Complications of the Mind
When John arrived home, he found his uncle and his partner in an embrace that looked closer than if they'd actually been caught fucking. He glanced at Cynthia who looked embarrassed and then she said, "Let me write them a note. I'm taking you to dinner."
"You don't have to do that," John said.
"I don't want to wake them up. Do you?" she asked, having never seen her boss so nakedly vulnerable even when she'd seen him nude. She knew this was an incredibly private moment between her boss and his lover.
John glanced at Brian and Justin and finally shook his head. "No, I'm kind of hungry anyway."
She slid the loft door closed behind them and, up in the bedroom, Brian began to stir. He gently dislodged Justin and heard the blond mutter a sleepy, "No, don't wanna get up."
Brian smiled slightly and said, "It's okay, baby. You sleep."
He reached for his pack of cigarettes and lit one. He had thought he'd heard voices but since they were still alone in the loft figured that whoever it was had left. Justin stirred beside him and the beautiful blue eyes he adored slowly opened, focusing on his face. Brian looked down at him and said, "Are you sure you want this?"
Justin sat up and glared at him. "I love Gus, Brian. I've loved him since that night."
"I had two babies that night," Brian said, mind for the moment somewhere else. "My life changed in an instant."
"I found the love of my life and gained a kid that night, Brian. I think both our lives changed in an instant. I've fought for you and I'll be damned if I don't stand and fight for our son. So stop pushing me away. I'm not fucking walking away from you."
"Ease down, Sugar Ray," Brian said, handing him the cigarette. Justin took a drag and glanced at his partner. He handed the cigarette back to Brian and then slid out of bed. He padded down to the kitchen, noticing the note and returned to Brian's side, handing it wordlessly to him. "Shit," Brian said, upon reading the note.
"I think you owe her a debt of gratitude, Brian. She's saved us having to explain to John what's going on and she said she'd call when they were on their way back."
Without speaking, Brian stubbed out the cigarette. He turned back to his young lover, eyes intent upon Justin's face as he began to unbutton his jeans. Justin watched with rapt attention as Brian unveiled himself. He'd seen this a thousand times but it still never failed to move him as his lover's body was revealed. "What are you doing?" Justin asked, his own voice husky with desire.
"I think you know, little boy," Brian said, tossing the jeans aside as he removed his t-shirt. He lay on his back, idly stroking himself, knowing that Justin couldn't look away even if he'd wanted to. He got off on that heady sense of power that came from knowing that when the chips were down, there was no one Justin would rather fuck or be fucked by than him.
Justin began to strip and Brian cautioned him, "Slowly. Slowly."
"You want a show?" Justin asked.
"Remember the day Claire found out that I had cancer?"
Justin nodded slowly, unsure of his intentions. He needn't have worried; Brian had no intention of using it against him, at least not in a malicious manner. "You teased me unmercifully. Now you can give me that show and I can follow through, sonny boy."
Justin grinned at him and Brian answered him in kind, with a rare true Kinney smile. One arm behind his head and the other idly stroking his growing cock, Brian was the perfect picture of a patron awaiting a tribute. The fact that it was a beautiful blond boy just made it all the sweeter. Brian watched Justin's alabaster skin become revealed inch by inch and caught his breath. Justin was lowering the cargo pants when Brian pulled him down to him, mouth crushing his beneath his own. Their tongues met and Justin swallowed his spit, causing him to smile in return and his eyes to darken as his hands went down to cup Justin's ass. Justin kicked free of the cargo pants, and broke the kiss, growling, "I want to fuck you."
"Do with me what you will," Brian said, preparing to enjoy it. Despite his protests to the contrary and his well-established reputation, there was only one cock that had been up his ass in years and that was Justin's, a fact which gave the blond much pleasure. "I only have one request," he said.
Justin's eyes narrowed as he looked at Brian, sex incarnate. "What?"
"I know we both enjoy it fast and rough most of the time, Justin," he began, then paused, seemingly uncomfortable which for a man who found little in life embarrassing was striking. "But I don't mind a long, gentle fuck on occasion."
It was the closest Brian Kinney could come to asking his lover to make love to him without losing face. Justin was enough of a man not to throw that fact back in his face. He simply licked Brian's lower lip and traced the line of his jaw. When he got to his ear, Justin took the lobe between his teeth and gently nipped at him, while Brian gasped in pleasure, then licked the cartilage.
He turned his attention to the column of Brian's throat, blazing a wet trail down the center of his chest, lapping over Brian's navel, then darting his tongue inside to fuck the small indentation as he would his ass. He looked up to meet Brian's eyes and saw that the man's eyes were closed, face lax as he gave himself over to the pleasure he was deriving from his partner's attention. Brian might deny it, Justin thought, but what we share is different than what he gets from tricks.
