Look Out of the Window

Justin winced as he felt the muscles in his gimp hand strain almost to their limit.

"Christ, Brian, that really hurts, stop it!" he cried out, trying to wriggle his hand out of Brian's grasp.

But apparently all those hours in the gym did more than just make Brian's body look good, because Justin's hand was immovable.

"I know, Sunshine, and I'm sorry, but doctor's orders; you have to do twenty of these stretches," Brian told the boy softly, massaging his hand lightly in hopes of relieving his pain just a bit.

"Fuck doctor's orders, this hurts!" Justin wailed as he again felt the tendons in his hand ache more than he thought possible. Cue another fruitless attempt at getting his hand back.

"I don't doubt that it does hurt, but you have to do these, or your hand is going to get worse in the long run," Brian said calmly, his voice becoming stern. He tilted Justin's head up and made the boy look into his eyes. He knew the kid was tired, frustrated and fed up, but he needed to hear this. For his own safety.

"So you just need to put this in perspective – and I know it's tough – but you need to just deal with this one day at a time, and do your fucking exercises that the professionals taught you; because they know what they are talking about.

No one said this was going to be easy. Even you admitted it wasn't going to be. And I know you have every right to be angry; hell, I'd be kicking and screaming every chance I got. But this isn't a chance for you to kick and scream. This is the part of the day when you work towards getting better. You don't jeopardize your healing process. You can kick and scream later. Not now."

Justin nodded in defeat, his eyes glistening with exhaustion and pain.

Brian felt a huge pang of sympathy and protectiveness. He knew that the boy was at the end of his rope today, and had been coping very well with the trials of the bashing, and he did regret having to push so hard. But sometimes he had to be cruel to be kind.

Some days Justin would just give up if Brian let him; if he didn't ream him out when the boy felt like just surrendering.

Never the less, Brian found it difficult to see Justin in misery. He leaned over and stroked his face to take the sting out of his words.

"Come on, Sunshine, you're doing really well, just five more to go." Brian encouraged, helping Justin squeeze the stress ball and then uncurl his fingers.

Justin grimaced as his hand shook with the effort to squeeze and then relax.

Justin continued his efforts, while Brian whispered encouraging words into his ear, making sure Justin got enough praise to motivate him.

"Good job, Justin, you're doing really well. Come on, don't bail out on me now, you're doing so well Justin, just one more stretch, come on." Brian coaxed, hearing Justin's breath start to wheeze in pain.

Justin's face screwed up in pain, and he shouted as he completed the last stretch. He then closed his eyes and collapsed back into the sofa, panting.

Brian gently placed Justin's hand back by his side, and brushed some golden hair off of Justin's sweaty face. He allowed his hand to caress Justin's face in a way that always calmed Justin down.

Brian kissed him on the nose, which earned a smile as always, and got up to fetch some things for him.

He gathered a two bottles of Evian water, a cloth, and two of Justin's pain pills.

He wandered back to the sofa, where Justin was still breathing a bit raggedly.

"Justin, you gotta take deep, slow breaths for me, ok? You don't wanna get yourself so worked up that you have an attack." Brian calmly told him, leaning over and gently wrapping his arms around the boy, lifting him into a more upright position, making it easier for him to breathe.

Justin still had his eyes closed, but nodded tiredly anyway. Brian smiled softly and began his ministrations. He reached over and gently touched Justin's lips, by now a well known indication that he wanted him to open his mouth. When his lips parted, Brian placed both pills on his tongue, then guided the bottle of water to Justin's mouth, helping him drink.

Once the pills had gone down, Brian took the second bottle of water, and poured some of its contents onto the cloth. He then proceeded to gently wipe over Justin's hot and sweaty face, cooling the skin down, and earning an appreciative sigh from Justin. No matter how angry or upset he was after a physical therapy session, a wipe down with a cool cloth always soothed him out of his agitated state.

But now Brian was really going to push it. He knew that Justin was especially tired today, but he couldn't have known that when he set this whole thing up. And besides, Justin needed this.

So, it was time to put his plan in motion.

"Justin?" he gently asked, seeing that if he didn't prod soon, the boy would be asleep.

"Mmm?" he murmured tiredly. Brian smiled.

"Since you did so well with those exercises, I think you deserve a treat." he told Justin softly.

Justin's eyes opened immediately, and he perked up, suddenly looking wide awake.

