Impossible by starlight
Summary:

Brian got the job in New York and left Justin behind.

 

Lorie thanks for always reading and loving what I write, you are the best Beta.


Categories: QAF US Characters: None
Tags: Anti-Lindsay, Anti-Michael, MPreg (Yup! Went THERE!), Out of Character
Genres: Alternate Canon
Pairings: Brian/Justin, Emmett/Other
Challenges: None
Series: Impossible
Chapters: 39 Completed: Yes Word count: 80644 Read: 385301 Published: Mar 22, 2017 Updated: May 02, 2017

1. Chapter 1 by starlight

2. Chapter 2 by starlight

3. Chapter 3 by starlight

4. Chapter 4 by starlight

5. Chapter 5 by starlight

6. Chapter 6 by starlight

7. Chapter 7 by starlight

8. Chapter 8 by starlight

9. Chapter 9 by starlight

10. Chapter 10 by starlight

11. Chapter 11 by starlight

12. Chapter 12 by starlight

13. Chapter 13 by starlight

14. Chapter 14 by starlight

15. Chapter 15 by starlight

16. Chapter 16 This is the right chapter now by starlight

17. Chapter 17 by starlight

18. Chapter 18 by starlight

19. Chapter 19 by starlight

20. Chapter 20 by starlight

21. Chapter 21 by starlight

22. Chapter 22 by starlight

23. Chapter 23 by starlight

24. Chapter 24 by starlight

25. Chapter 25 by starlight

26. Chapter 26 by starlight

27. Chapter 27 by starlight

28. Chapter 28 by starlight

29. Chapter 29 by starlight

30. Chapter 30 by starlight

31. Chapter 31 by starlight

32. Chapter 32 by starlight

33. Chapter 33 by starlight

34. Chapter 34 by starlight

35. Chapter 35 by starlight

36. Chapter 36 by starlight

37. Chapter 37 by starlight

38. Safety Features can really Suck. by starlight

39. Chapter 39 by starlight

Chapter 1 by starlight
Author's Notes:

 

I looked out at the view from my penthouse and wondered if this was it. Was my life going to be this never ending party? Behind me the staff was celebrating record breaking sales. In front of me was sky. I walked out to the balcony, gripped the railings and looked down, that would be an interesting way to go, not that I was really considering it. I listened to the people laughing and wondered if he still laughed and smiled the way he used to. Is he still fearless and ready to take on the world? Would he even remember me, as anything but a guy who fucked him and left him? I’m probably just a memory.


After I left for New York, I never contacted him or even asked about him. He deserved someone who would love him and be able to say it to him. He deserved a life without complications. I know that after I left he stopped being around my friends, Lindsay told me that as far as she knew he finished school and left to go to college, but no one ever asked where. It was like he was a blip on their radar, and once I wasn’t there, neither was he.


In a way I think we all moved on, only calling randomly to check if we were still breathing. It’s strange, I doubt I’d still be talking to Lindsay if it wasn’t for Gus. It’s the only thing we have in common anymore. Adam came out with his newest boy, there’s always a new one. For me there’s still never a repeat, unless you count the one I let go.


“Brian, why are you out here and not inside? Everyone wants to wish you well, you lucky dog. How does it feel to retire before forty?” He asks me.


“I’m not retiring, just downsizing. I don’t want to be a long distance father anymore.” I tell him, not that he cares.


“Good luck, maybe Corey and I can stay after, relive how we met each other.” He tells me.


“One time only, no repeats.” I tell him.


While the movers were taking my things, I sat on my sofa, still wondering about Justin. I searched my phone for the number that I hadn’t dialed in eight years.


“Hello… anybody there?” A little girl asks.


“Sorry, I guess I have the wrong number.” I tell her.


“I’m bored and my Dad is busy, whatcha doing?” She asks me.


“Obviously dialing the wrong number, boredom does that to you.” I tell her.


“My Dad told me boredom is a dangerous thing. I don’t think he gets that I was just experimenting with his paint.” She tells me.



“What did you do?” I ask, wondering why I’m still on the phone.


“I might have repainted the couch, but it was ugly anyway.” She tells me.


“It sounds like you need a keeper.” I tell her.


“Apparently I need adult supervision, and a father who doesn’t let me get away with everything. At least that’s what Nana tells my Dad all the time.” She tells me, giggling.


“What do they tell your mommy?” I ask her.


“I don’t have one of those, just Dad. I’m my Dad’s miracle, that’s what he calls me.” She tells me.


“I’m sure any father thinks that about their kids.” I tell her.


“But like I was born a month early and stayed in the hospital forever, that’s what Aunt Molly told me.” She tells me.


“I guess you are a miracle.” I tell her.


“Who are you talking to?” I hear a soft voice in the background.


“He called me, I swear Dad.” She tells him.


“Who called you on my phone, and while I’m asking, why do you have my phone?” The guy asks.


“I was looking at the pictures of him.” She tells him.


“Honey, who’s on the phone?” He asks her.


“Oops forgot to ask, who are you?” She asks, making me laugh.


“I’m Brian, and tell your father sorry for calling the wrong number.” I tell her.


“He says he’s Brian, but called the wrong number.” She tells him.


“Let me talk to him. Lunch is on the table.”  He tells her.


“Bye Brian, call me again, we can be bored together.” She tells me.


“Why are you calling?”


“Sorry, this number used to belong to someone I knew once.” I tell him.


“It still does Brian, lose it.”  Justin tells me.


“Justin?” I ask.


“Imagine that, you remember my name, your memory must be getting better with old age.”  He says sarcastically.


“A lot of things got better with age. How have you been? I’ve been thinking about you.” I  tell him.


“Great. Being a single father to our daughter has been wonderful, so later.” He tells me hanging up.


What the hell? I called back but got sent to voicemail. I texted, because he couldn’t ignore that.


“I want an explanation.”


“I explained in the email, messages, and by letter. I guess you were too busy to read them.”  He sent.



‘There were other ways to tell me.” I texted back, pissed that he wouldn’t answer.


“I didn’t see a reason to use the other ways when they told me to get an abortion. Apparently there can only be one person to have your child and it wasn’t me.” He texts.


“Where are you?”


“Far away in a place you don’t need to know. We don’t need someone who couldn’t be bothered with us.” He sends.


“I will find you.” I text.


“Sure, what, it only took eight years this time.” He sends.


Lindsay and I are going to talk, because if she knew about this, I’ll make sure Gus only has a father.


JUSTIN


Why call now? He’s ignored us for years but suddenly wants to talk. Not that that's ever been something he did. Well good luck trying to find us, because Toto we ain’t in Pittsburgh anymore. I got up and went to check that Hannah hadn’t thrown the bread in the garbage. Of all the things that she could take after Brian, his hatred of carbs wasn’t one I could see as genetic.


“I hope you were nice to him, he was bored.” She tells me sliding the bread to the side.


“If he calls again, I don’t want you answering.” I tell her.


“Dad, he wasn’t saying anything you tell me bad people do.” She tells me.


“I know he didn’t, but I don’t want him hurting you.” I tell her, knowing she needed to know who called.


“Why would he hurt me?” She asks.


“Because you want him to be something that I don’t know if he could be.” I tell her.


“What?”


“Your father.” I tell her.


“Did he want to see me?” She asks, excited.


“He most likely does now. Do you want to meet him?” I ask.


“Yes, but I promise not to expect too much.” She tells me.


“Baby, you expect whatever you want and if he can’t give it to you, I always will.” I tell her.


I let Hannah go play with her friend next door, with the promise that I would call Brian. God, why did he have to call now? I’m finally in a place in my life where I’m no longer angry and now he is trying to destroy the life I made with Hannah.


I still remember standing outside Lindsay’s house trying to get her to at least tell Brian he needed to call me. I wasn’t expecting him to do anything, I just wanted him to know he was having a child. She acted like I did something to her by getting pregnant. The last straw was when she handed me cash and told me to get rid of it.


“Brian wanted you gone, why do you think he left? To get away from you. It’s your fault that Gus is going to be raised without Brian.” She tells me.


“He left because he wanted the job, it had nothing to do with me.” I tell her.


“Believe what you want but he was tired of having to take care of you.” She tells me.


“Maybe he was tired of having to be there for you when Mel got tired of your shit.” I tell her.


“Just do him a favor and get rid of it. He wouldn’t thank you for tying him to you for the rest of his life. Gus is the only child he wants. I can pay for you to get rid of it, but that’s all I will do for you.” She tells me.


“I made the mistake of thinking we were friends.” I told her, leaving.


I went back to Deb’s house and stayed long enough to graduate with honors and get a scholarship to the school of my choice. I remember just wanting to be away from everyone. Emmett came over to visit and when I told him that I was going to accept the offer from Georgia Tech, he asked if he could come with me. He didn’t fit in his old life anymore and wanted to see if maybe being somewhere new would help him find his place in the world. Deb was happy that I won’t be alone and encouraged us to go. I made Emmett not tell Deb I pregnant, because I knew she would try to make Brian deal with me. I just didn’t feel I needed to do more when he wouldn’t answer me. At that point, I decided that maybe Lindsay was right and he wanted me gone.


Emmett ended up getting a job with a party planner and told me that my job was school and taking care of the baby. It wasn’t easy for me to let Emmett take care of us but with all the complications I had, I didn’t have a choice. When I finish college, I got an offer to work for a graphic design firm in Chicago, so Emmett packed us up to move. Declaring that his baby was going nowhere without Aunty Em.


Emmett meet my boss, Charles, when he offered to show us around. It was only a few months before Charles convinced Emmett to move in with him. Hannah and I were happy that Emmett finally found someone who loved him as much as we do. Of course that meant that Emmett wanted me to start seeing people. I tried but either they had a problem with me being a single parent or Hannah had a problem with them. I know it was more to do with the relationship, well non-relationship I once had with Brian. I kept trying to find someone who could make me forget Brian. It seemed that I would always love the bastard, so I refused to do what Brian did to me to someone else.


“Why are you looking like you want to throw your phone out the window?” Emmett asks, when he let himself in my house.


“I do, but I don’t know if it would help. Hannah wants to meet Brian.” I tell him.


“Why?” He asks.


“Brian called and she had my phone, which means she answered and talked to him.” I tell him.


“Did you tell him?” Emmett asks, lifting my chin.


“Yes, you could say I did, then hung up on his ass.” I tell him.


“Justin, Brian is going to hunt you down.” He tells me.


“Which won’t be easy since they all stopped talking to us.” I tell him.


I hated that Emmett ended up in the middle when Michael ran into us when we were out to lunch with my mom. He took one look at Hannah and called me a whore for fucking around on Brian. Emmett didn’t take it well, and broke Michael’s nose. Which of course became us hurting poor Michael, and being told we were no longer welcome around the family. Of course when Lindsay used it to tell them that I hid Hannah because I didn’t know who the father was. At that point, I was done with all of them. Emmett and I decided that once Brian was no longer around to rein them in they became the assholes they really were.

 

 

 

“I’m sure when Brian sees them I’ll have to prove Hannah is his.” I tell Emmett.


“Hopefully he will take one look into his own eyes and see the truth.” Emmett tells me.







Chapter 2 by starlight

BRIAN


I got to the loft to find Lindsay, Michael, Deb, and Ted there, having a party. This was not what I wanted when there was something I needed to know.


“Where's Gus?” I ask.


“We wanted to welcome you back home. Gus doesn’t need to see us drunk.” Lindsay tells me, raising a glass.


“We’re going out tonight, just like old times.” Michael tells me.


“Too bad Emmett and Justin aren’t here.” I tell them.


“Who wants them around? Emmett is not one of us anymore.” Michael tells me.


“Emmett thinks he's Mr Big Shot, now that he landed a rich guy.” Deb tells me.


“Welcome back Brian. Sorry, but I can't stay for this. I won’t sit here listening to them shit on Emmett or Justin.” Ted tells me, looking pissed.


“Emmett isn’t talking to you either, so why are you acting like you didn’t do anything?” Michael asks him.


“I'm hoping that someday my best friend will accept I was an idiot for listening to you.” Ted tells him, leaving.


“Ted, stop.” I tell him, following him outside.


“I can't stay here.” He tells me.


“I'm not asking you to, do you know where Justin is?” I ask.


“No, none of us do. After what happened, they left, never contacting us.” Ted tells me.


“You've seen her?” I ask.


“The baby?” He asks.


“Yes her, or Justin?” I ask.


“Only once in Justin’s arms, he wouldn't let anyone near her.” He tells me. “Why?” He asks.


“She's mine.” I tell him.


“That's why Emmett was so pissed.” He tells me.


“What does Emmett have to do with this?” I ask.


“Brian, when Justin left here, Emmett went with him. Emmett said he was tired of Pittsburgh and wanted to see what else is out there. They went to Georgia, so Justin could go to college and have the baby. As far as I know none of us knew Justin left pregnant. I think Emmett knew and it’s really the reason he went, he wanted to make sure Justin was okay. They came to visit with Justin’s mother and Michael ran into them. All I know is Michael ended up with a broken nose and Lindsay was telling us that Justin told her he didn’t know who the father was, since you and he were sleeping with all those guys.” He tells me.


“Justin only topped with other guys, he never bottomed for anyone but me.” I tell him.


“Fuck Brian, if I knew I would have at least called you and made you listen. Not that I was listening to the right people anyway.” He tells me.


“Emmett took care of them, I owe him for that.” I tell him.


“Emmett took care of them because that’s what Emmett does. Brian, Emmett isn’t going to help you with Justin.” He tells me.


“I don’t need him to. Justin might be pissed at me, but he’ll call eventually.” I tell him.


“I don’t see that happening.” Ted tells me.


“Why?” I ask.


“After what happened with Emmett, Justin tried to calm Deb down, and she told him he meant nothing to her. That she only let him stay with her because Jen paid her.” He tells me. “Brian, she was angry that Michael was hurt and wasn’t thinking.” Ted tells me.


“I don’t fucking care, did she not realize that Justin had enough rejection in his life to not have her do it too.” I tell him walking in the building.


“Brian, you need to catch up.” Michael tells me, handing me a bottle.


“Before I drink to anything, catch me up on what happened with Emmett and Justin.” I tell them, trying to control the need to kick them out.


“Emmett decided that your blond stalker was worth losing us for.” Michael tells me.


“What did Justin do that bothers you so much?” I ask both Michael and Lindsay.


“You never wanted him around, so why are you upset now?” Michael asks.


“Jesus Brian, can't we just have fun and forget the reason you left us?” Lindsay asks me.


“Deb, you want to add anything, you might want to do it now, while you still have the chance.” I tell her.


“Brian, Emmett broke Michael’s nose for no reason.” She tells me.


“I don’t believe that he didn’t have a reason. How about I call Justin’s mother, she probably could tell you the reason.” I tell her.


“We only need to make sure Gus is happy. Stop worrying about someone you barely wanted around.” Lindsay tells me.


“You know, I did leave because of Justin. I didn’t want him dragged down by the life I was showing him. I didn’t want to turn him into me one day, I fucking loved him enough to let him go, to find all the things I didn't think I would be willing to give him. The only reason I would have stayed, isn’t in this loft.” I tell them.


“Well your only reason for staying must have been busy, since he got knocked up by someone. He wasn’t faithful to you.” Michael tells me.


“He had MY child Michael, and you want to know how I know? I know because Justin never let anyone touch what he considered mine. It was the one thing that he wouldn’t let anyone do.” I tell him. “Lindsay don’t think I don’t know what you told him to do with my daughter. You knew he was pregnant and when all he wanted was for you to call me, you refused, and offered to pay for him to get rid of her. I only came here to make sure both of you understand if you do anything to make it harder for me to be a part of their lives, I’ll make your lives harder.” I tell them.


“Brian, what about Gus?” Lindsay asks.


“Gus and I have nothing to do with the person who told Justin to kill his sister.” I tell her.


“What?” Deb asks.


“Lindsay apparently wanted Justin to abort my child.” I tell Deb. “Why would Justin having a child bother you Lindsay? Gus didn’t make you special in my eyes.” I tell Lindsay.


“Why can’t you just be happy not to have to take care of the little shit.” Michael spits out.


“Because he never wanted me to take care of him. He just wanted what I couldn’t tell him. Something I had given you and Lindsay. Something that Deb lost when she treated Justin as if one more rejection in his life wouldn’t have hurt him. I can’t be the person you think I am, I need to be the person my daughter and son need.” I tell them opening my door.


“When you wake up and realize he’s a fucking lying whore, I’ll be there waiting.” Michael tells me, leaving.


“Don’t wait for me, I have a life that waited too long for me to come home.” I tell him.


“You need to remember, Gus needs you.” Lindsay tells me.


“Which would be more believable if you’d brought him here to see me. Tell your wife I’ll contact her to see Gus, and if it’s still a problem for her, I’ll make sure you have to come to me to see Gus.” I tell her.


“Brian, we’ve always been here for you.” Deb tells me.


“And I’m done paying the price for it.” I tell her.


I pulled out my phone. He might not answer a call, but he was still answering the texts.


“Tell Emmett thank you.” I send.


“You can when you come here. Hannah wants to meet you.” He sends.


“Just tell me what I have to do.” I text.


My phone rang and for the first time in eight years it read Justin.


JUSTIN


The whole way to Pittsburgh, I kept telling myself it was a mistake, but for Hannah, I’d deal with the shit I left behind. I got to my mom’s house and told Hannah to go inside. Charles told me to give Brian a chance to be a father. So when Brian told me he was returning to Pittsburgh first, I drove home.


After reading the text asking what he had to do, I knew I couldn’t hide from hearing his voice anymore.


“Justin, just tell me where I have to be.” He tells me as soon as he answers.


“She’s here, you can meet her at my mom’s.” I tell him.


“What does she know?” He asks.


“The truth, you left and didn’t know about her. That you might not want to be a father, and she’s prepared if you don’t.” I tell him.


“Justin, it’s bad enough what I did to you. I wouldn’t do that to my child.” He tells me.


“Brian the only example I have is what I saw when we were together. I know you love Gus, it’s just, you left everything up to her.” I tell him, still not able to say her name.


I saw red hair and prayed it wasn’t who I thought. “I have to go, apparently Deb seems to think I exist again.” I tell him.


“Justin, tell her that she needs to go, I won’t have Hannah meeting her.” Brian tells me.


“Trust me, none of them get near her.” I tell him hanging up.


“Brian needs to understand that we are family.” She tells me.


“Why are you here? Just like I’m not welcome, neither are you.” I tell her.


“Justin, you need to tell Brian the truth about who’s kid you had.” She tells me.


“You don’t have the right to stand here, lecturing me. Remember, you banished your rent check.” I tell her.


“I was angry, but no matter what Michael said, Emmett didn’t have the right to lay hands on him.” She tells me.


“Deb, leave before I call someone to have you removed from my yard.” My mom tells her.


“Jen do you really want Justin involved with Brian again?” Deb asks.


“It’s not my business or yours what they do, they’re adults. As long as it’s good for their daughter, it’s not a problem for me.” Mom tells her, going back in.


“What did you name her?” Deb asks me.


“Nothing you need to know, since I don’t plan to let her around you and your family.” I tell her.


“So you're going to tell Brian he can’t bring her around us too?” She asks.


“I don’t have to, because he just told me not to he didn’t want her near you.” I tell her, going into the house and shutting the door.









Chapter 3 by starlight

BRIAN


I pulled into the driveway, not happy to see Deb standing there. What more was there to say? I got out and walked right by her to get to the front door.


“You know, Michael was excited that you were returning, why did you have to ruin it for him?” She asks me.


“It’s time for Michael to find a life of his own. I need to find out if my life is behind that door. Go let Michael cry on your shoulder, because nothing you say is going to have me dancing to your tune. I’m not sure if I can forgive you for what you did to Justin.” I tell her, without stopping to even look at her.


“What about Justin defending Emmett when he hurt Michael?” She asks. “I guess it’s okay as long as you say so.” She tells me.


“I thought he got off rather easily, for calling my son a whore, in front of his child.” Jen tells her, standing by the now open door. “Brian, I don’t think she’s willing to wait any longer.” She tells me.


“Brian what if Lindsay’s telling the truth? At least make him prove it, before you meet her.” Deb tells me.


“Nana, is he here yet?” Hannah squeezes out the door.


“Yes, Sweetheart, why not wait inside. Your father needs to talk to someone.” Jen tells her, smiling.


“But he’s right there.” Hannah whispers pointing at me.


Hannah turned to look directly at me. When I stood there staring at her, she raised an eyebrow and ran to me, jumping into my arms when she got close enough. I held her, seeing my eyes stare back at me. She had ringlets that were a mixture of red, gold and brown. I saw Justin gave her his smile, which she showed before burying her nose in my coat.


“My Dad always told me you smelled good, he was right.” She tells me.


“I’m glad you like it.” I tell her.


“Brian why not bring her in, I made lunch for all of you.” Jen tells me.


“Aren’t you going to introduce her to me?” Deb asks, trying to see more of Hannah.


I carried Hannah in the house without answering Deb. Jen stayed outside while I let Hannah down to lead me to the kitchen. I walked in to see Justin standing by the counter. When Hannah ran in he smiled at her, the way I remembered him once smiling at everything. He didn’t look at me but keep all his attention on her.


“He’s here.” She tells Justin.


“Do you need me to stay?” Justin asks her.


“Don’t you want to talk to him too?” She asks.


“Baby, this is for you. I know Brian already.” Justin tells me looking at me.


“I’d like a chance for you and Hannah to give me a chance to reintroduce myself.” I tell him.


“Hannah is the only reason I’m here. The rest is a past that I’ve finally made peace with.” Justin tells me.


“I think it’s time to see what the future holds.” I tell him, wishing he was still the innocent kid I left behind.


“That’s up to Hannah. So get to know her.” He tells me, walking by.


JEN


Deb will never understand that forcing everyone to deal with her, does nothing but make it worse.


“Deb, for once think about someone else’s feelings. Give Brian a chance to know his daughter without the family thinking it’s about them.” I tell her.


“We would have welcomed her if Justin hadn’t hidden her as if he wasn’t sure who was the father.” She tells me.


“The only way you would have welcomed her was if I proved to all of you she was Brian’s. That’s really what you're saying. Which means I was welcome as long as I kept Brian around Michael, everything you did for me makes so much sense now.” Justin tells her, going to his car and leaving.


“He can’t believe that?” Deb tells me.


“It’s not to far from the truth, he was welcome in the family when Brian was there. Brian left, and all of you left Justin the way he did.” I tell her. “Deb, you told him he wasn’t welcome, so he’s just doing what you asked, why does it matter now? It can’t be that Justin’s right could it? That with Brian returning, you and Michael need Justin as a reason for Brian to keep you around.” I tell her, leaving her outside.


“I don’t like bread.” Hannah tells Brian.


“No one should.” Brian tells her, smiling.


I left them alone so Brian could have all the time he needed to get to know Hannah.


BRIAN


“Did you find what you were looking for where you went?” Hannah asks me.


“What do you mean?” I ask.


“Aunty Em said the reason he stayed with my Dad was that he was trying to find what he was looking for. Was that why you left?” She asks me.


“I found out that the only thing that changed was the place I lived.” I tell her.


“Did you miss living here, is that why you are moving back here? My dad said that there were too many reason he didn’t want to be here.” She tells me.


“I was moving back to be closer to your brother.” I tell her.


“Is he happy to see you?” She asks.


“I haven’t seen him yet. When I found out you were here, I came to see you first.” I tell her.


“You wanted to see me?” She asks excited.


“I couldn’t wait to see a miracle.” I tell her.


“So Dad was wrong that you might not want to see me?” She asks, frowning.


“He was basing his decision on how I was with Gus when he knew me. I never really thought I wanted to be a father.” I tell her.


“What changed your mind?” She asks.


“Gus did, the minute I held him. And you did, the minute I knew your Dad and I created you.” I tell her.


“Maybe you could love me like my Dad does?” She asks.


“I loved you the minute I knew who you were.” I tell her.


When it was time for Hannah to go to bed, I laid down with her and watched her fight sleep. When she closed her eyes, I stayed so I could just be near her longer. Justin came in and straightened the sheets and kissed her head. I watched him, seeing how much he loved our daughter. I got up and followed him out of the room. I wanted to know where he went all day. He walked into the kitchen and got a drink then sat down.


“Did everything go okay for her?” He asks me.


“I think she knows that I want her in my life.” I tell him.


“If that’s what you both want then we figure out how to make it work. I can bring her here to see you or we can agree to how you get her. You just have to agree that she isn’t around anyone that would upset her.” Justin tells me.


“Justin, I need to know what happened when I left. It doesn’t make sense that Lindsay went from saying you were a reason for me to stay, to what seems like she hates you.” I tell him.


“Only she could answer that for you. It was like I didn’t do what she thought I could and decided that I was not longer needed.” He tells me.


“Did Mel know what she did?” I ask him.


“Mel wasn’t standing there with us. When I showed up Lindsay came outside and we talked. So I have no idea what Mel knows, she never contacted me so I just assumed that she agreed with Lindsay.” He tells me.


“Where were you tonight?” I ask.


“I went to see Emmett and Charles at their hotel. I wanted to give you a time without feeling like you were being watched.” He tells me.


“Emmett came with you?” I ask him.


“I think he wanted to be there if Hannah or I needed him. When I told him we were coming he decided to be here if we ran into problems like that last time.” He tells me.


“Justin if there are problems, I’ll handle them. I need my daughter and you to know that I won’t let you be targets for Michael and Lindsay. It’s not how I thought your life would be when I left.” I tell him.


“My life turned out great, it just didn’t include the people you call friends.” He tells me.


“I need to see Gus and I would like Hannah to meet him.” I tell him.


“Only if you don’t let Gus’s mother near Hannah. If that happens than I won’t allow you to see Hannah.” He tells me.


“What about you, are you planning to avoid me too?” I ask him.


“I’m not important, whatever I was to you, doesn’t matter anymore.” He tells me.


“A lot of things made me leave, you weren’t a reason I wanted to leave but a reason I wanted to stay. I couldn’t change the things about you that I loved by staying.” I tell him.


“You know, I don’t think you ever really bothered to know me. I never did something because you wanted me too, but so I could experience everything. You could have never changed something about me unless I wanted it.” He tells me.


“Justin, I wasn’t ready for what you wanted, or to be what you wanted.” I tell him.


“Why are we even doing this, it’s over. Talking about it won’t change anything. I’m staying for a week with Hannah, which should be long enough to work out how we are going to share our daughter.” He tells me.


“I want to see her more than weekends and holidays.” I tell him.


“We don’t live here and won’t again, so for now it’s the only way you will see her. I need to get some sleep, so call tomorrow when you want to see Hannah.” Justin tells me.


“Was it that hard to stay here?” I ask him.


“I don’t know Brian, was it?” He asks, opening the front door for me to leave.


EMMETT


“Hello Brian.” I tell him, opening the door. “I'm surprised to see you.”


“Before I ask you anything, I need to thank you for taking care of them.” Brian tells me.


“I didn’t do it for you, but because Justin didn’t need to do it alone. I did it it because he needed a friend, when our friends seemed to forget him.” I tell him.


“What happened after I left?” I ask.


“Nothing at first, or at least it didn’t seem like anything happened. I just remember one day Ted and I had brunch at the girls’ house, I asked if they'd seen Justin. Lindsay made it sound like Justin stop calling them, so I went to find out what was going on.” I tell him.


“What did you find?” He asks.


“I found out that Lindsay was a bitch.” I tell him.


“Emmett, I need to know why he can’t even say her name anymore.” I tell him.


“Because she wanted him to get rid of Hannah. Brian, it was like Justin having a baby was forbidden.” I tell him.


“Why didn't he tell anyone?” He asks.


