Author's Note: This is a fic I wrote for the qaf_giftxchnge. It was in answer to a request from galeandrandy.

If anyone is wondering about the title - part of the request stipulated that if Brian had his own company it should not be named Kinnetik if Justin didn't name it.

I tossed around a few ideas, but liked "Kynergy". It plays on Brian's name of course, and on the word "synergy" - defined as: "a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts)".

I thought that was appropriate for Brian's business, because advertising relies on successful synergies developing between the advertiser and the client. But I also thought that in a non-business sense, it was also kind of appropriate for Brian and Justin and the relationship they develop in this story.

Also, it plays a little on "kin", and I think that those two do have a strong kinship of attitudes and values which is not always recognised by those who still see Justin as the emotional young innocent he was at the beginning. (Personally, I've always thought he was the tough one of the partnership.)

Anyway, that's how "Kynergy" came about and why I used it for the story title.



It was somehow both suitable and ironic that the first place they fucked was at the GLC. The restroom stalls were pathetically small, but neither of them were exactly fat, or even over-muscled, so they managed a reasonably satisfactory outcome. At least, Brian grinned to himself, it broke the fucking boredom of the "art show" fundraiser that Debbie had twisted his arm to attend. What impressed Brian that first time wasn’t the blond guy’s nearly perfect bubble butt, or even the size of his cock, but that he unapologetically strolled ahead of Brian back into the hall that was being used tonight as a "gallery", with no attempt to disguise where they’d been or what they’d been doing.

Apparently a man after his own outlaw heart.

But of course, their appearance provoked a rash of remonstrances and Brian’s tolerance level for the sanctimonious being what it was, he figured he’d put in enough of an appearance to get Deb off his back and didn’t hang around much longer. He sure as Hell never got around to asking the guy’s name.

The second time they fucked was in the backroom at Babylon. Brian didn’t normally "do" seconds, but it was a quiet night and the pickings were slim. It was either reacquaint himself with that delicious ass or settle for something totally second rate. It was a no brainer really. His only regret was that the guy didn’t seem any more keen on prolonging matters than he was, and walked off with only a cheeky over-the-shoulder grin before Brian could persuade him that those full lips would look amazing wrapped around Brian’s cock.

He got his chance at that, though, when he reluctantly turned up at one of Mikey’s little dinner parties to find the blond guy lounging on the couch trying to pretend some interest in the latest life-theory that Ben was spouting. Michael even introduced them. "This is Brian. He’s my best friend. We’ve been friends forever and he’s a big Captain Astro fan too."

Sometimes Brian wondered if the fucking time capsule in Mikey’s head would be any use to help fend off old age and wrinkles. It seemed to do a great job of freezing people in one time and place - in Mikey’s mind, anyway.

"And this is Justin, Justin Taylor. He’s an artist and we’re working on doing a comic together."

Brian raised an eyebrow. "So you’re a superhero fan?"

Justin shrugged. "I’ve always been interested in graphic art and since my hand got fucked up a while back, it’s easier to produce than sketching or that shit because I can use a lot of computer generated images."

"Justin was attacked at his prom," Ben explained in his quiet voice.

"You must remember, Brian. Mom went nuts when she found out the guy who attacked him only got community service. She organized rallies and wrote to the politicians and everything."

Brian shrugged again. He did his best not to listen when Deb was on one of her crusades.

He’d known her for over twenty years now and he’d long ago learned that letting Deb have her head and just getting out of her way was a key survival skill for anyone whose interest in fighting the injustices she saw everywhere was virtually zero. Not that he didn’t see the injustices. He did. He just liked to pick his battles and not get caught up in the (usually short-lived) fight for Debbie’s latest cause. She had the attention span of a gerbil, and while there was no doubting her sincerity, she was always getting some new bee in her bonnet, starting some new campaign. Mind you, Brian thought with an inward grin, he did remember this particular one, now he came to think about it. He should. He’d used his contacts to make sure it leaked to the papers that the judge in question had spent nearly three hours glued to a courthouse toilet seat.