He licked Brian's rib cage and then moved up his body to his nipples. He lapped the area around them and then finally sucked one inside his mouth, hard-sucking until he knew it was close to painful for Brian. Then he did the same to the other, until both were shining with saliva and standing out from his chest.
Brian put his hand on the back of Justin's head and directed him back down to his cock, which was now angry and engorged. Justin flicked the tip of his tongue across the mushroom-cap of his head and then began to lick from base to tip, in long leisurely strokes. Brian moaned as Justin took him into his mouth, tongue tracing the vein that ran along the underside of his shaft. He allowed himself to go for long minutes as Justin paid homage to his favorite dick in the world, then finally said, "Stop," on a guttural moan.
Justin eased off and looked up at Brian with a perplexed expression. "I want you to fuck me," he said by way of explanation.
Justin nodded and Brian turned over, his expression one of perfect trust, a far cry from the first time he'd allowed Justin to top him. It was still infrequent enough that Justin relished each opportunity and as much as he liked to fuck Brian, he still enjoyed Brian's dick up his ass more. Justin ran his tongue the length of Brian's back, licking the hollow at the base of his spine before parting his lover's cheeks, inhaling then exhaling against Brian's hole. He could feel him shudder and took a slight bit of pleasure out of the fact that he could induce that reaction from him. He traced the area around Brian's hole and then lapped over it, making direct contact. Brian hissed and Justin knew he was gripping the pillow underneath his head tighter. It took a lot for Brian to submit to this; to accept this utter loss of control. Justin didn't take the honor lightly and he didn't regard it as his due for putting up with Brian. He made a point of his tongue and darted it inside, curling his tongue upwards in Brian's hole, knowing when Brian pushed his ass back against his face that he wanted more.
"Fuck me," Brian growled.
Justin continued to eat Brian out and finally Brian's dick was so hard he feared it would tear a hole through the mattress. "Fuck the shit out of me, Sunshine. PLEASE!!!!"
Not a man who begged, Justin knew that when Brian did so, he was dead fucking serious. Justin reached for a condom and Brian's hand stayed his hand. Justin looked down at him curiously and said, "We're supposed to talk to Miranda first."
Brian let his hand drop to the bed and nodded, looking for all the world like a little boy denied his favorite treat. "Fine," he muttered.
Justin kissed his shoulder and said, "I love you."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he said, secretly very pleased that the blond said it.
Justin lubed his cock and then slid the condom on, knowing how close he was. He placed his dick at Brian's entrance and began the slow push in. Brian winced at the sudden, all too unfamiliar pain, and then gave himself over to it, trusting that Justin wouldn't hurt him and getting comfort from the fact that the blond loved him hopelessly and with a desperation that bordered on obsession. He began to move inside Brian and on the upstroke, Brian pushed down on him. A hand drifted down to his own cock freely leaking pre-cum and Brian stroked in unison with Justin's movements inside him. The tip of Justin's cock brushed his prostate and both men couldn't help but shudder at the sensation. Justin began to fuck Brian faster and then he couldn't hold out any longer and he felt his balls unload his jism into the condom as he rode Brian to an orgasm below him. Brian shot on the 100-count linen sheets and felt Justin begin to withdraw and said a husky, "Wait a minute."
Justin looked down at him curiously and knew that he would get no explanation from Brian. He simply waited and then Brian said, with a note of something akin to regret, "Okay," as Justin began to withdraw slowly.
Justin made to toss the condom aside and Brian glanced at it, grinning at him. "Not bad, Sunshine."
"I may be smaller but that doesn't mean I don't produce a lot of spunk, Brian," he said, voice conveying pride and amusement.
"Point noted," Brian said, as Justin turned to toss the condom in the waste basket. He started to lie down in his spot in the bed and Brian said, "Don't go."
"Not going anywhere," Justin said.
"Guess we should shower," Brian suggested. "Somehow the kid knows we have sex but I don't think he wants firsthand knowledge of that thrown in his face."
"Not many kids do," Justin acknowledged, and took Brian's hand, pulling him to a sitting position.
He headed into the bathroom and was opening the shower door when Brian said, "That was fucking hot, Justin. I know I don't let you fuck me often but that was fucking amazing."
"Just like it is with any other trick." The instant the words left his mouth, Justin didn't know why in the name of all that is holy he'd said it.
"No," Brian said, voice low. "That only happens with you. And you know that's the fucking case so why do you ride my ass about it? I'm not apologizing for fucking other men, Justin, and that knowledge has benefited you."
"Yes, it has. I'm sorry, Brian. Don't know where that came from."
