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.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Justin returned from the bathroom down the hall to find Brian sleeping. Knowing the man had most likely been up most of the night and feeling responsible for that, he quietly moved to the table by the window and retrieved the tray sitting there. At the door, he turned for one last look at the sleeping man and smiled before making his way toward the stairs.
Michael was in the kitchen flipping through a comic when Justin appeared carrying the tray.
“Where’s Brian?” the dark-haired man asked.
“Asleep,” Justin informed him as he sat the untouched lunch tray on the counter. He picked up the plate with the sandwich and carried it to the table where he took a seat.
Michael took the one across from him and watched as the younger man picked at the sandwich.
“It’ll do you more good if you actually eat it,” he finally said.
Justin shrugged. “Sorry, I’m just not very hungry, I guess.” He picked up the sandwich and took a small bite anyway.
“I guess that’s understandable,” Michael commiserated. “Been kinda rough, huh?”
Justin nodded slowly. “I knew my father hated the idea of me being gay, but I never thought he’d take it this far.”
“What do you plan to do now?” Michael asked.
Justin shrugged again. “I don’t know. I guess I have to talk to the police at some point. Hopefully they’ll be able to find out what really happened; I don’t want to go to jail.”
“Does Brian think that’s still a possibility?”
Justin sighed. “More like a probability.” A sad smile touched his lips as he thought of Brian’s words. “Though Brian is determined to do what he can to prevent it. I know he might not be able to, but I’ve never really had anyone willing to try so hard before. He’s … nice.”
Michael took note of the familiar look in the blond’s eyes. “He has his moments,” he replied. “Look, Justin, I’m Brian’s best friend. I’ve known him since we were in junior high.”
The words came through as a sort of warning and Justin frowned slightly. “So?”
“So I know what he’s like better than anyone. Brian is trying to help you because he doesn’t like the idea of your dad getting away with what he’s done, but don’t read any more into it than that.”
“What do you mean?” Justin asked warily.
Michael sighed. “I mean don’t take it to mean that he cares about you more than he does. Brian isn’t the type to get involved with anyone. He doesn’t do relationships or anything like that. He likes to fuck, period. He has two or three different guys a night sometimes.” He saw the effect his words were having on the blond and regretted the pain he saw in the blue eyes but figured it would be less painful in the long run to know the truth from the start. “He took you home last night because you had nowhere else to go,” he continued gently.
Justin’s expression turned neutral as he tried to mask the feelings Michael’s words invoked. “Why are you telling me this?” he asked.
“Because I don’t want to see you get hurt any more than you already have been,” Michael explained quietly. “And falling for Brian Kinney is one sure way to do that.”
Justin was silent as he stared down at the sandwich before him. “He kissed me,” he said after a while, his voice barely audible.
Michael felt a stab of sympathy for the kid. “Just don’t read too much into it, OK? Brian doesn’t believe in love or relationships. He believes in fucking but doesn’t do repeats. Once he’s had you, you’re yesterday’s news. He’s never going to change, not for you, not for anybody.”
Justin’s eyes flashed as they rose to meet Michael’s. “Did he fuck you?”
“We’re best friends,” Michael defended himself. “You don’t fuck your friends.”
Justin sneered. “So that’s it. You don’t want to take the chance of someone else getting what you can’t have and so obviously want.”
“Look, you little shit,” Michael retorted angrily. “I was just trying to do you a favour. Brian may want to fuck you, but he’s not about to change his lifestyle for a piece of blond boy ass.”
Justin got to his feet, nearly knocking the chair over in his haste. “Fuck you, Michael,” he hissed.
“Where are you going?” Michael demanded as he followed the blond.
“This piece of blond boy ass is no longer any concern of yours,” Justin retorted as he reached the front door. Involuntarily, he looked toward the stairs briefly, before turning icy blue eyes on Michael. “Tell your best friend thanks.” With that, he flung open the door and stormed out.
Running a hand through his hair, Michael tried to decide on the best course of action. Vic had gone out to pick up his meds which left only Brian and him in the house. He knew his friend would be pissed that the kid had left, but it was probably for the best. Slowly, he headed up the stairs to fill Brian in on the recent developments. The sooner the Taylors were out of their lives, the better off they’d all be.
