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.
"The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy."
**It had been the very best night of Justin's life. He'd lost his virginity to a god named Brian Kinney and was so deeply in love that his head was spinning with the possibility of a future together. He'd spent the morning gushing to his best friend Daphne about just how amazing it had been and how wonderful Brian was. Getting fucked had hurt, but Brian had said that it was part of experience, and he'd been right. The pain had made the pleasure so much more intense. But that pain had nothing on the pain Justin was feeling right now.
Seeing Brian with that nameless whore, inviting him into his loft for sex, was destroying Justin.
"You'll fuck anyone! He's ugly. You don't even know him!" Justin swallowed hard. "And I—I really lov…"
"Justin." Brian interrupted him before he get the words out. "I've had you." And didn't that just say it all. Brian sounded almost kind, but his words tore at Justin's heart. "What happened last night was for fun. You wanted me and I wanted you. That's all it was."
"A fuck?" Justin asked in bewilderment. That couldn't be all it was. Brian had been so…so gentle with him. He'd said he wanted Justin to always remember that night. It had been special.
"Well, what did you think it was?" Brian asked in exasperation. They stared at each other for long seconds. "Look, I don't believe in love; I believe in fucking. It's honest; it's efficient; you get in and out with a maximum of pleasure and a minimum of bullshit. Love is something that straight people tell themselves they're in so they can get laid. And then they end up hurting each other because it was all based on lies to begin with." Brian paused and looked directly into Justin's eyes. Even now, even with the hurtful things Brian was saying, Justin felt like those eyes were boring into his soul. "If that's what you want, then go and find yourself a pretty little girl and get married."
"That's not what I want." Justin denied. "I want you."
"You can't have me, I'm too ol—" Brian looks away, disgusted with himself for that almost slip. When he looked back it was with that rueful half smile, half smirk that Justin already loved so much. "You're too young for me. You're seventeen and I'm twenty-eight."
"Twenty-nine," Justin said with a sad smile, but the attempt at teasing felt flat and insincere.
"Alright, I'm twenty-nine." Brian admitted with a self-deprecating sigh. "All the more reason. Now go do your homework."
And with that, it was over. All of his hopes and dreams for a future with Brian were dashed into the gutter outside Brian's loft. He gave Brian one last look of longing, but the truth hadn't changed in those few seconds. His faced screwed up with the pain Justin couldn't hold back, his tears fell as he got into Daphne's car and drove away.**
Once he had time to calm down and think rationally about everything that had happened and everything that Brian had said, Justin knew in his heart that he could try to change Brian's mind. He could stalk him and force him to face the fact that they had connected on some deep inner level—because, despite Brian's speech, they had connected—he could make Brian accept him and his love eventually. But if Brian Kinney was so set against love and relationships, if he was so obviously unready to make the kind of commitment Justin needed from him, he knew it would mean years of pain and heartache for both of them as they struggled to find a balance they could both live with. Brian might accept him into his life right now, but it would be as a novelty, as his pet twink, and not as a lover and equal. As brave as he thought himself to be, Justin wasn't ready to face that sort of battle day after day, nor the beating his heart would inevitably take.
So, Brian Kinney was relegated to the recesses of Justin's heart, the instant love he had felt for the older man never fading, but not allowed to control him either.
There were repercussions from that single night of love, however. Justin was outed at school by the spray painted "faggot" on Brian's jeep and Justin had to face the taunting and bullying of his peers. His mother discovered Brian's jock strap and several drawings of Brian in his sketchbook, and soon he was out to his parents as well. The echo of that night continued to reverberate through Justin's life over the days of his senior year in high school.
When the time came for Justin to choose a college, his relationship with his father had deteriorated beyond the point of ever going back and Justin decided that he needed to go far away from home. He applied to and was accepted to Columbia's fine art program and was happy to finally be able to leave Pittsburgh and the pain there behind.
Four years in New York brought Justin a whole new perspective on life and his art. Where he had once wanted to do comic art or computer animation, he had rediscovered his love for painting while attending his classes. And by the time he graduated with honors, Justin had already begun to develop a reputation as one of New York's finest up-and-coming artists. Over the next six years, that reputation grew into a very lucrative and satisfactory career.
What hadn't changed was the place in Justin's heart that loved Brian Kinney, and when Justin caught a glimpse of Brian on the National News after a gay dance club in Pittsburgh was bombed, he knew that it never would.
Brian Kinney looked around his new office and smiled. He had finally made it to New York, and on his own terms, not as the lapdog of some over-priced, unimaginative corporation. He had walked out of Vanguard seven years before, at one of the lowest times in his life, and had opened his own advertising agency. It had been difficult at times, especially when he'd been diagnosed with cancer so soon after starting the business, but he'd made it through the hard times and was now moving his business to New York to take on the stuffed-shirts on Madison Avenue.
The place was barren, no furniture and it needed serious decorative help, but the renovations were complete and it was his. Not satisfied with the status quo, Brian had bought a small building in Chelsea to make his base of operations. He was going with the same principal that had made Kinnetik the success it had become: if they wanted fresh and new ideas, the clients would have to step out of their comfort zones and come to him.
So far, it had worked beyond his wildest dreams and he expected it would continue to work.
He'd brought Cynthia with him, but had left Ted in Pittsburgh to head the office there. Ted had really stepped up in recent years to become one of the best assets of his company. He may have had no clue about selling ideas, but he knew how to keep Kinnetik running. The financial offices would remain in Pittsburgh, along with a small creative staff that could handle the smaller accounts there, but Brian had brought his best and brightest with him. Including Cynthia, who was now the COO of Kinnetik.
"The furniture you picked out will be arriving this afternoon," Cynthia said from the doorway, interrupting Brian's thoughts. "And the phones and computers will be hooked up tomorrow morning. Staff will be here tomorrow afternoon for the first staff meeting, except for Damon. He's still dealing with the moving company. They finally found his furniture, but say they won't be able to deliver it until tomorrow. Oh, and you have a meeting with Dale from Cooper's Electronics on Wednesday. They want to talk over the possibility of a new national campaign."
Brian grinned, "You know you don't have to keep my schedule anymore. That's why you hired Cathy."
Cynthia scowled. "That girl is useless. She wouldn't know the difference between a prospective client and a trained monkey if I didn't point it out to her."
"Then why did you hire her?" Brian asked with a smirk.
"Because I wanted to remind you how much you need me," Cynthia replied without a hint of shame. "Besides, she doesn't start until tomorrow."
Brian stared at the blank walls of his office distractedly. "We need art to put up. Something new and innovative and sexy. Something to match the image we're trying to project."
Cynthia rolled her eyes as she headed for the door. "I'll get right on that." And despite the attitude, Brian knew she would.
