Brian gathered up his notes and stood, stretching his back to relieve some of the tension he knew was captured there.  He squeezed the bridge of his nose and willed away the headache he had felt building for the last hour.  Another fucking meeting finally over, he turned to leave the conference room.  One of his assistants, Jack, who had been in the meeting, had stood up, but had a very pained expression on his face.


"I know just how you feel!" Brian said.  "These fucking meetings will be the death of all of us."

Jack made a strange strangled sound from the back of his throat and pitched forward onto the conference table.  Brian looked at him for a second, not sure what was happening.  As Jack's body started to slide off the table, Brian grabbed the man and eased him down onto the floor.


"Call 911!" Brian yelled, knowing Jack was in real trouble.


Cynthia stepped up beside Brian, who still cradled Jack in his arms.  "Lay him down, Brian, and loosen his tie," she ordered.


Brian did as she indicated.  When Jack was flat on his back, she checked his mouth and started CPR.  Brian sat on the floor watching her in horrified fascination.  He had no idea how long Cynthia worked on Jack, but it seemed like forever.  Cynthia had a thin sheen of sweat on her face and arms by the time the paramedics arrived.  They quickly took over and Brian helped Cynthia up.  They were administering some kind of IV and getting the defibrillator thing ready to zap him.


"Are you all right?" Brian asked Cynthia, putting his arm around her back.  He felt her sway and lean into him.  He grabbed a chair and sat her down.


"I … I … I did what I could," she managed to get out, tears beginning in her eyes.


"You were great!" Brian told her.  "I had no idea what to do."

"Is he still alive?" she asked, looking at the paramedics who were now loading Jack onto a stretcher.


"I don't know, but they're still working on him, so I guess that's a good sign," Brian said.


Gardner Vance came up to Brian. "Contact his family," he said.  "They're taking him to Roswell."


The stretcher was pushed through the door and Jack disappeared to whatever fate awaited him.


"I have his home number in my rolodex," Cynthia said, trying to stand.  Her knees wobbled and she sat down quickly.


"Stay put, Cynthia," Brian said.  "I'll do it.  Umm … what's his last name?" he asked, embarrassed that he didn't even know Jack's full name.  The man had worked with him since Vance took over the company.  He had never bothered to find out anything about Jack's family or about his life.  "Does he have a wife?" Brian asked.  Cynthia nodded.


Brian went out to Cynthia's desk.  People stood around with stunned looks on their faces, whispering and comforting each other.  He found the number and jotted it down, preferring to make this call from the privacy of his own office.


The phone rang three times before it was picked up.  A female voice said, "Hello?"


"Mrs. Simpson?" Brian asked.




"This is Brian Kinney from Vangard Advertising."




He could hear the slight note of panic in that single word.  "It's Jack.  I think he's had a heart attack.  They've taken him to Roswell," Brian said.


"Oh … oh … oh no!" she moaned.


"Mrs. Simpson?" Brian said firmly.  "Mrs. Simpson, is there someone there with you or someone who can go with you to the hospital?"


"No," she said.  "No one.  I … I'll get a taxi.  Is he still alive?  My daughter!  What can I do with Emily?"  The poor woman was babbling.


Brian had never had to do anything like this before.  Maybe he shouldn't have told her over the phone.  Maybe he should have gone to the house.  He was useless at this kind of thing.  "Is there a neighbor who could look after your daughter?" he asked gently.


"Yes!  Yes!" Mrs. Simpson sighed gratefully.  "Mrs. Roberts is next door.  Thank you.  I'll talk to her."


"Would you like me to come pick you up and take you to the hospital?" Brian asked, not sure why he was offering this, but feeling that he needed to do something for this woman who was so distraught.


"Oh, that's not necessary," she said.


"I don't mind," Brian lied.


"It would be nice to have someone with me," she choked out.


Brian got her address and went out to the lobby.  He looked in the conference room to be sure Cynthia was all right.  She gave him a tired smile and he told her where he was going.


"That's nice of you, Brian.  I'm sure she'll appreciate a strong arm to lean on."


"I wish I had a strong arm to lean on too," Brian thought.  "Should he call Justin?" he wondered.  He would like to have him there, but the young man didn't need another trip to Roswell, especially if Jack didn't make it.  He decided not to call Justin who would be at work at the art gallery.




It had taken Brian about twenty minutes to find his way to the small house where Jack and his family lived.  He saw a woman pacing on the front sidewalk.  He stopped the Jeep and reached over to push the door open.  "Mrs. Simpson?" he said.


