A few weeks went by, and Gus was involved in his classes. He would go to his classes during the day, and come home in the late afternoon/early evening. It always varied, depending on how much time he wanted to stay after his classes to spend time with Kat.
Brian thought more about offering the loft to Gus, and the more he thought about it, the more logical it sounded. He'd be closer to campus, but would still be close enough to come to the house once in awhile. The biggest thing holding him back from offering it was the thought that once Gus had the loft, he wouldn't come back, and it'd be like losing his son all over again. And that was something Brian didn't want to go through again. So, he didn't offer the loft. He kept it at the back of his mind, for when Gus was a little older.
Gus sat in his room at his laptop, doing an outline for his Speech class. He took a glance around the room and noticed how homey it's become since he got there.
The desk in the corner was now covered with books and a laptop. The dresser was full of clothes that Brian and Justin had gotten for him. There were dirty clothes in a hamper in the corner, and the connected bathroom had hygiene supplies all over the counter. Smiling, he turned back to his laptop. Just as he refocused his attention, and started working again, his cell phone rang. Groaning, he picked up and answered.
"Hello?" he answered.
"Gus? Please – don't hang up," came the voice of his mother. He bit his lip.
"I won't hang up," he said, putting the pencil in his hand down on the desk. He heard the sigh of relief come from Melanie.
"Good. I was just wondering, could you come talk to me? I just want to talk to you," she said softly. Gus sighed. He thought of what she must be going through, with her son so angry at her.
"Yeah, okay. Where do you want me to go?" he asked.
"We could meet at the diner. You know where that is, right?" she asked.
"Yeah, I know where that is," he said. "I'll meet you there in about twenty minutes," he said.
"Okay, see you then, honey. Whether you believe it or not, I love you, Gus," she said. Gus closed his eyes.
"I know, mom. I love you, too. I'll see you in about fifteen," he said, then hung up. He glanced at the laptop, saved his work and shut it. He got up and pulled on a shirt and his shoes. Grabbing his cell and keys, he pocketed them, heading downstairs. Brian and Justin were in the living room, watching something on the television.
"Hey, Gus," Justin said, being the first to notice him come into the room.
"Hey guys … um, I'm gonna go out … my mom wants to meet me to talk," Gus informed them. Brian and Justin both glanced at him.
"Okay … we'll see you when you get back," Brian said, offering him a smile. Gus smiled and left. Justin turned to Brian.
"Well, you were pretty quick to let him leave," Justin said. Brian shrugged.
"I'm not going to stop him from seeing his mother. That would make me just as guilty as her," Brian said. Justin nodded, snuggling closer to him. Brian wrapped his arm around him. "Besides, she's his mother. And he's 18. I can't really stop him from doing anything." Justin just smiled at him, giving him a kiss.
Gus opened the door to the diner and smiled when he saw Melanie sitting in the corner booth. He headed in that direction. She looked up when she saw him and smiled, getting out of the booth. She held open her arms and he smiled, going into them and hugging her. She wrapped her arms tightly around him.
"Gus, I'm so sorry," she said, tearing up. Gus nodded.
"I know you are, mom," he said, pulling out of the hug. She took her seat back in the booth and he slid in across from him. She smiled at him.
"So … how are you? Are you okay? Do you need anything?" she asked. She had come to accept that Gus wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. She couldn't really blame him for it. He smiled.
"I'm fine, mom," he said.
"How's school?" she asked. Gus shrugged.
"School's school. It's going really good so far, my grades are good," he said. Melanie smiled.
"You always were really smart," she said, looking down at her hands. "That must have been something you got from Brian," she added. Gus smiled.
"Can I ask you something, mom?" he asked. She looked up at him and nodded.
"No lies, no defending yourself, just the truth. I love you, and I always will, you're my mom. Why did you lie to me all those years?" he asked. Melanie sighed, shrugging.
"To be honest with you, Gus, I really don't know. It just started out as one little lie, and it just grew and grew. By the time I turned around and looked at what I did, it was far too late to go back," she answered honestly. Gus nodded.
"I can understand that. I'm still hurt that you did it, but I love you, and I'm willing to move past this all," he said. Melanie looked up at him with tears in her eyes.
"God, Gus … when did you grow up?" she asked, the tears falling over. He laughed, getting out of his booth and moving to sit next to her, wrapping his arm around her and holding her while she cried.
Gus' first year at Carnegie Mellon flew by in the blink of an eye. He was spending a lot of time with Kat, and they were becoming really close. Inseparable, almost. He had just gotten home from a night out with Kat, it was late summer. He was sitting at his desk, writing an e-mail to Jeff, keeping him up to date. He glanced behind him when he heard a soft knock on his door.
"Come in," he called. He smiled at Brian when he came in. "Hey, dad … what's up?" Gus asked. Brian glanced around the room.
"You know, it wouldn't kill you to pick up some of these clothes off the floor," Brian informed him. Gus laughed.
"Sure, dad," he said, turning back down to his laptop. Brian pushed some stuff off the corner of the bed and sat down.
"You know, if you spent half the time in here straightening up that you spent with Kat …" Brian trailed off, looking at Gus' amused face. "What?" he asked. Gus laughed, shaking his head.
"Nothing," he said. Brian laughed.
"Fuck, I sound like a parent," he said. Gus laughed.
"Yeah, you do," he said. Brian shook his head.
"Anyway. Believe it or not, I didn't come in here to tell you to clean your room," he said. Gus laughed.
