Ring of Truth
Brian swallowed, tasting the bile that had risen in his throat. He dropped the box with the rings on the couch and stood up rather unsteadily. Of all the possible outcomes of his declaration, this was not one he had imagined. He could hear Justin running water in the bathroom, probably rinsing his mouth after throwing up.
He knew he should go in there, but he also knew that he couldn't. He didn't know what Justin's words meant and he was afraid to find out. All he knew was that Justin had refused the ring he had offered him. He had been rejected. He grabbed his leather jacket and keys and walked out of the loft. He had a fleeting thought that he hoped to come back sometime, but he had no sense that that would actually happen. He quietly closed the loft door behind him.
A few minutes later Justin came out of the bathroom. He needed to explain to Brian why he had refused the ring. "Brian," he said, noticing that the man was no longer on the couch. He glanced around the loft and saw that it was empty.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! He had driven Brian away once again. What was he going to do now? Why did everything have to be so complicated where Brian was concerned? He slumped down on the steps to the bedroom and clutched his knees to his chest. Before he could even try to stop them, great wracking sobs escaped his body, and he gave in to the intense sadness and confusion and fear that swelled through him.
The Jeep screeched to a halt outside Meat Hook. Brian was in no state to be going in there, but he couldn't stop himself. He sauntered over to the bar and ordered a double Beam. He felt someone brush against his ass and turned to tell the person to fuck off.
"Want another?" the muscular man asked, gesturing towards Brian's nearly empty glass. The man wore leather chaps over jeans and a leather vest over a bare chest.
"No thanks," Brian said slowly. He was considering the possibilities. If Justin didn't want him, at least this man did.
"Don't be anti-social," the man persisted.
"I'm just here for a drink," Brian said by way of explanation.
"Nobody comes here for just a
"Well, I guess there's a first time for everything," Brian said abruptly and turned away.
"Hey, I'm still talking to you!" the man said grabbing Brian's arm.
"No, you're not!" Brian replied shaking the hand off his arm. He turned quickly and headed out of the club.
He heard the man shout, "And fuck you too!" as he walked away.
"You wish," Brian muttered to himself as he pushed past people entering the club.
Once out in the cool air, he took a deep breath and relaxed a bit. He wasn't sure what had driven him to that club. He rarely went there. In fact, since he and Justin had been back together, he had not frequented the place. He knew he needed to talk to Justin, but he was too afraid of what he might hear. He had to go somewhere that he could think.
He climbed into the Jeep and headed toward the river.
Justin wiped his face and took in a long breath. He was still sitting on the steps to the bedroom, but he had finally cried himself out. He hadn't meant to be so harsh in refusing Brian's ring. He had panicked. Somehow he knew that if he accepted that ring everything was going to change and not necessarily for the better. He had had an inkling of what Brian was driving at up at his uncle's cottage, when the man had told him he had something important to talk to him about. But not in his wildest dreams had he expected a ring.
He had thought that maybe Brian had decided it was time to tell their friends that they were in a committed relationship. That would have been hard enough. He liked that the status of their relationship was their secret, that they shared something special between themselves, and it was nobody else's business.
When Trip Bedford had first spilled the beans that Brian was being faithful, Justin had been floored. Then when Brian said it was true and he had been doing it for months, Justin had been so happy and had wanted to tell the whole world. Now he was glad that they had decided to keep it to themselves. Their friends, however well meaning, had a way of imposing their attitudes and expectations. They would have been watching Brian, waiting for him to slip, and that would have driven Brian crazy. It would have put a huge strain on their relationship.
The way things were now was much better. Brian did what he did. He was faithful because he wanted to be, not because it was expected of him. He had no one to answer to except Justin and his own conscience. That was true for both of them.
Justin realized that he needed to find Brian and explain why he had turned down the ring. The man must think that he just didn't want it, or worse still, that he didn't want Brian.