"I think I do," Brian said, reaching around him to test the water temperature. He climbed inside and Justin followed him. He'd reached for the shampoo bottle and was lathering up Justin's hair before he spoke, "It still bothers you that I've fucked my way through half of the gay men in the Pittsburgh phone book and not a few supposedly straight men. Yet you've reaped benefits from that selfsame knowledge. And that bugs the shit out of you."
Justin leaned back against Brian as the man's fingers massaged his scalp. "I know I'm not a trick but for a long time that's all I was to you and you took great pleasure in pointing that out to me whenever you could, Brian. I still have lingering hurts over that."
"And yet you're the only person in my life who I would consider being utterly faithful to, Justin. Not a nameless trick whose overly used ass I enjoyed for one night or Michael, but you. You're the one I'm fucking and the one I'm in love with. You know how long it was for me before I let you fuck me?"
"No," Justin said, voice quiet.
"Every time I felt the urge I'd either get out the ten-inch dildo or the twelve-inch vibrator and ride that for all I was worth. Then I met you, a hot little blond twink, and I felt something I hadn't felt for years. I trust you completely and implicitly. I haven't always and I didn't get back to that point for a long time after Ian but I do. And I'm never going to be the man you want me to be. But you've made me a better man for loving you, Justin. That's something you can be proud of."
Justin winced as Brian's fingers dug in with more pressure and bit back the urge to tell him it hurt. Sometimes a little pain was a good thing. And then betimes it wasn't. He turned to face Brian and said only, "I didn't mean to hurt you, Brian. I think sometimes we fuck with each other because we don't like things to be too comfortable between us."
"Exactly, Sunshine. Things get too comfortable and cozy for either one of us and the other balks." He fingered the pendant Justin wore at all times and said, "You know what this meant to me?"
"Yeah, I think I do."
"Let me refresh your memory. Once upon a time, a beautiful blonde princess and a not so beautiful beast made a plan to go away to a beautiful country lodge where they'd fuck like minks and cuddle together by a fire. Then real life intervened and the beautiful blonde princess ran away because she got scared when the beast didn't say what needed to be said. They made their way back to each other but they caused many hurts along the way. Then one day the beast gave the beautiful blonde princess a pendant symbolizing his love and what the princess means to him." Brian glanced down at him and said, "I'm never going to give you everything you want but I can give you today and tomorrow and the next day."
"I love you, Brian."
"And sometimes the words are just that: words."
"You don't believe me?" Justin asked, voice clearly conveying hurt he had no ability to disguise, not when it came to Brian.
"I believe you. I just think that you need the words more than I do. It's enough for me to have you in my life and in my bed and sharing my home. Fuck the world if they can't accept that, Justin. It's enough for us and that's what matters."
"You ever think about us sharing something other than the loft?"
Brian couldn't help the shudder that went through his body at the question. He loved the loft; it was part of who he was. "No," he answered shortly.
"Just a question," Justin said, feeling somewhat deflated.
But they both knew it wasn't just a question and it would lie there between them like a dead moose until it was discussed again. It wasn't that Justin didn't love the loft because he did, but sometimes he wanted something that was his and Brian's not just Brian's. Brian was well aware that there was still a part of Justin that hoped for the breeder dream and feared that Justin, on some level, was just settling for second best. He hated being second best.
As if he were privy to Brian's thoughts, Justin looked up at him, noting the nearly aristocratic profile as Brian let the water pelt him. "I don't want the white picket fence, Brian. But I don't want to be forty and still living the bachelor's life."
Brian turned off the water with a savage jerk of his wrist and glanced at his lover. "We'll talk about it. I'm not closing the door, Sunshine, but I'm not ready for anything more than buying the loft downstairs and opening this place up a bit so it's more of a home for us."
"I know," Justin responded, feeling doubly guilty for doubting Brian. "It's home to me too, Brian."
"It's the place we first made love," Brian said, the words unintentionally coming out as mocking.
Justin glared at him and stomped out of the bathroom, the gesture fey. He dripped water on the bed, not caring, and Brian stood in the door to the bedroom and said, "I didn't mean anything by it, Sunshine."
"Yes, you did. I have these deep feelings and they make you uncomfortable so you belittle them and me."
"For fuck's sake, don't be such a girl about it." Brian said, reaching for the t-shirt and the jeans, the jeans molding to his still slightly damp skin. "I'm well aware of the fact that this is where we made love for the first time; I just don't make a federal case out of it."
Justin flopped onto his stomach and Brian sighed. "Don't pout, it's so unattractive."
"You do it," he shot back.
Since he had no response to that, Brian knelt by his side of the bed, saying softly, "Look at me." Justin turned away and Brian ran a hand through his damp hair, in frustration. "Look at me, dammit."
Finally Justin looked at him, the hurt clearly visible in his baby blues. "I'm sorry. Okay? I'm sorry. I fucking hate fighting with you."