A week later, sat in that same office, now fully furnished with sleek new Italian furniture, staring at one of the most beautiful men he had ever seen. He had blond hair, blue eyes and a smile that could light up the darkest nightclub. He was significantly shorter than Brian, but he was well built with a nicely rounded ass that made Brian's mouth water. He seemed vaguely familiar, but if he was as popular as Cynthia said, Brian figured he must have seen an article about him or something.
"Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to meet with me, Mr. Taylor," Brian said, pouring on the charm. "I've heard wonderful things about your work."
The blond's smile seemed to falter for a moment, but was quickly back in place. "Please call me Justin. I'm not one to stand on formalities. I take it the work you wish to commission will be for your office?"
Brian nodded, "And the conference room and reception area. I'm looking for something cutting edge, modern, sensual." He drew out the last word in a way that Brian knew from past experience would make most gay men, and many seemingly straight men, cream their jeans. Not that Justin Taylor was wearing jeans. No, he was sporting designer labels from head to toe, John Varvatos if Brian wasn't mistaken and he rarely was when it came to matters of fashion or sex. "Why don't we have a look around and then we can discuss your ideas. Maybe over drinks?"
Justin frowned. He knew that Brian hadn't recognized him. So he had been just a fuck after all. But Brian Kinney still held a big piece of Justin's heart and soul and he could not allow himself to go through that pain again. "I'm sure we can come to a satisfactory arrangement, but I have a rule: never mix business with pleasure, so I'm afraid drinks are out of the question."
It was Brian's turn to frown. He'd just been blown off by this hot young thing? "I'm sure that one drink wouldn't compromise your rules."
"If having drinks is a requirement of the commission, I don't think we have any more to say to each other," Justin said firmly. Yes, he wanted this commission, but he didn't need it. He had done plenty of commissions for various companies over the years and they always paid well, but his work was steadily selling at the gallery and online. He had more demand for his work than he had time to complete the pieces. So if Brian "god's gift to Gay men" Kinney wanted his art, he'd have to play by his rules.
And what if he wants your ass? Justin's inner voice asked.
Luckily, he didn't have to answer that particular question, because Brian took that moment to respond. "Of course that isn't a condition. I like your work. I want to see what you can offer Kinnetik. If you prefer we keep things on a strictly professional level, that's perfectly fine."
But it wasn't fine, and Brian knew it. There was something about this man that drew him in, something that called to him in a way that he hadn't felt in years, if ever. It was something familiar and yet strange all at the same time. He wanted this man. He more than wanted him, he wanted to own him, possess him. He wanted more than his body; he wanted his heart and soul as well. Now wasn't that a disconcerting thought?
They toured the offices and Brian pointed out the places he thought they should have art hanging. They discussed colors and the atmosphere Brian was trying to set. And Justin was impressed. Not only with Brian's vision and dedication to his goal, but with his choices in location and the way he had renovated the once derelict space into a sleek and impressive work environment. Not only would it impress prospective clients, but it would foster creativity in his staff.
The offices took up two floors of an old art deco building, with the third through sixth floors being reserved for residential income. The offices had been renovated to incorporate the original art deco style while adding a touch of the modern and contemporary. And the furnishings throughout the office were sleek and expensive. Justin wasn't surprised to learn Brian had had it imported from Italy.
Once back in Brian's office, Justin turned to his prospective client. "I think I can have sketches done in about a week. The completed paintings will take about a month. In the meantime, I can offer to loan you a few pieces. They won't fit quite as well as the pieces I'll make for you, but they will keep your walls from being so bare until I can complete your project."
Brian lifted his eyebrow at the offer. "Do you always loan out your work to clients?"
Justin smiled. "It's good business." Justin held out his card to Brian. "Call me and we can set up a time for you to come to my studio to pick out a few pieces."
"I'll do that," Brian promised. "And I'll have the contract we discussed ready to sign."
Justin nodded and shook Brian's hand. "It's been a pleasure."
"The pleasure was all mine," Brian smiled without releasing Justin's hand. When Justin pulled away, Brian hid his frown and let the younger man leave without further words. Once he was out the door, however, Brian went to his desk and called Cynthia. "Tell me everything you know about Justin Taylor."
If Cynthia was startled by the demand, she hid it well. "He's twenty-seven years old. He graduated from Columbia six years ago with a degree in fine arts. Since then he's built up a following in the art world. He's had numerous successful shows at some of New York's top galleries. He even took part in a show of contemporary New York artists at MOMA last year. His original paintings sell for between 10 and 20 grand each, though the prices have gone higher at auction, and he makes very good money selling prints through various outlets, including online. He does take commissions, but only a couple per year. It's considered quite the honor to have his commissioned work. He also has invested a good bit of his profits into real estate and other businesses, including a gallery in SoHo."
"How much does he make in a year?" Brian asked. Justin Taylor, in his John Varvatos leather jacket and jeans, did not fit Brian's image of the starving artist. Hell, that outfit alone cost more than two grand, not counting the shoes.
"According to his tax records, and averaging over the last five years, he makes almost as much as you," Cynthia stated. "Of course, with the economy what it is these days, his income will probably be a little below average this year."
Brian shook his head in awe. Twenty-eight and he was already at the top of his field. Even Brian hadn't been that fast in his rise to success. That kind of accomplishment and determination were like an aphrodisiac to Brian. If he hadn't wanted the kid before, Brian definitely wanted him now. "Find out where he spends his evenings."
Cynthia chuckled through the phone. "Are you going to stalk him, now? What happened? Did he turn the great and powerful Brian Kinney down?"
"Not necessarily," Brian hedged. "He only said he didn't mix business with pleasure. That doesn't mean he won't be ripe for the picking once the business is complete. So, get that information for me, will you?"
"I'm on it," Cynthia sighed. "You know, if people had any idea the shit I do for you…"
"They'd try to steal you away from me," Brian said. "Which is why it's a secret I'll take to my grave. And why I pay you so much."
Brian watched Justin from the shadows of the club, nursing his scotch. Justin was a regular at The Cat Walk, though he did go to other clubs. Brian had seen him here nine times in the last two weeks, though and each time was the same. Justin would dance and the men would flock around him. Eventually he'd choose someone from the crowd and take him either to the back room for a blow job or to a hotel. It was never the same man twice, but it was always a tall, slim, well-dressed man with dark hair.
Their meeting at Justin's studio had gone well. Brian had brought coffee and had impressed the kid with his knowledge and judgment in art and with his selections for the office. They'd discussed their tastes in designers and compared the latest collections. They'd even discussed the economic troubles facing the country and how it affected them personally. Brian had thought it had gone rather well. But a second offer for drinks had been firmly refused and so Brian was left to stalk his prey instead.