But Mikey’s new neighbors turned up just then and it wasn’t long before Brian was escaping to the backyard on the excuse of wanting a cigarette. Of course, as he left the room he was the subject of yet another diatribe about how un-evolved he was. As he stalked out the back door, the last words he heard were Mikey committing the unforgiveable sin of referring to his bout with cancer a few years ago as another reason why he should give up smoking. Brian hated any mention of that time. He didn’t need any reminder that he was no longer young and beautiful; no longer as desirable as he’d once been.

He was feeling irritable and annoyingly melancholic as he took his first drag, wishing he’d had the forethought to bring a couple of joints. He didn’t hear Justin approach until a hand reached out to tweak the cigarette out of his hand. He turned his head, the protest stilled in his throat as he watched those full lips suck at the tobacco cylinder and then blow out a cloud of smoke. He felt his cock twitch, all morbid thoughts suddenly departed; banished by a frisson of pure lust.

Blue eyes met his, and he recognized the question they were asking. With a grin he led the way down the side of the house, his hands already working his zip and was gratified when, as soon as they were out of sight of the street, his psychic powers seemed to work and Justin got on with things, sinking to his knees and half-swallowing the cock Brian had already freed from his jeans. It wasn’t the best blow job he’d ever had, but it was a hell of a long way from being the worst either. He was even half-tempted to reciprocate, but Mikey’s voice cut through the night, demanding to know where he was, and before he knew it Justin was standing, brushing sodden leaves from the knees of his pants. He decided to keep that option in mind, though.

Given that they’d fucked three times but had yet to exchange more than the few sentences in Mikey’s living room, Brian figured this guy knew the score and had no problem with it. That being the case, one more hook up, maybe even at the loft, seemed a lot more appealing than a trip to Babylon to get his needs met and shake off the stress of this visit to Mikey’s suburban hell hole.

But first he had to get through dinner.

That wasn’t as bad as it might have been, largely due to this Justin guy, whose tolerance for bullshit seemed to be on about a level with his own and who showed himself to be more than capable of putting Marty and Smarty (or whatever-the-fuck their names were) in their places. Brian could afford to sit back and watch the show; his own thoughts clear enough to read in the tongue-in-cheek smirk he made no attempt to disguise.

As it turned out, Justin didn’t have a car so offering him a lift home was a natural thing to do. One slow blink of Justin’s surprisingly clear blue eyes told Brian he perfectly understood what was really on offer and was happy to accept. One glare from Michael’s eyes told Brian he knew what was on offer as well, and didn’t approve. But who gave a fuck? If Brian had lived his life according to what Mikey approved of, he’d have gone to community college and wound up working somewhere like the Big fucking Q instead of owning his own agency. Or at least, he’d have caved in to Vance and would still have been dealing with all his bullshit.

Things had gone sour with the head of his former agency because, after the cancer, he’d refuse to work on campaigns for any of the homophobic pricks Vance seemed to attract as clients. When Vance had tried to break the partnership agreement, Brian had taken legal advice and threatened to sue for unfair dismissal. Since the only real reason Vance had for getting rid of him was that the agency’s more conservative clients, the ones Vance had brought in himself, were putting the screws on him over his partner’s "lifestyle", he’d found himself in something of a bind. Those same conservative clients did not want to find themselves front and center in any kind of discrimination case, and made it clear that the whole thing just needed to go away. They were even prepared to pay to make that happen.

It had been ugly for a while, but the upshot for Brian was that he’d gotten a decent payout and his kick-ass lawyer had insisted that if there was even a hint of a non-compete clause the whole deal was off the table. Vance could take his chances in court and try explaining why he was so eager to get rid of a junior partner who’d brought in more than 80% of the agency’s business, whose ads had won a number of prestigious awards and whose clients were all prepared to troop into court and testify that they were extremely happy with the campaigns he’d developed for them.

In fact, a couple of them with contracts up for renewal, had been prepared to take a chance on him and the fledgling agency he’d started, and so Kynergy had been born. Things had been tough at first, but now it was starting to thrive, even with the all the ups and downs of the economy. In fact, the economic downturn may even have helped. With so many businesses on the brink, sales growth was more important than ever; and Brian Kinney had a proven track record for achieving exactly that. So his professional life was doing well.