He grabbed the phone and started calling. He tried Lindsay and Michael and Deb and even Ted and Emmett. Nobody had seen or heard from Brian. Justin tried to be nonchalant about the fact that he was looking for Brian, but he was sure that his enquiries had alerted the whole 'family' that there was trouble between him and Brian.
Justin put on his jacket. He
was going to go to Woody's and
An hour later Justin had run out of
options. He had checked
Then it dawned on him. There
was always one place that he seemed to find Brian when things had gone
wrong. He grabbed a taxi outside
"Brian," Justin said softly, not wanting to startle Brian who seemed lost in thought.
"Go home, Justin," Brian said sadly. "Leave me the fuck alone."
"I can't go home," Justin said. "Home is where you are."
Justin heard Brian sigh. He sat down beside his lover.
"It's not going to work this time," Brian said. "I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to look at you." Brian continued to stare at the river, not even glancing at Justin.
"Brian, you didn't let me explain."
"Explain! You were too fucking busy throwing up at the thought of taking a goddam ring from me to say anything."
"Please, Brian, let me talk to you."
"If you can explain this away, then you deserve a Nobel Prize for having the greatest line of bullshit of the new millennium."
"I can explain and it won't be bullshit," Justin declared.
"The jury's still out on that one," Brian retorted.
"I'm sorry I reacted so harshly when you offered me the ring."
"Sorry isn't going to cut it! You know what I think of sorry."
"I know, but I have to say it, because you got the wrong impression."
"Did I now?" Brian asked with a snarl. "What impression was I supposed to get when you throw up after I ask you to spend your life with me?"
"If that was what you were asking me, then the answer is yes," Justin stated.
"That isn't what came out of your mouth," Brian said ruefully.
"I know, because that isn't what I thought you were asking me."
"What the fuck do you think it means when someone gives you a ring?"
"I thought it meant that you wanted to make some kind of public declaration about our relationship, and and I don't want you to do that."
"What the fuck are you talking about? Ever since I met you that is exactly what you've wanted me to do."
"You're right. For a long time I would have given my right hand to have you do what you did tonight."
"You almost did lose your right hand, Justin," Brian said
softly. Out of the corner of
his eye he saw Justin grimace.
"If you had said this to me before Ethan, I never would have left," Justin stated.
"I wasn't ready to say it back then and I'm not sure you were ready to hear it. We were very different people then," Brian observed.
"That's true. Our relationship now is so much better than it would have been if we hadn't been apart for that period of time. I did grow up and learn some things. I know that you love me and you always will. And I'll always love you. Those earlier people would never have survived the Eamonn thing."
"So what's the problem now? Why did the ring make you throw up?"
"It wasn't the ring. Ever since you told me at my uncle's cabin that you wanted to talk, I've been trying to figure out what you were going to say. I thought you wanted to go public about our committed relationship and I had decided that I'd tell you to keep it a secret between the two of us."
"You want it to stay a secret?" Brian asked finding it hard to comprehend what Justin was saying.
"I do," Justin said firmly. "I want you to be faithful to me because you want to be, not because we've said it publicly. You know that Ted and Melanie and maybe a few others would like nothing better than to catch you breaking your word and lord it over you about it. They'd be watching you like a hawk, just waiting for you to fail."
"Me? What about you? Isn't it possible that you could fail? Who left last time?" Brian demanded.
Justin winced. That cut close to home. "It could be me who fails, but it's you they'd expect to fail. You know that."
"Yeah," Brian had to agree.
"I've been worrying ever since the fishing trip, about what you were going to say and how you'd react when I told you to keep it secret. Then tonight you started again and I thought I knew what was coming. My stomach was churning hoping I would be doing the right thing. And then you spring the ring on me and talk about marriage and my stomach flipped over and I ran for the bathroom."
"I didn't ask you to marry me," Brian said rather harshly. "You know I don't believe in that."