"I know, I know," Justin said, "it makes your dick soft."
"No, smartass. I hate fighting with you because it makes my heart hurt and I feel like I'm drowning when I think about how close I've come lately to losing you. There, is that open enough for you?" Brian asked, standing and leaving Justin alone with his thoughts to brood or whatever the fuck it was that country-club bred WASPs did. He knew what Irish Catholic, blue-collar boys did when they were hurt but somehow he thought it was different.
He disposed of the roach in the trash can underneath his desk and flipped through the DVDs, finally finding One-Eyed Jacks. He loved early Brando and put the disk in the tray, leaning back against the pillows to watch it. He knew every line in this film and as Justin heard the opening score, he was reminded of the day he'd come to the loft to tell Brian he wasn't taking the money for the Institute. Brian'd been watching this film that day. Some people preferred to keep their pain private and some sought to open up wounds with a straight-edged blade. Guess which category Brian fell in?
Justin pulled on a hastily discarded pair of gray sweatpants and flopped down next to Brian. "Why do you love this film?"
"Because it's about love and betrayal. It's real and raw and doesn't present a fairytale ending like most Hollywood flicks," Brian said, as Justin rested his head on his shoulder. He turned so he could just lightly brush his lips across Justin's cheek.
"I don't like fighting with you either. I'm sorry if I was a drama princess, Brian. It's just everything is changing and it's fucking strange to think of us raising Claire's kid after all the shit she's put you through."
"None of which is his fault, baby. And the custody fight is coming up which may be ugly. Somehow the munchers are going to drag up every negative thing that ever happened between us and use it against me. We need to present a united front."
"And Michael?" Justin asked, hating to even bring him up, but knowing it was a loose end that needed to be tied up.
"Let me worry about Mikey. Ssh, I want to watch the movie," Brian said, as Justin nestled into his side, curling up against him.
He'd just gotten to the fiesta scene when he heard the loft door slowly slide open. "Safe to come in?"
Brian turned and put a finger to his lips as he nodded. "Justin's sleeping." He saw Cynthia standing beside John and mouthed a "thank you" in her direction. She inclined her head and Brian realized that he either owed her a present or a bonus. He figured a bottle of Coco would suffice for her inconvenience.
John kicked off his sneakers as he thanked Cynthia for buying him dinner and slid the door closed as she left. He made his way across the loft to where Brian reclined and Justin slept, curled up next to him, and smiled slightly at the picture of the two men. He'd never realized just how much his uncle cared for his young lover. "What movie are you watching?" John asked, voice quiet.
"One-Eyed Jacks. Early Brando."
"You mean before he got old and fat?"
Brian couldn't help but smile at that. He nodded and said, "Ssh, it's about halfway through." He hit the play button and heard Justin sigh against his side.
"Does he ever drool on you?"
"On occasion and I always tease him about it." Brian glanced at his nephew and said, seemingly out of the blue, "You can fuck with me and give me shit about stuff but do not disrespect him. Got it?"
"Yeah," John said, eyes wide. "Don't get so medieval on me. I know not to talk shit about him besides, Brian, I like him. He's cool and he's in love with you for some fucked-up reason. He can't be all bad." He grinned wickedly and added, "Besides he's so much younger than you."
By the time the end credits had begun to roll, John was fading fast and Justin was beginning to rouse. He made to stand up and Brian hit the stop button on the DVD player. He looked at his nephew and tossed the control in his direction. "If you want to watch TV, make sure the volume is low. Some of us have to get up early in the morning and go to work."
John shot Brian a glare and then said, "If it's okay with you, I'll just stay here tomorrow."
"Too much for you to work for your uncle? Harsh taskmaster?" Justin teased, yawning.
"No, I actually like working with Brian and Cynthia. It's just I thought I'd clean up the loft for you two and it's hard to do that with you two hanging around."
"I lost the bet," Brian responded, eyes narrowing as he wondered what the kid was up to. It was passing strange for a teenager to offer to clean up; he couldn't even make Justin, a twenty-something, pick up after himself.
"Consider it a thank you."
Brian shrugged and said, "Fine. Just don't open the door to strangers and if you have any funny feelings or calls, I want you to call me or Justin. Cynthia has standing orders to put you right through even if I'm in a meeting. Got it?"
John nodded, and began flipping through channels, lowering the volume to a mere hum. "Good night, Brian. Justin."
It was after one when Brian finally heard the television cut off and his nephew crawl into his nest of covers. He lay on his back and then finally got up to brood. He took up his favorite thinking/brooding/sulking position looking out the windows and heard footsteps behind him. Thinking it was Justin he turned around and then realized it was John. "What's wrong, Uncle Brian?"
"Insomnia. It's better when Justin's here. A lot of the time I can't sleep."
"That must suck."
