3 months later
Brian deftly tied the tuxedo bow around his sons' neck.
"You remember your cue, right?" He asked the fidgety boy as his fingers nimbly manipulated the silk fabric into perfection.
Andy squirmed a bit impatiently under Brian's ministrations having been too long in one position.
"Yes Dad, I know! When the minister says, "May I have the rings" I step forward and present them to him." Andy whined having repeated the scenario for the fourth time since that morning.
Brian sat back on the uncomfortable couch in the Bridal party suite he and Justin were assigned to at the Hyatt Regency - wondering how they could charge him the obscene amount of money he was paying for these less than adequate accommodations - and admired his handiwork. A broad smile spread across his face knowing that he was at least partly responsible for the vision before him.
"God he looks so much like Gus did at that age." Justin's voice rang out behind him.
Brian turned to look at his partner who stood leaning against the bedroom doorframe, arms folded over his chest looking impossibly beautiful in his cobalt blue Armani tailored tuxedo and felt the familiar stirring in his loins. He wondered if there'd ever come a time when he wouldn't be so affected by the mere sight of his blond.
Justin caught the lustful look in Brian's eyes and smiled brightly as he sent him his own look of 'promise' back. Brian sucked his breath in.
"Come on Daddy J, he's not that good looking." Gus quipped from the other side of the room where he was currently rummaging through the mini bar in the suite.
"And you Gussy are acting more and more like your father every day." Justin said pushing away from the doorframe to approach him.
Gus straightened up and turned to face Justin, gracing him with the trademark 'Kinney eyebrow lift'.
"How so?" He asked.
Justin stopped in front of the thirteen year old miniature Brian and reached into the pocket of his tuxedo and pulled out two mini bottles of liquor.
Gus groaned at having been caught.
"Awww come on! It's not like I was going to get drunk off those two little bottles! I just wanted to have a little fun with Desi." Gus defended.
Justin huffed and put the bottles back into the mini fridge before turning his attention back to Gus.
"What amazes me, or maybe it shouldn't amaze me, is the fact you excuse taking the liquor on the basis that it's not enough to get you drunk! Tell me, how much is enough?" Justin scolded, his eyes blazing.
"That's a good question Sonny boy, care to answer?" Brian threw in.
Andy giggled at his brothers' predicament. He knew first hand that there was no winning when his Dads confronted any of them with a united force. Looked like big brother wasn't going to get out of this one so easily.
Brian shot Andy a reproachful look.
"Go next door and join the others. The ceremony will be starting soon." Brian said as he escorted the eight year old out of the room. He then turned to his son with a very stern look in his eyes.
Gus literally gulped and stuttered.
"Um...honest to God Dad it's not like that!" Gus said.
"Then how is it?" Brian asked.
Gus lowered his head.
"I just wanted to impress Desi, that's all. I really like her Dad! You just don't understand!" Gus said defiantly.
"Oh, I understand alright..." Brian said.
"Bri..." Justin cautioned.
Brian sighed and rolled his eyes.
"You would think after Peter, Lizzy, Jagger and Johnny, I'd be use to dealing with hetero teen angst!" Brian complained.
"Yeah well maybe if I liked cock this wouldn't be an issue for you." Gus snapped with a snarl.
Justin gasped at Gus's outburst.
"Gus how could you say such...!"
"ENOUGH!" Brian shouted cutting off Justin mid sentence.
Justin's eyes snapped to his partners. There was real anger in his gaze, it took Justin by surprise.
Brian walked over to his son and leaned over so their eyes were level.
"Nice try Sonny boy. But fortunately for me, and unfortunately for you I can smell bullshit a mile away and that line of crap you just spewed reeked of it. I'm not your Jewish mother. Guilt doesn't work on me, especially when it's unearned. I won't dignify your implication that I would treat a gay son differently then I would a straight one with a response. It was a cruel spiteful thing to say in an attempt to escape personal responsibility for your actions. Besides being uncalled for, and vicious, it illuminates the fact that you've been way too spoiled. A matter I now see will require my immediate attention. You're thirteen Gus. I get it. Your hormones are raging; I get that too...all too well. What I don't get, and won't tolerate is you trying to manipulate us into letting you get away with unacceptable behavior. The offense is not so much that you tried to sneak some booze in an attempt to impress some girl; though that in itself is an issue... the more egregious offense is trying to avoid repercussion for your actions by attempting to manipulate the situation to your advantage by casting aspersions elsewhere. It was a cheap ploy that quite frankly I'm surprised you thought you could get away with." Brian said.
