Or how Brian learned to stop queening and admit (at least to himself) that he likes his life
Author's Notes: This fic is set about 12 years after the end of S5. Justin came back to Pittsburgh and he and Brian have been together through all that time. With thanks to the lovely Emily who so patiently helped me work through one of the worst cases of writers' block I've ever had, and beta'd the finished fic. Can be read as a companion piece to Leaving Home but is intended to work as a stand alone so you don’t have to read both.
How the fuck did his life get so damned complicated? Brian
wondered as he sat for a few moments in the latest of his almost-illegal
gas-guzzling classic cars before going into the house. How in Hell did he get to
the point where he was facing a fucking “family dinner” to introduce his son’s
boyfriend to the rest of their little family?
He thought back nostalgically to the days when the most complicated things in his life had been selecting the best tailor, dodging Debbie’s damned pasta extravaganzas and finding a new ass to fuck.
Of course, all that had been before he came along. Or, to be accurate, before they came along. The two who’d changed his life beyond recognition. The ones who were to blame for the fact that he was facing a night of being … fuck it! … the Dad.
He was just wondering if there was any way he could manufacture some sort of credible business emergency that might get him off the hook, something even his skeptical partner might believe - or at least, be ready to give him the benefit of the doubt on, when he was jerked out of his reverie by a decided thump on his precious paintwork. Startled, he jerked his head around, ready to eviscerate whoever had dared to lay a finger on his toy, and came face to face with a mass of dark curls that only just peeped over the window of the car.
Despite himself, his face relaxed into a smile.
“Dab!” a small voice demanded imperiously. “Get out dat car right now!!” A short pause, while the voice seemed to consider what it had said, and then a soft added, “Please, Dab. I’m wa-a-a-i-i-iting.”
The last word was a long drawn out cry of longing, and Brian was totally unable to resist it.
Carefully, he opened the door, and twisted in his seat to slide his legs from the car. Before he could even begin to climb out, he found his arms full of a small whirlwind, who was hugging him, jiggling up and down and talking at about five hundred words a minute.
If Brian had been able to take in all of the information she babbled at him happily, he would have heard all about her day at kindy-garden, her new kitten, that her Mommy had said she could eat with the grown ups tonight, what her Daddy was cooking for dinner and why Gus wasn’t going to be home for a while yet. All in the space it took for him to hug her back and ease her aside enough to be able to get out of the car.
Then he snatched her up into his arms and carried her into the house.
Justin heard the door from the garage open and smiled up at his lover from his seat beside his best friend where he’d been filling her in on their latest family crisis.
When Daphne had approached Justin and asked if he’d be interested in fathering a child with her it had generated more discussion than usual between him and Brian. That is to say, he’d told Brian what Daphne had said, and Brian had grunted. Then he’d said he was thinking about doing it, because Daph seemed really certain she wasn’t going to get married but she still wanted a kid, and Brian had given a brief “Mm” of acknowledgement accompanied by a smirk of agreement with Daphne’s desire not to be tied down to any one guy which Justin had done his best not to laugh at. Then Justin had admitted that he kind of liked the idea of maybe having a kid - his own kid, not that Gus didn’t count, but …
And Brian had kissed him and the conversation had been shelved for a while.
They’d resumed it later, lying in bed. Justin had said, “So, you know, I thought it might be a good idea. But … I guess if we did it, then I’d kind of like for the kid to be here sometimes …”
Then Brian had said that he’d been thinking of building an extension over the garage, because Gus was getting older and the little front bedroom wasn’t really big enough for him any longer.
And so it had gone.
Without ever doing anything so totally lesbionic as admitting that he kind of liked the idea of having another child around - especially his partner’s child - Brian had made it clear in his own Kinney-esque fashion that he was happy to go along with the idea and ready to offer whatever support might be necessary to make it work.