His personal life was less satisfactory.

The truth was, he was lonely. Although he’d fought like Hell against recognizing anything so pathetically lesbianic.

But ever since Lindsay, his Wendy, had taken herself off to Canada with the son he’d never expected to love … well, something had gone out of his life, some spark. And now, everything felt … cold and kind of distant. Not the familiar distance he’d built around himself; this was something else. As if he was somehow separated from the life, the lives, going on all around him. It left him feeling, not isolated, he was familiar with that; but adrift, as if what he did or didn’t do just didn’t matter. That was a new sensation, and not a welcome one.

Once, he knew that people noticed when he walked into a room, especially when he walked into any of his hunting grounds – Babylon, Woody’s, the Baths. But now … now he felt invisible. He felt like he had to work to attract the attention he was accustomed to, and when he was being honest with himself he admitted that he just didn’t have the energy for that shit anymore.

It didn’t help that Mikey, his "best friend" had grown away from him of late, wrapped up in his own concerns. Brian got that. He really did. What he didn’t get was why Mikey insisted both on sneering at his "over-the-hill" club-boy lifestyle and at the same time refusing to let him move past it, to see him as anything but "Brian Fucking Kinney". But then, maybe even Mikey didn’t realize just how scared he was – scared of getting older so that no self-respecting fag would want to fuck him except as a pity fuck, and even more scared of trying to have any kind of fucking relationship.

Well, it didn’t fucking matter. Fucking was just that – a way to get your rocks off, nothing more; and given Kynergy’s success, if worst came to worst, he’d always be able to pay for it if he had to. Whores didn’t reject you as long as you had the cash.

Once, he’d have been tempted to off himself if the rejections became too hard to handle. But not now. Not after coming so fucking close to dying; not after having to fight like Hell just to keep enough food in his stomach to keep himself alive. Now he knew better, knew himself better. He hadn’t come so far, fought his way out from under the Kinney curse, just to throw it all away because his widdle feelings were hurt when some hot young thing wasn’t prepared to fall to his knees and worship the Kinney cock the way they once had.

The hot young thing he was with tonight had been more than happy to do exactly that, anyway, so who gave a fuck what might happen tomorrow?

"So where do you live?"

A reasonable question, given that he was supposed to be driving the guy home.

The guy … Justin ... wrinkled his nose. "In a shitty little "graduate" apartment, over on Bayard."

He paused a moment and then went on. "If we’re going to fuck, we’d probably be more comfortable at your place."

Another pause. Then, with a grin Brian could hear in his voice. "At least we probably won’t have someone pounding on the fucking walls if we get too loud."

Brian laughed.

"Seriously?" he couldn’t help asking.

"Seriously. The place has got totally paper thin walls and my neighbor is twenty-three going on seventy and I don’t think she ever got laid in her life. Plus my bed is just about falling apart and it creaks every time I turn over, let alone when it’s getting a proper workout."

"My place it is, then," Brian said easily.

"Good choice," Justin approved.

He seemed to approve even more strongly when the loft door slid open revealing the minimalist elegance of Brian’s loft.

His eyes widened a little, and he nodded in appreciation, but all he said was, "Nice" as he moved towards the bedroom steps.

Brian caught up to him as he stood by the bed pulling off his sweater.

He watched appreciatively but intervened when the g … Justin’s hands moved downwards.

"Let me do that," he purred.

It was the first time he’d had the chance to appreciate th … Justin’s finer qualities: the softness of his fair hair, neither too coarse, nor too fine the way so many blonds were; the fairness of his skin and the way it flushed when he began to become aroused; the sensitivity of his nipples, enhanced by the nipple ring through one of them, and the delicious moan he gave when Brian bent his head and tugged on it gently with his teeth; and most of all, the surprisingly large cock which rewarded Brian’s seeking hands by growing and filling as soon as he began stroking it.

