Love is a Sickness by Willameana

A year after Justin moved to New York Brian met someone else. Justin's life was no fairytale after that, until he started dating another man. Things might not be as good as Justin claims it to be. 

Categories: QAF US Characters: Ben Bruckner, Blake Wyzecki, Brian Kinney, Daphne Chanders, Debbie Novotny, Emmett Honeycutt, Gus Marcus-Peterson, James 'Hunter' Montgomery, Jennifer Taylor, Jenny Rebecca Marcus-Peterson, Justin Taylor, Lindsay Peterson, Melanie Marcus, Michael Novotny, Molly Taylor, Original Character, Original Female Character, Original Male Character
Tags: Abuse/Child Abuse, Brian/Other, Justin/Other, Mental Health Issues, Non-Consent, Post-series, Vulnerable Justin
Genres: Hurt/Comfort
Pairings: Brian/Justin, Brian/Other, Emmett/Other, Justin/Other, Melanie/Lindsay, Michael/Ben, Ted/Blake
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 8 Completed: No Word count: 15328 Read: 2370 Published: Jul 16, 2023 Updated: Feb 22, 2024
Story Notes:

DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

1. Chapter 1 by Willameana

2. Chapter 2 by Willameana

3. Chapter 3 by Willameana

4. Chapter 4 by Willameana

5. Chapter 5 by Willameana

6. Chapter 6 by Willameana

7. Chapter 7 by Willameana

8. Chapter 8 by Willameana

Chapter 1 by Willameana
Author's Notes:

TW- Starts with the a memory of a rape.





It was like one day he was a whole person with dreams, love and wants. Then the next he was a shell of his former self. The hospital had seemed so cold, and the people looked so bored. How could a life altering thing for him just be another Tuesday for them? It wasn’t like he didn’t know bad things happened; he’d been bashed in the head at prom. Working for Sap, best not talked about. He’d been in a building when it was blown up. Said yes to the man he loved only to move away. A year after he left for New York Brian came to see him. Told him that he met someone. His heart broke but he had realized he was a steppingstone for Brian. Something that he needed to get to where he’s going.

Six months later he got an invitation to Brian and Ozzy’s wedding. He sent a present and told them that he was happy for them but unable to attend. The weekend of the wedding he stayed in and drank himself into a stupor. Then one day he was walking home and grabbed. The man attacked him from behind, he didn’t see his face, but he believed he had a mask on. Justin had fought like his life depended on it, but the man was too strong. He was hit in the head after the assault and woke up in the hospital.

It doesn’t matter how kind the doctor and nurse try to be, the rape kit feels like another assault. Even though everything is said with gentle words and caring smiles, you’re dead inside by then. After Brian broke up with him, he changed his emergency contact to one of his roommates, Steve.

Instead of walking or taking the subway, Steve shelled out for a taxi. That meant he was trying to be nice because Steve was as tightfisted as Scrooge.

Unlike what he thought, life didn’t end, it just went on. He listened to the doctor and got a therapist, one that specialized in male sexual assault survivors. He even joined a support group but stopped going a few meetings in.

The city started to have awful memories, but he couldn’t go back to Pittsburgh. Running into Brian and his happy life, his already broken heart couldn’t take that. When a guy he knew said he was going to travel across the world for a year, Justin asked to tag along.

Somewhere along the way, he fell in love with Jake. Before they were just casual friends. Jake was bi so he had only actually seen him with women before. But the man was so caring and nice to him. So, when they were in Brazil, they kissed for the first time. Then what followed was the first time he had sex since his assault. Jake had been so gentle and sweet.

A few months later they got married. He had invited all his friends in Pittsburgh. Only his mom, sister and Daphne came. His mom broke the news that Brian and Ozzy were in the process of adoption. The man who told Justin over and over again he wouldn’t get married, and Gus would be his only child. He wanted Brian to be happy, but he had to admit it hurt. He thought he meant more to everyone that they would at least try to show up. When they didn’t, he decided a clean break was enough. He told his mom and Daphne that he didn’t want to know how anyone of them was doing unless someone died.

Jake brought up moving away from New York. Knowing that his rapist was somewhere in the city terrified him. The police were unable to find him and said that the man’s DNA wasn’t in their system. He knew they wouldn’t find him; it was like he was assaulted by a phantom.

They moved to Nantucket and had an amazing life. He painted and worked in the local art gallery. Jake was a pilot; he had been getting his commercial license when they met. Two years in they decided to expand their family. They started the process of adoption. Mark Taylor-Barnes came into their lives like a hurricane. He was seven at the time. He was followed by several foster children but finally they welcomed Emma Jean Taylor-Barnes, age ten. That was their perfect family. It had been ten years since he moved away from Pittsburgh. Ten years ago, he thought this life was impossible but now he was happier than he ever thought possible.

Then he got the call this morning from his mom. Carl had died while putting up Christmas lights that morning. Massive heart attack, dead before he hit the floor. Debbie was absolutely devastated. After a talk with Jake, it was decided Justin would take the kids to Pittsburgh. Jake would meet them there the day after Christmas. Being a pilot on an island he was always busy, more so during the holidays. That left Justin and his kids visiting people he hadn’t seen in nine years. His mom and Daphne had kept their word, they didn’t tell him anything of anyone’s lives.

Once they landed in Pittsburgh, he started to doubt himself. Maybe Debbie wouldn’t want him there. He told his mom he wanted a clean break, so he didn’t want her or Daphne to give his address or anything about him. He had just been so hurt about his wedding. No one even sent a card. For Brian’s wedding he sent them a painting he had done of Brian and Ozzy, even though it killed him inside. He used a photograph to do it. He hadn’t even gotten a thank you.

He picked up the car he rented, and they were on their way. “Dad, Emma’s hungry,” Mark told him.

They couldn’t be more like twins if they were. There were only three days in between their birthdays. They still had a few months until Emma’s adoption would be final, but her caseworker was confident that it was all but a sure thing. But because she wasn’t ‘official’ she felt out of place sometimes. She was so nervous about the trip she had clammed up. Which is why Mark would be speaking for her.

“We’ll stop at the diner,” he told them. Maybe he could find out from someone there how Debbie was doing before he went over.

Liberty Avenue hadn’t changed much. The Delight had turned into a quick cash place but everything else looked the same. His children followed closely behind him. He stopped dead in his tracks as he entered.

There at the usual table sat Brian, still beautiful and almost completely untouched by time. There was a teenage boy sitting opposite him, one that was his spitting image. Justin couldn’t believe that Gus was so grown now.

Brian hadn’t looked up; he was looking at something on his phone. Justin walked past; he knew the exact moment Brian noticed him. Even after all these years he could feel Brian’s eyes.

He directed his kids into a booth a few tables down. Instead of facing Brian, he made sure his back was to the man. A young man with a trim beard came over.

“Don’t think I’ve ever seen you here before. I’m Josh and I’ll be your server. What can I get you to drink?” he asked cheerily, putting the menus on the table.

“Three waters, please.”

“Sure thing, coming up. I’ll be back to get your orders soon.”

He opened the menu and looked everything over. The menu hadn’t changed and that was unfortunate.

“Can I have a hamburger?” Emma asked quietly.

“Yes, do you want fries?” he asked. She nodded and smiled. Usually, she wasn’t so quiet, but she was out of her element here. She’d been in the foster care system since she was two. With Mark, they were his first placement. He had a good childhood, but his mom was single and no known father or family that would take him. His mother had an undiagnosed heart condition and she died in her sleep. Mark was the one that found her. Emma’s mother had a drug problem. After two unsuccessful tries to get her back with her mom, the woman overdosed. Again, no known father and no one wanted to take her in.

“I’m going to get a BLT with onion rings,” Mark said.

“That sounds good,” he said.

“You can’t have any, Papa would be mad,” Mark said.

He was quite aware of that, but he didn’t want his kids to get an eating complex. When they were adopting Mark, he put on about fifteen pounds. Jake had told him it was getting difficult for him to be attracted to him with the extra weight. Justin started dieting and now weighs less than he did when he was seventeen. He wanted to work out and get some muscle, but Jake said he wasn’t attracted to men who had big muscles. Justin didn’t think even with all the work he would get big muscles but that was inconsequential to Jake. It was funny, Jake was a walking, talking billboard for muscleheads.

When Josh came back, he ordered the kids food and didn’t get anything for himself. He hardly ever got hungry anymore anyway.

“Mind if we join?”

He was so lost in his thoughts he hadn’t noticed Brian and Gus coming up to the table.

“Brian,” he said, a little breathlessly if he had to admit. He could still get lost in those eyes. He shook his head; they were both married men. “Sure,” he said, getting the kids to let him in so he could sit next to the wall. They were still little enough they made up enough room as one adult. First Brian slid in then Gus sat down.

“What are you doing back?” Brian asked. He looked unbothered about whatever would be said, but he always looked like that.

“Mom told me about Carl. I wanted to be here for Debbie.”

“Really? Don’t show your face here for nine years and now you want to be here for her?”

“Not in front of my children, please,” he begged.