“Who would he tell, Deb, who kept asking when he was leaving? There wasn't anybody left to tell, I only found out because he wanted someone to be happy about it.” I tell him.


“What was it like for him?” He asks.


“It wasn’t easy, he was sick most of the time. The doctor and I couldn't get him to take anything for his allergies because there was no way to convince him it wouldn’t hurt Hannah. He had her a month early, which was when I had to call Jen. They weren't sure Hannah was going to make it. I couldn't get Justin to go to sleep, because he thought if he wasn't there to watch her something would happen. Jen ended up having to sit with him promising to stay awake, if he slept. I never realized how much faith Justin had in Jen.” I tell him.


“You should have called me.” He tells me.


“How? You didn't really leave me a way to do that. I understand wanting to get away from here, but you cut everyone but Lindsay and Michael out.” I tell him.


“I knew he'd never have a chance to find what he deserved if I kept in contact.” He tells me.


“Why was that something only you could decide? Justin wasn’t Michael, who couldn’t tie his shoe unless you did it for him. Was it that, that Justin could take care of himself? Did it scare you that Justin might one day no longer see you as a God, but a man? Help me understand how Michael and Lindsay rated higher than Justin in your eyes.” I tell him.


“I didn’t love them the way I fucking loved him. They couldn't hurt hurt me the way Justin could. Is that what you want from me? That he meant more than anyone, and I would have hurt him for being that important when I didn’t want it.” He tells me.


“Do you want it now? Because it's going to require those walls you place around you to disappear. He won't play the game anymore.” I tell him.


“Then tell me where I have to be to win my family.” He tells me.


“Chicago. And don’t make me regret telling you.” I tell him.       


Chapter 4 by starlight

JUSTIN


My mother was waiting for me when Brian left. I sat next to her, hoping she wasn't too upset that I didn’t stick around.


“I know it’s still hard to see the person you once loved, but leaving isn’t going to change how you still feel about him.” She tells me.


“Aren’t you the one who was thrilled when he left?” I asks her.


“Justin, all I saw was that you were doing things you never did. I’m as guilty as Deb in wanting to blame Brian for our sons doing things we didn’t feel they would if it wasn’t for Brian. When he left,  I thought things would be the way they had been between us. It wasn’t Brian that changed my relationship with you, but me, for not accepting who you were.” She tells me.


“I can’t be around him without wishing he loved me the way I love him.” I tell her.


“Whatever the truth is, whether he loves you or not, you can’t move on without finding it out. If nothing else, try to find a way to be friends with Hannah’s father, she needs to see that you are happy that she has Brian in her life. You're not the same people you were when you met each other, find out if what you felt is even a problem for you anymore.” She tells me, kissing my head before going to bed.


Getting up, I left my mom’s house to try to find a way to be friends with Brian. When I got there I stood beside my car looking up at the loft, remembering how I always thought I was special because he let me stay with him for a while.


BRIAN


“It was never really more than four walls.”  I tell him, walking up behind him.


“I guess after a penthouse, your perception changes.” He tells me.


“I thought it would, but it was just more empty spaces to fill.” I tell him.


“Did you ever regret leaving?” He asks.


“Are you asking since I now that I know what I left?” I  ask.


“No, I'm asking did you even care you left?” He asks.


“I didn’t let myself.” I tell him.


“I guess I understand now.” He says, while opening the car door.


“If I did, then I would have had to admit to myself what you were becoming.” I tell him.


“Another burden in your life.” He tells me.  


“Someone who had more power than anyone else in my life. The possibility that I was wrong, and that I did do love.” I tell him.  


“It must have been a relief to not have to admit you were wrong. It's been my burden to know I was right, you were the person I loved more than my life.” He tells me.


“Loved?” I ask.


“I found someone I love more.” He tells me, getting in his car and driving off.


For a second it hurt, but then I remembered Hannah. He gave what I wouldn’t believe in, to our daughter.  


JUSTIN


I kept feeling eyes on me, which meant Hannah was up and waiting on me to get up. I pulled her down next to me.


“Dad, can I ask you a question?”


“You know you can.” I tell her.


“Do you still love my father?” She asks.


“I'll always love him, he gave me you. I just don't think we were meant to be together. I wanted everything from him.” I tell her.


“He didn’t want it from you?” She asks.


“It's think he just thought I was too young to understand what I wanted. One thing you need to know about your father is that he was always willing to do things for other people, even if he was hurt by doing them.” I tell her.


“Maybe it's why he left, he thought you needed him gone.” She tells me.


“It's one way to look at it.” I tell her.


“What's the other?” She asks.


“He might have been afraid of loving me.” I tell her and myself.


“That's kind of silly, you're easy to love.” She tells me.


“It's because you make it easy for me to do.” I tell her.


“Then I'll make it easier for him.” She tells me. “Do you think he's going to come today?” She asks.


“I think he wants you to meet your brother, so he needs to see Gus first.” I tell her.


“Gus is such a weird name.” She tells me.


“Be nice, I picked it.” I tell her.


“What other name did they want?” She asks.


“Abraham was the other choice.” I tell her.


“I bet he's glad you didn't pick it. Abe is just asking to be picked on.” She tells me.


“I thought so too. I guess great minds think alike.” I tell her.


BRIAN


I called Mel asking to have Gus ready and outside when I got there. She agreed, but seemed confused that I didn’t want to come in. When I got there Lindsay was standing on the porch glaring when I ignored her.


“Gus, go ahead and get in the car. I need to talk to Brian.” Mel tells him.


“You mean my Dad.” Gus asks, getting in without waiting for an answer.


“Sorry, he’s been defensive about what I call you.” She tells me.


“I think it’s more wanting me to be called what I am.” I tell her.


“You want to tell me why you and Lindsay are trading glares?” She asks.


“She isn’t as happy as I am that Justin had my daughter.” I tell her.


“When did that happen?” She asks.


“Seven years ago. I'm sure you heard all about the ‘confusion’ over who the father was.” I tell her.


“So you were able to prove the baby was yours?” She asks.


“If I knew Justin was pregnant, it was pretty much a given it was mine. He didn’t need to prove it to me, because I was the only possibility.  If it wasn't enough, then I would have known the minute I saw her.” I tell her.


“We never seen her, Justin seemed to not want us around after you left.” She tells me.


“I'm sure it makes you feel better thinking that, I mean otherwise you might have to tell yourself the truth that you didn’t give a shit about him.” I tell him.


“I wasn’t the one who vanished, you were.” She tells me.


“So in your mind he no longer existed either?” I ask.


“Brian, he stopped talking to us.” She tells me.


“I guess he would when Lindsay tried to pay him to get rid of the baby.” I tell her, getting in my car with Gus and leaving.


“Dad, are you mad at my moms?” Gus asks.


“It's not important, I need to bring you to meet someone.” I tell him.


“Who?”


“Someone I used to know, and his daughter and mine.” I tell him.


“I have a sister, how come you never told me?” He asks.


“l didn't know until recently. I lost touch with Justin.” I tell him.


“The guy that named me?” He asks.


“You remember him?” I ask.


“No, Mama told me about how I got my name. She said the guy's name was Justin, but Dad, they said he had someone else's kid.” He tells me.


“He didn’t, he had my daughter. She's going to be a part of our lives, so I want you to meet her.” I tell him.


“So she's like the baby Mama's having?” He asks.


“Mama is having a baby?” I ask.


“They didn’t tell you?” He asks.


“No, I haven't really given them a chance to.” I tell him.


“Uncle Michael thought it was great that you and him would be fathers together.” He tells me.


“We aren’t going to be fathers together, because he isn’t your father, like I’m not going to be their new baby’s father.” I tell him.


“He and Mom thought you would be happy about it.” He tells me.


“I’m not sure why they thought I needed to be happy about it.” I tell him.


“Do you think Justin will remember me?” He asks, as we get to Jen’s.


“He loved being around you, he was always asking to babysit you.” I tell him.


JUSTIN


I opened the door and saw Gus. Not seeing him had been the worst part of everything that happened. I could tell he didn’t remember me, and I didn’t want it to hurt that he didn’t, but it did.


“I’m Gus.” He tells me.


“It’s nice to meet you again.” I tell him.


“My Dad said that I have a sister.” He tells me.


“Do you want to meet her?” I ask him.


“I guess so, I mean it would have been neat to have a brother, but I’ll settle for a sister.” He tells me, giving me Brian’s smirk.


I led Gus to the backyard where Hannah was trying to play catch with Emmett. I was just happy that Emmett was keeping the commentary G rated. There were just so many things he could have said about balls flying at him.


“She plays baseball?” Brian asks.


“She’s into any sport, right now she’s interested in soccer and track, but there isn’t a team for her age in track right now. She’s planning on trying out for the swim team.” I tell him.


“Can I play?” Gus asks Hannah.


“Please do, I love balls, but Hannah seems to think I need them flying at my head.” Emmett tells him.


“Aunty Em, you could catch them if you would keep you eyes on the ball.” Hannah tells him.


“I always keep my eye on the ball.” Emmett tells her, laughing.


“Why do I always get the feeling I’m missing something?” Hannah asks Gus.


“Adults always say stuff no one gets.” Gus tells her.


“Hi Daddy.” Hannah waves at Brian.


“Hannah, this is Gus.” I tell her when Brian seems to be having a hard time saying anything.


“Hi. Daddy said that he was going to bring you to meet me.” She tells Gus.


“Do you want to play?” Gus asks.


“Can you at least catch a ball? I have a soccer ball to if you want to do that.” She tells him.


“We can do both.” Gus tells her.


Emmett was tilting his head toward the house when I turned to see where Brian was. I went in, knowing Emmett would stay with Hannah. Brian was staring out the window at Gus and Hannah.


“She’s always wanted to call you that.” I tell him.


“I made sure she couldn’t.” He tells me.


“I guess that hasn’t changed about you. Always ready to be the one we blame.” I tell him.


“Isn’t that what you're doing, blaming me for not being there when you and Hannah needed me?” He asks me.


“Emmett told you?” I ask.


“I asked him to tell me what you don’t seem to want to.” He tells me.


“It wasn’t something that I like to remember. Unlike when Gus was born, I didn’t get to hold Hannah. She was too fragile. It was hard not to blame myself.” I tell him.


“Why were you blaming yourself?” He asks, looking at me.


“We were doing things that I shouldn’t have been when I was pregnant.” I tell him.


“Justin, did you know before I left?” I ask.


“No, I didn’t know until about a month after, by then I was was already three months. I was drinking and doing drugs when I was pregnant.” He tells me.


“That’s why you wouldn’t take anything through the rest of your pregnancy?” He asks.


“I didn’t want to do anything more than I already had to hurt her.” I tell him.


“What did the doctor say was the reason.” He asks.


“That it can happen to anyone.” I tell him.


“Then like me, you seem to be blaming yourself for something that you didn’t do.” He tells me.


“I guess I might have learned something from you.” I tell him.








 









Chapter 5 by starlight

BRIAN


I sat outside watching the kids when Emmett came in, telling Justin that Charles needed to ask him about work. Emmett came back out and sat next to me.


“Charles wanted to have dinner together tonight.” He tells me.


“I can watch Hannah.” I tell him.


“I meant you included. Jen would be happy to stay with the kids.” He tells me.


“I have to take Gus back. They only seem to trust me to take him for part of the day.” I tell him.


“So they're still making sure you have to cater to their whims.” He tells me.


“I'm the jackass who thought it was a good idea to give up my rights to apparently both my kids.” I tell him.


“Brian, Justin wouldn’t do that with Hannah. If Hannah wants something, Justin will make it happen for her.” He tells me.


“I'm still surprised that she's not giving me a hard time.” I tell him.


“You can thank Justin for that. He knew some day she'd meet you, and tried not to make you into a bad guy, but he wouldn't lie to her.” He tells me.


“I found out being a father to Gus meant nothing if I was just someone he barely knew. It helped that Lindsay liked visiting, so I got to have Gus around. New York gave me the chance to see what I could accomplish, but it didn't fill the void the way I wanted it to.” I tell him.


“I think we both needed something different. For me it got to the point where I couldn't see my life improving by continuing on the same merry-go-round. Georgia gave me a chance to find a life outside of Liberty Avenue.” He tells me.


“Not a lot changed in my life.” I tell him.


“If you liked your life than it shouldn't have mattered.” He tells me.


“What, no speech about how by now I should have grown up and gotten in a relationship?” I ask.


“If you didn’t want a relationship then it makes sense not to have one. I wasn’t looking for one when I met Charles, but it was just something about him. He made me want a relationship with all the bells and whistles. Being in a relationship just to be able to point at someone and say you’re together, is settling for less than anyone deserves.” He tells me.


“I talked to Ted.” I tell him.


“Is he still waiting for Michael’s attention?” Emmett asks.


“I think he figured out that he and Michael weren’t going to happen. He hopes that one day you’ll want him around again.” I tell him.


“It’s hard to forgive him for standing by Michael and not asking why I did what I did.” He tells me.


“He knows he should have asked. Emmett, at least give him a chance to see if you two could be friends again.” I tell him.


“When did you really care if I was friends with Ted?” He asks me.


“If you could forgive him, than maybe Justin will forgive me.” I tell him.


“Brian, it’s not forgiving you that’s the problem.” He tells me.


“What is it, he’s more closed off than I remember? It can’t be just Lindsay or even Michael. Justin never gave a shit what Michael thought.” I tell him.


“He lost his family, then lost everyone but me. What you’re seeing is him reacting to being turned away by people he thought cared about him.” He tells me.


“He never met anyone else?” I ask.


“He found reasons for why it couldn’t work. Justin dates, but it’s like you were with tricks, only once. He made his life about Hannah and just didn’t seem to have anything to give anyone else. He never really got over you.” He tells me.


“He was built for a relationship more than anyone else. He was always in a hurry to do things and had so much to do before he could settle down.” I tell him.


“He would have still done them even if you stayed. You wanted your dream, you couldn’t have taken him with you.” He tells me.


“I could have at least found out what was happening, instead of tearing up the letter and deleting anything he sent.” I tell him.


MEL


Lindsay went in when Brian took off, she was in the living room flipping through an art magazine when I walked in. I sat across from her, trying to find a reason she wouldn’t want Justin to have a baby.


“Lindsay, why did you try to give Justin money for an abortion?” I ask.


“He could have had a future but he was ruining his chances.” She tells me.


“So you thought he shouldn’t have Brian’s baby?” I ask.


“It wasn’t that I thought he shouldn’t have a baby. He could’ve waited and done it later, not when he had so many opportunities that he was willing to throw away for a baby. Justin didn’t need a reason to keep clinging to Brian. Brian was never going to do anything but drag Justin further down and away from accomplishing his future.” She tells me.


“You didn’t have the right to make that decision for him.” I tell her.


“I refused to support such a stupid decision.” She tells me.


“You knew it was Brian’s the whole time. Why would you run around making all of us think Justin didn’t know who the father was?” I ask her.


“They would have all been there trying to help him get Brian to listen. I didn’t want Justin to let Brian stop him from what he could accomplish.” She tells me.


“It sounds more like you didn’t like the idea of Brian having kids with anyone but you.” I tell her.


“I think he should meet other men, Justin doesn’t need the kind of life Brian would force on him. I just hope Justin does the smart thing and stays away from Brian.” She tells me.


“I thought you always wanted everything for Brian.” I tell her.


“Only as long as he doesn’t get in Justin’s way.” She tells me, leaving the room.


How did everything become about Justin for her?


TED


I was waiting on a new client to come in, wondering if my life would always be sitting in this office staring at numbers on a screen. Nothing about my life was what I thought it would be, I stayed around when Michael returned and it was like he never left. We went to Woody’s, Babylon and the diner, but never seemed to venture anywhere else. Without Emmett around, I realized how boring Michael was. Every night it was talking about who Brian could have scored and telling everyone about Brian’s life in the Big Apple. Absolutely nothing changed for him, even with Brian no longer around, and when Emmett called to say he was going to visit, I acted as if it didn’t matter. Then I slammed the door in his face when I was told that he hurt Michael. Which I now regret because I realized Michael was never going to be anything more than someone I once thought was a good person to have a relationship with.


“Ted, Mr Hawthorne is here to see you.” The receptionist told me as she lead the man in.


He sat down, tilting his head smiling at me. He was looking at me as if he was judging something about me. I have to admit, he was really handsome, he had jet black hair with strands of silver running through it, and his eyes were more gray than light blue. If I’m not mistaken there was a chiseled body under that suit, and when he smiled, holding out his hand, it felt like I passed some test.


“Ted, I wanted to meet you, I’ve heard a lot about you from someone we have in common.” He tells me.


“I’m sorry, I’ve never heard about you, Mr Hawthorne.” I tell him.


“Call me Charles. Only Emmett calls me Charlie, and that’s only when he’s excited.” He tells me.


“Your Emmett’s partner?” I ask.


“Sooner or later I’ll get him to agree to set a date, but for now yes I’m Emmett’s.” He tells me.


“Why are you here?” I ask him.


“I want Emmett happy, and for the most part he is, but he misses having a best friend in his life. I’m here to see why you cut him out of your life.” He tells me.


“I sided with the wrong friend.” I tell him.


“I agree, but only because I love Emmett. It’s just, when we decided to come here to support Justin, Emmett seemed reluctant to see you. He told me he wasn’t going to risk another door slammed in his face.” He tells me.


“I think this time it would be him slamming the door in my face.” I tell him.


“Emmett forgives easily, but not if you don’t make an effort. It’s been years, yet you haven’t called or even tried. I’m sure you could use better friends than someone who calls a father the things Michael called Justin in front of our darling Hannah.” He tells me.


“Is Justin here too? If he is, can you tell him that Brian is here and wants to see him.” I tell him.


“No need, it seems all Brian needs to know is Justin is near and he comes running. Hopefully Justin won’t let the past stop a future he could have.” He tells me.


“Brian is unstoppable when he wants something.” I tell him.


“Yes, but he’s in an impossible situation this time. Justin is afraid to love him.” He tells me.


“Justin was never afraid of anything, it’s something he and Emmett have in common.” I tell him.


“Once upon a time you were right, but life changed them both. They found out that the people they loved didn’t stay around. It’s why Emmett won’t set a date, he thinks it will change us. I think that if you and he were able to be friends again that Emmett would see that change doesn’t mean losing what you have with someone.” He tells me.


“Tell him I would love to meet and talk.” I tell him.


“Tell him yourself, I think it would go a long way if you actually did the work to talk to him.” He tells me, pulling out a card and writing on the back. “Make sure when you call him, to let him know that you were wrong to turn him away.” He tells me getting up.


“So you didn’t need an accountant?” I ask.


“I always do, but not if I have to visit this dreary office. Get a plant or something.” He tells me, leaving.


JUSTIN


Hannah was showing off for Gus and Brian. I laughed when she decided since they were boys that it was time to play rough. Both of them were trying not to hurt her and she was using it to score against them. Brian came and laid back on the grass, sweaty but happy. I couldn’t help but stare at him, he was always so serious when we were together.


“What?” He asks me, smiling when Gus managed to keep the ball from Hannah.


“I’ve just never seen you like this.” I tell him.


“My children get along and my daughter doesn’t hate me. Two out of three isn’t so bad.” He tells me.


“What’s the third thing?” I ask him.


“To see you smile at the world the way you used to.” He tells me.

“I grew up, and found out that there wasn’t a pot of gold at the end of my rainbow.” I told him.


“Try looking for it again, it’s there.” He tells me pulling me down to him.


“I don’t believe in them anymore.” I tell him as he flips me on my back.


“Let me help you believe in them, and me, again.” He tells me putting his forehead on mine.


“I can’t be that kid anymore, Hannah needs me to be more.” I tell him.


“Why do you think we have to be those people anymore? Find out who I am, before fighting me.” He tells me, kissing me softly looking directly into my eyes.


“Are they kissing?” Gus asks.


Brian and I turn our heads to see Gus and Hannah both raising a brow at us. It was just too hard not to laugh at the twin expressions on their faces.


“I missed that about you.” Brian tells me, when I looked up at him grinning.


Chapter 6 by starlight

BRIAN


Gus was asking when we could see Hannah again. It seemed that a brother wasn’t necessary when the sister he had could play harder than any boy he knew.


“She’s pretty neat for a girl.” He tells me.


“I think she thought you were okay for a boy.” I tell him, happy that they took to each other.


“Are you and Justin together?” He asks me.


“I don’t know yet.” I tell him.


“He let you kiss him, so how come you don’t know?” He asks.


“When I moved away, I didn’t stay in contact with him. I wanted him to have a life he wanted.” I tell him.


“He didn’t want one with you?” He asks me.


“He did, but I thought he would be better off without me.” I tell him.


“You grown ups make everything complicated.” He tells me.


“Really, why do you think that?” I ask him.


“Would it have really hurt to talk to him?” He asks me.


“When did you become so grown up yourself? I think I worried it would hurt me.” I tell him.


“Because you loved him?” He asks.


“Because I knew I could love him.” I tell him, pulling up to the house.


“Are you coming in?” He asks.


“No, I don’t think your mom and I are seeing eye to eye on things right now.” I tell him, getting out to help him get his bag.


“Hi Mama.” Gus yells, as he grabs his things.


“Did you have fun today?” She asks.


“I got to meet Justin and Hannah. Hannah plays all sorts of sports and stuff. She’s really cool for a girl.” Gus tells her.


“Why don’t you go in and put your stuff away. I need to talk to Br…, your father.” She tells him.


“Mel, I don’t have time to listen to any excuses. There isn’t anything you could say that I would want to listen to.” I tell her.


“Lindsay wanted Justin to stay away from you.” She tells me.


“What the hell did Justin do, other than have a child that wasn’t hers?” I ask her.


“It wasn’t Justin, it was you. She hated that you could distract Justin from the future he should have.” She tells me.


“Which makes what I did, what she wanted. So why did she want him to get rid of Hannah?” I ask her.


“Justin would never be free of you if Hannah was born.” She tells me.


“She’s didn’t understand one thing, I was never free of Justin. It didn’t matter how many years I stayed away from him, all it took was seeing him to know I made a mistake in who I let stay in my life. It’s a mistake that I don’t plan to make again.” I tell her getting in the car. “By the way, I heard congratulations are in order. Interesting choice of father.” I tell her.


“He’ll never give us the problems you did.” She tells me.


“My loving Gus was a problem for you? I feel sorry for the next one if being loved is considered a problem.” I tell her.


JUSTIN


Charles and Emmett showed up early to spend time with Hannah, before dinner.


“You've got that look.” Charles tells me.


“I don’t know if I want to try again.” I tell him.


“Then don’t, continue to live your life. He doesn’t have to be more than Hannah’s father.” Charles tells me.


“It's like no matter how many years have passed, nothing has changed how I felt about him.” I tell him.


“Justin, have you ever thought that part of it was because when he left you never knew what you were to him, so your mind clung to the idea that your story with him was unfinished?” He asks.


“To me it was never even started.” I tell him.


“It started because you have Hannah. Find out if he is the person your mind built him up to be.” He tells me.


“He was a God in my head.” I tell him.


“Then find a way to see he's just a man, because that's something no one can live up to.” He tells me.


BRIAN


Emmett had me meet them at the restaurant, he smirked, telling me he’d find a way that I drove Justin home tonight.


“Brian, meet Charles. Charles, this is Brian.” Emmett tells us.


“I can see where Hannah gets her looks from.” Charles tells me.


“The smile is all Justin. Although her love of sports had to come from me.” I tell him.


“I hate running, it's like the minute she was on her feet, it meant run to her.” Justin groans.


“Justin was constantly worried Hannah would be behind, but our baby wanted to do things, so she kept at it until she accomplished her goals.” Emmett tells me.


“Remember when we couldn’t figure out how she always had a full bottle every morning.” Justin tells Emmett laughing.


“Justin and I at first thought one of us must have been doing it, then one morning I got up early and watched her load milk on her high chair then pushing it up to the sink. She climbed up got the half gallon in the sink with her bottle and filled it without spilling it everywhere.” He tells me.


“That chair became a pain in the ass when she discovered it could reach anything.” Justin tells me.


“At least, like Brian, she wasn't eating junk food.” Emmett tells us.


“I noticed she didn’t get your love of crap foods.” I tell Justin.


“Wait until her birthday, it's always hard to get her to eat a cake.” Justin tells me.


“I guess you'll have to tell me when it is.” I tell them.


“I guess I have a lot to tell you.” Justin tells me.


“Brian will know as time goes by, he has a lot of years to catch up on. He can't expect that your life stood still while he was gone.” Charles tells him, looking at me as if warning me.


When Charles got up to go to the bathroom, I followed. I wanted to know why he seemed less warm towards me then Emmett. Emmett I could understand, but not someone who doesn't know me.


“Is there a problem?” I ask.


“I guess you could say I'm not certain of you. A lot of what I know doesn’t have me seeing you in a good light. Which isn’t your fault, but mine.” He tells me.


“How did you come up with that?” I ask.


“By hearing Emmett talk about how Justin was before you left. It was as if he was telling me about this person who was ready to take on the world. The Justin I know only risks things when it comes to his art, it's the only time I see him as Emmett described him.” He tells me.


“He was an amazing artist when I knew him.” I tell him.


“He’s going to be one of the best, I've had the honor of knowing. It's just he never risks anything if it involves his personal life.” He tells me.


“I can’t change that I left.” I tell him.


“But you can help him understand why you having contact with him wasn't possible. Brian, he knew that there were certain people you still let in your life. If you wanted him to believe he wasn’t important to you, that was accomplished.” He tells me, leaving to go back.


JUSTIN


Emmett really thinks I don't know he planned it so I'd have to go home with Brian. Like it wasn’t obvious when he practically shoved me in Brian’s car.


“You know Emmett and subtle have never meet.” Brian tells me.


“I planned to let you drive me home.” I tell him.


“Why is that, Mr Taylor?” He asks.


“Hannah wanted to see you.” I tell him.


“Is that the only reason?” He asks.


“I thought we could talk about Hannah. I'm sure you have things you want to know about her.” I tell him.


“I want to know a lot of things, not just about Hannah.” He tells me.


“My life is a series of what Hannah needs and wants.” I tell him.


“What about your needs and wants?” He asks.


“What about them, nothing matters to me if she isn't happy.” I tell him.


“You can't live your life through Hannah. It's the mistake Deb makes with Michael. She stopped living her own life, and made everything about him.” I tell him.


“Stop the car.” I tell him, angry.


“Justin, I'm not stopping in the middle of Pittsburgh.” I tell him.


BRIAN


“You find a place or I’ll get out at the next light.” He tells me seriously.


I pulled into a parking lot and Justin got out slamming my door. I got out to see why he was suddenly so angry.


“Can you tell me why you’re so pissed?” I ask.


“Don’t ever compare me to a woman who raised her son to be a whiny, petulant child, one who never does anything that can’t be blamed on someone else. Unlike her, I know Hannah makes mistakes and I teach my daughter to own up to them. I won’t let her become that asshole. You don’t get to make any judgements on how I raise Hannah, because you gave up the right by cutting us out of your life and keeping Michael in it. You must not mind the way he turned out, since you still answered when he called.” He tells me.


“If I had known why you were trying to get ahold of me, I would have been there.” I tell him.


“That’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told me and yourself. Opening a letter wouldn’t have changed anything. Reading it didn’t mean you had to feel obligated to me.” He tells me.


“Opening anything you sent would have made me find a way to keep you.” I tell him.


“Sorry if I find that hard to believe. You ran and kept running when you didn’t want things to be any way but how you wanted them. I didn’t have the option of running away, because I refused to be you. I want to love and be loved, but not like your best friends, who only love someone unless it takes you from them. Do you know how hard it was when your best friend told me that you were a selfish prick who would never give me what I wanted? Having to watch you and Michael fawn over each other, and only being told you wouldn’t love me? To get the crumbs in your life, because you liked fucking me, but there was no way you could at least tell me I had a place in your life, other than as the twink who wouldn’t leave. So I got the message when you left, and didn’t answer me. I understand that I will never be as important to you as Michael or Lindsay, so do me a fucking favor don’t ever accuse me of being anything like Deb when it comes to Hannah. I would never want Hannah to be anything like the man you found more important than me.” He tells me walking towards the street.