Brian knew that there was an electric attraction there; it fairly crackled in the air between them. Hell, Brian fit Justin's physical taste in men perfectly. So what was the issue? His gut twisted with an unfamiliar emotion. It felt like jealousy, but that couldn't be right, could it?
Well, Brian wasn't the 'Stud of Liberty Avenue' for nothing. He finished his drink and made his way through the crowd of men around Justin and began to dance. It didn't take long to insinuate himself into Justin's space as he pressed his body against Justin's back. Justin rotated in Brian's arms and he could see that the younger man's eyes were lost in the movement and the music. One song became two songs became five songs as he and Justin moved together in a rhythm as old as time. Brian knew the moment Justin realized who he was dancing with because his body froze for just a moment before he allowed himself to get lost in the thumpa-thumpa once again.
Their bodies swayed and moved in time to the beat, their chests brushed against each other, their cocks, both straining, rubbed together through two layers of denim. They touched and stroked and ground together in a parody of sex that had Brian longing to take Justin in the middle of the dance floor. For what seemed like hours, they danced and lost themselves in the music and the feel of the other's body moving against their own.
Finally, as one song ended and another began, Justin looked up at Brian and grabbed his hand. Brian, at first, thought he was being led to the back room. Instead they made their way to the bar. Justin ordered them two double scotches and then paid for both.
"I guess we're finally having those drinks," Brian said.
Justin frowned. "I knew a guy like you once. He thought he could take and take and never give anything back. He thought the world belonged to him, that people were his for the taking. Well, I'm not up for grabs, Brian."
"This isn't about keeping business separate from your private life, is it?" Brian demanded.
Justin shook his head. "No, not really. This is about having control of my life."
"So tricking is fine as long as YOU choose," Brian scoffed. "You'll fuck a different guy every night so long as you are the one doing the using."
Justin was bewildered. "Why does it matter to you who I sleep with? Fuck! You are so fucking…I have to go." Justin tossed back the rest of his drink and was moving before Brian's brain could process the information. He quickly followed Justin and finally caught up to him on the street outside.
"Justin, please," Brian said as he grabbed Justin's arm and turned the smaller man to face him. "I'm sorry. I have no right to judge who you choose to take to your bed. Hell, there was a time… And I shouldn't have forced the issue after you told me outright that you weren't interested in pursuing something. But Justin, there's something between us. It's almost palpable. I've never experienced anything like it. I just want to find out what it is that draws me to you."
Justin's head was spinning with conflicting emotions. Should he tell Brian? What if Brian was finally ready to acknowledge the connection Justin had felt from their very first time together?
"I'm not looking for a fuck, Brian," Justin finally said. "If I want that, there are a hundred guys in that club who would be more than happy to oblige."
Brian looked startled. "What do you want?"
Justin thought back to that night so long ago, in front of Brian's loft. "I want you," Justin said, echoing his words from that conversation.
Brian gave a cocky grin and pulled Justin's body close. "You have me."
Justin pulled away so that he could look into Brian's face. "No, I want all of you, not just your body. I want your heart and soul. I want your time and attention. I want promises and forever. Can you give me that?"
Now it was Brian's turn to step back. Justin had unknowingly echoed his own thoughts from their first meeting, but Brian was still not sure what to make of any of it. He might want those things from Justin, but could he give anyone that in return? "I don't believe in love," Brian whispered, almost to himself, like he was repeating a mantra that he scarcely believed anymore.
"Well, I do believe in love," Justin sighed. "Let me know if you ever change your mind." With those words, Justin walked away, getting lost in the crowded city street.
Brian's brownstone was in walking distance from the club, so he used those few blocks to try and understand what had just happened. Justin reminded him so much of himself at that age, dancing and fucking his nights away with abandon, demanding the world take notice of him by day through his career. He was young, ambitious, and highly sexual. But the similarities ended there. For Justin, it seemed that those nights of mindless pleasure were simply a stop-gap on his way to finding love and commitment, something he could take or leave without a second thought.
It had taken cancer and a bomb to force Brian to give up the reckless lifestyle that he had prided himself on for so long. But even the death of his best friend in that bombing and the loss of his son when his mothers took him to Canada couldn't make him settle down completely. He'd given up the drugs when chemotherapy had laid him low and hadn't taken them back up. He'd cut back the number of tricks and the nights out as he had grieved after the bombing, and had never really considered going back, even after he rebuilt Babylon.
While his life had changed, Brian's attitude towards love and commitment hadn't. Jack Kinney's ghost still haunted him and he was sure that if he tried to settle down, it would only end badly. There had only been one time, one person who had made him briefly reconsider that belief, though most of that time was a blur to him now, like a dream that slips away with the morning light; he knew it had happened, but he couldn't quite remember the details.
Brian was distracted from those thoughts as his cell phone vibrated to let him know a text had come in. He looked at the text and a smile lit up his face. Instead of responding, he decided to call.
"Hey Sonny Boy," Brian said. "It's almost midnight. Isn't it a bit past your bed time?"
Gus laughed, "It's the weekend, Dad. Mom lets me stay up late."
"So what's up?" Brian asked.
"I wanted to know if you're coming for my birthday this year," Gus said. "Mama said you probably wouldn't have time because of the move and everything."
"Well, your mama is wrong," Brian said. "I'll be there, just like every year. And I expect you here over your Christmas break too."
"I can't wait," Gus enthused. "New York is going to be so cool. You'll take me to the Natural History Museum, right? They've got all kinds of dinosaurs there. And the space exhibits sound really great. And I want to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building."
"We'll go those places, I promise," Brian laughed. "I'm taking the whole week off to spend with you."
"Good," Gus replied. "As much as I like Cynthia, I don't want to come all the way to New York to hang out with her. You want to talk to Mom before you hang up?"
"No, I'll talk to her tomorrow," Brian said. "I love you Sonny Boy."
"Love you too, Dad," Gus said before hanging up.
Brian climbed the steps into his brownstone and looked around the space. His apartment took up the entire first and second floor. The third floor and cellar were currently separate apartments, but eventually he wanted to restore the old house into a single dwelling. He'd purchased the building outright, but had promised to keep the tenants on until their leases expired that fall.
The main floor was a long open space with the living area in the front and the kitchen in the rear. It reminded him of the loft. The kitchen opened up through large French doors out onto a deck and large walled garden. Brian had already hired a landscaper to care for the garden and it was a peaceful place away from the hectic days in Manhattan. His master bedroom had a small balcony overlooking the garden as well. The second floor only had one bedroom with an en suite bathroom besides the master suite. Brian loved his suite. It not only had a spectacular bathroom, but it also had a walk in closet that had once been a third bedroom. It was large enough that even Brian couldn't imagine filling it.
