It took another month for the decorator to finish furnishing the loft, but when it was finally finished, Justin insisted that they have a housewarming party. Brian grimaced, but gave in without too much fuss. He would do just about anything to make Justin happy.
The day of the party, Brian hid in his study while Justin drove himself crazy with preparations. Brian looked around his study and was pleased once again with the finished room. His picture of the naked man hung on the wall below the glass blocks from their closet upstairs. There were built in book cases and a large desk for Brian's computer. He no longer had to try to squeeze his paperwork onto a small work surface already crowded by his laptop and printer. Now he had space and he had privacy. Although he missed being able to glance across the room and watch Justin paint.
The collage Justin had made of Brian was hung above their bed. The decorator had insisted and Justin and Brian had easily agreed. She had also insisted that Brian's old bed needed to be replaced. Their new king size bed, while still modern and sleek, was on a raised platform which allowed them to look out over the half wall to see the view of the city even when reclining in bed at night. The color scheme was much warmer than the blues and grays of their old bedroom. Now there were rusts and creams and soft greens taken directly from Justin's art. Brian's old sofa, an expensive piece of Italian craftsmanship, had been relegated to the sitting area in their bedroom along with a new chaise. The scale of the sofa was just too small for the large living room they now had, according to both Justin and the decorator.
In the living room, they now had a huge white leather sofa that could easily seat six people. There were also black leather arm chairs and a red leather chaise all with gleaming chrome legs and clean lines. The area was separated from the rest of the living space by a huge rug with spirals of red, orange, black and brown. And there were red and orange throw pillows scattered around.
They had a completely new dining set, made from tiger wood and frosted glass. The table was long and could seat up to ten people easily. The buffet separated the dining area from the living area. The chairs were upholstered in red leather and matched the four bar stools that lined the breakfast bar in the kitchen.
Justin's studio was more casual than the rest of the house. It suited Justin's personality and the function of the space. He now had a screen which he could use as a backdrop for his models. The screen could be covered with several different cloths that gave a different feel to the compositions. He also had another small sofa and chaise in there both for him to relax and for his models to pose on. His computer desk and art supplies were both lined up against one wall and completed projects and works in progress were stacked haphazardly around the room. While it was never really messy, to Brian the space felt cluttered and chaotic, but it seemed to work for Justin.
Gus had his own bedroom now and Brian couldn't wait to show him. The toddler would love it, he was sure. Justin had painted murals on the walls of trucks and planes and trains, all of Gus' favorite things. And he had painted one wall with chalkboard paint so that Gus could have a place to vent his creativity safely. Seeing Gus' face when he saw the room that evening almost made up for having his space invaded by the rest of the bunch.
The second bedroom contained their old bed with a new mattress and new linens. Brian had to admit, he didn't miss the cool tones of the old loft. The wide expanses of whitewashed concrete, red brick and warm wood floors leant itself to a warmer palette of colors. He did miss the blue lights from their old bed, however, so Justin had arranged to have special lighting in their bedroom. Now, the glass wall that lined the loft area and the edges of their bed's platform area could be lit with a variety of colors or set to rotate through the rainbow.
When the gang began arriving, Brian shut down his computer and straightened his desk up before joining Justin in the living area. Justin was talking to Jennifer and Molly near the entrance to his workspace. Debbie and Vic were on the sofa, along with Mel, Lindsey and Gus. Emmett and Ted were in the kitchen, Emmett putting something on a platter while Ted kept stealing bites. Gus, when he saw his daddy, toddled over to him and Brian swept him into a hug.
"How are you Sonny Boy? Did you miss your old dad?" Brian asked.
"Miss you Daddy," the two-year-old jabbered in his lovable way.
"Wanna see the room Justin made for you when you come spend the night?" Brian asked, ignoring the grumblings from Melanie. Justin left their guests and followed Brian and Gus into the boy's bedroom. Gus seemed to be amazed by the room and was quickly wiggling to be let down so he could play with the toys Justin had bought. A few minutes later, Brian and Justin left Gus to play while they rejoined the group in the main room.
"Where's Gus?" Mel asked suspiciously.
"We sold him to gypsies in the parking lot," Brian quipped as he stole a tomato off a tray on the kitchen counter.
"He's playing in his room," Justin said. "The food is all ready, so why don't we eat? I've got a plate set aside for Gus. I can heat it up when he gets hungry."
This seemed to both placate Melanie and spur the others into moving towards the dining table and sideboard where the food was laid out. Wine was poured and food consumed as the group all laughed and caught up with each other. Even Brian kept his typical snarkiness to a bare minimum, only baiting Mel when she harped first.
It was about ten o'clock, long after Gus had been tucked into his bed, when the doorbell rang and everyone stopped talking.
"We aren't expecting anyone else are we?" Justin asked Brian as he rose from his seat beside Brian on the chaise. Brian shook his head and got up to go with Justin. The reached the front door together and Justin opened it.