“Justin, that’s not what I meant.” I tell him.


“You know, I always thought Michael coined that phrase, but maybe he just learned it from you.” He tells me.


“I always thought you were better than someone who only hears what they want to.” I sneer.


“I listened to every unanswered call, so I heard you loud and clear. Hannah is waiting for you, go at least make sure she knows you want her.” He tells me getting in a cab.


“Justin, at least let me drive you home.” I tell him.


“Home isn’t Pittsburgh anymore, your family made sure of that for me.” He tells me closing the door.


How did it get so fucked up tonight? I just didn’t like the way he was describing a life that didn’t include living it. I drove to Jen’s house and could see she was wondering where Justin was. Instead of saying anything I went upstairs to see Hannah. She was already asleep, so I stayed for a while just to watch her. I kept hoping Justin would come home but after an hour, I knew that I would have to wait until he calmed down to try again. Jen was sitting in the living room, watching TV. Jen and I really didn’t have a relationship when I left so I didn’t really see talking to her, but she waved me over.


“I’m assuming something happened?” She asks.


“He’s not happy with me right now.” I tell her.


“I can listen and maybe help you out.” She tells me.


“Out the door?” I ask her.


“Brian, it wasn’t you as much as it was wanting my relationship with Justin to be what it once was. If it hadn’t been you, I don’t want to think what could have happened to him when he first ventured out. So thank you for keeping him from what could have happened. Now that I’ve said that, what happened?” She asks.


“He was talking about how everything was about Hannah, as if he couldn’t see that he needed to want things too.” I tell her.


“And?”


“I told him, he couldn’t be like Deb, who smothered Michael. I didn’t say smothered, just that Justin couldn’t live through Hannah the way Deb does with Michael.” I tell her.


“You had to pick the one person Justin promised himself he’d never be to Hannah. Brian, one of the things that Justin makes sure of is that Hannah understands that when she does something wrong, there is no one to blame but herself. He told me once that watching Deb blame everyone for Michael’s difficulties allowed him to become, and please know these are Justin’s exact words, ‘the useless whining asshole Michael is’.” She tells me.


“Justin never liked Michael.” I tell her.


“What’s to like about him? I know he’s a friend of yours but I just never saw what everyone else did about Michael. You know when he had that party that you and the rest of the gang attended with Deb? The next day Deb was at my door trying to figure out why he treated her as if she wasn’t good enough to be around the people Michael was meeting. I can agree that what you guys did was over the top, but not him saying she was an embarrassment in front of the whole party. It was the first time Deb ever seemed to see that Michael wasn’t the son she believed he was, but all it took was him showing up and all was forgotten without him having to do anything. Justin and Emmett have both said that was how everything for Michael was. It just left me wondering how someone like you who faced things, ended up with a friend who does anything but face his actions.” She tells me.


“Being away from him and Deb, made me face how little any of us made Michael deal with anything. It made it harder for me to overlook his constant need for my attention. I think we all were so used to giving in to Michael, that no one ever thought much about it. Justin did, but he never let Michael get to him.” I tell her.


“I think he still wouldn’t, but if it involves Hannah, you're dealing with Justin, the father, and that is someone you are meeting for the first time. My advice if you want it is, like I told Justin, get to know you as you are now, get to know him for who he is now. Justin can’t seem to get past being in love with you, but then, you stood still in time for him as the person he loved who wouldn’t love him.” She tells me.


“Justin got that part wrong, I would and could love him.” I tell her going to the door.


“You left it unanswered when you went on with your life, make him listen to you.” She tells me.


“If he’d listened with more than his ears, he would have known it eight years ago. Of course, I made it impossible for him to hear me.” I tell her closing the door.


Chapter 7 by starlight

JUSTIN


I asked the cab driver to just drive around Liberty Avenue. Since I came back I’ve avoided this part of Pittsburgh. This was the place I found myself and lost everything. I asked him to stop when he was passing by the diner. There was Deb, leaning on the counter talking to Michael and a group of guys. I didn’t need to see the new group of men she could blame for Michael being Michael. I paid the cab driver and got out, looking again before turning to walk away. I really acted like an asshole to Brian, all because my life did sound like Deb’s. I walked by Woody’s and kept going, not looking at the guys standing around.


“Justin?” I hear behind me.


“Ted. It’s been a while. I’m surprised you aren’t in the diner.” I tell him, not turning but continuing down the street.


“I figured out the diner should have been a place I remembered, not a place that I stayed forever in.” He tells me, catching up to walk beside me.


“Got tired of being Michael’s bitch?” I ask, not looking at him.


“I want more in my life then the same three places, or conversations that never change regardless of who was no longer around.” He tells me.

“He was gone but never forgotten, at least someone was.” I tell him.


“Justin, don’t take this wrong, but you’ve never been someone I thought whined.” Ted tells me.


“Lately I can’t seem to find a way not to sound like Michael. Which really makes me wonder if Brian was right tonight.” I tell him.


“Don’t go that far, even at your worst you couldn’t win the Whiner of Liberty Avenue award from Michael.” He tells me, laughing.


“Thanks for that one, it’s the only thing Michael outdid anyone in.” I tell him.


“Care to tell me why you're wandering the street, most likely thrilling all the boys?” He asks.


“I fought with Brian, nothing new there.” I tell him.


“Normally you two fight and Brian fucks the angry out of you both, so it’s definitely new to see you here wandering around.” He tells me.


“He compared the way I’m raising Hannah to the way Deb raised Michael, and it pissed me off. I keep forgetting he has no idea what my life is like.” I tell him, stopping at a new diner that wasn’t here when I left. “Want to go in, we could at least sit?” I ask him.


“Why not, maybe it’s time I actually get to know you.” He tells me, sitting in a booth.


“Hey, they have tuna on the menu.” I tell him, smiling.


“Maybe it’s time to try new things, branch out of the box I’ve lived in.” He tells me.


“Hannah, never orders the same thing twice, it’s like she thinks she’ll miss something if she doesn’t try new things. And yes, I’m the father who can’t not talk about my daughter.” I tell him.


“Hannah’s her name?” He asks.


“I always liked it when Mel mentioned it once. When I had Hannah, it seemed to fit her.” I tell him.


“So the walking around is because you wonder if maybe you shouldn’t have reacted so badly to what Brian said?” He asks me.


“I just don’t want to go back to my mother’s house angry, but it’s not like I have a lot of places to go.” I tell him.


“Justin, it sounds like you need to talk to Brian and give him a chance to explain why he would say something like that to you.” Ted tells me.


“He said it because I don’t really do anything but raise Hannah and work for Emmett’s partner.” I tell him,


“I met Charles, Emmett really did well with him.” I tell Justin.


“Emmett deserves the best in life.” I tell him.


“He does, and I’m glad that he was able to find someone who loves him. It’s something we all wanted.” He tells me.


“Not all of us.” I tell him.


“Brian wanted it, he just didn’t trust in love. Justin, if Brian loved anyone, I believe it was you.” He tells me.


“It’s just less than believable, when he stopped talking to me as soon as he left.” I tell him.


“I've never been one to take Brian’s side on anything, but you were barely eighteen, even I thought it was a good idea to let you see the world without wearing Brian colored glasses.” He tells me.


“He didn’t control me.” I tell him.


“No, you were capable of making your own decisions, it's just you didn’t seem to be as into all the things you were doing. Justin, you can't tell me you liked never knowing if Brian would be home.” He tells me.


“I can’t say much when I was just as bad about who I ended up with after a night out. Then it was fun, and I didn’t mind as long as Brian didn’t act like a shit all night. Which only happened when Michael was baiting him about me.” I tell him.


“You handled Michael’s jealousy, or it least you never seemed like it bothered you.” He tells me.


“My sister could deal with Michael at five, which was still a little above Michael’s age group.” I tell him.


“Tell me how you really feel.”


“I never hated Michael, not the way he seemed to hate me, it’s just, it was like talking to a child. All conversations centered around comics and Brian’s latest and greatest. I love Brian, but he wasn’t really that interesting. In a way he was like Michael, only Brian was all about sex and the next trick. For me there just had to be more to life than an endless party.” I tell him.


“Justin, until you came along Brian didn’t have a reason to have anything else. None of us did. You came, and at least for me, I saw the person I never was. I always saw you as fearless, which Charles tells me isn’t who you are anymore.” He tells me.


“In my work I’ll take anyone on, but I couldn’t raise Hannah with a series of men running through my house. It was what I had to do for Hannah.” I tell him.


“Hopefully you’ll take this better from me. Deb did that and look where she is now. She chases Michael around trying to be included in anything Michael is doing. I don’t know what caused you and Brian to fight, but I could see him not liking that you didn’t at least find something outside of Hannah. He always thought you would do great things in anything you decided to do. When he talked about you it was always as if he was in awe of the way you never seemed to stop wanting to do more and experience everything. Unlike Brian, you never hid who you were from your parents. It was something he was never able to do, tell them that the son they hated had another reason for them to hate him more.” He tells me.


“He did tell his father.” I tell him.


“Only when the man was dying, and really, when you think about it, what difference would it have made for Jack to know. Deb really should have left that one alone, I always thought that was more self-serving on Deb’s part.” He tells me.


“Really? She seemed to think it would help Jack understand Brian, at least that was what I got when she told him.” I tell him.


“Why would Brian need the asshole who abused him to understand anything about him? A blind person could see that was a train wreck waiting to happen. I think it just made her acceptance look better to Brian.” He tells me.


“That’s a slight change of tune, coming from you.” I tell him.


“I stopped not seeing the things that were there in front of my face. Deb isn’t supermom, she doles out her love based on if we do what she wants. She always wants to be the one we come to, as if she has all the answers. She isn’t evil, just not necessarily the person she thinks she is.” He tells me.


“Emmett said the same thing after the whole Michael thing.” I tell him.


“What actually happened?” He asks me.


“We were eating with my mom. Emmett saw Michael picking up a to go order and started to go over to say hi. Michael saw us and came over to say hi to Emmett, then he saw me with Hannah. He stood over me saying that I was a whore for screwing around on Brian. Emmett told him to leave, but Michael seemed to want me to know that I never deserved anything from Brian for having someone else’s bastard. When he lifted his hand as if to slap me, Emmett turned to him and knocked his ass to the ground, then hit him again when Michael asked if Emmett was the fucker I cheated with. When the police came they asked Emmett if he wanted to press charges and Emmett said he just wanted Michael away from Hannah and me. If Hannah hadn’t been in my arms, the story would have been different.” I tell him.


“If Brian ever finds that out we might be visiting Michael’s grave.” He tells me.


“Or expect us to all find a way to excuse Michael.” I tell him.


“Justin, Brian would have killed anyone who hurt you, even Michael.” He tells me.


“I never saw it that way.” I tell him.


“He knew you wouldn’t appreciate him treating you like you couldn’t take care of yourself. You didn’t need him to fight your battles, for him you were probably the only peace he got from everyone wanting him to solve everything.” He tells me.


“You know Ted, you never seemed like you thought anything about Brian was worth your time.” I tell him.


“At that time, I was dealing with my own jealousy issues. I might have hated the way Michael idolized Brian, but I paid attention and saw what was going on.” He tells me.


“I think I need to go see Brian, he doesn’t deserve the hot and cold treatment I’ve been giving him. I tell myself that he loved me, but somehow I can’t make myself believe it.” I tell him, paying the bill.


“I don’t think he knew he was in love, just that you were more than anyone else in his life.” He tells me.


“I understand why Emmett misses you. It’s strange that we never really talked to each other.” I tell him.


“You were busy becoming a King, while I was still old reliable Ted.” He tells me.


“Emmett never saw you as anything but his best friend. If I have to stop whining like Michael, you have to stop letting what Michael said about you mean anything.” I tell him, hailing a cab.


“Do you think he's willing to forgive me?” Ted asks.


“He only waited for you to call him, that's something he hasn't forgiven you for, not calling.” I tell him.


BRIAN


I sat on my sofa with a bottle almost gone, and other than get me drunk, it didn't do anything. When the buzzer went off I glared at it for daring to make noise. I waited because it should go off again without stopping if it's one of the two assholes who need to get a fucking life. It buzzed again but stopped, so I felt the person deserved a thank you for knowing how to ring a buzzer. I let whoever it was in, and opened the door, going back to finish what I started tonight.


“Reliving your youth?” Justin asks, taking the bottle out of my hands.


“Hoping that bottle could rewind my life.” I tell him, grinning.


“Nope, just make you wish you never drank it tomorrow.” He tells me.


“Why not? It's not like I have anything to do with the rest of my life.” I tell him.


“What are you talking about?” He asks.


“I accomplished everything I set out to do, now I'm untethered to anything.” I tell him.


“I'm still not understanding. “ He tells me.


“I'm retired, don’t have a reason to work.” I tell him.


“It was everything you wanted.” He tells me.


“Sure, if being rich was all I wanted. I think I'm cursed.” I tell him.


“Being rich isn't a curse.” He tells me.


“Never being able to get close to anyone because there was only one person for me, trust me, it's a curse.” I tell him, getting up to see if there was anything to eat.


“Sit down before you fall down, I doubt cooking ever made it into your skill set.” He tells me, looking through my cabinets.


“Why bother, you were the one who did that.” I tell him, falling in a chair.


“I wasn’t there to do that for you.” He tells me.


“All because of unopened mail.” I tell him, frowning.


“All because I didn’t try harder.” He tells me.


“Wait, you're not doing this right.” I tell him.


“Doing what right? I think we need to sober you up.” He tells me.


“The game, you know, blame Brian. Everyone plays it, you just never tried. It's easy, you fuck up, and find some way it's my fault. Lindsay is still playing it. I'm sure Michael would if I'd call him.” I tell him.


“How is she playing?” He asks, kneeling in front of me.


“She thinks that all I do is ruin your chances at fame.” I tell him.


“Bullshit, she thinks I'm ruining her chances of being the only one to have your baby.” He tells me.


“You're the only one I would ever want to have my baby.” I tell him.


“Then you got what you wanted, because Hannah’s here.” He tells me.


“I hate Lindsay for what she did, but I can’t hate Gus.” I tell him.


“He's too special for you to hate. He's the best part of you.” He tells me.


“Just like you once were, and Hannah is.” I tell him.


“Was I?” He asks.


“You gave me a life, but I didn’t know I was ready.” I tell him.


“You think you are now?” He asks.


“I've always been, I just didn’t think you were.” I tell him.


“You know, maybe instead of trying to find food, it's time for bed.” Justin tells me, pulling me up and walking my toward my bedroom.


“I can't sleep there.” I tell him.


“Why not?” He asks.


“You're not there.” I tell him.


“Then we both get in and see if you can sleep there again.” He tells me, taking off my shirt and pants.


“Okay.” I tell him, laying down.


I waited until he called his mom and then laid down to pull him on my chest. “You've always been the only one I wanted touching me when I slept.” I tell him.


“Why?”


“I trusted you not to hurt me.” I tell him, closing my eyes.




















Chapter 8 by starlight

JUSTIN


I woke up to smelling something burning in the kitchen. Not realizing that I wasn’t home my first thought was that Hannah was trying to cook. It wasn’t until I got up that I remembered where I was. I took a deep breath and decided that it was time to let go of the past and see if my future was the idiot standing in the kitchen, who never learned to cook.


“Brian, what are you doing?” I ask, not believing the mess he was making.


“I wanted you to have a proper breakfast, since the first one I gave you is still not in the cards.” He tells me, waving a fork.


“That’s really nice of you, but maybe let me cook, since I like eggs without black crust.” I tell him, taking the pan and throwing it in the sink.


“Now you see why I did take out and the diner so much.” He tells me, shrugging.


“It was a mystery to me that you could be so picky about what you put in your body, but ate at the diner so much. Nothing cooked there didn’t swim in grease.” I tell him.


“I really just picked at the stuff I wanted to eat.” He tells me.


“Hannah will try anything, but quiz about exactly how it’s prepared. You should see waiters when she asks what oil they use and do they cook all the foods on the same surface.” I tell him, cracking eggs.


“Why did you come here last night?” He asks.


“I overreacted to what you said, I know you didn’t mean it the way it sounded. It’s just hard when you compare me to them.” I tell him.


“What got you to calm down?” He asks me.


“I talked it out with someone I never really talked to before, Ted. He really made me think about things in a different way.” I tell him.


“Where did you find Ted?” He asks me.


“When I left, I went to Liberty Avenue, and got out at the diner. Then I just walked. Ted found me wandering around. We talked and he told me how he saw things that happened, and it made me realize that only I saw things the way I perceived them. It’s weird to think that I never really talked to him.” I tell him, putting everything on plates.


“Ted was Michael’s Michael, he stood around waiting for something Michael couldn’t give him, and hated me for Michael wanting them from me.” He tells me.


“Why didn’t you? I always wondered about that.” I tell him.


“Michael would have been a noose around my neck. I loved Michael, but as a brother. He would never have fit into my life. We would have ended up hating each other because I would always want what he couldn’t give me. I just never loved him that way.” He tells me. “I found love in a place it wasn’t suppose to be, in a kid under a streetlight.” He tells me.


I couldn’t look at him, because I was afraid that he would realize what he just said. He said it without making it sound like a joke, or sarcastically.


“Justin, I know I never said it, and I can’t even say that I knew it then. It’s just, I missed you more than I thought I could. I left thinking that it would just fade away, but it was always right in front of me. I wanted you to live and have everything I never had. I loved you enough to let you go and find what you were looking for. I always hoped one day you would come back to me.” He tells me.


“So you let me go, hoping one day when I finished what I needed to do, I’d find you? Brian, learn to be selfish, I would have still done what I needed with you by my side.” I tell him.


“Does this mean you're willing to try again?” He asks.


“There are things that you need to understand, I don’t know if I could live here again. I can’t live with everyone trying to jump in. I won’t play the games we used to play. If you still need other men, then you do it without me being involved, and never bring them around Hannah.” I tell him.


“Justin, if we are really going to do this, other men can’t be a part of it. You deserve to have all of me, not just the parts I allowed you to have before. I need you to tell me what you meant when you said that you could have tried harder.” He tells me.


“Why couldn’t you be like other drunks and forget things you hear? Emmett wanted us to go see you and I refused, so I didn’t do everything I could have.” I tell him.


“I wouldn’t have talked to you.” He tells me.


“Brian, let’s not find a way to blame you for everything. I’m done feeling sorry for myself and you need to quit trying to find a way it’s always your fault.” I tell him.


“There’s only one other thing that I have to figure out. I came back to be closer to Gus, Chicago isn’t close enough.” He tells me.


“Brian, my job and really everything is there.” I tell him.


“Last night I told you I was retired, but I don’t see that being it for me. I want to finally start my own company. I wouldn’t mind if it was a joint venture.” He tells me.


“You want to do it here don’t you?” I ask, not sure if I could do this.


“I could do it in Chicago, it’s just that I want certain people and they are all here, but one.” He tells me.


“Is there someone in New York that you're going to court?” I ask him.


“Justin, there is only one artist I ever wanted to court.” He tells me.


“Charles will fight you.” He tells me.


“Charles got Emmett, he doesn’t get to have it all. As for where I want it to be, here, but we don’t have to live here. You don’t even have to come into Pittsburgh. I can set it up so that you can work from our house.” He tells me.


“House? Brian we aren’t going to automatically move in with each other.” I tell him.


“Then I’ll buy a house big enough that you can hide in your own room. If we are both going to raise Hannah, I want to do it in one place, not two. If you can’t live here, than I’ll do what it takes to be with both of you. I just can’t forget my son in all of this.” He tells me.


“Last night you said Lindsay is saying you were ruining my chances at fame. Do you honestly believe that is why she did what she did? I don’t.” I tell him.


“I don’t know what to believe anymore when it comes to the girls. Mel wanted to convince me that was the reason, but if it isn’t, than she would have to face the only other thing it could be.” He tells me.


“That her wife doesn’t like the competition for attention.” I tell him.


“There never was a competition, like I told her, being the mother of my son didn’t make her special in my eyes. It’s just I know that we are about to fight over Gus. I need to know if you will stand with me if I have to go for custody.” He tells me.


“You are thinking of trying to reverse giving him up?” I ask.


“I made sure if I wanted to they couldn’t say I wasn’t supporting Gus, and in essence being his father. Neither of them seems to remember that part of giving up Gus meant not cashing support checks.” He tells me.


“Is that even enough?” I ask him.


“Mel never officially adopted Gus, so yes, I can still regain custody of my son. I’ve done everything a father does for Gus.” He tells me.


“They will fight you, Mel never wanted you around.” I tell him.


“Then she should have fought to keep me from being the father, and she should have adopted MY son when she had the chance. Granted, now that they are using Michael for the next one, I think they are going to find out that me wanting to see Gus isn’t as bad as what Michael and Deb are going to expect.” He tells me.


“Please tell me you're kidding.” I tell him.


“Got the news from Gus, and Mel let me know she wanted someone who wouldn’t give them the same problems I did.” He tells me.


“Do they not realize that Deb is going to expect them to let her tell them how to do everything. That Michael is going to act like them using him, means they owe him their souls. Shit, if they paid attention to the way he is with you, they would have known better.” I tell him.


“Let them learn on their own. I want us to worry about our family.” He tells me.


“Brian where would we live if I considered this, it can’t be anywhere close by. I’m not saying I couldn’t handle Michael and her, I just don’t feel the need to have that back in my life.” I tell him.


“I’m not against Chicago, if I can get the people I want to move there, then I’ll open up there.” He tells me.


“I have to talk to Charles first, he gave me a chance and I can’t just quit on him.” I tell him.


“If I do this in Chicago, there is a chance Charles and I could talk about him joining me.” He tells me.


“Who do I have to help you get?” I ask him.


“Cynthia, who still works for Vanguard. If you don’t want head of the Art Department, Murph, and I’ve been considering getting Ted out of his closet and into the real world.” He tells me.


“Get Murph, because I don’t want the job. I’m about to have my first show in Chicago.” I tell him.


“A show?”


“I like graphics, but I never gave up being an artist.” I tell him.


“Charles was wrong, the fire was still burning in you. You just did it when you wanted it.” He tells me.


“Until I did, there was no point in doing it. Like I told you, I never do anything unless I want it.” I tell him.


“Always want things Justin, it’s something I love about you.” He tells me.


“I love that you loved Hannah the minute you knew.” I tell him, kissing him.



Chapter 9 by starlight

JUSTIN


Brian and I showed up at my mother’s house, and Emmett was practically gleeful. He always believed that Brian and I belong together. He just didn’t want to try to tell us how to live our lives. Hannah ran for Brian first.


“So did you two figure out anything?” Emmett asks.


“We are going to try again, but this time we understand each other. The only problem we’re having is figuring out where. He wants to start a company of his own and the people he wants to work with live here, well, one doesn’t.” I tell him.


“So he’s trying to steal my artist?” Charles asks.


“If he decides on Chicago, he thinks you and he could work together. I think if I wasn’t part of the equation it would be here.” I tell him.


“Business wise he would be smarter to stay here, he knows the people and businesses here, in Chicago he’d be starting from scratch.” Charles tells me.


“We’ll have to see if Cynthia, Ted, and Murph are willing to relocate.” I tell them.


“Ted, my Ted?” Emmett asks.


“Yes, your Teddy. Brian said he wanted to get Ted out of his closet. I think he plans to invite them to dinner tomorrow to see whether they want to venture into the unknown with him.” I tell him.


“If Brian is doing it, they’d be crazy not to run for it. Justin, maybe it’s time for you to compromise, it sounds like Brian is the one compromising everything for you.” Emmett tells us.


“Justin, if you really want this, I’ll support you.” Charles tells me.


“I never stopped wanting him, it’s just everything else that was the problem.” I tell him.


“Then do what it takes to get rid of the problems.” Emmett tells me.


“We only get to break Michael’s nose once a decade.” I tell Emmett, who is giggling with me.


Emmett’s phone rang and he stopped laughing and smiled when he looked at the screen. “He finally called.” He tells Charles.


EMMETT


I went outside before answering, I didn’t want anyone around when I answered Ted.

“Teddy, how are you?” I ask.


“I’m good, but would be better if you would agree to have lunch, or at least let me apologize for not letting you explain.” He tells me.


“All you ever had to do was call. I would forgive you for anything.” I tell him.


“You should at least make me work for it, the way Justin was last night.” He tells me.


“You saw Justin?” I ask.


“He was walking down Liberty Avenue, I figured I need to keep the other guys who were eyeing him from getting their heads bitten off. Brian really pissed him off.” He tells me.


“They seemed okay when they showed up at Jen’s house.” I tell him.


“I’m glad that he didn’t let what Brian said get to him.” He tells me.


“What did Brian say to Justin?” I ask.


“If they want you to know they’ll tell you. I won’t be another person who interferes with their relationship. So instead, how about you and I see if we can find a way to be the friends we were.” Ted tells me.


“I think Brian wants to talk to you tomorrow at dinner. I’ll make sure Charles and I are there.” I tell him.


“Why would Brian want to talk to me?” He asks.


“I’ll let Brian tell you, just answer when he calls you. You're on a short list of invited, a very short list.” I tell him.


“You aren’t going to tell me are you? Do you not realize that it’s a reason to be afraid, that I’m on a list of people Brian wants to talk to?” He asks me.


“Does it help that Lindsay and Michael aren’t on it?” I ask.


“A little, but maybe if you tell me who else is on it, I can control the image of Brian breathing fire on me out of my head.” He tells me.


“Cynthia is on it.” I tell him.


“His old PA?” He asks.


“Hopefully his soon-to-be PA, and that’s all you're getting.” I tell him.


“I guess it can’t be that bad then. Of course, being able to talk to my friend Emmett is worth anything.” He tells me.


“I love you Teddy, you know that don’t you? No matter what happened, I always loved you.” I tell him.


“I love you too Emmett, and I plan to show you that you were the friend I should have stuck by.” He tells me.


“Leave it where it belongs, in our past. I want to start with a clean slate.” I tell him.


Charles came out, and waited for me to hang up before opening his arms for me. I walked into the arms of the man who made my life everything I wanted.


“Everything okay?” He asks.


“Everything is fabulous, Teddy called.” I tell him.


BRIAN


I made the calls and wasn’t surprised when they all agreed to have dinner with me. I asked Cynthia to come to the loft before dinner, because I wanted to offer her more than her old job. Justin called to tell me he would be a few minutes late because Molly was coming home and had a surprise for him. He promised to be here as soon as he found out what Molly was up to.


“Brian Kinney, I should kick your ass for not making me go with you.” Cynthia tells me.


“There are a lot of things I should have done, but I’m working on correcting all of them.” I tell her.


“So this isn’t just dinner?” She asks.


“I want to offer you a chance to finally spread your wings. I’m starting a company, and I think it’s time that you become what you are, an Ad exec.” I tell her.


“Not your assistant?” She asks.


“You were always more than that, not that Vance will ever see that.” I tell her.


“Who else are you trying to get? I still have contact with most of the people who you didn’t complain about.” She tells me.


“Murph is coming to dinner, Justin doesn’t want to head the art department. Ted, if he has any sense will join as CFO. The only thing that could be a problem is where the company will be located. I wanted to do it here but Justin doesn’t want to live here.” I tell her.


“Justin as in the Justin who was allowed to interrupt your day?” She asks me.


“One and the same, also the father of our daughter Hannah.” I tell her.


“When did you two get back together? The last time we talked you didn’t mention him.” She asks.