Justin was a little stunned at Brian's stern reprimand to his son. He was always the more lenient parent. It was rare for Brian to raise his voice to the kids, let alone express his displeasure to one of them in such a forceful way. Justin was taken aback by Brian's abrasive manner, yet he had to admit to himself that he was also very proud of how Brian was handling Gus. Truth was, Gus was all Brian. Stubborn, rebellious, and wild in many ways. He needed strict handling now that he was entering his teen years else he'd have them all wrapped around his finger.
Gus stood stoic in the face of his fathers harsh reprimand using every once of will he had to not break down and cry in front of him. His father never talked to him like that before; then again, Gus had never pushed him like that. He instantly regretted having said those words the moment they left his mouth. No kid had more love from so many people growing up then he did, and no father could love their son more. He wasn't a stupid kid, far from it. He instinctively knew he was his Dad's favorite. First born and all. Not that his Dad ever gave indication that he favored any of his children, he always treated them all with equal love and affection. But Gus knew, deep down, that his father had a special place in his heart for him that was all his. Just as he had a special place in his heart for his Dad. He loved his Moms, greatly, but he and his father shared a special bond that deserved a hell of a lot more respect then he just demonstrated. He felt ashamed at having hurt his father with stupid cruel words, uttered without any thought.
Brian watched as the myriad of emotions flit across his son's face. His heart ached. He hated having to be so harsh on him. He never spoke to the boy like that before, but he needed Gus to understand that he loved him enough to not let him get away with being manipulative or dishonest. He knew from personal experience if you didn't nipped that kind of behavior in the bud early on it would only get worse.
Gus was a good kid, with a little too much 'Kinney' in him. Kinney's, unchecked, could be a ruthless bunch. And he was smart. Smart enough to know he over stepped his bonds and tough enough to deal with the consequences. Brian watched his boy take his verbal 'lashing', so to speak, without flinching. He saw the regret and pain at having hurt his father, flash in his son's eyes. Saw the glassy sheen glaze over his pupils as he desperately fought for control over his emotions. He wanted to hug him, but first, he needed Gus to acknowledge the severity of his careless outburst.
Gus sniffed once then bent over and pulled his pant leg up. He then proceeded to pull another bottle of liquor from the inside of his sock and hand it to Brian.
"I'm sorry Dad. It was a stupid mean thing to say. There's no excuse. You didn't deserve that. Especiallyfrom me... I'm such an ass..." Gus said losing the battle with his emotions as a tear slipped out of the corner of his eyes.
Brian pulled his son into his arms and hugged him tight. He got it. His son got it. He wasn't sorry about taking the booze, (in truth, Brian didn't expect him to be sorry about that. No thirteen year old would be) and he wasn't sorry that he got caught, (though most thirteen year olds might have regretted getting caught! But not his boy Brian thought with pride) No. His sons' only regret was hurting the person he loved most in life.
Gus cried silently into Brian's chest.
"I really am sorry Dad. I'm so sorry.." Gus sobbed out over and over.
"Shhh..." Brian whispered softly as he placed a gentle kiss on the side of his son's head.
"Sorry's bullshit Sonny boy, you know that. You're entitled to make mistakes. We all are guilty of fucking up from time to time. What's important is that we learn from our mistakes." Brian said, gently pushing Gus back and wiping the tears from his face with his thumbs.
"Listen to me Gus, are you listening?" Brian said holding his boys' face in his hand.
"Yeah, I'm listening." Gus said.
"There is nothing you could do OR say that would make me love you any less or make me believe that you don't love me." Brian said searching his sons' eyes.
Gus held his stare.
"Promise me you'll never forget that." Brian added in a suspiciously hoarse voice.
"I promise Dad." Gus said smiling.
"Good boy." Brian said then pulled him in for another quick tight hug.
Gus felt his fathers hand slip inside his pocket and drop the small bottle of liquor in it.
"Pour a little into your ginger ales; make sure it's well diluted. And if I catch you sneaking anymore, I'll have your hide. Understood?" Brian whispered into his ear.
Gus silently nodded his head.
"Good. And don't tell your Moms. If they find out they'll have my hide," he added before releasing him.
"Thanks Dad." Gus said then turned to Justin.
"I'm sorry for snapping at you Daddy J. I promise not to cause any more trouble today." Gus said solemnly.
"Gus don't be silly. You are NEVER trouble. Your father on the other hand..."