"I know, but you mentioned the word and I thought that implied that we were making some kind of marriage commitment if I took the ring. Everyone would know as soon as they saw us wearing them. It would change everything, and I don't want things to change. I like where we are right now."
"Why do the rings mean that things will
change? And if they do, can't
they change for the better?"
"Mr. Optimistic! When did you acquire that Pollyanna view of the world?"
"Since I met you," Brian
Justin giggled and suddenly he found himself in Brian's arms. Brian's lips pressed against his, and for the first time since Brian had walked out of the loft, Justin thought they might still be all right.
Brian's tongue traced Justin's lips and delved into the soft warmth of the boy's mouth. Justin opened his lips to receive what Brian was offering. He wanted to show the man that he loved him and wanted him and needed him.
The kiss swirled across Justin's lips and tongue and caressed his teeth. He moaned into the delicious feeling and his arms wrapped around Brian's neck.
"Take me home," Justin whispered.
"Not yet," Brian said continuing the kiss.
"Please," Justin panted, "or you're going to have to fuck me right here."
"That could be arranged."
"Brian," Justin said pushing back from the man. "I'm sorry if I hurt you by turning down the ring."
"You didn't hur " Brian started to deny that he had been hurt. "I take that back. You did hurt me. I thought that you didn't want to stay with me anymore. That you were rejecting me." Brian laid himself bare to the man he loved. If Justin was going to hurt him, he might as well see the results.
"I didn't mean it to come out the way it did. Do you understand now why I don't want to go public?"
"Kind of. I guess I owe you a Nobel Prize for bullshit."
"You don't still think it's bullshit, do you?" Justin looked into Brian's eyes trying to make the man see that he was being honest about his fears and his feelings.
"It's all right. I believe you and I even agree."
"I just said so, didn't I?"
Justin smiled at him and Brian had to kiss those lips again. No one tasted as good as Justin. No one smelled as good as Justin. No one felt so perfect in his arms.
"Let's go home," Brian said pulling Justin to his feet. "I have some things to do there."
"Do they involve me?" Justin asked with a smile.
"Couldn't do them without you," Brian replied wrapping his arm around
Justin's waist and starting up the riverbank.
An hour later Brian's cock was firmly planted in Justin's ass. They had returned to the loft barely in time to lose their clothes and hit the bed. They had sucked and fucked ever since. Both were covered in a sheen of sweat as they grunted and bucked against each other. Justin gasped trying to get enough air to tide him over till Brian finished. The man was riding him hard. He knew there was an element of payback for his earlier actions, but he didn't care. He had Brian exactly where he wanted him in his bed, up his ass and just about ready to shoot his load.
"Brian!" Justin called as he felt his balls draw up. His hand reached back and grabbed Brian's hip. Jolts of electricity ran along his spine and he was lost. The cum spewed from his cock and landed on the bed. His anus contracted around Brian's dick and he felt the cock pulse and throb as Brian's semen filled the condom. Brian bit Justin's neck as the last spasms roared through his body.
They lay half on top of each other having trouble knowing where one began and the other ended. Justin shoved himself up and over. He looked at Brian who stared back at him. He wanted to snuggle up against his man, but something told him that that would not be a good idea.
"Brian, are you all right with what I said about the ring?" Justin asked.
"What? I thought you understood."
"But you're not all right with it?"
"Then what was this all about? You can fuck me, but you can't forgive me?"
"I didn't say that. I'm not a fucking priest! It's not my place to forgive. Leave that to God, if there is one."
"Brian, don't draw away from me. I want to be with you. I love you so much, but I don't want us to wear those rings."
"I heard you the first time you told me that. I heard you loud and clear."
"And you don't like it?"
"No, I don't."
"What can I do to make it right?" Justin asked on the verge of tears.
"There's nothing you can do. You feel the way you feel, and so do I."
"But we can't leave it like this. I feel like you're a million miles away, and I don't like that feeling at all."
"Neither do I, but I don't know how to fix it."
