Complications of the Mind

Chapter 11

Half an hour later, Justin walked into the electrical union hall after looking for Brian in the baths, at the gym, and at Woody's. He found the familiar form at the bar and noticed that Brian was drinking scotch on the rocks. He got the bartender's attention and ordered a Chivas Regal on the rocks. He took a sip of his drink, knowing full well that Brian was aware of his presence and sitting there quietly fuming. They could always sense the other's presence even in the early days. The bartender went to pour another patron's drink and Justin looked at Brian. "The boys alone?"

"Yeah, John sent me after you."


"I think you've won another fan."

Brian swiveled in the chair to look at Justin. He was surprised that his lover had been able to track him down. It was truly the last place he'd thought he'd end up but the options were limited. Despite Justin's accusation, a strange ass wasn't what he wanted and a blow-job in a back alley didn't really appeal to him. It had been weird that he'd found himself at his dad's favored watering hole. Strange to find that what he really wanted was sitting on the next barstool over. Justin set his wallet down on the counter and Brian looked at it in shock.

"You left it at home. I thought you might need it." He drained the glass of scotch and got up off the stool. If Brian wanted to drink in solitude, he was an adult and fully capable of making informed decisions, or at least that's what he told himself.

Brian stared at the amber liquid in his glass, absentmindedly swirling the liquid. He hated fighting with Justin. But fighting with Justin was better than not having him around. Of the two, he much preferred fighting with his blond than spending nights alone. And that inevitability was quickly approaching so he was doing what came naturally: pushing him away. Driving him towards the edge of a cliff. "Stay," he said, as he drained his own glass. He finally met Justin's clear blue eyes and said, "Let's get out of here." He dropped a handful of bills on the counter and stalked to the door, knowing that Justin was on his heels.

It was only when they reached the Corvette that Brian spoke again. "Where to?"

"Daphne's," Justin said, surprised when the words left his mouth.


Justin flipped through the radio stations finally landing on one he and Brian would both agree on. Classic rock. The silence between them stretched tautly and Brian finally said, "I'm sorry I was an asshole."

"Yeah, well, I was a cunt. I think we're even, Brian. I hate fighting with you."

"It doesn't make me none too happy either, Sunshine. I didn't think that I'd be dealing with my two nephews like this. And losing my best friend and my lover. I think I have a right to a meltdown."

Since he didn't know quite how to respond to that revelation, Justin remained quiet. Brian's eyes went dark as he acknowledged his lover's lack of reaction. He didn't take it personally though, for that would do no one any good.

Finally Justin spoke, his own voice raw with emotion, "You're not losing me."

"Feels like it. I know that we love each other, sonny boy, but sometimes it isn't enough. And who's to say what'll happen out in Sunny Cal."

"Stop it!" Justin fairly shouted. "Stop pushing me away because you're scared shitless now that you've admitted that you love me. I'm not leaving you, Brian. This is a fucking job opportunity. That's all."

"That's what Kennedy & Collins was to me," Brian reminded him, making a sharp turn. "A job opportunity."

"Bullshit, you were scared of letting me in. Of acknowledging that you felt something for me."

"It would have killed me if you'd gone to Dartmouth," he admitted. "I would have gone quietly mad."

"No, you wouldn't. You would have proceeded to fuck blindly, setting a new world record. You wouldn't have given me another thought."

"I knew I loved you when I watched you fucking that guy after the King of Babylon contest, because it nearly killed me seeing you with someone else even if you were topping. So don't, tell me that I wouldn't have been miserable if you'd gone to Dartmouth."

"And it hurt me when I came home to see you fucking the zucchini guy on the sofa, Brian. I'd say we've hurt each other enough."

"Nothing's easy between us," Brian said, softly. "You should have walked when I kicked you out after the cancer diagnosis."

"I didn't. And I've had plenty of reasons," he reminded him. "You need me, Brian. And if I wanted easy I'd have settled for a milquetoast like Michael. I fell in love with you, you motherfucking piece of shit."

Despite the harsh words, Brian found himself smiling. "I think you've called me that once before."

"Yeah, I have. Let me love you, Brian. I'm not gonna hurt you again."

"Who said I was hurt?"