"Watch it Blondie." Brian interrupted.
The mood in the room instantly lifted and Gus smiled brightly at having sidestepped a potential catastrophe relatively unscathed.
A tentative knock came to their door drawing their attention, followed by several tiny heads peeping into the room.
"Is Gus still alive?" Maria called out.
"You sure she's not Emmett's child? Surely that level of dramatics can only be attained through genetics." Brian said.
Maria, followed by her brothers Andy, Johnny, Peter, Jagger and baby Elliot, who wobbled in behind them all holding on to Jagger's hand, entered the suite.
Maria ran over to Gus and hugged him tight.
"Are you ok Gussy? Dad's such a meanie!" She announced before turning her glare on her father.
Brian threw his hands up in the air.
"Hey Dad, Andy told us Gus was in some kind of trouble. Is everything alright?" Jagger asked lifting his three year old little red headed brother up onto his shoulders. Elliot giggled at the action.
Brian made a face.
"What's with all this reinforcement? What am I now, an ogre?" Brian asked looking very much affronted. His kids however, weren't buying it.
"Um, no Dad. Just the opposite. You NEVER reprimand us. Andy said Gus was, in his words, 'about to get it', from you. Considering you usually leave the disciplining up to Daddy J, it was only natural we'd be concerned. Such an action would be very out of character for you." Peter said.
"Christ you are sounding more and more like your Aunt Rena. You would think one shrink in the house is enough! Do me a favor and save your psychoanalysis for your patients Peter. I am more than capable of disciplining my own kids without turning into a monster!" Brian said.
"Of course you are Dad. You just never do. Actually I didn't think you had it in you. Way to go!" Jagger said stepping in to deflect Brian's ire away from Peter.
Though Peter's practice was in California, and Jagger lived in France, the two brothers maintained a very strong relationship. When Jagger was at his worst, Peter was there for him. His other brothers were too young to help him, and Lizzy was too vulnerable. Jagger would not allow her to near him during his 'dark days', as he called them. His Dads of course were his foundation, the reason why he survived at all, but Peter was closer to his age. There were things they shared that he couldn't share with his Dads. The bond they developed during that time only grew stronger over the years. There was nothing either wouldn't do for the other.
"Shut up Jag!" Gus returned.
"Ok kids, let's all calm down. This is your sister's wedding day. The last thing we need is family dramatics to mar her special day." Justin said.
As if on cue, Emmett came bursting into the room blubbering into a mauve colored handkerchief.
He pushed past everyone and threw himself on the couch.
"Jesus Christ Em, what the fuck is it now!?" Brian snapped.
Emmett had been an emotional wreck all week. He was not only the wedding planner of this elaborate and outrageously expensive affair Lizzy had asked him to be her 'Man of Honor'. He was very instrumental in every aspect of this wedding from the planning of the ceremony and reception to going with Lizzy to pick out her gown. She refused Brian and Justin's offer to help her, (which made Brian VERY nervous considering Emmett's less than stellar fashion sense), claiming that she didn't want her Dads or her husband to see her in the dress until the day of the wedding. Something about 'bad luck'. As if having Emmett consult on such a weighty decision not the worst of luck! Brian's fears however were somewhat alleviated when he heard they choose a vintage designer.
"She's...*sniff* breathtaking!" Emmett bawled out.
"Cool." Johnny said.
Emmett managed to comport himself long enough to send Johnny a scalding look.
"Cool? Sweetie, your sister puts Audrey Hepburn to shame in that Vintage Edith Head wedding gown!" Emmett said haughtily as he dabbed at the corners of his eyes.
"Well she fucking better Honeycutt. I can't believe I let you two talk me into trusting you with choosing the right wedding gown! You wouldn't know Gucci from Versace." Brian remarked.
"Stop worrying. Lizzy looks amazing. And don't call me Honeycutt." Emmett said
"Dad that's twice you cursed now! When we get home you're gonna owe the curse jar!" Maria said, her small frame still wrapped around her brother.
Brian smiled at her. She looked like a little cherub in her crinoline 'blush' colored flower girls dress. Lizzy had picked the colors 'blush' and 'mauve' for her wedding theme. The whole reception hall looked like a large bottle of Pepto Bismol exploded all over it. He had to admit though that Emmett looked fantastic. Only Emmett, he mused, could pull off a mauve colored tuxedo.
"Aw come on Ria, give your old man a break. It's not every day a father gets to see his daughter getting married. It won't be your time for many years to come." Brian said as he gently pulled his daughter from Gus, picking her up in his arms.