He paused in the doorway to his old room, his gaze taking in the peaceful, sleeping form of his best friend. Seeing Brian like this, it was almost like they were teenagers again. Many a time Brian had camped out in his room after being beaten by Jack Kinney. When he slept, there was no sign of the battered teen he’d once been, no sign of the carefree stud he’d become. There was only Brian, his best friend and the most beautiful man Michael had ever seen.
Sitting down on the side of the bed, he touched Brian’s shoulder gently. “Hey.”
Brian murmured something then rolled onto his back cracking one eye open. “Mikey,” he mumbled, rubbing a hand over his face. “What are you doing here?”
Michael smiled. “It’s my room, remember?”
Brian opened his eyes and looked around, taking in the familiar yet tacky décor. “Right,” he said. “Where’s Justin?”
Michael hesitated only a moment. “He’s gone, Brian.”
Brian sat up quickly. “Gone where?”
Michael shrugged. “He didn’t say. He just said he was no longer our concern and to tell you thanks.”
“Fuck,” Brian cursed, pushing Michael aside to get off of the bed. “How long ago did he leave?”
“Not long ago,” Michael replied. “Why?”
“Why?” Brian stared incredulously at the other man. “Because I have to fucking find him, Michael. There are cops combing this whole goddamned city for him.”
“All the more reason you should just let him go,” Michael said, getting testy. “You don’t need that kind of trouble, Brian.”
Brian looked at his friend for a minute. “Why did he leave?” he asked in a quiet voice, one Michael recognized, though he never thought he’d hear it directed at him.
He shrugged uncomfortably. “We were talking and then he just left.”
“Talking about what?”
He didn’t really want to answer that, but knew better than to lie. “About you,” he finally managed in a small voice.
Brian closed his eyes in frustration. It was like pulling fucking teeth. “What about me?” he prodded impatiently.
Michael had had enough of being the bad guy. “The kid was fawning all over you, Brian. ‘He kissed me’,” he mimicked cruelly. “I just told him what he needed to hear. That you don’t give a shit about him except as maybe a potential fuck.”
The words stung coming from his so-called best friend. He might show that persona to the world, but those he cared about should realize he was capable of more. The thought stunned him. Was he really? More to the point, did he want to be? He’d always been just as Michael had described him. Why, all of a sudden, did it matter to him that Justin saw him as something more?
“You should be glad he’s gone,” Michael concluded.
The words brought Brian out of his self-analysis. After shooting a glare in Michael’s direction, he wordlessly left the room.
“Brian, wait,” Michael called after him on the stairs. “Where are you going?”
Brian turned on him once he reached the door. “Where else?” he smirked. “To find a potential fuck. That’s all I’m good for, right?”
“I didn’t say that,” Michael defended himself. “I thought I was doing you a favour. You don’t need a kid like that getting hung up on you. Next thing you know he’ll be stalking you wherever you go. And this one has already proven he’s more trouble than he’s worth. I thought you’d be happy to have him out of your hair.”
Brian stared at him for a moment. “Don’t bother doing me any more favours,” he said flatly before leaving the house.
Justin was walking through the unfamiliar neighbourhood, looking for any sign that he was nearing his destination. He knew from the drive over that it wasn’t too far from Liberty Avenue, but his mind had been so busy trying to wrap itself around the fact that he was wanted by the police that he hadn’t paid attention to the direction. Once on familiar territory, he was sure he’d be able to find a place to hide out for a while. He couldn’t go back to his apartment and he was afraid to try withdrawing money in case the police could somehow determine his whereabouts from ATM records. His best bet was to just lay low until he could figure out what to do next.
He’d finally made it to a street he recognized when he heard a car approaching. Not recognizing the vehicle, he quickly ducked into an alley and hid behind a dumpster, hoping that he hadn’t been seen. He made himself as small as possible, closing his eyes in a silent prayer that the car would keep going. Breathing a small sigh of relief when he didn’t hear anything, he decided to wait a few minutes just to make sure the coast was clear. Looking around the dim alley, he briefly touched on the fact that he’d likely be seeing a lot more of such accommodations in the days to come. He jumped when a voice yanked him out of his reverie.