Brian went to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of water before returning to the living room. He could hardly believe it had been ten years since Gus had been born. That night had been one of the best and scariest of his life. He hadn't believed he could be a good father, but when Gus looked up at him for the first time, he had fallen in love with his son.
Something about that night, however, brought Brian's mind back to Justin. There was something there, but he couldn't figure out what it was. Brian went to the shelf where he kept the photo albums of Gus. The first of three covered Gus' earliest years of life. Brian grabbed the album and sat back on the black leather sofa. The first picture in the album was the one Mikey had taken when Brian had held Gus for the first time. That was just after they had decided his name. They…there had been a teenage boy with them. The fuzziness of his memory began to fade as he pieced the facts together. He'd taken the boy's virginity that night, after the visit to the hospital. And the next night, the boy had come back and Brian had sent him away. He was the only person Brian had regrets about. He was the only person Brian had considered breaking his rules for, but in the end, Brian had sent the kid away for his own good.
The next page of the album had a picture of him, Mikey, Gus and that teenage boy.
His blond hair and blue eyes called out to Brian. Justin Taylor stared back at him with that irrepressible smile. How could he not have recognized that smile? Yes Justin had changed over the past ten years—his face had lost the roundness of youth and his hair was slightly darker—but his eyes and smile were the same.
Justin had said he had known someone like Brian. Not someone like Brian, he'd known Brian—the Brian of his youth, the wild and reckless Brian Kinney. No wonder Justin didn't want him. No wonder Brian had felt an instant connection to him; this was the boy who had named his son. After ten years, he finally had the chance to change the way he had ended things. Now that it was clicking into place, Brian knew that he had to find a way past Justin's barriers.
Brian bided his time and waited for Justin to come to him. He'd gone to Canada for Gus' tenth birthday as planned and when he returned, Justin came to the office to deliver the promised paintings. After looking over the finished pieces—and they were truly worth the exorbitant price Justin charged—Brian asked Justin back to his office to give him the check.
"It was ten years ago last week," Brian said as he held the check out to Justin. "It took me a while to put the pieces together, but a call from Gus about his birthday brought it all together. Why didn't you say something?"
Justin took the check and stared at it without really seeing it. "What should I have said? 'You took my virginity and tossed me out without a second thought…'?"
"Not without a second thought," Brian sighed and Justin finally looked up at him. "I went back to your school a few times, hoping to catch a glimpse of you. I even saw you once or twice from a distance. But…"
"But I was too young for you," Justin finished.
Brian laughed at that. "You were probably too old for me. At seventeen, you probably had more understanding of who you were and what you wanted than I do today. But I have grown up a bit since then."
Justin looked skeptical. "Really? That's why you were trying so hard to get into my pants the very first time we saw each other again?"
"I wanted you because there was something about you that called to me," Brian contradicted. "Believe it or not, I haven't hit on anyone in a business setting since… well, in ten years. I may not have connected your face with that of the boy I hurt all those years ago, but I never forgot you. And some part of me recognized the same connection we had back then."
"You don't believe in that shit," Justin said.
"I didn't believe in love," Brian said. "Or rather, I didn't believe I could ever be any good at loving. I also never believed I could be a good father, but ten years with Gus has proven me wrong about that. I think if you tried, you could prove me wrong about love too."
Justin stared at Brian for long minutes, the silence between them filled with tension. "Maybe. But I can't be the only one trying, Brian. If we're going to do this, we both have to make an effort. I don't think I could take being hurt again the way you have the potential to hurt me."
"There are no guarantees," Brian said and he reached out to stroke Justin's cheek. "I've never tried a relationship before, and I don't know how I'll do. But I'm not the same man I was a few years ago. And I promise to make an effort."
Justin nodded and walked into Brian's arms just as he'd longed to do since that first meeting in this office. He looked up at Brian and wasn't surprised when Brian leaned forward to place a kiss on his lips. The chaste kiss turned passionate very quickly and Brian pulled Justin tightly to him, their bodies touching from chest to groin.
"Brian, I was just… Oh, I'm so sorry!" The door to Brian's office closed with a slam as Cathy rushed out and they pulled apart reluctantly.
"I suppose this isn't the best place for this sort of thing," Justin said with a wry grin.
Brian shook his head in disgust, "That girl is completely useless. Cynthia never would have interrupted like that."
"Then why did you hire her?" Justin chuckled.
"I didn't," Brian said with a sardonic smile. "Cynthia did. Cynthia used to be my assistant until I made her the COO of Kinnetik. Since then, she's hired one useless assistant after another. She says it's to remind me how much I need her. Cathy has actually lasted longer than most."
"I can imagine that you would be a rather difficult boss," Justin teased. "Very demanding."
"I'm demanding alright," Brian said with a leer. "Very demanding."
"I'm sure I'm going to find out," Justin smiled and moved back into Brian's arms.
After another kiss, Brian asked, "So where do we go from here?"
"How about a date?" Justin suggested. "I have plans tonight, but I could make dinner at my place tomorrow and we could see how things go from there."
"Sounds good," Brian said. "I'll bring wine."
Brian stood outside Justin's door and felt an unusual sensation. He was nervous. It wasn't that he had never been on a date before—though not since college—it was that he had never been on a date that held the potential that this one did. He'd never felt about someone the way he felt about Justin and they hadn't even slept together yet—at least not for eleven years. It felt like his whole future rested upon getting this one evening right.
All his nervousness, however, melted away as soon as Justin opened the door and he saw Justin standing there with a bright smile lighting up his face.
Brian looked him over and smiled in return. "I have got to go shopping with you one of these days. Let's see… Those jeans and linen sport shirt are from the Roberto Cavalli fall collection. And that cashmere cardigan is another John Varvatos."
Justin grinned and looked Brian over. "And that is the Dolce and Gabbana suede jacket I wanted last spring but couldn't find in my size, paired with a nice Versace sweater and Hugo Boss jeans."
"I definitely need to go shopping with you," Brian reiterated. "Maybe in Milan."
"What kind of wine did you bring?" Justin asked as he took Brian's coat and hung it up on the hook in the front hall.
Brian took a look around the loft space that made up Justin's apartment. "I brought a Pinot Grigio and a ten-year-old Barolo. I wasn't sure about what you were cooking, so I thought a selection would be good."
"Oh, good, I love Italian wines," Justin said as he walked into the kitchen area.
Brian noticed the large wall of windows at the front of the apartment and the modern furnishings in the sitting area. "This is really nice."
Justin blushed and looked away from Brian. "I… I actually thought about your loft in Pittsburgh when I decorated. I always thought it was a great space."
"It still is," Brian smiled. "I still have offices in Pittsburgh, so I kept the loft for times when I go back to work or visit."