Brian chuckled. Just like a child. Any mention of a treat, and he was suddenly your best friend in the whole wide world – even if he had been screaming at you just a moment ago that he hates you and that you're so mean to be making him do this when he is too tired and his muscles hurt.

"What kind of treat?" Justin asked eagerly, bouncing like a little puppy.

"We're going for a walk." Brian held his breath, waiting for Justin's reaction.

Brian watched as Justin's eyes widened in what can only be described as sheer panic.

"Brian, no…I can't, I fucking can't….I'm sorry, but I just can't do it. You know that! Please don't make me, cos I really don't want to." Justin exclaimed, voice breaking and fighting tears.

He got up from the chair and wandered over to the window restlessly. He stood there, looking out of the window, but not really seeing anything. Just getting more and more upset at his limitations, the thought of going out in crowds, and the fact that he couldn't stand to do the latter.

Brian got up and softly padded over to where Justin stood. He gently and slowly put his arms around Justin, caressing the younger man's arms and shoulders.

"Justin, it's ok," Brian whispered soothingly, stroking the boy's chest lightly.

"It's not ok!" the boy cried in complete misery and desperation, turning and clinging to Brian's shirt with tiny fists that shook with any number of emotions. Anger. Fear. Frustration. Justin's whole demeanour screamed 'Help me! I don't know what to do!'

Brian had made a vow quite some time ago that he would be there to help. Probably the moment he started actually caring for this damned little twinkie who had slipped under the wire. Brian Kinney may not let a lot of people into his life, but the one's he does, he looks after well. And this was Sunshine, after all.

"It is alright Justin, listen to me. Listen. I don't blame you for not wanting to go outside. All I want is for you to be happy. You decide what you're going to do and when you are going to do it. I'm here to help, not hinder. I know I can be pushy, but I just want to help you – I want to do what's best for you. You need to tell me what's best. Cos that's all that I want. I'll push if I think you need it, but I'll never force you." Brian told him gently.

Justin nodded, and leaned his head against Brian's shoulder with a deep sigh.

Brian enfolded Justin in his embrace, and the two simply stood there in silence, offering comfort and some tranquillity that seemed hard to come by these days.

Brian eventually broke the silence.

"Justin, I want you to look outside that window." He told the teen quietly.

Justin looked slightly puzzled, but never the less obeyed. He didn't really know what he was supposed to be looking at –

"Hey! Look, someone left a pretty present…weird," Justin suddenly exclaimed, a smile lighting his face. The sight of the shimmering silver parcel in the middle of the ordinary street made a bizarre sight that appealed to his artists' senses.

Then a thought struck Justin. Could it be? No…no, Brian would never do something like that…would he?

Justin dared to look around at Brian. The older man had a smile on his face, and was shaking his head.

"Honestly, Sunshine, you're supposed to have got 1500 on you SAT's." the older man smirked, ruffling Justin's hair lightly.

"It's for you."

Justin's heart leapt. Had he just heard that right? He looked to Brian who was still smirking.

Justin's smile threatened to blind Brian.

"Oh my God!" he squealed, jumping into Brian's arms and kissing him.

"Brian, thank you so much! That's so sweet -"

"Tell anyone, and I'll deny it," Brian mock grumbled.

Justin simply smiled, touched beyond words that Brian would do something so romantic. He kissed Brian's cheek softly.

"Really Brian…thank you." He said quietly, his eyes and his voice betraying his emotion.

Brian smiled down at the boy gently, kissing the top of his head.

"Yeah, don't thank me yet." He murmured too softly for Justin to hear. He knew that the boy would balk at the prospect of what came next.

Justin couldn't keep the smile off of his face as he looked at the beautiful present. It was wrapped in thick shimmering silver paper, and had a deep blue wide ribbon around it – the sophistication of the wrapping should have told Justin who it was from straight away.

But suddenly Justin's smile dimmed. His face crumpled and he turned to look at Brian with great distress.

"But…but Brian, someone's going to take it," Justin protested weakly, looking pale at the thought of Brian's effort gone to waste. But when Brian simply looked at him calmly, calmly preparing what he was going to say, and making no other move, Justin became even more distressed.

"Please, Brian, come on, you know what this town is like; somebody will steal it!" Justin begged, grabbing Brian's shirt and looking up at him with sad, pleading eyes.

"Then I guess you better get out there." Brian said calmly.

Justin's eyes widened in horror. The thought of venturing out there made him turn very pale.

