Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Okay, this was one of my earliest QaF fics and I was rereading it this weekend and realized that the formatting was horrid and that reading 25k+ words in one chapter is a bit difficult. So here's the same story cleaned up a little, broken into chapters and section breaks inserted. Enjoy! Jules
Justin looked out the window at the New York skyline wishing he was anywhere but here. No, that wasn't true; he was wishing he was back in Pittsburgh. He shook his head and walked away from the expensive view. It had cost him too much to get here. It had been two years of hell since he and Brian had walked away from a wedding and from each other to pursue their own separate lives. Two years of slogging through the New York art scene trying to get his work noticed. Everyone had expected that a good review would open doors for him. It had. For about a week, and then he was old news.
The first six months, Justin had worked three jobs just to pay rent on a place that was smaller than Debbie's living room and that he had to share with another guy. There was no time to paint. There was no room to paint. And there was no money to buy supplies. He had no time to go to clubs, so when he would get the occasional call from Brian, he would make up fantastic tales about the places he went and tricks he had picked up.
The truth was, Justin had only gone to one club in the first six months and had felt lost and out of place, so he hadn't gone back.
After six months he was ready to give up New York. Then Tom offered him a place to live and work. It was a business arrangement of sorts. Tom was a regular at one of the restaurants where Justin worked and had spent weeks chatting him up and finding out all about him, so he knew how hard Justin worked and how desperate he was to paint again. And slowly he broke down Justin's resistance.
Tom Webster was older, in his forties, and was a very successful businessman. He told Justin that he had little time to spend trolling the clubs and just wanted someone to come home to at night. He was charming and not bad looking, despite his age, and before long, Justin found himself giving in to his advances.
It was probably the worst decision he had ever made. Two weeks after moving in, Justin had made the mistake of telling the older man about Brian. They argued because Tom knew that Justin still talked to Brian on the phone occasionally, and the argument ended with a black eye and a split lip for Justin. He almost left then and there. And he should have, but he had no place to go. His old roommate had already rented out his place, and he had given up his jobs. And he was finally painting again. He didn't want to give that up. So, when Tom apologized he stayed.
They had been together for almost a year when Justin ended up in the hospital the first time. Tom had broken a couple ribs and Justin wasn't able to breathe. He had passed out and Tom had panicked. Justin thought that things might be better after that, and they were for a few months, but Tom had been falling back into his old patterns lately and Justin knew what was inevitably coming.
A part of him wanted to go home, to call Brian and ask him to take him away from all this, but he couldn't do that. Brian had moved on with his life without Justin, just the way they had planned. And he didn't want to admit how stupid he had been, just another dumb twink.
Justin brushed the tears from his eyes and walked to the bathroom. He carried his cell phone with him, turned on vibrate. Tom wasn't due home yet, but he didn't want to take the chance, and Justin was expecting a call from Brian. Justin ran hot water in the oversized tub while he carefully undressed. He had a good sized bruise on his side from a minor spat yesterday and undressing was painful. Once naked, Justin looked at his body in the mirror. He could hardly recognize himself. Besides the bruise on his side, he had finger shaped bruises on both arms and his eyes looked sunken and hollow. He had lost too much weight and now resembled a heroin addict. He turned away from the mirror and tried not to think about it.
He had just sat back in the tub when his phone vibrated. "Hey."
"Hey yourself," Brian said and Justin could feel the tension and depression from earlier lift away at the sound of his familiar voice. "How's tricks?"
"Oh, I blew two guys last night, and fucked a third," Justin said lightly. "And you?"
"Sure you did, Princess," Brian scoffed. "And I'm just fine. Babylon is hopping every night with the great Brian Kinney pulling the strings."
"Make any go-go boys blow you for a chance at the bar lately?" Justin teased.
"I am not Sap," Brian growled. "I can get sucked off without blackmail, thank you very much."
"Yes, but you are getting older, aren't you?" Justin said. "What are you now? Thirty-eight?"
"Thirty-five," Brian snapped. "I won't be thirty-six for…"
"Three weeks and six days," Justin filled in for Brian.
"Speaking of old," Brian said. "How's granddad?"
Justin's body tensed and his tone grew distant. "Tom's fine."
Brian could feel the tension through the telephone line. "Why don't you ever want to talk about him?"
"I just don't," Justin said. He could hear Tom out in the other room. "Listen, I got to go. Call me next week." He didn't wait for Brian to respond; he just hit the end button and tossed the phone onto the table beside the bath before pulling the plug and standing up.
Tom walked into the bathroom and glanced at Justin with contempt. "Who were you talking to?"
Justin tried to think of a lie, but nothing came out. "Brian."
He didn't even have time to shield himself before the first blow. "What have I told you about talking to that man?"
"I'm sorry," Justin mumbled, his jaw already swelling and his head spinning.
"We'll just see how sorry you are," Tom shouted as he swung his fist again.
