down someone else’s throat. Now will you please just leave me the fuck alone?” Brian demanded none too gently.


“What? You must have made a mistake. Justin wouldn’t do that to you. He loves you,” Ben insisted, shocked by what Brian claimed to see.


“He’s got some way of showing it,” Brian barked. “Now would you please leave me alone? Go back inside and if anyone asks, tell them that I had to go home. I’m out of here.”


“Wait! At least let me go with you.” At Brian’s bewildered stare, Ben continued. “I just don’t think that it’s a good idea for you to be alone. Give me two seconds to go let everyone know we’re leaving and then we can go.”


Brian nodded slightly, knowing he really didn’t want to be alone and sat down on the front step to wait. Ben disappeared inside and returned in a matter of minutes and the two of them headed towards the jeep in silence. Brian knew that Ben wanted to say something, but he wasn’t ready to talk at the moment. Instead he drove in silence and was surprised to see that they ended up at their old high school hangout. He didn’t have a destination in mind when he started driving. He parked the jeep in the empty lot of the park and got out, knowing that Ben would follow him. Sure enough, when he sat down on one of the swings, Ben was right beside him.


“Are you okay?” Ben asked tentatively.


“I’m not sure. I can’t believe this. I thought things were good between us. I never imagined that he would…” Brian voice trailed off. He was unable to say the words out loud for fear of losing it.


“Bri, you need to talk to him. It might be a mistake.”


“I know what I saw,” Brian spat.


“Okay, well maybe it has nothing to do with you,” Ben tried again. At the look of pure rage that was directed towards him, he took a deep breath and continued. “Look Brian, you and I have been out for years now. We’ve had our fun. We’ve played the field a bit. Justin hasn’t had that. He’s only been out for less than a year. You’re the first gay experience he’s had. Maybe he just needs some time to explore things.”


“You’re saying that I’m smothering him?” Brian asked incredulously.


“No, of course not. I still think you’ve got it all wrong. I’m just trying to come up with a reason for what you think you saw. I know he loves you. He’s made that perfectly clear to everyone he comes in contact with. I think you need to talk to him, that’s all.”


Brian didn’t say anything else. Instead he just sat there and thought about what Ben was suggesting. Maybe he was right. Maybe Justin needed his freedom to explore himself without being tied down. College is supposed to be a time for growing and learning. He was obviously being held back by having Brian as a chain around his neck. After a short while, Brian stood up and started walking back to the jeep. He’d made up his mind and now all he wanted to do was gone home and be alone. When he climbed into the Jeep, he saw that his cell phone was still sitting on his dashboard. He reached for it and glanced at the screen. Ten missed calls. He knew without looking who they were from.


“I take it Justin’s been trying to get a hold of you?” Ben asked as he climbed into the passenger’s seat, pulling Brian from his thoughts.


“Let’s go,” Brian replied without answering the question.


Once Brian had dropped Ben off at home, and had gotten his promise to keep his mouth shut about what happened, he drove back to his house in a daze. All he wanted to do was be alone to sulk, maybe even cry a little, without the watchful eye of anyone. Luck wasn’t on his side, though because his mother was sitting in the living room waiting for him when he walked through the door.


“Brian, is everything alright? Justin called here looking for you. He said that you just disappeared from a party earlier and you weren’t answering your phone.” As soon as Joan finished talking, she noticed the sad eyes and darkened expression on her son’s face. “Sweetheart, what happened?”


“Look Mom, I don’t want to talk about it right now. Can you please just leave me alone?” Brian pleaded, fighting the urge to throw himself in his mother’s arms and cry his heart out.


“I’ll leave you alone as soon as you tell me why you look like you just lost your best friend,” Joan stated softly.


“Because I did,” Brian sighed. “Justin and I aren’t together anymore.”


“What? Why? Justin didn’t mention that on the phone. He seemed confused as to why you left.”


“That’s because he doesn’t know yet,” Brian admitted tearfully. He suddenly gave in and told his mother the whole story, including Ben’s point of view on what happened. Once he was done, he was crying softly, but felt a little bit better after sharing his pain with his mother. He wiped the tears from his eyes as he waited for his mother’s reply.


“Oh Honey, I’m sure there must be some mistake. What you’re telling me doesn’t sound like the Justin I know. Ben could be right. Maybe Justin is feeling a little overwhelmed with his life now. After being sheltered for so long he probably feels so free about who he is, but either way, you’ve got to talk to him. You could be making a huge error by walking away without all the facts.”


“Mom, this is the way it has to be. If I talk to him, he’ll just apologize and make all kinds of excuses, but what’s the point? If he needs his space, I want to give it to him. I just want him to be happy,” Brian replied. “Trust me, it’s better this way. I don’t think I could handle hearing him say that he doesn’t want me anymore.”


“So that’s it? You just walk out of a party and suddenly you’re no longer together anymore? You’re not going to give him a chance to tell you you’re wrong?” Joan was concerned about Brian’s attitude. He was never one to give up before. “What if you are wrong? What if what you saw was a mistake?”


“I know what I saw. He was kissing someone else. End of story.” Before Brian could continue the phone rang, causing them both to jump in surprise. “If that’s him, telling him I’m sleeping. And please don’t say anything to him about this. Let me handle this on my own.”


Joan watched her son walk away with his shoulders slumped before reaching for the phone. “Hello?”


“Hi Joan, it’s Justin again. I’m sorry to bother you but has Brian gotten home yet? He’s still not answering his phone and I’m really starting to get worried.”