"You think?" Brian snarked.
"I wasn't trying to be a smart ass. So you just stand here all night until you feel tired?"
"When we had a sofa, I'd lay down on that and finally drift off to sleep. I'd wake up and find that I'd been covered with a blanket or the duvet. Nobody knows why I have this problem."
"Could it have to do with lying awake at night waiting on Granddad to come home, not knowing if you were going to get the shit kicked out of you or not?"
Brian narrowed his eyes and finally said, "Possible. It's also possible that I'm scared shitless of losing Justin and I stay awake because it's the only way I know he'll still be here in the morning."
"That's sad," John observed. "My mom always says to take hot milk. It helps her fall asleep."
"Does she spike it?"
"It's possible," he said, and then narrowed his own eyes, in an expression that Brian recognized, "but I think if she was going to drink liquor with something it would be a soda not milk. I'm going back to bed."
"Hey, kid," Brian said, as he turned to find him pulling the covers up to his chin. "Thanks."
As was his usual routine, Brian was up at the ass-crack of dawn, slipping out of bed and showering and dressing without disturbing either Justin or John. He left a note along with some cash for John along with instructions for arming the loft if he decided to leave. Didn't want a repeat of what had happened some three years earlier.
Ten minutes later, he was knocking on another apartment door. His knocking increased in frequency until it was more like a methodical banging.
The door was opened and Brian was greeted with a still half-asleep Hunter, who gazed at him with a slightly more perplexed expression than usual. "Hey, Brian. How's it-"
"Not today," Brian said, pushing past him and opening the door to the bedroom Michael and Ben shared. Ben sat up in bed at the intrusion and glared at him and then his expression softened in understanding.
He prodded his partner and Michael sleepily looked at him, and said, "What is it?"
"We've got company," Ben said, sliding out of bed. He glanced at Hunter and said only, "Go get dressed, Hunter. I'll buy you breakfast."
"But I want to stay and watch the show," Hunter said, then caught sight of Brian's glowering countenance. "On second thought," he hastily added, "I could eat."
He and Ben went into the living room and shut the door behind them. Brian stood for a few minutes looking down at the still drowsing form of Michael and felt himself getting angrier and angrier. Finally fed up, he jerked the covers off and leaned down to yell in Michael's ear, "Wake the fuck up, you little twat!"
Michael sat up, clutching for the covers, and then his chocolate lab eyes became fearful as he took in Brian's expression. "Hi, Brian."
"Don't 'hi, Brian' me, you little asshole. You know I won't ever fuck you so you decide to fuck me over instead. How did you and Smelly Mel track down Kip fucking Thomas?"
"Um, I don't-"
"Michael, you really don't want to fuck with me on this. I'll ask you one more time: how the fuck did you track down Kip Thomas?"
"She found out he'd relocated to Atlanta. Called him and asked if he'd be willing to testify on her behalf in a custody case involving you."
"And you didn't try to talk her out of it?"
"She's the mother of my daughter," Michael needlessly reminded him.
Brian took a deep breath and stepped close to him, "You do not want to fuck with me, Michael."
"I'm your best friend."
"Sing a new tune, old buddy. With friends like you, I don't need enemies. Keep your foster son away from me and mine."
"He'll only hurt you again."
"That may be but it's none of your fucking business, Michael."
"I know things about you that could cost you custody of Gus."
Brian grasped the collar of Michael's Captain Astro t-shirt and pulled it tight as he said, "You fuck this up for me and I'll cut your balls off, Michael."
"You ought to be more concerned about the blond twink you call your boyfriend."
"My partner, Michael. Partner in all the ways that really matter and that really burns your ass because it's never been you. He fucked me last night and I begged him for it. I moaned and pleaded for him to fuck me with his hard eight and a ½ inches, Michael. Stop calling yourself my best friend because you're not. Stay the fuck away from me and my family."
"I thought Ma and me were your family."
"So did I," Brian said, sadly as he walked out the door to Michael's vain protests resounding in his ears. So did I. He walked as if in a daze to his car and sat behind the wheel for long moments until a beat cop rolled up and asked him if there was a problem. Brian slowly shook his head and headed back to the loft. Perhaps the morning could be salvaged in some small way.
He walked into the loft and saw Justin sitting at the counter, eating a bowl of cereal. The blond looked at him and whatever Justin saw in his eyes scared him. "Brian," he began.
Brian shook his head and went up the stairs, flopping on his stomach on the bed, not caring that his suit was getting wrinkled. He pulled his knees up to his chest and waited, knowing that Justin wouldn't be far behind him. He wasn't wrong. Justin spooned him, chest against his back, arms holding him close. "Want to tell me what's wrong?" he whispered.
