Complications of the Mind
Back at the loft
Brian heard the knocking on his door and slid it open to find a frazzled Lindsay and an excited Gus at the door. "Daddy!"
"Hey, buddy. You see your new little sister?"
"Yeah, she smells funny."
Brian and Lindsay exchanged glances. He closed the door behind him as Gus made a beeline for the cushions. "Gus, be careful," Lindsay warned. "Daddy has breakable things."
"You want something to drink?" Brian asked, sensing that she wanted to talk.
Lindsay nodded and said, "White wine, if you've got it."
"I've got Pinot Grigio, will that work?"
"Yeah, since I won't have Gus in the car with me, I can have a glass."
"Sure you don't want the whole bottle?" Brian asked with a teasing note in his voice.
Lindsay sighed as she took a seat at the counter watching as Brian poured the wine into a glass. She took the proffered glass from Brian and studied the man standing in front of her. She noted a subtle difference but couldn't exactly identify what it was. "How's your collarbone?"
"Fine," Brian said. "I'll have full mobility in a few weeks." He hesitated a moment to see if Gus was okay. After reassuring himself that he was, he said, quietly, "I asked Justin to move in."
Unable to hide her shock and pleasure, Lindsay said, "Brian, that's wonderful. That's a big step."
"Yeah. He's accepted a job offer in LA, Lindz."
That wasn't so good, she thought. "I take it from your lack of thrill that he didn't talk to you about it first."
"Uh uh," Brian admitted, taking a swallow from his own glass of wine. "It kind of came out of the blue."
"You okay with it?"
Brian found himself speaking directly from the heart. "No, not really. I pushed myself to finish the Liberty Ride, Lindz. It wasn't because of Mikey's incessant encouragement or haranguing. It was because for the first time I had someone I wanted to come back home to. It was his face that helped me ride across that finish line. I'd proved something to myself. So I'm happy for him because I know it's a great opportunity but I can't help wondering what's going to happen to us. If there's even an us left."
Lindsay didn't know quite what to say. It was rare for Brian to reveal the truth about how he was feeling like that. A full disclosure. "Brian, there's always planes. And e-mail. And the phone."
"It won't be the same. I got used to having him here again, Lindz. I can't imagine how it'll feel to walk into an empty loft again day after day. The life in this loft is due to him. I used to think of this place as just a place to fuck and sleep. He made it a home." Brian paused, realizing just how upset he truly was. "I've been talking to Miranda."
Gulp. Lindsay still thought about Miranda on occasion. "Really?"
Brian nodded. "Yeah, I started talking to her after Justin and I got back together. Then I talked to her about the cancer. And Justin and I've been going to joint sessions."
Couples?counseling? Brian? But she knew better than to say that aloud. Instead, she simply said, "Is it helping?"
"Yeah. She's helping me with a lot of stuff. Lindz, I love him."
"I know you do, Bri. I've known that since you went to New York to bring him back here. You wouldn't have done that for an ordinary trick. It's just taken you time to see just how important Justin is to you. Have you told him?"
"No," Brian admitted, squirming under the accusing glance she sent his direction. "Lindz, I can't say it."
"You can say it to Michael. You can say it to me. You say it to your son. Hell, I bet you even say it to Miranda. But you can't say it to your partner?"
"I know it's fucked up, Lindz. But if I say it now he'll think I'm just saying it to keep him from going." And he'd never use the sentiment as a tool of manipulation.
Lindsay considered that for a moment, and then reluctantly nodded her head. She had to agree with him. If Brian admitted his true feelings now, Justin would probably stay and sacrifice this opportunity. "Did you trick when you were on the ride?"
"No, I didn't. I had a few interested parties but I didn't."
"Um," was all she could say.
Brian glared at her. "I can keep my pants zipped up, you know. I don't fuck every hot guy I see."
"That's new," she retorted. "When did that change?"
"When I lost a ball," he shot back. "And we aren't going to argue about my sex life or discuss it."
"We discuss mine."
"Under severe duress," he reminded her. "So how is Melanie?"