Brian found himself glad that he’d abandoned his one fuck only policy where this g… Justin … was concerned. These delights had been wasted in their previous encounters and now could be enjoyed to the full.

And enjoy them he did. Several times. He was both surprised and pleased that he managed to keep up with the apparently voracious sexual appetite of his guest.

Since the cancer, his libido had taken a bit of a nosedive, and he was never sure anymore just how many times he’d be able to get it up; but tonight that didn’t seem to be a problem. In fact, he felt kind of sorry when Justin finally rolled out of the bed and asked, "Can I call a cab? I think my cell phone’s probably died."

But years of habit took over and he just grunted permission and headed into the bathroom. By the time he came out Justin was dressed and just pulling on his trainers.

Brian felt awkward, which was strange; and like he wanted to say something to persuade this guy, this … Justin … to stay. And that was stranger still.

But the cab honked in the street and Justin, with a quick grin headed towards the door.

Brian wanted to deny, even to himself, that he felt even lonelier that night.

He worked harder than usual that week, finishing late, and heading straight home; but by Friday he was horny and feeling antsy enough to overcome the boredom that was his principle reaction these days to the thought of his old playground so he changed and headed out to Babylon. He was leaning against the bar wondering if there was anyone worth pursuing; anyone worth taking the risk of a knock-back, when a blond head appeared at his shoulder.

"Is it just me," Justin asked, "or are pickings kind of slim tonight?"

Brian shrugged, and told himself that his heart rate did not just speed up a little.

Justin huffed. "I’ve had a mediocre blow job in the back room and seriously, I don’t really see anything worth even going to the trouble of unbuttoning these jeans for." He gestured downwards. "They’re new," he explained, " and the fucking buttonholes are so stiff it just seems like too much effort for any of these losers."

One of those slow blinks in Brian’s direction.

"Present company excepted, of course."

For a moment Brian met the mix of innocence and invitation in those blue eyes with a non committal smirk. Then he grinned. "Want to wake up the neighbors?" he asked.

Justin laughed.

"I don’t think so. I can’t afford to get a better place yet. I’m still paying off my student loans."

Brian just nodded and with no more said, they headed out.

Next morning, the only coherent thought Brian could remember having had during the night was that he was seriously going to have to re-evaluate the quality of Justin’s blow jobs. The first one might have been a little lacklustre, but that must have been the circumstances, because give him the right setting and his mouth and tongue seemed to have developed skills previously unknown to mankind. At least, unknown to any of the myriad tricks Brian had previously encountered.

Not that Justin was a trick, exactly. He’d even stayed the night.

But that was just because they’d both fallen asleep. This morning, had Brian woken to find a blond head drooling on the pillow next to his and hadn’t been nearly as pissed by that as he should have been; would have been … once upon a time.

So now he was in the bathroom shaving, waiting for Justin to wake up and trying to decide if there was any way he could offer him coffee before he went without it seeming like …

Well, like an offer of something else.

He was just putting down the razor when Justin came into the bathroom, yawning.

"Sorry, I fell asleep." He took a cautious sniff at himself. "Fuck, I reek! Is it okay if I have a shower. I’ll be quick. I just don’t want to go home on the bus smelling like this. They’d probably kick me off."

Brian shrugged, not sure at all how he felt.

"Sure. There are towels over there, just help yourself. I’m going to put on some coffee."

He was brooding over the coffee-maker when Justin came down the steps into the living area and in those circumstances it seemed only natural to offer him a cup. He didn’t even have to say anything, just held up the mug with one raised eyebrow.

Justin nodded and perched on one of the stools at the counter. "So," he said. "I’ve been thinking."

Brian quirked the eyebrow again, his heart thudding a little with no idea where this was going or how he’d feel about any of the possible destinations.

"You’re a great fuck, but I think we’ve seen too much of each other and we should try to avoid each other for a while."

Well, that’s what he should be wanting to hear. Wasn’t it?

"I think we’ve been getting on really well and maybe we should even try something like dinner next time … you know, see if we’re compatible at all outside the bedroom."

