Disclaimer: I do not, never have, and never will own Family Guy.

Chapter Eight: A Place of Our Own

Huh. How's this for taking it slow? Brian thought to himself as he stood just outside the door of the apartment he'd just signed a rental deal for. Signed it with Stewie. Two weeks into our relationship and we're already living together. Of course technically it had always been that way, they'd always lived under the same roof, but in their new situation as significant others, it was a whole different ballgame. It was a big step for any relationship, let alone one in its…infancy. Cohabitating. In their own place. Just the two of them. So how long before the murder/suicide?

"Bri? Hustle your bustle, mister, let's hurry up and get the rest of those boxes in here!"

Stewie emerged from the bathroom and started walking toward him, and Brian knew he was walking on air. Of course Stewie probably wasn't thinking about the host of relationship pitfalls that may lurk ahead of them; doubtless his image of them didn't go any further than them riding off into the sunset together- and, as a nifty bonus, leaving a supremely honked-off mother behind- to live happily ever after.

After Lois had surprised them in bed together- and received a gargantuan surprise herself- that morning, flipped out, and ordered Brian gone from the house, Stewie had charged on up to the second floor, Brian following numbly in his wake. They went into Stewie's bedroom, where Lois joined them shortly. She tried most strenuously to persuade her son not to go, but her pleas had no effect. She then resumed her tirade against Brian, who was still uncharacteristically tongue-tied when it came to defending and explaining himself. He couldn't remember what few words he'd managed to get in edgewise, but felt they must have been very clumsy and stupid. (At the same time, he also knew no matter what they'd been, they would have fallen on deaf ears, regardless.) All the while her son haphazardly tossed as many clothing items as he could fit and some miscellaneous, other personal effects into a suitcase. He also took a moment to don some clothes, and suddenly Brian recalled that he needed to throw something on over his underwear, too. He decided he really didn't care to run all the way down to the basement to grab his own clothes, where he might be pursued by Lois and cornered alone, so he dressed himself in a pair of slacks and shirt of Stewie's, the legs and arms of which, respectively, were too long. Both pants and shirt were also too tight.

When they made their not-so-grand but oh-so-dramatic exit, Stewie was the only one holding a suitcase, and Lois was still ranting at them from the porch.

Brian and Stewie went and booked a room at a moderately-priced hotel. It had been (irrespective of whether it should have been) an acid test of Brian's fortitude to, with a man by his side, approach the desk clerk and request a room with one bed. In the morning, Stewie set off for Little Bo-tique, the upscale clothing store downtown where he was a cashier, while Brian stayed behind in their hotel room.

The next day, Stewie wasn't scheduled to work. While Peter was at the brewery and Chris and Meg at school, he and Brian had determined the time when Lois was probably out running her errands, then called the house a few times to make sure there was no answer. When there wasn't, they'd sneaked back to Spooner Street with a small moving van and hurriedly moved the rest of their belongings out.

They'd gotten the nicest place in the safest building they could afford, which, even in sleepy little Quahog, was only an efficiency apartment. Downtown, and thus close enough to Stewie's place of employment so he could walk to work, it came partially furnished. The living room, kitchen, and bedroom were all basically one room, with the sleeping area partitioned off from the others by an antique Japanese screen Stewie bought at a flea market, and there was a separate bathroom.

Stewie melded his lips to Brian's while sliding his hands into Brian's profusion of white hair. After he came out of the kiss, he scooped up one of the boxes sitting at Brian's feet out in the hallway and took it into the apartment. Brian took in the one he was already holding.

After they'd transported every box inside, they stood in the center of the diminutive living room (which they barely had room to do, now that it was filled with the very small number of boxes they'd brought), where they had a view of everything. Stewie puffed out his scrawny chest and surveyed his modest domain with pride.

"I think this place has got some great potential- wouldn't you agree?"