She nodded and got in.  "Call me Mary," she said gently.


"I'm Brian," he replied.  "I'll get you to the hospital as quickly as I can."


He sped off, all too familiar with the route to the hospital.  Mary stared straight ahead, not saying a word.  Brian didn't know what to say to her, so he stayed quiet too.


When they arrived at the hospital, he dropped her at Emergency and parked the car.  He walked into the busy room with trepidation.  Mary was talking to someone at the desk, as he walked over to her.


"They don't seem to know what I'm talking about," she said forlornly.


"We're here about Jack Simpson," Brian stated.  "He was brought in from Vangard Advertising, by ambulance," Brian added.


"Oh," the woman behind the desk said.  "Yes, here it is.  You should have told me that he was brought in by ambulance," she chastised Mary.


"Who the fuck cares how he was brought in!  Where is he and how is he?" Brian demanded.


The woman gave him a disgusted look, but said that she would check on where Mr. Simpson was.  "Are you his wife?" she asked Mary.


Mary nodded. 


"Come sit down over here," Brian suggested when the woman at the desk disappeared through a door behind her.  He hoped she was going to check on Jack.


Mary sat, her eyes fixed on the door, waiting for news.  After what seemed like an eternity, a doctor appeared in the doorway.  He strode over to Brian and Mary.  "Could you come with me please?" he asked, and Brian knew the news was not going to be good.


The doctor led them into an office and indicated two chairs side by side.  They sat.  Brian wished he was somewhere else, anywhere else.  The doctor looked from Mary to Brian.  "I'm sorry," he said.  "We couldn't do anything.  It was a massive heart attack."

He felt Mary shiver and then sob.  He gently put his arm around her shoulders.  He didn't know what else to do, so he simply held her against his chest and let her cry.  After a few minutes she pulled away and asked for a tissue.  Brian handed her the box from the desk, thinking that there must be many sad announcements made in this office.  He wondered how many boxes of tissues they went through in a week.


"Do I have to do anything here?" she asked the doctor.


"Would you like to see him?"


"Yes," she whispered.


"Come with me," the doctor said leading her out of the office.  She turned and held out her hand for Brian to come with her.  He could do nothing but follow.


Mary went into a cubicle with the doctor.  Brian stayed outside because he thought Mary would like a minute alone with her husband.  The doctor came out.  He motioned Brian away from the cubicle.


"She's in rough shape," he said.  "I hope you will stay with her or arrange for someone else to be with her.  She shouldn't be alone.  Once she contacts a funeral home, they will take over all the details," he said matter-of-factly.


Brian thanked him and waited for Mary to come out.  He didn't want to go in there.  He felt somehow guilty that he didn't know more about Jack, that he had never taken the time to get to know him or most of the other people he worked with.  He paced back and forth while he waited.


Finally Mary reappeared looking pale but more composed.  "You waited?" she said.


"I couldn't leave you alone," he replied.


"I appreciate your help."


"It's the least I can do.  Would you like me to take you home now?"


"Yes, please."


They walked out to the Jeep, Brian firmly holding her arm and willing her to be strong.  The ride back to the house was mostly in silence, but as they drew near, Brian needed to know some things.  "Do you have some family that should be contacted?" he asked her, hoping there was someone who could come and stay with her.


"I called my sister before you came.  She lives in Cleveland, and they were going to leave to come here as soon as they could.  They should be here soon," she said looking at her watch.


"That's good.  I could stay until they arrive," he offered.


"That would be good.  I don't think I want to be alone right now."




They pulled up in front of the house.  She handed Brian her key and asked him to open the door.  She went to the neighboring house to get her daughter.  Brian waited in the doorway until she returned with the little girl who looked to be about Gus' age.   


"Emily, say hello to Brian," she said.


Emily shyly said, "Hi."


Brian smiled at the little girl, thinking what Gus would do if it had been him with the heart attack.  He tried to push that thought out of his head.  He followed Mary and Emily into the house.


Mary got Emily some apple juice and put her in the family room to play with her dolls.  Brian thought of the irony of that term 'family room'.  There was only part of a family left for that little one now.


"Do you want to contact a funeral home?" Brian asked, looking at his watch.  It was almost five, and he thought they should do it now before the end of the business day.  "Or we can wait till your sister arrives," he added.


"I don't know a funeral home, and neither will my sister."