Maria giggled and hugged his neck.
"Oh Dad, don't be silly! I'm NEVER getting married!" Maria said.
Brian laughed and kissed her on the cheek.
"Smart girl," he said.
Emmett slapped his arm lightly.
"Stop corrupting the child," he said taking Maria from Brian's arms.
"Hey!" Brian protested.
"It's time, I have to get her into position. Come on guys, the ceremony starts in fifteen minutes!" Emmett announced as he ushered all the kids out of the room.
Brian and Justin found themselves suddenly alone in the suite.
Justin walked up to Brian, stopping in front of him to adjust the white cravat around his neck.
"Nervous?" He queried keeping his gaze on the silk material in his hands.
Brian scoffed as if the mere notion was ridiculous.
"Good. I don't need to tell you then how devastatingly handsome you are, do I?" Justin asked the rhetorical question.
Brian was wearing a Ralph Lauren Black linen tuxedo.
"Actually, you do." Brian said pulling Justin to him.
"Careful, you'll wrinkle our suits." Justin said.
Brian rotated his hips against Justin's letting him feel his growing need.
Justin purred seductively and pressed harder against him.
"Wedding's always did make you horny." Justin teased.
Brian grabbed Justin's ass in response and pushed against him harder.
"Wedding's make me nauseous, you make me horny." Brian said.
Justin looked up at him coyly.
"Do I now? Hmmm...how flattering considering I'm in my 'dotage' according to you," he quipped.
Brian had thrown Justin an elaborate thirtieth birthday party several weeks ago that could rival this wedding. It was a magnanimous affair marred only slightly by Brian's occasional taunts about needing to 'trade him in for a newer, 'younger' model now that he was nearing retirement age. Justin took Brian's teasing in good fun, having remembered the "Death day" birthday bash they threw for him on his thirtieth. At least Brian spared him 'that' fate.
Brian let out an exaggerated sigh.
"I know. How altruistic of me. But don't blame yourself Sunshine, being forever young and beautiful is a tough job and one I believe that is already taken." Brian teased. Mirth shone brightly in his eyes, tinged with a good amount of lust.
Justin reached up and gently brushed the side of Brian's face with the back of his knuckles. His skin was radiant, glowing actually. At forty-two, Brian looked no more than thirty himself. He was simply perfection personified Justin mused.
"You truly do possess an ageless beauty..." He said absentmindedly, his voice taking on a serious tone.
Brian grabbed his hand and brought it to his lips.
"If I appear ageless, or beautiful, it's because I am a reflection of you." Brian said with conviction.
He was not prone to false modesty. He knew of his own appeal, but nothing, in his opinion, could compare to the beauty his Sunshine possessed. It was a beauty that went beyond his impossibly flawless porcelain skin, or his silky blond hair that shone like the Sun itself...or even his intoxicating bright blues eyes that changed hue with his moods...it was a beauty that came from somewhere deep beneath the surface. From a soul that knew no boundaries when it came to its' capacity to love and be loved. It came from an innocence that he still maintained even in the face of all the tragedies they endured in this life, and in their past lives. Brian was always good looking, very good looking yes, but he only reflected 'beauty', when Justin was near him.
Justin's eyes glazed over at Brian's words. He stood up on his toes and pressed the side of his face against Brian's clean-shaven skin.
"We truly are blessed," he whispered in a choked voice.
Brian wrapped his arms around him as he rubbed his cheek against his blond's.
"Yes we are..." he agreed.
They stood like that for several minutes before they reluctantly disengaged, having heard the music begin, and went down to join the others, prepared to give their daughter away. However they weren't prepared for the sight that greeted them once they arrived in the ceremony room. Emmett underestimated the vision Lizzy made in her wedding gown. The word 'breathtaking' took on a whole new meaning as they took in the sight of their daughter. So much so that Brian 'fucking' Kinney for the first time in his life did the unthinkable...He cried at a wedding...
Several months later...
It was the end of August and unbearably hot. The open windows and strategically placed fans did nothing to lessen the stifling heat. Justin gnawed on his bottom lip worriedly. The central air in the studio was broken and his work, along with his students' work, was being compromised by the excessive heat and humidity.
He came in early this morning to work on some pieces he was commissioned to do for a new Hotel that was opening uptown and walked into a literal steam box. He immediately called the repairman. It was a Sunday, and he was grateful that the guy agreed to come out on the weekend, and on such short notice.