Brian took a deep, fortifying breath. It wouldn't do to take a pessimistic perspective about this, now that they were already here, now that they were stuck. He would simply have to make the best of it. Besides, he had to admit that he was actually a little excited. And really, come to think of it, no matter what drama was in store for them, living with just Stewie was bound to be less of headache than living with him and the rest of the screwball Griffins was at times.

"I think we can make it work," he said softly, putting an arm around the younger man's shoulders and squeezing slightly.

BREAK!

"Oh, Brian! Oh, yeah!" Stewie moaned. "Just keep rubbing that big thing on me…!"

It was nighttime, and Brian and Stewie had adjourned to their 'bedroom' behind the Japanese screen. Under the covers, they were both in a state of semi-undress, Stewie in an undershirt and briefs and Brian down to his boxers, rutting against each other. Alternating between frenzied, desperate humping and slow rubs, luxuriating in the friction, while their lips connected and disconnected in quick, zealous kisses over and over again.

In between lip-meetings, Brian grunted "Oh yeah, talk dirty to me." Their lips made contact again in wet and passionate but speedy union, and at the next break, he added, "Before we got together, I never thought I'd find so many things to love about that mouth of yours."

"I love your mouth," muttered Stewie in a silken purr, before they both dived in for yet another kiss. At its end, he reached up with his fingers and skimmed them over Brian's lips, tracing them, then one of them paused at their center, where they were slightly parted, and slipped sensually inside of Brian's mouth. Brian sucked on it automatically.

A week had passed by, and passed by in a blur. Brian didn't know where the time had gone. He really did feel like he'd already adapted to this new order of things. It was early days yet, of course, but maybe he'd been overly-cynical with his first gloomy prediction of what life alone with Stewie would be like. So far things had been much more like his second prediction. Not that they didn't bicker, but mostly his new life was very relaxing. Stewie seemed devoted to making him happy. And there was no reason why things shouldn't continue on like this.

Stewie had taken the finger away and was doing something behind his, Brian's, back. His lower back. Make that doing something with his bottom. Brian could feel the finger slide beneath the waistband of his shorts, probing between his cheeks. He grunted as it breached his opening, permitting the intrusion, thinking Stewie was just trying to stimulate his prostate. He'd had women do that for him before. When another finger started to make itself at home, the stretch was more marked and Brian thought, okay, this is a bit weird, seeing as how Stewie had already located the small gland (and had Brian arching off the bed and seeing stars when he did). But wasn't until Stewie abruptly withdrew the probing digits, pulled back from Brian and grabbed hold of the onetime dog's ankles, trying to push his knees up toward his chest that Brian had an inkling of what Stewie was really up to. And when he finally understood, he absolutely balked, snatching his legs back from Stewie, drawing them tightly together and tucking them protectively underneath himself.

"No."

Stewie sat back on his ankles and scowled up at Brian. "Well, why not, I'd like to know? I let you put yours in mine all the time!"

"Yeah, I know, but…" Brian's head moved side-to-side frantically, his jaw rigidly set.

"Brian," Stewie almost laughed, "I'm not going to be violent with you or anything. I'll be as careful with you as you were early on with me. I really think you'd like it."

"I j-just can't do it- I won't - it's not for me, I'm not one who…" the tangled knots of halting words stopped, he looked absolutely aghast. If one looked closely, he was nearly shivering. "I'm not…" he faltered again, as Stewie waited impatiently. Brian gave a small, pitiful twisting motion with his wrist. "…enough."

"You're not gay enough, you mean?" Stewie scoffed, suddenly feeling the prickles of anger stirring. "Brian, you're dating- living with- a man. You have a live-in boyfriend. You fuck a man on a regular basis. I hate to break it to you, buddy boy, but that's pretty darn gay."

Brian didn't have anything to say to this; his position was hunched over, drawn in on himself in a self-protecting posture, while he trained his eyes downward on some spot on the duvet he'd evidently deemed supremely interesting- an imperfection in the material, perhaps.

Stewie added, "And I'll have you know that most gay couples take turns subbing and dominating."

"Oh, how the fuck would you know?" Brian bit back.

