A/N: This began as a Season 3 Brian/Justin reunion fic. I always wished that the gang had told Justin the many things they knew about Brian (as related to Justin, e.g., that Brian had gone to the hospital every night to visit Justin after the bashing). That was my point of departure for the story. However, in the course of writing it, it has become many other things. A rape occurs (though I included no graphic depictions), and Brian and Justin's relationship evolves (to include dominance and submission). Given the circumstances, I hope you'll find that this change is necessary and that it leads to greater intimacy.
I finished undressing and crawled into bed. I ran my fingers through his blond hair and slowly caressed his soft pale white skin. It glowed in the faint blue light enveloping the bedroom. I smiled weakly, nuzzling his neck, breathing, "Justin…"
Ben and I were walking down Brian's street headed toward the loft. Despite the fact that Brian had punched me earlier, no, knocked me out, at Lindsay and Mel's party, I needed to know he was alright. To be honest, I felt pretty crappy for saying what I did about Justin. I didn't even mean it. I was just so angry at that little twat, so worried about my best friend, who was clearly beginning his worst downward spiral yet, and so tired of Brian's defending him.
"Can you believe the nerve of that little twat showing up here with his new boyfriend?!!"
The tightness in Brian's face and the profound sadness in his dark hazel eyes as he gazed, yes gazed, at that stupid twink just fueled my ranting: "I told him to stay the fuck out of our lives!"
Suddenly, sadness turned into rage as Brian snapped his head back toward me. He spewed venomously, "Why the fuck did you do that?"
Incredulous, I shouted, "After what he did?"
"He didn't do anything." Brian scoffed. Looking from Justin to me a few times, he continued, "We were never happily married. He was always free to leave. So was I."
My voice growing louder by the second, I barked, "You're just saying that. He's a selfish little shit!"
At that point, Justin must have heard me yelling because he looked over at us startled.
Realizing that Justin was watching, Brian was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. "Be quiet Michael."
"He used you and he took from you…"
Brian stared at me with pleading eyes, begging me to stop, but I continued, "…and he never gave a thing!"
A storm was brewing in those hazel eyes. "I said be quiet!"
"If this is the thanks you get for saving his life, if you ask me, it wasn't worth it! You might as well have just left him lying there!"
CRACK. Seconds later, the world faded to black.
Remembering the blinding pain, I slowly brought my hand up to my face.
Ben wrested me from my memories: "Is that Justin coming out of Brian's building?"
I looked across the street and spotted him. Watching him walk away casually with a half-smile on his lips, I seethed.
The loft door slid open with a crash. Brian looked up and smiled. "Sunshine." In a sarcastic tone, he said, "What a surprise!"
He stood up from the couch and slowly approached the blond young man, finally leaning against the vertical metal beam closest to the door. Crossing his arms, he raised an eyebrow and stated in a low sexy voice, "Couldn't stay away? Is the fiddler that sexually inept?"
Justin waited a heartbeat before closing the distance between them. Smiling broadly, he answered, "Of course I couldn't stay away. You're Brian-Fucking-Kinney!"
Brian cupped Justin's face and kissed him, first, gently, and, then, tilting his head, he deepened the kiss, devouring Justin's mouth. Suddenly, Justin pulled away and bent down. Desperately, he unbuttoned Brian's jeans…
Ben's exclamation interrupted my nightmarish fantasy. "Wait! That isn't Justin. It looks remarkably like him…same height, hair, pale, fragile-looking skin, and even the same clothes, but that's not him. In fact…" Ben trailed off.
"In fact what?" I demanded.
"I know him. He's…"
"I don't understand."
Ben looked down, apparently collecting his thoughts. Then after a deep breath, he clarified, "It seems pretty clear that Brian hired him."
I burst into laughter. The idea was preposterous. "Why would Brian-Fucking-Kinney, a god, King of Liberty Avenue, need to pay anyone for sex. They should pay HIM!"
Ben sighed. "Michael, he looks so much like Justin, especially in that outfit…"
"What the hell are you trying to say?" I snapped impatiently. But then it dawned on me. I knew exactly what he was saying. "You think he misses the little twat that much?"
Ben nodded his head in the hustler's direction and gestured helplessly with his hands. "Doesn't that seem obvious?"
"But, I mean, uh…" I shook my head, my forehead scrunched into folds, and squinted, trying desperately to make some sense out of this…to understand.
Sensing my distress, Ben asked quietly, "Why did Justin leave?"
"I don't know. I guess because he doesn't believe Brian loves him."
"Do I what?"
"Do you believe that Brian loves him?"
"I don't know. Maybe. Ma told me a while back that she thought he did."
"Your mother?" Ben asked in surprise.
"But didn't she hate the fact that Brian and Justin were together? Didn't you tell me that she always said that Brian was incapable of love?"
"What changed her mind?"
"You never asked? Weren't you curious about what could make her do a 180?"
"Well…not really." In fact, that was the last thing I wanted to know.
"What about you?"
"What about me what?"
He repeated his original question, "Do you think Brian loves Justin?"