"Dinner's about ready," Justin said as he lifted a lid on one of the pots. "If you'd like to pour us some wine, I'll serve."
"You never said what we were having," Brian said as he walked to the counter where Justin was setting the fancy electric bottle opener beside the wine bottles.
"Nothing fancy, just striped sea bass with a fresh remoulade sauce and grilled vegetables. The Pinot Grigio will be perfect," Justin told him. "I hate eating too many carbs late in the day, but I've got a fresh loaf of Italian bread from the bakery down the street if you'd like."
Brian smirked as he poured the wine. "Actually, I'm not a fan of carbs myself."
Soon they were both sitting at the table and digging into the wonderful meal. "This is fabulous. Where did you learn to cook like this? I'm lucky if I can manage take out most nights."
"My mom taught me some, but I've taken a class or two since being on my own," Justin admitted. "I like to cook, and I get tired of take out. Not much of a New Yorker in that way, I know, but there it is."
They talked for a while about what they liked to do in their free time. Justin admitted to an aversion to working out, though he did go a couple times a week, whereas Brian went to the gym religiously. They both liked to visit museums, but Justin preferred the art museums, while Brian was more into history. Indeed, Brian read history books and biographies while Justin liked the classics of literature and some newer fiction.
"I guess I get that from my mother," Justin said. "She was always pushing literary classics at me when I was growing up. Then we'd sit around and talk about them. We still talk on the phone about whatever we happen to be reading."
"Do you get home to see your parents often?" Brian asked, wondering how often he might have missed seeing Justin at the Giant Eagle or on the South Side.
"It's just my mother and sister these days, and I don't get home as often as either of them would like," Justin said ruefully. "But I do go home a couple times a year. I was home in June for Molly's graduation from high school, and I'm going home for Thanksgiving next month."
"Really? Maybe we can fly out together," Brian said. "I promised Debbie that I'd be home for the holiday."
"Debbie?" Justin said, trying to remember why the name was familiar. "Isn't she your friend Michael's mom? The one with the crazy red wig? How is she?"
Brian sobered and took a long drink of his wine. "She's doing okay. She got married a few years ago. But things haven't been great. Her brother died about seven years ago and then Michael was killed in a bombing five years ago. Other than Carl, I'm all she has left. She was always more like a mother to me than my own mother ever was."
"I'm so sorry," Justin said. He hadn't liked Michael much, but he didn't think he had deserved to die so young, and he definitely didn't think Debbie deserved to lose her only son. "Was it the night club bombing? It was on all the national news shows for a while, and I followed the story online. I even spotted you once."
Brian nodded. "I bought the club about a year before the bombing. Afterward, it took a long time for the gay community to recover. Lindsey and Mel took my son Gus and Michael's daughter JR to Canada to live. It was a very difficult time."
"I can imagine," Justin said. "Do you get to see Gus often?"
"I go up for his Birthday every year," Brian smiled. "And he comes to visit at Christmas, for spring break and for a few weeks each summer. And we talk on the phone all the time. I bought him his own cell phone last year so he could call me anytime, much to his mothers' chagrin."
"You sound like a doting father," Justin said wistfully. "My father was like that once upon a time."
"What happened?" Brian asked.
"I came out," Justin shrugged. "After showing up at school in a jeep with the word faggot spray painted on the side, it was inevitable that word would get around. And then my mother found incriminating evidence in one of my sketchbooks. My father didn't take it well. We fought a lot that last year, but when he hit me, it was pretty much over. I decided to go to Columbia University for college and my mother divorced my dad. I haven't spoken to him in years. In fact, I had to have my appendix out a couple years ago and he never even called. My mom came to stay with me and she kept trying to make excuses for him, but I knew then that he would never accept me as his son. So I stopped hoping."
"He hit you? God I'm sorry," Brian said. "I never should have…"
Justin took Brian's hand in his. "It wasn't your fault. It would have happened sooner or later. I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life in the closet in order to make Craig Taylor happy."
"I was estranged from my parents long before they ever knew I was gay," Brian said. "My dad was a mean drunk and my mother was a bitch. He died about ten years ago, and my mom just last year. I can't say I'm sorry that either of them is dead. I miss Mikey and Vic more."
"Did you and Michael ever…?" Justin asked. "I mean, he was obviously hung up on you. He even warned me away from you, and I know it wasn't because he was trying to protect me."
Brian smiled. "No, we never did. Mikey ended up with a very nice professor and they adopted a teenage runaway a while before he was killed. I think his last few years were pretty happy with Ben."
"At least he had that," Justin agreed. "My best friend Daphne went to school in Boston and stayed there after she graduated. For a while we kept in touch, but then she got married and started having babies. Now we talk only a couple times a year. I'm glad she's happy, but I still miss her."
"This is depressing," Brian said as he pushed his empty plate away and stood. "Let me help clean up and maybe we can come up with something happier to talk about."
Justin grinned. "Sounds like a good idea."
They cleared the table together and it didn't take long to get the dishes into the dishwasher.
"I know it's rather rude to ask about a person's finances, but I'm just that kind of guy," Brian smirked once they were seated on Justin's sofa and drinking more wine. "I had Cynthia do a bit of research on your background after our first meeting. She said that you make quite a bit of money each year."
Justin nodded and sat his wine on the coffee table. "I had already developed a bit of a following before I graduated, so when I went to work on my art full time, I was already making a good living. My father always wanted me to go into business and taught me certain things early on. One of those things was to invest. He also insisted that I take some business courses while in school as a condition for paying for my education. So after I graduated, I only used what I really needed to survive and began investing the rest of my income. If I liquidated my assets, I'd be worth around forty million right now. I invested in real estate and other long term holdings which have held up well, despite the faltering economy. I also make good money from my art. But what about you? You're pretty young to hold sole ownership of one of the best advertising agencies in the country. I did my homework, too."
"I worked my ass off for other companies for a number of years," Brian said. "A few years ago, I had political differences with one of the company's clients and almost lost everything. Instead of burying my head and licking my wounds, I went out and started my own agency. Most of the top clients at Vanguard were mine, and most were willing to follow me when we split ways. It was touch and go for a while, but I made sure I had the best team possible and was able to build Kinnetik into what it is today."
"You're too ambitious to be working for someone else's bottom line," Justin stated. "You would have made the break eventually, but circumstances forced your hand. Well, you certainly have risen from the ashes. Been on the cover of Forbes, too."
"And you've had a show in MOMA," Brian said.
"It was only three paintings," Justin demurred.
"It was still in one of the world's top museums," Brian countered.
Justin laughed, "Listen to us. It's like a mutual admiration society."
Brian moved closer to Justin on the sofa and stroked his cheek with the back of one knuckle. "There are a few other things about you I'd like to admire."