"My father died not too long ago," Brian said.  "Ironically his name was Jack too," he felt compelled to add.  "I could call that funeral service.  They did a good job."


"Would you?" she sighed in relief.  "We've only been here a few months, since Jack got the job at Vangard, and I don't know the city or what to do or who to call …" Her voice trailed off and tears started to roll down her face.


"I'll call them right now.  Why don't you go sit with Emily?"


"Yes … yes," she said.  "I will."


Brian was glad to have something useful to do.  He looked up the funeral home in the phone book and called them.  They said they would see to the body, and that Mary should come to their offices in the morning to make all of the arrangements.


Brian went into the family room to find Mary sitting on the floor rocking Emily in her lap.  He watched in silence for a minute, not sure whether he should speak.  Finally he said, "Mary," in a soft voice.


She looked up at him and set Emily back on the floor.  She stood up and came over to him.  He explained what he had done and said the name and address of the funeral home was on the pad in the kitchen.  They wanted to talk to her in the morning.


Just then the doorbell rang.  Mary looked at it with fear in her eyes, like maybe it would be her dead husband or something.  She seemed frozen on the spot.  Brian went to the door.  He opened it to reveal a woman who looked much like Mary.  She pushed past Brian without a word and went to her sister.  They were soon sobbing in each other's arms.


Brian turned back to close the door, when a man walked up the steps.  He shook Brian's hand.  "I'm Mary's brother-in-law, Simon," he said. 


"Brian Kinney.  I worked with Jack at Vangard," Brian replied.


"I take it the news is not good," he said looking at the weeping women.


"He didn't make it."




"It's fucking crummy," Brian responded.  "I should probably take off now that you're here.  I called a funeral service and they are expecting Mary in the morning.  Their name and address is on the pad in the kitchen.  They're looking after the body."


"Thanks Brian," he said.


Mary stepped away from her sister and took Brian's hand.  "Thank you for staying with me.  I don't know what I would have done without you."


"It's the least I could do.  Take care," he said and went out the door.


On the porch Brian took a deep breath.  That was one of the worst things he had ever had to do.  He lit a cigarette and noted that his hand was shaking.  He needed a drink or two or twelve.




When Justin arrived at the loft a little before seven, he found Brian on the couch, three sheets to the wind.  "Brian?" he asked.


Brian looked up at him, eyes unable or unwilling to focus on him.  "Justin!" he sighed, shaking his head.


"Brian?  What's going on?"


Brian continued to shake his head slowly from side to side.


"Brian!  Talk to me!"


Justin had never asked Brian to cut back on his drinking and drugging, but since they had been back together, Brian had seemingly done so.  Not going to the clubs as much also helped.  Justin couldn't imagine what would have made Brian resort to this drunken state once again.


Finally Brian responded.  "I've had the for shit day to top all for shit days!" he managed to get out.


"What happened?" Justin asked, moving over to sit beside Brian on the couch.


Brian took a big swig of Beam and leaned against Justin.  "Jack's dead," he muttered.


"I know, Brian.  Your father's been dead for months."

"No … no," Brian mumbled, "you don't understand."

"Then tell me what's wrong.  Why are you drinking like this?"


"Jack, one of my assistants, had a heart attack at work today.  He's dead."

"Oh, my God!"


"Right in front of me.  He died right in front of me."

"God, Brian!  That's terrible."


"I told him those fucking meetings would be the death of us…and he died."

"Brian, it's not your fault," Justin rubbed Brian's back as the man leaned against him.  He knew Brian's tendency to take responsibility for everything that happened around him.  He thought Brian must be feeling like he had somehow caused this.


"He has a wife and a little girl about Gus' age.  They're all alone now.  That could have been me.  He's about the same age I am, maybe younger.  What would happen to Gus and you if I had a heart attack?"

"Brian, you're not going to have a heart attack.  You're fine, but you need to stop drinking."


"I'm not fine.  I can't do this.  Funerals and mourning and trying to help.  I wanted you this afternoon," Brian mumbled.


"Why didn't you call me?"


"You were working."


"I could have got Jane to cover."


"Didn't want you to see."

"Brian, we're supposed to share things, not just good things, but everything.  Come up to bed and lie down for awhile," Justin said.  He helped Brian stand on wobbly legs. Together they stumbled up to the bedroom.  Justin helped Brian get out of his clothes and laid him down on the bed.  He pulled the duvet over Brian, even though it was early summer.