“Still in the shadows, I see,” Brian drawled, looking down at where the younger man sat huddled.
Getting to his feet, Justin shot him a dirty look before trying to push his way past.
“Not so fast,” Brian said, grabbing his arm. “Where the fuck do you think you’re going?”
“None of your business,” Justin shot back, yanking his arm from Brian’s grip. “You’ve done your good deed. Or are you here to collect payment? Is that it, Brian? You figure I owe you a freebie for all your trouble?” He started to undo his belt, his eyes flashing with anger.
“You don’t owe me fuck all,” Brian snapped.
“Fine, have it your way,” Justin muttered, turning away once again.
“You’re going to get yourself fucking arrested,” Brian barked. “Or worse. Is that what you want?”
“Who gives a fuck what I want?” Justin retorted. His voice was angry, but his eyes looked pained. “You think I wanted any of this? You think I wanted my father to come after me? To fucking frame me for a crime I didn’t commit? You think I like having to hide like some scared faggot because I can’t even go home to my own place? I don’t, Brian. It fucking sucks, all of it. But I don’t have a choice right now, so why don’t you go back to your fucking best friend and leave me alone!”
“I’m trying to give you a choice,” Brian said, his tone having lost some of its anger in light of the other man’s obvious anguish. “Will you let me do that?”
Justin eyed him warily. “Why?” he demanded. “So you can fuck me then dump me like yesterday’s trash? No, thanks.”
“I know what Michael told you, but…”
“But what?” Justin challenged flatly when the other man’s voice trailed off. “He was lying? It’s not true? You don’t fuck anything that moves just for the thrill of it?”
Brian rolled his lips between his teeth in an effort to quell the angry retort rising in his throat. He wasn’t in the habit of having to explain his lifestyle to anyone, but somehow he resented the fact that Justin had believed the worst. “I don’t have to explain anything to you,” he finally said.
Justin looked hurt for a moment. “Fine.”
“Just like I didn’t have to explain to Michael why I went after you when I’m always telling him never to go after anyone.”
The words had been spoken in a softer tone than the others and gave Justin pause. After staring at the other man for a moment, he asked, “Why did you come after me?”
Brian took a deep breath, looking off down the alley as though the words he was looking for could be found there. When he finally turned to face Justin, his expression was more open than Justin had ever seen him. “Because I wanted to,” he said quietly. “You’re right; what’s happening to you right now sucks and for some reason, I hate the idea of you going through it alone.”
Justin was surprised by the words, but pleasantly so. “You do, huh?” he prodded with a hint of a smile.
Brian shrugged half-heartedly, though he was trying to hide his own smile. “Pretty fucking pathetic, right?”
Justin’s expression sobered as he closed the distance between them. Reaching up, he gently kissed the other man’s lips. “Wrong,” he whispered. “It’s probably the least pathetic thing anyone has ever said to me.”
The obvious sincerity in the blue eyes embarrassed Brian even more than his uncharacteristic admission had. “Do you think we could get out of the fucking alley now?” he asked, the words coming out slightly harsher than he’d intended.
Justin huffed a small laugh as he took a step backward, giving the other man his space. “Sure, we can get out of the alley.” His expression turned hard as he continued. “But I’m not going back there. I appreciate Michael’s mom offering to put me up, but it’s not worth having to listen to his shit.”
“Did you have another destination in mind, Sunshine?” Brian asked, quirking one eyebrow.
Justin smiled slightly at the nickname only Brian used. “No place special,” he said softly.
Brian parked his tongue firmly in his cheek. “I could change that.”
After a moment, the blond nodded. “Yeah, I bet you could.”
There was no sign of anyone watching Brian’s building when they arrived and they were able to get into the loft without encountering anyone.
“I’ve got to take Tony’s car back,” Brian said, having already explained the reason behind him having it on the drive over. “You’ll have to stay here in case they’re still looking for you.”
“Fine,” Justin agreed dismally, settling down on one end of the sofa with his head in his hands.
