Complications of the Mind
When John and Justin finally spilled into the loft, Justin realized that his lover was asleep. The absence of him in the living room was a clue but it was the soft and rhythmic snoring coming from the bedroom that cinched it for him. John glanced at him and smiled, saying, "He know he do that?"
"He denies it whenever I remind him of the fact. It's because of his deviated septum," Justin says, not mentioning the fact that said deviated septum was a result of an encounter with Jack Kinney's fist. "I'm going to brush my teeth and go to bed."
"Good night, Justin," John said, flopping down onto the futon to wait for Justin to finish his nightly routine before making it into the bathroom himself. The encounter with his grandmother and priest, even though it hadn't been face-to-face, had drained him emotionally. Eating ice cream with Justin had put the pain temporarily out of his mind, but the pain was still fresh enough to slice like a newly sharpened blade. Growing up sucked, he thought, and not in a positive, life-affirming way.
Justin slid into bed and heard Brian's voice softly say, roughened by sleep, "Too far away. Want you closer."
Since he was happy to oblige, Justin slid until he was in the crook of Brian's arm. Later he'd swear that he'd heard Brian say 'I love you' even though the man persistently denied it. But Justin knew what he'd heard.
Three days later, Brian was ready to pull his hair out when his private line rang. He glanced at the caller display, saw Lindsay's name, and was sorely tempted to ignore the blonde since his other blond was causing him such agitation. Hitting the speaker button, Brian snapped, "What?!"
"Hey, fuck you too, Kinney. I've had a for shit day and I don't need you being an asshole on top of it all," Lindsay's voice said, silk underlaid with steel. Brian hadn't heard that tone from her in years.
"The merry munchers still fighting?"
"Contrary to popular belief, dykes don't live idyllic lives any more than fags or straights do, Brian. And yeah, I'm ready to kill Melanie. She's trying to push me to spend more time with Jenny because she wants to go back to work."
"Hello, separated. She doesn't get to dictate who or what you do and Jenny's her daughter."
"She wants to fight you about Gus, Brian," Lindsay's words were quiet but had the effect of an atomic bomb. "She's intending to fight really dirty, Brian."
Brian set down the proposal he was redlining and picked up the phone, realizing that he didn't want to shout at her on speaker. "Talk, Lindz."
"Just that she's intending on dragging every fuck you've ever had up. Bringing up the relationship you had with Justin when he was a minor and leaving him alone with Gus to go to a sex club. The drug use and the orgy you sponsored when Stockwell closed the backrooms."
Brian bit back a curse and leaned back in his chair, lighting a cigarette. "What else?"
Lindsay paused a moment and said, "She's planning on asking Michael for help, Brian. If you're going to fix your friendship with him, I suggest you do it now."
"I'm not running scared from a post-partum dyke, Lindsay. I'll take the suggestion under advisement." His words were calm but he felt his blood pressure rise as he contemplated the reality of Michael's betrayal.
"I know how you feel about Mel, Bri, but she's serious about keeping you away from our son. And by ours, I mean yours and mine. Don't take this lightly."
"Whose corner are you in?" he asked bluntly.
"Yours," she responded without hesitation. "I'm on your side. Listen, Bri, I know how you feel about marriage but if you want a snowball's chance in hell you might want to consider it for our son's sake."
Brian rubbed his temples and took a deep drag on the cigarette, reaching for the stress ball he kept in his desk drawer for just such occasions. "My domestic partnership agreement with Justin is filed with the Commonwealth, Lindsay. It's all nice and legal. We filed it nearly a year ago; long before any of this shit happened. He and I don't need to have a civil ceremony to prove we're committed to each other. And John's staying with us. I think that speaks well of us."
"Okay," she wearily said. "I just don't want you to lose because of your damn Kinney pride, Bri. Too much is at stake."
"I'm well aware of the stakes. So you want to meet for lunch so I can see the apartment you'll be sharing with my son?"
"Yeah, twelve thirty. That work for you?"
Brian glanced down at the agenda Cynthia had given him upon his arrival in the office and nodded, and then said, "Yeah. Meet me here."
"Fine," Lindsay said, hanging up before he had the chance to berate her further. She hated fighting with Brian as much as she hated fighting with her wife, although at the moment she preferred Brian's company to that of Melanie's.
Later that day, Brian picked up his coffee cup, drained it, and then scowled fiercely at the copy the art department had given him for review. It was for shit, it was all for shit. He knew that his irritation was born more out of current events than inept staff but it was so much more fun to take it out of their ass.