"Stay with me," Brian asked, reaching for Justin's hand.


Justin stripped off his clothes and climbed in beside Brian.  He cradled the bigger man against him.


"I love you," Brian mumbled.


"I love you too," Justin declared.  He gently rocked his lover.  After several minutes Brian's even breathing indicated that he was asleep.  Justin continued to rock him, not sure exactly what had set Brian off.  He knew a death was difficult to deal with, but Justin suspected that Brian wouldn't have known this man very well.  He never talked about people from work like he knew any of them, except Cynthia.  Justin continued to rock him, giving the man his unspoken support and love even in his sleep.




When Justin awoke the next morning he was alone in bed.  "Brian!" Justin called, but he was sure the loft was empty.  They hadn't talked at all last night.  After Brian fell asleep, Justin had got up and made himself a sandwich.  He had drawn for an hour or two before returning to bed.  He had debated waking Brian and making him eat something, but he thought the man needed the sleep more.  He wasn't sure why Brian was so upset.  Death was awful, but he hadn't shown this kind of reaction to his own father's death, at least not that he had been aware of.  When they had seen the boy in the dumpster, Brian had made some smart remark.  He didn't seem to be upset at all.  Justin wasn't sure what was going on with Brian, but they needed to talk about it.


Justin looked at the clock.  It was seven in the morning.  He decided to try Brian's cell.  Brian answered almost immediately.


"Are you at work?" Justin asked.




"What time did you leave?  I wanted to talk to you."



"Brian, why won't you talk to me?"


"There's nothing to say."

"Of course there is.  Tell me what you're feeling.  Let me help you.  Don't shut me out."

"Can we do this later?" Brian asked, rubbing his forehead.


"Yes, if you promise you will."

"All right, tonight."


Brian clicked off before Justin could ask him to do any other things he didn't want to do.


Justin sighed and got up.  He decided to draw for an hour before he got ready for work.  He could see Brian's tortured face clearly in his mind.  Maybe drawing it would help to erase it from his brain.




Justin rode the elevator up to the loft.  He wondered what awaited him on the other side of the door.  Would Brian be drunk again?  Would he even be there?  Would he talk to him? 


It was after ten-thirty.  Justin had worked at the gallery till six and then done four hours at the diner.  He was very tired, but he knew Brian needed him, and he needed to find out what was going on with Brian.


Justin pushed back the door.  He didn't see Brian anywhere.  "Brian?" he called.  There was no answer.  Brian wasn't there.  "Now what?" Justin wondered.


He debated trying Brian's cell phone, but decided that Brian would come back when he was ready.  Who knew what he might interrupt with his call?  He shook his head.  He decided he needed a shower to wash the grease and grime of the diner off his body.  Maybe Brian would be back by the time he was finished.


Justin had been drawing for two hours.  It was well after one a.m. and still no sign of Brian.  He yawned and weighed his options.  He could go to bed and get the sleep he needed.  He could wait up for Brian and possibly get into a fight with him, depending on what state of chemical and psychological disarray Brian was in.  He could call him and risk his wrath at being interrupted.  None of those appealed to Justin.  He waited, not knowing what to do.


A little after two Justin heard the elevator.  He picked up his sketchbook and began to scribble, not wanting Brian to think he had deliberately waited up for him.  The loft door slid back and Brian walked in.  He didn't look drunk, but he was probably high on something else.


"Hey," Justin said.




"Where have you been?" Justin risked asking.



"It's pretty late."


"Didn't know I had a curfew."  Brian went to the kitchen to get a bottle of water.


"You don't, but I've been wondering if you were all right.  I thought we were going to talk."


"Nothing to say."


"There's always something to say."


"Talking's not all it's cracked up to be.  There are other ways of dealing with things."


"Like the backroom at Babylon?"

"Yeah.  I needed to get my dick sucked."


Justin felt like Brian had slapped him.  "I'm sure that was a fine solution to your problems!" he retorted.


"Just fine!  In fact there were several new faces … and mouths.  I made use of all of them."


Justin grimaced.  "I bet you did!"


"You'd win the bet."


"Brian, why didn't you talk to me?"


"You were working, Sunshine!" Brian replied with disdain.


Justin decided not to take that bait.  He knew Brian was itching for a fight.  He didn't want to go down that road right now.  "I'm here now, Brian.  Talk to me."

"Too late.  I've had my fill of talking for today."


"What does that mean?"