Justin looked sadly at Brian. He hated how this had turned out. Maybe he should just put on the fucking ring. It couldn't be much worse than things were right now. He thought and thought, trying to come up with something concrete that he could do.
"Brian," Justin began, "remember at the cottage you reminded me about what happened with my sunshine pendant when you first gave it to me. What if we did the same thing with the rings and put them away for awhile until we figure out what to do about them?"
"Do whatever you want with them. I hope I never have to look at them again," Brian said. "I'm going to take a shower."
Brian climbed out of bed and went into the bathroom. Justin heard the shower go on and realized that Brian had not invited him to join him. He flopped back on the bed. How was he going to fix this mess that he had created?
Justin was finishing up his shift at the diner. Debbie had been watching him ever since he came in to work. He could feel the approaching inquisition.
"Sunshine, come sit with me while I take a break," Debbie said.
Justin sighed. He knew she would never let him refuse and leave, so he went quietly to the booth and sat down across from her.
"So tell me what he did this time," she demanded.
"He didn't do anything. I did," Justin said feeling tears start to surface.
"What did you do?"
"I can't tell you the specifics," Justin insisted. "It's something we have to work out between us."
"So you want me to keep my big fucking nose out, right?"
"Well. I can't."
Justin had been hopeful for a split second that he was going to get away without spilling anything. Now he wasn't so sure. "Debbie, I can't and I won't talk about this," Justin insisted.
"Okay, but whatever it is it's making both of you crazy and sad. I saw Brian this morning and he looked like someone had run him over with a Mack truck."
"He looked that bad?" Justin asked. Had he been pretending not to see what was right in front of him? He and Brian had come to some kind of silent truce. Justin knew there was still a distance between them, but he hoped that it would disappear over time. Maybe he was just fooling himself.
"Justin, whatever the problem is, something needs to happen. You need to fix it."
"I'm not sure I can," Justin admitted.
Debbie patted his hand and prayed this kid could pull it off once again. He was the only one who had ever made Brian happy and she didn't want to see that all fall apart. The man deserved a little bit of love and laughter in his life.
"But I'm going to try," Justin said getting up from the
booth. "Thanks for the pep talk,
"Anytime, baby, anytime."
Justin rode the bus back to PIFA. He wanted some time alone to think. He dialed Brian's number and got voicemail. He left a brief message saying that he had some work to do in his space at the institute and he'd be home around ten. As he cut the connection on his cell phone, he wondered if Brian even cared anymore if he came home at all.
They had been so unconnected this last week, ever since he had refused the ring. Even when they fucked it wasn't the same. Brian seemed to be holding back, never truly giving himself to Justin the way he usually did. Justin wondered if he had caused Brian to construct some new wall to protect himself from being hurt once again.
They had decided to put the rings away and not do anything with them for now. Justin had put them in the drawer of the nightstand on his side of the bed, the same place his sunshine pendant had rested until they were ready for it and what it meant.
But this was different. He had hurt Brian by turning down the ring. When Brian had admitted that he was hurt, Justin knew it must be deep because Brian never admitted that he was hurt. Maybe he should put the ring on and hope for the best. The problem was that he knew in his gut that the time was not right. If things were bad now, they would be a lot worse when they started wearing the rings. He didn't exactly know why he felt this way, but he was totally sure that was what would happen.
He walked to the fine arts studio building and dropped his knapsack in his space. He looked at the painting that he had been working on. It was close to being finished, but he didn't really feel like working on it. He wandered around his little cubicle looking at things he had done before. Some of them were really good and others, well, he wondered why he kept them. They should go the way of all bad art the dump.
He saw the sculpture sitting on the back of the table. He made a face as he looked at it. He wasn't much of a sculptor, but he had had to take a sculpture course at the beginning of last year. He had managed to get the credit he needed in that course, but he would not likely ever do another sculpture. He stared at this piece of work and thought about its checkered history.