Brian studied the younger man for a moment. “Are you OK? Do you need a pain pill?”
Justin shook his head and but didn’t raise it. “I don’t think that’s going to help.”
Taking as seat beside the blond on the sofa, Brian took a deep breath. “Look, I know it looks bad right now, but it can only get better, right? Once they find out you didn’t have anything to do with the stabbing, you can go back to … doing whatever you want to do.”
Justin looked up. “Back to being a whore, you mean.”
Holding the blue-eyed man’s gaze steadily, Brian replied. “Don’t put words in my mouth. What you do when this is over is up to you.”
“Except it’s never really over,” Justin said sadly. “Did you know my mother died five years ago in a car accident?”
Brian had read the story in the local paper. “Yeah,” he said quietly.
Justin nodded. “Mom and Dad had gone to a benefit in New York. They’d planned on making a week of it, taking in some shows, seeing the sites.”
Brian remained silent, sensing the other man’s need to talk.
“While they were gone, I ended up winning some stupid art contest at school. Mom was the one who always encouraged my art; I couldn’t wait to tell her. When I called with my news, she insisted on coming home for the assembly so she could see me accept my award. Dad didn’t seem to think it was a big deal if they missed it, but Mom insisted. They ended up arguing about it and in the end, she rented a car and started driving back by herself. I only know what happened because I overheard Dad telling someone else after the funeral. To this day, he’s never talked to me about it.” He was silent for a moment as the painful memories came forth. “It was such a freak accident. Some 18-wheeler lost a tire and it went through her windshield, killed her instantly.” He turned to look at Brian. “He could barely look at me afterward. I know it was because I look so much like my mom, but it still hurt, you know?”
Brian nodded, unable to say anything of comfort.
“I kept thinking that once he’d dealt with the grief, he’d slowly come around and we’d be a family again. Instead, he immersed himself in his work and I just got pushed further and further into the background.” He barked a wry laugh. “Shit, if it weren’t for finding out I was gay, he probably would have forgotten about me completely.”
Brian couldn’t help thinking about his own childhood and wishing his father could have forgotten his presence once in a while.
“During the years after mom died, I knew we were growing more distant, but I thought once I was old enough, he’d stop thinking of me as a kid and we’d be able to relate to one another as adults. Instead, he found out I was gay and kicked me out. Then it was about making ends meet until he came to accept that I was still his son.” He was silent for a moment before looking up at Brian with sad blue eyes. “I’m tired of waiting it out, Brian. He was never going to be the father I needed after mom died, he was never going to accept that I was gay and now he’s never going to give up trying to make me pay for humiliating him. It’s time I stopped kidding myself.”
Brian thought about all the young man had said. “First,” he finally offered. “I’m sorry he wasn’t there for you after what happened with your mom, but you don’t have to live your life waiting for him to accept you. If he can’t, that’s his loss. As for what’s going on now, he’s the one in the wrong here. He may think you humiliated him, but he’s doing more harm to his own reputation than you ever could just by being gay.”
Justin allowed a wan smile. “I wish he saw it that way.”
“Fuck ‘im,” Brian said. He waited in silence to see if Justin would say more. When he didn’t, he got to his feet. “I’ve got to get to the gym. Do you need anything while I’m out?”
Justin shook his head.
“When I get back, we can order something to eat and talk about where to go from here, OK?”
The smile he got in response was a combination of gratitude and relief. “Ok.”
There was no sign of the detectives’ car when he returned to the gym and Brian wondered if they’d been called off in light of Dr. Malcolm’s statement. He hoped so. Justin could use a break right about then. He was headed back to the loft when his cell phone rang.
“Kinney,” he answered.
“What do you want, Mikey?” Brian sighed.
“Did you find him?”
“Do you care?”
“A Detective Horvath was here. I guess someone told him I was with you last night and he tracked me to Ma’s.”
“What did you tell him?” Brian asked, concerned.
Michael sighed. “I told him I was with you when you took Justin back to your place and I hadn’t seen him since he took off this morning. Jesus, Brian, did you think I’d turn the kid in?”