"Everyone. Your eyes told the tale as much as anything else. It doesn't matter now, Bri. We're partners. We're in this together and it's time that we stop fucking with each other about inconsequential shit. The boys need you. I need you. Michael needs you."

"I thought you'd be happy to see me cut Michael off."

Justin stared at him for a moment, stunned speechless. "I accepted Michael's feelings for you a long time ago, Brian. I'm the one in your bed, not him. I'm the one who comforts you when you cry. I'm the one who sees you vulnerable. I'm the one who has your heart."

"About time you realized that."

Brian pulled into a space in front of Justin's apartment building. Justin unbuckled his seat belt and began to get out when Brian's hand on his arm stopped him. "When I offered to fuck him, I knew that it was the one thing that would cost me you. I was so fucking relieved when he turned me down. That one thing would have been cheating on you. I know how my views on fidelity have affected you and our relationship. If I'd slept with Michael, you'd never have come home again. I'd have lost you for good. And it would have been a fait accompli for Michael, because he'd have won." By any means necessary. "And I'd have hated him because he cost me you."

"I never intended you to have to choose," Justin said.

"Yeah, well, sometimes tough choices have to be made. And we have to deal with the fallout."

"Everyone's going to be pissed at you."

"Not like it hasn't happened before." The resignation in his tone was overlaid with fatigue. "I can handle the gang."

"He's your best friend."

Justin opened the door and Brian pinned him against the wall before he could gain the first step. "And you're my lover. That's more important than Michael's pathetic shit. It was never a choice. He pushed me too far and he lost. It's always been you. I thought he'd accepted that but I guess not." Brian's eyes were dark and Justin's breath was ragged as he met the intensity of his gaze. He waited and Brian tentatively cocked his head, eyes searching for permission, before he ducked his head and took Justin's lips in a kiss that was surprisingly gentle. Justin had been prepared for savage domination but Brian's hesitation was almost as if he were waiting for permission; something he'd never needed before. Justin sucked his tongue, as his arms went up around Brian's neck. When the kiss broke, Justin stared at him. "Where'd that come from?"

"Ridiculously romantic," Brian nearly whispered, voice sounding almost pained.

Justin started to deliver a teasing response when a flash of an image of him in a parking garage with Brian leaning in to kiss him flashed through his mind. His knees buckled and Brian said, "Justin!"

"Oh God," Justin said, as he crumpled to the floor. Brian was left staring down at the prostrate figure of his lover for the second time in as many days.

Brian took the stairs two at a time as he pounded on Daphne's door. She came to the door wearing a t-shirt and pajama bottoms, feet bare. She stared at him in incredulity, taking in the panicky expression in his eyes. "Brian," she began. "What's wrong?"

"Justin," he said, voice nearly strangled. "I kissed him and said 'ridiculously romantic', and he passed out. Second time in two days."

Daphne's expression undertook a change as she gazed at her best friend's lover. "Okay, Brian. It'll be okay. Where is he?"

"Downstairs," he said, eyes shocky.

She went to the fridge and retrieved two bottles of water. She handed one to Brian and said, "Drink this."

"I'm not thirsty."

"I know," she said patiently. "You're in shock. The last thing he needs right now is for you to lose it."

"I love him," he said miserably.

"I know, Kinney. And he loves you. I need you to be strong right now and not lose it. Can you do that?"

Brian slowly nodded and then he followed Daphne down the stairs, limbs leaden. She couldn't refrain from gasping when she caught sight of Justin, reminded unbidden of the night of the prom. She looked at Brian and knew he was remembering the same thing, but with more intensity. It had been the night he'd almost lost him and realized he loved him, nearly in the same instant. She wasn't sure that she could handle having to deal with both Brian and Justin, but she knew she had to try.

Justin was starkly pale and Brian had gone pale underneath his tan. Brian knelt next to his lover, gently lifting his head and cradling it in his lap. He fought hard not to let memories of that horrible night swamp him. "Come on, baby, wake up. I need you to wake up," he murmured. "Oh God, wake up. I love you, baby."

Daphne could barely see through the haze of her own tears. It was rare that she'd ever seen Brian so openly vulnerable and she could see the love he had for her best friend, as if it were writ across the night-sky in neon. "Come on, Jus. Wake up," she said, kneeling next to Brian, but not touching him, knowing instinctively that wasn't what he needed at the moment. His attention was fully focused on Justin, as it should be.