Brian looked at the two worried faces and seemed to lose his tension. “Right.”

Josh dropped their food off. “Emma,” he said. She had started eating fast, it broke his heart because her doing this meant she was unable to eat before. Either there wasn’t enough, or it was taken away too fast.

“Sorry, Dad,” she said.

“Where’s your lunch?” Brian asked.

“Not that hungry,” he answered.

“Papa said that Dad isn’t allowed to eat junk food,” Mark said as he put a fry in his mouth.

Justin saw Brian clench is jaw. “That’s not true. I’m trying to eat healthier, that’s all.”

“You’re not eating anything at all,” Gus said. Guess he really was a chip off the old block.

“As I said, I’m not very hungry. How is Debbie doing?” he asked, changing subjects.

“She just lost her husband, so not great. When are you leaving?”

“After Christmas.”

“Two weeks? Bet the husband doesn’t like that.”

That annoyed Justin, Brian didn’t know anything about Jake.

“He’s fine. He’s a pilot so he’s working through the holidays. He took the week off after Christmas so he’s meeting us here the day after Christmas. What about Ozzy?”

Brian’s eyes darkened. “It was a mistake, thankfully one I realized before we brought children into it.”

Justin nodded. It would have been cruel to adopt children just for their world to implode again. They had to jump through so many hoops just so they knew they weren’t going to split up.

“Anyone else?” Justin asked, actually sad that Brian wasn’t happily married any longer.

“Dad doesn’t believe in marriage anymore,” Gus answered for him, shoveling his own fries in his mouth.

“We’re going over Deb’s after we eat. You can join us if you want,” Brian said ignoring what his son had said.

“Thanks, I hate to admit it, but I’m worried to see everyone again.”

“Why did you cut all of us off?”

It was something he considered after his rape, but he couldn’t let go of the only family he had. But it was only after everyone ignored his invites that he cut them off. He made sure his mom and Daphne never said a word to them about how upset he was about them not coming.

“Thought you all had moved on, seemed the thing to do.”

“It wasn’t, you don’t just disappear never to be heard from again.”

“It was time for a change.”

Brian didn’t look happy with that answer but didn’t say anything else. After the kids finished eating, they got up to leave. Justin thought it was rich that Brian got onto him about not eating but all he had was a black coffee.

The walk to Debbie’s was mostly quiet, his heart was thundering in his chest. Deb had meant so much to him, like a second mom and he just cut her out of his life. It was just too painful to him but what about them? He had been so selfish, only thinking of himself and how much it hurt him.

There were several cars on the curb when they arrived. There was an ache in his heart because he hadn’t let himself miss it here. He hadn’t been back to the Pitts since Brian had ended it. The memory of being in his crappy apartment as Brian asked if he was going to be alright. He lied and told him yeah. After all the breakup he had realized it was the only time that Brian had actually broken up with him. Sure, he had left him after his bashing because his mother asked him too, that lasted a full week. Then there was when Justin found out about Brian’s cancer. But Justin didn’t allow Brian to push him away. Had Brian felt like that every time he ended it? It tore at his heart.



Chapter 2 by Willameana




Brian could tell Justin was nervous to walk into Deb’s, as he should be. Just because they broke up didn’t mean that he should have cut himself off from the rest of them, like none of them meant a damn to him. The first year he sent birthday presents for Gus and JR but then he kept making excuses not to visit. Not even the Pope was as busy as Justin claimed to be. That was still preferable to a little later after everyone heard he was getting married the radio silence that followed. Brian didn’t blame him for not giving him an invite but Deb, Emmett and Ted? What the hell was his problem? Too good for the Pitts anymore probably.

Jennifer had told them that Justin had his reasons, and it wasn’t her place to tell them. The blond little fucker broke Deb’s heart. Brian would understand if he wanted to be his own man and get some distance but just never to contact them again. Not only that forbidding Jennifer from even saying his name to them. Brian hadn’t even known Justin had kids, the girl was quiet, and the boy was being very protective of her.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Justin muttered.

What did he think would happen after abandoning everyone for nine years? Brian had noticed that Justin’s sunshine smile was noticeably lacking. Not that Carl’s death is a barrel of laughs, but Justin always tried to find the best in a situation. Overall, Justin just seemed different, just not like his Justin. Brian knew Justin had to grow up some time, but he didn’t think Justin would change so completely.

“Never knew you to be scared of Debbie, just power through Sunshine.”

Justin grabbed the knob and turned. Unlike the usual madness at Deb’s, it was a somber place. Just inside was Michael, Ben, Hunter and his girlfriend Lily. Lily was cleaning the table in the kitchen; Hunter was fixing a bookshelf that Carl had been promising to get to for months. Ben was on the couch pouring over Deb’s bills and Carl’s life insurance policy. Michael was just staring at them with his jaw dropped.

“What the fuck is he doing here?” Michael demanded.

There was a whimper from the little girl, her brother put his arm around her. “Christ, Mikey, didn’t anyone teach you any manners? He came to pay his respects, let him. And watch your mouth around the little ones.” He included Gus in that, he had never seen Mikey really get mad before.

“I don’t want to stay where I’m not wanted but I wanted to be here for Deb.”

“That’s a decade too late,” Michael sneered. Michael had been hurt just as much as the rest of them. He kept trying to reach out about the comic until finally he got a letter from Justin telling him that he no longer wanted anything to do with anyone from that part of his life.

“Sunshine?” Debbie’s raw voice said from the stairs. She had barely been out of bed since leaving the hospital.

“Deb, I’m so sorry about Carl,” Justin said, stepping towards the stairs before he was stopped by the look on Deb’s face.

“Why? You haven’t been here. Why are you sorry about Carl keeling over? Where the fuck have you been?” She was two seconds from losing it and breaking down on the stairs.

“I-I’m flawed.” Was all that Justin said. Debbie looked at him for a moment longer before her eyes went to the two huddled children with Gus standing protectively near them.

“Who are these dolls?” she asked, her voice was still strained.

“These are my children; Mark and Emma.”

“Oh, Sunshine has little Sunshines. They’re just beautiful, bring them in the kitchen I’ll make them something to eat.”

“Deb, stop, we’ve already eaten. We didn’t come for food; we came for you.”

“I like your hair.” For a moment Brian had no clue who talked before he realized it was Emma. She was looking at Lily with awe in her eyes. Lily was a shade taller than Hunter with pale skin and several tattoos. Her hair was dyed pink this month and shaved at the sides.

“Aww, thank you. I like your hair too. I would love to have your curls,” Lily told Emma. Emma was a tiny girl with a full head of curly black hair.

“Dad says I can go get it professionally done whenever I want.”

“Well, that’s sounds great. I would love if my dad could take me to get my hair done,” Lily said with a sad smile.

“Where is your dad?” Emma asked. The whole room was intent on the little conversation between the two girls.

“He died a long time ago.”

“My mom did too. Then I stayed with a lot of people until I came to live with Dad and Papa.”

“Do you like it?” Lily asked.

“Dad is funny, he makes pancakes with designs on them. He’s an artist, did you know?”

“I didn’t know but that’s great. I do a little drawing too. Me and Michael have a comic book called Cotidie Morimur.”

“What’s it about?”

“Umm…a very sad villain.”

“Why’d you write a comic about a villain? Comics are supposed to be about heroes,” Mark said.

“Villains weren’t always villains,” she said simply.

Michael refused to ask to buy out Justin’s rights to Rage. Said it wouldn’t be the same without him. So, Mikey asked a girl that frequented his shop and showed him her work, if she wanted to do a comic. She was thrilled. That was how Hunter and Lily met. The new comic didn’t have the magic that Rage did, but it had a small following and made them happy.

“She’s just so adorable,” Debbie said to Justin.

“That she is, she’s a fighter too,” Justin said smiling down at both children.

“Dad, I’m bored,” Gus whined. Gus was a great kid but being a teen brought out a level of selfishness.

“Are you ready to go back to your moms?” Brian asked.

“No, it’s boring there too. Mama just wants me to study all the time. I’m not gonna be a lawyer, I’m gonna run Kinnetik.”

“When the hell do you think you’re doing that? You make C’s and D’s, the only class you’re acing is gym.”

“Aww, Dad, do you have to talk about that here?”

“I’m on the A honor roll,” Mark spoke up.

“I’m on the AB honor roll,” Emma added.

“If I was in grade school I could make those grades.”

“Because you’re like old,” Mark said.

“Old? I’m not old. I’m a teenager.”

The littles looked at him suspiciously. “Where’s your girlfriend?” Mark asked.

“I don’t have one.”

“Where’s your boyfriend?” Emma asked.

“I don’t have one, I’m not gay.”

“Where’s your car?” Mark asked.

“I’m only fifteen. I’ll get one next year.” Not likely unless he gets a job to pay for it.

“Where’s your friends?” Emma asked.

“They’re doing stuff with their families.”

Mark shook his head. “No girlfriend. No car. No friends. No A’s or B’s. No life.” Mark looked at Emma. “It’s sad really, he doesn’t even know.”