“Yes Justin, he’s home, but he’s gone to bed already,” Joan lied, hoping that she was doing the right thing. “When he wakes up tomorrow I’ll tell him you called.”


“Wait! He’s there? Is he alright? Did he say anything to you about why he left? Maybe if I come over there and try talking to him…”


“Justin, I don’t think that’s a good idea. He seemed pretty tired. Give him some time and I’m sure he’ll call you,” Joan replied.


“Give him some time? Joan, please tell me what’s going on. There’s obviously something wrong. Is he mad at me? What did I do?” Justin knew he was being too insistent, but he needed to know what was going on. He’d been out of his mind with worry ever since finding out that Brian had left with Ben without saying goodbye. He tried calling Ben a few times, but got no answer.


“I’m sorry, Justin, but I can’t say anything more. Don’t worry about him, though. He’s here and he’s okay. Take care of yourself.” Joan hung up the phone with a sigh and turned off all the lights, her heart going out to both Brian and Justin and the pain they were feeling.






Justin spent the whole weekend trying to figure out what was going on with Brian. He tried several times to reach him, but he wouldn’t answer his cell phone and every time he called the house, Joan told him that he was out. Justin even drove by the house a few times but the jeep was never in the driveway. He was absolutely miserable and felt as if he was going insane. He did finally get a hold of Ben, and it was obvious that their friend knew what was going on, but he refused to divulge any information. He kept insisting that Justin would have to talk to Brian himself. That was what he was trying to do, but Brian was making it impossible. By the time Monday rolled around Justin was exhausted from lack of sleep so he decided to skip classes. Instead he waited around until it was almost time for Brian to get off work at the bookstore and drove over to the campus. As expected, Brian’s jeep was sitting unoccupied in the lot. Justin parked his car and got out, choosing to sit on the hood of the jeep to wait. Brian wasn’t going to be able to avoid him any longer.


When the guy in question finally made his appearance, Justin quickly noticed the sadness in his expression and the dark circles under his eyes. It was obvious that he was as miserable as Justin was, and that gave him a little bit of hope.


“Hey,” Justin said softly, startling Brian who hadn’t noticed the blond before. “Are you done avoiding me now? I think we need to talk.”


Brian had somehow known that Justin would be waiting for him. He just figured that the confrontation would take place at home, not in the parking lot of school. “There’s nothing to talk about,” he replied, trying to sound casual.


“There’s nothing to talk about? Are you nuts? You walk out on a party that we were at together without so much as a goodbye. You refuse to take my calls all weekend. You’ve got your mother lying for you. Even Ben refuses to tell me what’s going on. What the fuck did I do? I don’t understand. Please Bri, just talk to me.”


“Look, things just aren’t working out between us, that’s all. It was bound to happen. We’re too young to be settling down,” Brian said, refusing to make eye contact. He knew he would see nothing but pain in Justin’s eyes and that was the last thing he needed at the moment. The whole mess was already more than he could take. “It was fun while it lasted, but it’s over now.”


“It’s over? Just like that? And I don’t have any say in this? What the fuck is going on with you? Why are you doing this? Why are you trying to hurt me? To hurt us? I thought you loved me.” Justin was openly crying at that point. He knew that something was going on, but deep down he never thought that Brian would just end what they had. He was stupid enough to think that it all had to be a misunderstanding. All weekend long he kept telling himself that once he actually spoke to Brian, everything would be okay. They could go back to the way things were before everything went wrong Friday night. “Is there someone else?”


Brian felt the rest of his heart break as he listened to the sound of Justin’s tears, but knew he was doing the right thing. He had to be strong enough for the both of them so that Justin could be free to do whatever it was that he needed to do. He’d spent the weekend thinking about what Ben said and the more he thought about it, the more he realized that his friend was right. Justin needed to be free and the only way that would happen was for Brian to let him go. “Yes, there is,” Brian said softly. It wasn’t exactly a lie. There was someone else. The guy that Justin was kissing at the party.


“You fucking asshole! How could you do this to me? After everything that we went through together, how could you just go behind my back and…” Justin actually felt faint as Brian’s words settled into his brain. He really thought that they’d be able to work things out, but if Brian was seeing someone else, there was nothing to work out. He lost the one person who meant more to him than anyone else in the world. “I hate you! I fucking hate you!”


Brian listened in horror as Justin threw his hatred at him before running to his car and taking off, leaving him behind in agony and despair. He forced back his tears and stumbled to the jeep, climbing in on autopilot. He reached for his phone and called the one person he could count on to make sure that Justin was okay.


“Ben, it’s me,” Brian said quietly when his friend answered the phone. “I need a favor. Give Justin about ten minutes and then call him and make sure he got home okay.”

“Why? What happened?” Ben asked, detecting the sadness in Brian’s voice.


“I can’t talk right now. Just please do this for me. I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you later.” Brian disconnected the call without giving Ben time to ask anymore questions. He didn’t have the strength to answer any of them. All he wanted to do was go home and be alone. He may have been doing the right thing, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt like hell.


Two weeks had passed since Brian last spoke to Justin and he was as miserable as ever. He knew through Ben that Justin was still heartbroken and began to wonder if he had been wrong all along, but it didn’t matter anymore. They were through and it was too late to turn back the clocks. It was a Thursday night and Brian had just gotten done working at the bookstore when his whole world turned upside down. As soon as he got home and walked through the front door, he knew something was wrong. He found his mother in the kitchen, her eyes red and swollen from crying.


“Mom? What’s wrong?” He asked with dread.


