Sometimes Elevators Take You Someplace
Justin only just made it to the elevator before the doors
closed. There was only one other passenger and when Justin realized who it was,
he wished he'd waited for the next car.
It was the prick from Kynergy.
It fucking figured.
The guy was like some bird of ill omen or something. And he was actually from fucking Pittsburgh which somehow made everything else worse and more unforgiveable.
The guy had been one of the top ad execs when he'd interviewed with Vanguard for an internship and Justin had encountered him in the lift then, too. He'd been running late and had, in fact, run nearly all the way from the station so he'd been hot and sweaty and the prick in his oh, so immaculate Armani had looked at him like Justin was something unpleasant that the elegant one had scraped off his shoe.
He hadn't got the internship either. Turns out it had gone to some guy named Bob's nephew. At the time, Justin had figured that Armani guy just had to be Bob.
But it turns out he wasn't. He was Brian Kinney.
Justin had found out his name when a few months ago ADapt, the company he'd moved to New York to work for, had pitched for a huge account and lost it to some fucking "boutique" agency from Pittsburgh of all places called Kynergy headed by the afore-mentioned Brian Kinney.
Justin had been counting on his miniscule share of the bonus from that account to keep him in canvas and paint for the next few months and he'd been bitterly disappointed that they hadn't won the pitch. It didn't help that the asshole ad exec who'd put together the copy had laid the blame for their failure on his design work. Like anyone could have come up with a decent design to that cretin's lame-assed cutesy copy.
He'd seen Kinney the day they'd made that pitch, still looking elegant in what looked like Prada this time. Asshole! The teams from both agencies had been left kicking up their heels in the "break out" room while the client went through their pitches once more before making a decision. Kinney had barely looked at anyone, even in his own team, just kept his eyes glued to his fucking phone like if he wasn't "available" every fucking second then disaster would strike. Dick! Justin had really hoped to get the account just to nail the arrogant asshole.
But they hadn't, so no doubt he was even more arrogant now.
And just to add salt into the wounds, in the last week or so Kynergy's ads for the campaign had been everywhere.
Still, Justin had managed to get his own back in some small way at his favorite club two nights ago because the asshole had been there and had been hot to take him to the backroom as one of his many tricks de jour. He hadn't recognized Justin, of course, but Justin had known him all night and after spending long enough dancing groin to groin with him to get him all hot and bothered, he'd blithely waved goodbye and headed home with his flatmates. He still wanted to laugh at the look on the asshole's face when he'd just left him there in the middle of all the dancing queens with a hard on and a 'what the fuck?' look on his face.
Of course as it turned out that night had been a bit of a disaster as well. They'd got home to find that their other flatmate had done a runner and taken pretty much everything any of them had of value with her. Bitch!
Not that she'd stolen much of Justin's. There wasn't much to steal. He'd pawned or sold just about everything except his work clothes to afford studio space, canvas and paint. The only things he had of any value at all, at least to him, were his paintings and they were safely stowed in his studio storage locker.
Justin sighed as he resigned himself to a hopefully short ride down from the 26th floor. The asshole must have been visiting the client today their head office was on the top floor of the building Justin's own agency was located in. Justin wondered if the asshole recognized him this time and if he did, what he might do about it. Well, it was only a short ride, even if he was really snarky about what had happened, how much venom could he spit in that time?
His hopes of that "short ride" were dashed when somewhere between the 2nd floor and the ground, the elevator suddenly stopped.
Justin's first reaction was just irritation. Seriously, they were only a few feet from the ground. There wasn't even a basement in this building. Even if the cable broke they weren't in any danger.
That was until he realized that - a few feet from the ground or not - there was, at the moment, no way out.
He was trying to remember the breathing exercises he'd been taught after the bashing, the ones that helped ward off a panic attack, when he heard a sort of rustling sound followed by a gentle thump and turned to find Mr. Arrogant Asshole Kinney crouching on the floor with his head over his knees sounding pretty much like he was having the panic attack that Justin had somehow dodged.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Brian thought as he fought for breath. Not fucking now! Not here! Not in front of that smug little prick tease that had left him hanging the other night in front of the whole fucking club.
He struggled to gain control of his breathing.
Fucking Jack! Still messing with his head, even now he was among the not-so-dear departed.
