Honeycutt to the Chase, pt. 1
Brian ran down the steps and the blond slowly stirred. Justin cried out in pain as he tried to get up. The older man knelt beside him, placing a hand on his chest. "Dont move Jesus, just--"
"Is he alright," Lindsay asked nervously from over his shoulder.
Brian shoved her away, snarling, "Get the fuck away from him, you cunt!"
"Detective Kinney," another officer started, but Brian waved him off.
"Just get her out of here." He heard her sobbing as they led her away and then he noticed Paul pushing his way into the small circle of police and security that had gathered around. Brian called for him to be let through and focused his attention back on the blond. "Youre okay, Angel, everythings okay," he soothed over and over as they waited for the ambulance.
Brian slowly backed away from the exam table, carefully disentangling his hand from the sleeping blonds. He promised Justin they would leave the hospital as soon as the doctor returned with his paperwork, but in the meantime, he had some work of his own to do.
When he stepped out into the corridor, he saw Melanie waiting. "What are you doing here?" He looked up and down the empty hall. "Wheres Ricky?"
"Lindsay called me, she was so upset Michael stayed with Ricky."
The anger that flared up again at Lindsays name was temporarily sidetracked. "Excuse me?"
"He spent the weekend with us since no one else was around. I hated for him to come all the way here and just leave again." Brian gave her an incredulous look and she shrugged. "He is his Godfather. They went to the zoo and the museum and I got some work done." She put her hand on Brians arm. "Hows Justin doing?"
The detectives face clouded over again. "Hes finally out. Christ Mel, you have no idea what hes been through," the man told her, anxiously raking his hand through his hair.
"But hes gonna be alright, right? Hows his leg?"
"Fine," Brian huffed, still unable to believe it himself. "Bruised and swollen, hell, everythings black and blue. There are some strained ligaments, but no fracture. He sprained his ankle and had to get half a dozen stitches in his chin. His face looks like he ran into a cheese grater, so do his hands hes so upset about his hands. Luckily, he didnt break his wrist, or his fingers. But he doesnt see it that way right now." He shifted from one foot to the other, trying to shake off the helplessness that was bearing down on him again. "Hes so freaked out about being back in the hospital they had to put him out."
"Jesus," Melanie gasped. "He has to be more careful in this weather. Linds said that ice--"
"What the fuck?!" Brian growled. "There was no ice! She TRIPPED him."
"Brian!" the woman exclaimed. "How can you say such a thing, it was an accident--"
"She deliberately tripped him so he would fall," Brian ground out. "And Im going to find out why. Where is she?"
"It was a--"
"Where. Is. She."
"She went back to the gallery," Melanie hurriedly explained. "She was trying to ask Justin about the vault, when he fell, she said hehe vandalized his art, Eric, and she didnt know if anyone checked the vault. She was afraid he got in andand no one knew. No one else would know where to look for Justins stuff in the inventory, so she went back to help." Brian frowned at her and she scowled back. "Theyre FRIENDS, Brian, she would never hurt him."
But Brian wasnt listening. Something in the back of his mind was trying to claw its way out. Something was there
"Brian," Melanie continued to rant. "Do you hear me? Shes been there for him through everything this last year. I know you think I know you dont get along, things have been really strained since you and Justin and that damn insurance policy but we can work this out. Youll see, she couldnt--"
"Fuck. Me." Brian suddenly muttered.
The money. Justin. The juvie record. Fuck, he forgot about dear old mom and dad. He shouldve told him then The detective rubbed the stitches in his forehead from that day. Shit. But what was she up to was it tied together? Or coincidence? Either way, he needed to keep her away from the vault until he figured out what was going on because clearly it meant something to her. Enough to risk hurting Justin toto what? Keep him out of the way? A diversion? His art in the vault his job this past year his money his his his
"Christ!" Brian pulled out his cell phone and called the security guard at the gallery.
"Jim? Its Brian Kinney."
"Yes, Detective, what can I do for you?"
"Has Lindsay Peterson returned? Has she signed in yet?"
"No. No, Sir."
"Shes on her way, Jim, but dont let her in. Tell her the police have sealed the building as a crime scene and she cant get back in until Monday. Then when shes gone, I want you to call me back. Do you still have my cell number?"