“You just got roasted by two toddlers,” Hunter said to Gus laughing his ass off.

“We’re not toddlers, we’re ten,” Emma said. Gone was the quiet little girl and in her place was a lesbian in the making.

Brian watched Justin look at Emma with a big smile, not his usual but still there. Before he could say anything more, Justin’s phone started to ring.

“I’ve got to get this,” Justin said. “Can I leave them in here for a moment?”

“Go on, we’re enjoying the show,” Ben said.

Justin went out the door and after a moment, Brian followed him. Justin was walking around the house.

“Of course, he’s here, this is where he lives.” Justin groaned. “Your children are fine in case you want to know…I’m just tired, I didn’t mean to snap. I’m sorry…I was thinking asking if I could stay at Mom’s with the kids…They don’t like hotels…What do you think I’m going to do if I’m at my Mom’s? What? Why would I sleep with Brian? Just calm down…Jake…Please…Don’t do anything rash…No, I didn’t mean to tell you what to do, I wouldn’t…Alright, I’ll stay at a hotel with the kids…You should have seen Emma, she’s coming out of her shell. She only just met them, and the kids totally roasted Brian’s son Gus…What? I can’t leave now, I just got here…Look, I’m here for Deb, I can’t do that in a hotel waiting for you to get here…It’s almost two weeks away…No, I didn’t mean it like that…I do thank you for letting us come here, I know you didn’t have to…Hey, I got to go…Deb is waving me over, alright…bye, I love you.”

Brian wondered if the man knew his husband was lying his ass off. Let him come? That wasn’t the Justin he knew. The Justin Taylor that didn’t do anything that anyone told him to do even if it was for his own good. That Justin faced off with Chris Hobbs at seventeen. That Justin told his father who he was and didn’t back down. That Justin was bashed in the head and didn’t give up. That Justin was a fighter. This Justin was a stranger to Brian.

There was a gasp, Brian hadn’t realized that Justin turned around. “Did you hear all that?” he asked.

“Yeah. What the fuck Justin?”

“He’s just worried I’m going to cheat on him.”

“Have you before?” Not that it mattered. Just what Brian heard of Justin’s responses the guy was a tool.

“Yes. Not physically but emotionally and he said that was worse. After us, I knew it was true. You didn’t care who I fucked; it was me falling for Ethan that hurt. I had hurt Jake and I need to make up for that.”

“You didn’t even fuck the guy and you’re getting blamed for it? Who was it?”

“A guy who vacations on Nantucket, he was nice and sweet. But Jake assumed it was because Malik was rich, Malik is rich but that had nothing to do with it. Want to know a secret?”

Brian wasn’t sure he wanted to know but nothing could stop him. “Sure.”

“I was going to run away with him.”

“Really? What stopped you?”

“We got the call about Mark. I realized that I was being stupid, throwing away a great relationship for a summer sort of romance. I was twenty-seven for Christ’s sake.”

Brian decided to ignore all that for the time being and ask what’s been on his mind for a long time.

“Can you tell me why you didn’t invite anyone to your wedding? Deb had wanted to go so much and watch her Sunshine get married.”

Justin scowled at him. “What are you talking about? I invited all of you. I even invited you and your husband. None of you even sent a card or a call.”

“What are you talking about? None of us got any invite.”

“That’s impossible, I sent them with…” Justin’s shoulders hunched, and he sat down on Deb’s lawn chair.


“The pilot who flies the mail plane is unreliable. Because of that I gave all the invites to Jake to take to the mainland. Everyone else got their invites. I know you wouldn’t lie so that only leaves one way it happened.”

“Your husband to be at the time trashed any invite that had our names on it. I’m guessing he knew all of our names, right?”

Justin nodded. “I would tell him stories about the best time in my life…minus the bashing and explosion.” Brian winced at the casual mention of both horrifying times.

“That’s some controlling behavior he’s expressing,” Brian said.

“Why did you and Ozzy break up?” Justin asked, changing the subject. Anger filled him like it always did when Ozzy’s name was mentioned.

“Let’s just say he wasn’t who he said he was and leave it at that.”

Chapter 3 by Willameana




The kids were settled in bed and already asleep. It had been a long day, the flight, the diner and then meeting everyone at Deb’s. It was hard on Justin to see them again and it wasn’t even all of them. His phone pinged, telling him he had a text. It was from Brian, Justin had foolishly given his number to everyone or gave permission to give it out to the others.

Brian- Sunshine, get your ass ready we’re going to Babylon.

Justin- Did you forget I have kids? Kids I’m responsible for?

Mom- I already told Brian I’m on my way to watch my grandbabies.

It was then Justin noticed it was a group chat.

Justin- Mom, I don’t want to put you out.

Mom- It’s not putting me out. You should be staying at my place, but Jake wouldn’t like that.

His mom hated Jake with a passion, Tucker too. Anytime they visited it would just turn into an argument between the three with Molly joining at points if she came along. Justin thought Jake hated Molly more than he did his mom. His mom usually kept her mouth shut because of how she was raised. Molly Helen Taylor had no sort of filter.

Daphne- Please, Jus, I haven’t been out dancing since I got married. He’s no fun, he won’t go to Babylon. I think he’s too scared he’ll like it.

Justin- I can’t believe you brought my mother and Daphne into this.

Brian- Hey, they are the ones that begged me to set up something. You haven’t been home in nine years. I’m being nice and letting you have the V.I.P. room with bottle service. No waiting at the bar for you.

Molly- No way in hell am I turning down bottle service, especially if Brian is paying.

Justin- Not you too.

Molly- I’m bringing my friend Dirk; he’s never been and just dipping his toe into the gay pool.

Emmett- My God, honeybun, I’ve been waiting forever to see your little friend. Aunty Em will keep all the big, bad leather daddies away from him.

Molly- Maybe don’t, he does love leather.

Ted- Please God let me be home in bed when this all happens.

Blake- Sorry, we’re going too. It’s been forever since we’ve been out, not since Erika and Jasmine.

Justin- Who are Erika and Jasmine?

Ted- Our daughters, biologically Blake’s nieces, his sister was unable to care for them.

Justin- Oh, I didn’t know.

Brian- How would you? You cut all of us off.

Justin- Don’t start this again. Look, thanks for inviting me out but I just can’t go out tonight.

Hunter- If you don’t these idiots will never shut up. Just do it.

Lily- It’ll be fun. We’re coming.

Mel- We would have loved to, but someone didn’t invite us.

Brian- It’s not dyke night, I should have done away with the whole damn thing.

Lindsay- But Lily, Daphne and Molly are going.

Ted- They are not lesbians.

Hunter- Lily’s bi just like me.

Brian- No one cares about your quasi homosexual tendencies.

Mom- I just pulled up to the hotel. You had better be dressed to go out when I get up there. Wear something tight.

Justin- MOM! It’s not like I’m looking to hook up.

Mom- Well, you just never know. 😉

Brian- EVERYONE SHUT UP! If you come tonight not only is the V.I.P. room and bottle service on the house, I’ll send out for food. All paid for by me.

Justin- I’m not that hungry. Thanks for inviting me but really, I can’t go.

Brian- Everyone but Justin get out of the group.

Justin watched as one by one everyone left the group. He had noticed Ben and Michael were noticeably not in it. Once everyone was gone Justin waited for whatever Brian was going to do.

Brian- Alright, Sunshine, I tried talking to you, I tried being nice, but this shit needs to end. Was Michael ever scared to go out without Ben?

Justin- No.

Brian- Was Ted every worried about going out without Blake for fear of upsetting him?

Justin- No.

Justin noticed Brian hadn’t said anything about their previous relationship.

Brian- You have to see that this isn’t right. I’m not trying to end your relationship. Fuck, all I want is for you to come and have fun with us for one night. Your own mother is watching the kids, can’t get a better sitter than that.

Justin- I’ll go if you tell me what really happened with Ozzy?

It was lowdown asking using blackmail, but Justin was so curious.

Brian- If you come out, I’ll tell you in person. It’s not something to say over the text.


Justin thought his mom was a little too excited for him to go to a gay club she used to hate. She had also brought a shirt that was so tight it looked painted on. It was when she said if he got too tired and just wanted to sleep at the loft, that was fine with her. Suspicious, very suspicious. If he didn’t know any better, he would think his mom was trying to set him up with his ex. She knew Justin was married; sure it was a little strained right now but the adoption process does that.

The bouncer only waived Justin in, he didn’t recognize him. There was a huge line, longer than he ever remembered. Justin had only been to the club once after Brian put it back together. Only barely did Justin remember where the V.I.P. room was, but before he could make his way he was grabbed roughly.

“What the fuck are you doing here?”

The voice was so aggressive and angry that he cowered into himself. “What?” Justin got out before he was smacked to the ground. Before he could even think of what was happening two bouncers grabbed the stranger and pulled him away.