“Last time we talked I didn’t know he had my daughter seven years ago.” I tell her.


“He didn’t tell you?” She asks.


“He tried. Unfortunately he made the mistake of trusting my friends to get me to listen to him.” I tell her.


“He didn’t go to Lindsay did he?” She asks me.


“He thought they were friends.” I tell her.


“No one is that woman’s friend, unless they serve a purpose for her.” Cynthia tells me.


“I never knew you cared one way or the other about Lindsay.” I tell her.


“Most of the time I didn’t really care at all. She wasn’t like Michael, who never understood you had a job that didn’t include catering to his whims, but she didn’t like it if you were busy when she called. She was in the office one day when you were in a meeting and Justin called, it wasn’t fun when I put him through and didn’t let her in your office.” She tells me.


“Why didn’t you tell me?” I ask.


“She didn’t make a scene, just commented that you were probably lining up your tricks for the night. I don’t know for sure, but it was like she only thought Justin was around in case you didn’t find someone else for the night. Then it was like she realized what she said, and she tried to act like it was joke by saying Justin should concentrate on his art, not you.” She tells me.


“They are not friends, and if Lindsay sniffs around, nothing about Justin or our daughter Hannah is mentioned around her.” I tell her.


“I never discuss your private life.” She tells me.


“When Justin gets here we can meet the others.” I tell her, wondering where he was.


JUSTIN


I parked behind Brian’s car, so I didn’t see who was standing in front of his passenger door until I got out.


“You just can’t leave Brian alone.” He tells me.


“He hasn’t changed, not that I ever saw that as a possibility. It would have required more than the two brain cells he possesses.” Daphne tells me.


“Oh look, it’s your little girlfriend. I guess you have to have someone to fight for you.” Michael sneers.


“Not really, I just think fighting you is like fighting cockroaches. You hide in the shadows and only come out when you think it’s safe. If you really want to do this, find some original lines. I already know the ‘he doesn’t do love’, ‘I can’t expect him to change for me’, and the oh so famous ‘he always has and always will’. Try something I haven’t heard, because I at least want to feel like you have half a chance of joining me in the ring.” I tell him.


“Why would I want to be in a ring with someone who lets anyone fuck them.” He tells me.


“Wait, are you insulting Brian or Justin?” Daphne asks him.


“Really, I doubt you ever made up the numbers Brian was bringing to the table.” She tells me.


“At least I wasn’t a fucking stalker who didn’t understand no one wanted him around.” He tells her.


“Man, Brian sure fucked me like he wanted me around, you know what that’s like, oh wait, you don’t.” I tell him, smirking.


“He would never have wanted me to be a trick.” He tells me.


“If you stopped at never wanted you, I could agree.” I tell him.


“I’m the one he still wanted in his life after he left, can you say the same?” He tells me.


“Nope I can’t, but notice who he’s with now.” I tell him.


“Enjoy it while it lasts, you know, until his next trick.” He tells me.


“Justin, if I punch him do you think the police will think it justifiable, it’s something I always wanted to do.” Daphne tells me, hopping up and down and clapping. “What, it’s as childish as I can be, Michael would understand it.” She tells me, when I shake my head at her.


“Daphne, you’re about to actually be a doctor, there is just no way for you to dumb down to his level.” I tell her.


“Brian came to me when it was important, who do you think he came to when his father died, it certainly wasn’t you. He took me with him and he stayed at my house, in my bed. He wanted someone who wasn’t just the guy he fucked.” He tells me.


“Yet when he was losing his job, what was it you did to help him? Chicken and pizza, and a speech about how it was his fault, that was your answer.” I tell him.


“It was better than you sitting around doing your homework.” He tells me.


“He did a lot of homework to get rid of that asshole.” Daphne tells Michael.


“Justin?” Brian asks.


“Hey, look who’s here.” I tell him, hoping he missed that part.


“Brian, I came here to see you, not the blond pain in your ass.” Michael says loudly.


“Then you wasted your time coming here, because the only pain in my ass is you.” Brian sneers.


“He’s a lying scheming little shit who most likely found someone who looked like you so you’d think his bastard…”


“My what, are you ready to back that up?” I tell him when he stood there holding his eye. “I can correct your nose too, it looks like the doctor didn’t set it right.” I tell him, as Brian grabs me. “No, if Michael wants to say anything about my daughter he better be ready to back it up, because I have no problem explaining to anyone why I stomped the fucker in the ground.” I tell them.


“Did it feel good? I’ve always wondered.” Cynthia asks me.


“I don’t know, let me try it again.” I tell her, slipping from Brian’s grasp and walking towards Michael. “Why are you backing away, afraid you need to bring someone to help you fight?” I ask, as he turns and takes off.


“Justin.”  Brian calls me.


“I’m not sorry.” I tell him.


“You have no reason to be, I was just wondering if you needed ice for your hand before we go to dinner.” He tells me. “Daphne, gorgeous as always, but I think you get to explain that statement.” He tells her, and yes, that whine came from me. Why does he never forget the things I don’t want to explain.


“I can explain a lot to you about your bestie and Justin, all you ever had to do was ask.” She tells him.




 

Chapter 10 by starlight

BRIAN


We were winding up the business discussion and everyone was on board. The only area that was still up in the air was location. Justin stayed quiet when we were trying to debate which city should win.


“If we join my company to yours, there is a way to have it in both places.” Charles tells me.


“My team in Pittsburgh and yours in Chicago?” I ask him.


“The headquarters in Chicago but a second office here in Pittsburgh. You and I would have to travel back and forth, but you could live in either city.” He tells me.


“I could keep the loft for when I need to be here, then Justin and I buy a house in Chicago and live there.” I suggest.


“It would solve the issues here from showing up.” Ted tells me.


“We hire a few more execs and really, you’d only be here to approve the campaigns before we present them.” Cynthia tells me.


“With Charles’s firm handling graphics, the artists I hire would have access to people who can do the graphics while we handle the rest.” Murph tells me.


“Justin can do both, so keeping him in Chicago will help my guys transition into the kind you want for your boards. We have helped with Ad firms, but not to the extent that you want.” Charles tells me.


“Okay then, Ted, you work with Charles on the financing to buy into his firm for me.” I tell Ted.


“I have to quit my job first. I don’t want it to look like I was cheating my boss, by providing the service he provides to his clients.” Ted tells me.


“Do that in the morning, and feel free to give notice. We aren’t going to be up and running for a while, so all of you have time to leave your jobs without any hard feelings. When you’re ready, call me and I’ll start you to work on the new company.” I tell them.


“What are you planning on naming it?” Ted asks.


I look over at Justin, who is doodling on a napkin. “What are you drawing?” I ask.


“It was just something that I thought up.” He tells me, handing it to me.


“Kinnetik, with two N’s?” I ask him.


“A play on your name.” He shrugs.


I leaned over and kissed him, for naming all the important parts of my life. ”Kinnetik it is.” I tell him.


When everyone was ready, I paid the bill and Murph left to go home while the rest of us decided to go out to Woody’s for old times sake. Emmett wanted to take Charles to see the places he used to go. Justin and I were playing pool while Ted and Emmett laughed when Justin missed the shot because I sat next to the hole, smirking at him.

 

“Isn’t this fucking cozy, while my son has a black eye.” Deb screeches.


“Justin, we agreed, only once a decade.” Emmett tells me looking to Deb.


“He called Hannah a bastard twice in the same decade.” Justin tells Emmett.


“Apparently you don’t like what you made your child.” Deb tells him.


“So you call Michael a bastard too? It explains so much about why he’s so bitter. He couldn’t compete with Justin in intelligence, or well, anything, but by God, don’t let someone usurp Michael’s bastardhood.” Daphne tells her.


“Don’t you speak about my son that way.” Deb tells her, pointing a nail in her face.


“Then your son needs to learn what speaking about my daughter that way will do to him. Justin gave him a black eye, and you need to thank him for dealing with it, because if he opens his mouth about Justin or MY daughter again, he’ll need an undertaker.” I tell her.


“Brian I don’t understand how you could treat Michael as if he hadn’t always been there for you. He wouldn’t have made you miss your child’s life like Justin did. You can’t throw away years of friendship over someone you barely knew.” She tells me.


“Is this what you did to Brian everytime he pulled away from Michael? Deb, Michael wasn’t doing anything for Brian out of friendship, he did it because he wanted Brian to be with him.” Emmett tells her.


“Brian gave him the encouragement, by giving him enough to think that it would one day be his. Michael can’t be blamed for believing that Brian wanted him. You lost the right to say anything about Michael when you hurt him.” She tells Emmett.


“Yet when you needed Brian to get Michael back together with David, it was okay that you had everyone turning on Brian. Making sure everyone blamed Brian, for what YOU asked him to do. Instead of staying and telling everyone that Brian was doing what you asked, you made sure they were all pissed at him. I loved when you came over the next morning practically patting him on the back for losing his friends to give your son what you wanted for him. Then didn’t do anything to help Brian when they all treated him like garbage. It really made me see how little you loved anyone but Michael.” Justin tells her.


“You ASKED Brian to do that?” Emmett asks her.


“Michael would have stayed and waited for Brian to get his dick out of everyone else’s ass. I wanted my son to have a chance at a future that didn’t include chasing Brian and being a child forever. He needed to grow up, but Brian wouldn’t let him.” She tells us.


“You really can’t see that Michael needed to be the one to grow up on his own, but then that would have meant you not coddling his ass and kissing all the boo boo’s. I don’t get you, you give Justin advice on standing up for himself, but if it was Michael, you expected everyone else to do it. You're acting like Michael, who couldn’t go a day without calling Brian for everything, and then crying to you when he didn’t like what he heard, deserved more from people than men who faced their problems. Woman, you need to go see someone for your problems, Michael does something, and somehow they were all supposed to clean up behind your thirty year old son. Then you come here and try to justify your son’s actions, but not liking when I called your son the same thing to your face. Trust me, I saw your hand, so slapping me would be okay?” Daphne asks her.


“Justin made mistakes too, but no one thinks about that. All of you think he’s a kind person, but he was always taunting Michael that he had Brian. Showing Michael that Brian wanted him, you can’t blame Michael for not liking Justin.” She tells us.


“I get it, the blame game. Deb started it and everyone played. Where did it start? Was it not wanting to own up to your own mistake of getting pregnant with Michael? Did it make you realize that as long as you could cover your own ass by pretending to be married to a dead man, that it would mean not ever having to say you weren’t perfect? Give me a clue at how my life became a way to keep Michael the golden boy in your eyes?” I ask her. “Find someone new to blame for your son, because I don’t have time to play with you anymore. You and Michael need to find a new patsy.” I tell her.


“Michael doesn’t need people like you when he has all of Liberty Avenue. Enjoy your night here, I’m sure the people here won’t be as welcoming when they find out the way you treat people.” Deb tells us, walking out.


“She really thinks that anyone gives a shit about her and Michael?” Cynthia asks.


“The world according to Deb, everyone owes her for her serving them a sandwich.” Daphne tells her.


“Since she never served me anything but constant phone calls, I’m in the clear.” Cynthia tells us.


“Just be happy that you never ate there, because the indigestion wasn’t worth the price of admission into her family.” Daphne tells her.


“Hey, I made sure the stuff we ate didn’t kill us.” Justin tells Daphne.


“It was the only time I was willing to eat there, when you cooked it.” She tells him.


“So Daphne, what did Justin do to Kip?” I ask her.


“It wasn’t really a big thing.” Justin tells me, staring at Daphne.


“Kip?” Cynthia asks.


“Yes, it seems Justin did something to get rid of Kip, other than his homework.” I tell her.


“You have some ’splaining to do Lucy.” Ted tells Justin.


“It was all a mystery.” Justin tells us, going to the bar.


“But not to you?” I ask Daphne.


“Please, he had to tell someone, of course it was me. Kip just learned that no one accuses you of things unless they want to be accused of worse. Kip fell for it and you were free.” Daphne tells us, trying to get up.


“Sit down and tell me, it’s always killed me that he just gave up on that case against Brian.” Cynthia tells her.


“He hit on Kip, made sure to go home with him, and told him about the guy his father put in jail for touching Justin since he was only seventeen. I think Kip thought prison wasn’t worth false accusations.” Daphne tells her.


“I’m going to spank his ass.” I tell them.


“Like he wouldn’t see that as a good thing?” Ted tells me.


“He didn’t do it for any reason but to help you.” Daphne tells me.


“He could have told me what he did, no one ever knew why.” I tell her.


“He didn’t see any reason, he didn’t do it to get your attention the way your bestie would have. He did it because he hated that anyone could be accused of things they didn’t do. He didn’t want you to thank him, he just wanted to know you were okay.” She tells me.


“Unlike Michael, who would have shouted from the roof top, that he save you.” Emmett tells me.


“Unlike Michael, who sniped at Justin for breathing.” Daphne tells us.


“Was that all Michael did to Justin?” I ask.


“Directly yes, indirectly he used you to fight dirty. He made sure to play on your insecurities and made sure that if Justin got too close, to say things to you that would have you treating Justin like shit.” She tells me.


“Like when Justin first came around, he was hinting that I needed to get rid of Justin.” I tell her.


“Or inspecting his room, and telling Justin when you went out with him. Telling Justin every trick you took that wasn’t him to the backroom and making sure that Justin understood that he would never have all of you the way Michael did. Of course, when you were there, he was always trying to act like he liked Justin, just didn’t see why you had to include Justin in everything.” She tells me.


“He called it adopting a trick.” I tell her.


“What did you call it?” She asks me.


“That was my problem, what to call him.” I tell her.


“What do you want to call him now?” Emmett asks me.


“My other half.” I tell them, getting up to take my other half home to our daughter.



Chapter 11 by starlight

MEL


When the doorbell rang, followed by a banging, it could only be Deb and Michael. I opened the door, hoping this would be a short visit. The black eye on Michael said no it wouldn’t.


“What happened to you?” I ask Michael.


“Justin hit me.” He whined.


“Justin hit you?” Lindsay asks, as I let them in.


“The little shit is still jealous of my relationship with Brian.” He tells us.


“I’ve just never seen Justin as violent.” I tell them.


“This happened when he didn’t like hearing the truth. It worries me what Justin will do if Gus ever upsets him.” he tells us.


“Justin wouldn’t hurt Gus.” I tell him.


“How do we know that, we don’t know what he’s like anymore. What if Michael is right, maybe we need to tell Brian that we won’t have Gus around Justin. Brian should think about their daughter too. Brian could get custody of her.” Lindsay tells us.


“Brian needs to get away from Justin and his brat, not make it so Justin would have a reason to see Brian. Brian doesn’t need more things distracting him from the people who matter.” Michael tells us.


“I just meant that Mel and I could help Brian with the girl. Brian doesn’t need to keep Justin around.” Lindsay tells them.


“It wouldn’t matter, Justin would think it gave him the right to stick around, annoying Brian.” Michael tells us.


I got up and left the room while they were planning how to get Brian away from Justin. I pulled out a box of cookies and sat there wondering when it would stop being about Brian Kinney for them. Deb came in, pulling the cookies from my hand.


“You need to eat something without all that sugar. It’s not good for you, or for my grandchild. I should just come over here and make sure you eat better.” She tells me, grabbing a casserole she stocked our freezer with. “Why haven’t you guys eaten some of these? I made them to help you out.” She complains.


“Lindsay doesn’t like to eat heavy meals all the time.” I tell her.


“Well I expect when I make you things, that you eat them. The vegan shit Lindsay makes won’t give the baby what it needs.” She tells me. I wanted to ask if the grease was healthy for the baby.


“What we eat is fine, and really, there is no need for you to keep showing up with more food.” I tell her.


“I wanted to talk to you alone, Brian needs to see that he can’t treat us like this.” She tells me.


“I thought it was Justin who hit Michael?” I ask, confused about where she’s going with this.


“He supported Justin, not Michael, like when Justin supported Emmett. We all should make sure they understand we won’t stand for it.” She tells me.


“By doing what? Telling Brian he can’t see Gus?” I ask her.


“Of course not, Gus loves Brian, but there is no reason for Justin to be around Gus.” She tells me.


“What about Hannah, she’s his sister?” I ask.


“It’s not like Gus would miss a sister he really doesn’t know. You're going to have his real sibling, that should be enough.” She tells me.


“Deb, Justin’s daughter is related by blood to Gus, out of the two kids, mine is only related to him because he’s my son.” I tell her.


“A son who lives with you, not Brian. I want this child to know we love it the way I love my Michael.” She tells me.


“I’m tired, I think I’ll go lay down.” I tell her, in order to get away before I scream that my child will never be loved the way Deb does it. On the way upstairs I hear Lindsay agreeing to tell Brian that Justin shouldn’t be around Gus. None of them seem to remember who we are dealing with, if Brian wants Gus to see Justin, he’ll make sure none of us can stop him.


JUSTIN


When we got back to my mom’s house, Brian and I headed straight up to see our daughter. Hannah was was wide awake and when she saw us tried to pretend she was asleep.


“Why are you still awake?” I ask, her sitting next to her.


“Because silly, Daddy was coming. I didn’t want to miss it, since we have to go home soon.” She tells me sadly.


“I’m going to be a part of your life, even if I only visit often at first. I need to deal with some things for Gus, so that he can see me more too.” Brian tells her.


“So I won’t only see you if we come here?” She asks Brian.


“No, I don’t want to not see you grow up.” He tells her.


“Then you better stay around, I’m growing up all the time.” She tells him, yawning.


“That’s my plan, baby girl.” He tells her, kissing her head.


“Good plan Daddy.” She tells him as she closes her eyes.


We stayed to make sure she was asleep then went down stairs and found my mom shaking her head.


“Hannah didn’t cause problems did she?” I ask Mom.


“Justin, you know she’s always good for me. Care to tell me what happened today? If not, I got an earful from Deb.” She tells me.


“Michael opened his mouth and said the wrong thing. He seems to think he can say anything that he wants and nothing happens, I showed him it does.” I tell her.


“Well apparently, we all should be thanking Deb that you aren’t in jail.” She tells me.


“I don’t think he would be happy to have to tell why I hit him. With four witnesses he couldn’t lie about why I hit his ass.” I tell her.


“Why can’t he just leave you alone the way you were leaving him alone?” She asks me.


“Because he knows that I want Justin back in my life.” Brian tells her.


“But why not go to you, and leave Justin alone?” She asks Brian.


“If he came to me, he would know that there will never be a chance. He keeps his fantasy when he can compare the way we were in the beginning. When I didn’t want to give Justin a place in my life. Michael had a place he could point to and say, I wanted Michael in my life, but not Justin. If he faced me, he would have to also face the fact that Justin had a place in my life that no one else did.” Brian tells her.


“Just be prepared, because her last words were that you shouldn’t be surprised when Lindsay and Mel feel Gus shouldn’t be around Justin.” She tells us.


“It will be the last mistake they make with me concerning Gus.” Brian tells her.


“Mom, I’m going to go with Brian to the loft tonight, we’ll be back before Hannah wakes up.” I tell her.


“Justin, I took time off to spend with her too, so do what you need to do.” She tells me.


BRIAN


I wanted to drive over to Deb’s and tell her that fucking with my relationship with Gus crossed a line with me. When Justin told her that he was coming with me to the loft, I knew it was to stop me.


“Brian, going over there as pissed as you are won’t change anything, but possibly cause more trouble.” He tells me.


“How did you even know what I wanted to do?” I ask him.


“Between homework assignments I studied the Kinney operation manual. If they gave tests I would’ve aced the section on action and reaction.” He tells me.


“Really, give me an example of a situation and what you predicted would happen.” I tell him.


“Let’s not, none of the examples I could give you are very happy ones.” He tells me, looking out the window.


“Justin, give me an example.” I tell him when he stays silent.


“Anytime Michael joked that we were a couple, I knew it would have you finding a way to prove to me that we weren’t. When Lindsay would coo over things you did, saying she was so happy to see you showed you cared for me, that would be a trip to the baths to prove her wrong. Like I said, nothing happy about it.” Justin tells me.


“They were jealous of you. I let you in places in my life they were never allowed. Michael wanted us to get an apartment together when I got my first job. I told him no, because no one was ever going to live with me. Then I let you move in. Instead of agreeing to Gus’s name, I asked you, someone I didn’t even know at the time. Then brought you with me when they wanted me to give them Gus. When I didn’t sign the papers she knew what you said had me rethinking giving him up. She was used to me just going along with what she wanted.” I tell him.


“I thought you couldn’t give him up because you realized he was yours.” He tells me.


“And I had this voice in my head that reminded me what I was giving up. The voice sounded suspiciously like yours.” I tell him.


“I knew what it felt like to have a parent not want me. I didn’t want Gus to ever feel that.” He tells me.


“You made it so I could see my future if I gave him up. I never want to be compared to your father.” I tell him.


“You're nothing like him, Gus will never have to wonder if you love him.” He tells me.


I thought about what he said, to be left wondering if the person you loved, loved you. Justin spent his life always wondering about it and never being able to say one way or the other what the truth was. I drove to the loft but instead of going in I took him to the roof.


“Why are we up here?” Justin asks.


“Justin Taylor, I love you.” I shouted from the roof top.


I turned to see the smile that always lit up a room and opened my arms to him.


LINDSAY


I waited in the loft for Brian, he was going to understand that he risked losing access to Gus if he continued to see Justin. The door slid open and there he was, once again in Brian’s arms. They didn’t even see me as they continued groping each other as if any space between them was too much. I hated that they still had that, when most days I barely waited for Mel to get in bed before turning away from her to sleep.


“It’s good you're both here.” I tell them, when it seemed as if I might witness more than I wanted to ever see of the two of them.


“Get out.” Brian growled, without looking at me.


“I plan to, as soon as you both understand that if this relationship continues, You won’t see Gus, because I don’t want Gus to be around someone who could hurt him.” I tell them.


“What you want doesn’t matter to me. My children growing up to know one another is all I care about, not the womb that carried it.” Brian tells me.


“You don’t have any rights to Gus, you signed them away. So this womb gets to tell you how you can see Gus.” I tell him.


Justin started clapping and then bowed at me. “Well played Lindsay, you finally showed your real self to us. Was it hard playing the loving, caring woman, when all you wanted was to get rid of anyone who got close to Brian?” He asks. “I have to say, you crafted your performance to fit your needs and wants. Only it didn’t get you what you wanted, did it?” He tells me.


“I don’t know Justin, it got Brian to leave you in the past. So I would say it was award winning. Only you couldn’t do what you were supposed to do and become the artist you were supposed to be. Having that child ruined everything, the way I knew it would.” I tell him.


“Why, because I didn’t live your dream for you, or did I almost have your real dream, getting the love of Brian Kinney?” He asks.


“You could have had the art world on their knees, yet you threw it all away for a child you could have had later in life. With someone who wouldn’t have turned you into the housewife raising a baby while they went off and accomplished their goals, patting you on the head while telling you of all the great things they were doing.” I tell him.


“I’m confused, are you talking about the life I would have had with Brian, or the life you live with Mel?” Justin asks me.


“It’s what you’ll have if you stay with him.” I tell him.


“But see, I don’t give up what I want for someone else, the way you give up on everything. Brian wouldn’t have stopped me from doing what I wanted. So you can’t compare the way you gave up to how I never do.” Justin tells me.


“Brian, don’t expect to see Gus.” I tell him, walking to the door.


“Don’t call expecting me to give you anything for Gus if we are going to do it this way. My lawyer will be in contact.” Brian tells me.


“Like it matters, when you gave him up.” I tell him.


“It does when Mel didn’t adopt him, and you and Mel constantly called for money. Judges like to call that ‘support’. They also like to call my visitation with Gus exactly that, ‘a father having visitation’. Ask Mel to look it up, I did, and found out that none of those papers matter when I was still heavily involved in his life, and paid for his upbringing.” He tells me.


“We’ll see how a judge feels about your past.” I tell him, standing outside the door.


“Sure, and we’ll see how they feel about why I gave up custody. It’s a felony to marry for a green card.” He tells me, slamming the door in my face.



Chapter 12 by starlight

MEL


Lindsay came home, slamming doors and waking up the whole house. I ran to Gus, who came out of his room scared.


“It’s just Mommy, go back to bed.” I tell him.


“Why is she doing that?” Gus asks.


“I don’t know, but I’ll get her to stop.” I tell him, sending him back to bed.


I walked down the stairs, just tired of all of it. Nothing else matters to Lindsay when Brian appears. I rubbed my small bump, wondering if this was the life Gus and this child needed. The answer just kept coming up no. If only we had made Michael sign away his rights, I could walk away from all of this, but Lindsay insisted that Michael was a better choice than Ted, when I suggested asking Ted. I wonder how they are all going to feel when they find out the truth.


“Lindsay, you're waking up Gus.” I tell her, when she slammed the refrigerator shut.


“Brian is crazy if he thinks anyone would give Gus to him, with his past. He’s about to find out what we allowed him to have was more than he will ever get if he tries to sue us for custody.” She rants.


“That's where you went, to Brian’s?” I ask.


“I wanted him to understand the conditions he must follow if he wants to see Gus.” She tells me.


“We are better off leaving things the way they are. Do you not realize the position we'll be in if he comes at us for custody. He might have signed the paperwork but it's almost useless because you expected him to still be involved in Gus’s life.” I tell her.


“What are you talking about, he signed away all his rights.” She tells me.


“Under duress. He was worried about losing his son when you and that idiot thought it would be wise to involve Gus in a felony. No judge is going to care if Brian sleeps with all of North America, as long as Gus isn’t exposed to his tricking, it doesn’t matter. You bring up his past and the fact that you registered to get married will come up. You’ll face charges for attempting to defraud the government, and Brian will sound like a loving father saving his son from being involved in your schemes. To make matters worse, we never went through with the adoption. I told you we needed to do that, but you thought all we needed was the legal rights. By Gus not being adopted it opens up the chance that the biological parent can come back and ask for his rights to be reinstated. I kept telling you that we needed to do it to keep something like this from happening. By the way, when I told you to stop asking Brian for money, it wasn’t because of pride, but because he had every check listed as child support and made us file it that way.” I tell her.


“It shouldn’t matter, we raised Gus not him.” She tells me stubbornly.


“Lindsay all those trips you took to take Gus to see Brian, Brian paid for, to insure Gus could visit him. You left Gus in Brian’s care, which shows, regardless of his past you didn’t feel this made him unsafe for Gus to be around. Everything you did would show that you still viewed him as one of Gus’s parents. If he sues for custody, he will win.” I tell her.


“Why didn’t you tell me this?” She asks me.


“The same reason I didn’t tell you a lot of things. I wanted to make it easier for me to get away from you. I was making sure that when I finally left you, Gus would be taken care of. Brian was smart enough to make sure he kept his rights, I just made it easier for him.” I tell her, smiling for the first time in years.


“I made sure you’d always suffer with Michael and Deb.” She smirks.


“I doubt that will be a problem since you and Michael didn’t bother to come to the clinic. Michael isn’t the father. I wouldn’t let my child deal with those two if I could help it, and was very happy when you two didn’t show up. In fact now that Brian is willing to take Gus from you, I’m free of this miserable life.” I tell her.


“I don’t understand, what do you mean Michael isn’t the father? ” She asks me.


“I had them use the sample I wanted, and destroy all of Michael’s dreams of being a father. I wouldn’t let my child have Deb as a grandmother. I let you all believe what you wanted because I never planned to share my child. It was a way to say fuck you to the two of you and Deb, with the never ending advice on how she raised that whining piece of shit. I guess I just get to tell them sooner.” I tell her.


“I hope you have some place to go, because I want you out.” She sneers.


“I don’t have to go anywhere, but you will. I own this house, not you.” I tell her.


“We’re married you can’t get rid of me that easily.” She tells me.