"Yes, Sir. I do. Ill call you right away."
"Youre welcome. How is Mr. Taylor, Sir?"
"Fine, Jim, Ill tell him you asked."
"Thank you, Sir."
Brian hung up and saw the nurse step into Justins room.
"Brian? Whats going on?" Melanie asked as he followed the nurse.
"Go home, Ill call you tomorrow."
"Brian, what about Lin--" she started, but he was gone.
The detective hovered behind the curtain as the nurse woke the artist and helped him get oriented again. Brian was relieved that Justin seemed calmer than when he was admitted, although that probably had a lot to do with the drugs.
The nurse saw Brian and waved to him. The older man stepped out of the shadows and she met him at the end of the bed as Justin drifted back into a comfortable haze. She was smirking and Brian looked at her quizzically. "Whats going on, Sharon?"
"Does he have a dog, Detective?" she asked in amusement.
Brian shook his head. "No, hes allergic."
"Well, hes under the impression he has one now," she laughed. "A big guard dog that protects him, but is really very cuddly at night and gives wet sloppy kisses. He says he likes those best."
"Oh, and his name is Brian."
The man blinked at her. "Christ, youre kidding!"
She shook her head, chuckling as she left the room to get a wheelchair.
Brian sat next to his lover, lightly stroking his cheek. "What the hell did they give you, Angel?" he mused out loud.
"Mmm good puppy," Justin sighed, turning into the touch.
Brian snorted a laugh as he gently nuzzled the blonds neck. Hed been called worse.
Brian flattened his tongue and licked a wide path over Justins cheek. Hed been watching the blond sleep all night and knew the younger man was starting to stir. In response to his wet wake up call, Justin tried to bat him away, but the pain in his hand forced him awake.
"Easy," Brian murmured as he caught the bandaged arm and carefully lay it back down.
Justin groaned, groggily blinking up at the older man. "Did you just lick me?"
"You said you like puppy slobber," Brian defended indignantly, biting his cheek to keep from laughing. "Youre just a fickle master."
"I what?" the blond mumbled as he tried to think back. Something was tickling the back of his mind "Oh, god, I had this dream you were this big snarling doberman pinscher, and I was afraid you would bite me too, but you were protecting me, and you would lay your head in my lap and lick my hand " He looked down at the bandages covering the cuts from his fall. "My hands "
Brian wiped away an escaping tear from the blonds cheek as Justin struggled with his emotions. "That wasnt a dream," the detective told him to keep him distracted. "It was more like a drugged induced hallucination. Which, by the way, made the nurse think were into some kinky role playing." He couldnt keep the humor out of his voice anymore. "A DOG, Justin? You couldnt have imagined I was a fuck, I dont know, anything but that. Is that how you see me? As some crotch-sniffing perv?"
Justin finally laughed dryly. "Well, if the collar fits " He licked his lips, trying to smile.
"Oh, here." Brian offered him a glass of water. The brief flicker of light in Justins eyes dampened again as they both realized Brian would have to hold it for him. Ignoring the awkwardness, Brian asked, "How are you feeling, besides hungover, from your little bender last night?"
Justin thought for a moment, then sighed. "Numb."
"Good, lets keep it that way," Brian replied, holding up another dose of pain medication.
Justin grimaced slightly, but dutifully took it. "I have to piss," he added.
Brian reached over the side of the bed, and the blond shook his head. "No. Im not I can get up."
"Im sure you can," Brian agreed, "but you have to use the wheelchair until your hands heal, and the chair doesnt fit in the bathroom. So until we move or you can use your crutches, its the jug." He saw Justins jaw tighten as the artist tried to push down his despair. "Hey, look at me." He turned the younger mans face towards him. "Its just for a few days. A temporary setback. Youre gonna be kicking my ass around the stable again before you know it."
The younger man nodded weakly. "I know its just Im just tired is all."
Neither one believed that, but Brian also knew hed be more worried if Justin wasnt upset. Temporary or not, this was a huge step backward after struggling so hard to get past his handicap.
"You can go back to sleep as soon as you take a leak. Ill hold your dick, but I draw the line at changing the sheets if you piss yourself."