"How am I supposed to know," I answered curtly.
Ben looked at me intently, as though he could see right through me, read my innermost thoughts and fears.
"Well…" I sighed loudly and shook my head. In a flat tone, I begrudgingly conceded, "Yes. I think maybe…maybe…he does."
Ben squinted a little, looking to the right, apparently trying to remember something.
A couple minutes later, he glanced up at me quickly, a light shining in his eyes. "Michael, you told me a while ago that Brian played a prank on the judge who sentenced Chris Hobbs."
"Yeah." Thinking back to the day Lindsay, Mel, Emmett, Ted, Brian, Ma, and I were at Woody's watching the news report on that incident, I laughed. Still chuckling, I elaborated, "Brian put glue on the toilet seat in the stall the judge always used. He was stuck there for like 14 hours or something." I smiled, shaking my head. I loved Brian's pranks.
More solemnly, Ben asked, "Did you ever tell Justin?"
"Why not? Don't you think it might have helped him cope with the fact that Hobbs got off with a slap on the wrist? Especially since he lost so much."
Stunned, I couldn't respond. A couple minutes later, I managed, "I guess…"
"So why didn't you tell him?"
"I…don't know. I just never thought to."
"Did you ever tell anyone besides me?"
"So it was a secret that, excepting me, only you and Brian shared?"
"Well…yeah. I mean, we are best friends."
"So you didn't keep this secret because you're in love with Brian? Because, at the time, you still hoped Brian would one day be yours? All yours. Not Justin's."
"No, of, of course not," I stuttered.
"If Justin knew that Brian glued the judge to a toilet, if he knew why Brian punched you at the party, if he knew about the hustler, do you think he would be as convinced that Brian doesn't love him?"
Flabbergasted, I shrugged.
Sighing deeply, Ben wondered aloud, "How many other secrets do you have tucked away? And your mother. Did she ever tell Justin that she thought Brian loved him?"
"I don't know. I don't think so."
"Don't you think Justin would be interested to hear not only that but also the reason for her change of heart?"
"Well, yeah, I guess…What are you trying to say?"
"Your mother is never shy about expressing her opinion. Why now? Why about this?"
Feeling my face grow warm, I answered slowly, "I don't know..." Unable to stand his intense gaze, I looked at my shoes.
Softly, Ben said, "I think you do."
Balling my hands into fists, I shouted, "Fine! Fine! Probably because she doesn't think Brian is good enough for Justin. Course, she has it backwards."
"Hmm. Don't you think it's unfair?"
"As I heard it, Brian made a great sacrifice to get you to let go of your fantasy of one day being with him. So you would move in with David. But he hated David, didn't he? He thought that you two would never make it as a couple, right?"
"Yeah. Turns out, he was right."
"Sure, but he was a good enough friend to let you decide who to love. Well, eventually." Ben smiled weakly.
I finally got it. I finally understood what Ben had been trying to drag out of me. "Yes."
"I bet every other member of this unique 'family,' your mother, Lindsay, Mel, Ted, Emmett, and Vic, has a similar story about Brian, a piece of the puzzle. They, either favoring Brian or Justin, have probably kept it hidden for one or the other's own good. But that's not fair, is it? Sad, really. If Brian and Justin love each other, and I think they do, to separate because Brian is too afraid to admit how he feels out loud…" Face tightening and eyes darkening, Ben continued, "Life is WAY too short for that. I know."
I reached out, putting my hands on Ben's shoulders and giving him a squeeze. He did know, more acutely than most, how short life was.
Thinking about what he'd said, I let my hands fall and laughed uncomfortably. "So…what? Are you suggesting that we stage an INTERVENTION for Justin? Sit him down and spill our guts?" I laughed hard at the ridiculous thought.
Ben stated quietly, "That's exactly what I am suggesting. How can Justin and Brian have a chance at happiness, together or apart, when there's so much Justin doesn't know? He chose to leave, but would he have done that if he had known what you told me?"
Ben put his hands on my face, lifting it gently. Kissing me, he whispered, "I know that you love Brian. I know it's hard for you to see him happy with someone else. That's perfectly understandable. But if you really want to help your best friend, if you love him as much as you profess, shouldn't you tell Justin what Brian can't yet bring himself to say? Brian did something very similar. He pushed you to embrace what you wanted, what made you happy, even though it meant losing you."
I pulled away and stomped my foot. Rubbing my head roughly, I growled, "Crap! You're right. Okay. Let's do it."
Ben smiled broadly and massaged my shoulders. "You are a true friend."
Ethan had fallen asleep hours ago. Why was I still awake? I sighed deeply. Sitting in the window, looking up at the night sky, I thought back to this afternoon's surprising turn of events. Brian had actually punched Michael. I wondered if Brian was alright. He had been forcibly ejected from the party after that punch, every one berating him. But he loved Michael. Not so long ago, Brian was drowning in misery because he had pushed Michael away. What on earth had possessed him to punch him? I must have imagined it. I must have. But I could have sworn that before Brian laid Michael out, they had been fighting about me.