“Once again I want to hit myself for staying with a woman as stupid as you. Commitment ceremonies mean absolutely nothing, without actually getting married. We filed domestic partnership but those were only for insurance and easily dissolved because we never went for the whole package. Have fun fighting Brian, I’ll be the bitch testifying for him. I’ll give you a week to find a new place to live, and until you have a place, I’m going to enforce my rights to Gus by not letting you take him when you're penniless. Really, you just couldn’t help making sure you lost everything.” I tell her.


“You haven’t won yet.” She tells me, leaving the house.


“I have, but then you’ll figure it out when everything falls apart.” I tell her.


“You won’t be winning anything with Brian either. All he ever saw you as was the bitch who didn’t want him to be the father of his child.” She tells me.


“I never really cared what Brian thought of me. That was something you and Michael needed, not me. Brian proved to me that he loves Gus, and that’s what mattered to me. I know he’ll give Gus what he needs, a real family that loves him.” I tell her.


“It proves to me you don’t know Brian as well as you think you do. He never loved Justin.” She tells me, grabbing her coat.


“You can tell yourself that if it helps you. What I saw all those years ago and what I saw in his eyes earlier tells me a different story.” I tell her.


“Justin was never more than the guy he fucked when he was to lazy to trick.” She tells me opening the door.


“Justin was the person Brian did everything for that he said he would never do.” I tell her.


JUSTIN


After Lindsay left, Brian locked the loft with a bar to stop anyone with a key.


“After tomorrow no one I don’t want coming here will get in. I was planning on having the lock and codes changed, but meeting Hannah came first.” He tells me.


“Why do they still have keys?” I ask him.


“When I left, I planned to sell it. Then when an offer came in, I couldn’t sell it, which didn’t make a lot of sense when I wouldn’t come here.” He tells me.


“You didn’t visit at all?” I ask.


“I didn’t want to be in a place where your ghost was haunting every inch of the space.” He tells me.


I walked up to him and put his hands on my chest and face. “I’m solid, not a ghost.” I tell him.


He put his hands on my face and leaned down to kiss my forehead, nose, and then lips. Then our hands were busy getting rid of everything that separated our skin from touching each other. He led me to the shower, where most of our mornings were frantic before we had to go back to the world outside of the loft. I sniffed the soap that he still used and washed his chest and then went around to wash his back and down his body to his feet. I came back around kissing and licking the skin as the soap washed down his body. He kissed me as he took the soap and washed me. He stopped at my stomach and held his large hand over it for a second before continuing until I was clean.


“We’re brand new.” I tell him.


He turned me around and went to his knees, spreading me open for his mouth, before nipping and sucking, driving me crazy. When his fingers teased me and then began entering me, I hissed at the burn, but moaned at the way he still knew how to touch me. Standing, he grabbed a condom while working his fingers to keep me open and then it was what I still dreamed about, as he entered me in a long thrust and wrapped his arms around me as we moved together. It didn’t take long for me to cum and when I did he put his hand to his mouth and tasted me before kissing me. His movements became more about reaching his climax and I helped by moving in the way we used to together. His head leaned into mine as he thrust again and again, then he stayed still inside me, holding me as he finished.


“It was always everything I wanted, and more.” He whispered.

“Always was and always will be.” I whispered back.


In bed, we continued as if the eight years didn’t happen, and by the third time, I couldn’t move anymore. I looked over at Brian who was laying with his eyes closed and laid my ear to hear his rapidly beating heart. A couple minutes later I heard the soft wheezing he made in his sleep and moved to my pillow, only to have his hands pull me back to his chest.


“I’ll guard you while you rest.” I whispered, kissing his chest one more time.




Chapter 13 by starlight

DEB


I got to the diner, smiling at the guys who Michael was spending time with since his friends started acting like they were too good for him. Brandon started coming around and let Michael be a part of the group along with Jason and Kevin. Brian is in for a surprise if he thinks he still holds the title for stud.


“Hey guys.” Michael walks over to sit with Brandon.


“What happened to your face?” Brandon asked, drinking his coffee.


“The fucking blond shit Brian used to hang out with thinks he can do whatever he wants because Brian’s sniffing his ass again.” Michael tells him.


“Brian Kinney’s here?” Jason asks.


“Who cares, he treated Michael as if Michael wasn’t his friend.” I tell them, loud enough for everyone to hear.


“Hey, the blond, do you mean Justin?” Kiki asks.


“Who’s Justin?” Brandon asks.


“The cutest thing to happen to Liberty Avenue. I remember wishing I had an ass like his, because the guys were big tippers when Justin walked by, but they loved seeing that beautiful smile even more.” Kiki gushes.


“Justin isn’t the sweet kid you all think he is, look what he did to Michael.” I tell her.


“I’m sure he would have done it sooner, with the way Michael treated him.” Kiki tells me.


“Michael tried to help him, but Justin liked making Michael jealous that Brian kept him around.” I tell her.


“Justin didn’t need to do anything, Brian wanted Justin and made sure to keep him. Michael being a jealous child is all on him, not on Justin.” Kiki tells me.


“Brian liked to show off that he could still get the younger guys.” Michael tells her.


“Bullshit, I was around back then, Brian and Justin might have tricked, but Brian was the only one Justin allowed near the ass all of us wanted.” A guy in the booth behind Michael tells us.


“So, Brian isn’t the friend to you that you run around telling everyone he is?” Brandon asks Michael.


“He’ll get rid of Justin sooner or later, and then you’ll all see the friendship I told you about.” Michael tells them.


“Why bother, you have new and better looking friends than Brian.” I tell him, smiling at Brandon.


“I need to get going.” Brandon tells us, pushing Michael out.


“Brandon, where are you going? I wanted to tell you about the collectable I got.” Michael tells him.


“I think I’ve heard more than I ever wanted to about all your collectables.” Brandon tells him, rolling his eyes.


“Yeah, I don’t need to be late for work.” Jason tells us, following Brandon out.


“I wanted to invite you all to my house for dinner.” I tell them.


“Why?” Kevin asks, as he gets up.


“I wanted to get to know all of you. I used to do this with Michael’s old friends.” I tell them, following them out.


“Ma makes everything from scratch. It’s like a tradition for my friends.” Michael tells them.


“Maybe.” Brandon tells us, walking out.


They stood in front talking and I decided that they needed to change their minds. I opened the door and stopped when I heard them.


“Jesus, why did you even let some old guy hang out with us?” Jason asks Brandon.


“If he isn’t bad enough, the mother thinking anyone needs to hear her talking about dick, as if she’s seen one in a hundred years, is just annoying.” Kevin laughs.


“I was hoping to meet Brian, I heard he was coming back, and if it gave me a chance to show him my resume, then putting up with the two of them prattling on would have been worth it. I want to learn the ad business from a man who could win any account he wanted. Although I don’t get why he let that loser stay around him.” Brandon tells them.


I walked out there to tell them what I thought of what they were saying. “You’d be lucky to have my son as your friend.” I tell them.


“Deb, the only reason anyone listened to Michael is because Brian was his friend. Without Brian, he’s just a mama’s boy who doesn’t seem to be able to leave comic’s behind, the way any twelve year old would.” Kevin tells me.


“Brandon, Michael will make sure everyone knows who the real stud is.” I tell him.


“Sorry, but losing my hard on because your son thinks talking to me while I’m fucking someone just isn’t my thing. And him hanging out with his mommy just makes it creepier.” He tells me, as the guys all laugh.


“And I have to say, having you show up everywhere Michael went was really pathetic, don’t you have a life?” Jason tells me.


“Don’t come back to this diner if that’s how you feel about my son and me.” I tell them.


“I heard there’s a better place to go anyway. Apparently the waitresses there actually serve food  without having to talk about our dicks.” Brandon tells me and his friends.


BRIAN


Justin and I picked up Hannah to go to breakfast. We invited Jen but she told us to be with our daughter while she took her daughter out for mother daughter time. Molly came down stairs and stopped when she saw me. She cocked her head to the side then thumbed up Justin.


“He really is as handsome as I thought he was.” She tells Justin. “I kept thinking you couldn’t be what I imagined.” She tells me, laughing.


“Aunt Molly told me Daddy was a waste to all girls everywhere. I don’t really understand, but she said I would when I get older.” Hannah tells us.


“Molly Taylor, what have I told you about saying things around Hannah.” Jen admonishes her, trying not to laugh.


“Hannah Kinsey Taylor you got me in trouble.” Molly says, kissing her head.


“Let’s go, before you tell all Aunt Molly’s secrets.” Justin tells Hannah.


“Kinsey?” I ask him.


“Dad wanted me to always have your name in some way.” Hannah tells me.


“Brian…” Justin stops when my phone rings.


“Mel, is there something Lindsay doesn’t understand about what I said to her yesterday?” I ask putting her on speaker..


“I was calling to see if you wanted to take your son out for the day. I just need to talk to you first.” Mel tells me.


“I’ll be over to pick him up, just have him waiting outside.” I tell her.


“We really need to talk, don’t worry, Lindsay isn’t here. She’s too busy licking her wounds.” She tells me.


“We have plans.” I tell her.


“I have a lot you need to know. I just think it would be better to talk somewhere where the kids could go play.” She tells me.


“Call in an order and I’ll take the kids with me to pick it up. It will give you time to tell Brian everything.” Justin tells us.


“Justin, I’m sorry for not being there for you.” Mel tells him.


“I had Emmett and my mom.” He tells her.


MEL


Gus was excited to go somewhere with Hannah, so he didn’t seem to notice Lindsay wasn’t here this morning. I walked out with Gus when they pulled in and got my first look at Hannah. How does Brian create these beautiful children? She smiled and waved at me, but stayed in the car as Brian and Justin switched out. Gus got in and Justin left without saying anything to me.


“I really messed up with Justin.” I tell Brian.


“Give him time, it’s not easy for him to let people back in who ignored him when he needed friends.” He tells me.


“If he never talks to me, I’ll accept it.” I tell him, leading him into the house.


“What did you need?” Brian asks me.


“I need you to tell me that you are really going to fight her for Gus. I want to help you.” I tell him.


“That’s interesting, considering you never wanted me near Gus.” He reminds me.


“I need to tell you about the years you were gone.” I tell him. “After you left, I thought Lindsay and I could finally raise our family without you constantly being in the middle of it. At first I thought things were better, but then I realized that without you around, Lindsay no longer cared how people saw her. She would go to meetings at the GLC to make fun of everyone and the causes we all cared about. Ted would come over and she would make comments like she was kidding, but they were awful things to say to anyone. The only person she still treated the same was Gus, but I think she knows that if Gus got upset, that he’d tell you. I’m not saying she doesn’t love Gus, she does, but it’s not healthy the way she seems to see him as a way to keep you around. I don’t think it was you, so much as her waiting for Justin to reappear.” I tell him.


“I just don’t buy that she did what she did to Justin, out of concern for him.” I tell her.


“Brian, she found a way to keep tabs on Justin, and you. She hired a detective to report to her.” I tell him.


“You’re just now telling me this?” He asks me, pissed.


“I didn’t know until after I made her leave last night. I started taking her things out of the bedroom and a box fell from her closet. She must have started it when he left for college and you left for New York. I will give you the box, but please ask Justin if he wants you to see some of the pictures.” I tell him.


“What happened before that? What made you want out of your relationship with her?” He asks me.


“It started with wanting another baby, she wanted us to go to you. I wanted to use Ted. We were barely speaking when she went to Michael and Deb and had them over, saying Michael would be perfect because you and Michael would be parents to our kids. The two daddies taking them everywhere together. Lindsay was implying that it would give our kids something in common. I agreed at first, because I wanted a baby that came from me, but truthfully, I didn’t want a baby that came with Deb and Michael attached. When it was time to get pregnant I called the person I wanted and he came. I had Michael’s sample destroyed and used Ted. Ted and I have kept it from all of them while he helped me untie my life from Lindsay’s. I let them all believe it was Michael’s, because it kept Lindsay unaware that I was working on getting her out of my life. The only thing I need now is for you to want Gus with you.” I tell him.


“Do you think she would hurt Gus?” I ask.


“No, but I know that you wouldn’t use Gus to get back at me for leaving Lindsay. No matter how you feel about me, you would let me be a part of Gus’s life. I don’t want to lose our son.” I tell him.


“You trust me not to do to you what you were doing to me?” He asks.


“Yes, because you are a great father and want Gus to have everything, including his Mama, as long as he wants it.” I tell him.


“I want my children to have everything they dream of and more.” He tells me.


“I want to be a mother, the way you are a father to your kids. I can’t do that with a woman who wants everything to be about her.” I tell him.


“You have my promise that I will always allow Gus to see you.” He tells me.


“That’s why I trust you, you never break a promise.” I tell him.     


LINDSAY


I went to my sister’s house telling her what happened, and put up with her and her asshole husband. My parents already let me know that their house was no longer an option. They wouldn’t keep supporting a grown woman that lived a life they couldn’t accept. Lynnett, on the other hand, likes to show off what her husbands were able give her. I couldn’t sleep, thinking that Mel managed to do things behind my back. I should have had the detective watching her. I drove straight to the bank to close all our accounts together, she won’t leave me struggling when most of the savings came from money Brian sent. I got to the bank and the woman at the window pointed me to the desk for accounts. I sat filling out the information they wanted and when it was my turn, I was smiling inside at my fuck you to Mel.


“I want to close all the accounts I share with my soon to be ex, and have all the funds transferred to an account with only my name on it. ” I tell him.


“In order to close an account we have to have both of you here.” He tells me.


“Then transfer everything but the minimum amount to me. I know that’s possible, since I’m on the account.” I tell him, using everything my mother taught me when dealing with the help.


“I can do that.” He tells me typing away.


I waited while he worked, thinking of the hell Mel will pay when Michael and Deb find out she tricked them. Michael was the perfect way to keep Brian from pulling Justin back into his world. Like me, Michael knew how to keep Brian away from Justin. I remember one day hearing Michael say to Brian that Justin thinks he owns Brian. Then Brian sneered at Justin and fucked someone else, right in front of him. I realized then that any mention that Justin was important to Brian would have Brian proving us wrong. I got what I wanted, Brian without anyone else in his life, and Justin growing dissatisfied with the way Brian treated him. Only Justin wouldn’t give up, then fate stepped in and  Brian left Justin behind for bigger things.


Justin telling me he was pregnant was not part of the plan. How was he going to become the artist I knew he could be with a kid in the way? Then to find out that he let Brian get him pregnant, well that was the last straw. Justin couldn’t have everything, being the artist I wasn’t should have been enough. Having a child with the father of my child wasn’t fair, that was mine, Brian was mine, I should be the only one to give him a child.


“Ms. Peterson, I just need your signature and where you want your card sent.” The guy tells me.


“Just send it to the address I listed. I’ll need three hundred for now.” I tell him.


“Did you have another account to take it from?” He asks me.


“You just opened the account, I want the money from there.” I tell the idiot.


“There was only one hundred dollars in that account, and I could only transfer ninety five into your account.” He tells me.


“I’ll need a print out of the old account with all the transactions, immediately.” I tell him, wondering where all the money went.


“Which I can’t give you since you took your name off that account. I can call and see if the account holder will come here and authorize us to show you.” He tells me.


“I was just on that account, so print me a statement.” I tell him.


“Sorry, the minute you signed to take your name off, you made it so I can no longer give you that information.” He tells me.


“Then close my account if this is how you handle banking.” I sneer.


“Normally you would have to wait, but with such a small amount I don’t see a problem.” He tells me.


Mel is going to wish she didn’t do this to me.


Chapter 14 by starlight

JUSTIN


The kids were giggling together as we went in to get breakfast for everyone at the new diner. I wasn’t really all that happy that we were going back to that house, but like I told Brian, everything is new. The cashier let us know that it would be a few minutes, because they had an unexpected rush this morning. I looked around and it was like Liberty Diner invaded. I had to blink twice because, Todd actually got out of the backroom? He saw me and got up to come and see me.


“Hey Todd, how's it going.” I ask, unable to resist.


“Fine, at least I am, but oh boy, Deb is probably going to wish she didn’t take on you and Brian.” He tells me.


“What are you talking about, and keep it G rated, my kids are standing here.” I tell him.


“Deb is finding out that she and Michael aren’t the reason anybody came to the diner. They tried to make sound like you and Brian weren’t the real draw. I mean, we all wanted to see what you two would do next. It always made everyone’s day when Brian would come to the diner acting like it was chore to drop you off, but then sit around watching to make sure no one bothered you. When you both left I think we all only stayed around to see if anyone said anything about the love story of the century. Which apparently happened right under our noses, because that gorgeous little girl is all Kinney.” He tells me.


“Sorry, but until this last week there was nothing to tell. Brian and I went our separate ways and just recently reconnected.” I tell him, smiling at how he saw Brian and me.


“Then it was just on hiatus, because when Brian Kinney wants something, he gets it.” He tells me.


“Brian?” A guy asks, looking at me and Todd.


“Justin, this is Brandon, he wasn’t around when you were.” Todd tells me.


“I wanted to meet Brian.” Brandon tells me.


“Regarding?” I ask him.


“I heard he was moving back and wanted to show him what I’m capable of.” He tells me.


“Look, it’s not a life Brian or I are planning to go back to.” I tell him.


“Sh…, I said that wrong, it’s just, I want to work for someone who knows the ad business is all about risk. Everyone is saying Brian is retiring from the game, but I think he’ll decide that he isn’t finished. I want to learn from a man who wasn’t afraid to tell a client they were wrong.” He tells me, smiling down at Hannah.


“Give me your contact information and I’ll see he gets it.” I tell him when the cashier brings the food to me.


“I wasted so much time hanging around ‘Mr Best Friend’, I should have just found a way to contact Brian myself.” He tells me, writing down his information.


“Brian appreciates people who show him they’re hungry for what they want, not use people to get an in with him.” I tell him.


“I have a list of accounts that show that to him. Michael really had me worried about Brian’s tastes, but then seeing you, I can say I’m no longer worried.” Brandon tells me.


“Keep those eyes off Justin, because if not, Kinney will make you wish you did.” Todd tells him.


LINDSAY


I went to the diner and found it empty, it was always full at breakfast. Deb was arguing with the manager, while Michael sat in the booth looking as if he lost Brian. There have been so many times I wanted to tell him the puppy eyes really don’t work when your almost forty, but then Deb would be in my face.


“Where is everyone?” I ask him.


“Once again it’s all about the fucking stalker twink.” Michael says quietly, looking at Kiki who isn’t smiling at either of us.


“Justin came here?” I ask.


“No, but the way people act, it’s like he never left. They sat here defending Justin and thinking they knew Brian.” He tells me.


“Michael, no one knew Brian the way we did, they all just wanted to be able to say they did.” I tell him.


“I know, but my new friends acted like what I did with Brian and the guy made me sound like a stalker. Most of the time they joked about the way I talk about comics and wanted to hang out here, but I thought it was just the way the gang used to joke.” He tells me.


“Don’t worry, Brian will eventually want the life he had back, and then you’ll be able to show those wannabes that they should have been better friends to you.” I tell him, not believing a word of it, but it keeps Michael where I want him.


“I know, but I was bragging to everyone that Brian was coming with me the day he came home and they think I’m all talk now. It didn’t help when Kiki made it sound like Justin was the one they should go to if they want to meet Brian. It was going to be epic when I walked in the club with Brian.” He tells me, going to wherever his mind goes when he thinks about Brian.


I let him dream as I listened in to Deb and her manager, because Deb was getting loud enough to be able to hear her.


“Michael and I don’t have anything to do with everyone leaving, they just don’t like to hear the fucking truth.” Deb tells him.


“They come here to eat Deb, not to listen to you and your son. I’ve let you get away with the way you treated people because up until now no one seemed to mind the inappropriate conversations, but unlike my father, who kept you for friendship’s sake, I won’t if it leads to an empty restaurant.” He tells her waving his hands to all the empty tables.


“There are people here, and once the others get over the bug up their asses they’ll be back. They know that no one will accept them the way I do.” She tells him.


“I don’t count your son, who never pays for a meal, or her who doesn’t even order here, as customers. Customers buy our food.” He tells her.


“They buy the crap here to talk to me and Michael.” She tells him.


“Then where are they, since you're both here? I don’t see them sitting at these tables. Oh yeah, they went to the new restaurant. Where they don’t have to listen to your son go on and on as if he was still in his twenties and not past the point where everyone sees him as someone who could be their father. Customers aren’t interested in hanging out with you either, and you chasing them down to try to give your kid friends is something you do on your own time. You need to decide if you can give customers the service they want, or if you should look for another job. I’m no longer going to put up with you throwing things at people or telling them they can’t have what they want.” He tells her.


“Then good luck finding someone who will be willing to take this job. Unlike you, your father understood that people came here to see me.” She yells at him.


“My father felt sorry for you, and that child of yours who won’t grow up and face things like a man. I’d tell you to turn in your things, but then you never would wear what you were supposed to. By the way, all that didn’t make you more gay.” He tells her.


“Michael let’s go, I can find a job where people understand how to do business.” She tell him.


“You're more than welcome to come back, but only as a customer.” The owner tells us all.


“He’ll be sorry when I get a job at the new place and shut him down.” Deb tells us, walking to her house.


“It will be fine Ma, everyone knows that you and I were the reason people came there.” Michael tells her.


“Lindsay, where’s Mel? I have some things I made so she can learn to eat right for my grandbaby.” She tells me.


“Mel and I are separating. I couldn’t stay with someone who could do what she did to you and Michael.” I tell them.


“What are you talking about, you can’t leave her when she’s pregnant with my child.” Michael tells me.


“That’s just it, she didn’t use you. I couldn’t stand by someone who could lie to my friends.” I tell them.


“We’ll fucking sue her for fraud or something. She made us believe that Michael was going to be a father. I took care of her, and this is how she repays us. There has to be something Michael can do to get the money back that I gave him to help you girls out.” Deb tells me, surprising me.


“Ma, leave it alone. She isn’t worth all the trouble.” Michael tells her.


“I will not leave it alone, I gave you a few thousand to help pay for the clinic and the things you wanted for the baby. She fucking owes us that back.” Deb tells him, going into the house.


“What are you going to do when she figures out we never got a cent from you? Why did you even ask her for money?” I ask him.


“I just wanted to show my friends a good time. I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t afford a night out.” He tells me.


“You better find a way to pay her back before she runs after Mel. Mel isn’t going to protect your ass. Tell me you didn’t spend it all on drinks.” I tell him.


“No, but I wanted something that was on ebay, a lot of it went for that. Couldn’t you loan me the money so I can give it back to her?” He asks me.


“I don’t have the money, fucking Mel put it somewhere.” I tell him.


“I’ll go to Ted, it’s not like he doesn’t have it.” He tells me.


“Look, see if you can borrow a little extra, I’m going to need it.” I tell him.


“That’s your problem.” He tells me, starting to walk away, leaving me standing there.


“It’ll be your problem too when I go tell your mother that none of the money she gave you was for what you told her.” I tell him.


“What are you two talking about?” Deb asks us from the door.


“Nothing Ma, I’m just going to make sure Mel knows she owes us the money back.” Michael tells us, running off.


“Do you mind if I stay here for a while?” I ask her.


“Sure I could use the help paying the mortgage.” She tells me.


“Until I get some of the money that Mel made impossible for me to get, you’ll have to wait.” I tell her.


“Then I guess you can look for a job with me.” She tells me, going in.


“It might be hard, there aren’t that many jobs around here in my field.” I tell her.


“Then get one that pays for things, nothing is free around here. There are plenty of jobs out there, even if it’s beneath you.” She tells me.


BRIAN


Justin came back with the kids but didn’t ask what was going on. I think it had a lot to do with not really wanting to talk to Mel. Like I told her, there was only so much we could expect from him. It wasn’t until she brought the box down and handed it to Justin that he looked at her.


“Justin, Lindsay had someone watching you. I only found out about it last night. There’s a lot of things in there that should be up to you if you share with anyone. I saw it but only because I wanted to know what it was, please understand I would never have invaded your privacy that way.” She tells him.


“So it wasn’t enough that she spread rumors about my daughter, she had to invade everything.” He tells her.


“It was a lot about how you were doing in college and there are a lot of pictures of Hannah when you were out. The only ones that bother me, were the ones of the hospital and ones that were obviously taken when you were home. She didn’t seem as interested in what Brian did, just where he traveled.” She tells him.


I watched as Justin opened it and looked at the pictures, but didn’t read any of the reports. He flipped through all of them a few times then handed them to me.


“It’s like a chronicle of Hannah growing up.” He tells me, shrugging when I took them.


“Are you going to read what was in the reports?” I ask him.


“I lived it, no need to read about how someone stalked my life, but if it continues then I’ll get someone to see how to make it stop.” He tells me.


“We’ll make sure it stops.” I tell him, looking at pictures of my daughter growing up.


“I can see if we can get a cease order, but right now Lindsay won’t have any way to pay for the information. I moved all the money to an account without her on it. I put the money you gave me in Gus’s college fund.” Mel tells me.


“Justin, once everything with Gus is settled, we are making the permanent move to Chicago. Cynthia and everyone else can handle Pittsburgh, but I won’t have us constantly looking over our shoulders for the next bullshit they come up with.” I tell him.


“Thank you, I didn’t want to make you have to choose what I wanted, but this kind of thing is all we will ever deal with if we stay here.” He tells me.


“I think I’m ready for a change too. Pittsburgh is just a lot of bad memories.” Mel tells us.


“Chicago is a big city.” Justin tells her.


“I don’t want you to feel like you have to deal with me.” She tells him.


“Gus will want you around, it’s not about me, but your son. It’s not like Lindsay is going to disappear completely out of our lives. I just don’t want to be anywhere she is.” Justin tells her.


“Justin, I will never allow her to come to see Gus, if she gets to see Gus it will be here.” I tell him.


“You underestimate your stalkers, they will follow you over a cliff it means holding on to any part of their ‘best friend’.” Justin tells me.


“Then I hope they find their best friend, because there is only one person I consider my best friend, you.” I tell him.




Chapter 15 by starlight

TED


I was thrilled when my boss said that he’d didn’t need my notice. I think he was just relieved that I was leaving. He never made it a secret that he was uncomfortable with my being gay, but left me alone because I was good at my job. I was packing my things when I pulled out the picture of Michael I had forgotten was in my desk. Instead of seeing what used to excite me, I started wondering what the hell was attractive about him to me. It’s not that Michael is bad looking, it’s more that when you get to know him, he becomes less attractive. Emmett used to say the reason we didn’t all salivate over Brian all the time was that over time we stopped seeing the God and were able to see past it to the man.


I see a man who sees my contribution to his company as valuable. I realized that in Brian’s eyes I am not just a boring accountant, but a man who is an expert in my field. I could almost feel my spine straightening as he outlined what was expected of me and then just threw the negotiation for a multimillion dollar buy-in into my lap, with no doubt that I was capable. And I really need to unswell my head and get out of this dreary office.


“Ted, I haven’t seen you in a while.” Michael tells me, walking into my office.


“Lately I just don’t agree with the way you and Lindsay treat people. You know what, I hate the way you treat people in fact. You both think that we are all here to serve you, and I don’t see the point in hating myself because you and Lindsay like to comment on all the reasons no one wants to be with me. My real friends would never say that I was old, boring, or reliable, as if they were complimenting me and insulting me at the same time.” I tell him.


“Ted, I need a favor.” He tells me as if I hadn’t said anything.


“No.” I answer, without even hearing what he wants.


“I borrowed money from Ma and well, I need you to let me borrow it so she doesn’t find out I lied about why I needed it. I told her I was giving the girls money, but now I’m happy that I didn’t, because Mel lied to all of us, and I just found out that kid she’s carrying isn’t mine. Well the bitch is going to find out that you don’t lie to your friends.” He tells me, once again acting like I didn’t say anything.