People were looking at him, it was awkward, no one should be seeing that. The man had looked familiar, but Justin couldn’t place him. Then it hit him, much like the man had, that was Brian’s husband…ex-husband. He looked so different from the picture that Justin used to make the painting of the two of them. That man was well put together, his black hair cut in a professional do. His clothes had looked just as expensive as Brian’s. Ozzy was also Brian’s age, not a dumb kid chasing after him. But the man who just hit him had long unkempt hair and looked to be wearing castoffs from the Big Q.

One of the bouncers quickly came back. “This way Mr. Taylor.”

“Taylor-Barnes,” Justin said automatically.

“Sorry, this way Mr. Taylor-Barnes. Most of your party has already arrived.” The bouncer opened a door and inside was a huge room with couches, tables, a small bar of its own, all in rich colors of burgundy and charcoal gray.

“BABY!” Emmett pulled him into a bone-crushing hug.

“Let the man breathe, Honeycutt.” Emmett glared at Brian for a moment before looking back at Justin.

“I’ve missed you so much. Brian told us that our invites got lost in the mail. All of this over a misunderstanding. I can’t believe it. Well, we’re not letting you go now.”

“Hey Justin,” an unfamiliar voice said.

Looking towards the back of the room he was greeted with a ghost from his past. What was he doing there?

“Eric, what are you doing here?”

“You know Eric? That’s great. He’s been one of the gang for what? The last six years,” Emmett said happily.

“How do you know him?” Brian asked Justin.

Eric answered instead. “I gave my virginity to him, and he ripped my heart out. Sent me on a spiral where I started drinking and sleeping around and then finally crawled myself out.”

“Bullshit. You did those things to yourself. Just admit it, you were a pussy who couldn’t get over a fuck in a club,” Brian bitched.

“It wasn’t in a club. It was a party that Daphne invited me to.”

Justin saw things clicking in place for Brian. It was funny, somethings Brian would never remember but if he was wronged, he would never forget. There was a look of betrayal in Brian’s eyes all these years later. He knew it happened then; Justin didn’t have to confirm it.

There was a knock at the door and Michael and Ben came in. Michael looked disturbed. “What was Ozzy doing?”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Brian asked.

“I just saw one of your bouncers talking to a cop, Ozzy was in cuffs.”

“Shit,” Brian cursed.

“That might be because of me,” Justin told them. “I don’t know why but he hit me after recognizing me. The bouncers were fast and took him away.”

“Fucking asshole,” Brian cursed before walking out the door.

“What’s going on?” Justin asked the group.

There were a bunch of knowing looks passed between everyone, even Hunter’s girlfriend. How was she in the know and Justin wasn’t? He didn’t even want to think about Eric being a part of the group and knowing things he didn’t.

Lindsay and Mel chose that moment to come in. “We just saw Brian going off on Ozzy while cops were there. What the hell did he do to bring Rage live and in color?”

“Apparently the idiot ex decided to hit Justin,” Lily said.

“Why would Brian care?” Sure, when they were together Brian would get bothered by it. But that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Maybe it was because Brian didn’t want any violence in his club, that made sense.

“You really have no idea, do you?” Michael asked, incredulous.

“Apparently not. Why don’t you tell me.”

“It’s not even worth it,” Michael said, shaking his head.

It was followed by an awkward silence until Brian came back. He looked a little bothered but pasted on his usual smirk. The one that said nothing can bother him, the one Justin knew was bullshit. Even after all these years he could read Brian. That made Justin wonder if Brian could still do the same.

“Why aren’t we drinking?” Brian asked, going to the small bar and pouring him a shot.

“I was promised food,” Hunter said.

“I promised Justin food.” Hunter pulled out his phone and cleared his throat. “Fucking fine. Order what you want, and I’ll cover the bills. You’re all a bunch of mooches and I despise you. And you better eat,” Brian said pointing an angry finger at Justin. Justin wanted to scream. He was so fucking tired of people telling him what to do. Eat this. Don’t eat this. Do you really need that? You need to gain weight. You need to lose weight. But like always, Justin just bit his lip, if he was forced to eat he would take care of it when he got back to the hotel. Wouldn’t be the first time he purged.

Brian sat two shots in front of Justin. “What the hell,” Justin said downing them both in rapid succession.

Chapter 4 by Willameana
Author's Notes:

Tw- Mentions of SA




“So, tell us how you met Jake,” Lindsay asked. They were all sitting on the sofas and stuffing their faces with either pizza or Thai food, except for Molly and Dirk who were taking care of a bucket of the Colonel’s best by themselves.

Brian noticed how giggly and easygoing Justin was now that he was drunk, like he usually got. “We were friends. He helped me after I got attacked. He was my knight in shining armor,” Justin said, giggling. Brian paused…Justin was attacked? How did he not know? He thought Jennifer would have told him if something like that happened.

“What do you mean attacked?” Molly asked, her voice was light, but her eyes were narrowed on her brother. She didn’t want Justin to clam up.

“My little sister is all grown now. Isn’t she cute? Dirk don’t you want to marry her?”

There was laughter. “I don’t think she’s his type, Sunshine,” Brian said.

“You’ve said that a lot tonight. Am I really? Am I really still your Sunshine?”

Brian thought about saying something cutting but looking at Justin’s eyes, so full of hope at that moment, he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“You’ll always be my Sunshine,” Brian said. He ignored the pitiful looks everyone was giving him. He knew them well because it took a year after everything went to hell with Ozzy before they stopped looking at him like a damn kicked puppy. “Get back to your story. How did you get together with Mr. Perfect?”

“I wanted to get out of New York, hated being scared to go anywhere.” Another giggle. “Jake offered me an escape and I took it. It wasn’t until we were almost done with our year away that I told him I was in love with him. He was so gentle; he didn’t push me. He didn’t want me to think of that day. It was beautiful.” Justin’s eyes were closed like he was remembering something amazing.

“What happened in New York? What attack?” Molly asked. Brian wanted her to let it go but she was too much like her big brother. Justin would never want to be this exposed in front of people he hadn’t seen in nine years and some one-night hookup.

“I was leaving work; it was really late. Bartending at a local dive bar. I got jumped on the way home. At first I thought he just wanted my wallet. I was wrong. What happened with Ozzy? You promised to tell me,” Justin sing songed.”

“That’s not really a conversation for here,” Lindsay said uncomfortably. They all still wanted to protect him.

Another giggle from Justin, it was getting strange. Justin was a funny drunk unless he was already depressed. But he’s never been so out of touch with reality while drinking. It occurred to him that Justin had taken a plate of food, but he hadn’t actually seen him eat. Where was the food going? Did not eating cause this reaction?

“You want me to tell you about my rape, but you don’t want to tell me about your divorce.” Justin said, he was giggling but it turned into tears. Shit, that was what Brian was scared about when Justin said he was attacked. Brian had only once felt the rage he was now, the moment the bat connected with Justin’s head.

Justin just ripped open his soul and let all the ugliness spill out on the floor. No one knew about Justin’s attack, mostly a guess from Daphne’s tears and Molly’s shocked face. Everyone here knew about what happened with Brian and Ozzy except Justin. How could he not tell him after what Justin did.

“Ozzy wasn’t who he said he was…literally. He lied about everything. I forgot.”

“You forgot what?” Justin asked, looking more sober than he did before Brian started talking.

“That marriage is only lies and pain. I’m done with playing that game. Now tell me more about Jake,” Brian said.

“When gay marriage was legalized, Jake said it would be foolish to get married when we weren’t sure it wasn’t going to be overturned. Because of that, I adopted Mark as a single parent, and I’m adopting Emma as a single parent. Jake refused to do more than make sure we had alright money coming in. He could have gotten more; he was offered a job as a pilot for the U.S. Government, but he had to get a really high clearance. It was the fingerprinting and running his DNA in a background check that he balked at. I think he’s hiding something; I think my husband may have killed someone.”

While everyone looked at Justin in shock, he started laughing hysterically.

“Why are you laughing?” Mel asked, looking unsure.

“I married an ax murderer.”

“Alright Sunshine, time to stop drinking. Come on, I’ll take you back to your hotel.”

“NO! You promised I could dance. I haven’t danced.” With that, Justin got up and ran out the door and went so fast down the stairs it was a miracle he didn’t fall.

“I can’t ignore what I just heard,” Eric said uneasily. Eric was a police officer; he had been close with Carl. Carl’s death had been hard on him. Now finding out that Eric was Justin’s virgin college kid, Brian felt a little less sympathetic to him.

“I don’t think Justin was being serious, he’s drunk and having issues with his husband. Just let it go.”

“He’s right, Eric. Justin is drunk, no detective will take his drunken ramble as truth,” Mel told him.

“Ummm…Brian, you may want to get your boy,” Emmett said, looking out onto the dance floor.

“First, he’s not my boy.” Justin hadn’t been his boy in a decade. “Second, what’s happening?”

“He’s being taken to the back room by two creeps,” Blake said.

Shit, finding out about Justin’s rape just before he’s taken advantage of in his club. Just as he reached the stairs, he saw Dev, his head of security grabbing the creeps and throwing them out. As Brian watched that happen he lost track of Justin. This was a fucking disaster.