"Outside?" he whispered, eyes wide and frightened, like a small child.

Brian stroked Justin's hair calmingly and somewhat sadly. Sadly, because this boy, who had once been so happy and bouncy and full of life, filled with childlike exuberance, was now terrified by the mere thought of stepping outside his loft, which had become the only place he felt safe in. The place where he now spent all of his days hiding in.

"Yeah," Brian confirmed quietly, "Outside."

Justin's eyes began to fill with tears. God, he really didn't want to go outside. He really didn't.

And yet…in a way he did. The thought of venturing outside the loft scared him shitless.

But he didn't want it to scare him anymore. He wanted to be normal again – to do normal things. He wanted to not be scared anymore.

He wanted to actually want to go outside again. But he didn't want to.

Because he was scared.

"Brian, please…I…I'm -" Justin stuttered, but Brian cut him off softly.

"You're scared."

Justin bit his lips and nodded, the tears finally breaking out and leaking down his cheeks. His face scrunched up as it does when he is trying desperately to explain something, and he begins shaking his head in utter distress.

"I-I'm sorry, I…" he stutters tears streaming down his face, his nose running. He looks like a little kid.

"Justin it's ok, you don't have to apologise." Brian assured him gently, trying to take the young man in an embrace, but only managing to stroke his shoulders as he turns around in circles, his discomfort escalating.

"Really, I am, I want to go and get it, I really do, I want nothing more," Justin croaked, seemingly oblivious to Brian gathering him slowly closer and stroking his hair.

"But I…don't want to…I don't fucking understand," Justin howled in anguish, turning around violently, grabbing handfuls of his own hair and tearing it out.

When Justin had first moved in a few days ago, Brian had been shocked at the violence Justin sometimes displayed to himself when he was angry. After one or two fits though, Brian had simply accepted them and learnt to deal with them. After all, he understood why the kid got so angry. He would have been pissed off too, if with just one movement of the arm, someone had managed to take so much away from him; his art – which might as well have been his lifeline – his ability to be comforted by a simple hug, his memory, his carefree attitude that all young people should have, his emotional stability…his happiness and ability to lead the normal life of a teenager.

But the level of violence that Justin displayed now frightened even him. He moved and took Justin bodily in his arms, restraining the boy gently but firmly against his own chest. He untangled Justin's fingers from his hair and caressed his neck soothingly, murmuring all the while;

"It's all right, Sonny Boy, it's ok, it's ok, it's ok, come on, don't do this, you'll hurt yourself. It's ok, just calm it down, you don't have to explain anything, I understand. Just calm down, it's alright, you're safe here, you don't have to worry about anything."

Brian continued this litany of comfort until Justin finally quietened down and stopped shaking.

Brian continued stroking his hair for a few minutes, before he finally spoke;

"Justin, you do what you want, I'm not here to make you miserable. I just wanted to help you when I suggested this, simply because I don't want you to be afraid of the streets. I only want to help – and yes, I think this would help you, but as I say, it's your choice."

Justin kept his head against Brian's chest for a moment, before looking up with shining eyes.

"I want to do it, but… I'm not sure that I can." Justin faltered, his hands gripping Brian's all the more tightly.

Brian smiled softly, taking Justin's hand and massaging it gently.

"Yes you can," he assured softly. "I'm gonna come with you, and we're gonna walk out there and get you your present."

"Okay, Justin, you ready?" Brian asked softly as they stood outside the door to Tremont.

Justin was trembling, and his eyes were roving around the street, as though expecting something to leap out at him at any minute. Never the less, he nodded.

"Okay." Brian said softly. And seeing that he would have to make the first move, he gently pulled Justin out into the street and began walking the short distance to the bench where the present was.

Justin's steps were unsteady, and Brian had one arm firmly around the boy's waist, and the other holding his hand – Justin had insisted on this. Brian was supporting most of Justin's weight as the boy walked, actually weakened by fear.

Justin suddenly flinched, turning his face to hide against Brian's chest and clinging to him tightly. He pressed into Brian as close as he could to avoid people that were getting too close.

"It's alright Justin, I'm here, I won't let anything happen to you." Brian assured the boy when he heard a whimper escape his lips. He cuddled him closer, and Justin wrapped his arms around Brian tightly, revelling in the warmth he found there.

All the noises were just too loud for Justin, all the people too close, even though there were none directly surrounding them, they were there, and even the sight of them made him flinch. All Justin's senses were working overdrive, even the smells overpowered him, making him want to vomit, and all the lights, buildings and sights made him cower with the intensity of it all.