"I saw Michael," Brian could barely get the words out. "He knew Melanie found Kip and didn't warn me. He had the nerve to say that I should be worried about you fucking me over."
"Bri, even if we weren't together, I would never do or say anything to cause you to lose custody of your son. I love both of you too much to ever do that."
"I know. Michael was there the night Gus was born. He was up on the roof that night with me when I got up on that ledge and still he thinks this is just some practice play date I'm having with my kid. You know, that night I found you in the backroom when we weren't together?" Brian asked, waiting as Justin nodded. "He'd just found out that Melanie was pregnant, that the procedure to reverse her endometriosis had worked. I gave him a Cohiba as my way of toasting to fatherhood, because I figured it was something we could share, more than his adolescent love of comics." And his adolescent love of me, he added silently.
Justin could well understand that but he just let Brian talk. "He said something about not knowing if he'd be a good father or not and I reminded him that he'd raised me. Then he said that he wanted to be a better father than I was, that he didn't want to be a drop-in dad with money and toys. That he actually wanted to be a part of his daughter's life. I left him standing in the bird's nest and walked down to the basement where I found you fucking someone else. I was so raw that night that if you'd asked me how I felt about you, I wouldn't have had the strength for any of my usual bullshit. He says he knows me so well and yet those casual words cut me to the quick, Justin. You'd think he'd understand how much I love Gus and yet he's willing to cost me my son and doesn't even see the irony in it."
"I'm sorry, baby," Justin said, because he couldn't think of anything else to say.
Brian lay his hand on top of Justin's, hands intertwining close to his heart, and said, "You've always known I'd be a good dad if I just let myself and didn't let thoughts of my old man torture me. Michael's always thought it was a bad idea, a bad mix of drugs. That Brian Kinney just didn't fit with fatherhood."
"He's a fucking moron, Brian."
"And you're the one standing by my side when all the shit hits. Amazing how that is?" Brian said. "For the first time, I feel like I'm not standing in the rain alone anymore. I've got someone who cares about me and it's not about money or power or sex. It's Brian Aidan Kinney that matters."
Justin felt the tears well up in his eyes. "I'm sorry that you lost his friendship, Brian."
Brian turned to face him, pulling him closer. "I have all the family and friends I need, Justin. With friends like Michael, I don't need enemies. There are going to be two camps, and I don't have the foggiest idea who's going to still stand after the smoke clears. The only thing I do know is that you'll be by my side."
"I'm yours," Justin said, kissing the knuckles of Brian's right hand. "I always have been."
Brian sighed and said, finally, "You were right about Michael's treachery. I could have handled the shit with Ian had you been honest with me. Half of the trouble we've had is because Michael's fingers have been in the pie. Our relationship is not a clusterfuck, at least not without invitation. And after all is said and done, you're the one who loves me enough to let me go because you want me to be happy more than you want to control my destiny."
"I never wanted you to lose his friendship, Brian."
"I know. You're a bigger person than Michael, Justin. You've got a bigger heart and if you saw me happy with someone else you'd be glad for me. You wouldn't be so fucking resentful that you'd try to fuck things up for me on principle. Christ!"
Justin held him for a long time and finally Brian looked up, misery etched on his handsome, patrician face. Brian finally said, "We need to go to New York."
"What about John?"
"I can stay at Mom's," John said quietly, standing at the top of the stairs.
"How long have you been standing there?"
"Not long," John responded, flinching at the hostility directed towards him by his uncle.
Brian shook his head and said, "I'll talk to Cynthia. Maybe you can stay with her for a couple of days. Or maybe Deb." He looked at Justin and said, "What do you think, baby?"
"It won't hurt to ask Cynthia. Deb will probably say no out of spite because poor wittle Mikey has been hurt by the big bad Brian."
"I'll ask Cynthia. And book our tickets, Sunshine." He looked at John and said, "Mind giving us a moment?"
"Sure," John said, "I'll go up to the roof while you two talk."
When the loft door closed behind John, Justin glanced at Brian. "What's up?"
"You remember when I went to the White Party?"
Justin nodded. "Yeah, it was the same day as Lindsay and Melanie's wedding."
"Yeah. The last night I caught the wedding bouquet that was thrown by this drag queen. You know what it means among heteros, right?"
"Yes," Justin said, slowly. He'd gone to enough weddings at the country club to know exactly what catching the bouquet meant.
"We're together because we want to be and not because there are locks on our doors. We're together because we're better together than apart. And we're together because we love each other."
Justin held his breath. "This trip to New York is like a honeymoon of sorts for us, okay. I know I revile marriage and think it's an antiquated concept. I have deep issues with marriage but I know you don't necessarily share those views because you weren't raised by wolves like me. I want this to be a trip we remember. Even if we don't last, our memories of this trip will endure. You get what I'm saying?"