Of course, once the baby had been born, she had taken hold of Brian’s heart in her tiny fingers and never let it go. A little to his own surprise Brian instantly felt for Dani the same total and unconditional love that he had for Gus; he simply adored her, a fact which was perfectly apparent to anyone who cared to look, however hard he tried to hide it.
Her full name was Danika, but that was way too big a mouthful of a name to describe such a little scrap; like her blood parents, Dani was on the small side, but, also like her parents, she had more than her fair share of personality. She looked a little like both of them. The contrast between the dark hair, and mocha skin that was her mother’s legacy and the bright blue eyes she’d inherited from her father was stunning. When awake, she was a constant blur of movement or buzz of chatter; sitting still and quiet was not something that figured at all in her agenda - except with her adored “Dab”. Since she’d first learned to crawl, she would seek Brian out and climb into his lap, or demand to be picked up, and then settle there, content to have him cradle her against him while he worked on the computer, or ready to let him read her the latest GQ, gurgling softly, her eyes fixed adoringly to his face.
Now that she was older - could she really be starting school this year? - she would sit with Brian in his little office, drawing, or reading or playing with her puzzles for hours. Justin would open the door to find them both quiet and content - the only time in any day that Dani could be said to be anything like quiet - and, grinning, return to his own work.
Brian had become “Dab” as soon as Dani had learned to talk. She hadn’t been able to manage the “Dadda Brian” that Justin had encouraged her to say, so “Dab” it was.
“Dab” and “Dus” Justin thought with a soft laugh. Who would have thought at the beginning that we’d wind up being Dab and Dus? And liking it.
Well, he liked it. And Brian did most of the time, but he was looking a little edgy tonight, like he was trying to stifle the urge to bolt; or maybe just come up with an excuse to get out of there. Justin figured he’d better do some quick thinking before his sometimes skittish partner did something just plain dumb. He knew that the storms and dramas of the past week that had led to seventeen year old Gus moving in with them had rubbed at his partner’s last nerve, but he suspected that the fact that he was facing an evening of being the father figure was what was really rattling Brian. For the most part, he’d coped with the whole ageing thing pretty well, but there were limits.
What he needed was a little distraction.
Catching his partner’s eye, Justin slid his tongue out over his lips a little and blinked at him slowly.
To Justin’s intense gratification, the look in Brian’s eye changed immediately from tense to something verging on lustful. Justin preened a little. He had to admit that he himself found it nice to be reassured that he still had it.
He stood, about to make some excuse to accompany Brian up to their bedroom, when Daphne, having seen that look many times, said in tolerant exasperation, “Oh, puh-leeze. Get upstairs.”
Needing no further invitation, they started from the room, hearing behind them Dani’s cry of protest as her mother grabbed her before she could follow them.
“Dab needs to shower and change,” the little girl was told. Then Daphne’s voice took on a tone that indicated maybe a little payback was in order as she went on, pitching her voice so they would hear, “And maybe have a little nap. He’s getting older, you know, and needs his rest when he gets home from work.”
“Like me when I get home from kindy-garden,” Dani acknowledged, nodding her head.
“Yes, honey,” Daphne said sweetly, her voice chasing them from the room. “Just like that.”
Justin was laughing as he followed Brian up the stairs; but he figured later that he owed Daphne a vote of thanks - a slightly pissed off Brian gave a delicious edge to their subsequent activities.
By the time they came downstairs later, they’d both showered and changed, and looked more than a little smugly satisfied.
Justin checked on dinner, while Brian opened a couple of bottles of wine. He and Justin both preferred red, but he knew Daphne liked white, and he figured that Gus and Gareth could have a glass each of whichever they wanted.
One of the many things that Brian found hard to juggle in his latest role as father to an almost-adult, was how to strike the balance between teaching Gus to be responsible about things like drinking and drug use without being a total fucking hypocrite. It was even worse when Dani was around, because she was anxious to try anything her big brother did, and the predictable “when you’re older” response was as unsatisfactory to Brian as it was to her. He seriously didn’t want to even think about going through this kind of scenario with Dani. She was the baby. His little baby. If she grew up, then …
Complications, he thought again. So many damned complications.