He heard a car pull up and sighed in relief. He quickly ran to the door and swung it open.
"Oh, it's you," he said.
Brian, who was already half way up the walkway, stopped dead in his tracks.
"That settles it. We're going to Ibiza. Perhaps after you see me fuck about a dozen or two guys, and that's just for starters, you'll be more excited to see me!" Brian said.
A momentary spark of jealousy flashed in Justin's eyes. Brian smiled to himself at his partner's response.
"I don't think you want to test that theory. Besides, you know I'm always excited to see you. Very excited..."Justin drawled in a sexy voice.
The heat in Brian rose, if that were possible in this scorcher of a day, at Justin's words.
"It's just that I was hoping you were the repairman." Justin said which effectively cooled Brian's ardor.
"Yeah, well I can see where the sight of an overweight plumber's hairy ass crack would cause you to salivate." Brian bit out sarcastically.
"Gross. But as revolting as that image may be, right now I'd pay money to see that 'hairy' ass, as long as it's fixing my air conditioning!" Justin said then turned to walk back into the studio.
"I gather the fans didn't cool it down much." Brian asked following Justin.
"No, if anything they're making it worse. If he doesn't show up soon I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't care so much about my stuff, but I'd hate to see the kids' projects get ruined." Justin said.
"Jesus it's fucking hotter in here then it is outside!" Brian observed.
Justin looked around him forlornly.
"Yeah, I know," he said eyeing the already sweating paintings and clay pieces that hadn't made it to the kiln yet.
Brian heard the dejected tone in his voice.
"Well then, there's only one thing to do in a situation like this." Brian suggested.
Justin looked at him expectantly.
"What?" He asked when Brian didn't immediately respond.
"Fuck until we pass out." Brian said.
"I don't think that will take long in this heat. You sure you're up for it?" He asked as he walked towards him.
Brian reached for him.
"When am I not? Surely by now you must know that neither rain, nor heat, nor lesbians wearing strap-ons, could keep me from my sworn duty to fuck you soundly until the end of our days." Brian said.
Justin laughed and tried to wiggle out of his embrace, which wasn't hard to do since both of their bodies were slick with sweat.
"That's a perverted version of the postman's motto...and it has nothing to do with fucking." Justin said in a playful voice.
Brian smirked and reached for him again.
"Hmmm...I always had a thing for mailmen. They're always bringing you packages. Sometimes "BIG" packages... like the one I have right here for..."
"Hello, Mr. Taylor?" A voice came from the other side of the room startling both men.
Brian and Justin turned to see a big, burly man, holding a toolbox, standing in the open doorway.
Brian leaned over and whispered into Justin's ear.
"Definitely a hairy crack there. Try not to drool too much," he said.
Justin gently elbowed him into silence.
"You must be Mr. Richards. Thank you so much for coming out on such short notice." Justin said as he approached the man with his hand held out.
Mr. Richards shook Justin's hand.
"Not a problem Mr. Taylor. I've heard a lot about you and your school here. My boy goes to Saint James. He's a big fan of your work. Some of his friends are students of yours. They can't speak highly enough of you." Mr. Richards said with a certain amount of pride in his voice that his son knew kids who attended the Taylor-Kinney school of Arts. The school was well acclaimed and accredited. Many students who attended went on to prestigious grad art schools. It didn't hurt that their teacher was a world-renowned artist.
"I'm so glad to hear that Mr. Richards. Is your son an artist?" Justin asked.
"Oh yes Sir." Mr. Richards said proudly.
"And a damn good one too, and I ain't being bias. Everybody say's so. His art teacher at Saint James says he's got real potential. The boy's always drawing something or another. Damned obsessive about it he is." Mr. Richard boasted.
"Really? Then you must sign him up here for the Fall session!" Justin said excitedly.
The Fall session was full, but he would definitely make room for the boy. Especially if he was as passionate about art as the father claimed.
The smile on Mr. Richards face quickly disappeared to be replaced with a stern frown.
"Thanks for the offer Mr. Taylor, but no thanks. Now if you don't mind, can you please point me in the direction of your unit and I'll see if we can't get it up and running again." Mr. Richards said, suddenly all business.
Justin looked over to Brian, confused as to the mans' abrupt mood change.
Brian gently nudged against Justin's psyche.
"He's a very proud man Sunshine. I don't think he can afford the tuition." Brian said.
"Shit! I didn't even think of that!" Justin sent the mental message back to Brian.