Feeling slightly guilty for thinking just that, Brian paused for a moment. “No,” he murmured. “Not really.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Michael intoned. “So, is he with you or not?”
Brian didn’t want Michael to have to lie if he was asked again. “No,” he answered truthfully. “Look, Mikey, I’ve got to go. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Want to meet at the diner for breakfast?”
“I don’t know,” Brian replied. “Depends on how I’m feeling in the morning.”
“Oh,” Michael responded, obviously disappointed. “Brian, about before, I …”
“Yeah,” Brian said when words seemed to fail his friend. “I know. Bye, Mikey.”
Brian disconnected the call and returned the phone to his pocket. He wasn’t really angry with Michael, not anymore, but he was still a little … hurt, he finally acknowledged. He wasn’t helping Justin because he thought he could get a fuck out of it. If that was all he wanted, he could get that anywhere with a lot less trouble than he’d been going through the last few days. Of course, he did still want to fuck Justin, but that was no longer his lone goal. He wasn’t sure exactly what it was he wanted, but he was starting to accept that it was more than just a one night stand. The question was, did Justin feel the same way?
He only hoped he’d get the chance to find out once the current nightmare was over.
When he arrived back at the loft, it was to find Justin in the same spot on the sofa where he’d left him. “You are free to move about the premises, you know,” he said, trying to elicit a smile.
The one he got was a far cry from the one he’d hoped for. “Yeah,” Justin replied. “I know.”
Brian went to the fridge for two bottles of water, handing one to Justin as he joined him on the sofa. “You hungry?”
Justin shook his head as he opened the bottle. After a long drink, he leaned back with a sigh. “I just want this all to be over.”
“I know,” Brian commiserated. “But if you starve to death in the meantime, it might detract a little from the victory.”
“My father would finally be happy,” Justin retorted wryly.
“If I thought either one of us cared about his happiness at this point, that might make more of an impact,” Brian pointed out with a raised eyebrow.
Justin was quiet for a moment. “What if he dies, Brian?”
“Wyatt,” Justin elaborated. “It’s bad enough they think I stabbed him, but if he dies…”
The blond shuddered and Brian instinctively reached for him, pulling him close. “He’s not going to die,” he assured the smaller man, hoping he was telling the truth. “And we both know you didn’t stab anyone. It’s only a matter of time before the police know it, too.”
Justin allowed himself a moment to draw comfort from the strong arms around him before pulling back slightly to look into Brian’s eyes. “Do I have to talk to them today?” he asked quietly.
There was fear and sadness in the blue eyes, but it was the hint of desperation that most touched Brian. “No,” he replied, matching his tone to that of the blond. “Not today.”
Relief flitted across Justin’s boyish features before being replaced by a touch of uncertainty. “This could be my last night as a free man,” he whispered.
Brian swallowed. “Did you have something special in mind?”
Smiling shyly, Justin reached up to brush his lips against those of the other man. “More like someone special.”
As luck would have it, the phone rang. “Hold that thought,” Brian whispered hoarsely. With much reluctance, he released the blond beauty he held in his arms and went to retrieve the phone from the island. “Yeah,” he answered impatiently.
“Mr. Kinney, Detective Horvath here.”
Brian glanced at Justin. “Detective Horvath. What can I do for you?”
Upon hearing the words, Justin got to his feet, looking expectantly at Brian.
“I’m afraid the news isn’t good,” the detective began to explain. “We were able to question the victim when he woke from surgery.”
“And?” Brian pressed.
“He identified Justin Taylor as his attacker.”
“Fuck,” Brian breathed. That made two so-called witnesses, one of whom was the fucking victim. “What does this mean?”
Horvath sighed. “As much as I hate it, we’re going to have to book him on suspicion of assault with intent to kill.”
Brian closed his eyes against the words.
“Yeah,” he said in a tired voice. “I’m here. You know this is all bullshit, right?”
“That’s not my call to make,” the detective replied. “If you know where Mr. Taylor is, it’s in your best interest to tell me.”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Brian let out a long breath. “I need some time,” he said. “I don’t want to tell him this over the phone.” He hoped that the detective would assume that meant Justin was somewhere other than the loft.