Another one was just arriving.
Gus, having parked carefully alongside his father’s car, had his own worries about the complications he was adding to his fathers’ lives.
It was no coincidence that his decision to move in with his dads and his announcement that he had a boyfriend were made on the same day. In his mothers’ house, he hadn’t been allowed to bring anyone back to stay the night - or even for a quickie in his bedroom. Because, his mothers had explained, they had to think about JR - like anyone having sex under the same roof as his “sister” was going to corrupt her tiny little mind somehow.
His fathers, on the other hand, could be relied on to understand that Gus was nearly eighteen now, and that he naturally wanted to have sex. Specifically, he wanted to have sex with Gareth - and not in the backseat of some car, or in some cheap motel room. He wanted Gareth to be part of his life, wanted to bring him home, and sleep beside him, and shower with him, and eat with him, and just be around him - not just having sex. Of course, the sex was a big part of it, but it was more than that with Gareth.
Gus wasn’t stupid, he knew that everyone would say he was too young to really be in love. But what did they know. Justin had only been his age when he’d met his Dad, and they’d made it. Eventually. Dus had told him that there’d been a lot of problems along the way - sometimes just stuff that happened, bad stuff, like Dus being bashed, and his Dad getting cancer, and some just stupid stuff like them fighting and needing to find a way to be together. But they’d made it. So maybe he and Gareth would too.
And anyway, that didn’t really matter. What mattered was that here and now he and Gareth were together. And they wanted to do that properly. With some fucking dignity. Not like two kids scuttling round behind everybody’s back, but out in the open, with respect - for each other, and from people around them.
His mothers just hadn’t got that.
Well, maybe Mom had. But Melanie hadn’t.
Gus knew there had been a time when he’d called Mel “Mama” or something. But that was a long while ago - before she had turned his life into a kind of broken jigsaw where some of the pieces always seemed to be missing. Sometimes she’d be with his Mom, and they’d be all over each other, but then he was always pushed into the background, because JR always had to come first; or else they’d be together, but fighting all the time, and then his mother would use him like a weapon to justify whatever she wanted to do; or else she’d be gone, and there’d just be him and his Mom. And he would always hope that was the last time, that they could finally just get on with their lives. But then Melanie would call, or come round, and the whole thing would start again.
The only stability in his whole life had come from his father; and from Dus; from knowing that for them, Gus’ feelings always came first. And Gus would never ever be able to express what that had meant to him.
It had meant even more when they had stepped in and told him that he should come live with them; that they wanted him, and they understood about him and Gareth, and how important it was that Gareth felt welcomed into their home, into Gus’ home. Gus had never been so happy and relieved as he’d been the night that he’d packed his bags and moved into his fathers’ house. And never so proud as he’d been the next night, when he’d brought Gareth over, and they hadn’t made any big thing about it, just said “hi” and offered them both a beer, before settling into the TV room and leaving them to it, like it was no big deal that he was taking Gareth up to his room.
Next morning, there’d been the usual morning stuff - Dus eating breakfast, his father sipping coffee and making snarky comments about the food Dus was cramming into his mouth like he always did. Dus had offered to make breakfast for them, but they’d just grabbed a piece of fruit and taken off because it was kind of late, and they both had to get to school. Well, Gareth was a freshman at Carnegie Mellon … and no one had made a big thing out of that, either. Just like Gareth hadn’t teased him about still using his baby name for Justin. It had slipped out when he’d first introduced them, even though he’d promised himself that he wouldn’t say it. He’d been really flustered, but Dad had just sucked his lips in for a moment in that way he did and then said lightly, “It got too confusing with two ‘Dad’s’ - and there’s no way either of us were going to be ‘Papa’. So we settled on Dus.”
And then Gareth had smiled his beautiful slow Gareth smile and said, “It seems like a good compromise.”