“Honey, sit down for a minute. There’s something I need to tell you,” Joan said as she wiped her eyes. “We got some bad news today.”


“I don’t want to sit down. Tell me what happened,” Brian demanded.


“Sweetheart, it’s your grandmother,” Joan began.


“Grandma? What’s wrong with her? Is she alright?” Brian asked, although from the look on his mother’s face he already knew the answer.


“No baby, she’s not. She passed away this morning,” Joan replied softly.


“No…oh God. Mommy, please don’t say that. Grandma’s okay. She’s got to be okay. I just talked to her the other night. She was fine,” Brian said, refusing to believe that his beloved grandmother was gone. “There’s got to be some mistake. I’m going to call her. I’m sure it’s a mistake.”


Joan grabbed Brian’s arms as he reached for the phone. She could feel his body trembling and she wished there was something she could do to shield her son from his pain. The fact that he reverted back to calling her Mommy, something he hadn’t done since he was a little boy, was proof of how devastated he was. “Brian, it’s not a mistake. One of her neighbors was over there this morning when she collapsed. She called 911, but it was too late. Grandma was already gone.”


“But that can’t be. She can’t leave me. I need her. I promised her that I’d visit her during winter break. She said she’d make Irish stew. She’s got to be okay,” Brian cried.


“I’m so sorry, baby. I know how much you loved her. You’re father went to get Uncle John and head to New Jersey to start making arrangements. I told him we’d drive over tomorrow. Why don’t you sit down and I’ll make you some tea?” Joan offered, wiping once again at the tears that started to run down her cheeks. It killed her to see the pain in Brian’s face. He’d been through so much in the last couple of weeks and now this. He was closer to Lavena than anyone else. They shared a special bond since the day Brian was born and she worried about how he was going to handle losing someone so important to him. “Brian?”


Brian faintly heard his mother calling to him, but he couldn’t respond. His grandmother was gone. Those words kept replaying over in his head, but he couldn’t grasp them. There had to be some kind of mistake. There had to be. How would he make it without her? He swayed a bit, but steadied himself then turned and headed up to his room, ignoring his mother’s worried voice. He needed to be alone. He needed to make some sense of what his mother was saying. He suddenly felt so cold and alone. Once he was in his room with the door closed, he reached for the phone to call Justin, but then realized that they weren’t together anymore. He didn’t have Justin to console him. He didn’t have anyone to make the nightmare go away. And as that thought sank into his grief muddled brain, the tears he had been trying to hold back exploded and he let out a sob that tore through the empty room like lightning. He curled up in a ball and cried for his loss; the loss of a woman who meant more to him than even his own parents. It was too much. The pain was so intense that he couldn’t even breathe. He had no idea what he would do without her.


Justin was sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, but not really paying attention to whatever was on the screen. It’s the way things had been ever since Brian had told him there was someone else. He just couldn’t seem to pull himself together enough to concentrate on anything. Nothing mattered to him anymore and his grades in his classes were proof of that. He knew he had to get it together or he flunked out of college before the first semester ended, but he didn’t know how. He was trying, but he couldn’t seem to set aside his pain long enough to retain anything he was being taught. When the phone rang, he looked at the clock and was startled to see it was almost ten o’clock. He’d been sitting there for over three hours and never noticed how late it was. He shook his head in disgust, hating his weakness, and reached for the phone.




“Justin? It’s Joan. I’m so sorry to call you but I didn’t know what to do,” Joan said softly, her voice cracking with emotion.


“Joan? What’s wrong? Is Brian okay?” Justin asked in sudden panic. He hadn’t spoken to Brian’s mother since the weekend of the party.


“No, he’s not. Physically he’s fine, but he’s…”


“Joan…what is it?” Justin’s fear grew as he heard the tears in Joan’s voice.


“Lavena passed away this morning,” she whispered.


“Oh God,” Justin gasped, his chest tightening at the news. He had really loved the old woman and felt his own tears begin building as he thought of her passing. He just saw her a couple of months before and she seemed fine to him. “Where’s Brian?”


“He’s up in his room. I told him hours ago and since then I haven’t been able to get through to him. He’s lying on his bed, but it’s like he’s not even there. He just stares off into space and he’s so despondent. I’ve been sitting with him, but I don’t even think he knows I’m there. I know that things between you two aren’t good right now, but I was hoping you could help. Jack’s in New Jersey and I don’t know what else to do,” Joan admitted.


Justin quickly jumped up from the couch, searching for his shoes, when a thought hit him right in his heart. “What about his boyfriend?” Justin asked hesitantly.


“What boyfriend?” Joan asked in confusion.


“I don’t know who he is. The last time I spoke to Brian he told me there was someone else,” Justin explained, the words still causing his heart to break.


“Justin, Brian will probably kill me for telling you this, but there is no one else. I’m not sure why he told you there was, but ever since you two broke up, all he does is go to school and work, and then come home. He’s been miserable for the last two weeks. There’s definitely no one in his life right now.”


“I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Justin hung up the phone without waiting for a reply and grabbed his things before heading out of his apartment. Brian needed him and there was no way he was going to refuse.


Justin barely had time to knock on the door before it flew open and Joan gathered him in a bone crushing hug.


“Thank you for coming. I just didn’t know what else to do. I hope you can get through to him,” Joan said as she let Justin go and stepped aside for him to enter.


“I hope so, too,” Justin offered before giving Joan a weak smile and heading up the stairs.