“I understand,” Horvath answered. “Explain to him that it will be better if he comes in on his own.”
“I’ll do that,” Brian replied grimly. “Thanks.”
“What is it?” Justin asked once Brian had disconnected the call.
He didn’t reply until he was standing directly in front of the smaller man. “It’s Wyatt.”
“Oh, my God,” Justin exclaimed. “He’s dead isn’t he? Fuck, Brian! What am I going to do?”
“Calm down, for starters,” Brian said, placing both hands on Justin’s shoulders. “He’s not dead. He’s out of surgery and he’s going to be fine.”
Relief flashed over Justin’s features only to be replaced almost immediately by concern. “What, then?”
“The police questioned him and he named you as his attacker.”
“Fuck,” Justin said, unwittingly mimicking Brian’s reaction. “That makes things worse, doesn’t it?”
“Let’s just say they expect an alleged assailant to lie, but a victim usually doesn’t have reason to.”
“And in this case, they’re both lying,” Justin lamented, running a hand through his hair. “And I’m fucked.”
“Not yet,” Brian tried to reassure him.
Justin shot him an incredulous look and Brian elaborated. “That’s two witnesses who say you did it. Ok, one of them is the victim and that’s not good, but there were a lot more people who saw you after you’d been attacked last night. If we can get them to swear to that, it should help tip the odds in your favour.”
“You think Stockwell’s going to listen to a bunch of fags?” Justin asked. “You know how he feels about us, Brian, he’d just as soon we were all dead.”
“But we’re not,” Brian reminded him firmly. “And even Stockwell can’t dismiss us if we stick together.”
Justin took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. “Ok, what do we do first?”
“*We* don’t do anything,” Brian answered. “You can’t leave this loft, do you understand me? They’ve already searched here once. I’m going down to Liberty to round up what witnesses I can. You lock the door behind me and don’t open it for anyone but me, got it? Not Mikey, not the cops, no one.”
Justin nodded after a brief hesitation.
“And don’t answer the phone,” Brian added. “Let the machine get it. If it’s me, pick up, otherwise, let whoever it is leave a message.”
“Ok,” Justin agreed in a small voice.
Brian cupped his cheek gently. “I won’t let you down,” he said quietly. “If I have to drag ever queen on Liberty Avenue down to the station myself, I’ll do it.”
Justin tried for a smile, but failed miserably. “I know,” he said instead. “Thanks.”
Kissing him on the forehead, Brian whispered. “You can thank me properly when this is all over.”
He couldn’t help a small smile that time. “Deal,” he whispered, slipping his arms around the other man’s waist as though afraid to let him go.
Brian returned the embrace for a moment, knowing that the blond needed to know that he wasn’t alone in everything that was happening. When at last he reluctantly pulled away, he kissed Justin’s lips gently. “I have to go,” he said. “Remember what I told you.”
“Don’t answer the door or the phone,” Justin said glumly. “I got it.”
“I’ll bring something to eat when I come back,” Brian promised. “Help yourself to whatever’s here, but I warn you, it’s not much.”
“I’ll be fine,” Justin assured him. “I might take a shower though, if you don’t mind.”
Brian had to chase the thought of a naked, wet Justin from his mind before he could reply. “Sure. I’ve got clean t-shirts in the second drawer, sweats in the third. Everything else you need is in the bathroom. I’ve got a supply of toothbrushes in the cabinet under the sink.”
Justin smirked slightly, but nodded. “Ok, thanks.”
Knowing any further conversation would fall under the heading of stalling, Brian took a deep breath and headed for the door. Justin followed and locked it behind him just as he’d been instructed. Leaning against the cool metal, he looked at the empty loft and briefly wondered if art school was worth what he was currently going through. With a shake of his head, he tried to dispel the doubts and headed for the bathroom.
Feeling marginally better after a long shower, Justin was pulling on a clean t-shirt and sweats when someone started banging on the loft door. Holding his breath, he remained silent, hoping whoever it was would eventually give up and leave.
Any colour he had in his face disappeared when he heard the voice calling to him from the other side of the heavy, metal door.
Continue to Chapter Nine