"Cynthia," he bellowed, lighting another cigarette as he waited for his creative director to pop her head into his office.
"You bellowed?" Cynthia snapped. "What is it, Brian?"
"The copy's for shit. The coffee sucks and the agenda is overbooked for the week."
Cynthia started to retort and then caught a glimpse of Brian's face. "Go home, Brian," she said instead, her voice gentle as she caught a glimpse of the exhaustion in his. "I'll bring the kid home later."
He stared at her and finally nodded. "If Lindsay calls, tell her that I've gone home and to meet me there."
"I'll do you one better: I'll call Lindsay and tell her and I'll call Justin and tell him to meet you at the loft."
"Have I told you that if I weren't gay I'd fuck you?" Brian asked.
"You are and you have. It's flattering, Brian, but you know your heart belongs to a certain blond. Go home before you fire someone who doesn't deserve a pink slip."
He mock punched her cheek and said, "Thanks, kid."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. There better be a fine present for me when you and Justin come back from New York."
Brian winced at the reminder and she caught the expression. "I don't know if we're going, Cyn. With everything going on it just seems like the wrong time."
Cynthia uttered one word and it resonated with Brian. "Vermont. Remember Vermont, Brian."
For Brian and Justin, Vermont was their Alamo, their Custer's Last Stand, their burning of Atlanta, and Brian didn't even respond negatively to the reminder. He simply closed his eyes and opened them slowly, narrowing them as he nodded. "Okay. I'll bring you something in a little blue box."
"I bet Justin wouldn't mind something in a little blue box," Cynthia teased.
"Not hetero, Cyn." Brian said, grabbing his jacket, PDA, and keys from the top of the desk. "And Justin doesn't need a ring to know how much I love him."
She grinned at him and watched as he walked out of his office. Brian made record time back to the loft, taking off the Prada suit and dressing in his favorite jeans and a white t-shirt. He sat down on the floor and lit up a joint, while waiting for his lover to return, thankful for the time he could spend alone without the intrusion of his nephew. Sometimes Brian needed silence and that was a rare commodity in the Kinney household as of late.
He crossed to the kitchen, opening the fridge, and smiled bemusedly at the contents. Seemed Justin had spared no expense in getting foods a teenager would like, having first-hand knowledge, having been a teenager himself so recently. Kids, Brian thought, taking another toke, drawing the smoke deep into his lungs. For once, Anita hadn't screwed him over by giving him bad shit. He'd gotten the quality he'd paid for.
He was drifting into mellowness when a knock on the door startled him out of his haze. He left the roach smoldering in an ash tray and went to the door. He slid it open and then slammed it shut again. He leaned against the door, face flushed, and breathing hard. There were few things in life that truly frightened Brian but those that existed caused fear that ran deep in him. He slid the bolt closed and heard a voice say, "Kinney, let me in. I'm not going away."
"Leave me the fuck alone," Brian's voice was a near whisper. "Just leave me the fuck alone." He slid down to the floor, head in his hands, elbows resting on his knees. He was near to keening and that was something he hadn't done since the night Justin got hurt. He heard the footsteps fade away and felt relief wash over him, like a wave.
His cell phone began to ring and Brian sluggishly made his way over to the pile of pillows and picked it up. " 'ello," he said, fearing whose voice it'd be on the other end of the line.
He nearly sighed in utter relief. "Baby, can you come home?"
Justin heard the endearment and narrowed his eyes even though he knew Brian couldn't see him. "What's wrong?"
"Come home," Brian repeated, breaking the connection.
Not for the first time, Justin wished that he had his own car and didn't have to rely on public transportation. He'd be relieved when he could take receipt of the car he'd finally agreed to accept from Brian. He pushed a preprogrammed number and got the cab company. That would get him home faster and there was a note in Brian's voice that he liked not at all.
Half an hour later, Justin was fumbling with portfolio and keys when a voice came from behind him, startling him into dropping both. He whipped around and gasped. "What the fuck do you want?"
"Such a way to greet a former trick. I guess you haven't learned any manners, Sunshine. Isn't that what he calls you, after all? I never knew your name, you know. Even when I had your dick down my throat, I didn't know your name."
Justin bent to pick up his keys, keeping a wary eye on Kip Thomas as he stood. "What do you want?"
"What I've always wanted. Brian Kinney's balls. I'll settle for helping his nemesis in the fight over his kid. Melanie Marcus, isn't it?"