Time to change the subject, he thought. Lindsay took another sip from her glass of wine and glanced over at their son who was quietly playing with building blocks. He was looking more like Brian every day even though he had her eyes. "She's fine. Tired. But she's spending a lot of time with Jenny Rebecca."
"Michael becoming a permanent fixture at the hospital?"
Lindsay slowly shook her head and met Brian's curious eyes. "No," she said. "He left a few hours ago."
"So when does he sign the document giving up his parental rights?" Brian asked.
Lindsay nearly spat out her wine at the sudden and unexpected question. "Um, he's not going to."
"What?" Brian asked, going from curious to pissed in 2 seconds flat. "He's not signing the fucking papers that I did?" What the fuck was up with that?
"We decided it wasn't necessary."
"Let me guess," he said, dryly. "Because Michael is not me, he doesn't have to abide by the same rules as I do." It was a struggle for him to keep his voice down so as not to disturb his son. "That's fucked, Lindsay. That's absolute bullshit. Do you know how hard it was for me to sign those papers?? How many nights Justin found me sitting on the couch, with a bottle of Beam in front of me, agonizing over the role I'd play in my own son's life? The fears and worries I had?"
"Brian," Lindsay began. The look on his face stopped her cold. "I think its bullshit too," she said quietly.
His face looked like a storm cloud, it was so dark. "But you didn't seem to think that it wouldn't be fair to me. I've sacrificed time with him, Lindsay. I'm not going to do that anymore."
"And that means what?"
"It means I want acknowledgement as his father. I think I deserve that. I've shelled out enough money over the past four years. And if you and Melanie do split and she wants joint custody, I'll fight her on it."
"Brian," Lindsay tried again. She'd never seen him this pissed and then she heard herself admit something she never thought she'd admit in a million years. "It was my idea. I didn't think Michael should sign them because he wouldn't ever cause us the problems you have. I agreed with her."
Well, fuck me. Seems it's the day to wound me to the core, he thought. "I see."
"Brian, I'm sorry."
"Do you really feel that way? Or were you just trying to appease your cunt of a wife?"
"Don't call her that, Brian," Lindsay automatically moved into defensive mode. "She's still his mother, too."
Not really. But he'd taken up for Melanie on occasion. Like getting them back together when Lindsay was getting ready to marry the frog. Like the time in the hospital when the administration refused to let her in because she wasn't the birth mother. Like saving their fucking wedding. Hell, the times were too numerous to count. "Do you remember what I said when I handed you those papers?"
Lindsay had briefly skimmed them and she knew Melanie had looked at them in more detail but neither of them had really taken the time to study the minutiae of the document. "Not really," she admitted.
Brian's lips curved in a slight smile that worried her more than it reassured her. "I told you two that the only way rescinding my parental rights would work was if you two got back together."
"I remember that," she said.
"There was a clause in there, Lindsay. The clause stated that if you two were ever to split up, that I would retain my parental right as Gus's father. My name, after all, is still on Sonny Boy's birth certificate."
Lindsay's blood ran cold. "Would you really do that to me?"
"Lindz," Brian said, beginning to feel a calm, sort of coldness settle in as he spoke. "I'm not doing it to you. I'm doing it because I don't believe that Melanie should have more rights than I do when I gave you two the jizz to make him."
"You're so pissed at me," she said, never having had the full force of his anger directed at her.
"No, I'm hurt, Lindz. You've betrayed me."
The words were an eerie echo of what Melanie had said after she realized just what had happened between Lindsay and Sam. "Brian, what can I do to fix this?"
"Not fight me on this. Stand behind me if this does come to pass. I'm not saying that I'll do any of this without provocation but if you and Melanie don't end up working this out " his voice trailed off. His words were ominous enough without the inevitable conclusion.
"Are you blackmailing me?"
"No," Brian said and he honestly didn't think about it like that. "Call it my insurance policy when it comes to our son."
"You didn't even want him. You bitched about jacking off into the cup and ragged on us about having to use a turkey baster. You kept popping E that night like it was candy, Bri."
"Gus wasn't real then, Lindz. The second I held him I realized that I was a father. I can forgive you for this but I won't forget." He paused a moment and then said, "You weren't the only one who was vulnerable that night. And I did come even if I was high."