Justin felt as if he were swaddled in cotton as he heard the softly murmuring voices. He fought to return, moving slightly and then he heard Brian's voice, saying over and over again, "Oh God. No, no, no, no." The litany of no's pervaded his consciousness and he slowly opened his eyes.

Heedless of the pain coursing through his collar bone, Brian hugged him. "You okay?"

Justin slowly shook his head and said, "Were you saying 'oh God, no'?" He was shocked when Brian suddenly went deathly pale. Slowly Brian shook his head. "No," he admitted. He took a deep breath and met the questioning blue eyes and said, quietly, "I said that the night you-um, after-I just kept saying that I needed you and couldn't lose you."

"It's a memory?" Justin asked, shocked.

Brian felt the unfamiliar burn of tears in his own eyes and fought back the emotion as he nodded. "Yeah, baby, it's a memory."

"Did you lean in to kiss me and say that it was 'ridiculously romantic'? And wrap the scarf around my neck?"

Brian bit his lip, avoiding looking over at Daphne who had moved away, giving the two men some space. "Yeah."

"Why didn't you just kiss me?" Justin asked.

"I wanted it to be something we both wanted. I didn't want to just take it from you," Brian admitted, voice choked with emotion.

"Why did you come that night?"

Brian started to offer a flip answer and then knew that the time for flippancy had come and gone. All he had to offer now was utter and complete honesty. "Because I loved you and I wanted you to know that. When we danced, all I thought about was you. It wasn't about saying fuck you to your homophobic classmates, though that was good too. It was about me admitting that you were more."

"It was your way of telling me that you loved me," Justin said, voice filled with awe.

Brian bit his lip, then met Justin's eyes. "Do you doubt how I feel about you?"

"No." He took a deep breath, realizing that Brian was nakedly vulnerable at the moment. More vulnerable than he'd ever seen him. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"

Brian sighed and brushed a strand of hair out of his eyes. "I wanted you to remember, on your own. I didn't want you to think I was forcing you to remember something you couldn't. The doctors said that you might never remember. And I didn't want you to remember the night I told you I loved you to be overshadowed by what that sick fuck did to you."

"He hurt you, too."

"Yeah, he did. If you hadn't made it, Justin, I-" Brian couldn't finish the sentence and Justin struggled into a sitting position, braced against Brian's chest. The simplicity of the gesture caused the tears he'd been suppressing for so long to finally fall. Justin turned then as he felt the first drop hit his cheek.

"It's okay, Brian. I'm here. I love you," he said.

"Still think I know fuck-all about romance?"

Justin winced at the words, then wiped a tear from Brian's cheek. "No, I remember you leaning in to kiss me as if you were asking permission from me. It was as if everything that had gone before didn't matter in the face of what we were sharing at that moment. I felt as if I was getting everything I wanted and I knew that you were scared shitless."

Brian nodded shakily. "I wanted something more with you. Something more that I hadn't wanted since I was a naïve kid of twenty-one. I laid myself bare that night and it hurt when you pulled away from me when I tried to recreate that night for you. You looked at me as if what we'd done was wrong and that cut me deep. I'd given you everything I had and you dismissed it and me. I think that's when I realized that things weren't going to return to normal. That whatever I'd imagined happening between us after you got hurt wasn't going to happen."

"I wish you'd told me."

"You wouldn't have listened. I tried to tell you the night of Pride. I wanted to dance with you, to provide you a single moment of purity between us that you'd remember. I didn't want to take some stranger and fuck him. I wanted and needed you."

Neither of them noticed Daphne leave them alone and return upstairs. "I'm sorry I hurt you. If I'd known it might have changed-"

"Everything? Nothing?" Brian asked, unable to completely hide his bitterness. "It wouldn't have changed anything. The kid who followed me around with such adoration was gone and, in his place, was someone who judged me. Who felt betrayed when I fucked someone else, regardless of the fact that it was you who was sharing my bed. I think that you were beginning to hate me when you left me for the fiddler, Justin. The incident with the hustler was the beginning but it began much earlier than that. You found your way back to me but at what price? I considered you my partner, Justin. You were my boyfriend and you didn't seem to realize that I had sacrificed nearly everything for you. Everything I believed in changed. I threw away my own rules when I accepted yours."