Justin felt himself go pale and gripped the side of the building as Kip laughed, a sound that he'd heard only in nightmares. "Goodbye, Justin," Kip said, as he walked away, leaving the path of destruction in his wake. He finally got the key in the lock on the final try and ran up the stairs, forgoing the elevator in his haste to get to Brian.
He unlocked the loft door and was greeted with the sight of Brian huddled in a near fetal position on the floor, underneath the shelf that ran under the bank of windows overlooking Tremont. "Shit," Justin cursed quietly, dropping everything. He forgot about the door for the moment, concerned more about Brian than them getting robbed. He knelt by Brian's side, saw the hazel eyes dark with pain and fear, and cursed their enemies.
"Justin," Brian's mouth barely moved, stumbling over the letters. He met his lover's eyes and drew him into his lap, holding him so closely that Justin could feel Brian's body shaking beneath him. He wrapped his own arms around Brian as the older man said, "I can't lose him, Justin. I can't lose him."
"I know, baby. I know. It's okay," Justin said, hating to see him this vulnerable.
Lindsay stood in the doorway to the loft and silently watched the man she loved with the man he loved. She'd seen them together many times but this was the first time it had really come home to her just how much they loved and needed each other, that they got their strength from each other. She scribbled a quick note and left it on the counter, knowing they'd find it and knowing neither of them had seen her, so lost in their own private pain.
Neither of them knew how long they sat there, limbs entwined. Brian finally broke away and looked ruefully at him. "I'm -" he began.
"Don't you fucking dare apologize to me. You're human, Brian. We're in this together and I won't let him hurt you."
"What about you?"
"I'll be fine, Bri." Justin crossed to the fridge, withdrawing two bottles of water. He tossed one to Brian on his way back and the man half-heartedly made an attempt to catch it. He noted the note on the counter and brought it back with him to Brian.
"A note from Lindz saying that she'll take a rain check."
"Shit. I guess she saw us. I'm sure she's wondering what that was all about."
Justin took a swallow from his bottle of water and glanced at his lover who still looked shaken. "I ran into him outside the loft, Brian. He said that he's been contacted by Melanie's counsel about testifying on her behalf."
"FUCK!" Brian shouted, heaving the water bottle across the room, where it landed, spilling droplets of water to pool on the hardwood floor. "FUCK!" he said again.
Justin avoided looking at Brian, remembering how he'd gotten Kip to drop the sexual harassment lawsuit against Brian. It didn't cast either of them in a flattering light, the only saving grace might possibly be Justin's youth and naïveté when it came to Brian's life at the time. He stood and disappeared into the bedroom.
Brian marked his departure and then with a world-weary sigh followed him up the stairs, finding Justin lying on their bed, pillow cradled to his chest, like a teddy bear. "I'm not pissed at you," he said finally, looking down at his lover. "This isn't your fault, you know. It's not even mine. This all came about because Melanie's fucking jealous of me. Jealous of the fact that I shared something with Lindsay that she can't replicate. And pissed at me because I want to spend time with my son, that I'm looking at Gus and seeing something more than just a contribution of jizz."
Brian lay down next to him and said, "We knew this was going to be a dirty fight, Sunshine. The munchers aren't squeaky clean either. Melanie's had an affair, Lindsay's had an affair. At least, you and I've been honest about our relationship from the get go. And our partnership agreement was in place long before I thought about having a more active role in Gus's life."
He trailed his fingers down Justin's arm, feeling the fine blond hairs underneath his fingertips, and finally said, "You can still go to California. Get the fuck out of here and away from this soap opera."
Justin flipped himself so that he straddled Brian, so that he was looking down at him. "No fucking way and leave you to face that fucking cunt by yourself? Not a chance. Thick and thin, Brian. Good times and bad."
Brian winced and then smiled slightly. "Vows?"
"Promises, promises. Nothing more."
"Lindsay suggested a commitment ceremony might reflect well with the courts."
"You don't want to get married and even if you did, we wouldn't do it because of a custody fight. That would be the wrong reason. And you're not that fucking desperate yet." Justin paused for a moment and then said, "Where does Lindsay stand in all this?"
"Behind us. For the time being but I don't exactly trust her." It was Brian's turn to hesitate and he did so for long moments as Justin rested his head upon his chest.
"I love you," Justin whispered.
"Me too," Brian whispered, closing his eyes lest the pain take him unaware. He couldn't lose Gus, he just couldn't. It wasn't an option for him. Just like losing Justin wasn't an option for him.
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