"Come on Justin, that's it, you're doing so well." Brian whispered words of encouragement into Justin's seashell ears when he felt Justin's body tremble like a leaf again.

"Oh God Brian, I didn't expect to be this fucking scared." Justin whispered, nuzzling again into Brian for support and warmth.

"I know you're scared Justin, but you're doing so well, and there are no Chris Hobbes' here. And even if there are, I won't let them get anywhere near you, okay?" Brian spoke softly to Justin, wanting everything to be as quiet as possible in hopes of making the boy more comfortable.

He froze suddenly, all of these things jumping out at him; the buildings towering above him, all the people seemed to be shouting and screaming unnecessarily, and his balance was thrown off kilter. Shit. His heart was beating so fast, and he had never felt so scared in his life. It was a thousandth of the terror you feel when you think you are being followed in the darkness.

So Justin stops and brings his hands up to his face immediately, and doubles over in sheer fright, leaning into Brian, whimpering all the while.

"Oh God, oh please, please, God!" he choked, trying desperately to hide in Brian's coat.

Brian puts his arms right around Justin, stroking his back in soothing circles and wrapping him in his coat, setting an example with his calm demeanour.

"Oh, God, Brian, please help. Please, don't let them touch me, please!"

Brian shushed him quietly, gently guiding them to a less crowded area, but closer to the bench, hoping that their nearness to it would give Justin hope.

"It's alright Justin, it's okay. No one's gonna hurt you," Brian murmured soothingly. "I won't let anyone touch you, I promise. It's just you and me now, Justin, okay? You're alright. It's just you and me, nobody else, just us, so you don't have to worry."

Brian managed to soothe Justin down using this line of comforting, and eventually Justin managed a peak outside of Brian's coat, and he seemed pleased at how close they were to the bench.

"We're almost there," he whispered, some of his childlike excitement at the prospect of a present re-emerging, despite his fear.

Brian smiled warmly and caressed the back of Justin's neck in the way that he loved.

"Yeah, Sonnyboy, we're almost there, so do you think we can manage the rest of this trip, huh?" Brian asked, tilting Justin's head up.

Blue eyes stared back at hazel, and although there was fear still present in them, there was also defiance.

Justin nodded. Brian smiled – his Sunshine always had been stubborn.

"Right then, lets go, slowly Sunshine, one step at a time." Brian coaxed Justin out from his nest, taking his arm and waist gently again, and stroking Justin's back soothingly to still the tremors.

"Christ, Brian," Justin whispered, his voice trembling and his grip tightening.

"It's okay, Sonnyboy, we can do this, okay, just a few more steps, okay, you're doing fantastically." Brian encouraged.

Justin closed his eyes tightly for just a moment, but was interrupted by Brian's light voice calling him.

"Hey Sonnyboy, open your eyes."

Justin opened them just a crack, then wider when he saw that he was sitting on the park bench and in front of a gift bearing Brian.

He squealed with delight at his accomplishment and the gift, and simply couldn't wait to open it. He looked to Brian hesitantly, but he just smiled and nodded at the enthusiastic blond to start unwrapping.

Surprisingly carefully considering his haste, Justin unwrapped the ribbon and peeled back the paper to reveal an assortment of gifts that made Justin's eyes water.

A beautiful leather bound, silver embossed book on the art of the world that Justin had seen, fallen in love with, and couldn't afford on a recent shopping trip, the latest Tomb Raider game, and a professional set of the best artists supplies that Justin had been drooling over ever since he was twelve. This item would have made Justin sad had it not been for the next part of the gift; a strange wool wrap that fastened around your wrist, and that you could heat in the microwave. Brian had done a lot of research on this object, and all the accounts that he could find were from physical therapists who said that this tool worked wonders for the fine motor functions in cases like Justin's.

But it was the last item that really did make Justin's breath catch in his throat; a necklace that was a beautifully polished silver stone that had a very delicate diamond embedded in the corner.

Justin was sitting speechless when Brian suddenly turned the necklace around. Justin gasped.

He turned to look at Brian, who had his patented Brian Kinney smirk in place.

"Sunshine, it's rude to have your mouth hanging open like that." He rebuked, trying to hold back laughter.

Justin could only say one thing;

"I hope you know that you now have a Twinkie for life."

The inscription:

To My Sunshine.