"It's our Paris, Rick," Justin said, paraphrasing a line from Casablanca.
"Yeah, Ilsa, it is."
Brian stood and reached down to lift Justin up. "You mind going to get the kid? I hate leaving him like this on such short notice but he's safer with Cynthia than with Debbie. I don't want him having any contact with Michael."
"Understood, Captain Kinney." Justin turned to leave when Brian said, "Thanks."
Justin offered him a sad smile and crossed the loft to the door. He slid it open and made his way to the rooftop. He found John sprawling on one of the rusting lawn chairs. "Hey," he said, sitting beside him on the other. "You okay?"
"You guys fight like an old married couple."
"Don't let your uncle hear you say that. I don't think he'd like that much."
"He loves you, you know. And it scares him."
"I know. I fell in love with him when he wanted nothing to do with me and thought I knew nothing. Maybe I didn't know anything but I knew I wanted him and was willing to do whatever it took to get him. Finally, I proved to him that love wasn't bullshit and he gave me a beautiful, priceless dance that was his way of telling me he loved me. He may be cranky and grumpy and moody but he's still an amazing person."
"I know," John said, standing up. "I wish I'd known that earlier, Justin. It would have been nice to have a man around to talk to when things got shitty with my mom. I don't know if you noticed but Mom and Grandma are not easy to talk to."
Justin wisely held his tongue. Yeah, he'd had occasion to notice that. "You okay with us going to New York? You don't feel like we're abandoning you?"
"No. I don't mind staying with Cynthia. I had fun with her. She has all kinds of stories about Uncle Brian. I can't believe all the shit he pulled."
"Neither can I," Justin said, wrapping an arm around John's shoulders as they made their way down the stairs to the sixth floor. They walked into the loft to find Brian on the phone with the Waldorf Astoria making reservations for a suite.
"All they have is the Honeymoon Suite, honey. Will that suffice?" Brian asked, eyes sparkling with amusement. He was so ready to get the fuck out of this burg before it killed him and Justin.
"Yes, darling that's fine," Justin responded, sticking his tongue out at him. Brian could be incredibly silly on occasion; it was just rare to see that side of him when he didn't have a fifth of whiskey in him or several joints.
Brian hung up the phone and grinned at nephew and partner. "Our flight is at five o'clock in the morning on Friday. We come back on the red-eye on Wednesday morning." He turned to John and said, "Would you rather spend five days back at home with your mom or with Cynthia?"
"Cynthia," he responded without hesitation.
"I think you've got a crush," Brian teased.
"Fuck you," John spat out, clearly embarrassed by his uncle's observation.
"Don't tease the kid, Bri. It's not kind," Justin said, stepping in before verbal warfare could commence.
"I'll call Cynthia," Brian finally said. "We have shopping to do."
"You can do shopping in New York," Justin reminded him.
"Not for me, silly wabbit. Shopping for you."
"What's wrong with what I wear?"
"Where to start?"
Justin glared at him and Brian smirked, an expression that Justin welcomed for once, as it heralded a return to good humor for Brian. Deciding it wasn't worth the argument, because he didn't mind being closeted in a small confined space with a hot Brian, Justin simply nodded and said, "Okay, shopping."
"Can I go?"
There went the sinful thoughts that ran through both Justin and Brian's heads, one more example of their synchronicity. "Um," Brian began and then saw John's expression fall. He glanced at Justin and the blond shrugged, letting him know that this was up to him. "It won't be much fun. We'll be going to Armani and Prada and Dolce & Gabbana."
Damn, if the kid's eyes didn't light up. Brian reappraised his nephew and then said, in a tone heavy with resignation, "Fine, you may accompany us on this shopping trip."
"Jeez, you sound like some British prig with something stuffed up his ass," John said, then blushed as he realized what he'd said and to whom.
To their credit, Brian and Justin both began to laugh at the stilted tone adopted by Brian and John's true to a kid's response. "Um, sorry," he offered.
"It's okay," Brian said, stifling another laugh. At least, the kid felt comfortable enough to joke around with them. That boded well for the future of their living arrangement. Plus this trip would give him and Justin some much needed time alone. And in the few days before the trip, they could squeeze in a visit to Miranda. Mayhap, Brian thought hopefully, he wouldn't need to pack condoms and lube. It surprised him that he was the one who seemed to want that more than his lover. "I'm not pissed," he said, returning his attention to the more pressing matter of his nephew.
Brian's phone rang and he picked it up and said, "Kinney."
"Where the fuck are you?!" Cynthia's irate voice asked.
"Um, home. With my lover and nephew. Why?"
"Business. You own."
"I'm not coming in today," he said, hanging up on Cynthia's infuriated yelp.
Justin looked askance at him and said dryly, "She'll tar and feather you when you go in tomorrow."