"I'm sorry." It didn't begin to salve the hurts he'd caused Brian and he knew it but there was little else he could say.

"Yeah well," Brian said. He started to offer his patented response to an apology and then just stopped. He'd admitted just about everything, so what was one more admission. "I don't want you to go."

"It's a great opportunity for me."

"And us?" What about us?

"We'll be okay," Justin said, surprised when Brian shook his head.

"I don't put much stock in presentiment and prescience but I have this feeling deep in my gut that something bad is going to happen."

Justin stared at him for a few seconds. "So do I," he admitted.

"Where do we go from here?"

He smiled slightly and said, "Upstairs. At least for right now. I want to hold you."

Brian's smirk was slightly less cocky than usual but he nodded. He helped Justin up, letting the younger man lean into him as they made their way up the stairs to the third floor. Daphne had considerately left the front door open and her bedroom door was closed. Justin led Brian into his bedroom, waiting as the door closed behind the older man, hearing the lock click into place.

Justin lay down on the bed and Brian smiled a little bit. He felt the tears threaten to fall again as he stared at the angelic beauty of Justin. "What?"

"Just remembering the first night I saw you," he admitted. He sat down on the edge of the bed, unzipping his boots, and then lay back on the bed, head cushioned on Justin's chest. "I never imagined that fucking a virgin would lead to this," he admitted.

"Yeah, well I never imagined I'd land the stud of Liberty Avenue," Justin said, wryly. "I never thought my first time would be with a legend."

"You give me too much credit," he protested with little fervor, though secretly he was pleased with the words. "You'd have fallen in love with anyone who fucked you. You know how common it is to fall for someone when it's your first time. I think you learned that the hard way."

Justin smiled slightly. "You told me you loved me that night when you shot, Brian. I was so naïve that I thought you meant it." It had taken him several more encounters with those who weren't Brian to learn that it was often said in the heat of the moment and often meant nothing more.

Brian closed his eyes and inhaled sharply. While it was true that it was a common phenomenon to utter the words when you were shooting, he'd known that it was something different with Justin from that first night, even though he'd fought against acknowledging it for months. "I did."

Ignoring that for the moment, Justin said, smiling a bit in embarrassment, "I thought I'd seen the face of God that night."

"And I thought you were an angel. Seems we both had a religious experience that night."

"Don't mock this. That night changed both of our lives, Brian."

"I know, sonny boy. And I knew that you were going to be something more to me because of Michael's visceral reaction to you. He knew that you were bound to come between us. When I started to go down on you in the car, I wanted to taste you but I also knew that I was fucking with him."

Justin stroked his bare arm lightly, running his fingers over the faint scar on his wrist. "Do you want me to turn down Brett's offer?"

"Your call," Brian responded.

"Don't do that," Justin said, feeling a twinge of hurt. This was something important and he didn't want Brian to mock it. "Don't tell me it's my fucking call, Brian. This is too fucking important. I want you to be a part of this."

Understanding his lover's reaction, Brian laced his fingers with Justin's and said, "Yeah, I want you to turn down Brett's offer. I need you here."

Recognizing the admission for the rarity it was and understanding how difficult it was for Brian to make such an admission, Justin said, "I'll turn him down."

"Michael will be pissed off," Brian cautioned him. "He'll think you're betraying him."

"You're more important than the comic book. They can get someone else." He paused a moment lest Brian protest his importance and hastened to add, "It's my baby, Brian. But I'm not doing this because of you. I'm doing this because I want to stay here with you."

"So you really want to sacrifice this opportunity? How noble of you," he drawled, unable to keep the sarcasm from creeping into the tone.

"Bite me, lover boy," Justin said in an equally mocking tone. "It's not a sacrifice when it's something I don't want to do. It's not like me giving up the trip to go on the ride with you instead."

"You realize, of course, that we are in danger of becoming a boring, staid old couple," Brian cautioned.

"So we do something about that, Brian. I'm not averse to an occasional threesome. You are beauty in motion when you're fucking someone. I won't lie and say it doesn't bother me sometimes but a lot of times it's fucking hot."