He took a moment to pull himself together before knocking softly on Brian’s door. As he expected, he didn’t get an answer, so he just walked inside only to be stopped by the sight before him. Brian was curled up in a ball with his back to the door, his soft sobs echoing through the empty room. It killed Justin to see him like that.


“Brian? It’s me…Justin,” Justin said softly as he slowly approached the bed. “I came as soon as I heard what happened.”


Justin waited for some kind of acknowledgment, but he didn’t get one. It was as if Brian wasn’t even aware that Justin was there. Clueless as to how to get through to him, Justin toed off his shoes and carefully climbed in bed, wrapping his arms around Brian and spooning him from behind. He refused to think about how good it felt to have the person he loved in his arms again. All he cared about was the pain Brian was feeling at the moment. That was all that mattered. He began whispering soothing words to him, holding on tight to the trembling body without getting any response and Justin began to get scared. Joan had been right. It was like Brian wasn’t even there. He continued to hold him for the next hour, wondering if his presence even mattered at all. He had hoped to be able to comfort Brian, help him through his loss, but he began to think that he was wasting his time. Brian had obviously closed himself all from those around him, refusing to let anyone in. Justin was just about to leave, thinking that he wasn’t enough to help, when he heard the faint sound of Brian’s tortured voice coming out in a strangled sob.


“She’s gone.”


“I know babe, I know,” Justin whispered back, as he tightened his arms around Brian. “It’s going to be okay. I’ve got you.”


“Please don’t leave me,” Brian muttered.


“I’m not going anywhere. I promise,” Justin assured him and followed through on his promise, holding him tight all night long.






Justin was relieved when he finally felt Brian succumb to sleep sometime around dawn. They were both completely exhausted, but Justin refused to sleep until he was sure Brian was okay. They hadn’t spoken a word since Justin had assured him that he wasn’t going anywhere, but each time Brian started his soft sobbing through the night, Justin held on tighter, offering his quiet support as best as he could. Now left alone with his thoughts, Justin silently cried as his mind replayed the pain and anguish that Brian had suffered through the night. He wished like he never wished before that there was something he could do to help Brian through this, but all he was able to offer was a shoulder to cry on. Nothing was going to make the mourning process any easier. Justin eventually fell asleep as the clock read six in the morning, with Brian wrapped tightly in his arms.


Brian awoke with a start, dazed and confused, with a pounding in his brain. It took him a moment to get his bearings, but his mind quickly went back to the events of the day before and he let out a grown of sadness as he remembered that his grandmother was gone.


“Brian, are you alright?”


Justin’s voice penetrated Brian brain, but he couldn’t respond. He vaguely remembered Justin showing up the night before, holding him in his strong arms, promising to stay with him. Why was he there? How did he find out about Lavena? He wanted to push him away. He didn’t want to have to face the pain of losing him again. He barely survived it the first time. But he couldn’t. He didn’t have the strength to send him away. Not when his protective arms felt so good around him. Instead he continued to lie there, wishing he could turn back time. Wishing that not only was his grandmother still alive, but that he and Justin were still together. Just like they were meant to be.


“Bri, I’m so sorry about Lavena. I know how much you loved her. She loved you, too,” Justin said, knowing that his words wouldn’t make Brian feel any better, but needing to say them. “Are you hungry? Thirsty? Your mom said that you didn’t eat anything last night. Do you want me to go downstairs and fix you something?”


“Why are you here?” Brian choked out, his voice sounding foreign to his own ears. “You said you hated me.”


Justin flinched at the reminder of the vicious words he threw at Brian when he was told there was someone else, but he knew it wasn’t the time to discuss it. “Look Brian, I could never hate you. I was just so angry. I wanted to hurt you as much as you were hurting me. But what happened between us doesn’t matter right now. I’m here and I’m going to be here for as long as you need me. Just let me help you through this and then if you want me to walk away, I will. Alright?”


“I can’t believe she’s gone,” Brian whispered. “What am I going to do without her? I knew she was getting older and that she couldn’t live forever, but I thought we were going to have more time. I was supposed to go see her during winter break. Why did this have to happen?”


“I don’t know, Brian. No one knows why these things happen. It’s a sad part of life, I guess. But you need to pull yourself together. Your mother is so worried about you. She tried to get through to you last night, but she couldn’t. That’s why she called me. Your grandmother wouldn’t want you to shut yourself off from your family. As hard as it is, you need to get out of bed and face what’s happening. You need to go to New Jersey and say your goodbyes and you need to remember that even though she’s gone from the earth, she’ll always be in your heart.”


“Will you go with me?”


“Of course I will,” Justin assured him, wishing he could look into Brian’s eyes and try to read his expression. But Brian was still curled into a ball with his back towards him. “Now why don’t we go downstairs and find something to eat. Even if it’s just a piece of toast. You need something to keep your strength up.”


Brian nodded his head and wiped at his eyes before slowly climbing out of bed. He straightened up and stretched before glancing at Justin for the first time since the blond had appeared the night before. He looked tired and drawn, almost sickly and Brian couldn’t help but feel guilty for that. “Are you…um…okay after…uh…”


Justin knew what Brian was trying to say and he couldn’t blame him. He hadn’t been able to sleep and barely ate since their break up. He would have to be blind not to see the toll it was taking on his body, but none of it mattered at the moment. “Don’t worry about me, Brian. I’m fine. You’re the one I’m worried about. Now let’s go get something to eat.”