Via thorough online and literary research. Stewie'd hit up countless websites and adult bookstores, seeking out every tidbit of knowledge that would be beneficial to him understanding what to expect in a same-sex relationship. His thinking being that well, Brian may have all the practical experience, but Stewie was damned if he himself was going to climb into bed with his boyfriend a complete sexual naïf.

"Remember how when we started this thing you promised to be the ideal boyfriend?" he asked.

"So I'm not a good boyfriend unless I'm willing to do things out of my comfort zone?" Brian asked bitterly, eyes narrowed and smoldering.

"I didn't say that!" disclaimed Stewie snappishly, becoming genuinely annoyed now, and his cock going rapidly soft. "But, incidentally, I do think you'd be a better boyfriend if you could just open up your mind to explore your boundaries with me. What's the matter, don't you trust me, Brian?"

"I don't need to explore my boundaries, I know where they are! I-I'm just not comfortable with it, and really, th-that's all I should have to say. I mean, you should respect that!" Brian couldn't believe that Stewie was taking this kind of an attitude with him, acting like he didn't care about Brian's feelings at all. It was hurtful, and moreover, it was unfair. To listen to Stewie, the impression could be got that Brian never did anything submissive. When, on their third night in this apartment, he believed, he'd stretched his boundaries so much as to give Stewie head. It hadn't been as bad as he'd expected, probably since he used to be a dog and during that time he'd had more disgusting things in his mouth. Plus, when he was a dog, he'd suck himself.

To have Stewie anally penetrate him, though, was something Brian unequivocally refused to do. Sure, he was somewhat afraid of the pain, but that wasn't the main reason. To grant Stewie admission into his body was too much…too much like being possessed, it was too…humiliating. It wasn't humiliating for Stewie to bottom, it wasn't humiliating for anyone who had a natural wanting for it, who craved it, who was curious…but for Brian to do it…it would be like he was going against who he was.

Stewie attempted to persuade him no more. He sat silently on the bed, his demeanor suddenly aloof. Brian moved forward and offered a conciliatory kiss. However, Stewie shut him down, hand shooting up, palm extended, and literally pushed his face away.

"Do you mind if we just go to sleep?" the teen asked wearily, lying down with his back to Brian.

"Why?" Brian demanded, disbelievingly and slightly panicky. Evidently, his arousal was somehow still prevailing and he did not want one bit to have it deprived. "Because I won't comply and do this one thing that I'm extremely uncomfortable with? We can- we can still have a good time!"

"No," Stewie, denying both the (true) accusation and the indirect appeal for sex in one fell swoop. "It's - it's not because of that, it's because-" He yawned hugely, feigning great tiredness, when really, while disinclined to continue their verbal sparring (unusual for him) he wasn't sleepy at all. He was too alert, if anything, and would most likely be awake all night being troubled over what it meant that Brian wouldn't sub. "-because of all the talking."

"You like to talk during sex! Remember two nights ago, when you were bouncing up and down in my lap, talking about that program you'd seen on PBS about Mesopotamia and King Hammurabi?"

"What can I say? The concept of 'an eye for an eye' justice gets me hot," Stewie replied with an attempt at loftiness. "Not the case with arguing about sex."

"There wouldn't have been an argument if you weren't trying to pressure me into-" Brian made a tortured noise, abruptly got up, and disappeared around the dividing screen. Stewie heard him go stomping into the bathroom and slam the door. In a few minutes he returned, the bed dipping as he boarded it and lay down. Stewie feigned sleep. He didn't know if Brian bought it, but either way, the erstwhile dog didn't utter a word to Stewie. He also failed to pull Stewie against him. It was their custom to cuddle while sleeping, but tonight Brian didn't embrace him like usual. It was as though a sudden chill crept over Stewie. He lay there for he didn't know how long, feeling bereft, listening as Brian's breathing slowedand became very even, indicating he may well have been asleep. Stewie sat up against the headboard and turned his head in Brian's direction. As he gazed upon his love, words of adoration swelled up in Stewie's throat, almost asphyxiating him with their demand to be let out. Brian may or may not have been awake to hear them, but Stewie still spoke them into the quiet of the night:

"I love you, Brian. You are the center of my world."