"I'm sorry Mr. Richards, I didn't mean to overstep my bounds. Your son's education of course is yours to decide. But if he is really as good as you say, I'd love to see his work. We have a scholarship program here that grants full tuition to five talented students each year. If your son is as good as you say, he'll have a good shot at receiving one of those scholarships. Talent Mr. Richards, should be encouraged and nurtured, don't you agree?" Justin cannily asked.
Mr. Richards cleared his throat and Justin could swear he saw a slight blush under that heavy five-o'clock shadow he was sporting at eleven thirty in the morning.
"Why yes Mr. Taylor, I do agree. And my boy really is good, you'll see." Mr. Richards said, the smile returning to his face.
"Wonderful! Then we must set up an appointment so I can meet him," he said.
"Actually, Randy, that's my boy, is sitting outside in the truck. He was hoping he'd get a chance to meet you. You can go talk to him if you like. I know he'll be damned thrilled to talk to a famous artist like yourself." Mr. Richards said.
Justin graced Mr. Richards with one of his million watt smiles and nodded his head in acknowledgement of the compliment.
"I'll do that," he said.
"But first, can you point me in the direction of your unit?" Mr. Richards asked.
"I'll show you were it is." Brian said. He'd been standing to the side witnessing the whole exchange.
"I'm so sorry! Where are my manners!? Mr. Richards, this is my partner, Mr. Kinney." Justin said.
Brian shook the mans' hand.
"Nice to meet you. You're doing us a great favor." Brian said.
Mr. Richards shook his head.
"Not at all. Just doing my job Sir," he said.
Brian liked this man. He didn't know why, but he did. He turned and led Mr. Richards to the back of the studio.
Justin watched the two men leave relieved that he didn't offend Mr. Richards AND that his air conditioning was going to get fixed! With a joyful step he ventured out to the old pick up truck that was sitting in the driveway.
Brian was right, it was cooler out here then it was in the Studio. The one set back to having those gorgeous ceiling to floor glass pane windows that let in all that natural light was that it also let in all in the Suns' heat as well. Without the air-conditioning, the place was literally a sauna.
Justin walked up to the drivers' side of the truck and peered in through the open window. The boy had his back to him, bent over, concentrating on something on the front seat. Justin could see his hand working furiously. He smiled knowing the boy was drawing something.
"Hey there." Justin said.
The boy jumped up, startled and turned to face the unexpected visitor.
"Oh my God! This is like a dream! You have no idea how long I've waited for this day!" The young boy said excitedly.
Justin stared at the boy before him in shock. He looked exactly like the last time he saw him. Beautiful white blond hair, blue eyes...
Justin couldn't breath. It was his brother. And he recognized Justin! He remembered him...
"Rich..." Justin started in a shaky voice only to be interrupted by the jubilant boy before him.
"I've been a huuuuuumongous fan of yours for like ever! My Dad took me to your gallery a few times. I've always wanted to own one of your paintings, but of course we can't afford one. But I cut out all the pictures of your work from all the art magazines! My whole room is wallpapered with them! Billy and Neil go to your school and I make them tell me all about you! They say your cool, but I knew that. No one uncool could paint like you do! When Dad told me he got the call from you today I totally freaked! I begged him to take me with him, but I promised not to bother you and stay in the truck. I was just hoping to maybe get to see you walk outside or something, but this...! Oh...my...God!" The boy rambled on breathlessly.
Justin's heart sank, but his smile remained plastered on his face. He had no doubt this was his brother Richie. With every instinct he possessed he knew his brothers' soul lived in this boy's body. He would have known it regardless of the eerie likeness. Yet the boy didn't know it. He didn't recognized Justin from his past life, he recognized him from his present work. Still...fate had a funny way of bringing people together.
"You must be Randy." Justin said extending his hand.
The boy looked at him wide eyed, and then placed his hand in his.
"Nice to meet you." Justin said as he shook the boys' hand.
When he went to release his hand, the boy held onto it, a confused look crossed his eyes.
"Randy? Is something wrong?" Justin asked sensing something was off.
"Um, no. It's just .. . weird. I feel like I know you, I mean, like we met before," Randy tried to explain.
Justin's smile widened. His brother did recognize him. On some level. His heart soared.
"You're an artist. We artist have a special connection with each other." Justin said winking at he boy.
Randy nodded his head, accepting the explanation and smiled. He released Justin's hand then sat back on his haunches.
"So, what are you drawing there?" Justin asked motioning over to the sketchpad lying on the leather clad bench seat in the old truck.