"I thought you were the one espousing the virtues of monogamy," he reminded him.

Justin sat up and opened the drawer in his night stand. "Monogamy was well and good with Ethan. But he wanted to fuck bareback and I refused. Thank God I did since he was fucking that little groupie. The real reason I didn't want to do that with him was because it would have felt like I was really cheating on you, Brian. There has only ever been one person in my life that I'd trust like that and it happens to be you." He pulled out a box of condoms and a tube of self-warming lube and tossed them into Brian's lap. "I want this next step but it has to be mutual. You have to want this too. I know commitment scares the fuck out of you but it's the logical next step, Brian. We've both been safe and we know the risks and ramifications. If one of us slips it won't be unprotected. I trust you enough to know that if you trick occasionally, you won't play Russian roulette with my health."

"So you're okay with me tricking occasionally as long as I'm safe?"

"I'm okay with both of us tricking occasionally as long as both of us are safe," Justin gently corrected. "I'm not pushing you into something. I know the risks. I'm not that naïve eighteen-year-old kid anymore."

Brian sat up and then handed the condoms and lube back to him. "Give me three months. We'll be retested tomorrow. Three months and if we're both safe and sane after living with my nephews, we'll fuck the way God intended. Without latex between us."

"Are you sure?"

"No," he admitted, meeting the clear blue eyes. "But I trust you. I know that if you fuck around, you'll be safe. I know you won't risk killing me for the sake of a hot fuck. I know that you love me, and that makes all the difference in the world." He paused for a second and said, "This'll change everything between us," he said.

"I know. It's a big step."

"Commitment, Justin. It's not just a big step for the sake of a hot fuck. It's something that will tie us together as surely as if we had platinum wedding bands." Brian looked down at his hands and said quietly, "It's saying that we're both committed to being partners. I won't be domesticated but I can handle it being for life."

"I believe that's the sweetest thing you've ever said to me."

"Don't mock me, brat. I'm dead fucking serious." He fingered the pendant Justin wore around his neck and said, "It won't be easy. We'll fight like fucking cats and dogs but it's time."

"And the 'family'?"

"Fuck the family. Fuck their judgmental behavior. And nobody needs to know we're fucking raw except us." Until the words left his mouth, Brian didn't realize that he'd already committed himself to the inevitability.

"Did you mean what you said to Michael about him liking to watch you when you're fucking?"

Brian nodded, suddenly uncomfortable. "There've been a lot of times when he's come to find me in the backroom and found me with my dick down some trick's throat or fucking someone's ass and he won't look away. It's like his attention is glued to it, like he gets some sick thrill out of it."

"I have a suggestion that you probably won't like but I'm going to say it anyway. I want you to listen to me before you get pissed."

He stared at the young blond and Justin squirmed under the penetrating gaze. "What if you and I were to fuck Michael? Have a three-way that he'd never forget."

"You hate Michael," Brian said, voice low. "And I think Ben would have something to say about his wife having an illicit liaison with us."

"So we invite Ben in on it," Justin said, voice trailing off as he saw Brian's countenance darken. He felt that he'd suddenly baited a lion. "I don't think you'd mind having him again and somehow I doubt that Michael would mind watching you and Ben in action. Witnessing what that long-ago weekend was like. Complete with ropes," he added.

Brian climbed off the bed and stared out the window. The sky was darkening as if the clouds were about to be split asunder under the weight of rain. He slowly turned back to face his partner and said, "That's fucking brilliant. Michael will get what he wants. He'll know how it was between me and Ben." He picked up a discarded pencil and flipped it between two fingers as he added, "the only question is what you get out of it. I know Michael doesn't turn you on."

Justin stood and put his hands on Brian's chest, feeling his breathing change. "No, he doesn't. But the idea of watching you dominate Ben makes me hot. And I think this is one way where everyone gets what he wants."

"Even you?"

"I would like to fuck you while you're fucking Ben. The idea of you taking on another top makes me hard. And somehow I don't think Michael would mind seeing that. If what you've said about his voyeuristic tendencies are true, then he won't mind seeing me fuck you."

"And the fact that Ben's positive doesn't scare you a little bit?"