BREAK!

"Hey, sexy." Stewie breezed into the apartment the next morning with two Styrofoam cups of coffee in one of those cardboard takeout trays.

"Hey, yourself." Brian leaned his head back for a kiss, and Stewie obliged. "Did you get some nice fresh air and exercise? More importantly, did you get me something other than that awful hazelnut crap you brought back last time?"

As a consequence of not owning their own coffee maker, Stewie been rising early and walking a mile and a half to a particular coffee shop he favored for their morning joe- there was one right on their block, but Stewie was persnickety about his java, much more than Brian was. He only asked that he not be forced to drink the hazelnut variety.

Stewie deposited himself on the floor, opposite Brian on the couch, their cheap pine coffee table in between them. "It's a regular latte, Bri. Your favorite." He handed Brian his coffee and sipped at his own.

Brian was contented by this and took a drink from his cup. The two of them sat and enjoyed their beverages for a long spell, ostensibly in pleasant repose, but as Stewie watched Brian, he thought the ex-canine appeared to be rather brooding. Stewie was about to ask his partner what was on his mind, when Brian suddenly volunteered that information.

"I used to hate you."

Stewie was nonplused. He met Brian's eye. "I used to hate you, too."

"I hated you before you were even born."

Stewie put down his cup of coffee. "Well, what a lovely thing to tell me," he muttered sardonically.

"I wasn't saying it to hurt your feelings," Brian's expression was very soft as he looked back at Stewie; not just soft with apology, but soft like his focus on Stewie; it was obvious the focal point for his thoughts was faraway from the room they were in. "I was just thinking- letting my mind wander- and I was thinking back to when…Peter first brought me home. And I met Lois for the first time." He chuckled ruefully. "I fell for her almost immediately. So hard. She was so beautiful, and so kind to me, she made me dinner and asked me about myself and she really acted interested to hear everything…I thought, wow, this is a really special lady."

Stewie felt his face go quite flat as he listened to Brian. He didn't know where this was going, but he didn't think he liked it. He thought it was in quite bad taste for Brian to gush about how head over heels he'd been for Lois. As if Stewie wanted to hear it!

Brian kept talking. "We got along really well, too, right off the bat, and as the weeks went on, I actually- delusional idiot that I was- thought I might be making progress with her, that she might be starting to fall for me. And then I remember she came home one day… I was the only one in the house, I was sitting on the sofa," he gazed pensively down at the sofa he currently sat upon, as though it was the very same, "and she said she'd just been to the doctor. She told me that she was pregnant. And then I realized she was still sleeping with Peter, and she was going to give birth to something else, another child that would bond her with him, another reason to stay with him. And I decided I hated that reason."

"Brian," Stewie began, his voice creaking a bit. "Why-"

"Because it's…so damned….amazing," said Brian, suddenly staring at Stewie with a strange, new look, as though just the sight of th younger man dazzled him, "how things have changed. My feelings…have long since…have undergone such a profound change that, God, I'm just- I'm so…inexpressibly glad you're here!" he said feelingly, with a wobbly smile and pink-tinged cheeks, wondering if he would ever be comfortable speaking romantically to Stewie as he had the women he'd dated.

"Oh, look who's getting mushy on me," Stewie jibed, but his small, touched smile and the fleetingly misty look in his eyes revealed all-too-well how he truly felt about the 'mush',

Once Stewie had left for work, Brian went over to the tiny kitchen area that comprised a corner of the main living space. He rounded up some snacks, then returned to the sofa and stretched himself out on his back, settling in for another day of maxin' and relaxin'. Glancing at the bowl of corn chips he had balanced on his stomach, he reflected that it might be wise for him to begin joining Stewie on his morning walks, at the very least, if he didn't want the little paunch he had to expand into a full-blown spare tire.

