Pairing: Brian and Justin
Summary: The rising star ad exec needs to get the blond he met out of his head...or into his bed.
Author's Note: AU fic, in that Brian and Justin meet under different circumstances.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Brian was at his desk putting the finishing touches on he latest proposal when a knock at the door broke his concentration. “Yeah,” he called, already knowing who it would be.
Cynthia opened the door and breezed in. “This just came for you,” she said. “Hand delivered.” She handed him a fancy linen envelope and watched him expectantly.
Brian looked at it with little interest then raised his eyes once again to meet his assistant’s gaze. “What is it?”
She rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Just an invitation to the launch of Pendleton’s new line this coming Saturday night at the Hyatt.”
Brian leaned back in his chair and groaned. “I did the fucking campaign. I’ve seen the fall line. Give me one good reason why I should spend my Saturday night mingling with Pittsburgh’s upper crust.”
“Uh, because you’re one of the crumbs that make up that crust?” she replied
“Like Hell I am,” he muttered as he opened the envelope and read the invitation.
“You’re 30 years old and already own your own successful ad agency. Like it or not, Boss, you’re Pittsburgh’s very own golden boy.”
Brian scoffed audibly at the notion.
“And besides, Prescott Pendleton invited you himself.”
Brian rolled his eyes. Prescott Pendleton. A rich fag who liked to keep his business among the ‘right kind of people’. Classic heterophobe if ever Brian had seen one.
And he’d seen plenty.
“This invitation is for two,” he said with a disdainful frown.
“Guess he thought you might want to bring a date,” Cynthia said with a small smirk.
“I don’t do dates,” Brian replied absently. “Think he’d mind much if I brought a couple of tricks?”
“He probably wants to see what type you go for since it’s obviously not his,” Cynthia suggested. She hadn’t missed the looks Mr. Pendleton had regaled Brian with when he thought no one was looking. Neither had she missed the way Brian kept it strictly professional without so much as a flicker of interest.
“Yeah, right,” he snorted. “He’s old enough to be my father.”
She knew that wasn’t quite accurate, but wisely decided against pointing that fact out to her boss. Instead, she asked innocently. “So, who are you going to take?”
“And exactly how is that any of your business?” he asked, one eyebrow raised.
“It’s not,” she admitted with a small shrug. “Unless you’re taking your invaluable assistant who desperately needs to start meeting men of more financial substance, if you know what I mean.”
He smiled a little at that. One of the things he liked about Cynthia was her direct approach. She had proved to be a big asset during the development of the campaign and knew she’d earned far more than her regular salary just dealing with Pendleton and his minions. “Want me to pick you up? Or is it vital that you show up looking decidedly unattached?” he teased.
Brian was still dreading the event by the time Saturday rolled around. His plan to show up, linger for a short time and make an early getaway was threatened when Pendleton made a beeline for him the minute they stepped into the lavishly decorated ballroom.
“Brian!” the man exclaimed with a smile that was a little too wide for Brian’s liking.
“Prescott,” Brian said in reply as he shook the other man’s hand. Turning toward Cynthia, he said “You remember my assistant, Cynthia Parker?”
“Yes, of course,” he said, taking her hand. “Nice to see you again.”
“This pleasure is mine, Mr. Pendleton,” Cynthia assured him.
The trio continued making polite conversation for a few minutes before a young blond man joined them.
Brian’s senses came to immediate attention the moment the newcomer joined the group. He was nothing short of beautiful with the light from the various chandeliers overhead glinting off his blond hair and a smile that rivaled the sun itself. He was dressed impeccably in a black tuxedo, the dark blue silk cummerbund and tie accentuating the bright blue of his eyes.
“There you are, Justin,” Prescott said with a smile as he touched the young man’s upper arm in a gesture that seemed oddly intimate. “Brian, Cynthia, this is Justin Taylor. Justin, Brian Kinney and his assistant, Cynthia Parker.”
“Nice to meet you,” he said politely as he shook each of their hands in turn.
“Brian owns Kinnetik, the agency in charge of our latest campaign.”
“I’m impressed,” Justin said with a smile. “The campaign was brilliant, especially the way you incorporated the use of shadow and light in the print ads. Very striking.”
Brian’s eyebrow quirked slightly. “You have an interest in advertising, Justin?”
“Not really,” he admitted, wrinkling his nose slightly in a gesture of apology for the admission. “But I am interested in art. I’m hoping to attend PIFA in the fall.”
“Quite a school,” Brian replied. “Good luck with that.”
“Justin doesn’t need luck,” Prescott assured them, slipping his arm casually around the younger man’s waist. “He’s got more talent in his little finger than most of the graduates PIFA turns out in any given year.”
Brian noticed the blush that crept into the blond’s cheeks and wondered if it was the praise or the older man’s obviously possessive behaviour that was the cause.
“Is that a fact,” he said with a small smirk. “In that case, I’m sure PIFA will be glad to have you.”
The smile he got in response was far from the radiant one he’d sported when he’d first joined the group and only intrigued Brian more. “Thank you,” Justin said politely.
A brief frown crossed Pendleton’s face as he took in the way Brian was looking at his companion, but like a gracious host, he brushed it off and replaced it with another exaggerated smile. “Well, Brian, Cynthia. Enjoy your evening. I’m afraid we really must mingle with our other guests. Justin?”
The blond glanced quickly at the man who still had his arm around him and forced a smile. “Yes, of course,” he said. Turning back to Brian and Cynthia, his smile was more genuine. “It was very nice to meet you both. I hope you have a good time this evening.”
