A/N: POV goes from Brian to Justin to 3rd person. Not sure why, lol.
He's quiet. I thought we'd fuck again after those guys left, but no. He left the bed and is now sitting on the sofa reading a fucking book.
He's pouting, is what he's doing. About what they said. A couple of ten years gave him testimony. They flat out said monogamy doesn't work, and it's not what he wanted to hear.
I've been starting to see them again… the visions of white picket fences that come out every so often to dance in his head. And when I'm stoned enough, like now, I can admit it scares the fuck out of me. Because I'm never gonna dance that dance with him. And he'll get tired of waiting.
…Well, right now, I'm tired of fucking waiting.
"You coming to bed or what?"
He doesn't look up or respond, which pisses me off a little. I walk up to him and consider grabbing his book out of his hands, but instead I decide I can ignore as well as he can. I turn around…
"Four weeks, Brian?"
I turn back to look at him. He doesn't look angry at all, but he's still staring at the damn book.
I sit down next to him, lean my heavy head back on the cushion. "This is why you should always kick tricks out as soon as the fuck's over. Never let them talk."
Finally Justin sets the book down and looks up, quirking his head at me. "Why? They were preaching one of your favorite gospels."
"And I didn't even say, I told you so."
He almost smiles. "Yes, you did."
I blink, remembering. "That's what I've always…" Okay, I guess I basically did. "I like being right. Now, let's not allow the memory of an extremely hot four-way to be sullied by all this monog-"
"Fuck the monogamy, Brian. That's not what's bothering me."
Right. Four weeks. "Maybe my math was a little off. Didn't know I was being graded." I shrug. "I say shit."
"There's a lot you don't say. But most of the time, when you say something, you mean it. Did you mean it?"
I shrug again, which isn't an answer. But I know he sees the way my gaze shifts, avoiding his eyes, and I know he thinks that is.
"You're not proud of what you said, but you still, in a way, meant it. And I hate that," he says, matter-of-factly.
"This is all about what I said?" I'm still convinced he's upset about the tricks dumping cold water on his monogamous fantasies, so I try to turn things around.
"Look, I was a little… disheartened, maybe, by some of what they said. But I haven't been pushing for monogamy, have I?"
There's a slight involuntary acknowledgement in my face. Slow close of my eyes, quick purse of my lips.
"I would be happy to have what those guys have. The thing is…"
He looks at me, long and… sad. Just from that, I feel punched in the gut.
"I thought we did."
Second blow. To the chest.
"But then… four weeks? I would have understood less than four years. I would have understood taking out the Ethan time…"
I see the tiniest, almost imperceptible flinch when I say that name. I hate that, too.
"…or even not counting the whole first year, though it totally counts…"
He responds with words, finally… sarcastic ones, uncomfortable.
"Christ, we need Ted for these kind of calculations."
"But four weeks? So, in your mind, we weren't together the whole time I was in California?"
His mouth twists into this sad smirk. "Sunshine, I think you need to look up the definition of the word 'together'."
"Brian," I sigh. But then I decide to do exactly that. "Fine."
I get up, walk to retrieve Brian's dictionary, and return with it, sitting back down and thumbing through to the T's.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
"Doing what you said… Here it is, 'together.'"
He wants to ignore me, I know it, but instead he reads over my shoulder and claims triumph at the first definition.
"'In or into one place, mass, collection or group.'"
I take the next one.
"'In or into association or relationship.'"
He doesn't even bother to roll his eyes.
"'In or into contact.'"
I feel I should debate that one, but when I see the last definition, I don't need to.
"'With each other.'"
He's still staring at the page. For a second, I wonder if he's going to have me look up the definition of with, but then I see that he's thrown. He doesn't know how to dispute those words. Which is why he tries to distract with sex instead.
"Whatever. All this 'in or into' talk, I'm horny again."
He makes a grab for my crotch but I scoot away and stand up. I'm not done.
"So, according to you, we weren't with each other after I got out of the hospital and you fucking saved me, every day? We weren't with each other when you lost your job and we had no money and no furniture but I was the happiest I'd ever been because we were partners? We weren't with each other when you started Kinnetik? We weren't with each other through the cancer? All the times we fucked and slept in the same bed and ate and watched movies and danced and took care of your son and fought and made up and drove each other crazy, for years? I know I was in L.A. for months, but it can't have been long enough for you to forget all that."
I'm out of breath and he is silent. Then he stands, too, and his voice is quiet but his words are loud, and I hold my breath to hear.
"I didn't forget, Justin."
"You could have visited me, you know."
"I was busy, you were busy."
"True. But that's not why you didn't."
"You were working hard and having the time of your fucking life out there. You didn't need the distraction."
"And you thought I wasn't coming back. So, which one of us were you trying to spare by staying away?"
The answer is both. Not wanting to tempt Justin to return to Pittsburgh if L.A. was where he needed to be, and wanting to prepare himself for Justin not returning. But Brian says nothing.
"If the movie hadn't been scrapped, you really would have just never seen me again? You think I would have fucking stood for that?"
"I'm sure I would have seen you at the premiere."
Justin is shocked, only briefly. "Then I guess it's good it all fell through, because one of the creators killing the real-life Rage at the premiere probably wouldn't have been the best press."
"There's no such thing as bad publicity."
Justin shakes his head and steps closer to where Brian now stands by the window, until he can touch his forehead to Brian's shoulder blade, slipping arms around his waist and speaking against warm skin.
"You want to know what bothered me more than the 'weeks' ?"
No, Brian doesn't. He wants to say talking about feelings is bad and orgasms are good and fucking proceed as such. But Justin is touching him, which is a good thing, and he sounds like he needs to say it, whatever it is. So, Brian waits, and braces.