“Anyone see where Justin went?” he asked his friends.

“He’s bartending,” Hunter said sounding like he was trying to not laugh.

Looking over at the main bar, Brian saw Justin. He was making drinks much to the exasperation of Daniel and Kai who were trying to bartend but a drunk was getting in their way. “I’ve seen Justin drunk many times; this isn’t like him.”

“He’s acting like he’s high,” Ted said.

That’s when it clicked, it was exactly like when Justin was high. He was always a fucking insane jackrabbit when high. Who the fuck gave him drugs and when? This was Justin on E; he had seen it many fucking times. “Who gave Justin E?” he demanded.

“Sorry, I thought he needed to loosen up,” Molly’s little friend Dirk said with a shrug. Brian hated the kid; he would have hoped Molly was better at picking friends.

“Well, I can’t take him back to his kids like this. Call your mom and tell her I’ve taken Justin to the loft because your little friend is a moron,” Brian told Molly.

“You might want to hurry, someone is reliving his glory days,” Michael said, shaking his head with a slight smile on his face.

Brian looked up and Justin was already half undressed on the bar. “Shit.”

When he got to Justin, the blond was off the bar now and talking to a man. No, they weren’t talking, they were arguing.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing? What’s next, selling yourself?”

“What do you even care?” Justin asked, trying to get away but the man had a firm grasp of his arm.

“Get your hands off my clientele or I’ll be forced to have you escorted out,” Brian said to the man towering over Justin.

“What are you doing here? Why are you in Pittsburgh? You have no family here and your wife and kids are in Newport. So, what the hell is going on?” Justin demanded from the man, totally ignoring Brian’s interference. “It’s Christmas time, you should be with your family, not here doing Jake’s bidding. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

“He’s my best friend and I always knew you were bad news. You’ve been here one day and you’re up to your old tricks.”

“Never old, always new,” Justin said through gritted teeth. Brian smiled remembering saying the same thing years ago. This was his Justin, not the mouse he had seen earlier. This Justin was strong, opinionated and a fucking twat. Brian was so glad to see he wasn’t gone forever.

“I knew it, you’re cheating on Jake. He should have never forgiven you for that man.”

“I’m really fucking tired of best friends and their unhealthy attachments to my partners. Michael I could at least understand, he wanted Brian for himself as a partner or at least one tumble in bed. But you, you’re straight. I never got this attachment you have to Jake so much that you want me away from him to have him all to yourself. It’s weird, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Freya thinks it’s weird too, you really have no idea how close you are to divorce do you? But sure, jump every time he says jump. What the hell does he have on you?”

Brian watched the other man tense up. Whatever Justin’s husband had on him; it was big.

“Nothing that he can say, he knows if he tells I do too. I’ll end up with a fine and maybe community service. He’ll spend the rest of his life in prison.”

What the hell had Justin gotten himself into?

“What does that mean?” Brian asked the man as he stood behind him so he couldn’t run. Looking at Justin he saw he was staring at the man with horror.

“Let’s just say Jake used to love taking walks at night.”

“And?” Justin pushed.

“That’s all I’m saying, if I let everything be known, Jake will do the same with me and I would prefer that didn’t happen.”

“Get the fuck out of my club, you’re banned.”

It was quiet for a while. Justin just stared at the bar looking lost in thought.

“What’s wrong?” Brian asked.

“He still goes for walks at night. I just assumed it was because of the pressure of being a pilot. But it’s not like he flies some huge 747, he flies a small commuter plane. He could be making so much more flying with the government. He always talks about being stagnant in that airline. He could have been so much more important, like he always wanted.” Justin turned and looked at Brian. “Then why did he refuse them his DNA?”

“I don’t have to answer that, you already know. I think you have for a long time. You’ve been looking for a way to get out, you just can’t admit it to yourself. After me and Ian, you couldn’t have another relationship fail. So instead of listening to your instincts, you pushed them deep down and convinced yourself things were alright when they weren’t. When was the first time he hit you?”

Justin started to look around desperately. Brian knew that look; he had worn it himself the first time Debbie asked him about his dad hitting him. He denied it but she knew, they all knew. Just like they all could see Justin was a shadow of his former self. But for the first time today, Brian saw that the Justin he had known was still there. He had just been hiding to save himself.

“Come back to the loft, I think you’ve been wanting to talk for a very long time now.”

After a few moments’ hesitation, Justin agreed and followed him out of the club. Everyone else could take care of themselves, they had free booze and food. As they made their way to his car, he noticed Justin was pretty sober now and trying to hide the tears falling down his face.

“Tell me what really happened with Ozzy,” Justin said.

“It makes me feel like the biggest idiot, falling for his shit. I’ll tell you but you’re never to mention it again, with me or anyone else.”

Justin nodded, trying to secretly wipe his eyes. “Promise.”

“He’s a con artist. His usual targets were old men close to death. He would take them for all they had and leave them destitute and alone. He purposely picked men without families. When I met him Gus was still in Canada. I thought he was just like me, he said all the right words, and acted like he had money. It was what he had left over from his last mark. He got 5 million from me before I realized what was happening. It took Ted to show me what was really happening. He said he was taking care of all the adoption stuff, I just needed to pay a fee here and there. I mistakenly gave him access to my personal accounts. I was such a fool.”

“No, you didn’t want to be alone. Trust me, I know that feeling. Why isn’t he in jail?”

“I told him if he gave me back my money I wouldn’t prosecute him. I just wanted him out of my life. He tried to run but I had him, he gave me 3 million back, I took the loss.”

“Why was he yelling at me and hit me?” Justin asked.

“Fucking Micheal. He let Ozzy know he was just a substitution for you. If you think you and Michael didn’t get along in the beginning you have no clue. Micheal was snarky to you; he was downright vicious with Ozzy. He kept telling me to tell you it was a mistake, but I fucking couldn’t admit I was wrong. Not until I realized what Ozzy was doing. I went to New York, looking for you but your roommate said you were out with a date, I was coming to ask you to marry me, if you turned me down then I’d know it was truly over.”

“I never went on a date until Jake and that wasn’t for a long time. Which roommate told you I was on a date?”

“Fuck, it’s been so long. I think his name was Caleb.”

“Caleb wasn’t a roommate, he’s Jake’s brother.”

“Was Jake a roommate too?”

“Yeah, but only for a few months. A guy left and Jake took over his part of the rent. He was just killing time before his yearlong trip.”

“Something is off there,” Brian said.

“When we started talking about adopting,” Justin said quietly. “That was the first time he actually hit me. He’d come close a lot and pushed me several times. One time he forced me to shave my head because he said it made me look like a girl. It was because guys were hitting on me.”

“That’s fucking stupid, you’re hot as hell with short hair.”

“Not short, bald.”

“Fuck. He was testing what he could do and what your reaction would be. How far he could go before you left.”

“I thought he wanted the kids as much as I did. When he refused to do anything to adopt them with me, I knew it was a fantasy I made up in my head. He hates to share, and I guess he didn’t want to share my attention. But I had already met Mark and loved him already.”

“You have to know a man who doesn’t want children and gets them forced upon him, if he already violent he will hurt your children.”

Justin shook his head. “No, I make sure he’s never alone with them. He’s fine with it, he says he’s not a babysitter anyway. If I’m not there they have a sitter.”

“Are you listening to yourself? You know you can’t trust your children with your husband. I expected better from you,” Brian said, exasperated.

“I can’t leave him.”


“He told me he would kill me and the kids if I ever tried to leave.”

“That’s it, I’m calling the cops. Then we’re going to pick your kids up and take them to the house in West Virginia. After I ended it with Ozzy I had it set up like a fucking fortress.”

“How did I ever get into this mess? He used to be so caring and sweet. After I was attacked, he even stopped using his favorite cologne for me.”


“Because it was the same kind my attacker wore.”  




Chapter 5 by Willameana



Brian had done what he promised, the next morning he had taken Justin to make a statement, just to have a record of it, then they picked up the kids. Mark and Emma were confused about why they were going to a new house.

Justin had to call Emma’s caseworker, he feared she would take her, ending the adoption process. But she said as long as he doesn’t get back with Jake, since Jake wasn’t on any of the paperwork there wasn’t a problem. She did say that she would snatch Emma back so fast that his head would spin if he got back with Jake. Emma had made such strides and loved being with Justin, it was the only reason the woman was pulling her now.

The kids weren’t as upset as he thought they would be when he told them they weren’t going back. He found out that Jake scared both of them when he yelled at Justin. He thought he covered all that better than he had.

Brian had insisted on getting him his own divorce lawyer, apparently the woman was a shark. Even Mel didn’t like going up against her.

The kids were in awe when they got to Britin. They couldn’t believe there was a pool. Justin had to point out it was winter, and they couldn’t swim, the pool was frozen over.

The fear that Jake would come and kill them was still there. Justin had no doubt that Jake was capable of it. A few times during sex, he would wrap his hands around Justin’s throat. Unlike when Brian did it, he was really scared for his life. A few times his vision had blurred because of the lack of oxygen.