No, she realized, he would never forget. And he'd use this like a hammer over her head every time he needed ammunition. She had no idea how she was going to make this up to him. Before she could speak again, the loft door slid open. She'd never been so relieved to see Justin in her life.
"Lindsay," Justin said, coming over to hug her. "I guess congratulations are in order. I didn't really get a chance to talk to you at the hospital."
"Yeah, I came to drop Gus off."
"Oh?" Justin's eyebrow arched towards his hairline as he spared a glance for his silent partner. The look on Brian's face was inscrutable and dark. It left him wondering what had happened between the two of them.
"Yeah, I'm moving out of the house. I'm packing up all my stuff so I asked Brian if he'd mind watching Gus for three or four days." She paused, avoiding looking directly at Brian herself. "I hear congratulations are in order for you."
"Yeah," Justin said, his pleasure tempered by Brian's glowering countenance and obvious displeasure. "I leave in a month or so."
Wonder if I can talk him out of it, both Brian and Lindsay wondered for completely different reasons.
Fifteen minutes later, Brian closed the loft door behind Lindsay. An awkward silence stretched between the two lovers. "Can I talk to you?"
"Kitchen," he said, mindful of little ears. Gus was blessedly oblivious to the rife tension.
When Brian and Justin were in the kitchen, Justin sat down at the counter, Brian standing behind it. The counter might as well have been a whole continent between them. "I need to do this," he said.
"I should have talked to you first."
"Yeah, that would have been nice." He wasn't going to get pissed. No, he wasn't going to get pissed. "How long would you be gone?"
Justin hesitated. "Six months."
"At the minimum. What's the most?" Need to know worst case scenario.
"Between nine and ten."
Jesus, that's nearly a year. Fuck. I don't know if I can do this. "Brian," Justin said. "I can still turn him down. I haven't signed any paperwork. I don't have a contract. If it's going to wreck what we've built I'll stay."
Slowly Brian shook his head. He looked at his lover, misery clear in both of their eyes. "No," Brian said. "You'd hate me if I told you to stay. We'll figure something out. I can always fly out on the weekends. Now that Kinnetik's more stable I have the money to do stuff like that. And I wanted to talk to you about us going on a trip."
"How would you feel about going for four days to New York? Actually get to see some of the sights and not just hole up in a hotel room. We never did get to Vermont and I'd like to do this."
"You really want to go?"
Brian nodded. "Yeah, we've spent time alone together lately, but you and I have always been where the gang can just drop in on us at any time. I think we need this."
"Are you sure?" Justin asked.
"Yeah, I'm sure. I started to book the tickets and then I waited. We'd have to leave after we take Gus back to Lindsay's."
Justin stared at him. Where is Brian Kinney and what have you done with him? "Yeah. So you going to tell me what's going on between you and Lindsay? She seemed a little tense when she walked out of here."
"She doesn't think she and Melanie are going to be able to work it out. She's getting her own place. I have a feeling I'll end up helping her with that. I'm not having my son live in some hovel." Brian hesitated. Was it fair to lay this on Justin when he was leaving? Then he made a split-second decision. Justin was a big boy, he could handle it. "Michael doesn't have to sign papers giving up his parental rights to the girls. I was expressing my displeasure at that fact."
Justin couldn't hide his shock. "What?!? That's fucking bullshit."
Brian was relieved that his partner was nearly as livid as he was. "I let Lindsay know that I wanted more direct involvement in my son's life. That I wasn't content to just stay on the periphery anymore. If Melanie wants joint custody if they do split up, I am going to fight her on it."
"You're serious, aren't you? When you were talking about all the changes you were going to make, I thought you were kidding."
Brian shook his head. "No, I wasn't. I want to go shopping for a new light fixture and I want to hang your sketch of me in the nook."
Justin slid off the stool and walked around the counter so that he was behind Brian. He snaked his arm around the man's waist, and said, "I'm coming back to you."
Brian turned and met Justin's eyes. "Don't make promises you can't keep, sonny boy. You may fall in love with Sunny Cal. God knows it's better than this icy armpit of hell we call home."