Randy turned to retrieve his drawing when Brian walked up to the truck.
"Good news. Mr. Richards says he'll have it running again in no time." Brian said coming up to stand by Justin. Randy turned, sketchpad in hand, to stare at the new arrival.
Justin elbowed Brian.
"Yes, it's Richie. But he doesn't know it." Justin communicated to Brian.
"Brian, this is Randy. Mr. Richards son. Randy, this is my partner, Brian." Justin made the introductions.
"Oh, hey. Nice to meet you." Randy said smiling.
Brian just stared at the boy. Never in a million years did he think he and Justin's path would cross Richie's in this life. The Angels had told them that Richie's soul was reborn into this time, but they didn't tell them that he would look exactly as he did in his past life. And they certainly didn't warn them that he'd be back in their lives. Then again, they shouldn't be surprised. As they were so often reminded, where there was love, anything was possible.
"It's my pleasure Randy. Whatcha got there?" Brian asked motioning to the drawing pad in the boy's hands.
"Oh! I was just doodling. Mr. Taylor asked to see it." Randy said holding out the pad to Justin.
Justin took it from him and looked at it. He gasped. Brian looked over his shoulder to see what caused such a reaction from his blond.
"Holy fuck!" He exclaimed.
Justin's eyes shot to his and held his gaze for a moment before turning back to Randy.
He cleared his throat.
"It's...an amazing drawing Randy. You have incredible talent. Your technique is surprisingly mature for someone so young. The composition is well thought out, your understanding of positive and negative space is clear. Shading is utilized perfectly in creating a three dimensional look..." Justin gave his professional critique of the drawing before getting to his 'real' interest in the picture.
Randy beamed as if he were just giving the greatest compliment in the world.
"You like it? I mean, you think it's really good?" He asked eagerly.
Justin nodded his head and looked up at him.
"It's very good. And I do like it, very much. I'm curious though as to the subject matter..." Justin said looking back at the drawing in his hands.
Brian huffed besides him.
"They just can't help themselves can they? Always meddling." He growled in a low voice.
Justin sent him a warning glance before turning his attention back to Randy.
"The details are very crisp and precise. May I ask what inspired you?" He asked.
Randy blushed as if embarrassed by the question, or more accurately, Justin assumed, by the answer, and shrugged his shoulders.
"I've been drawing them since I can remember. They're my dream Angel's." Randy explained.
"Dream Angels?" Justin pushed.
"Yeah, I know, silly right? But I've been dreaming about them for years. Mama say's they must be my guardian Angels, but they're not." Randy said.
"How do you know they're not?" Justin asked.
"Because they told me they weren't. They said they were just along for the ride. What ever that means. I know it sounds weird, but I've been dreaming about them for so long, they've kinda like, became friends of mine. Dad says' a lot of kids have imaginary friends. I guess they're mine. Anyway, I've been drawing them like, forever." Randy said.
Justin and Brian exchanged looks again.
"See, I told you. They just can't resist interfering in our lives. They probably set this up." Brian sent the telepathic thought out to Justin.
"And I'm grateful they did. Bri, they led him to back to me..." Justin said.
Brian could feel the emotions coursing through his blond.
"That they did Sunshine." Brian acknowledge.
"All fixed Mr. Taylor! I turned it down to 40 degrees. Leave it like that for about forty minutes, to cool the place down, then turn it back up to your normal setting." Mr. Richards said startling both Justin and Brian. They didn't hear him approach.
"Oh! That's great. Thank you so much." Justin said quickly composing himself.
"Randy, you haven't been pestering Mr. Taylor now have you?" Mr. Richards asked as he eyed the sketchpad in Justin's hand.
"Not at all! I asked to see what he was drawing. Mr. Richards I have to say, your son is truly gifted! He's got natural talent, but beyond that, he has technical skills as well. This drawing is amazing." Justin said.
Mr. Richards beamed.
"Yeah, well that art teacher of his is pretty good. She keeps him after school most days." Mr. Richards said.
Justin made a note to check this art teacher at. She was obviously a very good teacher, and his school was growing. It was time he recruited some talent.
"Miss Garvey says if I practice a lot, I could get into a good art school." Randy said.
"Now stop ya bragging boy. That's my job." Mr. Richards said with a teasing smile towards his son.
Justin could sense the deep affection the man had for his child and was glad that his brother was being raised with a loving father.