"Then let's go upstairs," Justin said on a whisper. He took Brian's hand as they both rose and led the other man to the stairs which took them to the loft where his bedroom overlooked the apartment below.
The weeks following were new and exciting for Brian and Justin. They spent much of their free time together, going to the museums they had discussed on that first date, shopping, dancing, even going to an off-Broadway play once. Brian went with Justin to a gallery opening in SoHo, and Justin went with Brian to dinner with a new client. There were days when one or the other was too busy to meet up, but they called every night when they couldn't be together.
It was all very different for Brian. It was like Justin had become his best friend and lover all in one. Though Justin was nothing like Mikey had been. They had more in common than Brian and Michael ever had, shared more interests, and Justin wasn't as needy as Mikey. They talked about their lives and their pasts, even things Brian had sworn never to talk about seemed easy to discuss with Justin.
When Thanksgiving came around, they decided to go to Pittsburgh together. Ted met them at the airport with Brian's car—which the brunet hadn't been able to part with, despite moving to New York where vehicles are quite unnecessary—and, after dropping Ted off, they went to Brian's loft and unpacked.
"What time are your friends expecting us?" Justin asked after their unpacking had deteriorated into a quick hard fuck over the back of the sofa followed by a long slow fuck in the shower. They were just getting dressed again for a night at Babylon. They would see their respective families tomorrow.
"Now," Brian grinned. "But Ted knows I brought you, so they won't expect us to be on time. We'll meet them at Woody's first then head to Babylon."
"You didn't tell Ted I was coming," Justin said as he pulled on a cashmere Marc Jacobs sweater over a black silk t-shirt. His tone wasn't accusatory, just curious.
"I didn't tell anyone I was bringing you," Brian said. "They'll get the story soon enough. Debbie knows I've been seeing someone, and begged me to bring you, but I told her you couldn't come."
Justin grinned, "So I'm a surprise?"
"In more ways than one," Brian said as he looked his lover over.
Twenty minutes later, they walked into Woody's and it was obvious that Ted had kept his mouth closed about Justin.
"Don't tell me you picked up a trick between the airport and here," Emmett said with the characteristic southern drawl Justin fondly remembered as he gave Brian a hug that was endured stoically. Then Emmett turned to look at Justin. "Wait, I think I know you."
"Guys, this is Justin," Brian said. "Justin, this is Emmett, Blake and Ben."
"It's nice to meet you," Ben said as he shook Justin's hand. "I take it that you aren't just some trick Brian picked up on the way here."
Justin laughed. "Not hardly."
"Please, Justin, I have a reputation to uphold," Brian sighed dramatically. "I could have picked you up at the airport."
"I think the lie would be revealed when I show up at dinner tomorrow," Justin teased. "Even at your worst, I doubt you would dare to bring a trick to Debbie's."
"Bringing him home to meet the family," Blake laughed. "That must mean something."
"I'm sure I know you," Emmett insisted.
"Justin's pretty famous in the art world," Brian said as he accepted a beer from Ted, who had gone to get a round for everyone. "Maybe you read an article about him or something."
"Maybe," Emmett said but the doubt was evident in his voice. "No, that's not it. Are you from around here, Justin?"
"Born and raised," Justin said with a sly smile to Brian.
"Oh my god!" Emmett said, his face suddenly alight with understanding. "You're Brian's twink stalker! Or that's what Mikey used to call you."
"I hardly think showing up at Woody's once could count as stalking," Justin frowned. "And you have a better memory than Brian, apparently."
"Hey, I was high as a kite that night," Brian defended.
"You were high every night back then," Ted said dryly.
"I'm afraid I don't know…" Ben said.
"It was before you and Blake were around, sweetie," Emmett cooed at Ben and kissed his cheek.
"It was the night Gus was born," Brian filled in. "I met Justin outside on Liberty Avenue and took him home with me. Then I took him to the hospital with me."
"Where I helped name Gus," Justin smiled at the memory.
"Mikey and I dropped him off at his school the next morning, where I inadvertently outed the kid to his classmates," Brian said. "The next night he showed up here and I ditched him."
"Michael took me to the diner," Justin recalled. "Warned me away from you, and I met Debbie."
"Then he showed up at the loft just as I was about to entertain a new friend," Brian said.
Justin snorted, "New trick, more like."
Brian rolled his eyes, "We talked and Justin went away."
"How old were you, Justin?" Blake asked.
"Seventeen," Justin said easily. "Young enough to be completely heartbroken, but old enough to consent."
"Jesus Brian!" Ben said with exasperation. "Did you know how old he was?"
"Yes," Brian said with no explanation or excuse.
"So, how did you two end up meeting up again?" Ted asked, ready to change the topic out of loyalty to his employer, even if he did agree with Ben.
"I went to Columbia," Justin said. "And stayed in New York after I graduated. When Brian wanted to commission art work for his new offices, Cynthia called me. The rest is history."
"Not quite," Brian said.
"What do you mean?" Ben asked.
It was Justin's turn to roll his eyes. "He means that he didn't recognize me at first. And I didn't tell him we had known each other. So when I turned him down flat, he was rather fascinated."
"I couldn't figure out why he'd turn me down," Brian admitted. "I know I have lost my appeal, so I went after him."
"So you turned the tables and became Justin's stalker?" Emmett laughed.
"No." "Yes." Brian and Justin answered at the same time.
"I didn't stalk you," Brian frowned.
"You followed me to Cat Walk every night for two weeks," Justin said. "And then to the hotel afterward."
"How did…?" Brian cut himself off before he could incriminate himself further.
"Brian, you stand out in a crowd," Justin said. "I knew you were there."
Brian's frown turned into a scowl. "Anyway, I figured out who he was eventually. Then we talked and here we are."
"How long ago was that?" Blake asked.
"About a month ago," Justin said. That seemed to silence everyone. Brian had maintained a relationship for an entire month?
"You must be pretty damn special," Ben finally said, breaking the stunned silence.
"He is," Brian said and pulled Justin closer. "Just look at his fashion sense. This boy knows how to dress. And he's rich, ambitious, successful, and intelligent. The perfect match for me. Justin, you should ask Ben about that book you've been reading. He's a lit professor."
"Oh, what book?" Ben asked. Soon he and Justin were busy discussing Ulysses by James Joyce while Blake went to the men's room and stopped to talk with a friend on the way, leaving the three oldest friends alone to talk.
"You haven't told Deb he's coming," Emmett scolded.
"I thought I'd keep it a surprise," Brian warned. "She knows I've been seeing someone."
"I still can't believe that you have a relationship," Ted said quietly. "I never thought I'd see the day."
"Fuck you," Brian said with a grin.