“Why don’t you have a tree?” Mark asked Brian.

It was a few days after they came to stay with Brian and his kids were settling in nicely.

“I don’t need a tree.”

“But it’s Christmas,” Emma said.

Emma had been the biggest shock. She was blossoming around everyone. Just yesterday Lily took Emma and Mark out to get clothes. Brian had hired one of his bouncers to go with them. Justin had no idea what Jake had on Ross to make him do his bidding, just like he didn’t know what Ross had on Jake.

“I don’t participate in such activities.”

“Come on Brian, this will be our first Christmas with Emma,” Justin said, he also liked Christmas. He had a tree up at home with homemade and school made ornaments on it. He hoped he would be able to get his stuff back.

“Fine, I guess we can get a tree if it means that much to you,” Brian said with a sigh. Justin knew that Brian would give in, he was more caring than he let most believe.

“Why don’t you two put your shoes on and I’ll take you out to lunch,” Justin told the kids.

“You’re not going anywhere,” Brian said, looking at him like he lost his mind.


Brian looked at the kids. “Why don’t you two go play for a little while?”

“Play? Do you think we’re five or something?” Mark asked.

“Mark just go put your shoes on,” Justin told him.

Once both kids were upstairs in their respective rooms, Justin rounded on Brian.

“Listen, I didn’t trade one prison for another and neither did my kids. You told me that we can be free here to do as we please. I am taking my kids out for lunch and don’t even think about hiring a bodyguard.”

“What if I go with you?”

“No Brian. It’s been a long time since I’ve needed a babysitter and if memory serves you were never that good of one.”

“You were never a kid when I knew you. A dumb young man with too much bravado and too little common sense but never a kid.” Justin fought the smile that threatened to come out. He had always assumed that Brian had thought of him as a kid, at least in those first few years.

“Brian, I can’t live my life scared of everything. I lived more years than I can count like that. Most of all I don’t want to raise my kids like that. I’m a parent now, I can’t hide away forever.”

“Fine. But don’t come crying to me when you slay all your demons and need something else to do.”

This time Justin did smile, Brian was always like that. It was like he wanted to be supportive but didn’t want you to know that he was being supportive. He failed at it though…every single time.


Brian had something that he couldn’t let go. Jake and Justin’s attacker wearing the same cologne could be a coincidence but was it? Justin had already knew Jake when he was attacked. It just seemed too much for Justin to get attacked then Jake “saving” him by taking him on a trip.

He needed to see if he could get Jake’s DNA and find a way to get the NYPD to run it. Money usually was the answer, Carl had told him once the reason there was such a backlog of rape kits is because they didn’t have money. Justin had actually been lucky because they did run his, but unfortunately there was no match. But if he got Jake’s to run against it he would bet that it would be a match.

Against his best judgement, he didn’t call Justin for the rest of the day. Sunshine was right, he was a grown man with a family of his own. But that didn’t mean that Brian wouldn’t help make both Justin and his kids safe.

But first he had to go get a fucking Christmas tree and buy some ornaments. The last time he had a Christmas tree he had been at home with his parents. It wasn’t like Christmas there was happy, but his mother was all about how things looked.

His first stop was the Christmas tree lot, he found the biggest and best, a ten-foot-tall Balsam Fir. It had a spicy smell to it, he liked that. If he was doing this he would get the best. He had paid the men to deliver it later in the day. Then he headed off to get the decorations.

The place he had found was hell on earth. It was packed, making him start to get a headache. A child of about three wondered in front of him and then toddled off. Looking around he didn’t see a parent. Not being able to just leave the child alone where anything could happen to him, he followed the boy until he saw a man wearing a horrible Christmas sweater with a name badge saying James with Manager under it.

“Excuse me,” he said to the man.

“How can I help you, good sir?” the man said cheerily in a bad fake British accent.

Brian went against his nature and didn’t call the man out. “That kid, it doesn’t look like he’s got a parent, I think he’s wondered off from them.”

The man looked over to where Brian was pointing. The toddler had found a toy train that was under one of the many fake Christmas trees around the huge Christmas store. The manager looked around, like Brian he saw no one paying attention to the boy.

“Umm…I’m not really sure what to do,” the manager said.

“Maybe make an announcement over the loudspeaker,” Brian said, annoyed.

“Look, I’m not the manager, I’m not even James. He wanted to duck out of work early. But since he’s the manager he can’t. He said all I have to do is wave and point people in the direction they wanted.”

Brian cursed. “You can’t be the only one working here right now.”

“No but I’m the one that’s been here the longest. We’re only a seasonal store, we only opened a month ago.”

Brian looked back at the kid, knowing he was going to regret this decision. He just knew as soon as he picked the kid up some woman was going to scream that he was kidnapping her kid.

“Never fucking mind, go back to waving or whatever.” He stomped over to the tree and got down on his knees. He would have delouse himself after being around all the people and germy kids in the store.

“Hi,” he said to the little boy.

The kid looked at him. Red hair, a face full of freckles and a very faint handprint on his cheek. The boy’s face was so small it took up most of the side but unless you were this close you couldn’t even tell.

“Shit,” he said, pulling out his phone and calling the police.



End Notes:

Sorry for taking so long. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Chapter 6 by Willameana




Not trusting the fake manager, Brian stayed with the little boy until the police arrived.

“Hey, Bri, little young for you ain’t he?”

Brian inwardly cursed. “Officer Daniels, didn’t know you’d be gracing us with your glorious presence.” Ken Daniels was Eric’s first partner on the job. He was a homophobic prick that made Eric’s life hell until Carl put Eric with Dana, an older but kind woman who has been trying to set Eric up with her son since meeting him. The few times Brian had the displeasure of meeting Ken, the ass was always talking like Brian was some sort of child molester. He didn’t know why but he suspected Ken had been around the time he had been questioned when he was wrongly accused of child molestation by his horrible nephew and bitch of a sister.

“Sorry, Eric is out getting his dress cleaned. You’ll just have to put up with me. So, what’s going on?”

As much as he hated Daniels it wasn’t about him. “I found this boy wondering around alone. We’ve been in the same place right here by this tree for almost an hour, no one has come looking. Not only that, look at his face, he’s got a fading handprint on the left side.”

Daniels knelt down, getting eye level with the boy. He was standing now, trying to hide behind Brian.

“My name is Officer Daniels, but you can call me anything you want,” Daniels said, his voice gentle. Brian almost asked if that was an open invitation. He had some names he’d like to call the man. “Do you know your mom or dad’s names?”

The boy shook his head, his shoulder length red hair falling in his eyes.

“Can you tell me your name?”

Another head shake. “I don’t know,” the boy said quietly. When he spoke, Brian thought he was wrong on the age, the boy sounded older than three, maybe four almost five.

“Is there anything you can tell me?” Daniels asked. As much of a prick the man was, he was gentle and patient with the boy.

“Ms. Anna.”

“Who is Ms. Anna?” Daniels asked.

“She’s my worker.”

“Your worker?” Daniels asked. “Do you mean your social worker?”

The boy’s eyes lightened some. “Yes. Can you call her? I don’t want to go back.”

Daniels looked up at Brian, they both could pretty much piece some of the story together. Either he had abusive parents or abusive foster parents.

“You want to ride in a police car? I’ll turn the lights on if you want,” Daniels said.

The boy shook his head frantically. “I don’t want to be arrested. I’m sorry.”

Brian then bent back down, looking the boy in the eye. “He’s not arresting you; you did nothing wrong. He needs to go back to the police station so they can call Ms. Anna. Will you tell us your name?”

“A-Adam,” the boy said slowly.

“And your last name?” Daniels asked.



Justin couldn’t wait until he was back at Brian’s. He had first taken the kids to the Diner. Then they visited his mom who had been ecstatic that he was leaving Jake for good. She had offered to go to Nantucket with Tucker to collect his things. Even Tucker had been happy that he had left Jake. It was weird when he was there, it all made sense for him to stay. But now he didn’t know why he stayed so long. He wasn’t in love with Jake anymore, if he ever even was, maybe it was just settling like Daphne had told him once. He had been so angry with her he had stopped talking to her for months.

That was until Jake broke his jaw and he ended up having to reach out to her because his jaw was wired shut and could only eat through a straw and to punish him for making him angry Jake had thrown out his blender and his food processor. Daphne had come over and stayed for two weeks, using some of her very little time off to help him. Jake had been very angry but would never do anything while Daphne was there. That had been before he adopted Mark. It had been incredibly selfish of him to bring a child let alone two into that house. He just hoped with time they forgave him. His only peace of mind was they got out before Jake started taking his anger out on them.

It was late, almost the kids’ bedtime by the time he pulled in the driveway. He would have to ask his mom if her or Tucker, maybe even Molly could take his car by ferry off the island. It was in his name, there was nothing Jake could do to keep it. When they got married Jake made sure he signed a prenup, anything they bring into the marriage they take out. He didn’t know why Jake would want to keep a fifteen-year-old sedan anyway.