Of course, Gareth had started off trying to call them both “mister” but one “Mr. Kinney” had been enough for Dad, Gus remembered with a grin, and after that it had become “Justin” and “Brian” and … it was all good. Better than he could ever have hoped for really.
But all the time that this had been happening, he’d kind of forgotten about Dani. It’s not like she was there all the time. And he actually didn’t mind it when she was. She wasn’t like JR - all spiky, and sulky with a chip on her shoulder, and that horrible whiney voice. Dani was okay - for a little kid. And even though it was a bit annoying that she wanted to follow him everywhere, it was kind of cute, too.
But … Dani had a mother too, and maybe Daphne would be like Mel and wouldn’t like her being here if he was bringing people home. Even if that just meant Gareth, because he didn’t plan on fooling around with anyone else. Dus had said it would be okay. And Dad had said that he didn’t have to worry, because Daphne was actually an adult and even got laid occasionally - which he knew had been a dig at his Mom and Melanie. But still …
He really didn’t want to cause any problems for Justin over Dani. If the worst came to the worst, he told himself, he could find somewhere else to live till term started in September and he could move into the dorms. But Dad had told him not to be a drama princess, and Dus had said again that it just wouldn’t be a problem for Daphne, but if he needed to hear it from her, they would invite her over.
So now Gareth was coming over to meet Daphne, and really meet Dad and Dus properly, and spend some time with them and stuff, and Gus was almost sick with nerves as he walked in from the garage. At least Gareth would be here soon; he’d feel better then.
The first thing Gareth heard as he walked down the hallway was Daphne’s laugh. Gus led him through the kitchen, and into the room beyond it that he hadn’t really seen on his first visit. It was dark out, so there was no view of the river that he’d seen from Gus’ bedroom window, flowing past the end of the garden, but the room was still incredible. It was huge, taking up the whole of the back half of the house and even lit from within, rather than without, the stained glass window above the doors out to the deck looked amazing. It was full of color, deep swathes of crimson and deep greens and blues, lit by swirls of lighter shades. The colors were echoed in the room’s furnishings - the deep shades in the fabrics of the couches, chairs and the rugs, the lighter in the glass on the lamps, and in carefully scattered pieces of designer glassware and ceramics. And on the walls hung a couple of what must be Justin’s paintings. Gareth had seen his work before - in magazines and stuff, but never the real thing, and these were fantastic. One was a painting of an old man - so old that his skin looked like parchment that might tear at any minute, but still somehow strong, with an intense sadness that was somehow balanced by a wicked sense of humor and his capacity for resolute endurance; the other was an abstract, although for some reason it made him think of Gus - or maybe of Gus’ father - restless and edgy, but with a sort of center of deep emotion that you felt pulling you in.
Although the day had been warm enough, the evening was chilly, and the log fire burned cheerfully. The woman who must be Daphne - a tiny little thing, but full of life and still pretty hot for her age, was sitting on one of the couches talking to Justin and they were both laughing; while Brian was sitting in a chair, watching the kid at his feet building some sort of castle out of sparkly blocks. When he walked in with Gus, everyone looked up at them and smiled.
Gareth didn’t think he’d ever walked into such a warmly welcoming room in his whole life.
If we can just get through fucking dinner without me over-dosing on all this schmaltz, Brian thought to himself, I might get out of here without either killing myself or having Sunshine rip me a new one.
He glanced across at his son. Gus was trying very hard to be cool and very adult and relaxed about the whole thing, but he wasn’t anywhere near as skilled as his father at hiding his feelings, and he was actually almost shimmering with joy. Looking at him, recognizing the physical similarities, Brian was still reminded more of Justin than of himself. He had that same open, in your face innocence that Justin had had right back at the beginning. And it was completely obvious that he was, or at least thought he was, heels over head in love.
Brian couldn’t remember ever feeling like that. He only remembered being in love once in his life, and it hadn’t been till long after any trace of innocence had been well and truly knocked out of him. He felt an unaccustomed stab of envy.