Around midday, he dozed off. He woke approximately two hours later and was still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes when a series of sharp, strident knocks came at the apartment door, making Brian sit bolt upright and sending the bowl of chips falling to the floor. He looked toward the front of the apartment, surprised. He waited for a repeat of the knocking, certain at first that he'd imagined it, or that it had been for next door, until he heard another string of quick, robust raps. Who could it be? This was unexpected, indeed. Brian and Stewie didn't get visitors. Neither of them really had any friends, and as far as Brian knew, their family didn't even know where they lived. He rolled off the couch and went to answer the door. He was right up to it when the demanding knocking resumed yet again.

"Alright, alright, keep your shirt on!" Brian muttered. It was a neighbor, perhaps, wanting to introduce themselves and get acquainted, perhaps borrow the time-honored cup of sugar. Did people do either of those things anymore? He sighed and opened up the door.

When he saw who stood on the other side of it, Brian started and took a step back.

"Peter?"

BREAK!

"What're you doing here?"

As Stewie'd left the downtown clothing boutique where he worked to go on his lunch break, he'd spotted his mother in her car parked right out front of the building, waiting to ambush him. He'd briefly entertained the notion of dashing back inside and leaving via the back exit, or maybe not leaving the store at all and making it a vending machine lunch. But then he calmed the flight instinct and ordered himself sternly not to be so pathetic as to wimp out over something as minor as a run-in with his mother. Some sort of confrontation was inevitable sooner or later, anyway.

"You always take your break at one thirty," Lois said, her tone calm, conversational. She balanced her elbow on the rolled-down window and rested her chin in her palm. "I know. I've been staking this place out for the last week."

Stewie scowled. "You're stalking me. I'm getting a restraining order." He began to walk away down the sidewalk, but Lois drove along next to him, keeping her car close to the curb.

"I've just been worried about you," she said sadly.

"Worried about me," Stewie muttered contemptuously. "Why? What do you think's going to happen to me? Don't you think I can take care of myself? God, when I was a baby you weren't so concerned about my wellbeing."

"You did this so you could be together." Somehow, Stewie knew she wasn't talking about his moving out, but why he had created the technology to turn Brian human and himself into an adult. It was a guess, but spoken by her in such a manner that it was clear she felt fairly secure in the probability of her guess being right on the money. "That's why you built the machines."

"Bravo, Lois. You do have a brain under that outdated, Sarah Jessica Parker in Mars Attacks! haircut."

Lois bit her lip, her eyes sad.

"So what exactly are you in opposition of?" Stewie asked brusquely, cutting to the core of the matter. "Why are you so against Brian's and my relationship? We waited until I became an adult to hook up," he lied. Well, somewhat lied. They had waited until Stewie made himself eighteen to become an official couple, after all. "We did everything right!"

"I don't think you're a good fit," Lois said baldly. "I don't think you should be together."

"No?" quizzed Stewie venomously."Well, I dare say you wouldn't take warmly to the idea of me fitting together with any man."

Lois shook her head. "I don't mind if you're gay. You're my child, and I love you no matter what. It-it's just…you being with…him!" Her eyes flashed with mingled rage and regret when she made reference to 'him'. She inhaled sharply and exhaled slowly, pinching her eyes shut. When she reopened them, she said composedly, "And Stewie, when you and I were working on decorating your room, we spent a lot of time together, and I'd have to be a total dumbass not to pick up on the all the gay vibes oozing out of your pores. I knew that when you started seeing somebody, it would most likely be a man."

"What's wrong with Brian?" challenged Stewie. "He's Peter's best friend, and you yourself always counted him as a friend, as well. I thought the whole family loved him, even though you haven't always treated him like a loved one should be treated. As a matter of fact, sometimes you treated him more like dirt than a valued family member. But you always claimed to love him, then he decides that he wants to be with me and, what? Now he's a villain?" Stewie, indignant on behalf of his beloved, asked in a voice now verging on shouting.