It had been fucking years since he'd harbored any conscious memories of being locked in that fucking cupboard under the stairs in that shitty little house in Harrisburg, but sometimes he stilled dreamed about it; the dank darkness, pressing closer and closer. And as if being locked in there for nearly two fucking days hadn't been bad enough there'd been fucking rats; rats that he hadn't even been able to really see except when they got right up close like this asshole was doing now, crouching down beside him.
"Leave me the fuck alone," he ground out, his voice betraying him and coming out more as an imploring wheeze than the commanding tone he'd been aiming for.
'It's okay. It's a panic attack, but you probably know that. I have them too. In fact, probably the only reason I'm not having one now is that you beat me to it. Just try and slow your breathing. In. Out. In. Out."
Like he didn't fucking know that already.
But somehow, working to match his breathing to that soft voice, he somehow found his heartbeat steadying and his breathing evening out.
He kept his eyes down, though, focused on the floor between his feet.
How the fuck was he going to look that little bitch in the face after this?
He became aware that said little bitch had sunk down to sit next to him, his arm brushing Brian's almost companionably.
Then he realized that the guy's breathing was becoming uneven.
"No, no, no," he said, reaching out before his conscious mind kicked in to take the guy's hand. "We're not doing turn and turn about here. Just because I've got mine under control doesn't mean you get to lose it now."
There was a soft huff of something that could have been a laugh. The guy tilted his head back against the wall of the elevator, though, and his breathing evened out again.
"Why not?" he asked. "You had your turn."
"Yeah, well. We need to do something about getting out of here and then neither of us has to worry whose turn it is."
Just then a voice came from the emergency speaker.
"Are you alright in there?"
"We're fine. Just get us the fuck out of here."
"Well, we're doing what we can. There's been a major city wide power failure and we're on emergency back up. But for some reason it doesn't seem to be kicking in with this elevator."
"Well, the light's still on."
"Ye e es," the voice acknowledged. "They're on a different circuit. We're working on the problem. You just keep calm in there. You're quite safe. Only a few feet above the ground. How many of you are there?"
"Two," Justin answered quickly before Mr. Armani could let their potential rescuer know what he thought of the rescue effort so far.
"No pregnant women?"
"No, just two guys. But "
He darted a glance at Mr. Armani and then threw himself to the wolves. "I have kind of a problem with close spaces. I have panic attacks and they can get pretty bad. So if you could try to get us out of here as soon as you can, I really would appreciate it."
"Ah oh-kay. But you're okay at the moment."
"Yes. Yes, the other guy with me is helping but I never know when these things are just going to get out of control, you know?"
To his embarrassment, his voice held traces of his very real fear.
"Okay, I understand. We'll do what we can. The problem is that it really is a huge blackout and emergency services are saying they have to prioritize the life and death situations, if you see what I mean. Otherwise we might be able to get you out through the roof hatch. But building management won't let us do that on our own in case something goes wrong."
That was enough for Brian. He got to his feet.
"Well you tell building management that I'll fucking sue if they delay one second longer than they fucking have to in getting us out of here. Especially if my friend here has a really bad attack. They'll wish they had a fucking emergency hatch to escape through."
Fuck! Justin thought. Maybe he's an asshole, but he's really hot when he lets rip like that. Bet he's a great fuck, too.
He stopped that thought in its tracks and did his best to concentrate on their situation. A panic attack right at the moment seemed a less embarrassing option than a hard on.
The asshole sat back down next to him and opened his briefcase, pulling out a bottle of single malt Scotch.
"Gift from a grateful client," he said as he opened it and took a swig. "Didn't figure on opening it under these circumstances, but if we're going to be here a while we might as well enjoy ourselves."
As he handed over the bottle, he shot a provocative look at Justin from under his eyelashes and said, "I'm guessing you're not up for making up for the other night."
Justin, who had been about to take a swig, almost choked.
"No!" he said abruptly.
"Thought not." Silence for a moment, then, "Brian Kinney."
I know, asshole, Justin thought.
"Taylor? You're not the guy who did the graphics for the Luxottica ads?"
That had been one of their successful pitches, at least, but how did this asshole know he'd done the graphics?
"Yes, as it happens, I am."
"Fuck! I've been trying to get around your fucking HR department to get your contact details. I heard you were from Pittsburgh and wondered if you'd be interested in moving back there."
"Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but let's face it. Here, you're a little fish in a very big pond. The agencies all probably figure that there's a hundred other artists just waiting to take your job. With Kynergy you could be a hell of a lot better off."
"And what would make Kynergy different?"
"I'm not a fucking moron. I know pure talent when I see it. It was only your graphics that made anything of that lame idea for Luxottica. Plus, I have a friend who's into art. She saw some stuff you exhibited in Pittsburgh and thinks with a few breaks you could be the next big thing. But in the meantime I'm guessing you need to keep those paints and canvases coming and that can't be cheap. So that's your choice. Stay here in New York and work for peanuts with no recognition, and struggle for your art. Or come back to Pittsburgh on a decent salary with full benefits and participation in our profit-sharing scheme and be able to afford what you need to make your mark in the art world."
Justin stared at him.
Brian shrugged. "If you need some time off occasionally to attend openings or whatever the fuck, we'd try to be flexible with that."
"What's in it for you?"
"Aside from seeing your luscious ass every day, you mean?"
Justin actually felt himself blushing, but he forced himself to nod.
"I get a fucking fabulous artist who can do justice to my dazzling ideas."
Justin grinned. He couldn't help it. Yes, the guy Brian had an ego, but somehow his open self-promotion had a certain charm to it. He could see why Kynergy was becoming so successful.
The only problem was
Justin was beginning to be sorry he'd walked away so cavalierly the other night. At the moment, he really, really wanted to fuck this guy. Or be fucked every which way, which seemed more likely.
Not a good basis for a working relationship with his potential new boss.
Something of what was going through his head must have shown in his eyes, because Brian leaned closer.
"I don't fuck my staff," he said. "At least, I never have. But that's probably because most of them are either female, straight or pretty much unfuckable. For you, I might bend that rule. But whether we fuck or not, whether we have one fucking one night stand or turn into fuck buddies or Hell, I don't know become the fucking love story of the century not that that's likely but however all of that shit goes the job is yours for as long as you want it or until you fuck up so badly that we lose a pitch purely because your artwork is so fucking pathetic that the client throws up all over it."
"That's not going to happen!" Justin snapped, stung. So, okay, he might have a bit of an ego himself when it came to his artwork.
"I didn't think it was," Brian grinned at him; and as the elevator jerked into motion for a brief moment or two and then jerked again to open its doors onto the ground floor, he stood and held out a hand to help Justin to his feet.
They walked out into the foyer together and as they fielded questions and concerns from the host of people who seemed to be there for no other reason than to make sure they knew that someone else was to blame for their elevator experience, Justin felt Brian's hand touch the small of his back in a gesture that was almost like that of a lover.
That was a laugh. Him and Mr. Asshole Armani! As if!
And yet, and yet
Later that night, relaxed and lazy in the huge bed in Brian's hotel room, he felt his heartbeat once more settle into a steady rhythm from the hectic pace it had been pumping just minutes before and he wondered if this man was always going to have that effect on him.
At the moment, that seemed more than likely.
Brian, for his part, had no fucking idea how the new artist he'd been pursuing for Kynergy had morphed into the little prick tease from the club and then somehow had become Justin Taylor, the man who might just turn out to be the guy he fucked more than once.
Maybe even a lot more than once, if that last session was anything to go by.
He supposed he shouldn't be muddying the waters with his new employee, but fuck that! If they were going to be working as closely together as he expected, they needed to either get past all this shit, or accept that it was part of their dynamic. That was a good word. He supposed there were others.
Some might even think that working and playing together sounded suspiciously like it might turn into some kind of relationship.
Well, who the fuck knew?
What Brian knew was that Justin had not only helped him through his panic attack, he'd also protected him and not mentioned to anyone that it had been Brian who had actually had the biggest problem right at that moment. He hadn't even mentioned it since. Or tried to find out what the fuck had triggered it. He'd just accepted the whole fucking thing and then done his best to shield Brian when he'd had no reason to.
Brian had never felt that protection from anyone in his life before. It was something Brian didn't think he'd ever forget.
It made him feel like maybe, just maybe, this Justin Taylor might be someone he could trust.
Maybe even trust enough to
Well, who the fuck knew?
What he did know was that he'd found his new artist, he'd managed to fuck the little prick tease and planned on doing it again very soon, and he might even have found a friend.
Funny the things that can happen in a short trip in an elevator.
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