"You could come with me. Work remotely. Kinnetik practically runs itself with Cynthia and Ted taking on so much responsibility."
"Uh uh," Brian said, resting his forehead against Justin's. "We'll figure something out, I promise."
"I thought you didn't do promises."
"I thought I didn't do a lot of things and then I met you," he retorted. "It's a changing day, Justin." Say you love me, he silently implored. Just say that you still love me.
"I love you, Brian."
Brian kissed him gently, just a slight brushing of their lips. When he pulled back, he saw the expression in Justin's eyes. "Hang on a second, Sunshine."
Brian disappeared into the bedroom and returned a moment later with the jewelry box. After their argument weeks before, Justin had put it back in its safe place. "Brian?"
"I, um," he began. Christ, when do I ever have to search for words? Just spit it out, Kinney. Like someone's foul tasting cum. "I got it engraved. I want you to wear it." There, it's done.
The expression on Justin's face was priceless. He couldn't have been any more stunned if Brian had hit him. Um, not a good analogy. "Are you sure? You were so adamant about not wanting to put it on me."
I'm turning into a lesbian, Brian thought, and then he sighed. A sigh that was so loud that Gus was startled into saying, "Daddy?"
"I'm okay, Sonny Boy. Justin and I are just having a conversation. Go back to playing. We'll be there in a minute." He returned his focus to his partner. "Look at the inscription."
Justin turned it over and then saw: To JT from Rage, 2004. The font was tiny and Justin didn't want to think how much Brian had paid to have this done. That wasn't the point. The point was he'd done this for him. Tears welled up in his eyes and threatened to spill over. Just when he least expected a romantic gesture, Brian surprised him. Fucker.
He stepped closer and looked at Brian. He was rendered speechless. Brian touched his face, coming away with a wet fingertip which he slowly sucked dry. "Allergies?"
"No, just honest emotion. I don't know what to say, Brian."
"Come here," Brian said, opening his arms wide like he had when Justin was first acclimating himself to walking down the street by himself again.
Justin went into his arms and Brian's grip tightened about him. "It's so you don't forget me." Or what we have.
"I'd show you just how much this means to me if we didn't have a miniature version of you playing in our living room."
"How long have you been waiting to say that?" Brian asked, pulling away slightly so he could see Justin's face.
Justin started to be obtuse and then knew now wasn't the time to play games. "Since I came back," he said softly.
Brian pointed up to the bed and said in a tone equally as quiet, "You know, that's always been ours."
Brian smiled. Sometimes his Sunshine needed things spelled out for him. Sometimes the 1500 SAT score was a complete bust. "The bed. From the first night, that bed has been as much yours as it has been mine."
He stared at him. "But you got so pissed at me for assuming that I could sleep in it with you."
"Pretty soon I gave in," Brian reminded him. "I think I gave up fighting it when we came back here after your dad went psycho on me on Liberty. When you crawled into bed beside me, I was happy."
"You didn't seem happy. You seemed bloody pissed because my mother had invaded your private sanctum."
Brian smiled at the memory. "Your mom has balls, Justin. That's beside the point," he said. "You are the only person aside from Michael who I've let share my bed. I got used to sleeping alone and I always kicked the tricks out. Not you. You taught me the merits of cuddling and spooning." It is strange how important those simple things are to me now.
"So what am I to you?" Justin asked, not seeking a compliment or an admission just simply curious.
The simplicity of Brian's answer shocked him. "That's easy. You're mine." As Brian said the words, he took the pendant from Justin and said, "Turn around."
Justin turned his back to him and felt the cool metal against his neck as Brian fumbled for a second with the clasp. When he felt Brian's hands slip away, he turned back to face him. "What am I?" he asked again, unsure he'd really heard Brian the first time.
Brian smiled softly. It was the smile he only ever gave Justin and it came directly from his heart. "You're mine."
"I always have been," Justin whispered. "I love you, Brian."
Brian might have said more but then he heard his son say, "Daddy, come play. Justin, come play."
Justin and Brian looked at each other in shock. "When did he learn to say my name?"
"I don't know," Brian said, equally as shocked but very, very pleased. He wondered if someday Gus would add a Daddy in front of Justin's name. It no longer bothered him that he was looking to a future that had Justin in it. In fact that gave him great pleasure.
