406 Revised

Author's Note: I make no secret of the fact that I wasn't all that thrilled with S4. I hated the end, and there were certain bits along the way that I thought just didn't ring true. One of these was The Slap and its aftermath. In Australian terms, it was crook. Or, to put it more plainly, I thought it sucked. So here is my (very short) version.


"Get out! Get out of my house!"

The banshee shriek of Deb's words seemed to strike everybody dumb.

Shocked, Justin stared at her, waiting for her to fall into tears and apologize for what she'd done. Surely she knew that Brian meant no harm by what he'd said. It was true enough, after all. Vic had been lucky to have those extra four years. And for a man who was not only positive, but had developed full blown AIDS, there were definitely worse ways to go than the way Vic had. It had, at least, been mercifully quick. Justin had spent time at the hospice, he knew the way AIDS victims could suffer. So did Deb. Surely she knew that that was all Brian had meant. That he was trying, however clumsily, to offer comfort, not to offend.

But Deb continued raging as Brian got up and walked calmly to the front door, and everyone else sat in stunned silence.

Justin stood. Somehow he found his voice was steady.

"That's not fair, Deb," he admonished.

"Don't tell me about fair," Debbie stormed. "Do you think it's fair that my brother got sick and died while that asshole …"

Justin had heard enough. "It's not Brian's fault that Vic died."

As he heard the door close behind his partner he went on resolutely, "And it's not Brian's fault that you feel so fucking guilty about the fight you had with Vic that you need someone else to blame to make you feel better."

A chorus of shocked "Justin!"s came from various points of the room.

"Well, it's true," Justin insisted. He looked into Debbie's eyes.

"How could you do that to him, Deb? You know what he went through with his family. You better than anyone. How could you turn around now and hit him like that?"

"He fucking deserved it," Debbie snarled, refusing to back down.

Justin looked at her for a long, long moment in silence.

"Brian might find a way to forgive you for this one day, because he loves you, and he needs you. You're the only real mother he's got. But I don't think I ever will."

He turned, and grabbing his coat from the hall stand, made for the door.

Emmett got there just as he opened it. "Justin, don't go like this. She's upset."

"So's Brian," Justin said. "He didn't mean any harm, Em, you know that."

Emmett nodded sadly, "I know, I know. And so does Deb, really."

"Well, when she's ready to tell Brian that, and apologize, she can come talk to him. But if I stay here any longer I'm going to say something that will put us way past apologies. Because at the moment I think she's a fucking cunt, and I'm fairly sure that no one wants to hear me tell her that."

With those words, he walked out of the door, and ran down the street to catch up to Brian.


Justin sighed. It was inevitable, he supposed that they'd wound up at Babylon - Brian going into his usual pain management mode. But did that guy have to be here? The one they'd made the bet about.

Brian had had him hooked within five minutes of walking in the door. With one look over his shoulder at Justin, full of both mischief and triumph, he'd hauled the guy off to the backroom, where by now he was undoubtedly winning the bet in no uncertain terms.

Justin sighed again. Looked like he'd be going back to school after all. Brian would hold him to the bet, no question.

Oh, well, might as well see how long Brian was likely to be. See if it was worth turning a trick himself, or if he should wait until Brian was ready to go home. At least this would put him in a better mood. In fact, he'd be immensely pleased with himself if Justin was any judge.

But when he bumped into Brian leaving the backroom just as he was about to plunge in looking for him, Brian didn't look pleased at all. In fact, he looked white and shaken. Justin put out a hand to touch his face. Brian knocked it aside, and then grabbed it again, holding it tightly, so tightly that Justin cried out.

Brian stared at him for a moment, as if he didn't know him. Then he realized what he was doing, and almost automatically began rubbing Justin's hand.

"Let's get the fuck out of here."

Justin followed him to the car, trying to work out what was wrong. It was hardly ever any good asking Brian; he would either shrug it off, or get snarky. Or both.

But something must have happened. Something bad. Justin debated; then, as Brian started the car, he said, "So, are you going to tell me, or should I just try to forget that you're looking like a fucking ghost?"

Brian didn't answer for a long moment, then he stopped the car again, leaving the motor running. Its soft hum almost drowned out his words.

"Have you ever noticed anything weird about my balls?"

Justin nearly laughed. Only the expression on Brian's face stopped him.

Suddenly his heart clenched. "What do you mean, exactly?" he forced out, against the thickness in his throat.

Brian sucked his lips in, and then said levelly, "That guy, he's a doctor. He says there's a lump on one of my balls."

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