Gus was going to get hurt, of course. However this little “love affair” ended, it was going to hurt. But in the meantime, he was having an experience that had totally by-passed his father. Or if he’d experienced it at all, it had only been for a few moments in a ballroom long long ago, and far far away from reality. Reality had crashed in with agonizing suddenness before he’d even really had the chance to acknowledge that moment of happiness. So, whatever pain was ahead for his son, he actually almost envied him this moment.
As for the guy he’d fallen for … Brian gave Gareth a quick look from under his eyelashes while the kid was talking to Daphne. Not his type, really. Too studious looking, although hot enough in that geeky-college boy way. But he seemed to have it just as badly for Gus - constantly giving him little smiles and lighting up whenever their eyes met across the table.
It was making Brian’s teeth ache.
Daphne looked around the table, her eyes falling first on her daughter, sitting happily opposite her, perched on a chair piled with cushions round the corner of the table from her father. She was entertaining him with stories of what she’d been up to at kindergarten today, and why she wanted to draw the man in the moon with a big hat. Daphne smiled. Justin was a really good father. She’d known that he would be. Her eyes slid along the table to the boy sitting next to Dani. She still thought of Gus as a boy, although she was trying hard not to. He was going to be a stunner, just like his father. But, funnily enough, he actually reminded her of Justin at times. Like now, when he was telling his father about the holiday he was hoping to take at the end of his first year of college. He wanted to get a part time job, even though he certainly wouldn’t need to, so that he could save some money and go back packing through Europe. That was a normal enough thing, she guessed, but it was the enthusiasm he was allowing himself to show that reminded her more of Justin than of his more world-weary father.
Brian was listening, too, the way he listened to Justin; paying attention not just to the words spoken, but to everything the boy was trying to convey about his hopes for the trip. Another good father, Daphne recognized. She’d chosen well for her daughter. And somehow they’d made it work, the three of them. Sometimes it seemed to her that it must be hard for Justin to have his daughter so besotted with the other man in her life, but Justin seemed to take that for granted … like father, like daughter she supposed. And funnily enough, it was usually Justin that Gus came to first. Like he had last night, apparently, seeking Justin out and in a very round about way asking him for some basic facts-of-gay-life stuff that he obviously didn’t feel comfortable talking to his father about.
Fair enough, Daphne thought. It would be a bit like asking a top wine expert to recommend a brand of lemonade.
Justin had said he’d been a little bemused to realize that the two kids hadn’t actually fucked yet - blow jobs, yes, and mutual jerk offs, but not the full thing; and also to find out that Gus was a virgin, and while Gareth had apparently had a lover before, he’d never topped. So neither of them really knew what they were doing. Justin said he’d done his best to give Gus good advice, but had confessed to her that he’d felt like an idiot because he really had no idea what problems they faced. His own experience had been so completely different.
Daphne just bet it had. She had laughed herself silly at the contrast, and Justin had been hitting her to get her to shut up when the kids had walked in.
She now turned to Gareth and smiled at him. He seemed like a nice guy. But whatever he was like, the main thing, the important thing that she had to make clear to Gus this evening, was that this was his home. If he wanted to bring someone home, then he should just do it. She had complete faith in both Justin and Brian that, if Gus’ taste erred and he brought home someone who wasn’t as nice as the kid beside her, they would be more than capable of “protecting” Dani.
She couldn’t believe that Gus’ mothers had had a problem with it. It’s not like they lived in a small house. The place Brian had bought Gus, and let them live in was, in fact, much larger than this one. She wondered if it was a female thing - being afraid of strange men in their home. She tried to work out if she’d have felt the same way. But she simply couldn’t imagine letting her fears force her son out of his home.
Still, the truth was that Gus was better off here. She’d been telling Justin for years that they should try to get custody. But she supposed that he understood the dynamics better than she’d done - and maybe having a kid around full time might have been too much for Brian.