Justin managed a still weaker smile. "You just want to get in my pants."
"Was there ever any doubt?"
"Where are we?" Justin finally asked as he looked around the unfamiliar room. It didnt look like a hotel and he didnt remember checking into one, although he didnt remember much of anything.
"My house. Guest bedroom. It was just easier, with it being late and all." He was still nervous about taking Justin back to the Shickel estate, and his place had the extra room on the first floor so maneuvering the wheelchair wasnt a problem. It still might not be the safest place if they were being watched, but it was a much smaller space to control and he knew it like the back of his hand. Both were obvious advantages in his favor if it came down to it.
The blond nodded, yawning. "Go to sleep, Bri," he ordered as his eyelids fluttered.
"Im fine," the older man responded. He wasnt letting his guard down for anything.
"You need to sleep. I know you were up all night Be a good puppy and lie down."
The phone startled Justin awake a few hours later. Brian snatched it up from the bedside table. "Emmett," he told the blond after he looked at the caller ID. "Hello?"
"Brian, Im sorry, I just got your message," Emmett said. "Whats going on?"
Brian called him the night before, but when the man didnt answer, he left a vague but urgent message to call him back. The detective gave his lover a sidelong glance, debating whether or not to move to another room, but Justin obviously read his mind and shook his head.
"The gallery was vandalized last night," Brian told his friend.
"Actually, it was Justins office, but there is some speculation there may be more that hasnt been discovered yetin the vault." He deliberately left his suspicion of Lindsay out of it for now. "I need you to come back and open the vault, check the inventory."
Justins eyes widened. Security had checked the vault when they did the first sweep. What hadnt Brian told him? Something obviously happened during his stupor.
"Of course," Emmett replied automatically, "we can be back in a few hours, but why dont you have Justin or Lindwhere is Justin? Is he alright?" the man asked, panic rising in his voice.
Justin could hear his friend and shook his head at Brian indicating he shouldnt tell him everything. Brian frowned, but did it. "Hes fine, Em, just shook up. I just dont want him to have to deal with it if theres anything there," he replied. It wasnt complete lie.
"Theres something youre not telling me. Do they have a suspect? Who did this?"
"We think it was Eric."
"Oh, my god! Thats impossible!"
"Justins been getting some crank calls we thought might be him. And then last night--"
"Crank calls? Eric? Why didnt anyone tell me? How long has this been going on? No one told me!"
Hearing Emmetts voice raise several octaves, Justin took the phone from Brian. "Em, Im sorry, it was just no of course not I didnt tell anyone not even Brian until I thought it was my imagination Em no one else knows I only told the police last night "
Brian left the younger man to calm his friend as he slipped to the kitchen to get some more coffee. He was replaying the night in his mind, organizing his thoughts as he once again prepared his plan for the day. Brighton would question the rest of the staff, try to figure out when and how Eric got into Justins office. Brian was going to work the case on his own, from Lindsays angle. Something still didnt add up there. Her reaction to being denied access to the vault was all the proof he needed. The security guard had been quite shaken with her threats to have him fired, but he stood his ground.
Brian groaned inwardly as he thought about dealing with Mel in the mix. Last nights tension at the hospital was only the tip of the iceberg. He couldnt stop their argument from replaying in his mind as he headed back to the bedroom. He tried to push it aside as he considered how to broach the subject with Justin. The man wouldnt be any more open to his suspicions than Mel. Brian could hear the argument now. They were friends. She wouldnt do that. Mels words popped back into his head and he brushed them aside once more.
Then it suddenly hit the detective between the eyes. The last tumbler clicked into place in his mind and the door swung open. The answer he was looking for was staring him in the face on the other side.
At the same time, Justin started shouting, "Brian! BRIAN!!"
Instinctively, Brian dropped the mug and ran down the hall. In the bedroom, Justin was struggling to get up, his eyes wild and terrified.
"Brian, its not Eric. Its notEm said--"
Brian grabbed him, holding him tight as he eased the blond back down on the bed. "I know."
Justin clung to him, shaking, and the detective tightened his hold, silently swearing the bitch was going to pay.
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