A/N: This ends this particular journey. Thank you all that have followed and supported this story. I truly appreciate it! :)
***Six Months Later***
Justin stepped into Liberty Diner, a beaming smile on his face. He was happier than he had ever been in his life. The largest part of it was obviously attributed to his master, lover, roommate, and his everything - Brian Kinney. Nothing started the day off better than waking up in Brian's bed, warmly cocooned in the protection of his arms. Then, when Brian woke up, he really reaped the dividends. It was a morning ritual that he never wanted to see change.
Debbie grinned at her former employee from ear-to-ear. "It's good to see you so happy, Sunshine. I guess that asshole can do something right!" Her endearing cackling followed what was clearly a tone based in the deepest of affection for Brian.
Michael snorted from the counter. "Who wouldn't be happy? He gets everything handed to him... and on top of that - he's got Brian."
"Don't start this, Michael..." Debbie hissed from under her breath, her face coloring in what was rare embarrassment - solely from the fact that Justin had to hear Michael's bitter accusations once again.
"It's okay, Deb." Justin had grown so much over the last several months, largely due to the respect and care Brian had given him. He was the perfect master in every way. Brian guided him in every aspect of his life. And yet, he didn't really enforce his opinions or wishes on him. Brian openly discussed things with him. He would explain to him why he held certain ideas, and he asked for Justin's input as well. Then, he told him what he thought he should do. More often than not he was in complete agreement. He looked Michael directly in the eye, his tone uncaring as he spoke, "Michael will never think I am good enough for Brian. I have no interest in changing his opinion; Brian's is the only one that matters."
Michael stood from his seat behind the counter, his eyes glaring in jealous anger at the young man that he refused to believe was best for his oldest friend. "Damned right Brian's opinion is all you care about. You need him to bankroll your worthless ass!"
Debbie gasped, at once at a loss for words. She had never imagined such hate to come from her son. She pitied Michael, more than that - she was mortified. Unable to reply, she stood immobile as she watched what was a sure train wreck at the start of a busy Monday morning.
"No, you're so wrong. I don't give a damn about his money. All I care about is him, and the love we share."
"Love..." Michael scoffed. "Brian doesn't love anyone. The only thing he loves is having the convenience of your willing ass."
Brian moved from the doorway, his eyes wild in protective anger. He opened his mouth to speak, but at once stopped himself. Justin had been gaining such strides in his self-confidence the past few months, intervening here could undermine that process. He didn't want to do that. This more self-assured, yet still submissive Justin was very appealing to him. He had no plans of changing that for anything. Putting Mikey in his place should be easy for Justin.
"You profess to know him better than anyone... and yet, you don't know shit." Justin's eyes were filled with anger as he spoke, "Brian is the most loving and patient man I've ever known. I intend to spend the rest of my life making him happy. Perhaps it's time you dealt with the fact that we are together - and that we will be staying that way!"
"Bravo..." Brian came up behind Justin, his arms wrapped proprietorially around his sub's waist, his eyes shooting daggers into Michael's wary, yet still malevolent expression. "I couldn't have said it better myself."
Debbie smirked, backing away and edging to the kitchen. She knew interference might be needed... but, she wasn't going to intercede on Michael's behalf this time. He had gone too far. As she viewed the anger in Brian's eyes, not to mention the protective stance he held with Justin, there wasn't a doubt in his mind, Brian was about to lay Michael's hopeless dreams to rest - once and for all. Michael might need her once it was done, but, she wouldn't interfere. It was time her son faced the truth. Justin was here to stay, and Brian loved him.
"C'mon, Bri. You can't really love this kid. I get that he has the same kink as you... but that's not love. He's using that to get a free ride. Open your damn eyes!" Michael knew he was going too far, but as he saw it - it was now or never. If he didn't reach him now, he'd lose his chance forever.
"Kink?" Brian repeated in a low, controlled tone. He felt Justin tensing in his arms; Justin was as insulted by the reference as he was. Michael didn't have a clue about that part of their lives. He was ignorant, and his callous references pissed him off more than anything. "You are such a fool, Michael. What we share isn't a kink - it's a way of life. It is who we are - together, or separate. Thankfully, we have each chosen together."
Michael's jaw dropped down in disbelief. He'd feared Brian to be lost to him, only he hadn't accepted it. The reality had been too painful. Now, he had no choice - at least, not as long as Justin remained in his life. "We were best friends, Brian. If not for Justin, we could have had it all."
Justin flushed in embarrassment, there wasn't a doubt that every eye in the diner was on them. "Uhhh, could we take this discussion outside - anywhere but here?"
Brian leaned in to take soft, nibbling kisses along the curve of Justin's neck, his hands kneading his waist, in his way soothing the nerves and obvious anxiety of his boy. "There's nothing left to discuss. Except to ask if you are ready to go to class?"
Leaning his head back against Brian's chest, Justin smiled, unable to fathom his new reality. Not only was he content in his relationship with Brian, but he had re-enrolled him at PIFA. He had one year under his belt, until his father had pulled his funding, and now he was back. The future had never been brighter. "I'm more than ready..."
"Let's go then, Picasso." Brian stepped back, yet slid his arm firmly and protectively around Justin's waist. Before escorting him to the door, Brian turned his head to give Michael a chilling look... one that bespoke of a finality that the recipient had least expected. "We're done, Michael. It saddens me to make this decision, but you give me no choice. Justin means everything to me - that isn't going to change. Obviously, you are mired in a past constructed in your own mind. Don't call me, or approach me for anything." Brian's eyes slid contemptuously over his former friend. "As far as I'm concerned, you are now another of those faceless strangers that pass me on the street. Perhaps time can give you a more lucid grip on reality."
Justin stared wide-eyed at Brian as his lover and master pulled him from the diner, his jaw gaping open in response to Brian's cold and final words to Michael. Once they were inside Brian's car, Justin looked at Brian's tense expression. This decision wasn't easy on him, yet the one he obviously felt he had to make. He laid his hand on Brian's leg, his eyes warm and concerned as he read the pain in Brian's eyes. "Brian, you don't have to do that for me. We can work it out with him. I can just avoid him or something. You don't have to go this far..."
Brian reached down and squeezed Justin's hand; he turned to face him, smiling reassuringly at the younger man. "Actually I do. Maybe someday Michael will change, but this has been going on for too long. I can't allow him to disrupt the life we are building together. A part of being your master is seeing to your comfort, and stability. That is on all fronts." Brian leaned down and brushed his lips softly over Justin's. It was slow, and thorough; it was a definition of the love and respect he held for this man - and this man alone. Once he pulled his lips free, Brian earnestly told him, "I love you, Justin Taylor. You complete me in every way. No one else matters."
"I love you too, Brian; I have no words to express how much..." Justin's eyes were brimming with unshed tears, his eyes gleaming as all the love he felt began shining through.
"I don't need those words to express it, my own. You display that every day we're together. It is more than enough." Brian started up the car and pulled it in the direction of PIFA. Everything was perfect now. They were in a fully committed master/sub relationship, and Justin had regained his self-worth and confidence. And most important of all - they had a love that he knew would last a lifetime. In his search for his own sub he had never dreamt of attaining that.
In the end, he felt like the most fortunate master in existence. He had achieved the full package. True submission was the purest of gifts; however, the gift of love was of immeasurable value. He didn't intend on letting go of either, nor of the only man who could bring such bliss into his world. Yes, on all counts - he was now complete. The search had ended. Now, living could truly begin.