Worth Celebrating

News Flash


I was deep in my quest for the perfect job in the Professional Appointments pages (that’s a laugh) when his screams nearly made me choke on the second damned muffin (I knew I shouldn’t have eaten two).

“What the fuck?”

“It’s Stockwell. He’s resigned.”

I crawled over to where he’s sitting hunched over that tiny damned screen and we both peered at it unbelievingly.

“Just to update you on the breaking news story, former Chief of Police Jim Stockwell has this morning tendered his resignation from the post that he has held for the last three years. Former Chief Stockwell has been the subject of speculation ever since this advertisement appeared during his failed mayoral campaign.”

And they ran the ad, my ad. Our ad, I thought, as I found myself reaching for Justin’s hand. His fingers squeezed mine and we settled back to get more comfortable as we watched in amazement.

“While Stockwell himself has refused to comment about the reason behind his resignation, this statement was made this morning by a representative from the Mayor’s office.

“ ‘It would be entirely inappropriate at this stage for the Mayor or any other member of this city’s council or police department to make any comment on the reasons for Mr. Stockwell’s resignation since the matter is under police investigation.’ ”

“Holy shit!”


The phone rang just then and we both nearly jumped out of our skin.

I’d totally forgotten about the fucking blow up with Mikey this morning, so when I heard his voice, I just asked if he’d heard the news. He seemed a bit put off that I didn’t say anything else, but he admitted that they hadn’t seen the papers and hadn’t had the TV on. I told him to switch on right away and that I had to ring Deb.

So I called Deb at the diner. And then Vic, so he could switch on, maybe tape it for her. And meanwhile my cell rang - Lindz. And Justin’s - his mom. And he called Daph, I think.

Normally, I wouldn’t get caught up in all that shit, but hell! this was big. This was … this was something we’d done.

Justin and I.



Poor Mikey. He certainly picked the wrong time to have a crisis with Brian. Any other time he could have guilted Brian out for weeks about what happened this morning, but this time in the scheme of things it just got lost in the shuffle.

I learned later from Em (who heard it from Mikey and Ben and Deb) that after Brian had yelled at him, he started calling everyone to let them know what an asshole Brian had been to poor little Mikey. Like he always does.

But of course Michael, being Michael, hadn’t realised that people’s perception of Brian has changed a bit lately, and he didn’t quite get the sympathy he expected. He apparently ranted about what a shit Brian was at Ben, who told him Brian was quite right to want the car back, and they didn’t need it, and that he should perhaps think before he spoke where I was concerned.

Then he called Deb expecting sympathy, but she told him that he should be ashamed of himself for not having given the car back as soon as he got back and why was he holding onto it when he knew how much Brian needed the money? And just what did he say about Justin? And wasn’t it time he got over all that?

So then he called Emmett who was in the middle of a party panic and didn’t have time to listen, and gave him hell when he realised what he’d rung up to whine about.

So then he’d decided that Brian must just have had a morning head, and he’d rung at a bad time, and he’d be magnanimous and call and give him a chance to apologise.

As if.

To top it all off, he called back just when the news was breaking and we were trying to get our heads around what was happening and let people know that they should turn on the news and all without missing anything that was going on. So basically Brian ushered him off the phone again.

I know it’s petty in the context of what’s happened in the last day or so to be gloating over Michael, but he gets me that way because where Brian is concerned he is always so petty about me. He is always making these sly little digs about me being a princess or about Brian’s tricking or anything that he thinks is likely to belittle or hurt me. And it gets tired. It really does.

Everyone thinks he is so friendly and so generous, and you know what I think? I think he’s a shit. Not because it hurts me, but because he doesn’t care what it does to Brian.

But Brian loves him. And Brian needs him, because for a long time Mikey was the only one he had, the only one he knew loved him, and that means a lot to Brian. So I put up with it all, and never say anything to Brian about it and just tell myself all the time that it doesn’t matter.

But I’m not a saint, I don’t pretend to be, and when, like today, he comes unstuck, I need to gloat at least a little. (Which I did with Daph later. And with Em, who’s a bit pissed off with Michael himself since Michael has hardly been there for Em at all while all the stuff with Ted has been going on. He was too busy playing Happy Families with Ben and Hunter to give Em more than a passing thought. And of course since the great Hunter crisis, he hasn’t had a thought for anyone else at all. Whereas Brian … I’m not sure what Brian did that night at Babylon, and Em hasn’t said, but he what he did say was that Brian really came through for him and stopped him making a huge mistake and that he’d never forget it.)

Anyway, the phone frenzy had died down, and the news team had given up trying to pry comments out of anyone else, and had run dry on speculation, so the station had gone back to normal programming. We were making another pot of coffee and doing some speculating of our own when the phone rang again.