"The office was all abuzz with stories about what happened to Jack.  I tried to set some of them straight, but they didn't really want to hear it.  Then Mary called."

"Who's Mary?" Justin asked.  He had got Brian started.  Maybe he could get him to really talk about what was eating at him.


"Jack's wife … widow," he corrected.


"What did she want?"


Brian grimaced and made a strange noise from the back of his throat.  "She wants me to speak at the funeral, say some fucking thing about her dead husband and his work at Vangard."

"That's an honor, Brian."  Justin tried to be positive.


"Some fucking honor!  I didn't know the man.  I didn't know his fucking last name until he was dead!  And she wants me to say nice words about him, pretend that I knew him."


Now Justin was starting to get it.  Brian was feeling guilty that he had never bothered to get to know this man before he had died.  Justin reached up for Brian's hand and pulled him around the couch to sit beside him.  "You're going to do it, aren't you?"




"Did you tell Mary that you wouldn't speak?"


"I tried to, but she said Jack respected me and had enjoyed working with me.  She didn't want anybody else."


"So you said you'd so it?"


"Yes … but I can't!"  A sob escaped Brian's lungs. 


Justin pulled him against his chest and whispered, "It'll be all right.  You can do this.  Mary is depending on you.  Don't worry, Brian.  I'll help you."

"Will you come to the funeral with me?"


"Of course!  When is it?"


"Day after tomorrow."


"I'll talk to Jane and get the time off.  I'll be there with you."

"What am I going to say at the funeral?  I hardly knew him."

"What did you know about him?"


"I told you … nothing!  I didn't even know his goddamn last name."


"Forget that.  Was he a good worker?"




"Did he get assignments done on time?"



"Was he reliable?"




"Did he have a sense of humor?"


"Kind of."

"See, there's all of those things you can say about him.  Be honest and speak about how short a time you had known him, but that he was a good worker and maybe give some examples of things that he had done with you."

Brian looked up at Justin and some of the hurt seemed to have receded from his eyes.  "You are so smart.  I need you!" Brian declared, his hand reaching for Justin's crotch.  Justin understood that sex was a big part of Brian's pain management.  He let the hand squeeze and rub.  Brian could get him hard in a few seconds.


Brian leaned into him and kissed him urgently.  "I need you!" he breathed.


"Didn't get your cock sucked enough at Babylon?"


"Nobody's as good as you."

"Damn right!  Come to bed and I'll show you how it should be done."


He took Brian's hand and they went up to the bedroom where Justin proceeded to work his magic on Brian's dick.  He loved Brian's cock when it was hard and red and engorged.  It filled his mouth almost beyond capacity, but he had learned to handle it.  He was determined to worship Brian's cock tonight and suck all of the pain and sorrow out of him.  He bobbed between Brian's legs, using every trick and maneuver he had learned in his few years of training as the best homosexual he could be.  When Brian finally came in his mouth, he sucked every drop from the swollen cock and licked the head.  He heard Brian sigh in contentment.


"Good?" he asked.




Justin chuckled.  That wasn't the response he had expected, but he liked it.  "I'll be there with you, Brian.  You can count on me."


"I know," Brian whispered against his throat.  He began licking and sucking and Justin knew his ass was going to get quite a workout before the night was over.




The day of the funeral Justin returned to the loft at lunch time.  He had worked in the morning, but had taken the afternoon off to go to the funeral with Brian.  He wasn't looking forward to this, but then, who looked forward to a funeral?  He arrived at the loft before Brian did.  Brian said Vance had told the whole company to take the afternoon to go to the funeral.  Justin made them a salad for lunch.


When Brian arrived a while later, he had everything on the table.  They sat down to eat.  Brian picked at his food.


"Have you decided what you're going to say?" Justin asked him.


"Sort of."

"You'll do fine," Justin reassured him.


Soon they had to get ready.  Brian changed to a different suit and Justin donned his slacks and blazer.  They left in lots of time.


When they walked into the funeral home, there was a line-up of people heading towards the casket.  They got in line too.  As they neared the front, Justin gave Brian's hand a squeeze of encouragement. 


"Brian," a man said. 


"Simon," Brian replied.  "This is Justin, my partner."


"Oh?" Simon said, obviously surprised by the meaning of Brian's introduction.  He shook Justin's hand and introduced Sally, Mary's sister, who Brian had met fleetingly at the house.  They moved down the line to Mary who seemed to be holding it all together.


"Brian," she said, doing her best to smile.