"Mr. Richards, with your permission, I'd like to enroll Randy into the fall session at my school. This drawing alone earns him a full scholarship. And with a lot of practice, and dedication, I'm sure he'll get a full scholarship to any of the top-notch art schools in the country. He is that good." Justin said.
If Mr. Richards beamed any more he'd melt them.
"I don't know what to say...thank you," he stammered.
"No, thank you. It will by pleasure to be part of this young, aspiring artists development. One day, when he's famous, I can boast that he honed his skills right here at my school." Justin said, assuring Mr. Richards that he wasn't being giving charity, knowing now how proud the man was, but that he'd be doing Justin a favor by allowing his son to attend his school.
Mr. Richards held his hand out to shake Justin's.
"Well then Mr. Taylor, looks like you got yourself a new student!" Mr. Richards said.
Randy yelped in joy and clapped his hands from inside the cab of the truck.
"I can't wait to tell Billy and Neil!" He said.
"That news will have to wait son. We got to go pick up your grandma for Sunday dinner first." Mr. Richards said as he threw his toolbox in the back of the truck.
Justin frowned. He didn't want to see them go. He just got his brother back in his life. He wanted, no needed time to get to know Rich...
"Randy Sunshine. He's Randy now. And he's not your brother, at least not that he knows. He's your student. They gave you a second chance to know him, don't make them regret their decision. He has his own family. The most you can be to him is his teacher, and perhaps, his friend. Don't lose sight of that. Let's just be happy you will get a chance to know him, and perhaps mold him into the great artist he's going to be." Brian cautioned Justin.
He knew how easy it would be for Justin to get carried away. To want to insert himself into the boy's life completely, and he also knew what trouble that could cause down the road. He didn't want to see either of them hurt.
"I know. You're right. I won't scare him away. There's plenty of time for us to get to know each other. As... friends." Justin said.
Brian pulled him back against his chest and wrapped his arms around him.
"Good boy," he said.
Mr. Richards came back around to the front of the truck and got inside.
"We'll be back tomorrow afternoon to sign up for the fall classes, and fill out any paperwork that needs fillin'. I'll bring Randy's mother with me, if that's ok with you. I know she'd love to meet. She's also a fan." Mr. Richards said.
"Sounds perfect." Justin said.
Mr. Richards smiled and nodded his head. He put the truck in reverse.
"Bye Mr. Taylor, Mr. Kinney! See you tomorrow!" Randy called over from the passenger side.
"Bye! Ohhh... Wait! What do I owe you Mr. Richards?" Justin called out as the truck was pulling away.
"Your debts been paid Mr. Taylor. Long time ago." Mr. Richards said in a voice that didn't quite sound like his. Then he did something very odd.
He winked at him.
Brian and Justin watched the old pick up truck drive away with stunned looks on their faces.
"What the Hell..."
"You don't think that was.."
"As you are so wont to remind me Sunshine, where there is love, anything is possible," he said.
Justin pulled his bottom lip in and bit it. He had a deep suspicion that Mr. Richards parting words may have been delivered by him, but originated from a different source. A 'higher' source.
Yep. Brian was right. Their Angels just could not keep from inserting themselves into their lives. And for once, Justin was glad for it.
Justin took a deep breath and turned to his partner, lover and best friend.
"Well, you know there is only one thing we can do in a situation like this." Justin said tilting his head slightly as he sent Brian a scorching look.
Brian raised a brow at him.
"Does this mean we can play postman now?" He asked.
"As long as you're delivering..." Justin said laughing.
Brian pulled him into his arms.
"Like I said Sunshine, neither rain, nor snow..."
"nor lesbian's with strap ons." Justin interjected cheekily.
Brian's eyes grew serious and he tightened his hold on Justin.
"Nor demons or Angels can ever keep me away from you..." He promised, and then sealed that promise with a soul-shattering kiss.
"That went well." Elliot said.
"Yes, they are very happy, aren't they?" Andy asked.
"They are. For now." Elliot's response was not what Andy was expecting.
"Please tell me that's just you being cynical and not a preordained prediction." Andy said.
Elliot turned to his fellow Angel and shrugged his shoulders.
"You know how She is." Elliot said.
Andy let out a frustrated sigh.
"And they say 'we' are the ones who can't let them go!" Andy complained.
Elliot laughed and slapped Andy on the shoulder.
"Well maybe we'll get lucky and she'll leave this AU and write something else next time." Elliot said.
Andy nodded his head...
"Maybe..." He said, not knowing if that idea appealed to him or not.
The Angels ascended back to their home, and left the 'writer' in question to ponder her next move...