Brian heard the phone hit something, and realized Justin thought he had ended the call. He tried to call Justin back, but Justin obviously couldn't hear him. And then he heard Tom's voice, filled with anger and loathing. He heard the crack of flesh meeting flesh and heard Justin apologize. After that, everything was a haze of fear and helplessness. It was like being back in that parking garage seven years ago. Justin was being hurt and there was not a damned thing he could do about it from four hundred miles away.
Then things were silent for a long time, and Brian's fear grew. He heard Tom curse and throw something that shattered. Then he heard the phone being picked up and the call was disconnected.
"Shit!" Brian cursed, wanting to throw something himself. He paced his bedroom for about thirty seconds before making a decision. If he hurried, he could make the last commuter flight to New York. He didn't even bother to pack a bag, just grabbed his wallet and keys, set the alarm and was out the door.
He was at the airport, waiting to board his flight when his cell rang. It was a New York number, so he picked it up.
"Mister Kinney?" a woman's voice came over the line.
"Yes," Brian said. "That's me."
"I'm the ER social worker for St. Sebastian's Hospital in Manhattan. We have a young man, a Justin Taylor, in our emergency room," the woman said. "The medical papers in his wallet list you as his medical proxy."
Brian swallowed hard and nodded. "Yes, that's correct. What's happened? Is Justin alright?"
"Justin was dropped off at the emergency room by an unknown person," the woman said. "He appears to have been badly beaten, and he has been unconscious since he arrived. The majority of his injuries, while painful, are not life threatening. However, the doctors have discovered that Justin's spleen was ruptured. He needs immediate surgery."
Brian swallowed hard again. "And you need my consent. Do what you have to do to save him. I'm actually on my way to New York right now. My flight lands at JFK in two hours. How long will the surgery take?"
"It depends," the woman said. "If everything goes well, he may be out by the time you arrive."
"Who do I ask for when I get there?" Brian asked.
"My name is Sheila. I'll be on duty all night. Come to the ER and ask for me," She said. "I'll make sure you get to wherever Justin is then."
"Thank you," Brian said. "I have to go; they're boarding my flight now."
"Mr. Kinney?" Sheila said before he could hang up. "Try not to worry too much. This is the best hospital in the city, and we have some of the finest surgeons in the world. Justin is in good hands."
"Thanks," Brian sighed and hung up.
Justin woke up to dim fluorescent lighting and the antiseptic smell that was common in all hospitals. His whole body hurt and his mind couldn't quite process everything yet. The last thing he remembered was Tom coming home. And Justin had been on the phone with Brian. Right.
"Hey," a familiar voice said, and Justin thought he was dreaming. Maybe the painkillers were too strong. "Come on Princess," Brian cajoled. "I know you're awake."
"Bri?' Justin slurred. His jaw ached like mad.
"There you go. Got it in one," Brian teased.
"Wha…?" It hurt too much to talk.
"What am I doing here?" Brian chuckled. "Trying to save a self-destructive twink? No, I wouldn't be that altruistic. The hospital called me as your proxy to get permission to do surgery. That's why you're probably feeling really groggy right now. The doctors said it would take some time for the anesthesia to wear off completely."
"Of course," Brian sneered. "The cowardly asshole who dropped your unconscious body at the doors to the ER and ran. How could I forget him? He's been by once, and has been warned not to come back again if he wants to live."
Justin nodded. Now that Brian was here, he couldn't imagine going back to Tom.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Brian asked, even though he knew Justin couldn't give him a real answer right then.
"Couldn'" Justin slurred. "Had to…Make you proud."
"Fucking little shit," Brian said fondly as he brushed the hair from Justin's forehead. "I'm proud of you no matter what you do. You should know that by now."
Justin nodded, but his eyes were already closing as the drugs took him back into a painless sleep.
"Is there anyone around here who could pick me up a change of clothes and a toiletries kit?" Brian asked Sheila when she stopped by that morning before her shift ended. Justin was still sleeping most of the time, but he had woken up twice since that first time. Brian was still reluctant to leave his side, however.
"I can have one of the candy stripers go," Sheila said. "Just give me your particulars and a credit card."
Brian took the notepad Sheila was carrying and wrote out his sizes and a budget. "Make sure this girl has some fashion sense. I refuse to wear anything that was purchased at a store with 'mart' in the name. On principal."
"I'll get Ron to go," Sheila smiled. "He's a real fashionista. Is there anything else you need? Anyone you think should be contacted?"
"No," Brian said. "Not until he wakes up and can make some decisions with a clear head."
Sheila looked at Brian for a long minute considering how to ask her next question. "How did you know? You were already on your way here, in a hurry, without luggage or anything. The only reason I can think of is that you somehow knew."
"I was on the phone with him when it happened," Brian sighed and looked away. "I felt so goddamned helpless. Again. When he was seventeen, a fucking homophobic asshole tried to bash Justin's brains in with a baseball bat. I was there, but I was too far away to stop it. Last night was just like that. And all I could think was that I had to get to him."
Sheila put a hand on his arm and said, "If you need to talk about it, you know where I am. And you might want to reconsider calling someone. If not for his sake, then for yours."