Brian took a few more seconds to take in Justin’s appearance before heading to the door. Everything in his life was so messed up and out of control at the moment and it was all too much to take in. He felt Justin’s presence behind him as he made his way down the stairs and into the kitchen where his mother was sitting at the table lost in thought. She looked up the minute she heard them enter.


“Brian, sweetheart, how’re you feeling?”


Brian just shrugged in response, unable to say what he was really feeling. Instead he pulled out a chair and slumped down in it, keeping his eyes focused on the table.


“Joan, I’m going to make some toast. Would you like anything?” Justin asked, breaking the silence.


“No, I’m good, but why don’t you sit down here and let me make the toast? I’m sure you didn’t get much sleep last night,” Joan replied, already jumping up to fix the boys something to eat. Justin didn’t object as he joined Brian at the table, keeping a watchful eye on him.


Joan was just putting the bread in the toaster when the phone rang. She reached out for it quickly, hoping that it was Jack. She was worried about him almost as much as Brian. He just lost his mother and didn’t have her there to help him through it.


Justin watched Joan talking to who he concluded was Jack for a moment before reaching out and laying a hand on Brian’s arms. It was meant to offer comfort and Justin tried not to take it personally when Brian pulled away. It was another few minutes until Joan hung up the phone and turned to Brian.


“Your father wanted me to tell you he loves you. He and Uncle John are at the house going through some of Grandma’s things. The services are set for tomorrow afternoon. I told him we’d be leaving here in a few hours. Is there anyone you want to call before we go? I’ve already spoken to Melanie’s parents and let them know we’d be gone for a few days.”


“Justin’s going with us,” was all Brian said.


Joan looked over at Justin a little surprised, but didn’t say anything. Instead she just let the subject drop as she went to butter the toast. Once she placed the plates in front of Brian and Justin, she mentioned going to get ready and left them alone. Justin was the first one to break the silence.


“Do you want me to call Ben and let him know what happened? He can notify the school and let them know you’ll be gone for a few days.”


“Yeah, thanks,” Brian mumbled.


Justin didn’t try to push him into talking anymore. Instead he quickly ate his breakfast so he had time to go home, shower, and pack a bag. He wanted to be ready for the long trip ahead of them.


It was late afternoon by the time Brian, Joan, and Justin made it to the shore house. Brian hadn’t spoken once during the whole trip and Justin was starting to worry even more. As they all climbed out of the car, Brian mumbled something about needing a little time alone and headed in the direction of the beach. Justin watched him go and sighed before helping to bring their bags into the house. He hugged Jack tight as soon as he saw him and offered his condolences, wishing he could do more for the man who had become like a father to him. Then he was introduced to Uncle John and was startled by the family resemblance between him and Brian. John laughed at his reaction. He was almost fifteen years younger than his brother Jack, only 27, and pretty easy on the eyes. He was also gay and commented on how he’d have to compliment his favorite nephew on his taste in men. The room erupted in laughter as Justin turned three shades of red. Justin listened as the conversation turned more serious and Jack told Joan that his sisters would be joining them the following morning. Justin watched the close knit family pulling together and wished that Brian could take comfort in them, too. He stood up and walked over to the door, looking to see if Brian was on his way, but there was no sign of him. He jumped when he heard a voice behind him.


“Justin, why don’t you go see if you can find him?” John suggested softly. “I’m sure he could really use your love right now.”


“I’m not so sure about that. We broke up two weeks ago, and although he wanted me to come here with him, I’m not sure if following him is a good idea,” Justin replied sadly.


“Trust me, it’s a good idea. Since Brian and I are so close in age and both gay, we tend to talk about a lot. Things may be a little screwed up right now, but he still loves you. I think you’re just what he needs,” John insisted.


Justin thought about it for a minute before replying. “I know this is probably a bad time to ask, but do you know why he ended things like he did? He told me that there was someone else, but Joan said there wasn’t. I just really want to know what I’m getting into before I go after him. I don’t think I could handle being pushed away again.”


“Well, it’s not my place to tell you what he told me. Let’s just say that the only thing standing between you and Brian is his stubbornness.”


“Thanks John,” Justin said, giving the older man a small smile. “I wish it was under better circumstances, but I’m glad to finally meet you. I can see why Brian loves you so much. You’re pretty cool.”


“You too, Blondie. Now go get my nephew and bring him back here with his family, where he belongs.”


Justin walked out of the house and headed towards the beach. He was praying that Brian didn’t walk too far because he really didn’t know what direction he went in once he got past the dunes. Luckily his prayers were answered, because as soon as he got to the top of the beach, he saw Brian’s lone figure standing down by the water’s edge, staring out into the ocean. He walked down the beach, trying to find the words needed to get Brian to go back with him. When he reached him, Justin stood at his side without saying a word. Brian eventually looked over at him, but it was too dark for Justin to see his face.


“I don’t want to go in there. It’s her house and she’s supposed to be there, you know?” Brian said quietly.


“I know. It was a little weird for me, too and I don’t have anywhere near the connection that you do. But Brian, you have to face this. Your family is so worried about you. John asked me to bring you back to your family. Your Aunt Renee and Aunt Susan will be here in the morning. They’re hurting too and they need you. I’ll be right there with you and if you need to get away for a little while, I’ll go with you. I just don’t want you out here all alone. Please, just come back with me.”


Brian stayed silent, but a moment later he took Justin’s hand and they slowly made their way back up the beach and towards the house. As soon as they walked through the door, Jack and John pounced on Brian, pulling him into tight hugs. Justin stepped back and tried not to let his jealousy get the best of him. Here Brian was, being surrounded by a family that loved him and Justin had no one. He knew that it was silly to compare the two, but he couldn’t help but wish his own family was as loving as Brian’s was.