He had started it when he was with Ethan, still in the throes of young love and passion. It was supposed to represent their two hearts intertwined. What a romantic dork he had been! The concept hadn't been too bad though. He had fashioned two hearts, elongated and somewhat distorted in shape. One was stainless steel with a shiny surface and the other was brushed steel with a matte finish. Ethan was the shiny one, the star, the egomaniac. He was the matte one, more subtle, more subservient. It always seemed to be under the other one as they twisted together in the sculpture. Was that how he had felt even so early in the relationship? He had always bent to Ethan's whims, done whatever the young man wanted. Justin shook his head at his foolishness and naiveté.
Then he and Ethan had split, not very amicably, and he still had to hand in a sculpture assignment. He decided to finish this piece since he had invested a lot of time and effort into it already. However, the meaning of it changed. He knew it didn't represent true love anymore, certainly not the so-called love between him and Ethan.
He had taken the sculpture to the tech who helped them with metalwork. He had decided that this sculpture represented him and Brian. He had subjugated himself to Brian too and look where that had got him. He asked the tech to help him drill a rather large hole through the matte-finished heart. At the time he had liked the effect. He truly felt that hole in his own heart, caused by both Brian and Ethan.
His hand ran over the smooth metal of the sculpture and the beginnings of an idea began to formulate in his head. He lifted the sculpture from its spot and emptied out his knapsack. He squeezed the sculpture into the backpack, just barely getting it zipped up. He fished around in the drawer of the table till he found the last thing that he needed for his plan.
As he locked up his space, he said a silent prayer that this might work.
Brian was on the computer when Justin slid back the loft door.
"Hey," Justin said.
"Not a very warm welcome," Justin thought. Maybe what he was going to do would make a difference. He hoped so. He took off his jacket and carried his knapsack up to the bedroom. He didn't want Brian to see the sculpture yet. He took the little green box with the Celtic knot on top out of the drawer by the bed. He lifted the lid and gently touched the rings. They didn't burn his fingers. That was a good sign. He smiled slightly to himself as he fished something from his jeans pocket. It was a tiny hook. He linked the two rings on the little hook and watched them dangle and glow in the soft light of the bedroom.
Just then he heard Brian shut off the computer and push back his chair. Justin closed his hand around the rings and waited for Brian to come to bed.
"Why are you sitting up here all by yourself?" Brian asked as he came up the steps.
"Come up with anything interesting?" Brian asked.
"Oh?" Brian didn't seem terribly interested. "I'm going to take a shower."
Brian went into the bathroom and Justin heard the shower go on. Now was his chance. He pulled the sculpture out of his knapsack and got to work.
Fifteen minutes later Brian came into the bedroom to find Justin naked on the bed.
"Waiting for someone?" Brian asked with a smirk.
"I was hoping," Justin said. He got onto his knees and reached out for Brian's towel. A quick tug and it came off easily. Justin eyed Brian's cock which had begun to spring to life. "Looks like I've found what I was waiting for," Justin observed.
He tossed the towel on the floor and crawled closer to the edge of the bed. He placed his hands on Brian's hips and pulled the man toward him. Brian didn't resist, but he didn't seem very keen either. "This has to work," Justin thought as his lips trailed kisses down Brian's stomach heading towards his cock.
Brian knew that Justin was trying to make up for refusing his ring. He still wasn't sure he could let that go. It had been too much of a blow. He understood rationally why Justin was afraid and had conceded that Justin's arguments had some merit, but that didn't take the sting out of Justin's reaction. He wasn't sure he could ever forget that.
Justin's sweet warm mouth found his manhood and began an exquisite blowjob. Brian's eyes closed and he allowed the waves of pleasure to wash over him. Nobody could do these things to him like Justin could. Since he had met the boy he had had many blowjobs, but none as good as this young man gave.
Brian felt his orgasm approaching. He wanted things to be right between him and Justin. He hated this distance they both felt. He wished he knew how to make things right again.