Brian nodded in acknowledgement of the words and watched as the two men moved away.
“Oh my God,” Cynthia breathed once they were out of earshot. “If he’s old enough to be your father, then he’s practically old enough to be his grandfather.”
Brian was still watching as Pendleton continued to introduce his young blond companion to the other guests. The older man reminded him of a kid showing off a new toy.
Which, he thought cynically, was probably not too far off.
“Or worse,” he murmured under his breath.
They’d been at the party for nearly an hour and Brian figured he’d already put in a respectable time. Cynthia was busy in the corner chatting it up with a good looking brunette and he couldn’t contain a small smile. He suspected that if she had her way, his assistant would be snagging herself one of those ‘men of financial substance’ before the night was out. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone saying his name.
He turned toward the voice and saw his former boss, Martin Ryder.
“Marty,” he said with a surprised smile. “Don’t tell me. You’re back in the game and drumming up a new client list.”
Marty laughed. “Not on your life. Prescott and I play golf together. Have for years.” He smiled slyly at Brian. “I was never able to land his account though. Congratulations on another winning campaign, Brian.”
Brian smirked. “Thanks. Though as the only gay owner of an agency in town, I didn’t exactly have a lot of competition.”
“Don’t sell yourself short,” Marty warned amicably. “Prescott may have given you the opportunity because he thinks you’re kindred spirits, but he wouldn’t have settled for a substandard job on that basis.”
Brian nodded, knowing there was a lot of truth to that. “True. Lucky for him, I don’t do substandard.”
“I know what happened with VanGard,” Marty said. “I’m sorry, Brian.”
Brian shrugged. Who hadn’t heard what happened? He’d compromised an account because the client was a rabid homophobe bent on shutting down what he considered to be the ‘seedier’ side of Pittsburgh. Since the so-called den of iniquity also happened to be Brian’s Liberty Avenue playground, it had become somewhat personal. He’d lost his job and had been blacklisted by every agency in town. Wisely, he’d never signed anything precluding him from starting his own business, and as his other options had run out, he’d done just that. Kinnetik had become the most successful agency in the city in a relatively short time.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me, Marty,” he said with a smirk.
“I warned him,” Marty said, shaking his head slightly. “Gardner talked to me about you before he made his final decision. I told him if he cut you loose, he’d be cutting his own throat.”
“Thankfully, he didn’t listen,” Brian smiled, raising his glass in a mock toast.
Pendleton approached the two men, Justin trailing just slightly behind and looking a little less enthusiastic than he had an hour ago. “I’m glad you could make it,” the older man greeted his friend.
“Wouldn’t miss it, Prescott,” Marty replied, smiling and extending his hand. “Especially when it’s you picking up the tab.”
Pendleton laughed and once again slid his arm around the young blond’s waist. “Justin, I’d like you to meet Marty Ryder. Marty, Justin Taylor.”
“Yes, I know,” Marty smiled, reaching to shake Justin’s hand.
Brian saw the brief look of panic that crossed the blond’s features, probably thinking he’d rudely forgotten a previous introduction. Relief was evident in his blue eyes when Marty put him out of his misery. “We’ve never been formally introduced, but I saw you at the New Year’s Eve party at the club.”
“Right,” Justin smiled politely. “It’s nice to finally meet you. Prescott’s told me some amusing golf stories.”
Brian watched the interaction between the three men. Prescott seemed once again to be staking claim to the young blond and Justin didn’t seem to mind. Since he obviously knew Ryder was straight, he assumed the gesture was more for Brian’s benefit and that thought intrigued him. Did Prescott feel threatened merely because of Brian’s reputation? Or was it something more? When Justin eyes rested on his briefly, he had his answer. Being Brian Kinney, he easily recognized interest when he saw it. Before he had a chance to decide what he wanted to do with that little bit of information, Pendleton was speaking once again.
“We didn’t mean to interrupt,” he said with that annoying smile. “I just wanted to say hello and introduce you to Justin. Have a good time.”
“Nice to meet you,” Justin said sincerely. Brian wondered how many times he’d said that since the night had begun and how many times he actually meant it.
“You too, Justin,” Marty said with a smile.
After they’d left, Brian mused, “I would have thought Prescott would have introduced you to his little playmate at the New Year’s Eve party.”
“I don’t think they met until that night,” Marty replied. “Justin was there with someone else.”
Brian raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment. Marty, however, continued. “It was the most scandalous thing to hit the country club set since Miranda Withers ran off with that guy from the pro shop.”
“Scandalous?” Brian repeated, even more intrigued.
“Hell yes,” Marty chuckled. “Craig Taylor was out of town on business at the time and Justin shows up at the New Year’s Eve party, not only with a male date, but the son of one of Craig’s top execs.”
“Craig Taylor is his father?” Brian asked, genuinely surprised, though he was trying hard not to show it.
“Yep,” Marty answered, taking a sip of his drink. “Probably the richest, most influential man in Pittsburgh.”
Brian’s eyes sought out Justin as he digested that bit of news. He finally spotted him at Prescott’s side, smiling politely though Brian was sure the conversation was probably boring the young man to tears. As he watched, Justin’s eyes looked up and met his, a brief spark flashing between them before the blond tore his gaze away to once again concentrate on the investment broker who was talking to him.
“Interesting,” Brian murmured, raising his own glass to his lips.
Continue to Chapter Two