"Does he make you happy?" Emmett asked. "Because I think I like him, but I won't if he's a prick to you. Though I suppose it's more likely to be the other way around, isn't it?"
Brian laughed outright at that. "You can like him. In fact, I'm hoping you all like him. That's why he's here. I think he's going to be around for a very long time."
"It's only been a month," Ted said cautiously. "And you aren't known for being a long-term guy."
"This is different," Brian said. "With Justin, it's easy. I haven't even thought about fucking anyone else since he walked into my office two months ago. I've spent months in the world's largest gay meat market and haven't even been tempted since I saw Justin again."
"Shit," Emmett said. "Sounds pretty serious to me."
"I think it is," Brian said and glanced at Justin. He and Ben had evidently finished their discussion and Justin was now watching him.
When Brian smiled, Justin moved over and whispered in Brian's ear, "Finished talking about me?"
Brian chuckled. "Yes, brat."
"Good," Justin said a bit louder. "So does that mean we can go dancing now?"
"Dancing sounds like a great idea," Brian said.
They went to Debbie's first the next day and were greeted at the door by a very pissed off redhead. "You little shit! You said he couldn't come!"
Brian grinned and planted a kiss on Debbie's cheek. "I lied. Debbie, this is Justin."
Debbie turned her smile on Justin and then her eyes went wide, "Sunshine! Look at you! All grown up! Still have that bubble butt, though."
Justin laughed. "You remember me?"
"Honey I never forget one of my boys," Debbie smiled and patted his cheek. "And I especially don't forget the boys Mikey brought into the diner."
"I was really sorry to hear that Michael had been killed," Justin said. "He was a good man."
"That he was," Debbie said with a sad smile. "Well, come on in. Everyone is waiting on you for dinner. Brian always has to be fashionably late to family gatherings."
Everyone was there already, just as Debbie had said. Justin was introduced to Carl and soon they were all laughing and talking over Debbie's version of Thanksgiving dinner. Justin observed the interactions of everyone present, especially Ben and Emmett. Brian had told him that the two had gotten together about a year after Michael's death, but from the way Brian had described them he'd thought it had been more out of grief and a mutual need for comfort. What he saw instead was a very unusual and yet compatible couple.
When dinner was over and they'd all had time to digest for a bit, Justin reluctantly gave Brian a nudge. "I'm sorry to cut the day short, but we need to get to my mother's," Justin told Debbie.
"Wait a sec," Debbie said. "Justin Taylor. Your mom doesn't happen to be Jennifer Taylor, does she?"
"You know my mom?" Justin asked with some surprise.
"Of course I do," Debbie smiled. "We belong to the same chapter of PFLAG. Known that girl for years. You gave her a hard time that first year."
Justin blushed, "I suppose I did."
"Well, she's always complaining that her baby boy doesn't come home often enough," Debbie said. "You get on over there and tell her I said hello."
They said their goodbyes and soon they were on their way to Jennifer's townhouse. Jennifer greeted Justin like the prodigal son and introductions were quickly made. Another big meal had Brian and Justin feeling like they wouldn't need to eat for a month. Afterward, while Brian listened to Molly enthuse about her new college career, Justin helped his mother clean up in the kitchen.
"He's a bit old for you, isn't he, honey?" Jennifer said after a while.
"He's thirty-nine," Justin said with a shrug. Justin had told Jennifer about Brian before the visit, but she obviously hadn't expected the large age difference. "You know his family, though."
"I do?" Jennifer paused what she was doing to look at Justin with surprise.
"Debbie Novatny, from your PFLAG group," Justin explained. "She said hi, by the way. Anyway, she's like his adopted mother. His family wasn't very nice, so she sort of took him in when he was a teenager. Brian and her son Michael were best friends for years."
"Hmm, well, if Debbie helped raise him, he can't be all bad," Jennifer said. And that was the end of that discussion.
The rest of the weekend went rather well. Justin spent some time with his mother and sister, while Brian caught up with his friends. They also spent time together, getting to know each other's families. They flew back to New York on Monday, happy that their lives were beginning to intertwine so neatly.
The next few weeks, with the holidays coming up, were quite busy for both men. Brian was working hard to get ahead so he could take time off while Gus was in town, and Justin was busy getting ready for a show his agent had booked in Paris for the spring. They went to holiday parties together as Justin introduced Brian to his friends, and Justin attended Brian's office party.
The original plan had been for Gus to arrive the day after Christmas, but Melanie and Lindsey had decided to take a vacation themselves and were coming to New York with him the day before Christmas Eve. They would all celebrate the holiday together before Mel, Lindsey and JR would enjoy a week in New York on their own. Brian's upstairs tenants had moved out in November, and Brian had hired a crew to reconnect and renovate the upper floor, but it wasn't even close to being complete. When the tenant in the cellar moved out at the beginning of December, Brian decided to leave that apartment alone for the time being. Lindsey, Mel, and JR could use the apartment while they were in town.
What that meant, however, was that Brian had to work quickly to get the house ready for the holidays. He hired a decorating firm to furnish the basement apartment and to put up holiday decorations on the main floor. Justin suggested that they wait to decorate the tree until Gus and JR were there, though they allowed the firm to string the lights and select the ornaments to match the rest of the décor.
Justin, who was spending three or four nights a week at Brian's house, would stay the entire visit, giving Gus the chance to get to know his father's significant other. Justin spent the day they were all to arrive shopping for groceries, both for Brian's kitchen and for the cellar kitchen, so the girls wouldn't have to rely on take out. Brian wanted to take them all out for dinner that evening, but Justin insisted that Christmas Eve and Day should be spent at home, and he had meals planned for the six of them.
Brian hired a limo to go pick up the family, and Justin wandered around the house, making sure that everything was ready. The truth was, he was nervous. If Gus didn't like him, or worse, if Lindsey and Melanie didn't like him, then things could be very difficult. Brian might ignore his friends' opinions, but he wouldn't want to alienate his son.
Justin need not have worried. Gus' first words to him were, "You're an artist like my mom. That's really cool."
He and Lindsey had a long discussion about his work after that while Brian showed Gus his room and Mel and JR the downstairs apartment. Justin was surprised that Lindsey was even familiar with his art, but apparently she kept up to date on the art scene for the art appreciation classes she taught at the University of Toronto. Justin set out snacks while he and Lindsey talked, and by the time the others came back, they were sipping wine and munching on veggies like old friends.
"You have to try this dip, Mel," Lindsey gushed as she held out a piece of broccoli to her partner.
"This is delicious," Melanie said after she'd eaten the veggie.
"Justin's quite the cook," Brian boasted.
"There's cheese and crackers, too," Justin said, noticing the look of disappointment on JR's face. Gus, however had already dug into the veggies.