Once everyone stopped fussing over Brian, they all sat down and began reminiscing about Lavena and their gatherings at the old shore home. Brian was distant at first, but soon he joined in on the conversation and they were all able to laugh at the memories that were being relived. No one noticed how late it was getting until Brian let out a yawn he’d been unable to control.


“Okay, I think that’s enough for tonight. Tomorrow morning is going to be here before we know it and the rest of the Kinney clan is going to swoop in. We need to get some rest,” Joan stated, leaving no room for argument. John and Jack threw out some harmless teasing about her being a slave driver, but they stood up and prepared to go to bed, knowing that she was right.


Joan hugged Brian and whispered her love in his ear before saying goodnight to Justin and following Jack to bed. John also said a quick goodnight and went to shower before going to sleep, leaving Brian and Justin alone. Justin sat on the sofa without saying a word, wondering what the sleeping arrangements would be. He shared a bed with Brian the night before, but that was different. He didn’t want to presume that they’d be doing it again. He’d leave that decision up to Brian. He watched Brian stand up and stretch and almost shouted with glee when he reached down and took Justin’s hand, leading him into the bedroom they shared the last time they were there.


The two boys quietly stripped down to their underwear and climbed into bed, settling down side by side.


“Thanks again for being here,” Brian whispered in the darkness.


Justin rolled over and propped his head on his arms to face Brian, barely making out his features in the moonlight. “I told you before, I love you and I’ll be here for as long as you need me.”


Hearing Justin’s declaration pulled at something deep inside Brian and he reached out, pulling his favorite blond in for a soft kiss. When he pulled back he caught a glimpse of tears in Justin’s eyes. “I love you, too,” he whispered before rolling over and almost immediately falling into a restless sleep, leaving Justin to wonder what their future held.






The following day was filled with pain and sorrow. Justin tried to stay in the background as much as possible, far enough away to give the family some space but close enough to be there incase Brian needed him. He hated watching the person he loved suffering so badly, but he knew there was nothing he could do. At the service, Brian stood up in front of friends, family, and people he never met before and spoke of the woman who was his life line. There wasn’t dry eye in the house as his emotions got the better of him and he had to be led away from the front of the room in tears. It was all so much for Justin to take in and by the time everyone was settled in back at the house, Justin was sure that he was going to lose his control and have the biggest emotional breakdown in history. He quietly slipped outside, needing a few minutes alone and never heard the footsteps of someone approaching him.


“He’s going to be okay.”


Justin jumped at the sound of the voice behind him and turned to find Joan standing a few feet away. “I know. It just kills me to see him in so much pain. I want to make it all better for him. I want him to be able to go back to the guy he was three days ago.”


“Even if that means that you two still aren’t talking?”


“Yeah, even if. Look Joan, I’m not going to lie to you. I love Brian with all my heart and I’ve been devastated by the way he just tossed me aside, but if it would prevent him from the pain he’s going through right now, I’d walk away from him and never look back,” Justin stated honestly. “Besides, I might be here now, but I’m not delusional enough to think that anything’s changed. He left me for a reason. Lavena dying isn’t going to change that.”


“Maybe…but then again sometimes death makes people see things that they don’t normally see. It puts things in prospective. Shows you how you can lose someone you love in the blink of an eye without getting a chance to tell them how you feel.” Joan looked out at the sky for a moment before continuing. “Justin, Brian’s my son and I love him dearly, but I don’t agree with what he did to you. I never told anyone this, but in the beginning I thought you were both too young to get so seriously involved. Since it’s not my nature to butt into my son’s life unless he’s in danger, I kept my feelings to myself and watched your relationship grow. I’ve never seen two people so much in love.”


“Then why did he push me away? I just don’t understand it. I thought everything was good between us and then all of the sudden he refused to talk to me,” Justin stopped and took a deep breath, wiping at the dampness in his eyes. “Please Joan, I know I’m asking for a lot but if you know what happened, you have to tell me. John said that the only thing keeping us apart is Brian’s stubbornness. What don’t I know?”


“Who’s Tony?” Joan asked softly.


“Tony? I don’t even know anyone named Ton…Oh God,” Justin sighed as realization dawned on him. “Joan, you’ve got to believe me. I don’t even really know Tony. He was at the party that night. I was coming out of the bathroom and found him waiting for me in the hallway. He seemed nice and we talked for a minute. He kissed me, but I swear I pushed him away. I told him that I’m in love with Brian. I told him that I was happy with him. He apologized. He had no idea we were together and he felt bad for kissing me. It meant absolutely nothing. Why didn’t Brian talk to me?”


“Let me ask you something, Justin. If you and Brian stayed together…five years…ten years…twenty years…do you think you’d miss out on something? Would you feel like you wasted you’re teenage years settling down so young?”


“Of course not!” Justin exclaimed defensively. “Brian’s all that I want and all that I need. How could you even think that?”


“I don’t,” Joan replied. “Now we’d better get back inside.”


Justin watched Joan go back into the house as her words penetrated his brain. Brian saw him with Tony and somehow got it into his head that he was keeping Justin from his freedom. That thought pissed him off, but in a strange way it also made him love Brian even more. His love for Justin was so strong that he was willing to sacrifice his own happiness to give Justin what he thought he needed. As Justin walked back inside, he made up his mind as to what he had to do. He’d give Brian a little time to work through his grief over losing his grandmother, and hopefully come to his senses about their future. If he didn’t, Justin was going to go after what he wanted and God help Brian if he tried to refuse.