This time it was the Senator.

“So, Justin, have you heard the news.”

“Yes, Senator, we’ve just been watching.”

“I asked you last night to call me Dianne.”

I was silent, because I didn’t feel right using her first name, but then she went on. “Between you, me and the gatepost, this will all die down. They won’t charge him because it would cause too much of a scandal and, candidly, Deekins doesn’t have the equipment to insist that they do it.”

The balls, she meant.

“So they’ll cut a deal with him that they’ll let it drop as long as he doesn’t seek public office again. Oh, and they’ll probably suggest that Miami is a nice spot to retire to.”

“So it will just get swept under the carpet?”

It didn’t seem right. A guy had died.

“Well, I should think that there’ll be a finding from the coroner’s office indicating that …” there was just the tiniest pause “Jason Kemp was murdered by an assailant who has since committed suicide. And that will be that.”

I sighed. It was something I suppose.

Brian had realised who I was talking to, and was giving me some space, but he must have seen the look on my face, because he came and slipped his arm around me.

“So, has that gorgeous other half of yours thought any more about my offer?”

I felt myself go red. God, if Brian had heard that he’d have conniptions.

“Um, no. I don’t think so. We went out last night, and …”

“Well, you tell him no hurry. The offer’s there, whichever way he wants to approach it. Just get back to me as soon as you can.”

“Okay, I’ll tell him.”

“And I haven’t forgotten what I promised about PIFA. You let me know what happens when you talk to the Dean next week, and drop my name if you have to. If that doesn’t sort it out, I’ll give him a call myself. There’s a funds allocation meeting coming up soon, and I think he’ll see the benefit of having you back in school before then.”

“Thanks, Senator. Um, Dianne.”

“Thank you, Justin. It was good to see you last night. Good bye for now.”

I mumbled goodbye and hung up and looked up at Brian. He gave me one of those patented Kinney raised eyebrow looks and I told him what the Senator had said. About Stockwell, and about the murder.

He pulled a face, but shrugged. “Well, if we get him out of town, that’s still something. And thanks to Deb at least the dead guy’s grave has a name on it. Like Deb says, celebrate the victories.”

I took a breath and went on, “She wanted to know if you’d thought any more about her offer. She says no hurry, just to get back to her when you’ve decided.”

I move away to get more coffee cups, more milk, anything to make it seem like I’m not pressing for him to talk about it.

But I can’t resist sneaking a look at him and when I do he’s rubbing his nose.

I can’t help grinning then, because it’s one of the things that Brian does that’s really - God, he would so kill me - cute.

He does it sometimes when he’s relaxed and thinking about something. He puts his head on one side and scrunches up his nose, and rubs it while he gets this goofy look on his face. I’ve sketched it a couple of times, but I haven’t quite got it right yet, and of course, he’s never never going to pose like that, so I just have to lock it away in my memory every time I see him do it and then bring it out later to try again.


I was trying to figure out what to say about the fucking Senator and her offer when I glanced at him and caught him looking at me with this great grin on his face. What the fuck?

He looked away, but I could see the grin get wider. I pounced.

I moved quickly up behind him and, pinning him against the counter, I started to tickle him. Strictly speaking it’s against the rules, and he’ll make me pay for it later, but I’m not putting up with that little shit laughing at me.

“Brian! No! Stop!” He wriggled and giggled and squirmed and I had him at my mercy. His ass was brushing across my groin and I started to press harder against him and the tickling stopped and the giggles stopped and he twisted his neck so that I could find his mouth and then turned in my arms and …

The fucking phone rang. I swear to God I’m going to personally have it disconnected. After I’ve ripped it out the wall.

He reached for it. Of course. Heaven forbid that the phone should go unanswered.

“Um, yeah, he’s here,” he stuttered.

He sounded a bit unsure, and I looked a question at him.

“Cynthia,” he mouthed back.

What the fuck?!

I took the phone. “Hi, there, Cyn. To what do I …”

“Brian, Vance wants to talk to you. His secretary just asked for your home number. He’ll be calling any minute. I thought I should give you a heads up.”

“What the fuck does he want?”

“I don’t know.”

Her voice drops real low so I have to strain to hear her.

“I heard that a few of the clients are less than happy that you’re not here. The guys from Brown stalked out of a meeting yesterday saying very loudly as they left that if that was the standard they could expect from Vanguard now that Kinney’s left, they may well have to reconsider their options. And someone in the lift heard one of them say that they should find out where Kinney’s working now.”


“Brian, they’re not the only ones. The woman from Eye Koniks is even pissed that Justin’s not here any more. She says he had the best eye or something.”

“Geez, Cyn, don’t let him hear that. I’d never hear the end of it.”

The little shit who has been trying not to listen pricks up his ears at that just like I knew he would. I grin at him.