"Don't eat too much, Gus," Brian warned. "This is just a snack to tide you over. We've got reservations for seven thirty." He turned to Lindsey. "We thought you might like a chance to settle in and freshen up before we go out again."
"Thanks. That will be nice."
They spent Christmas Eve day out skating at Rockefeller Plaza and that evening, Justin cooked while Brian and the women helped the kids decorate the tree. It was a fun and festive time, despite Brian and Mel's habitual bickering. Christmas day was hectic, with Gus knocking at their door at six in the morning, but the kids had a great time and the adults enjoyed their enthusiasm. Once everyone was settled in bed that night, Brian held Justin in his arms and enjoyed the sense of peace that flowed through his home.
"I talked to Mel and Lindsey today," Brian said.
"About?" Justin asked sleepily.
"Your show in Paris," Brian told him. "You know, it's the same week as Gus' spring break."
"Yes," Brian said. "They agreed that I can take Gus with me so the three of us can spend the week in Paris together."
Justin was wide awake now and rolled so he could see Brian's face in the moonlight coming through the bedroom windows. "Really?"
"Gus has never been able to travel with me before, so I thought it would be a good experience for him," Brian said. "And a good chance for us to shop in Paris."
"Sounds like heaven," Justin smiled.
After spending a couple days with Brian and Gus exploring the city, Justin went to work at his studio for the day in order to give Brian and Gus some time alone together. He was working intently and didn't notice the passage of time, so he was surprised when the two arrived to take him to dinner. Brian watched Justin clean up as the two adults talked, but Gus was being an inquisitive ten-year-old, and was peaking at Justin's paintings, stacked along the various walls.
"Hey, Justin?" Gus called out, bringing the attention of the two adults back to him. "Is this my dad? 'Cause it looks like him and that looks like his loft in Pittsburgh."
Justin turned to see what Gus was holding up. It was a painting he had done right after coming to New York. It was based on a sketch of Brian he had done their one night together. He had been rather proud of the piece and had turned it in for a grade in his life drawing class his freshman year, but had never shown the piece or even thought about selling it.
"It is," Justin said with a smile. "It's from the night you were born."
Brian went over to take a closer look at the painting. "You sketched me when I was sleeping?"
"I had to have something to remember that night," Justin said quietly.
"There's others of you, too, Dad," Gus informed as he dragged his father over to the stack of paintings where he'd found the first. "See? This one is just your face. I like that smile. And this one…oh! This one is of me, too, isn't it, Justin?"
"Yep," Justin said with a smile for Gus' enthusiasm. "I tried to remember just exactly how you and your dad looked the first time he held you."
"It looks just like that picture in your photo album, doesn't it, dad?" Gus asked.
"It's amazing," Brian agreed. He turned to Justin. "Can I…?"
"It was always yours," Justin said. "It's just been here waiting for you to take it home."
"You should do a picture with all three of us," Gus told Justin, totally oblivious to the undercurrent of emotions traveling between the two men. Brian looked startled by Gus' announcement, but no more so than Justin felt. Did Gus understand the implications of both intimacy and permanency that a portrait like that held? Probably not.
"We'll see," Justin finally said with a shrug. "But for now, why don't we wrap that picture up so we can go get dinner. I'm starving."
The holidays ended and Gus went back to Canada with his mothers and sister. They had all had dinner together again the evening before they flew out and Justin had really enjoyed getting to know the rest of Brian's chosen family. Justin went with Brian to the airport, but they were both very quiet on the ride back.
Justin sighed as they neared Brian's brownstone. "Do want to order something in for dinner? I'll need an hour or so to pack before I can go back to my place, but I have a breakfast meeting tomorrow and should be home early tonight. I need to drop some clothes at the dry cleaners; do you want me to drop anything for you?"
Brian listened to Justin's rambling and frowned. Justin was going to leave. "I've got a few things you can drop. And I'll call that Turkish place you like for dinner," he replied to Justin, but his mind was wandering.
Justin had only been living in his house for a week, and Brian knew that they would still see each other often. They had plans for New Year's Eve the next night, and Brian was accompanying Justin to a business dinner two day after that. It wasn't that he'd never get to see Justin. But in such a short time, Brian had gotten used to Justin being in his home, in his bed. He liked waking up with Justin, even if that meant sharing his precious closet space, or working around each other's schedules. He liked sharing the steam shower in the morning or the huge soaking tub at night. He liked the way Justin always seemed to have something special planned for their dinner. He liked the way Justin made his house feel warm and lived in by his mere presence.
But Brian Kinney, even one who had changed as much as he had over the past years, did not do commitment. The very thought of something permanent made him shudder with anxiety. But the thought of being without Justin everyday made his stomach churn in a way that made the anxiety seem manageable in comparison.
"Don't go," Brian finally whispered, breaking the silence that had fallen over them once more.
"What?" Justin asked in confusion. "I'm not leaving yet. I still have to pack."
"No," Brian said, shaking his head and clasping Justin's hand tightly in his own. "No packing, no leaving. Stay with me."
Justin seemed to comprehend just what Brian was and wasn't saying. "For how long?"
Brian opened his mouth and closed it again. He couldn't ask for forever, even if that was what his heart was screaming for. "For now? Until it doesn't feel right anymore?"
Justin gave a tremulous chuckle. "I'm not sure that will ever happen."
"Good," Brian nodded. It was the closest he could get to asking outright. "Move in. Stay. Close up the loft. Move your designer wardrobe into my walk-in closet." His voice had a leering purr to it with the last.
Justin laughed outright at that. "How is it that you can make filthy innuendos out of something innocent like clothes?"
Brian laughed in return, the weight that had settled in his chest lifting a little. "I can make anything sound dirty. It's a gift. Now answer the fucking question, you twat."
Justin looked into Brian's eyes and smiled. "You just want me for my wardrobe, but I'll take you however I can get you. I'll warn you now, Brian: I've waited ten years for this, and I'm not going to give you up now that I have you."
"I do want your wardrobe," Brian admitted with a devilish twinkle in his eyes. "But I also want your body…and your heart and your mind and your body…wait, did I say that one already?"
Justin laughed and settled into Brian's arms for the rest of the drive to the brownstone. "You know, they say what goes around comes around, but I never thought that would mean I'd get you in the end."
"You're like a boomerang," Brian said with a faint smile in his voice. "I tossed you away, but you just turned around when I least expected it and whacked me upside the head."
"You know," Justin said. "A boomerang only returns if you want it to."
They were quiet as the limo crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge and turned towards home. However it came about, they both knew that they were meant to be together in the end and were grateful for the twists life had thrown them so that they could find each other again.
**Dialogue from the opening scene of this story was taken directly from Season 1, Episode 2 (aka part 2 of the Series Premier).**