“Do you ever listen to yourself when you talk? Mel can’t lie to her friends, but when you do, and to your own mother, it’s okay? Let me say this with you actually paying attention, I won’t give you money I work my ass off for, when you borrow money and don’t even do what you said you would with it.” I tell him, picking up the box on my desk. “By the way, I knew it wasn’t yours, because she couldn’t stomach the idea of you and your mother always being a part of her life.” I tell him walking past him.


“You kept that bitch’s secret?” He screeches turning everyone’s head, not that I cared about what these people thought.


“I was the secret.” I tell him.


BRIAN


Justin took the kids with him to pick up Daphne, while Mel went through her files for all the paperwork she had that pertained to Gus. I sat in the kitchen going through the box she found in LIndsay’s closet. I agree with Mel after looking through the box, it’s not healthy that Lindsay seemed to follow our lives. With me, she seemed to only want to know where I went when I was on business trips. Justin’s was more extensive, but still only seemed to be about anything he did that pertained to art. I picked up the pictures and looked through them again, and realized that Hannah might have been in them but it wasn’t a chronicle of Hannah’s life, but of Justin’s life. Mel came down and handed me the papers she had.


“Mel, look at the pictures.” I hand them to her.  


“What am I looking for?” She asks.


“What do you see around them?” I tell her.


“There out someplace, possibly an art show?” She asks.


“All but the ones at the hospital and the few at his house, notice they’re taken when he was at some event.” I tell her.


“Detectives find it easier to get what they need when there are other camera’s around. The people they’re investigating are likely to not notice as much.” She tells me.


“People would notice someone at the hospital.” I tell her.


“Brian, when babies are born people take pictures. Think about Michael, he was snapping all sorts of pictures.” She tells me.


“And every one of them had me in them, he didn’t take one unless I was in it.” I tell her.


“Like none of us knew why that was, he’s always been obsessed with you.” She tells me.


“What do those look like, because she didn’t have pictures of me in there.” I tell her.


“Brian, she isn’t in love with Justin.” Mel tells me.


“She was in love with his art. She would rave to Justin about all the things he could do if he took his art seriously. When she was at the loft the other night she gave him this speech about his career being ruined and that staying with me would have had him in essence being the wife I pat on the head and go live my dreams. Justin threw it back at her, asking who’s life she was describing, because it sounded like hers.” I tell her.


“It was the one she wanted when Gus was born.” She tells me.


“Look at the difference in the two, she ran around playing mommy, Justin was still creating, even being a single father. Something Lindsay couldn’t do, with you helping her with Gus.” I tell her.


“Lindsay never really tried to do it, it’s not like she had all that much to do when Gus napped. She wasn’t cleaning the house. Watching Justin, you could tell it was just something he did unconsciously. If he was sitting, he was drawing. Lindsay was always jealous of the way he got lost in his art, she had to make herself do the work, and when I say work, for her it was like a job with all the stress, to try to create something.” Mel tells me


“But the pictures of Justin are all pictures proving it was possible, that he could be a father and still pursue art.” I tell her.


“But not how she views success Brian. In these, she would see them as his failure to live up to the potential that Justin has.” She tells me.


“Except, according to this report,” I hand it to her. “Justin had Hannah a month early, so there was no reason that he wouldn’t have been able to do the show he was invited to in New York. It was canceled because Justin spent the next month with Hannah.” I tell her.


“Okay, but it still proves Lindsay’s theory that Justin couldn’t have a career because of Hannah.” She tells me.


“Like she was validating herself. Only Justin is about to prove he can do it. How do you think she’s going to feel when he has his first show, proving all the pictures she had wrong.” I tell her.


“Just hope she never finds out.” Mel tells me.


JEN


I went to answer my front door to once again find Deb standing there. I stepped outside because this was not going to be a long visit. I just didn’t have the patience to listen to her anymore.


“Deb, I really don’t care if Michael has two black eyes now.” I tell her.


“I came here to see if Brian was here, he’s not at his loft.” She tells me.


“He’s not here, but right now I don’t think he wants to talk to you.” I tell her.


“He needs to talk to Mel and help Lindsay get Gus away from that lying bitch.” Deb tells me.


“I’ll give him the message if I see him.” I tell her, turning to go in.


“Mel lied about Michael being the father of the baby.” She tell me.


“Which is Mel’s business, not mine.” I tell her.


“Brian needs to know.” She tells me.


“I’ll tell him, but really, why does he need to know? It doesn’t have anything to do with him.” I tell her.


“She’s keeping Gus from Lindsay. Brian should be concerned about what Mel could be doing to Gus.” She tells me.


“The way you were concerned what Justin would do, because Justin won’t stand by and let someone call his daughter a bastard?” I ask.


“Justin still had no right hitting Michael.” She tells me.


“That it took Justin this long to do it, should show you the restraint he has when it comes to your son. One day Deb, he’s going to say something to the wrong person and what Justin did will seem like a drop in the bucket compared to what someone who barely knows Michael would do.” I tell her.


“Brian needs to see the kind of woman Mel is, and help Lindsay.” She tells me like a broken record.


“Mel most likely saw what her future would be like and saved herself from having your adult child as a father he wouldn’t be capable of being.” I tell her.


“Fuck you Jen, my son and I would have shown Mel how to raise that child right.” She tells me snapping her gum.


“That would be enough to scare any mother, you telling them how to raise another Michael.” I tell her, going in my house and slamming my door.


I want to pat Mel on the back for knowing that would have been a mistake.



Chapter 16 This is the right chapter now by starlight

MEL

 

When Brian left with Justin and the kids, I went back upstairs to finish getting all signs of Lindsay out of my bedroom. I didn't handle anything with care, just threw it all in boxes. I was dragging another box down the stairs to the garage so Lindsay didn't need to come into the house to get her things. I gave her a week, but that didn't mean I had to have her things in my house. When I came back in, the banging on my door told me that Lindsay most likely ran to Deb and Michael. I debated whether to bother with the argument I knew opening the door would cause. I opened the door because it was time to end this chapter for good. I rolled my eyes when I saw Deb standing there tapping her foot, and stepped outside because my home was no longer a place she was welcome.

 

"What do you want?" I ask her.

 

"To let you know I'm going to find a way to get the money you took from Michael back and hopefully sue your ass for lying to us." She tells me.

 

"You could only sue me if I used my lie to con you out of something. Since there was no money or possessions involved, there's nothing to sue me for." I tell her.

 

"Bullshit, what about the fact that Michael and I paid for you to get pregnant, and Michael gave you money to help you out around here?" She asks me.

 

"Where did you get the idea Michael gave me money? I paid for everything, not your son." I tell her.

 

"I'm sure you want me to believe you did, but I gave Michael the money to help you out." She tells me.

 

"Then you should find out why your son lied to you about what he did with it, instead of coming here. I won't have your problems in my life." I tell her.

 

"Why did you do it?" She asks me.

 

"I couldn't see having to fight you and Michael for the rest of my life. I don't want my child being raised to be anything like Michael. You can't see what your parenting did to your son. I couldn't see my child catering to Michael's temper tantrums." I tell her, going back inside and shutting the door in her face.

 

BRIAN

 

Jen called and told me that Deb wanted to talk to me. She asked if I knew what Mel did, and told me that Mel deserved a medal for thwarting the rest of them. It was strange that Jen and I seem to get along, when before she wanted me far away from Justin. I hung up and watched Hannah and Gus playing soccer in the park, Justin was sitting next to me, sketching them.

 

"Your mother no longer seems to see me as the evil man stealing her baby." I tell him, joking.

 

"She no longer sees you as the reason I did what I was doing. Plus, without you there wouldn't be Hannah." Justin tells me.

 

"After me you never bothered to get in another relationship?" I ask him.

 

"No one made me feel what you did, I just didn't see the point in hurting someone when I couldn't give them the part of me that you still owned. I didn't see a reason to get in a relationship unless a person could make me feel the way you made me feel." He tells me.

 

"Even with all the shitty things I did to you?" I ask him.

 

"No one could understand that I didn't mind the tricking, it's just when you did it in my face to prove I wasn't important that bothered me. I could at least say that what we did together was different than the tricks. It made it so I never felt like I stayed with you without knowing what else was out there. I could have dated other men, they offered to do the things you wouldn't. Unlike with Michael, guys weren't hanging around me in hopes of being with you." He tells me.

 

"You were always so independent, it's was something new for me. Michael couldn't make a move unless I approved it. There were days when I had no idea what you were doing, Kip is proof off that." I tell him.

 

"Kip was a jackass who wanted things he didn't work for." Justin tells me, sketching without pausing to talk.

 

"He could have hurt you." I tell him.

 

"He didn't, and I really doubted he had the balls to do anything. I never really understood what made you fuck the asshole." He tells me.

 

"I wish I had a better reason than ‘he offered'." I tell him.

 

"Well your stock value fell in my eyes when his performance was subpar." He snickers.

 

"You just love that you were better than the rest." I tell him.

 

"Of course I was, but I learned from the best." He tells me, smirking.

 

"Your mother called me to tell me Deb showed up looking for me. She knows that Michael isn't the father of Mel's baby." I tell him.

 

"I have to say that was genius of Mel, but I don't get why she didn't just tell them all to fuck off from the beginning. Why wait?" He asks.

 

"She wanted to make sure Gus wasn't left with Lindsay. Lindsay would have kept Gus away from Mel. I won't." I tell him.

 

"All Mel had to do was call you, you would have helped her. It's something I never got about her, and really, all of your friends. When they called, you went running to help them, yet you ‘weren't reliable and were too selfish to see past your wants'." He tells me.

 

"Justin, I could be selfish and unreliable, I wasn't perfect." I tell him.

 

"I never said you were, but when any of us needed you, you showed up. Charles told me to stop seeing the God and see the man. I've always seen you as a man with flaws, but none of them were the way Mel saw them." He tells me.

 

"I think she's figuring that out. Lindsay is good at making people believe her." He tells me.

 

"Dad, can we go get something to eat?" Hannah and Gus ask, coming over.

 

DEB

 

After leaving Mel's, unhappy that she would keep lying to me, I stopped by the new restaurant to talk to the manager. He didn't seem to understand that I didn't need to fill out forms to work.

 

"Ma'am in order for me to consider anyone for a job, you have to fill out the application online and wait for us to call you." He tells me.

 

"I've been a waitress all my life, that should tell you enough. I can handle the whole restaurant without any help." I brag.

 

"While that's wonderful for you to think so, once you fill out an application I can check your references and possibly call you." He tells me.

 

"Why would you need to do that, everyone knows me." I tell him.

 

"Unfortunately, what I already do know about you makes me wonder why anyone would employ you. You're rude to the customers, talk about things that are inappropriate, and seem to think that you have the right to refuse to serve a customer what they want to eat. None of that screams to me that you should be in customer service." He tell me.

 

"I was giving you a chance before I went to other places. My customers like the service I gave." I tell him.

 

"My full tables are saying that they didn't. Apparently the customers left Liberty Diner to get away from you." He tells me.

 

Everywhere I went they told me that I needed to fill out an application online. One girl even sat me in front of a computer and pulled up the application. I got frustrated when they got to some questionnaire, and got up and left. I was happy to have the house to myself. When Michael returned he and I were going to make Mel tell the truth about the money she owes us. I woke up when the front door slammed and came down stairs to hear Michael and Lindsay talking.

 

"Did Ted help you out?" Lindsay asks.

 

"No, he was too busy helping Mel stab me in the back." He tells her.

 

"So, she used Ted after all, she didn't see what a stupid idea that was. Then again, Ted wouldn't have taken money and used it on a toy and night out with the guys." She tells him.

 

"Is that what it was for?" I ask, standing by the stairs.

 

"Deb, I didn't realize you were there." Lindsay tells me.

 

"I came home before you showed up, but only after going to Mel to let her have it. I didn't want to believe her, since she lied to us about the baby. I guess I'm the fool for thinking Michael was honest with me." I tell them.

 

"I didn't lie, it's just when the guys wanted to go out, I couldn't let them pay for everything. I wasn't thinking, and used the money before I could give it to the girls. You should be happy that I didn't give Mel anything." He tells me.

 

"I should be happy that I went over there and made a fool of myself? Michael are you not understanding that losing my job means that any money we can get will help us out. Get what you didn't spend and give it back." I tell him.

 

"There isn't much left." He tells me.

 

"How does one night out and a toy cost that much?" I ask.

 

"The toy was rare and cost more than most collectables." He tells me,

 

"How much was it?" I ask.

 

"Twelve hundred, but that was really a good deal." He tells me.

 

"Sell the fucking thing, and don't come back to this house until you have the money." I tell him pointing at the door.

 

"I'll come back later." He tells me, leaving.

 

"You need to know that my house isn't free either." I tell Lindsay.

 

"I'd rather stay with my sister, she's more consistent than you will be." She tells me, grabbing her coat.

 

"What's that supposed to mean?" I ask.

 

"You'll let Michael out of it, the way you let him out of everything he does." She tells me, leaving.

 


Chapter 17 by starlight

BRIAN


Ted called to let me know he was available immediately. I've always thought Ted was under utilized at his job, the man understands finance, but the idiot he worked for didn’t bother to see who he had under his roof. Justin and Daphne had plans for us to meet up with Emmett and Charles for dinner tonight. I invited Ted along with us, but had him meet me at the loft first, to drive with me.


“Where is everyone?” Ted asked.


“They’re meeting us at the restaurant. I wanted to talk to you first about a personal matter. Justin is going to be leaving at the end of the week, and I plan to go with him. I need you to watch out for Gus and Mel for me.” I tell him.


“I already planned to be there if Mel needed me, so it's not a problem.” He tells me.


“You know that you're going to have Deb, Michael, and Lindsay breathing down your neck, looking for anything they can find out. I need for you to put humble Ted in a closet, and find the man I know you are. Part of that will be using the loft until we find a building for Kinnetik. You and Cynthia will be interviewing potential staff and I'd rather you do it here. Everyone you interview signs a confidentiality agreement first.” I tell him.


“I doubt the three of them are going to want to talk to me anyway. I told Michael I was the father. Why a confidentiality agreement?” He asks me.


“We are going to be going after some of that same clients that I left at Ryder when I left, and Vance doesn’t need to know I'm opening a business in Pittsburgh. I want him to believe I'm in Chicago, retired. I don't need him to have the first clue I'm about to steal some of his best.” I tell him.


“Not just Cynthia?” He asks.


“Brandon approached Justin about a job with me. Justin said that he knew Michael. I haven't called him yet because I want to know who he is, Cynthia confirmed he worked at Vanguard.” I tell him.


“He’s Babylon’s newest stud. I really don't know much other than Michael latched onto him and his friends. I stopped hanging out with Michael when it became more like he was trying to relive our twenties. Brandon only seemed interested when Michael was boasting about you.” He tells me.


“Apparently he was using Michael to meet me.” I tell him.


“Why wouldn't he when Michael talks as if you two are still best friends. When you left, so did any guys who use to hang around Michael. Michael realized talking about you at least got him some attention.” He tells me.


“I'm not looking to pick up where I left off, so Michael is going to have to get attention some other way.” I tell him.


“Michael probably thought with Justin gone, his life would go back to before Justin.” He tells me getting in the car.


“My life began with Justin. I need to thank you for what you said to get Justin to give me a chance to prove I can be what he wants.” I tell Ted.


“You were it for him, I saw it. I know Emmett always believed you two were the love story we all wanted to have. Well, without the tricking.” He tells me.


JUSTIN


Emmett and Daphne together meant Charles and I were just there to nod and agree. They were like twins when it came to gossip.


“I heard Deb quit the diner.” Emmett tells us.


“Where did you hear that?” Daphne asks.


“It's all over Liberty Avenue, Charles and I went to the new place. Which I have to say could actually cook food that I didn’t worry about walking off my plate.” He tells us.


“We never ate at Liberty Diner, but I’m not upset about that after the way Emmett describes it.” Charles tells us.


“We all just went there because Michael wanted to and so Brian dragged everyone there.” Emmett tells us.


“That’s why I ended up there, Michael dragged me with him.” I tell them.


“Was it to tell you that Brian didn’t do relationships and you needed to leave him alone?” Emmett asks.


“Of course, don’t you know Brian’s just a selfish prick who will never give me what I want. It was always one of those things that made the ‘I’m his best friend’ speech bother me.” I tell Emmett.


“He wanted anyone that Brian spent any time with to believe it. It kept guys at bay, and left the field clear for him. Girl’s do it too, when they don’t want the guy they want with anyone else.” Daphne tells us.


“It wasn’t a secret to anyone that Michael loved Brian. Just like it wasn’t a secret that Brian didn’t see Michael as anything but a brother. Baby, the minute you appeared all Michael could see was the end of the dreams he had.” He tells us.


“Yes they were.” Brian says kissing me before sitting down. “What are you girls talking about, other than me?” He smirks.


“Deb quit the diner. Apparently she thinks that her reputation should get her a new job.” Charles tells him.


“She never worked for anyone else. The diner was the job she had when she started.” Brian tells him.


“She went to the manager of the new diner and didn’t expect to have to fill out an application.” Emmett tells us.


“You still manage to get the gossip.” Ted tells Emmett, smiling.


“You know me so well. Kiki told me when she came in for an interview. The other waitresses told her.” He tells us.


“When you think about it, when Deb first looked for a job, applications weren’t really more than your name and address.” Ted tells him.


“It’s just, as much as Deb pissed me off,  I don’t want her losing everything.” Emmett tells us.


“There’s not a lot we can do about it.” Charles tells Emmett.


“She won’t.” Brian tells Emmett.


“I wasn’t saying it to make you do anything.” Emmett tells Brian.


“I did it years ago. Deb took me in and I made sure that she would always have her house. I did it for the mother she was to me.” He tells me.


“I understand that, and at least it’s one thing you don’t have to deal with.” I tell him.


“She also has a retirement account that I set up years ago. She can live off it without having to work as long as she doesn’t do anything crazy with it.” Ted tells us.


“You guys are still looking out for her?” Daphne asks.


“She gave us the things our mothers didn’t, even when she goes overboard with Michael, we still remember that.” Emmett tells her.


“All I remember is her being thrilled Justin was leaving.” Daphne tells us.


“Michael was coming back and told her he needed his room. She wanted her baby home.” Ted tells her.


“She knew Michael and I didn’t get along, and I made it sound like I wanted to go.” I tell Daphne.


“It still doesn’t excuse what she said to you when you came back with Hannah.” Daphne tells me.


“Until then she was still calling and checking up on me and Emmett. I know it hurt her that Emmett and I kept Hannah a secret from her. I’m not saying I deserved anything that she said, just that it was a combination of things for her.” I tell her.


“So forgive her because she let you and the guys in her house?” Daphne asks.


“Not forgive her, that isn’t possible, but none of us want to see her on the streets when she didn’t leave us there.” Emmett tells her.


“Just don’t expect me to be sitting beside you, she never did anything for me.” Daphne tells us.


DEB


I’ve been looking for the asshole all day and he shows up with Ted. I was about to kick Ted out for helping Mel when Brian ordered me to shut up and sit down.


“We aren’t here to listen to what you think of Ted or Mel. I want you to listen and realize that even with everything you did to Emmett and Justin, they agreed with what Ted and I are going to do to help you.” Brian tells me.


“Brian, what Emmett and Justin did to Michael…”


“Was what he deserved for running his mouth. He needs to learn that saying the shit he did, didn’t mean that they had to take it. If you want to sit here and argue about that then you do it alone. I won’t defend Michael the way you always expected me too, when it was my daughter he was talking about. Now can we explain to you that losing your job doesn’t mean you lost everything.” Brian tells me.


“I quit, the fucker acted like I wasn’t the reason people came to the diner.” I tell him.


“You quit, but it still means you don’t have a job and finding one that would put up with the things you got away with at your old job, is going to be impossible for you. Employers don’t cater to the staff, but the clientele, something you never had to learn because your old boss came from a different era. Ted set up your retirement fund so that when you were ready to retire you didn’t have to worry about how to pay bills. I bought the mortgage so that you kept your house. If you want to work that’s fine, but the money Ted made you will not keep you if you let your son run over you. Ted set you up with a friend of his to go over what we did for you. It’s up to you now to decide if you want to keep it.” Brian tells me as he and Ted get up to leave.


“Why did you do it?” I ask them both.


“We still remember the woman who took us in, even after what you did to the people we love.” Ted tells me, closing the door.


I looked through the papers and saw that Brian payed off my mortgage and left the title to my house in the paperwork. The money I gave Ted couldn’t have been as much as the money he made me. They looked out for me while I was hurting people who they cared about.


“Hey Ma, why do you look upset?” Michael asks when he showed up an hour later.


“How do you plan on paying me back and helping out around here?” I ask, wanting him to be as generous as the boys were.


“Ma, the shop doesn’t make much, so I can’t help you out the way I did when I was working at Big Q. I was hoping you would let go of the money you gave me, since I used to give you money for things here.” He tells me, going up to his room.


“Michael, you need to find a place to live. I can’t do this anymore.” I tell him.


“You’re kicking me out, I’m your son?” He tells me.


“My adult son, who needs to find a place to live and learn to support himself. I want to find out if there’s a life out there for me that doesn’t have my only job as being your keeper.” I tell him.



















Chapter 18 by starlight

JUSTIN


I brought Hannah with me to see Brian before we left to go home. Brian asked us to come there instead of him coming to my mom’s house. When we pulled up, Ted was standing outside and asked me to open the back of the car. I did, but was confused at why he putting suitcases in the car.


“Did you really think he was staying here if you and Hannah were leaving?” Ted asks me.


“I thought he was going to stay to handle things here first. I can’t believe he didn’t tell me.” I told him.


“Are you really upset that he’s coming with you?” Ted asks.


“I think I’m more surprised than upset.” I tell him, going up to see Brian.


“Dad, he’s coming with us.” Hannah tells me, excited.


“So I just heard from Ted.” I tell her, looking at Brian.


“Hannah, want to help me carry these bags down?” Ted asks as he comes back to get more.


“Brian, why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” I ask, after Hannah follows Ted.


“Justin, I can’t be apart from you again. If you go, I follow.” He tells me.


“What about Gus?” I ask him.


“It’s going to take time to get this to mediation, and then if that doesn’t work, court. Gus will be visiting us, Mel and I already agreed to that. I’ll have to come here to help get things set up, but until then I can be with you and Hannah.” He tells me.


“Have you asked my mom to help you find a place to set up shop?” I ask him.


“Your mother knows a place we can look at?” He asks.


“She’s a realtor, so I’m sure she can help.” I tell him.


“I'll get Ted and Cynthia to contact her, hopefully they can find something that I'll approve of, without me having to be here.” He tells me, grabbing his briefcase.


“You're really leaving with me?” I ask.


“I want to see the place you made a home for Hannah.” He tells me.


“It's the first place that was mine.” I tell him.


BRIAN


We were in the car, and all I could think about was the way Justin seemed to cherish that something belonged to him. It’s something he never had when we were together, some place he wasn’t dependent on someone else to be able to live.


“Why are you so quiet?” Justin asks.


“Thinking of the past, how none of us ever realized how hard it must have been for you, not having anything permanent to call home.” I tell him.


“It wasn’t horrible, but I hated always having to depend on people for everything. Even when Emmett and I moved to Georgia, he was the one paying for everything. I've tried to pay him back but Emmett won’t take it.” He tells me.


“Emmett’s always been that way. He'd give his last dollar to anyone, going without things. It's why we ate at the diner so much, I could pay for things and he just took it as normal.” I tell him.


“He wanted me concentrate on school and Hannah. I helped out when my scholarship came through but I'll never be able to pay him back for being there through everything.” He tells me.


“He told me how hard it was for you. I get the feeling he spared me from the worst.” I tell him.


“Brian, to me it all turned out the best it could, Hannah made it and is now a healthy child. If you want to know, then let me tell you the good things, because there is no reason to tell you things that didn’t matter, when she survived everything.” He tells me.


“I want to know it all, not just the happy parts.” I tell him.


“I couldn’t sleep. In my head she would stop trying if I closed my eyes. Everyday she passed a milestone was a day I could close my eyes for a second. Emmett tried, but she needed me to do what she couldn’t, so I used my fingers so she knew I was there, because I couldn’t hold her all the time. My mother showed up and promised me that she would watch Hannah while I slept, she stayed until we were out of the hospital. Is that what you need to hear from me? Because there were so many good days that the bad ones don’t mean as much. The day she didn’t have to have a breathing machine, and when they handed me a bottle to feed her for the first time. When she finally reached five pounds and the doctor smiled the first real smile, because he knew it was time for me to have my daughter go home. Instead of thinking about how bad it was, all I remember is walking out the door with a healthy baby.” He tells me.

“You never hated me because you did it alone?” I ask.


“Why are you asking all this, I thought we were letting go of the past?” He asks.


“I want to know everything about her, and you. We really haven’t talked about it.” I tell him.


“Hannah is like you in a lot of ways, she’s goes for what she wants and doesn’t let anything get in her way. She’s a neat freak like you, which is so much fun when I work. There isn’t a sport that doesn’t interest her. She takes the time to find out what she wants to know, not asking anything until she runs into a wall. Evolution has her stumped because she understands the theory, but not how the earth was here to begin with. She’s well above average in intelligence, but has never treated anyone differently if they have learning disabilities. She got your need to help people.” He tells me.


“Why Hannah Kinsey?” I ask.


“I’ve always like Hannah and Mel talked about it being the name she wanted to name a girl. The name means grace, and in a way it seem to fit Hannah. Kinsey was just a way to have your name in hers. I never really liked Brianna. I’ll admit I almost made it Kinney. It was petty but I remembered how much Mel gave you a hard time and thought since I took the name she talked about, why not pair it with yours, a little revenge for all the shit she put you through over Gus.” He tells me.


“Mel wanted her place in Gus’s life, I understand now how hard it was to love someone knowing that your place isn’t secure. If you wanted to, you could take Hannah and close me out of her life and I couldn’t fight you.” I tell him.


“I put your name on her birth certificate, so you are considered her parent.” He tells me.


“Unlike what I did with Gus, I didn’t do anything to help with Hannah’s upbringing.” I tell him.


“Money isn’t the answer to everything.” He tells me.


“It would have made it easier on you.” I tell him.


“Brian, we always had a roof and food. Hannah never went without the things that were important.” He tells me.


“I spent my childhood going without everything and I never want my children to feel that.” I tell him.


“There have to be limits. Hannah takes care of her things because she earns them. She will never be raised to think that she entitled to anything and losing the value for the things she gets.” He tells me.


“I made a lot of money Justin, and one day she’s going to inherit it.” I tell him.


“Which doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t work for what she wants.” He tells me.


“The way you had to.” I tell him.


“The way I wanted to. I never wanted someone to take care of me.” He tells me.


“No, that was one thing that made you different from the rest.” I tell him.


TED


I locked up the loft and was headed out for the night. Lindsay was waiting outside when I came out. I walked past her, without saying anything. Lindsay and I were not friends and never had been.


“Are you now Brian’s caretaker?” She asks. “You know all that means is that Brian will call to get you to take his drunk ass home. How does it feel to be Michael’s replacement?” She asks, when I unlock my car door still not replying. “Where is he anyway?” She asks, when nothing seems to bother me.


I thought about it for a minute then decided it wouldn’t hurt to tell her. “He left. Only this time without a way for you or Michael to contact him.” I tell her, smiling as I get in the car and leave.


MICHAEL


I walked into Babylon, since Ma was in one of her moods. I saw the guys with Brandon and went over to see if it was just that Ma was being so pushy that had them ignoring me.


“Hey Bran, sorry about Ma.” I tell him.


“It’s Brandon.” He tells me.