Two weeks had passed since the funeral and Justin was more frustrated than ever before. During their time in New Jersey, Justin had stood by Brian’s side and helped him through the horrible days. They shared a bed during that time and every night Brian had kissed him softly before falling asleep. During the day there were times where Brian would reach out and take Justin’s hand, holding on for comfort and support. By the time they left for Pittsburgh, Justin was convinced that Brian regretted pushing him away and waited for the apology that he thought would come. But it never did. And since arriving home, Justin barely saw Brian and only spoke to him for a few minutes here and there when he called the Kinney house to check on him. He had vowed to give Brian a little time on his own to work through things, but he was beginning to think that his stubborn lover was not going to make the first move. It looked like he might have to put plan B into action. As he thought about what he was going to do there was a knock on the door. Justin sighed as he stood up and went to answer it. He was expecting it to be one of the guys in his Art History class. Since missing almost a week due to Lavena’s death, Justin had fallen behind and sought out the help of a fellow classmate so that he could catch up. He was surprised when he opened the door and came face to face with Brian.


“Hey…” Brian hesitated. “Um…can I come in?”


“Oh…yeah. Come on in,” Justin replied stepping back to allow Brian to enter. “What’s up? You’re the last person I expected to see here.”


“Are you disappointed?” Brian asked nervously.


“Of course not,” Justin assured him. “Do you want something to drink?”


“No, I’m good.” The truth was that Brian was so nervous that he didn’t think his stomach would be able to keep anything down, but he wasn’t about to admit that to Justin. “I…uh…thought that we should talk.”


“Oh…okay.” Justin’s heart began to beat twice as fast as he thought about what Brian could possibly want to say. He was hoping that he was finally coming to his senses, but if not he would have to quickly come up with the right words to tell Brian how much of an ass he was; and how much he loved him. “What’s on your mind?”


“You,” Brian admitted softly. “I have something to say and I’d appreciate it if you let me talk before interrupting. I know how hard it is for you to stay silent.”


“Hey,” Justin replied before catching the small smirk Brian was trying to hold back. “Fine. I won’t say a word, but then you have to listen to what I have to say. Deal?”


Brian nodded in agreement before he started pacing the small room. He had everything he wanted to say memorized, but somehow the sight of Justin’s piercing blue eyes and full lips caused his mind to go blank. “I…uh…think I might’ve made a mistake. I saw you kissing Tony at that party and completely lost my mind. I was so hurt by seeing you with someone else that I walked out, ready to go find something to punch. Ben followed me. He tried insisting that I talk to you. He said that you wouldn’t do something like that to me and it was probably a misunderstanding, but I refused to listen. Then he suggested that it might have had something to do with the fact that you were still new to the whole gay world. He said that I had time to play the field a little bit and try new experiences, but that all you ever had was me. He was still insisting that I talk to you, but all of the sudden it became clear to me. Or what I thought was clear. I didn’t want to hold you back. I didn’t want you to settle for me just because you met me first. I knew that if I tried to talk to you, you would apologize and insist that it wouldn’t happen again. I didn’t want you to feel guilty about it and I knew that you would. I figured the only thing I could do was let you go so that you could be free to do what you wanted to do. As much as it hurt, I just wanted you to be happy.”


Justin listened to Brian’s speech with a mixture of anger and sadness. Even though he already figured out what Brian was up to, with Joan’s help, hearing him admit it seemed to make it sound so much worse.


“How dare you make that kind of decision without discussing it with me!” Justin exclaimed angrily.




“No, don’t say one word. First of all, what you saw that night at the party was not what you think. Tony kissed me, but if you stuck around long enough you would’ve heard me tell him that I was with you and that I was very happy there. We even talked about how lucky you and I both were to have found someone so important to us. And if you bothered to answer any one of my many phone calls that weekend and explained what was going on, I would’ve told you all about it. But no, instead you decided to make a decision for me based on what you thought was best. Do you have any idea how insulting that is?”


“Justin, I didn’t mean to…”


“I said not one word,” Justin reminded him icily. “Do you have any idea how much it hurt to listen to you tell me that there was someone else?”


“About as much as it hurt to see you kiss someone else?” Brian spat back, his anger surfacing quickly.


“But you didn’t have to be hurt. If you just said something, none of this would’ve happened. If you’d been honest with me, we could’ve straightened this whole mess out weeks ago and not lived through the hell we’ve been living in,” Justin replied tearfully, his emotions getting the better of him.


“I’m sorry,” Brian offered softly. “What can I do to fix this?”


“Sorry is bullshit. I just want one thing from you.”


“Name it. I’ll do whatever you want,” Brian promised.


“I want you to swear you’ll never pull a stunt like this again. From now on, if something’s bothering you, I want your promise that you’ll come to me before going off on your own to try to fix things,” Justin said as he walked over to where Brian was standing and looked him in the eye.


“I promise. No more trying to make decisions without you,” Brian replied. “Just promise me that if you ever feel like your being held back, you’ll come and tell me so we can talk about it.”


“I never felt that way in the first place,” Justin stated. “But I promise that if I do, you’ll be the first to know.”


“God I’ve missed you,” Brian whispered as he pulled Justin into his arms. “Do you have an idea how much I love you?”


“Yeah, I think I do,” Justin whispered back. “About as much as I love you.”