Oh, fuck! Some kind of closet romantic. That was never going to end well. Best call it quits now. Except …

"Fucking with you is so great. Let’s move in together."

Yeah, right. Like he would want to live with anybody. Like anybody would really want to live with him.

"You’re amazing. I want to marry you and have your babies."

Okay, so now he was just getting paranoid.

"Look, I haven’t been on the scene all that long, because I could never afford the cover charge at places like Babylon. But I had my fair share of guys in college so I’m not exactly an innocent."

Brian, verbal skills apparently deserting him, resorted to the raised eyebrow again.

"Anyway, since I’ve been going to the clubs, and bars and stuff, I haven’t come across many guys that are actually all that great in bed. And it’s probably even worse for you because you must have just about had anyone that you want anyway, so why don’t we just become fuck buddies?"

Brian stared at him.

Fuck buddies.

That was … he could handle that.

He’d never really had a fuck buddy, but it sounded like something that he’d find do-able. Still working on the maximum of pleasure, minimum of bullshit principle. In fact, better, because the whole degree of pleasure thing was chancy when you were never sure what you were getting. Once he supposed he’d found that part of the thrill, trying to pick the ones who were good value, betting his night’s degree of pleasure on his ability to make the right choice. But he’d gotten over that what seemed like several light years back and now he sometimes gave up the hunt because so often the pay-off just wasn’t worth it. But with Justin … with Justin he’d know ahead of time just how good it could be. And if he did find himself getting bored, or feeling stifled, well there weren’t any rules that said that fuck buddies had to be exclusive.

He allowed himself something that was almost a smile. "Fuck buddies, huh?"

Justin nodded hopefully. "Sure. I mean, I work long hours anyway, plus I do some tutoring for extra cash. And I still try to find some time for my own art, so it doesn’t leave a lot of time to go looking, you know?"

Brian shrugged.

Justin looked a little discouraged. "I just thought … it’s not like I want some hetero romance shit. I just want a good fuck occasionally, but it’s a real lottery what you find in the clubs. Some guys are okay, but some think they’re the greatest and any fucking skills they’ve got are seriously for shit, so … it would be good to know I can be with someone every now and again who I know is going to be great."

This time he was the one who shrugged.

Brian nodded.

"Okay. It’s Saturday and I’m about to head out to the gym. You want to catch up later, or do you have plans for tonight?"

Fuck! He thought to himself. Couldn’t you have asked about one night next week? Tonight? He’ll think I’m totally desperate. I guess I could …

Justin’s eyes opened in surprise but then he smiled. Not the little grins and smirks Brian had seen before, but a full on smile. Brian found it disconcertingly … beautiful.

"That would be great. Maybe not too early, though, because I’ve promised to work till nine tonight – the gallery’s got a show on."

"Sounds good. You want to come straight here afterwards?"

Justin blushed. He actually fucking blushed, Brian noted, half astonished, half charmed.

"Well, I’ll need to stop somewhere and get something to eat, I won’t have had dinner and I’m useless if I’m hungry."

As if on cue, his stomach rumbled and Brian found himself laughing.

"Don’t worry," he said. "I’ll order some takeout for around 9.30. Thai okay for you?"

"Oh, yeah. That’d be great. Thank you."

Brian shrugged.

Justin smiled again. "Okay, well, I have to go, but I’ll see you later tonight."

"Later," Brian affirmed.

And so it began. At first they both seemed to find it a little awkward to set times and dates for hooking up, almost like making a "real" date; but given Brian’s workload and Justin’s various activities it pretty soon became obvious that being totally spontaneous wasn’t going to work for them. The first time Brian (after a ridiculous amount of angst) texted Justin to ask if he wanted to come over it turned out Justin was totally in the zone with a painting and didn’t even see the text until the next morning. And when he sent a reply asking if that night would be okay, Brian was up to his eyeballs putting together a pitch that had been rescheduled at the last minute and with only a day’s notice.

So they both realized that it was a lot easier to schedule stuff ahead of time. Sure, sometimes one or other of them had to cancel, but that was no big deal. Although Brian was uncomfortably aware that he felt let down whenever Justin cancelled and almost worse when he had to cancel himself.