"Oh, I believe it," he said. Brian smiled. "So, what's up, dad?" he asked, turning in his chair to face Brian.
"Well, I was thinking. Carnegie Mellon's like, what, a half hour from here?" Brian asked. Gus nodded.
"Give or take, why?" he asked.
"Well, the building I own is pretty much at a halfway point between here and CMU. I was thinking about offering you the top floor loft that I used to live in," Brian said. Gus raised a brow.
"You want me to move out?" he asked. Brian shook his head quickly.
"No, no, nothing like that. I don't want you to move out. In fact, I'd love to keep you here. It took Justin awhile to get me to even offer this to you," Brian informed him. "I just wanted to put it out there. I mean, you're almost 20 now … I know you're going to want to bring people home or whatever, and having Alex in the next room makes that hard." Gus blushed.
"Yeah, it kinda does," he admitted. "Kat's roommate's a pain in the ass this year, too," he added. Brian smiled.
"See? When I was 20, I had my own place. I feel that you should at least have the option available to you," Brian said.
"How much did you want for rent for it?" Gus asked. Brian shook his head.
"You don't have to pay rent, Gus. I own that building."
"Dad … I feel like I need to do something."
"How about this … you come home at least once a week, and you can live in the loft free of charge," Brian smiled. Gus laughed.
"Okay, deal," he said. Brian smiled, standing up and reaching into his pocket, pulling out a key and handing it to Gus.
"Take care of that place," he said. Gus smiled, standing up and hugging Brian.
"I will. Thanks, dad … for everything," Gus said. Brian smiled, hugging him back.
"You're welcome, sonny boy," he said.
Epilogue: Four Years Later
Brian sat in the third row, with Justin on his right, and Alex on his left.
"Augustus Peterson-Marcus," they heard Gus' name called and Justin stood up, taking a quick picture, then sitting back down.
Sitting there in his seat, his mind ran over the past four years. Gus moved into the loft, and kept his promise, coming home on Thursday nights for dinner with the family. Soon, Kat started accompanying him to dinner, and it became a weekly ritual. Gus kept his grades good while in college, and now he was graduating as one of the top five of his class. Brian and Justin couldn't have been prouder.
Brian glanced down past Alex to where Kat was sitting. She glanced over at him and smiled. She had graduated the year before, and got a job working for a local radio station. Gus and she had moved in together in the loft after her graduation. Brian smiled back at her, and then glanced to his right, past Justin to where Melanie sat. She had finally apologized a year after Gus moved to Pittsburgh. She apologized to Brian for taking Gus out of his life, and she apologized to Gus for making him live his life without a father. Brian accepted her apology, but never really forgave her. He decided to just put it behind them, and they have.
Brian glanced back at the platform. He smiled when he saw his son sitting up there.
"A big round of applause for the Carnegie Mellon Graduating Class of 2022!" the dean said in the microphone, and everyone stood up, clapping.
After the ceremony, the group waited for Gus to finish getting his pictures taken, and then approached him. Alex ran up to him and gave him a big hug. He laughed, picking her up and spinning her around.
"Hey munchkin!" he said when he put her down on the ground. She smiled at him.
"You look so funny in that dress," she said. Gus laughed.
"It's not a dress, twerp. It's a graduation gown," he corrected.
"Whatever. Either way, you still look funny," she said. He laughed, shaking his head. Melanie was the next to hug him.
"I'm so proud of you, Gus," she said, hugging him tightly. He smiled.
"Thanks, mom," he said, hugging her back. After a few moments, he laughed again. "Uh, mom … you might want to let go now," he said. She laughed, pulling back.
"Sorry," she said. He smiled. Next, he was attacked by a hug from Kat. He laughed, wrapping his arms around her waist, hugging her back.
"You did it!" she said. He laughed.
"I did," he said, pulling away and giving her a quick kiss.
"I'm proud of you," she said. He smiled.
"I'm hearing that a lot today," he said. She smiled, moving aside so the next person could hug him. Justin moved closer, hugging him.
"Gus …" he started, but Gus cut him off.
"Let me guess … you're proud of me?" he asked, a smirk on his face. Justin laughed, turning to Brian.
"I swear to God, it's like looking at you," Justin said. Brian laughed, shaking his head. He leaned forward and gave Gus a hug as well. Gus seemed to hold onto Brian a little longer. Brian pulled away and placed a kiss on Gus' forehead.
"You did good, sonny boy," he said. Gus smiled up at him.
"Thanks, dad. It means a lot," he said. Brian smiled.
"Well, shall we go party now?" Brian asked. Everyone nodded. Gus wrapped his arm around Kat's shoulders, taking his hat off and putting it on Alex's head. Kat wrapped her arm around Gus' waist, walking with him towards the car. Alex laughed, punching Gus' side. Melanie walked towards her car, to drive to the loft for the party. Justin started to walk, but noticed that Brian was still standing there.
"What's up?" Justin asked him. Brian just shrugged.
"I'm just … I just can't believe that it's really all happening," Brian said. "The past four years have been the happiest of my life, and I just … I can't believe it's real," he said. Justin smiled, hugging him.
"It's real, all right. Now, come on. Let's go celebrate our kid's graduation," Justin said, dragging Brian towards their car. Brian smiled, walking with Justin towards the car. He leaned down to kiss Justin's cheek.
"I love you," he whispered. Justin smiled.
"I love you, too, old man," he said with a smile. And for once, Brian didn't care.