“I know, but you know when you’re friends, they call you nicknames. Brian used to call me Mikey all the time.” I tell him.


“Like the kid in the commercial?” Kevin snickers.


“Mikey likes it?” Jason yells out.


“It’s kind of a ridiculous name for an adult.” Brandon tells me, looking around.


“It was our thing. When Brian used it I knew it was his way of saying he cared. I made sure no one used it but him. You could if you want.” I tell him.


“Why would I bother?” He tells me, sounding like Brian.


“It’s what friends do.” I tell him.


“Well Michael, I see my night improving, so bye now.” Brandon tells me, taking a guy to the backroom.


“Brian used to do that all the time too. Guys were practically lined up to get a chance with him. I used to have to explain the rules to the guys who thought they would be the one Brian Kinney kept. Which never happened, he barely remembered their names. They couldn’t figure out that Brian wouldn’t settle down, so I made sure they understood the rules.” I tell Kevin and Jason.


“Then how did the twink steal the stud from your clutches?” Kevin asks.


“I would have to say it was the ass, man it really was something to see.” Jason tells Kevin.


“Brian just felt sorry for Justin. Nothing about Justin is worth the time.” I tell them.


“Could you imagine what they looked like dancing together, I bet it was hot as hell.” Kevin tells Jason.


“Brian was hot, not Justin.” I tell them.


“Don’t you mean you weren’t, because no one talks about you and Brian, but there’s a shit load on Justin and Brian all over Liberty Avenue.” Kevin sneered at me.


“Please, Justin was a footnote in my time with Brian.” I tell him.


“Isn’t it past your time Pop?” Jason asks me, walking off with Kevin.


“Ask anyone, Brian never did anything without me.” I yell.


“That’s because Brian couldn’t do anything without you pestering him to death.” A guy says behind me.


“Like you know anything.” I tell him, not bothering to turn around.


“I know that Brian and Justin were the main attraction and you were the one who lived in Brian’s shadow, never getting a life of your own. I guess you never changed.” He tells me.


“It’s none of your business.” I tell him turning around. “David, when did you get back?” I ask.


“I came back a few years ago. I just didn’t bother to contact you again.” He tells me.


“David, are you ready? The guys decided that reliving their youth wasn’t what they thought it would be.” A guy says as he kisses David.


“It’s like a rerun without end around here.” David tells him, looking at me.


“I told you this was a total waste of time. I can’t figure out why anyone would still frequent the place when they could father some of these kids.” He tells David.




Chapter 19 by starlight
Author's Notes:

I wanted to make sure that I added that my stories most likely won't be updated till Friday again because RL decided to take over for the next few days. 

BRIAN


When we arrived at Justin's house Hannah was still asleep, so I carried her in while Justin led me to her room. Justin wasn’t kidding that Hannah was a neat freak, everything on her desk was lined up and even the Teddy Bears all over the bed were arranged by size. I put her in bed and looked around at the sports posters and the framed awards she’d received. When I got to the dresser, it was covered in pictures of Hannah in her soccer uniform, and there was even a picture of me. I picked it up, not remembering Justin being around when this was taken.


“Emmett has some of you before we met, there really weren’t any that I had of you when were were together.” He tells me.


“I was never big on pictures, Michael was the one who usually took all the pictures, but he always kept them.” I tell him, putting it down.


“Emmett had some that he took, when Hannah asked what you looked like, Emmett pulled out the ones he had. That was the only one that didn’t have Michael hanging on all over you.” He tells me, walking out of the room.


I followed him out to the car to start unloading my bags. I looked at the duffel bag he still had and remembered how his entire life was in that bag.


“Where am I putting these?” I ask about my bags.


“Down the hall, the room next to Hannah’s. I need to get this stuff in the washer.” He tells me, grabbing his bag and heading towards the kitchen.


I walked down the hall, expecting to be in the guest room, but realized it was his bedroom. Dropping my bags, I looked around, jealous of the closet and then smiling at the large shower and sunken tub. Justin came in and walked past me to turn on the shower.


“How about a bath, we’ve been sitting in the car for hours.” I tell him.


“Brian Kinney taking a bath is definitely something I have to see.” He tells me turning off the shower and filling the tub.


“Brian Kinney is no longer the twenty-eight year old he use to be.” I tell him, cracking my neck and stretching.


“You know, I remember the twenty-nine, almost thirty Brian, and he wouldn’t be caught dead taking a bath with me.” He tells me, turning on the jets and stripping to get in. “God, when did I turn into an old man.” Justin says, moaning in the water.


“Justin you're still in your twenties, old is a long way off for you.” I tell him, getting in behind him.


“Being a single father makes it seem like I’m ninety sometimes.” He tells me smiling.


“You're not single anymore, as a father or any other way.” I tell him.


“Which reminds me, Hannah has soccer practice tomorrow. I have to be at work, but I was going to take lunch to take her.” He tells me.


“What do you do with her normally when you work?” I asked.


“Most of the time I work from home, tomorrow is one of the rare times I need to be at work. Emmett usually takes her when I can’t be with her. Emmett and I already planned out the next couple of weeks so that she is always with one of us. When she’s back in school I have more freedom to work when she’s in school. On the way here I assumed that you would rather take care of her.” He tells me.


“My time is open for whatever you need me to do.” I tell him.


“How about wash my back?” He asks me.


Justin leaned forward as I soaped his back and then I leaned him back, wetting his hair and rubbing the shampoo in. I tried not to let him feel what it does to me when I take care of him. When I rinsed his hair he turned around leaning back when I brought my knees up to behind him.


“What do you want?” I ask him.


“You inside me, doing the things only you ever did for me.” He tells me.


“Do I still own this?” I ask, running my hands over his ass and letting my fingers teasing his rim.


“I told you, no one but you would ever have that.” He tells me.


I pulled his hands to my ass. “When you're ready, this belongs to you too.” I tell him.


“Later. I love feeling you inside me.” He tells me.


Justin stood up and grabbed a towel, walking into his bedroom. I followed behind him as he grabbed condoms and lube and threw them on the bed. “You were always prepared.” I tell him.


“I didn’t want to wait when we were together.” He tells me, pulling my head down to kiss him.


I pushed him down onto the bed, laying next to him. I kissed down to his weeping erection and licked his salty offerings, then took him in my mouth. Grabbing the lube, I put it on my fingers and inserted my middle finger into him while I pulled back until only the head was in my mouth, then licked around his crown as I added another finger into him. Justin started moving with my fingers, fucking into my mouth. I pushed on his prostate which only had him thrashing as I kept the pressure on him, swallowing him to the root. It didn’t take long before he came. I climbed up and kissed him so he could taste himself in my mouth. Justin flipped me over onto my back and grabbed the condom, sheathed me and impaled himself on my cock. He rotated his hips and then leaned over me, panting as he hammered himself on me. I grabbed is hips and held him still as I drove up into him. When I needed more, I turned us over and lifted his legs over my shoulders and slammed into him over and over. Justin stroked himself with my thrusts and I kept going through my orgasam until he came again. I collapsed on top of him.


“No one could ever do the things you did for me.” Justin tells me.


“I told you once that I wanted you to always remember this, so no matter who you were with I would always be a part of you.” I tell him.


“It came true.” He tells me as I lay next to him.


Justin turned over and laid his head on my chest, then fell asleep while I wrapped my arms around him and joined him.


TED


I called Brandon to have lunch so we could talk. Vance, unlike my boss, was making Cynthia work her notice to the last day. Brandon came in and I watched the way he walked, it was predatorial, but to me it said that he was still learning the game. Brian was already a major player at Brandon’s age, in both work and play. He sat down and I could tell he was trying to place me. I put my phone on the table, and got out the confidentiality agreement.


“We know each other right?” He asks.


“I met you one night a Babylon, when I was still hanging around Michael.” I tell him.


“I think Michael’s mentioned you a few times.” He tells me, I could see the inner wince.


“If your name isn’t Brian, Michael tends to only see your faults.” I tell him.


“It’s why I hung around, to get a chance to meet Brian.” He tells me, as I pull out the agreement for him to sign.


“I need you to read and sign this before we talk.” I tell him.


“Is Brian going to interview me too?” He asks, as he reads it and signs.


“Right now Brian is out of town, he’s trusting me and Cynthia help in the selection of staff. You’ll meet Brian if we see you as qualified for the job.” I tell him, putting away the contract.


“I’m willing to do whatever you need me to.” He tells me.


I was about to ask him why he felt qualified, but I realized he really meant whatever I wanted. Clearing my throat I put away all thoughts of the things he could do to me, while the inner me was saying ‘see what he'd do’.


“Then give me a reason you think Brian would want you for an ad exec.” I tell him.


“I want to learn from a man who's not afraid to do what it takes to sell a campaign. I bring in clients, but with Vanguard we play it safe. Clients might like it but it doesn't bring in the numbers. Campaigns should make the products unforgettable. By always going with safe campaigns, products are easily forgotten. I'm tired of being told clients know what they want. If they did, why come to us?” He tells me.


“I’ll be right back.” I tell him picking up my phone.


“Brian, this is really your area, it sounds like he would be a good addition.” I tell him.


“Sounds to me like you passed up a night with the stud.” He tells me, laughing.


“After years of watching ‘the morning after’ with you, I'm okay with not doing the walk of shame.” I tell him.


“Give him a ticket to Chicago for his second interview. He talks a good game, let's see if he can back it up. Give him Eyeconics from my roster, see if he can get Kelly on board without a company established.” He tells me, hanging up.


Brandon was eyeing the guys around him when I returned.


“I have a ticket for you to meet with Brian, but first you need to show him you're more than words. Brian wants Eyeconics and you need to deliver it to him. You can’t mention Kinnetik until she agrees. Also you aren’t to talk about where you go to meet Brian.” I tell him.


“Is there a reason for all this?” He asks.


“Eyeconics is so he knows you're serious, the rest is because Brian wants it that way. Do yourself a favor, don’t let Michael find out you know anything about Brian, because your career will end with being Vance’s bitch.” I tell him.


“Michael was wrong, there is nothing boring about you.” He tells me.

















Chapter 20 by starlight

BRIAN


I woke up when Justin got out of bed, it's like the minute he leaves I can feel it. He was grabbing clothes and throwing me sweat pants.


“Put those on, Hannah has never had a reason to knock when she gets up.” He tells me.


“What time does soccer practice start?” I ask.


“Around ten, I'm in charge of the drinks. I have a cooler in the garage and drinks in the pantry for it. I'll be back in time to take you guys.” He tells me, getting dressed.


“Why are you leaving so early?” I ask.


“It's the only way I can get done and back in time. Emmett will be over to help with breakfast. I texted him that he didn’t need to come over now. Hannah should be up in a hour.” He tells me, leaning over me kissing me good bye.


Getting up, I went to look around the house and the kitchen. There were two other rooms but one was locked and I decided to wait and ask Justin about it. In the living room there was a desk with two chairs behind it and the entertainment center had a big screen over his fireplace. I sat on his sofa and found the remote under a cushion, which had to be Justin’s doing. He always dropped things where he was and then couldn’t find them later. I saw a sketch book on the table in front of me and opened it.


“That one is mine, Dad leaves his in his studio so he doesn’t lose it all the time.” Hannah tells me, sitting next to me. I kiss my daughter good morning.


Flipping through it, I could see she was developing in a way that would rival her Dad one day. “You’re good.” I tell her.


“It’s fun, but I know I’ll never feel about it the way Dad does. He told me once that if he wasn’t drawing that he felt like something is missing. For me, it’s just something I do normally when I don’t have something else to do.” She tells me.


“Like answering calls from strangers?” I ask.


“Normally it’s Auntie Em or Nana, not strangers.” She tells me.


“I’m sure he gets calls from other people.” I tell her, curious.


“On his other phone sometimes, but I’m not allowed to answer that one.” She tells me.


“Hello, anybody awake?” I hear when the front door opens.


“Auntie Em, we’re in the living room.” Hannah calls him.


“I came to make sure you got something edible for breakfast. Justin informed me that Daddy here still hasn’t learned to cook.” Emmett tells us.


“Like I told him, I didn’t need to when he was always doing it.” I tell him.


“Brian there is more to life than take-out menus.” He tells me.


“Um, can I see if Trina wants to come over for breakfast?” She asks, looking like she didn’t know who to ask.


I look to Emmett, because I have no idea who Trina is. “Sure Baby.” He tells her, as she runs to her room. I got up and followed Emmett to the kitchen. A couple minutes later Hannah was running past us, dressed and out the back door.


“Trina lives on the other side of the fence. So does Trina’s single father, who seems to think he and Justin have so much in common.” Emmett tells me, rolling his eyes.


“How does Justin feel about that?” I ask, already deciding that Trina’s dad and I might need to talk.


“I jokingly call him Mikey Jr.” Emmett tells me.


Hannah came in, dragging her friend Trina behind her. When the door opened again, well, let’s just say, he was not someone I would call Mikey in anyway. He was my height, built, with brownish red hair. He came in as if going to a business meeting. He smiled at Emmett but when Hannah introduced Trina to me, I could see the question in his eyes about me. Hannah and Trina ran off to her room, yelling to let them know when breakfast was ready.


“Brian this is Miles, father to our angel Trina. Miles this is Brian, father of Hannah.” Emmett tells us.


“Where is Justin?” He asks Emmett, not even looking at me.


“He had to go meet up with Charles, they had to finalize the graphics on a project this morning.” Emmett tells him, making me wonder why the guy needs to know anything about Justin.


“He should have called, we could have gone in together. I hoped that Justin and I could have dinner together tonight, with the girls. We single fathers have to stick together.” He tells us.


“I’m sure he has plans with Brian and Hannah.” Emmett tells him.


“Justin is nicer than I would be in this situation. Sorry, but if Trina’s father had left me with a kid and not contacted me in eight years, there is no way I’d have him sitting in my kitchen.” He tells me.


“Well Mark, I guess MY JUSTIN is just nicer than you.” I tell him.


“Miles.” He tells me.


“What?” I ask.


“My name is Miles, not Mark.” He tells me.


“And why would I care?” I ask him.


“I just thought it would be good to know who we are, since we’ll be seeing each other while you're here for your visit.” He tells me.


“I’m not visiting, Justin and I are living together.” I tell him.


“Miles, why don’t you get the girls, breakfast is ready.” Emmett says when Miles and I stare at each other. Miles smiles at Emmett, and goes to get the girls. “Brian, Trina is Hannah’s best friend, so find a way to deal with the asshole. Justin put up with Michael for you.” He tells me.


“Justin punched Michael, I can handle it.” I tell him, smirking.


JUSTIN


I signed off on the account and checked through my email to make sure that there wasn’t anything I needed to do before leaving to get Brian and Hannah for practice. Miles came in and sat in front of my desk.


“I met Brian, I can’t believe you're letting him stay with you.” He tells me.


“He moved here to be with us, where was he supposed to stay?” I ask him.


“You realize that you could confuse Hannah into thinking you and Brian are together.” He tells me.


“Brian and I ARE together. I don’t really understand why you're even asking me about it.” I tell him.


“I’m your friend and I just don’t see how you could let a guy back into your life that left you when you were young, pregnant, and alone.” He tells me.


“He had no idea he left me pregnant, and regardless, why do you feel you have any say in who I allow in my home?” I ask.


“Anyone who is your friend should be questioning you making those decisions. Justin, as your friend, I’m just concerned about you.” He tells me.


“Then let me straighten something out for you. It’s really none of your business who I see or what I do. I honestly don’t understand where any of this is even coming from. The only thing I ever told you was that I was raising Hannah alone because the other father wasn’t involved.” I tell him, annoyed.


“I overheard you and Emmett talking in your house before you took Hannah to meet him. It sounded like the guy was an asshole. You were saying that you would have to prove it to Brian that he was the father. How the hell does a guy not realize you could have gotten pregnant?” He asks.


“We used condoms, but like anything, there is a failure rate. Although I’m more concerned that you were in my house, listening in on a conversation that was private.” I tell him.


“I didn’t realize I was walking in on a private conversation, and left because I didn’t want to bother you when you seemed upset enough as it was.” He tells me.


“Have I ever walked into your home without knocking?” I ask.


“No, but…”


“Then why would you think you had the right to walk into mine?” I ask him.


“I’ve always come over before and it wasn’t a problem.” He tells me.


“When Trina came over to play with Hannah, yes, and that I would understand. What I don’t understand is why you would come over and enter my house when Hannah was over with another friend, not Trina.” I tell him.


“I just wanted to invite you to a dinner my friends were hosting. They set up a time and I was going to ask you to be my da… to meet some people.” He tells me.


“Oh shit, you didn’t think… I hope I never made you think I wanted… you know I only see you as the father of one of Hannah’s friends right?” I ask.


“Justin, I thought we were friends, and possibly more.” He tells me.


“I never thought we were more than two people who worked together and had children who were friends.” I tell him.


“I need to go.” He tells me getting up and leaving.


I packed up my desk and went to get Brian and Hannah. I don’t get where Miles got the idea that he and I were anything. Emmett was still over so he came with us to the soccer field. When we got there, the coaches were discussing practice with the girls and Brian sat with Hannah listening. Ten minutes later Brian was out on the field with the girls and coaching the coaches. Emmett and I sat on the sidelines, just amazed at the way Brian could get anyone to listen to him and do what he said.


“Emmett, Miles came to my office.” I tell him.


“About Brian or work?” He asks.


“Brian. He was kind of creeping me out. He apparently came into the house when you and I were discussing Brian calling. He seemed to think coming in my back door was okay.” I tell Emmett.


“I haven’t said much, but Justin, doesn’t this remind you of Michael and his constant showing up. Miles used to show up all the time when I was there to take care of Hannah.” He tells me.


“Why didn’t you tell me?” I ask him.


“Because he did it when you were around and you didn’t seem to mind.” He tells me.


“He was bringing Trina over, that’s all I thought it was. I didn’t know he thought I was interested.” I tell him.


“Baby, you’ve spent the last eight years blind to men who were interested in you. You can tell me all you want that you were too busy for a relationship, but the truth is, you shut out the possibility and ignored all the signs. Trina might have been how you met Miles, but Miles wasn’t bringing Trina over just to play with Hannah. He was interested, and waiting on you to show him you were ready, by sticking around trying to be your best friend.” He tells me.


“You and Daphne are the only people I trust in that capacity.” I tell him.


“We’re both honored, but in a way, I think Miles thought that you and he were closer.” He tells me.


“Where did he get that idea? Every dinner we attended was a business dinner with other employees, and the only time outside of that was a block party we went to with the kids and other parents. I just don’t see why he would have thought I would be interested.” I told him as Brian sat next to me.


“Miles?” He asks us.


“Yeah, he came to my office and started asking why you were here.” I tell him.


“He’s confused as to why Miles is interested.” Emmett tells Brian.


“I never indicated I wanted anything from him. I was put off by his constant bitching about his ex, and was really only nice to him because we work together and our children are friends. How the hell do you get interested out of that?” I ask.


“The same way Michael thought Brian was interested because he never dated and listened to Michael’s constant bitching.” Emmett tells me.


“Don’t worry Sunshine, I’ll keep the Mikey’s of the world away from us.” Brian tells me when I groaned into his chest.


“But Trina and Hannah are friends.” I tell him.


“Then Miles needs to decided if he wants to hurt his daughter because you don’t want him.” He tells me, kissing my forehead.


 

Chapter 21 by starlight

BRIAN


Ted called to let me know that Brandon was coming to see me with the account in hand. Brandon only took a week to do it. I was impressed that he never used Kinnetik to get the account. I had Brandon meet me at the soccer field, because I needed to get the girls ready for their first game. So far Miles wasn’t being a colossal shit about Trina hanging out with Hannah. He liked to tell me all the things he felt Justin and he had in common. I let him have his fantasy, because I had the reality. Ted pulled up to the field with Brandon, while I smiled as Miles sat on the sidelines, while the coaches wanted me on the field. Justin and Emmett walked over to see Ted and Brandon, since Justin just didn’t feel like watching the cock contest Miles seemed to want to play with me. It was cool that my kid was the best player on the field and helped me get the other girls to do what they needed to do. I told Hannah to run the drills while I went to see Brandon.


Brandon seemed a bit confused at first that we weren’t meeting in an office. “lt’s good to finally meet you.” He tells me, shaking my hand.


“I needed to know you could back up the words you were spouting.” I tell him.


“Kelly is on board, so I guess you could say it was the truth.” He tells me.


“I have the signed contracts. Kelly is willing to sign for five years. Apparently, once Brandon told her it was your company she’d be signing with, she went from two to five years.” Ted tells me.


“Which I knew would happen when any company hears that Brian Kinney is opening up in Pittsburgh.” Brandon tells us.


“Kinnetik is in Pittsburgh, but the headquarters of Hawthorne-Kinney is centralized in Chicago.” I tell him.


“I was hoping to work with you. I want to be able to get five years by clients knowing I’ll head a campaign.” Brandon tells me.


“I’ll be the one approving Campaigns, and be available, along with Justin, if you need help. I don’t need you to be me, but be ambitious enough to want to be better than me. Kinnetik will be a partnership, with Ted and Cynthia heading it and making the decisions on who will advance.” I tell him, as Hannah runs over.


“Daddy, we’re done for the day.” She tells me.


I had Ted and Brandon follow us to Justin’s house, so we could change and go to Hawthorne-Kinney. I wanted Brandon to see the graphics he could call upon when he needed it. While Justin and I walked Brandon around, Emmett and Ted entertained Hannah for us. Charles came to meet Brandon and approved his hire. Brandon was impressed with Justin’s knowledge of art campaigns and graphics.


“I know Michael seems to only see you as some kid who kept showing up and getting in the way. How did he not see you weren’t an empty headed blond?” Brandon asks.


“Michael couldn’t see past Brian.” Justin tells him.


“I kind of got that. I mean, I let him hang out with my friends because at first I felt bad for him, but he really doesn’t get the whole boundries thing.” He tells us.


“Some of Brian’s friends are like that, they don’t want Brian to have a life unless it includes and revolves around, them.” Justin tells me.


“He’s been out of circulation for a while. I think it has something to do with a guy he bumped into. It’s been nice not to have Michael talking to me in the backroom.” Brandon tells us.


“Brandon, understand that Chicago is still confidential.” I tell him.


“I kind of got that when Ted told me my career would die at Vanguard if anyone found out.” Brandon tells us, smiling about the way Ted must have sounded.


DEB


I took a page from Brian’s book and changed my locks. If Michael had a way in, he would have shown up. He complained the first time he had to knock, but I ignored it. It was just hard to listen to him moan over having to pay rent and not having a place to eat at. It really came home to me how much Michael got away with. I went to see the apartment and knocked because he decided that if he didn’t have a key to my house, I didn’t need one to his apartment. Which I never asked him for and pointed that out to him. Lindsay answered the door and let me in. I wasn’t really surprised by it, but seeing Gus in Michael’s house worried me.


“Why is Gus here?” I ask.


“I have every right to have my son visit with me.” Lindsay tells me.


“I guess I’m just wondering why you would bring him here. I would think you would want to spend time with just Gus.” I tell her.


“Michael wanted to see Gus. You know he loves Gus too.” She tells me.


“What do you need, Mother?” Michael asks me.


“I just wanted to let you know that Sunday dinner is canceled. Jen and I joined a book club that has dinner together on Sundays.” I tell him.


“He ruins everything.” Michael mumbles.


“By he, I’m assuming you mean Justin?” I ask.


“Who else. Once again, he manages to change everything by showing his ass up.” Michael tells me.


“Michael, Brian will get tired of Justin.” Lindsay tells him.


“He’d better, because Gus shouldn’t be pushed aside for Justin’s kid.” Michael tells us, in front of Gus.


“Dad just wants to know my sister.” Gus tells Michael, frowning.


“We know Lambskin, but you're his child too, and you deserve his attention just as much as she does.” Lindsay tells him.


“Dad called and I get to see him soon.” Gus tells her.


“I would just like to know where and when, I should know. It worries me that you could be so far away.” Lindsay tells him.


“It’s not far.” Gus tells them.


“I’m sure it’s not, but maybe you could tell us where it is?” Michael asks him.


“Gus, can you stay here while I talk to your mother and Michael outside the door?” I ask him, not happy with what these two are doing.


“Okay, but then can I come to your house, it’s boring here?” He asks me.


“I’ll get your mother to agree.” I tell him, smiling until I turn to the other two. “Both of you outside now.” I order them.


“What?” Michael says belligerently, as soon as the door is closed.


“What!! Is that all you have to say? Are you two really that desperate to bother Brian that you would try to get Gus to tell you something Brian doesn’t want either of you to know?” I ask them.


“My son shouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere without me knowing where he is.” Lindsay tells me.


“There isn’t any reason why where Brian is should be a big secret.” Michael tells me.


“Other than the way you treated Justin. Hell, the way we all did. In case you two haven’t figured out what is flashing in neon right in front of your faces, you fucked up any chance of Brian wanting either of you in his life. Using Gus to get information will only piss Brian off even more.” I warn them.


“Oh and we wouldn’t want to piss off the man who saved your house and kept you from having to work would we?” Michael asks me.


“I don’t want the sons that took care of me when they could have left me on the street, to have to deal with the son who takes everything he can get and still wants more.” I tell him.


“Well then, go find the sons that took care of you. Wait, you can’t, because they aren’t talking to you either.” Michael sneers at me.


“I deserve less than they did, so if it takes them a while to want to be around me, then I’ll give them the space they need. I’m going in to take Gus with me, you two can plot alone.” I tell them, going to get Gus.


“I didn’t say you could take Gus.” Lindsay reminds me.


“If you don’t let me take him, I’ll make sure when Brian sues you that I mention this little episode.” I tell her.


“He won’t get custody of Gus.” Lindsay tells me.


“He will when you can’t support your son. You might want to look for a job, because I’m sure your sister is eventually going to get tired of supporting you.” I tell her.


TED


Deb called me to tell me that Brian and Mel needed to make sure that Lindsay wasn’t alone with Gus. I really didn’t want to tell Brian about this, he wasn’t thrilled with Lindsay now, and this will only make it worse. Brandon looked at me as I sat in the car, wondering how to tell Brian.


“You look like we need to duck and cover.” He tells me.


“It’s just everytime I turn around lately, it’s like something else is going wrong.” I tell him.


“Tell them to fuck off, I mean why let other people’s problems be yours?” He asks me.


“I screwed up with the people who were really my friends, and I want to make things smoother for them. I feel like I owe it to them to stop the morons I thought were my friends from pissing off Brian and Justin.” I tell him.


“Ted, I don’t think they see it as you owing them your life. I mean, you have a life too.” He tells me.


“Work is really all I have.” I tell him.


“It’s all you seem to think you can have.” He tells me.


“Trust me, I’ve never managed to find anything that didn’t disappoint me outside of work.” I tell him, opening my door.


“You don’t seem to even look at the options.” He tells me, pulling me to him and kissing the shit out of me.


“Um, well, that was different, but you know, I prefer this.” I tell him, pushing him back against his door and climbing on his lap, making sure to control this kiss.


The knock on the window and Brian holding his hands over Hannah’s eyes had me realizing what I just did. With as much grace as I could muster, I climbed back to my seat and out the door. Brandon seemed to sit there for a second then shake it off and get out.


“What you two do outside work is none of my business. I don’t ever want to know, understood?” Brian asks, smirking.


“I won’t do anything you wouldn’t do.” I tell Brian.


“Just remember, Justin had to pull me out of that mess, and you don’t have Justin.” Brian tells me.


“Do you like Teddy?” Hannah ask Brandon.


“I didn’t think I did, but yeah, he’s cool.” Brandon tells her, looking at me.


I followed them in, trying to figure out how on earth someone like that wanted me. Justin and Emmett walked beside me. They looked at each other and nodded, in some code they must have developed through the years.