After a while they got into a routine – during the week, if they wanted to hook up, they’d try texting. If it happened, great, if it didn’t, no big deal.

On Friday nights they’d share a takeout at the loft and see what happened from there. Sometimes they’d head out to Babylon for a while, sometimes they’d just head for the bedroom … or the couch … or the shower … or, on one infamous occasion, the kitchen counter. That fuck had been memorable, but it had resulted in bruised hips for Justin and two broken coffee cups, so they didn’t try to repeat it. Justin always stayed the night and left on Saturday to go to his job at the gallery. Saturday night they’d get together at some point (just when mainly depended on Justin and how the latest painting was coming along) and again Justin would stay the night. Sunday, Brian would drive to the deli down the street for coffee and bagels and they’d share them before Justin headed out to his regular Sunday afternoon tutoring session. After a while, Brian added the Sunday papers to his shopping list and they shared those as well, trading any interesting items they found and challenging each other over clues to the crosswords.

Brian hated the fact that Sunday nights were the loneliest of the week. They felt that way, anyhow.

Maybe that was one of the reasons that he was the one who suggested that Justin bring some clothes over so that he’d have stuff to wear to the gallery on Saturday and wouldn’t have to go home first. It made sense since the gallery was much closer to the loft than it was to Justin’s shitty little apartment. But it also meant that there were things of Justin's there at the loft through the week. For some reason that made Brian feel … better.

Brian had seen that apartment by now and could only agree with Justin’s assessment. He supposed it was okay for a first apartment, and Justin’s tutoring come classroom assistant work at the college meant that he got it at graduate’s rates, but it was still pretty basic, and Justin was right, the walls were paper thin. Their one attempt at a quick fuck on Justin’s not-really-long-enough for Brian bed had resulted in a barrage of thumps that had provided a not very welcome counterpoint to the creaks and groans of the bed and the other groans and moans that seemed to get pulled out of both of them whenever they were together. Brian couldn’t remember every being as … vocal as he was when he and Justin fucked.

But the thing was that all during the weeks, even months, that their arrangement had been going on, they’d managed somehow to keep their fuck buddy status under the radar. Brian knew that Justin was working on a first draft of some comic book with Michael. He knew that Justin worked, of all places, at Sydney Bloom’s gallery. But he didn’t go near Mikey’s shop if Justin was scheduled to be there, and he hadn’t been inside the gallery since Lindsay left town. Brian still hung out occasionally at the diner, where Justin didn’t go, and still spent Saturdays at the gym with the guys. He and Justin didn’t go out anywhere together except to Babylon and the only one of the old gang who still went there even occasionally was Emmett. And if Emmett had seen them arriving and leaving together a few times, for some reason it seemed like he was keeping his mouth shut about it. Just as Ted kept his mouth shut about how much more relaxed Brian seemed at work.

So Brian wasn’t really thinking about the possible consequences of their … whatever it was … being made public property on the Sunday morning when it all went to Hell.

They were sprawled at each end of the couch as usual sharing the Sunday papers, a pot of coffee and some bagels – Brian’s wholewheat with low fat spread and Justin’s white with cream cheese - when, without any warning, the door to the loft suddenly creaked open.

"Brian! I’ve been calling you for days and you haven’t answered. Linds and Mel are coming down for Chris…"

Stunned silence for a minute and then, "What the fuck is he doing here?"

Even with that first outraged exclamation from his "best friend" Brian knew that everything that had been so good about the last few months was about to come crashing down around him.

Just for a while, he felt like he’d almost had it all.

He’d had his business success.

Had kept his still almost legendary status on Liberty Avenue even though he no longer felt the need to try to live up the legend anymore.

He’d had regular, on tap abso-fucking-lutely spectacular sex.