"Ahhh, Justin!" he called and grabbed the boy's hair. He thrust into the boy's mouth and felt his cum erupt in wave after wave. Justin took it all and milked him dry. Brian staggered a bit as the orgasm left him spent and empty. He felt Justin stand up and wrap his arms around him, supporting and steadying him. "I love you," Brian whispered into the boy's hair.
He could feel the smile on Justin's face at his words. He was glad. He didn't want to hurt him, and he didn't want to be hurt anymore.
"I love you too," Justin whispered back. "Come lay with me?" Justin took Brian's hand and gently pulled the man down onto the bed. Brian lay on his back and Justin snuggled against him. He had missed this. There hadn't been much snuggling since the ring incident.
Neither said anything for awhile. They each enjoyed the closeness of the other, touching and feeling what had been missing for days.
"Are we all right?" Justin whispered.
"I hope so," Brian replied. "I don't like where we've been lately. Those fucking rings!"
"Look at the dresser, Brian," Justin said.
Brian glanced over and saw Justin's sculpture sitting on top of the dresser. "What's that?" Brian asked sitting up to get a better look.
"It's a sculpture I made a while ago. I brought it home tonight and added something to it while you were taking your shower."
Brian looked more closely. "Is that the rings hanging in the middle of that hole?"
"Yes," Justin said softly.
"What does it mean?" Brian asked frowning.
"Look at it closely and tell me what you see."
"It looks like two intertwining hearts, one with a hole in it, and you've hung the rings in the hole."
"That's exactly what it is," Justin said giving Brian a kiss. "I started this sculpture when I was with Ethan." Justin felt Brian tense up at the mention of the fiddler's name.
"I don't want those rings in something that represents your great love with that asshole."
"Let me finish, please," Justin asked. He felt Brian relax a little bit. "I started it to be me and Ethan, but then we broke up and it became you and me. The hole I added later when I realized the empty space that I had in my heart without you."
Brian was studying Justin's face. He could hear the truth in Justin's words.
"So why have you added the rings?" Brian asked.
"I never liked that sculpture very much," Justin explained. "I don't think I'm much of a sculptor, but more that that, I didn't like the negative feeling it represented. I was looking at it tonight in my space at IFA and I knew what it needed. Those rings have filled that hole in my heart. They prove that you love me and want to be with me. They complete that sculpture and they complete me. We can leave them there until we're ready to wear them in public, but we'll both know what they mean. Nobody else has to know."
"I like that," Brian said simply.
"I was hoping you would."
"So the rings weren't a waste. They're not going to make you throw up anymore?"
"I told you it wasn't the rings. I love you, Brian, but I don't want to go public with our private business right now. People can look at the sculpture and draw their own conclusions. Only you and I will know the real meaning."
"I like that too," Brian said.
"They also hold a promise for the future," Justin added.
"That's good. You're so smart," Brian said and captured Justin's lips in a warm and tender kiss.
Justin felt his cock swell and harden as much at Brian's words as at his touch. He loved that Brian thought he was smart. Sexy was great but smart was even better. He was so pleased that Brian thought he had done the right thing with the rings. He knew in his heart that they would wear them on their fingers in the not too distant future.
Brian's tongue licked along Justin's jaw and down his throat. Justin's head went back to give the man greater access. He knew what he really wanted, what would seal their bargain.
"I want to fuck you," Justin whispered in Brian's ear.
Brian smiled at him. He knew that was coming. It was nice to be back in tune with each other. Brian rolled over and stuck his ass up in Justin's face. "Be my guest," he said with a smirk as he looked back at Justin.
Justin kissed Brian's shoulder and worked his way down the man's back. He felt Brian groan and knew he was having the desired effect. He was going to give the man the rimming job of his life and then he would fuck him senseless. It was going to be a long and very hot night. He took a quick glance at his sculpture and smiled before he buried his tongue in his lover's ass.
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