She stole another look at the man at that end of the table. He was coping fairly well all things considered, but Daphne had known him a long time, and could tell he was just about at his limit.
She smiled at Gareth, including him in the conversation, and leant forward to ask Gus about which college was at the top of his list.
Justin gave a slight sigh of relief when Daphne rode in to the rescue and diverted the kids’ attention from Brian to her.
He looked up and met Brian’s eyes. Brian grinned at him.
Bastard! He knew that Justin knew just how close to the edge he’d been feeling, there was no need to laugh at him now that the cavalry had saved the day - or at least saved Gus and his boyfriend from one of Brian’s more caustic remarks.
He told Dani that if she was finished eating she could go in and watch one DVD while they had their coffee and, as she scampered off, stood up to fetch it. Brian stood also and picked up some of the plates. Together they made their way out to the kitchen.
Justin wasn’t surprised when Brian slipped out the back to stand on the deck and light a cigarette. He hardly smoked now, neither of them did, but things like a family dinner could drive them both back to old habits. Justin switched on the coffee maker and went out to join him.
Standing looking out across the river, Brian found himself almost smiling when his partner slid open the door and came to stand next to him. As their arms brushed together, Justin reached out with his other hand and deftly snagged the cigarette in a well-practiced movement.
“Should have brought down the weed,” Brian commented.
Justin shrugged. They never smoked dope when Dani was around, both of them only too well aware that they had to be at the top of their game to keep an eye on her at the best of times. He took another puff, and handed the cigarette back to Brian, moving slightly in front of him, so that he could lean back against the man who, for all his shortcomings, for all his vanities and insecurities and just plain idiocies, had been the rock of his life.
Brian’s arms slid round his partner in an embrace so familiar that the very familiarity was exciting. Which should have been an oxymoron, but the fact that his cock was so familiar with Justin’s ass that he could feel the heat of his crack even through the layers of material that separated them was causing its usual Pavlov’s dog reaction and he felt the first delicate stirrings of arousal. Justin, equally familiar with his body, must have been aware of that too, because he gave a soft little hiss of pleasure and ground back against him a little.
“Do you want me to fuck your hot little ass right here with everyone in there waiting for their coffee?” Brian growled into his ear.
Justin sighed, and continued to lean against him for a few more seconds before moving away.
“Let’s see if we can get the coffee done quickly. Daphne won’t want to keep Dani up late, even if it is Saturday tomorrow.”
“What about the guys?”
Justin snorted. “Brian, they’re teenagers - they’ll be ready to get out of here and up to Gus’ room as soon as they decently can.”
Brian grinned, and dragged his partner in for a kiss before pushing him gently towards the doors.
“I’ll be in by the time you’ve got them poured,” he said.
Justin, reassured by one quick look into his face, made his way inside, and Brian stood for a few more moments, enjoying the quiet which always seemed to flow up from the water.
Tomorrow he had to find a contractor to work on installing a separate entrance to his rooms for Gus so that he didn’t have to parade everyone he brought home past his fathers, talk to Ted to make sure that the money was ready to pay for Gus’ first college semester, call Emmett about catering Gus’ graduation party, make sure that Lindsay wasn’t having a fucking meltdown over her little boy moving away to live with his big bad daddy, find the extra special bricks that Dani wanted for her damned castle and remind everyone to keep out of Justin’s hair because he had a fucking show coming up in less than a month and he still needed at least two more pieces.
His life was so fucking full of complications that he was surprised that his head didn’t just fucking explode.
So why the fuck did he keep wandering around with this fucking stupid smile on his face?
He heard Justin telling him to get his ass inside and help with the coffee, and answered, “Yes, dear” in a prissy high pitched voice as he stubbed out the cigarette butt in the ash tray nailed to the railing.
His mouth twitched into its trademark tongue in cheek smirk and he went in and picked up the tray of coffee cups.
Who knew that complicated could be so good?
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