Brian again introduced Justin and Mary shook his hand.  "Where's Emily?" Brian asked.


"In the family waiting room," Mary said, nodding her head towards an open door where an older couple sat with the little girl between them.  "That's Jack's parents.  They arrived yesterday from Arizona."


"Are you holding up?" Brian asked.


Mary smiled at him again.  "I think I'll be all right.  Thank you for agreeing to speak today.  I didn't know anyone else from the company."


Brian nodded and moved away for the next person in line to take his place.  He stopped for a look in the casket and shook his head.  Justin slipped his hand into Brian's and they moved out into the chapel of the funeral home.  Cynthia was sitting in the second row and they slid in beside her.  She looked tired and sad.


"I wish we weren't doing this," she whispered.


"Me too," Brian replied.


Soon the service began.  A minister from the church that Jack and Mary attended said his piece.  Apparently they attended church, but hadn't yet had time to really become part of that community.  Next Mary's sister, Sally, said a few words about Jack and his family.  He and Mary had been married for five years and had only bought the house in Pittsburgh two months ago when Jack seemed secure in his new job with Vangard.  She mentioned Jack's parents and Emily.  He apparently had no brothers or sisters.  She then thanked Cynthia for administering CPR after Jack's attack.  Brian squeezed Cynthia's arm as he saw tears welling up.


"I wish it had done some good," she whispered.


Sally then said that Mary had asked her to make special mention of Brian Kinney who had stayed with her and been so helpful right after Jack's heart attack.  She then invited Brian to say a few words on behalf of Vangard.


Brian stood up and Justin squeezed his wrist as he stepped out of their row.  Brian walked to the front of the chapel and raised the height of the microphone.  He cleared his throat and began.


"I didn't know Jack Simpson very long or very well.  We have worked together since shortly after Gardner Vance took over the company.  I wish I had gotten to know him better, but then I'm not the friendliest person you'll ever meet."


There were a few chuckles from the strong contingent of Vangard people who were assembled there.


"I have met Mary and Emily since Jack died, and I'm sorry to see that their little family will be without its father and husband.  Jack was a good worker, always reliable and conscientious.  I can't think of one thing that I asked him to do that he didn't complete promptly and efficiently.  Well, actually there was one thing he didn't do.  One day when everything was going horribly wrong, I told him to go take a long walk off a short pier.  He told me if I could give him directions to a suitable short pier, he'd be only too happy to do so, and he'd be even happier if I came with him."


There were more chuckles from the Vangard people.


"Obviously neither one of us took that walk, but we did have a laugh about it.  Every now and then he'd ask me if I had found that pier yet.  On behalf of the people of Vangard I would like to express my condolences to Mary and Emily and Jack's parents."


Brian returned to his seat next to Justin.  "You did good," Justin whispered.


Brian smiled at him.  "I just did what you told me."

Another prayer and a hymn and the funeral was over.  Jack was to be cremated and they wheeled the casket away.  Everyone was invited for light refreshments in the lower level of the funeral home.  Brian, Cynthia and Justin made their way down.  Several people, including Gardner Vance, stopped Brian and told him what a nice job he had done with his speech.


There was another little reception line.  Brian approached Mary who held Emily's hand.


"Mary," he said, "I wanted you to meet Cynthia.  She's the one who tried to help Jack."


"Oh yes," Mary replied, "I wanted to thank you personally.  Brian told me what you tried to do."


"I'm sorry the results weren't better," Cynthia said.


"Emily, do you remember Brian?" Mary asked her daughter.


"Yes," Emily said and smiled at Brian.


"She's a bit overwhelmed with so many strange faces," Mary said.


Brian squatted down and said, "Hi, Emily."


"Hi," she replied, and wrapped her arms around his neck.  He stood up picking her up with him.  She laid her head on his shoulder.


"You're recruiting them awfully young for your fan club," Justin whispered as Brian handed Emily back to her mother.


Brian smiled.  Justin was glad to see that.  He hoped Brian would start to feel better once the funeral was over.  They made small talk with Cynthia, and Brian introduced Justin to some of his co-workers at Vangard.  Soon it was time to leave.  They waved to Mary and Emily and took off.


Once in the Jeep Brian let out a long breath.  "I hope I never have to do that again," he sighed.


"You did just fine," Justin told him and gave him a kiss.  "Let's go back to the loft and have a little afternoon delight."


"I like your thinking, young man.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate being alive."

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