"Michael." Brian said flatly. "What are you doing here?"
Michael looked nervous and stammered for a minute before holding out a gift bag. "I brought you a housewarming gift. I…I wanted to apologize—to both of you—and see if maybe we could talk."
"Now's really not a good time for this," Brian said curtly. "We have guests, as I'm sure you are aware."
Michael's entire body seemed to droop. "I know. I shouldn't have come. It's just… I leave tomorrow."
"Leave?" Justin asked, speaking for the first time. There was a part of him that was still angry at the dark haired man before him, but part of him pitied him, too. And he knew that the rift had been difficult for Brian. "Where are you going?"
Michael looked up, surprised that Justin was the one who had asked the question. "You know that David and I have been trying to make the long distance thing work for a while now, but it's getting too hard. So I saved up a bit and with David's help, I bought a comic book store out there. I sign the final papers Monday."
"So this is your last night in town?" Justin asked confused. "Why didn't anyone say anything? We could have rescheduled."
"They all think I left this morning," Michael said. "I was supposed to leave this morning, but I…I couldn't leave with things the way they are." He paused and looked at Brian's still impassive face before turning back to Justin. "I really am sorry for what I said to you. Not just that day, but…I've been a prick to you for a long time because I was jealous. I felt like you stole my best friend from me."
"I would have shared," Justin said quietly.
Michael nodded. "I know that now. I lost my best friend because Ididn't know how to share."
"You didn't lose him," Brian finally said, "just misplaced him for a while."
Michael looked up at Brian with such hope that Justin had to smile. "Why don't you come in? We've already eaten, but there's still plenty of food left. I can heat you up something."
"Thanks, that would be…great."
That night, as they lay in bed, Brian held Justin tight and thought about the events of the evening. Michael had come in and everyone had welcomed him, though Debbie had cussed him out for not telling her his plans had changed. They had all laughed and reminisced for hours. And Brian had used the excuse of showing Michael around to have a chance to really talk to his friend.
"You know," Brian said, breaking the silence. "I feel like I've gained and lost him all over again."
"You haven't lost him," Justin said. "He's moving, yes, but he'll be home to visit. And you can keep in touch. Hell, knowing you two, you'll be on the phone almost daily."
They were both silent again, tiredly watching the lights on the glass wall circulate through the colors of the rainbow and the city lights beyond. Brian absentmindedly stroked Justin's arm and shoulder.
"I think Gus liked his room," Justin said, eventually.
"I think he was excited to be able to stay here with his Justin," Brian said and Justin could hear the smile in his voice. "I don't think the wicked witch will be able to hold out against his Kinney determination for long."
Justin had been slightly disappointed that Mel had insisted on taking Gus home with them, even though he had been happily sleeping in his new room. Gus had woken and had thrown quite the fit over being made to leave.
"Just wait until he sees the jeep you got him out on the deck," Justin laughed.
"Every boy deserves a toy car," Brian defended.
"Every boy deserves a father that loves him as much as you love Gus," Justin corrected. They were silent again, both thinking of Craig Taylor, who hadn't loved his son enough.
Something occurred to Brian and he let it slip out without thought, something he only did with Justin. "Do you ever think you'll remember? I mean, the doctors say that the memories are still there, you just can't access them right? And you were able to reroute to improve your speech. So maybe someday, your brain will find another route to those memories?"
"I don't think so," Justin sighed. "To be honest, I don't really miss those memories that much. I have you and our life. I'm happy. I can live without the past. I must admit, though, it would be nice to remember our first night together."
"It was a very special night," Brian agreed and kissed Justin's neck.
Again they were quiet.
"Wanna go to New York next weekend?" Brian finally asked. "I'm dying to fill that closet up with some new clothes."
"Only if you promise to buy me that leather blazer by John Varvatos," Justin countered. "And let me pick out three new shirts for you."
Brian hesitated. He was fine with buying the jacket for Justin, but to give Justin carte blanch on his wardrobe choices? "Who are the shirts by?" Brian finally asked. He knew from the way that Justin had worded his request that he had something in mind already.
"Paul Smith," Justin said. "I love his designs. And I think you have just the right personality to pull off his colorful shirts without looking like a total queen. Me? I'd look like a total twat in purple paisley."
"You are a total twat," Brian said and avoided the elbow aimed for his ribs. "It's a deal. I actually do like his shirts, but haven't had time to get any. And maybe we'll get you a custom suit from Zegna. You'll look fabulous in his designs."
"Your just saying that because I look horrible in Prada," Justin sighed. "He designs for men built like you, tall and lean. Not short with a bubble butt."
"I happen to love your bubble butt," Brian said and ground his cock into Justin's behind. "And the rest of you as well."
"Good," Justin smiled as he turned in Brian's arms to face his lover. "I happen to love you too."
After that, they were both too immersed in pleasure to talk about anything.