And he’d had mornings like this one had been; mornings when he got to spend time with someone who … well, okay, so it wasn’t love and all that bullshit … but it was honest and it was … something. Something that was to do with how he felt … not so much about Justin, but about himself when Justin was around. Because Justin over the past months had seen him lose it, seen him angry and pissed off at clients and life in general; had seen him laughing and relaxed, seen him at his best and at his worst, and still liked just hanging with him on a Sunday morning.

But now Mikey was here, about to demand explanations and definitions and everything that had been just easy and right and no one else’s fucking business was all about to go down the shithole.

For some reason he actually felt like fucking crying, and couldn’t speak because he wasn’t sure that his voice would work; and how pathetic was that?

But he didn’t have to speak, because Justin did it for him.

"Hi, Michael. You were saying? About Lindsay and Melanie?"

Brian watched as Michael gaped at Justin, seemingly struck dumb not just by his presence, but by the calm way he got up and fetched another coffee cup, his sweats hanging low on his hips and his feet encased in a pair of thick woolen socks. Everything about him spoke of someone who felt right at home here in the sanctity of Brian’s loft.

"Brian …" Michael tried to reorient himself by turning to the one who for so long had stood solitary and alone like the needle on a compass at the center of Michael’s personal universe.

But Brian, taking his cue from Justin, sat down and picked up his coffee cup. "There’s a half a bagel left if you want it," he offered. "What are the girls up to?"

"They’re coming down for Christmas," Michael responded automatically, accepting the cup of coffee Justin handed him and sitting in one of the uncomfortable chairs.

He tried again to take control of the situation. "Brian, we need to talk."

"About the girls coming home for the holidays? What’s the point? Mother Novotny will have their time organized down to the last second."

All the same, he did feel some twinge of something … anticipation, maybe … about the thought that he could be seeing his Sonnyboy in just a few weeks.

"No!" Michael protested. "Not about the girls. About …"

He broke off and glanced towards Justin.

"Nothing to talk about there either," Justin said firmly. "Nothing there that’s any of your business. Anyone’s business, except Brian’s and mine."

Brian wished he could have got a million dollar bet on Michael’s next words, so predictable were they.

"He’s my best friend!"

"Unless he’s fucking you, then I can’t see that his being your friend makes any difference to the fact that we fuck occasionally."

"Occasionally!" Michael squawked, his voice going up an octave or two.

"Sure," Justin shrugged.

"So … what … are you like "lovers" now?"

The way that he said it made it clear how ridiculous an idea that seemed to him.

Justin regarded him thoughtfully, then turned his eyes towards Brian. "I guess we are," he said. "In a non-defined, non-conventional way, I suppose that’s just what we are."

And Brian’s world, that had tottered so severely when the door had opened, suddenly righted itself again.

"So," he said, his voice steady now and full of its usual piss and vinegar, "Unless you’ve got anything more you want to share about the munchers' homecoming visit … we’d kind of like to get back to what we were doing before you burst in here."

Michael flushed and a vein in his temple throbbed. By the look on his face he was half afraid that Brian was about to throw his comic colleague down on the floor and start fucking him right then and there.

He knew there was something completely wrong about this; something monstrously wrong in Justin’s being here in Brian’s loft, wearing what looked like Brian’s sweats and making coffee with Brian’s coffee maker and ...

It was all just wrong. Just wait until his mother heard that his writing partner and his best friend had been fucking around on him behind his back.

He half threw down his cup and headed for the door.

"I suppose you’re not even interested that you’ll be able to see Gus at Christmas," he said as he opened the door to leave. "It’s okay," he finished bitterly, "we’ll just tell him something came up."

Brian, secure in the knowledge that Lindsay would be using every trick and wile in her considerable arsenal to get him to spend every possible minute with Gus, found himself grinning across at his non-defined, non-conventional lover. "You just do that, Mikey," he said as the door slid shut.

Justin smiled at him and Brian, taking that beautiful face in his hands smiled back.

"Lovers, huh?"

"Well, I figured we graduated from fuck buddies around the time we started doing the Sunday crosswords together … I mean how lover-ly is that?"

Brian, who absurdly felt like singing or dancing him round the room or something equally romantic and ridiculous, simply laughed and kissed him.

Lover-ly indeed.

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