“We’re hungry,” Mark whined as Justin ushered them inside, the snow started to come down on the drive from Pittsburgh. They were calling for record breaking snowfall in the next few hours. Justin noticed Brian’s car wasn’t in the garage when he parked. He hoped he would get back soon.

“I’ll make you a sandwich, do you want PB&J or ham?”

“PB but no J,” Mark said.

“Ham,” Emma said at the same time.

“Do you want cheese?”

She nodded. “Blue cheese please.”

“With ham?” The thought turned his stomach.


Thankfully, he knew Brian had blue cheese in the fridge. “Alright, go get into your pajamas and come back down, I’ll have your food ready by then.”

“Alright,” Mark said before they left the kitchen. A moment later a shout came, “DAD! COME LOOK!”

Justin was worried something was wrong, so he rushed into the living room where he heard the kids’ voices. His jaw dropped at the scene. There was a tree that had to be at least ten-feet tall, it was beautifully decorated. Over the fireplace were five stockings. Brian, Justin, Gus, Mark, and Emma. There was a little Santa’s village figurine set laid out on the piano top. Brian had outdone himself.

“Dad look we have stockings,” Emma said. Justin could tell she was trying not to cry. This would be her first year with him, her first year knowing she was with family that will always be there for her, at least he hoped she knew that.

“We’ll have to thank Brian in the morning. Hurry and change so you can eat and get to bed. It’s been a long day and we’re all tired.”

There were grumbles but they went on their way. They were good kids; both had some behavioral issues, but they were dealt with as they went. He would have to get them new doctors here. They both saw a child psychologist to help deal with the traumas in their lives.

Justin had known Brian would give in about the tree but had no clue he would go this far. It was beautiful and something Brian would never do when they were together. When they broke up it was because Brian was changing and giving things up for Justin. But now it was more natural, it was like Brian wasn’t forcing himself to be someone, just evolving on his own. Justin likes to think he’d evolved too but maybe not for the better.

Shaking his head, he went about making the kids’ sandwiches and after they all ate the kids went to watch a movie before bed. The later it got the more snow piled up outside and the more worried Justin became. He had tried to call Brian several times with no answer. He refused to call the others mostly because he didn’t want them to worry. Brian was probably at Babylon and decided to stay at the loft.


Brian couldn’t be happier that Michael and Ben had kept up with their fostering. If they hadn’t, Adam would have had to go to a new place and Brian wouldn’t know what happened to him. Right at this moment he was settling in at Michael and Ben’s as an emergency placement. They had moved a few miles away from Brian’s house, wanting to be out of the city. At the police station they found out that Adam had wondered away from his new foster home after his father found him. His father, none other than Pittsburgh’s number one homophobe. The man’s rights had been terminated for abuse and neglect. They had tried several times to make it work with Hobbs, but the last chance was a few months ago. Hobbs had gotten drunk and forgot where he had left the boy. When he was found he was freezing and hadn’t eaten in days. They had an extra cold October this year.

The fading bruise on his face was from Hobbs trying to kidnap the boy after his rights were terminated. He had found his newest foster home and tried to take him. Adam had run and hid but Hobbs found him, pulled him out of his hidey hole and hit him. The foster mother, a single woman with two other foster children hit Hobbs over the head with a broom. The police had come and taken him away. He was out on bail until his newest trial date. But sadly, just like in the past, his parents were just paying his way out of trouble.

The boy’s mother had run off and there was no other family besides Hobbs and his parents. His parents had refused to take the boy because then he wouldn’t be allowed in their home, they picked their psychotic son over their innocent grandson.

Brian knew the fear that Adam was going through, at least some of it. He never got taken away from his father, now he wasn’t sure if that was a blessing or not. His life had been horrible, but it could have been worse. In the morning he would go about finding out what he needed to do to become a foster parent. He was already in luck that Adam was a resident of West Virginia, barely, Hobbs lived just over the state line but still it was a good thing. Adam’s foster family had been visiting relatives when he wondered off, they hadn’t even cared to look for him.

The snow was making driving home a bitch. He wished he still had his jeep; it could drive through anything. After an antagonizing drive home, he was finally pulling into his driveway. He could see the Christmas tree lights from the window. He was glad that Lily hadn’t been busy, he had her meet the tree guys and she went shopping for the decorations. It cost a small fortune, but he hoped it was what Justin wanted.

Chapter 7 by Willameana




“I’m really sorry Mr. Kinney but we can’t let you foster Adam. Your history with his father, it’s a risk so we can’t let that happen. If you still want to foster, we would love for you to join the foster care program.”

Brian had listened to the rat-faced man at children services. Seriously? They put Adam with a family that didn’t care to look for him when a four-year old disappeared. He could have been kidnapped and they wouldn’t have known until his dead body washed up out of the Allegheny River.

“I would never hurt Adam because of his father,” Brian said, trying to keep his cool.

“I understand that Mr. Kinney but it’s just our protocol, we don’t let people with conflict foster non-relative children.”

“So, if I was his cousin I’d be less likely to abuse his son?”

“Again, I’m sorry sir but it is our rules. If you would like to take classes to become a foster to other children in the system, it would be appreciated. There are many children in need of loving homes to live while they are waiting for reunification with their parents or adoption.”

Brian was about to tell the man to shove it, but he thought maybe they would change their minds if he did do the classes, background checks and home visits.

“Thank you,” he said before shaking the man’s hand. As he left the office he wiped his hand on his pants because the man’s hands were disgustingly sweaty.

On the drive back to his own office he wondered if he was thinking about what was best for Adam or himself. Michael and Ben were good for an emergency placement, but they weren’t doing well enough to take control of a four-year-old. Jenny Rebecca was living full time with them because she and Mel didn’t get on. JR was like Michael and Mel couldn’t handle that. JR wasn’t an A student; she was a C student at best. She didn’t have the ambition that Mel had but she was a damn good computer hacker, she was the one that he went to any time he had a question about his online security at work. She had taught herself it all and had only just turned thirteen.

Because of the constant fighting with Mel, she went to live with Michael and Ben, something Michael had to go to court for. The two parents were just now getting back to their pre-custody battle relationship. But having a teen girl with some major mommy issues, they couldn’t take a little boy in for long.

He would do the classes and try again. Maybe he should hire a PI to find the boy’s mom. Fostering was just a temporary solution; he needed his mother. Brian had no use for his but couldn’t blame Adam’s from running out, she just should have taken her kid with her. But knowing Chris and his parents she would have lost any custody battle. The boy was only four and had the cards stacked against him.

When Brian got back to the house he found both of Justin’s kids in the living room with the tree. They were lying on their backs under it, looking up from the bottom. He had used to do that as a kid, at least when his dad wasn’t around.

“Enjoying yourselves?” he asked as he sat down, opening his laptop. He was going to start filling out the foster parent paperwork, this was just the beginning, it was a whole big process. He had Ted looking for a PI to hire.

“Yep,” Mark said.

“Have a good day at work?” Emma asked.

Something was fishy in the state of Denmark. “What are you two up to?”

“Us? Nothing.” This from Mark.

“Oh, heavens to Betsy no.”

Sure, he thought to himself. “Where’s your father?”

The two wiggled out from under the tree, sat up and looked at him. Their faces were covered in glitter. Their clothes were covered in glitter. That’s when he noticed his floor was covered in glitter.

“Why does it look like a go-go boy exploded in here?”

“What’s a go-go boy?” Emma asked.

“Ask your father.” Justin was going to kill him for that one. But right now, he didn’t care, his floor was covered.

“We were making art. Dad says it’s good to express yourself,” Mark added.

“As long as it doesn’t express itself all over my floor.” They were just like their father. He thought his art could be done anywhere at his own whim. It took a year before he put down a tarp regularly.

“What is all this yelling about?” Justin asked coming down the stairs. He was dressed like he was going out. He had black pants that hugged his ass just right and a blue button up shirt that brought out his eyes.

“Your children destroyed my floor. Just look at it.”

“It’s glitter, it’ll clean up.”

“It will take ages for it to all be cleaned. Hetty will not think you for this.” Hetty was his cleaning woman.

“The kids will clean it up, just relax. If you’re trying to foster a four-year old you need to get used to a little mess.”

“They won’t let me.”

“Why not?”

Brian hadn’t told him about Adam being Chris’s son. Justin already had so much on his plate. He was gearing up to get Jake completely out of his life. He was still scared the man would show up, after all his friend did. Brian had questions that Justin wouldn’t answer like what he had on the friend.

“I don’t really know. I just hope Michael and Ben are able to keep her a while. I’m going to hire a PI to find the mother.”

“Wow, you really do care about the little guy. You have such a good heart; I wish you’d let more see it.” He then looked at the kids. “When we get back I want you to clean all this up.”

“Yes, Dad,” they both said.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m dropping the kids off at Emmett’s and then I am going on a D.A.T.E.”

“We can spell. Who are you going on a date with?” Emma asked.

“Yeah, who?” Brian asked. He didn’t know Justin was putting himself out there again.