This is just making my day.

Stockwell and now Vance.

She says she has to go now and then “I could make an appointment for you next week, if you let me know what days you’ll be in town.”

So I guess someone has come into the office.

I thank her and get “Well, just give me a call when you know, and there’ll be no problem.”

I have to admit she’s smooth. I hang up.

Justin is looking at me and suddenly it’s all a bit too much shit to take in.

I go over to him and put my arms around him and he seems to know what I want, what I need, because he wraps his around me tightly and just holds me.


I didn’t know why Cynthia called, but it really seemed to bring Brian undone.  One minute he was grinning at me like an overfed cat, and the next minute he was wrapping himself around me and holding on like grim death.

All I could do was hold him, and rub his back. And just be there.

Eventually, thank, God, he let go and rubbed his hands across his face.

Then he walked back to the phone and took it off the hook.

“I need that coffee,” he announced.

So I poured the coffees and we took them over to the couch, and he propped himself at one end and pulled me down close and half facing him.

I didn’t really want the coffee, so I put it down, and put my hand on his thigh. He gave this really big sigh, and then looked straight into my eyes.

“So, Sunshine, am I going to go into politics? Or am I going to let Vance woo me back? Or am I going to say to Hell with the fucking lot of them, and take my chances with whatever else might come up?”

What I wanted to say was ‘What do you want to do?’, but it’s no good asking Brian questions like that. He’d just shrug it off, and go off at a tangent, or clam up completely. So I didn’t say anything. Just let my hand rest a bit heavier on his thigh.

He gave a twisted sort of smile then, and said, “It’s not like my first excursion into politics was such an overwhelmingly enriching experience.”

I shrugged. There are riches and riches. But I still didn’t say anything.

He looked at me for a moment and grinned. “Yeah, well …” he gestured around the loft. “It sure as fucking hell stripped things down to the essentials.”

He looked straight into my eyes, and I actually felt myself start to blush, because that was definitely Kinney-ese for ‘you’re one of the essentials’.

“Cyn says that Vance is going to call me. Apparently some of the clients are rioting at the prospect of having Brad and Bob managing their accounts.”

I gave a snort of laughter because I don’t blame them. I’d always thought Brian must have exaggerated how incompetent those two were, until I worked there and saw it for myself.

“So, if he’s calling, it either means he wants to make sure I’m not going to contact any of the clients and make myself available, or he’s going to offer to let ‘bygones be bygones’.”

He did an almost perfect imitation of Vance and I laughed again.

“The question is, do I want to go back and work for that prick again?”

I look at him and finally say something.

“The question is, what would you get out of it if you did?”

He looks at me a long time and then laughs and nods slowly and I can see the wheels starting to spin, and then he nods again and now he’s in full gear.

He gets up and fetches some paper and a pen. Then sits back down. He pauses for a moment and then takes my hand and puts it back on his thigh.

“It helps me think,” he says quietly and starts writing.


See what I mean about smart?

He just nailed it. Flat out fucking nailed it.

What would I get out of it?

So … what do I want to get out of it?

And that’s a fucking easy one to answer. Or at least to start to answer. I get up and get something to write on.

When I sit down, he’s still sitting there like … shit, I don’t know. Like he belongs there. That’s the only way I can fucking put it.

So when I sit down, I take his hand and put it back where it had been.

For once, having his hand on my thigh wasn’t a sex thing. It was just … a connection. A way to let me know he’s here with me in this. So putting it back … I guess that’s my way of saying I want him here with me in this. Or something.

For a moment I think he’s going to start blushing again. I’m tempted to see if I can get that to happen, just for the hell of it, and because … well, because.  Because I knew when I said the line about stripped down to essentials and he blushed it meant he’d really fucking heard me. Heard what I was saying to him.

But we’ve got work to do, so I just pat his hand and then start writing.

By the time we’ve put our heads together over it, it’s a fucking long list. Some of it is stuff that Vance is going to have to agree to, some of it is what you might call fringe benefits. Once I’ve got it all down, and we’ve both run out of ideas, I take a deep breath.

We’ve got the campaign mapped out, now I just have to pitch it.

But not today. Let Vance sweat for a while.

I get up and put the phone back on the hook, but switch off the ringer and let any calls go to the machine.

Then I come back to the couch to claim my prize, my one essential. And he comes into my arms like he’s claiming me. And I’ve got a newsflash for anyone who has a problem with that - I don’t give a shit.

This is what I want. This. The feel of his heart beating against my chest. The taste of his mouth. The scent of him, sweet and salt and pungent all at once.

Anything I can win from Vance or the Senator or anyone outside this loft is nothing compared to this. And I know it now. I might not be ready to admit it out loud. But I fucking know.


10th Sept 03

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