Brian and Justin joined Gus in the bedroom and Gus smiled at his two favorite people; his daddy and his Justin. "So Sonny Boy, you hungry?"
"Yeah, diner," Gus said, and then lifted his arms up in an invitation or order for Brian to pick him up.
Brian and Justin glanced at each other and then Brian said, "Sorry, kiddo, but my car won't allow that. Would you like Justin to fix you something to eat?"
Gus's eyes pooled with unshed tears and Brian felt guilt swamp him. He fucking hated disappointing his kid. Justin glanced at the miniature version of his lover and said, "Gus, how about pizza?"
Gus's expression brightened while a scowl crossed Brian's face. Fuckin' kids with their fast food. He doesn't have to worry about carbs, Brian thought. Just another lovely benefit of youth.
Sensing Brian's displeasure, Justin wrapped an arm around Brian's waist, and leaned closer to him to whisper, "We can order you Thai, Daddy."
Brian had to suppress his initial urge to shudder and then glanced at Justin. It's Justin, he reminded himself. It doesn't mean what you think it means but trying to tell that to his psyche was a different story. Justin spared a glance at him and Brian knew he was going to apologize and slowly he shook his head. He'd talk to him about it later. Felt like he was having an Emmett moment, pulling a Scarlett O'Hara, but he couldn't talk to Justin about this without getting high. There were some times even Beam didn't cover the pain.
Forcing himself to smile or at least not grimace, Brian sighed and said, "Just remind me that I need to put in time at the gym.? It wasn't that he needed the reminder; it was just that he knew that he'd be counting down the days until he put Justin on that plane to fly away from him. He knew that one day the cub would leave the den, to scout bigger and better things, to have adventures without him, but he hadn't expected it to hurt so much. And, he realized, I have to do this for him. It's not about me.
"You look fine," Justin said. "Better than fine. Amazing."
"For a cancer survivor?" Brian asked. "Or for Brian Kinney?"
Understanding perfectly what his lover was asking and hating that Brian felt like that, Justin said, "Both," knowing that his words would not ease the pain but it was all he could do.
Sensing something in the undercurrent of adult emotions, Gus moved closer to his father. "Daddy, are you okay?" Then he turned to Justin and said, "Justin, make Daddy okay."
Sometimes a kiss couldn't fix a boo-boo but in Gus's world things were much more simplistic. A four-year-old didn't have to worry about mortgage payments or movie sets or lovers going far away. Still Brian leaned in and kissed Justin, their tongues sliding against one another in a dance that was so familiar that when they broke apart, Brian's eyes were darkened with pain and lust. Justin's eyes mirrored his own. Justin read something in Brian's eyes but before he could question it, a small squirming boy was in between them.
"Hey, kiddo," Brian said, voice soft as he spoke to his son. Then he looked at his blond and said, "Why don't you order the pizza? You know what mini-me wants and what I want."
Justin did but he also knew that what Brian really wanted couldn't be contained in a delivery box from Luigi's Pizza. Still he nodded and walked downstairs, feeling much older than his twenty-one years. This shouldn't be so fucking hard, he thought, and honestly he hadn't thought that Brian would react this way. He fingered the pendant as he picked up the phone and wondered why Brian couldn't have done this a year ago. Then, he realized, that Brian hadn't been in that place a year ago. Neither one of them had been.
Brian studied his son and then hugged him tightly. Gus squirmed a bit and Brian let him free. Gus sat back on his haunches and looked up at his daddy. "Daddy, I love you," he said because he thought his father needed to hear it.
The simple words brought fresh tears to his eyes and Brian knew it wouldn't take much for him to lose it entirely. Just a simple phrase and it would make all the difference in the world if he could just say it. "I love you too, Gus," Brian said and saw Justin pause on the stairs. He saw the pain in his partner's eyes and felt a fresh wave of pain. Though he valued spending time with his son, he also wanted to be alone with Justin. At the moment, he'd have given anything for the ability to open up and admit his true, honest emotions. "Pizza ordered?" he said, clearing his throat.