“Calm down. I’m just doing this to get my mom out of my hair. Since I came back she’s been in my ear to meet one of Tucker’s colleagues. A history teacher at the school he works at. He’s even older than you,” Justin teased Brian. Brian didn’t think it was that funny.

“How old is this guy?”

“Forty-eight but Brian, I’m no longer a seventeen-year-old kid. I’m older than you when we met, by more years than I’d like to say. Free dinner and I get to watch my mom squirm. How can I say no?”

“Why would your mom squirm?”

“It’s a double date. She hasn’t see me on a date, so she’s going to need some pearls to clutch.”

“You’re purposely going just to make your mom uncomfortable?”

“Ummm, yeah. Come on kids, get in the car, lets go.”

It was Christmas eve tomorrow, but Justin wasn’t going to make it because if the science teacher or whatever the fuck didn’t kill him his mom would.


Chapter 8 by Willameana
Author's Notes:

TW- implied torture, mentions  of SA. This is a dark chapter. Nothing is in graphic detail, I don't do that but it is very clear what is going on. So be warned.




Brian woke up to his cell phone ringing, grabbing it from beside his bed, he answered. “Who the fuck is calling this early?”

“Brian, it’s Emmett. I need you to come get the kids. Justin hasn’t come back to pick them up and I’m going to miss my flight. There won’t be another flight that I’ll be able to get until after Christmas if I miss this one.”

“Alright, I’m on my way, if you need to leave now just leave them at the diner. I know Debbie always works a double on Christmas eve. I’ll call her and let her know.”

“Thanks, Brian. I could kill Justin; he hasn’t even called.”


“He hasn’t called. He didn’t even call me to tell me that he was staying out all night.”

“Have you talked to Jennifer?”

“Yeah, she said she hasn’t seen him. She had to cancel on him because Tucker got sick. Last she heard from Justin he was headed for the date.”

“I’ve got to go but leave the kids at the diner.”

After he hung up with Emmett he called Deb to let her know about the kids coming, she was excited and planning their huge breakfast already. Then he called Jennifer.

“Brian?” she answered curiously.

“I need you to have Tucker call his friend and make sure that Justin is with him or at least spent the night with him.”

“Why? It’s really none of my business.”

“Justin didn’t call Emmett to let him know that he wasn’t coming home. I’ve watched those kids, Justin checks on them every hour on the hour.”

“I’ll call you right back.”

He got in his car and headed towards Pittsburgh, he couldn’t explain it, but he had a horrible feeling in his gut. Justin adored those kids; he would never just not call. The only time he didn’t was when he was high out of his mind and Brian kept him company. But even then Jennifer knew she would probably be keeping them overnight. He was halfway to the city when his phone rang again.

“Yes?” he answered.

“Niles, Tucker’s friend said Justin never showed up last night.”

“Call Eric, I’ll be there soon.”

It had been hours since they realized Justin was missing. He had been missing since the night before and it was noon now. Emmett had wanted to cancel his trip, but Brian knew Justin would feel guilty, so he told him to just go. Eric had done a missing persons report but said since he was an adult, and it was this early there really wasn’t much they could do.

Ted, Hunter, Lily, and Blake were hitting all the places around Pittsburgh that Justin could be at. Debbie was beside herself with worry. Jennifer had the kids and was instructed by Brian not to tell them Justin was missing. It was Christmas Eve; they didn’t need to be worried if there was no reason. Ben was calling all the local hospitals and the ones further out. Adam was also with Jennifer because Brian was just one more piece of bad news away from losing it, so he needed Michael.

Because of Adam, Brian had Eric check to see if Chris could have gotten Justin. Their past was public knowledge, and he worried the social worker might have told Hobbs about him trying to foster Adam. Hobbs was arrested the day before on a DUI charge, he was in lock up when Justin disappeared. That only really left one suspect in Brian’s book…Jake.

According to Eric, Jake was still in Nantucket, with a rock-solid alibi, he was in the police station being questioned for something. They wouldn’t tell Eric what.

“Maybe it just got too much for Justin, the kids, Jake and everything else and he just took off,” Eric said.

“He wouldn’t just leave.”

“He has form,” Ted said, he just got back from the museums, the few that were open today.

“He was seventeen and didn’t have kids. Justin wouldn’t leave those kids, something is wrong,” Brian snapped. Why wasn’t anyone listening to him?

“I just got off the phone with Nantucket PD,” Eric said, looking angry.


“Jake was arrested after attacking a man that lived near him. Allegedly, Jake broke into the man’s house knowing his wife was out of town and brutally raped him.”

“Oh god,” he heard Debbie say. They were all at the diner using it like a sort of headquarters.

“How did he get caught?”

“Jake knew the wife was out of town but apparently forgot the man has a kid. The boy woke up hearing screaming from his dad’s room and called the police. Jake was caught in action, seemed he was too invested in what he was doing to hear the cops come in…allegedly.”

“Hey, when they do the rape kit on the man, can you have the results sent to New York. I talked to a detective that said that if I was able to find a viable suspect they would run the DNA test. Maybe when Justin get’s back he will have one less nightmare haunting him.”

“Yeah, but it’s going to be a few days, the labs run at a snail’s pace on a good day and it’s Christmas Eve.”

“Just try and get it done as fast as you can. If they need money to run the test, I’ll pay it. This man attacked Justin in New York and then married him in some sick act of control. I want him locked away from Justin and his kids for life.”

It had been a week since Justin disappeared. Christmas came and went. Only Ben and Michael celebrated it because they were the only ones with a little one in the house, Adam. Jenny Rebecca and Gus were old enough to know what was going on. Emma and Mark told Brian they weren’t celebrating until their dad was home, they only knew he was missing because that’s all that was for sure.

Emma’s social worker was sniffing around too. She was convinced Justin abandoned the kids. Jennifer being Justin’s mother was able to keep her from taking Emma.

Seven days since Justin left for a date he never arrived at. Eric was able to trace his movements all the way to Liberty Avenue when he left Emmett’s place. Then he turned a right instead of a left which was the way to get to the restaurant that was only four blocks away. No cameras picked him up after that and his car was left parked a block from the restaurant. Brian had just saved it in time from being towed, the rental place wouldn’t have liked that.

A block between where he parked and the restaurant. It was just like he disappeared into thin air. Eric even looked into it might being the date lying. But the CCTV in the restaurant showed the pathetic date waiting way longer than Brian thought anyone should be for the chance to get laid.

“The results on the DNA test came back, comparing Justin’s attacker with Jake.”


“It’s not a match.”

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are blue.”

“It’s when skies are gray, dumbass” Justin snarled.

“Oh, well, who cares. You don’t look too much like their little Sunshine anymore, do you?”

Justin didn’t look down at his chest. He knew it was a mess, it’s a miracle it hadn’t gotten infected yet. His chest, stomach, arms, and legs were all cut up. Not deep ones that bled a lot, but they would make scars. He was going to be covered in them. That was if he lived, and he suspected that wasn’t going to happen.

“You really have all of them fooled don’t you?”

“I’ve been waiting since I was eighteen for this.”

“Because I told you to fuck off. I did you a favor, I bet you didn’t make the same mistake again.”

“If you could only see how upset Brian is. Don’t worry though, when we fish your body out of the Allegheny I’ll be there to comfort him. He’s a bit old for me but I can make it work.”

“Let me out of here. I won’t tell anyone it was you. I’ll move away, far, far away. You won’t ever have to see me again.”

“What did you call me that day? A lovesick fairy. Well, I’m not in love anymore and when they see what I’ve done to your body they won’t be able to get it out of there minds. I’m going to make your outside as ugly as your inside.”

“Eric, you don’t have to do this.”

“Are you going to say your sorry and think it’s all forgiven?” Justin knew it was a losing battle then, so he decided he wouldn’t die begging.

“No. You’re still the pathetic boy you were back then.” Eric pointed his gun at Justin’s head. “Except you think you’re such a big man with that gun. Still a little boy who can’t own up to the truth.”

“And what do you think is the truth?”

“You weren’t a victim that day. I fucked you, that was it.”

“What if I fuck you now?”

“You probably can’t even get it up.” Justin knew he was pissing Eric off but if he was going to die, he was going to die fighting.

“You sure? I didn’t have any problem before,” Eric said with a smirk.

“You were eighteen, and I’m damn good I what I do.”

“I didn’t mean then. I meant the night that I found my true self.”


“I was in New York with friends. They went to a strip joint, straight. I decided just to go to a bar near it and drink. What were the chances of seeing the boy who took my virginity tending bar. It was late, the bar’s hours posted said it was closing soon. So, I walked back out. The best thing is though, you saw me before I walked out, you didn’t even recognize me. That’s when I decided to make sure you never forgot me again.”

Justin felt bile rising in his throat. “No,” he choked out.

“I followed you as you walked home without a care in the world. While you were painting pretty pictures I was working out and putting on a lot of muscle. You were easy to pin down and even easier to fuck. Now, I’m always in your head. You are always wondering if I’m just around the corner. I live in here,” Eric said, tapping the gun into Justin’s forehead. “Actually, I think I’ll give you a reminder. This time I can take my time.”



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