"Well, yes, I do have a tendency to look at him that way now!" Lois exclaimed, unabashedly. "Can you blame me? For most of the time he's known you, you were a baby, he was one of your primary caregivers! I don't understand why he's doing this, but whatever he's going through right now, I think he's a sick fuck to drag you into it this way. Mark my words, he's just using you for his own devices!" She was still positively furious at Brian, that much was clear, but for Stewie she had only sympathy, as the look she gave him then proved. "It's only…natural," she cringed faintly at the word, "that you would feel a pretty deep connection with him, but I think you're confusing a friendly and…familial connection with a romantic one. It's not surprising: you grew up, literally, over night…But maybe you should tell me in your own words. Why him? What's he good for?"

"We have spectacular sex," Stewie replied, grinning nastily when his remark garnered the hoped-for scandalized expression from his mother. He glanced down at his watch, noting the time, then clicked his tongue and sighed in displeasure. "Do you know I've already wasted a quarter of an hour talking to you, and that's also a quarter of my break? I'd like for you to drive off so I can proceed to Wok-a Wok-a- you know, that Chinese restaurant that's a comedy club at night?- and procure sufficient nourishment before I go back to work."

"And does Brian work?"

"I have every expectation that it will not be long before he is gainfully employed," Stewie answered starchily.

"I see. And are these expectations well-founded? Is Brian actively looking for a job?"

Stewie's steps slowed and then stopped altogether. Lois likewise stopped the car. The corner of his eye twitched compulsively; Lois had hit a sore spot. To date, Brian hadn't engaged in any sort of job search. He'd spent the past week merely loafing about the apartment, watching television or reading one of his interminable novels. It was what he'd done as a dog, but Stewie had thought now it would be different. Nor was Brian taking care of much of the work on the homefront, besides drying the dishes that Stewie washed. But the young auburn-haired man wasn't about to admit that. He refused to give his infernal mother the satisfaction.

"Mother. Brian is a good man. Not that anybody ever fell for anyone else because they were 'good'."

"Stewie, honey, please," Lois begged. "Just consider your position here for one moment. You're eighteen years old, supporting your twenty-six-year-old boyfriend, who, whatever his attractions, has just as many shortcomings. You should be saving for college, but instead your money's going toward rent and groceries and all these expenses you wouldn't have if you were still living at home!"

Stewie stroked his chin and queried, "Okay, just hypothetically speaking: were I to move back home with the family, I would still absolutely want to continue seeing Brian. How would you handle that?"

"I would certainly discourage it," Lois said with a frown.

Stewie nodded. "Well, there you go."

Lois faced forward and stared out the windshield, perturbed. She turned the key in the ignition and began to rev the engine a bit. Stewie waited for her to pull away from the curb and drive off, but she stuck her head out the window and touched her son briefly on the sleeve.

"Can I ask you a question now?"

Stewie looked at her askance, but after a small moment's delay, gave a second nod of the head.

"My question is- and I want you to seriously think about this- is he really worth it? Is he really worth mortgaging your future for? Is he really worth the high risk- now, every time you get into a relationship there's some inherent risk involved, but with him the risk is astronomically high- of getting your heart very badly broken?"

Stewie knew this was Lois's last-ditch effort to, in her mind 'get through to' him today and also that she didn't expect too much to come of it. She could tell that there was zero likelihood of anything she'd said thus far having had any sway with him, just as he could tell that she was surprised when he actually took a moment to mull over her question.

"I don't know if he's worth it. But I love him," he said softly. "It's not like I think he's never going to disappoint me. I know he will. I don't harbor the delusion that he'll never do or say anything to hurt me. I know he'll do that, too. But I need to be with him. I'll never be completely happy unless I am."

Lois looked, quite honestly, there was no other word for it- grieved for him. "That is dangerous, pinning all your hopes of happiness on one person."

Stewie shrugged. "It may well be, but I don't have any choice in the matter," he stated with a wry little laugh. "I can't change it…I think I was born to love him."

To be continued…