"So you make damn sure that you won't split the tip of the condom. Fuck me beforehand so your balls aren't quite so full. I trust you." Justin wasn't quite sure why he was suggesting the scenario but he was hoping that Brian would turn it down.

"If something happened, we'd never be able to fuck raw. That possibility would be taken away from us for good, Justin." Brian found it difficult to believe he was even contemplating this. He hoped that Ben and Michael would turn down the offer, for the sake of his relationship and future with Justin.

"It's just a suggestion. It doesn't really matter to me if it comes to pass or not."

"When I left the loft tonight, I was okay with not having Michael in my life. Yeah, I'll miss him but my relationship with you is more important. He's been in my life for a long time but it's time to cut the ties. If we do this, it would cement things between us, make it more permanent. I don't know that fucking Mikey would be good for either of us, Justin. It might solve things in the short run but in the long run I think it would harm what's between you and me more. I'm not willing to take that risk. Are you?"

Justin realized belatedly that his suggestion made it seem like his feelings were less about their relationship than Brian's. He shook his head and said, "No, I guess not. Forget I said anything." And he was relieved at Brian's reaction.

"I'm not pissed, Justin. We haven't been back together that long. We're facing a long road with John and a possible custody battle with the merry munchers. I need you at my back now more than ever. I don't need my best friend right now; I need my lover."

"You've got me. Don't doubt that." He sighed and said tiredly, "I guess we should go back and make sure the boys haven't wrecked the loft. I'm kind of surprised your sister hasn't called or your mom."

"Thank God for small favors. I should probably talk to Claire. How's Peter?"

Brian knew he hadn't been paying much attention to the younger of the two boys but it wasn't because he didn't care; it was simply that his relationship with John was so precarious that he'd placed more importance on that. But it seemed that the younger of the boys was the more fragile. "He's scared that Father Padraic will take some vengeance on him for talking. I think the good priest threatened both of the boys. What happened with John?"

"Father Padraic fucked him without a condom. John had the foresight to keep the underwear the bastard jacked off into and realized when he took them off that night that his virginal blood stained them also. I guess he's watched enough television to know that DNA evidence can be pulled from them. I think he's desperate for a father figure."

"If only one of the boys can stay with us, who do you want it to be?" Justin asked, knowing the way his lover's mind worked. He figured he'd know the answer but he wanted Brian to say it.

"John," Brian said.

"I know. I'm okay with that. He's the one who told me to get my ass out of the loft and come after you. I can't hate him so much for that," Justin admitted. "I just don't see how you're going to convince your mom and sister of that."

Brian gave an evil smile and said, "I'm not pushing for formal custody, sonny boy. Just enough so that John can stay with me through high school. Claire knows how I feel about her but I'm not willing to let her son endure that hellhole. You and I both know the suicide rate of child abuse victims. This is going to be tough on John. I don't want to go to a funeral of a kid whose life was ruined through no fault of his own."

"What if his dad comes back?" Justin asked, ever the pragmatist.

"Then we'll clear that hurdle if it comes. I don't know, Justin. I think Peter's uncomfortable with me and he's scared shitless. I don't know that separating the boys is a great solution but I do know that John and I have come to a sort of détente and he's even willing to joke around with me. He's not throwing the fact that I'm a fag in my face anymore and he's even talking to you. The poison Claire's been feeding him for years is finally clearing his system. He's living in a safe, loving environment for the first time ever. And he has two people who are actively in his corner and won't fuck him over. I promised him that I'd have his back. I don't want to be proven a liar. And my mother can go fuck herself if she thinks I'm going to let her have any say in this matter."

"Okay. Let's go home."

Brian looked around the room and smiled a little bit. "I've missed your messiness," he admitted. "Bring what you want and we'll come back to get the rest."

"I'm coming home," Justin said, unable to hide the happiness in his tone.

"Yeah, baby, you are. You're coming home." Brian grinned at him and said, "I'm relieved to see that this isn't an imposition for you."

Recognizing the statement as one that was teasing, Justin reached for a bag and began to shove some things in it. Brian picked up a pair of discarded jocks with the tip of one finger, glancing at them and then back at Justin. He cleared his throat and Justin looked at him, then noticed the item Brian held, and flushed. "You took these?"