Justin nodded and said, "I'm gonna go."
What the fuck?! When things get difficult you run, don't you little boy? When I don't say the things you want me to say, you run away from me. You have since that second night and then you ran after me when I was the one running away from you. But Brian said only, "Where?"
Brian looked down at his son and said, "Sonny boy, stay here. Daddy and Justin need to talk a moment. We'll be in the bathroom. If you need us knock. Do you understand?"
Gus nodded. He'd heard his Mommy and Mama fight and could sense that something was wrong between his daddy and his Justin. Did I do something wrong? he wondered.
Justin went first into the bathroom and Brian closed the door behind them, leaning his forehead against it for a moment before turning to face his lover. "I'm only going to say this once. You run away from me now and we're done. No more second chances, no last minute reprieves, no encore performances. Done. I'm too fucking old for this shit. I have a son out there whose whole world is fucked up right now. He needs one stable person in his life right now. And I have to be there for him. I'm not going to have my son come to me in twenty years and ask me where the fuck I was. So tell me right now if you want out. If you can't handle this, tell me."
Justin stared at him and realized that he'd never heard Brian more serious in his life. "Brian, I lo-"
His words were cut off when Brian's mouth clamped down on his again, hand roughly cupping his balls as he pulled him closer. Brian's fingers unzipped the jeans and fumbled the top button loose. "Gus," Justin reminded him and Brian exhaled, and then backed away. Christ, he'd been about to fuck him with his son in the next room. Then he remembered that his mommies went down on each other with him sleeping next door but that was different. For the life of him, he couldn't remember how that was different but he knew it was.
"We're not done here," Brian said. And he looked down at himself and realized that he was sporting a semi-erect dick. Fuck, he thought.
Justin looked down at Brian's semi-erect dick and couldn't bring himself to smile. They couldn't keep doing this to each other, he realized. This wasn't fair to either of them. "If you want me gone, I'm gone," he said. He didn't know if he was calling Brian's bluff or not. For once, he fervently hoped that Brian was bluffing.
Three little words, a voice whispered inside Brian's head. You're gonna lose him, Vic's voice said. Then he heard his father's voice saying, Should never have been a family man, sonny boy. Men like you and me were meant to be unfettered. Brian couldn't help wondering if one of Jack's many mistresses had gotten knocked up and if there was a bastard Kinney out there somewhere. But he turned his attention back to the present. Nothing good could come from looking to the past. Just tell him the truth, Brian. Have the balls to tell him how you feel. "Go," Brian said, stunned when the words came out of his mouth.
Justin looked equally as stunned and then he spat out the words at Brian, "Fuck you. Fuck you!"
The tears fell and Brian knew his own were precariously close to the surface although they wouldn't spill. He wouldn't allow himself to cry, couldn't allow himself the vulnerability.
Justin flung open the door and walked out of the bedroom, down the stairs, and opened the loft door. He didn't look back and didn't see Brian standing at the top of the stairs. He flew blindly down the six flights of stairs, tears obscuring his vision, and it was lucky that he knew the distance by rote. He could walk it in his sleep. He reached the corner of Tremont and Fairmont, and dug in his pocket for change. He dialed the apartment and was relieved when Daphne answered, "Hey, Daph."
Instantly aware that something was up with her best friend, Daphne sat up and said, "What's wrong?"
"It's over," Justin said, sobbing freely now, uncaring that he must have looked like a lunatic to anyone passing by.
"What is?" Daphne asked. Surely he didn't mean him and Brian, but she had a sinking feeling that was exactly what he meant.
"Me and Brian," Justin said, acknowledging her greatest fear. "Can you come pick me up?"
Already putting on her shoes, Daphne said, "Yeah, I'm on my way. Where are you?"
"Corner of Tremont and Fuller in a phone booth. You'll find me easily."
"Justin," Daphne began but then she heard a fresh wave of tears begin and knew Justin was barely holding on.
"Just come get me, Daph," Justin said, hanging up the phone before she could reply. Then he collapsed to the floor of the phone booth, hugging his knees to his chest, as he cried. Cried for him and cried for Brian and cried for him and Brian together. This wasn't how it was supposed to end.
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