And with those words said, Brian and Justin stopped talking and proceeded to show each other how strong their love was. The lovemaking was slow and tender, as they took their time to reacquaint themselves with each other. Justin knew that he was going to owe his classmate a huge apology on Monday when he made his excuse for why he never answered the door that night, but he didn’t care. He and Brian were back together and he had every intention of keeping it that way.




Epilogue…almost four years later…



“That’s the last of them,” Brian said as he placed the last box down on the couch. “I didn’t think we’d ever finish.”


“Well who’s the one that had three boxes just for his shoes?” Justin asked mockingly.


“Hey, I’m an up and coming business man now. I have to be able to impress my new boss,” Brian replied with a smile.


“Oh and you can’t impress him with your intelligence and your creativity? You need to do it with your extensive wardrobe,” Justin teased.


“Hey, I seem to remember someone having quite a few boxes of art supplies and computer equipment filling up that truck,” Brian pointed out defensively.


“But that’s my work, remember? They’re necessities. 100 pairs of shoes are not,” Justin reminded him. “Face it, babe…you’re a label queen in the making. In a few years, we’re going to have to turn one of the bedrooms into a closet to fit your growing obsession.”


“Well then it’s a good thing that my partner has a big bank account. It will make the construction a lot easier,” Brian teased.


“Asshole,” Justin called out affectionately as he carried a couple boxes into the bedroom.


He still couldn’t believe they were finally there. Lavena’s house had been sitting vacant for over three years, being used only for a few weeks during the summer when he and Brian could get away from Pittsburgh and their responsibilities. It had been such a shock when they learned that she had left the house to Brian. She claimed that he was the only one who appreciated the shore house as much as she did, and Justin knew that was true. But he also knew that the special bond between grandmother and grandson was stronger than anything else and leaving him the house was her way of showing him that. Brian had been so touched by her gift but it also helped him to move on knowing that he’d one day be able to live where she’d once been so happy.


Brian had asked Justin if he would mind moving to the shore, and he didn’t hesitate to reply. He’d live in a cardboard box if he had to, as long as he was with Brian. Once that was settled, Brian and Justin threw themselves into their studies, both of them excited to have a good start on their future. Brian did eventually move into the apartment and they both worked hard to pay for the expenses themselves, wanting to keep Justin’s inheritance for emergencies. Now, with the proper investments, Justin had more than enough money to tide them over for years to come, and they agreed to take the summer after graduation off to set up their home and enjoy what little freedom they had left.


Brian landed a job in a well known advertising agency about twenty minutes from the shore and Justin was starting his own graphic design company, using a portion of his money to cover his start up costs. He already had a few customers lined up who were anxious to use his talent as soon as he was ready. Over all their lives were going exactly as they had planned and Justin was feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. As he thought about the future he felt Brian’s arms wrap around him from behind.


“You’re worrying again,” Brian whispered in his ear.


“Sorry. I just can’t seem to help it. It’s like a dream come true and I’m afraid I’ll wake up and it’ll all be gone,” Justin replied.


“Do you want me to pinch you and prove that it’s all real?” Brian asked as he began gently caressing Justin’s ass through the fabric of his jeans.


“No, that’s okay,” Justin laughed. “I’ve still got a bruise from the last time.”


Before Brian could respond, the phone rang, pulling them both out of their thoughts. Justin hated the feeling of Brian’s arms letting him go, but went back to the task at hand and started unpacking again. This time he heard Brian walk into the bedroom.


“Your mother’s on the phone.”


“Oh…okay…”Justin hesitated a moment before taking the phone from Brian and walking out into the living room.


Brian watched him go and hoped that the call went better than the last one. Jennifer Taylor was still having trouble accepting her son for who he was, but she was trying to be there for him and all Brian could do was stand by his side and offer his support. It had taken two years for the woman to even talk to her son again after she discovered them in a compromising position on high school graduation night and since then their relationship had been tentative at best. Justin seemed happy that she was trying, but didn’t hold out a lot of hope that she would ever be the mother she used to be. Brian had held him tight and let him cry on the night he came to that realization and since then Justin refused to let the ignorant woman get to him. He decided that he was who he was and if she couldn’t accept that then it was her loss. He wasn’t going to hide who he was for anybody ever again.


Brian gave Justin a few more minutes before going out into the living room. He found his partner staring out the window lost in thought.


“How’d it go?”


“Actually it went pretty good. My mother wants to come here for a visit and see the house. Molly’s out of school in another week and she said they need a vacation. I offered to let them stay here. Do you mind?”


“Of course not,” Brian assured him. “This is our home, remember? You have just as much say as to what goes on here as I do. She does realize that we share a bedroom, right? I don’t want to have to sleep with one eye open at night.”


Justin laughed out loud at Brian’s joke. “Of course she does. But don’t worry. I reminded her of that, just incase. She said that she didn’t care. I think she might actually be coming around.”


“Maybe now that her little boy moved so far away she realizes that she either has to accept us or lose you. I guess we’ll see how things go. Although if she starts any shit while she’s here, I’m going to feed her to the crabs,” Brian teased.


“I’ll help you,” Justin chuckled before sobering. “I love you so much, Brian. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t thank God for bringing us together.”


“Me too. Who would’ve thought that a little summer lovin would’ve brought us to where we are now?”


“Yeah, who would’ve thought?” Justin replied before reaching up and pulling Brian down into a passionate kiss. No matter what happened when his mother came for a visit, Justin knew in his heart that he didn’t have any regrets. He was right where he wanted to be and planned on enjoying his happiness for the rest of his life.



The end



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