"It was how much of a couple those guys were. Wrapped around each other, kissing, smiling. So openly, proudly committed, even as they talked about fucking around. And then there was us. More like you, and also me. Lying there, like a foot apart, not touching, barely acknowledging."
Brian tenses and Justin lets him go.
"We're not any of their business. Fucking is one thing, but… What did you want, pet names and cuddling?"
"No. But it was our own bed, Brian. Were you really afraid those guys would tell the world you were touching me with something other than your dick? After all these years, do you not think people know you actually like me?"
"Did I not ask you to move in? Twice?"
"Yes. And it meant a lot. And I'm here, I've got stuff in the drawers. But you haven't quite let me in all the way since I got back."
Brian throws his arms up and shakes his head. "I have no fucking clue what you're talking about."
"Remember when we got back together after…?" Justin lets the name be implied this time. "It was amazing, and we were so fucking happy, but you made a point, for a while, of trying to keep some distance. Tricking in my face, me not always staying over. And I understood that. For lack of a better way to say it, I deserved it then."
The weed isn't enough anymore. Brian seriously needs a drink. "Stop. You didn't deserve shit, Justin."
"Okay. But whether I did or not, I don't now."
"You're saying I'm doing that again? How? Yeah, I trick. Tonight, yeah, I guess I was tricking in your face, 'cause I was fucking tricking with you! And, stay the night? You live here! Now, if you don't want to-"
"I absolutely want to be here, Brian. That's not what I'm saying."
Brian picks up a bottle and tiredly sets it back down. Looks at Justin with eyes almost pleading, his voice weary. "Then what the fuck am I doing wrong?"
Justin's heart feels too tight in his chest. "C'mere."
He turns off the light, takes the man he loves by the hand and leads him to bed. He lies down and Brian lies down beside, facing him.
"It's not anything in particular you're doing, or even not doing. What you said tonight… I think maybe you were making a point to me. But it's not anything I'm blaming you for. Just something I've been feeling. Like we're not where we were."
Brian blinks rapidly, and it may or may not be to hold back a fucking tear. Because this sounds too much like some kind of goodbye, and he just got Justin back. Justin doesn't even seem angry and somehow that makes it worse.
Justin is reading Brian well tonight, and he sees it in his eyes, and hears it in his voice in only those two words. "No. Fuck no. Brian, listen. I'm not going anywhere. I want to know how to make that feeling go away."
Brian shudders a breath of relief he tries to play off as repulsion at the topic. "I'm not the one to ask about feelings."
"I think maybe it just will. Go away, like it did before, as we got stronger. I just hate, sometimes, feeling like it's always two steps forward and three back. We're still us, but we were so… solid before I left. So much so that I didn't really even think to want monogamy. We were so together that I didn't need that. And *if* I've been starting to think about it again…"
Brian raises an eyebrow, just a fraction, to show that he knew this.
"I think it's only because I'm worried we lost some ground while I was gone."
"I know you wish you were still there. Hollywood."
"Not how you think. Only sometimes, and never to stay. It's not about there. I wish the movie were still being made. I wish all that work I did hadn't been for nothing. I wish I hadn't failed."
"What the fuck. You didn't fail, Justin. The world fucking failed you… again."
"I know I didn't, but it feels that way. All I have to show for my time out there are some souvenir storyboards and… the sense that you're only halfway in this because you think I'm only here on my way to something else."
Brian can't quite manage to say anything to that. He turns to lie flat, and Justin lets him. If he's going to make the man talk feelings, he can at least spare him the eye contact. He pulls into his side, head on Brian's chest. Trails a finger from his collarbone to just over his heart.
"I love you. Please know that."
After a minute, Brian whispers, "Yeah, I do." He clears his throat. "I think that's why I said what I said… I can't fucking believe it's been four years. My brilliant mind still can't process it. That you're still here."
Justin swallows emotion at Brian's honesty and grins. "That you still want me to be, you mean."
"That, too," Brian plays along. "And that it's still true, how you... I understood why you loved me when you didn't really know me. Why you stayed when your only other option was your parents. But now…"
"Hey." Justin slaps Brian's thigh for attention and then his hand hovers, slightly upward of that area. "I am very capable of squeezing down here in a way I promise you would NOT enjoy if you don't stop saying stupid stuff like that."
"You're too big a fan of down there to risk doing permanent damage."
"Maybe so. But hear me, okay? I love you way more now than then. And anytime I've left, it was because there was something I needed to do, but never because I didn't want to be with you. Which is why I always come back. I will always come back, and when I do, it's never a second choice."
Brian huffs out a held breath and nods… which Justin can't see, but senses, all the same.
And after several silent minutes of watching Justin… relaxed but eyes still half-open… Brian knows, when he starts to speak, that he is being heard.
"I want you to be happy. I want you to be happy more than…" He searches, laughs a sigh, admits softly. "Fuck. More than I want to stay young and beautiful forever."
"…You know I'm not asleep, right?"
"Yeah. I said it, anyway."
"There's a word for that." That's a declaration of love, that probably means more than the actual words would.
"Really. You gonna get the dictionary and show me?"
"Too comfortable." Justin sticks his tongue out a little. "I guess I just want to know that I make you happy like that. And to feel like we both know that my place here… not in the loft, but in your life… isn't temporary."
Brian swipes Justin's tongue with his own before it retreats. "Okay."
"Yes and yes. Fucking catch up."
Then Brian is kissing him, their legs are tangling, and it's the most together they've felt in months, by all definitions, and it's enough. It's kind of everything.
Four weeks, four years, doesn't matter. Those are only words, stupid measures of time. And Justin isn't asking for white picket fences.
Only forever. Not long at all.
A/N: Yes, I got the end line from David Bowie, lol.