Brian shrugged and said, "She's the one who insisted I take you to New York, reminding me of Vermont."
Justin nodded wisely and said nothing. John looked rather perplexed and then said, "I'm hungry."
"Of course you are," Brian said, dryly. "The Jeep Cherokee will be delivered in a couple of days and then we won't have to move out of here in shifts."
"Want me to call my mom and see if we can borrow her car?" Justin asked.
"Christ, that's fucking embarrassing. Having to call my mother-in-law because my dick on wheels isn't big enough for more than you and me, Sunshine."
Justin giggled and Brian glared at him. "Come on, Bri, it's funny. You've never admitted that the 'vette is a dick on wheels before. I guess it was your midlife crisis car."
"Fuck you," Brian rejoined, hitting the speed dial button for Jennifer Taylor even as he glared anew at his lover. "Hey, Jen. It's Brian. Look I've got a favor to ask of you." A few minutes later, he hung up the phone, scowling.
"She turn you down?"
"No," Brian said, "but the three of us are to have dinner with her and Molly tonight. That's the price we pay for borrowing the Lexus."
"She's doing us a favor, Brian."
"I know," he grumped, "but I still have my pride."
Justin smiled at him and pushed the chair back from the desk and then sat astride him, while John watched with a seemingly stunned expression. He'd never seen such blatant affection from anyone, gay or straight, at least not in real life. He couldn't imagine his mother ever loving anyone the way his uncle obviously loved Justin. He cupped Brian's chin in his hand and kissed him, saying, "Yes, you do. And Mom loves you, otherwise she'd never have agreed. She's seen how you drive."
"Get off me," he said, as Justin began to squirm on his lap. Brian gave him a warning glance and Justin read it aright as he stopped his movements and stood up before Brian presented John with another reminder of his uncle's inherent sexuality. "She'll be here in forty-five minutes." He narrowed his gaze and asked, "Can you wait until then to eat?"
"Sure. Who's Molly?" John asked curiously.
"My younger sister."
"She's fourteen," Justin said, and then could have bitten his tongue off.
He narrowed his eyes and said, "Hands off. I know how you Kinney men operate."
"She may not even be hot," John rejoined, avoiding looking at his uncle.
Brian was highly amused. Interesting to see Justin become so territorial and protective over his little sister. "Seriously, Brennan, don't even think about it."
"At least it'd be keeping it in the family," Brian said, and then Justin directed a heated glare at him that made him become quiet real fucking fast. "Mol could do worse."
"Brian Aidan Kinney! Would you shut the fuck up?" Justin asked, in exasperation. "You're not helping."
"Oh, I didn't know I was supposed to help you. And don't call me by my full name. You're my boyfriend not my parent."
"Sometimes you need a parent," Justin sniped at him.
Suddenly the air became a good ten degrees cooler as Brian stomped in the direction of the bathroom. Justin stared after him and thought, oh fuck, spare me from overly emotional babies. Then he followed after him. Hot on Brian's heels he stood in the bathroom as Brian pissed. "Want to hold it for me?" Brian snarked, fully aware of his lover's presence.
"Don't be an asshole. I'm sorry that I said that. But you don't need to queen out."
Brian zipped up and turned to face him. "When I found out my dad had cancer, I went to the backroom. One guy offered to be my daddy. I was so wrecked over the old man that even though I hated him I was pretty fucking terrified by the thought of losing him. I shoved my way past him, saying only that I didn't need a daddy. You know it's a sore subject. You had parents who loved you, or at least one. I didn't have that. Deb was the closest thing to a mom I've ever had. And now I've got your mom as my mother-in-law. I never wanted this from my life."
"Tough shit. Brian, it's not a crime to let people care about you. You're not an island."
"I was for nearly thirty years, Justin. And then you happened. Let me have my own pain."
"It's not in you to be a lypiphera."
"A what?" Brian looked at him with an expression that clearly read that he thought Justin had lost his mind.
"It's a Greek word that translates to mean 'pain-bearer'. I read it in a Jacqueline Carey book called Kushiel's Avatar."
Curiosity roused, Brian said, "What's it about?"
"It's about a courtesan who is also a spy. She has all these adventures and she's a masochist. Born a child of the gods, she has a flaw that designates her as someone who loves pain, a person in whom the line between pain and pleasure are blurred. It's a blessing and a curse, Bri. I didn't mean to prod an open wound. Sometimes I say things carelessly."
"So do I. And I thought we were thicker skinned than this, Justin."
"We can cut each other deep and wound each other easily because we are closer to each other than anyone else. Brian, I would never deliberately hurt you."
"Even if I asked you to?"
"No," Justin said, shortly. He turned to leave the bathroom and then turned around. "I'm glad we're going to New York, Brian."
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