"Um, yeah."

"And you kept them all this time?"

"Um, yeah."

"When did you take these?"

"That first morning. I shoved them into the pocket of my jeans."

"How did I not notice?"

"I think you and I were too busy and Michael was being his usual annoying self, irritated at having to pick you up and even more irritated that I'd spent the night in your bed."

Brian tossed them to Justin who caught them. "Never knew you kept souvenirs. Kinky."

"You're not pissed?"

"Incredibly flattered. So how many times did you jack off into them?"

"Brian!" Justin exclaimed, flushing a bright tomato red. It was amazing after everything they'd been through that a casual comment like that could embarrass him. It amused Brian and ticked him off.


"A lot," he admitted. "I didn't think you'd ever find out," he muttered, turning away to empty his night stand drawer, the handcuffs making a clinking sound. He sat down on the bed, feeling Brian's presence behind him even as the bed shifted underneath his lover's weight. Brian leaned against him slightly, saying, "You got beads?"


"I think it's time we go up a size and time that you use them more frequently on me."

Justin inhaled sharply, and then exhaled on a sigh. "Are you saying that you're going to let me top more often?"

"Give you a chance to prove your versatility," he corrected then saw the blond's mutinous expression. "Yeah, I'm saying that you can fuck me more."

The grin brightened the room and he couldn't help smiling in answer. "Home."

"Home," Brian concurred. For the first time in a long time, he was truly and indisputably happy. Happy with Justin and happy with his life. Too bad such happiness didn't last long in Brian's world. For the fates still had more in store for him and his lover.

When the two returned back to the loft, John turned from the episode of Friends he and his brother were watching and smiled slightly. He got up and said, in a voice only slightly snarky, "Did you two kiss and make up?"

"Yeah, brat. It's all good. I suppose I owe you now," Brian said. He tossed his keys on the counter and said, "Any calls?"

"Um no, you kind of broke the fucking phone, remember?" John said, voice snarky now. "And I don't think I'm telepathic, Brian."

"Okay, smartass. It was just a question." He tossed John his cell which the teen caught one-handed. "Call your mom. Tell her that she and I need to talk without the old witch."

"You want me to say it any different?"

Brian shook his head and said, "Say it exactly that way. Tell her it's a direct quote so she doesn't get pissy with you."

John made the call as Brian took a seat at his desk. He checked the fax machine and saw that Cynthia had faxed him his agenda and a note saying that Telson was desperate to talk to him. Well, Brian thought, that can wait. I'm not just some ad exec now who has to fuck for the sake of a commission or an account. Telson can wait on me cause my ass is not for sale, not for any price. Justin's bought it, lock, stock, and fucking barrel. He lit a cigarette and glanced at his other nephew who was engrossed in the television. He pushed his chair back and flopped down next to Peter. Peter jumped slightly as Brian said, "Hey, Peter."

"Um, hi, Uncle Brian."

The kid was shaking he was so scared, Brian observed. "I'm not Tony fucking Soprano, kid. Want to tell me what's going on?"

Peter turned onto his side so he could look at his uncle. "I don't want him to hurt me again. I don't want him to make me touch his penis again. I don't want to suck it again."

"I don't blame you, Peter," Brian said, silently cursing the bastard who hid under the guise of being a servant of God.

"But you like that, Uncle Brian."

Brian sighed and wondered what sins he'd committed to be faced with a scared teen. "I'm an adult and I have my own sexual identity. It's different when you are grown-up and it's by choice. It's not right when it's forced upon you. What he did is wrong. And he won't hurt you or your brother ever again. I promise."

"When can I go home?" Peter asked, sounding younger than twelve. Brian wondered if he'd ever been so young. He didn't think so; Jack Kinney had forced every ounce of naïveté out of him by the time he was ten.

"I have to talk to your mom, Peter. You want to go home?"

Peter reluctantly nodded. "You have a lot of neat toys here but I miss my room. I miss my comic collection and my bed."

"I understand, Peter."

"You're not mad?"

"No, kid, I'm not mad. I understand that you want to go home." It had not escaped Brian's notice that the kid had not said that he missed his mom. He didn't think Claire would appreciate hearing that. "I need to talk to your mom. Do you want to go with me?"

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