“Ted you rock his world, but then, I always knew you were hot.” Emmett tells me.


“Like Brian believes, it’s all in the attitude, but you have the sweet look, which used to get me laid a lot. Welcome to the club, we’ve waited for you to join.” Justin tells me.


“Keep your head up and be proud.” Charles tells me.


Brandon stopped and turned, looking at me. Justin and Emmett pushed me forward. When I reached Brandon he grabbed my hand and we walked in together.

 

Chapter 22 by starlight

BRIAN


It was so adorable, but really, unless my kids are doing something adorable, I really don’t want to talk it to death. Granted, I figured Ted was about to get a whole lot of Brandon tonight, so I might have watched the way Brandon seemed to watch Ted. There was interest, but how much, who knows.


Ted asked to talk to me alone, and all I could think is ‘grow the balls you showed in the car’, but that’s not what this was about.


“Deb called me. She went to see Michael’s new apartment and found Lindsay there with Gus. I guess they seemed to think they could get out of Gus where you were.” He tells me.


“Good thing we told Gus I went to West Virginia. You know how much I hated lying to my kid, but I didn’t want Gus to have to lie.” I tell him.


“It’s not really a lie, you do have a meeting there next week with WestTech.” He tells me.


“What are you talking about?” I ask, because it’s the first I’m hearing about this.


“They called Cynthia, looking for you. I guess they were clients of yours or wanted to be.” He tells me.


“They called when I was about to retire, I handed them to Adam. I didn’t know at the time that I was going to start a business. I guess Adam screwed up what should have been a sure thing. Just get me the dates and time so I can let Justin know. Call my attorney, Julie, and let her know what the two of them did. I doubt it’s going to matter. Lindsay is his mother and it sounds like concern, even though we know better.” I tell him.


“Mel is keeping a record of her visits, so far this is her first visit, and Gus asked to go with Deb half way through.” He tells me.


“My problem is only how Lindsay can get sympathy. It’s what Julie told me would be the hardest part of getting primary custody of Gus. She and Mel both think that it will end up being our biggest battle. The detective reports are on our side, because Lindsay doesn’t seem to see that those reports don’t show either Justin or I as doing anything a court could argue with. We both look as if we worked and Justin was a great father.” I tell him.


“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the whole detective thing. It’s not something anyone rational does.” He tells me.


“She’ll have to explain that at the mediation. Mel is trying to get the date bumped up.” I tell him.


“Mel found a firm that is willing to take her when she wants to make the move here.” He tells me.


“Ted, is it going to be a problem for you that she’ll be here and you’ll be in Pittsburgh?” I ask him.


“We agreed she would be the primary parent. If everything goes well in Pittsburgh than I could possibly move here.” He tells me.


“It looks like you would have a reason to want to stay in Pittsburgh.” I tell him, tilting my head at Brandon.


“Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice, but he’s still playing the field. I couldn’t put up with what Justin did at one time.” He tells me.


“I wouldn’t expect anyone to put up with what I did to Justin. Do the one thing Justin never did when we were first together, tell him that you won’t wait around for him to admit he loves you. If he does than he’ll leave the game behind.” I tell him.


“If Justin had told you that, would you have?” He asks me.


“He just never asked me to.” I tell him.


“I’ll call Julie and let her know for you. I can’t believe you're taking this so well.” I tell him.


“I’m not.” I tell him.


TED


I drove Brandon to his hotel room, I was staying with Emmett and Charles tonight. Brandon waited like he expected me to go in with him, but I wasn’t kidding when I said that I couldn’t do what Justin did.


“I know it might seem like mixed signals, but I can’t be the guy you screw while you screw other guys.” I tell him.


“Why do you think I would do that to you?” He asks me.


“When was your last trick?” I ask him.


“A couple days ago, but I didn’t think you were interested.” He tells me.


“I’m not interested in a player or someone who’s with me until they decide I’m not who they wanted. We really don’t know each other and until we do, I’m not interested in your bed.” I tell him.


“Then agree to a date that doesn’t have anything to do with business.” He tells me.


“I’ll take you out next Friday. There’s an opera I wanted to go see.” I tell him, waiting for the look that I get from guys when I mention it.


“I’m good with that, as long as I can pay for dinner somewhere nice.” He tells me.


“I would have picked a real restaurant.” I tell him.


“You can’t be the only one planning my first date.” He tells me, pecking me as he gets out.


I drove to the house Emmett and Charles live in. Brian and Justin were over there with Hannah when I got there. Brian answered the door.


“Really, they got you involved in their gossiping?” I ask Brian.


“Hannah wanted to spend the night with Emmett and Charles. It’s just a bonus that I’m disappointed in how fast you got here.” Brian tells me.


“We made a date, but until then I’m not jumping on.” I tell him.


“Are you kidding me?” Emmett asks Justin, as they come out of the back of the house.


“Nope, but I agree with Brian, Lindsay can make it sound like she’s a concerned mom.” Justin tells him as they sit down.


“Hannah wants you before she goes to sleep.” Emmett tells Brian.


“I called my friend who’s in family law. He told me to tell you and Brian to make sure Mel writes a statement on how you got the detective reports. Lindsay can’t have them thrown out if she left them with Mel.” Charles tells Justin.


“I’ll let him know.” Justin tells him. “When is the WestTech meeting?” Justin asks me.


“They want to meet on Wednesday.” I tell him.


Justin looks through his phone and cringes at whatever he sees. Brian goes over and looks at Justin’s phone. “Ted tell them I can’t be there on Wednesday. I can go on Friday but not until then, Hannah has her first game.” He tells me.


“Brian, she’ll understand.” Justin tells him.


“I won’t, I want to see my daughter win and business isn’t going to be a reason I don’t.” He tells me.


“If they won’t reschedule, what do you want me to tell them?” I ask him.


“Tell them that it’s the only way they get me to help them.” Brian tells me.


BRANDON


I didn’t get it, I mean guys tend to fall all over me. How did I end up alone last night? Brian came to pick me up to take me to the airport and I decided to get his opinion on this very strange occurrence in my world.


“Did Ted say anything?” I ask.


“Are we really having this conversation?” Brian asks.


“It’s just, he was with me until he drove me to my hotel.” I tell him.


“Ted wants a relationship that isn’t between tricks. He watched the shit Justin and I were doing and he knows he couldn’t deal with it. Most people couldn’t.” He tells me.


“We all hear things about the way you and Justin partied, but it’s hard to see it now, when you're practically soccer Dad.” I tell him.


“I did a lot of things that should have killed me or Justin. There’s just a time when being the stud becomes less attractive than being with my family. You need to understand that Ted hasn’t ever really been into the whole party, tricking, and drinking until you pass out. He loves opera and one-on-one things. If you want to trick, then Ted isn’t going to be there to see it.” He tells me.


“Why did Justin put up with it?” I ask him.


“He was young and exploring his sexuality. He would have eventually wanted to know what it was like with other people, so my lifestyle suited him. It made it easy for us to be together, because I wasn’t ready to settle down.” He tells me.


“I want to at least try with Ted. I mean, he’s different from most guys.” I tell him.


“My only advice is that if you still need the other things, don’t get involved with him. Ted and you have to be able to work together. I won’t replace Ted.” He warns me.


“I won’t give you a reason to replace me.” I tell him, getting out at the airport.


DEB


I brought Gus back to Mel’s house, she opened the door, smiling at Gus and barely looking at me.


“Gus, go in so I can talk to your mom.” I tell him, kissing him before he goes in.


“Deb, if this is about what a bitch I am, I don’t have time for this.” I tell her.


“Lindsay and Michael were trying to find out where Brian and Justin are by asking Gus.” She tells me.


“You should have let Gus tell them.” I tell her.


“Mel, Brian doesn’t need the bullshit that would cause.” I tell her.


“All it would cause is Lindsay and Michael searching the wrong state. I’m just waiting until Lindsay figures out that her assumption that Brian and Justin wouldn’t be together is wrong. Then the problems will start. How the two of them haven’t put it together that Brian left with Justin is beyond me.” She tells me.


“Why would Lindsay even know where Justin was?” I ask.


“She had a detective checking on his life, so she knows where Justin lives.” I tell her.


“Mel, you need to tell Brian and Justin.” I tell her.


“They know, I’m sure Brian will do what it takes so that Justin and Hannah never have to see them. I’m helping to make sure that Gus doesn’t end up living with Lindsay. It’s the reason I hid all the money in our accounts, that way Lindsay doesn’t have a way to stalk Justin or Brian.” She tells me.


“I’ve made it so Michael doesn’t have any way to help Lindsay pay for anything. If you need help, just ask.” I tell her.


“Why are you suddenly not helping Michael?” She asks me.


“I got my eyes opened to how little my son cares about anything, and how much Brian and the others do, even when they could have walked away from me for the things I expected out of them. I owe it to them not to help my son when he’s only out for what he wants.” I tell her.


“Deb, Brian doesn’t feel like anyone should owe him anything. That’s how you and Michael equate doing something for someone, they owe you.” Mel tells me.


“No one owes me anything, after the way I treated them.” I tell her.


“Hopefully you really believe that. Thanks for letting me know about Lindsay.” She tells me walking in the house.


I walked home glad that for once I didn’t try to correct someone telling me something I didn’t like to hear. Jen and I had started talking again, but agreed that our sons didn’t need to be in our conversations. I was teaching Jen how to knit, and she got me interested in books. I was finally getting a life that didn’t include my son. I was lost in thoughts of how nice it was to have something that was mine, that I didn’t see the guy I bumped into.


“Sorry, just too busy thinking.” I tell him, smiling.


“Bump into me anytime, Red.” He tells me.


I was trying to think of something to say when his radio went off and he threw his lunch in the garbage to get in his car. “Debbie Novotny, not Red.” I tell him.


“I kind of like Red, Carl Horvath, look me up at the police station sometime, Red.” He tells me, jumping in his car to go.






Chapter 23 by starlight

BRIAN


I left the whole locked door alone, but that and the other phone bothered me. Justin was in the kitchen when Hannah and I walked in the house from practice. Hannah and Trina wanted to practice in the backyard. I waited until they left to finally ask him about the whole thing.


“What’s behind that door?” I ask him.


“What door?” He asked, confused.


“The one that stays locked.” I ask him.


“My studio, it just became a habit to lock it when Hannah started playing with toxic paints. You can go in there.” He tells me, handing me the keys.


I went to the door and opened it. The ceiling had large windows and the walls were covered in paintings. I walked around and saw that Justin not only still painted, but had become even better with time. He came in, looking at the walls.


“I always knew you were good.” I tell him.


“I’m better now.” He tells me.


“That’s always been one thing you never doubted about yourself.” I tell him, seeing the phone sitting on a charger.


“My father has that number.” He tells me.


“You still talk to him?” I ask him.


“Once in awhile, but we don’t really talk about anything important.” He tells me.


“Does he know about Hannah?” I ask him.


“Yes, but he also knows that he won’t meet her.” He tells me.


“That’s why you won’t let her answer this phone?” I ask him.


“I just don’t see the point in them talking. He never has anything to say about you that she needs to hear.” He tells me.


“How many of these are in your show?” I ask him, finding ones of me.


“All the ones except the set of you and me.” He tells me.


I look through the paintings of us and see where he had our relationship painted into a series. I saw myself the way Justin must have viewed us. “It was lonely for you?” I ask him.


“Not always, there were times when I enjoyed our lives. We weren’t together long enough for it to really bother me.” He tells me.


“So everything was shit, was it?” I ask him.


“Brian, no matter what anybody wants to believe, you let me see what’s out there, without guilt for wanting to be with other men.” He tells me.


“I wasn’t going to tell you how to live your life.” I tell him.


“What do you think?” He asks, waving at the other paintings.


“You're a genius, but you never needed anyone to tell you that.” I tell him.


We walk out of the room and Justin left the door unlocked. “I only locked it out of habit.” He tells me.


“Or you were afraid Hannah and I would come in and organize it.” I smirk.


“Do me a favor, don’t. I know where everything is. Where I put it.” He tells me, seriously.


MICHAEL


I went to see Ted, because I didn’t have anyone to talk to. The diner was closed for remodeling and no one was around to hang out with at Woodies. I couldn’t find Brandon anywhere, and Lindsay was getting on my nerves when she kept asking to stay at my new apartment. She didn’t get that I wasn’t there to wait on her hand and foot the way her she seems to expect. I got across the street from Ted’s apartment when Brandon pulled up, and watched Ted come out and get in Brandon’s car. I was shocked when Brandon kissed him and drove off. I started after them, but the car was gone before I could tell where they were going.


This had to be some kind of joke, why would Brandon bother with someone like Ted, when he could have anyone he wanted? I went to find Kevin and Jason to find out if this was some kind of joke on Ted. They were playing pool at the table that used to be Brian’s table.


“Where’s Brandon?” I asked, to see if they know.


“Wherever he decided to go, it’s not like we keep his calendar.” Jason tells me.


“Please. Like you don’t all tell each other what you do.” I tell them.


“Why would we do that? I mean, yeah if we were meeting for the night.” He tells me.


“Friends tell each other everything, but then maybe you aren’t as close to Brandon as you think you are. I mean, if you were, he would tell you he went on a date tonight.” I tell them.


“Okay, but really is there some reason you think we care?” Kevin asks me.


“He picked up the friend I told you about, Ted… you know, the boring accountant.” I tell them when they seem to not know who I was talking about.


“Again, why do you think we need to know?” Jason asks.


“Do you think it’s going to help his status as a stud by dating an old guy?” I ask.


“I think you following him around like a love sick puppy was much worse.” Kevin tells me.


“I’m not in love with Brandon.” I tell them.


“Dude, Brandon couldn’t make a move without you practically hanging on top of him. Why would you stand around watching him getting a blow job, or call as if you were his wife to tell him every second of your day? It screams to everyone you somehow think he wants you.” Kevin tells me.


“My other friends never minded. Brian always wanted to know everything.” I inform them.


“You sure he just didn’t want to hurt little Mikey’s feelings.” Jason tells me.


“Don’t call me that.” I warn him.


“I thought you wanted your friends to call you that, Mikey.” Kevin tells me.


“Only my best friend gets to use that.” I tell him.


“You mean the love of your life, Brian Kinney?” Jason asks.


“Yes, I mean my best friend.” I tell them.


“Didn’t you offer to let Brandon call you that?” Jason asks and turns to Kevin. “Remember, the whole nickname thing.” He asks Kevin.


“Look Michael, none of us minded you hanging around, but we aren’t your old gang. We don’t run around worrying about what is going on in Brandon’s life every second of the day. We also don’t interfere in our friends lives. If Brandon took this guy Ted out, it’s his business, not ours. Maybe you need to get over the jealousy that your friend got a date with Brandon.” He tells me.


I left, not understanding why they think I want Brandon.


TED


I didn’t sit around worried that I was going out with a guy that I used to fantasize would want me. He didn’t leave me hanging, wondering if he was serious. He called when I got back in town just to talk. He told me that if we were going to get to know each other, than we need talk. I found out that he still had a mother but his father died when he was young. The tricking isn’t anything but fun for him, but not something he would miss if he found the right person. He admitted that when he first came to Pittsburgh he liked the attention and tricking. He told me this would be the first time he went to the opera, but he liked music in all its genres. When he pulled up in a BMW instead of a penis car, it was nice.


At the restaurant he told me that this was on him since I paid for the tickets. Le Mont wasn’t really what I expected.


“If you don’t want to eat here, we can go somewhere else.” He tells me.


“I just don’t want you to think this is what I expect.” I tell him.


“I just wanted to make sure my first date was as great as it could be.” He tells me.


“How are you feeling about working with Brian?” I ask him.


“We aren’t talking about anyone but us. Tell me about you, I feel like so far only I’ve talked.” He tells me.


“I’m an accountant, which you know. I’m Jewish, but not one in practice. I just recently made up with my friend Emmett, which was probably the most exciting thing in my life. Well, I’m going to be a father soon, by my other best friend, Mel.” I tell him.


“You're having a kid, how is that the last thing you tell me? To me that should be the top of the list.” He tells me.


“You would tell a guy your going out with the first time that you knocked up your best friend?” I asked.


“Maybe not that way, but having a kid is something I hope for one day.” He tells me.


“Most guys I know that are your age don’t even think they want kids.” I tell him.


“My mom had me when she was in her late thirties, so she’s getting up there. I want her to be a grandmother while she can still enjoy it.” He tells me.


I really needed to stop trying to compare Brandon to Brian, they weren’t anything like each other. Brandon didn’t have the kind of life Brian had, so he wasn’t averse to relationships, the way Brian had been. When we got to the Opera, I really expected him to be bored, but he would lean over and ask me when he didn’t understand something, but never seemed bored by it. He stopped in front of my house got out and kissed me goodnight before watching me walk to my front door.


I turned around before going in. “If I asked you in?” I ask.


“I’d say yes in my head, but no out loud. I want us to be sure before we do this.” He tells me, walking up to me. “I want you to know that my head is trying to win.” He tells me, kissing me goodnight again.


JUSTIN


I was in the back looking for Hannah’s shoe, when she asked me to find it before going to sleep. How she lost it when she always keeps everything in it’s place is beyond me. I looked under every bush and even in the tree, because it was no where I would expected it to be.


“Justin, I found it in her room.” Brian tells me.


“How did it get there?” I ask, coming in the through the back door and stopping when I see the table set up with wine and cheese.


“I put it back.” Brian tells me.


“What are you doing?” I ask him.


“We’ve still never been on a date. We can’t go out with Hannah here, but I could do this for you.” He tells me.


“Is there a reason you feel that we need to do this now?” I ask him, sitting down.


“We’ve barely spent time together that didn’t involve running from one place to the other.” He tells me.


“Brian, we’ve been together every night since we decided to give this another chance.” I tell him.


“I wanted to do something we haven’t done.” He tells me, handing me my glass and picking up the cheese plate.

“What?” I ask, following him into my studio, where he laid a blanket out under the skylights.


“Stargazing, talking, eating, drinking. Pick one, or all if you want to.” He tells me, sitting down.


“It almost sounds like dating.” I tell him.


“We’ll do that too, but right now, work with what we have.” He tells me, smiling.


I put my glass down and laid down looking up at the sky as Brian lowered the lights and laid next to me. I forgot the sky and looked at the man I’ve loved most of my life. “I’ll always love you, you’re my curse and my blessing.” I tell him, kissing him.






Chapter 24 by starlight

BRIAN


Justin and I decided to fly to Pittsburgh, while Hannah stayed with Emmett. I told him he didn’t have to come, but I appreciated that he did. The more I thought about Lindsay and Michael questioning Gus about me, the more pissed I got. Mel was waiting with Gus when we got off the plane. He was flying back with us when we left tomorrow. I planned to keep him for a week, but I needed to make sure Lindsay understood that this shit stopped, immediately. I had Ted tell her to meet me at the loft, and I made sure Mel and Ted would stay so that she would know this was not going to be a friendly reunion. I wanted answers about why she was following Justin’s life. Justin wanted to go see his mother, and was taking Gus with him. I was happy that they wouldn’t be in the middle of the bullshit. I stopped Justin before he left in a cab and held him for a second.


“I want to promise you’ll never have to see this town again, but somehow I can’t make that promise.” I tell him.


“It was never Pittsburgh, just the people, who made me not want to be here.” He tells me, kissing me and taking Gus.


I followed Mel to her car and waited until we were on our way before asking anything.


“I want it so that all her visits with Gus are supervised.” I tell Mel.


“Then we have to use the fact that she tried to take Gus with her when she was going to marry Gui.” She tells me.


“She didn’t give me a choice. I won’t have Gus used to find out things about me.” I tells her.


Mel pulled up at the loft and there stood my headache. She was not happy, because Ted wouldn’t let her in until we got there. I walked past her and into the building, with her following behind me.


“Brian, you’ve been gone and you don’t even bother to say hello to me?” Lindsay asks.


I opened the door and let her and everyone else into the loft. She frowned when she saw Mel and Ted come in with us.


“Why are they here?” She asks.


“We are all here because I’m no longer going to play easy with you. Gus will not be your way to keep tabs on my life, if I want you to know anything, I will tell you. First, I want answers from you. Explain to me where in your twisted mind you felt you had the right to have Justin followed around. It was a new low that I wanted to believe you weren’t capable of, but the pictures of Justin in the hospital proved you were completely capable of invading his privacy.” I tell her.


“I want those back, they belong to me.” She tells me.


“Nothing in that box belongs to you. Justin left this shit and you couldn’t leave him alone. I want to know why you seem to want to know everything that goes on in his life.” I tell her.


“I was concerned, even if he didn’t see it as concern. He was a child thrown into an adult world by you. He could have had so many things, if he had listened to me. I’m not saying there was anything wrong with him having a child, but why would he want one when his future was at stake? I kept an eye on him for you, if I thought he was really in trouble I would have told you. I felt I should be able to tell you if you needed to know.” She tells me.


“Then how did you not see that he needed me when our daughter was born?” I ask, trying to figure out how she sees what she did as doing it for me.


“Emmett was there to handle it, why would he need you?” She tells me, brushing off any reason I would have for wanting or needing to be there.


“I still want you to explain to me why you had him followed, because this bullshit that you were just being a caring friend just doesn’t fly with me.” I tell her.


“You left him, so you really don’t need to question me.” She evades.


“Could it be that you were afraid that a kid would do what you never did succeed in doing, getting my love? It’s all I could come up with, since most of the pictures were of him succeeding in school and at shows.” I tell her.


“He never did anything that I didn’t do in college. He was in shows, but never really anything that shows what he could have done.” She tells me.


“He was invited to New York for a show, that’s not something you ever did.” I sneer at her.


“And he didn’t get to be in it, because you ruined it for him by getting him pregnant. He had so much that he could have done, but he wouldn’t do what it took to have it. All because he wanted to believe you loved him.” She tells me.


“He didn’t do what you would have done if you were offered the same opportunities, but then you never worked very hard to do what you wanted. A teacher, someone who never made it in the art world told you that you weren’t good enough and what did Lindsay do, she gave up. When you could have tried, you didn’t, using the excuse that you wanted a baby. Was Gus so that you didn’t have to try at anything?” I ask her.


“While you're putting me down, why not remember your precious Justin didn’t do anything either. He gave up and took a job that was beneath his skill. He wasn’t any better than me. I gave you a son, and was there for you more than anyone, including Michael.” She tells me.


“You wanted him to fail?” Mel asks.


“Of course not, but I knew if he had that baby, he would never achieve anything. I also didn’t want Brian to find out about her, because I knew he’d give Justin a reason to keep her.” Lindsay tells us.


“He did anyway, and raised her while doing all the things you couldn’t.” Ted tells her.


“He’s a graphic artist, not anything any artist couldn’t do. At least I was teaching students and staying on the scene.” She tells me.


“He never stopped painting, in fact he was offered a show just recently. Which means he did what you didn’t, or more to the point, couldn’t.” I tell her, to see how she reacts to it.


“Brian, he’s probably just telling you what he thinks you want to hear. There is no way he could have done anything, with the way he barely leaves his daughter’s side. You should really think about taking custody of the girl, she’s getting in the way of everything.” She tells me.


“You need help Lindsay, nothing you’re saying makes you sound sane.” Mel tells her.


“You don’t understand, but then you never understood what it was like to watch your talent dwindle to just dreams and wishes. To have to watch a kid who at first didn’t even really care, do something as if it was as easy as breathing, while it was like drowning to try reproduce what he could do. I tried, with the sketches he did in minutes, but couldn’t do it.” She tells Mel, before turning back to me. “You took that from him, by not letting him go without some part of you that would always be there to remind him of a life that should have been just a memory. The life he would have led without you. Do Justin a favor and stay in West Virginia. I’ll watch over him for you.” She tells me, kissing my cheek and leaving.


“What the hell was that?” Ted asks when the door closes.


“I don’t know, but there has to be a way to make sure she isn’t around Gus.” I tell Mel, shaking my head.


“Get her to talk like that in front of a judge and you can’t lose.” Mel tells me.


BRANDON


I was texting Ted to see if he wanted to meet me somewhere tonight. Kevin and Jason were meeting me for lunch at the new diner. I got there and almost left when I saw Michael sitting there.


“How was your night out with Ted?” He asks, snickering.


“Apparently Michael seems to think your stud status could be in danger.” Kevin tells me.


“Why would it matter?” I ask, not getting what this was about.


“The guys at the club aren’t going to be dropping to their knees when they find out your screwing a guy like Ted. The last thing you need is anybody thinking you're settling down, unless it’s with someone they all want too.” Michael tells me.


“What I do and who I’m with has nothing to do with anyone’s opinion. I happen to think Ted is worth getting to know. As far as the ‘guys’ you keep referring to, I couldn’t give a shit how people view my life.” I tell him.


“What about your reputation?” Michael asks.


“What about it, it’s not something to be proud of and it certainly doesn’t define me.” I tell him.


“It was important to Brian.” He tells me.


“What, when he was in his twenties? There has to be more to life than being the guy with the most tricks.” I tell him, turning to the waitress and asking for a to-go box.


“I’m just telling you that your status will take a beating for running around with Ted.” He tells me.


“It took a beating from letting you hang around. Michael, you really need to quit confusing me with Brian or at least the version of Brian you have in your head. It’s time you realize that that Brian no longer exists, and it really doesn’t do him any favors that you make him sound like he was that insecure.” I tell him, reading Ted’s reply inviting me to have lunch with him and Brian.


I grabbed my to-go and handed it to Jason when he sat down. “I have a date with Ted.” I tell them, smiling at Michael’s frown.


“Have fun.” Jason tells me.


When I got to the restaurant Brian and Ted seemed to be worried about something other than business. I kissed Ted and sat next to him, while Brian was talking to someone on the phone.


“Everything okay?” I ask them.


“We just had a strange meeting. Brian is calling a friend to see if he would give him an opinion on it. How’s everything with you?” Ted tells me.


“I guess Michael wanted to tell me I was ruining my reputation by dating someone.” I tell him.


“Someone, or me?” He asks me.


“I don’t really know if it would matter to him who it is. I think he somehow thinks all that matters is walking into Babylon like you're the king.” I tell him.


“The problem was, he didn’t like the King of Babylon.” Brian tells me, hanging up the phone.


“Justin did win that when he was eighteen, one crown that you never wore.” Ted tells him.


“Justin could dance in a way that I never could. If he had wanted to, he could have given me competition. The guys in the club were just as interested in Justin.” Brian tells us.


“He only ever wanted you.” Ted tells him.


“And I thank him all the time for that.” Brian tells Ted. “I’m going to get Justin and Gus, I want us to leave earlier than planned after talking to Lindsay. Brandon, Kinnetik is going to be working out of my loft until we find a building. Any art will have to be done in Chicago. Call Justin and tell him what you need, he’ll make sure you get it the way you want it done, the first time.” Brian tells me before leaving.


“He has a lot of faith in Justin’s work.” I tell Ted.


“Justin was a great artist when he lived here, I’m sure with eight more years experience he’s one of the best out there. We saw what he was capable of at seventeen. I’ve seen some of the work he did at Hawthorne in the past, and all I can say is it’s even better.” He tells me.


“You think that’s Michael’s problem, that Justin is more than just a great ass?” I ask.







Chapter 25 by starlight

TED


Brandon came to my apartment while I was on a call, then he looked around, waiting for me to finish. It’s been so strange, the way he seems to want to always do things together. I love that he seems to really want us to work. He sat down at the table where all my paperwork was as I was talking to Charles’ accountant about the merger. I was looking through paperwork when he stood behind me, kissing my neck. I managed to get through the conversation without moaning or sounding like a idiot. I turned around and he pulled me to him, kissing me.


“What’s all this?” I ask him.


“I can’t want to kiss you, I thought partners were allowed to do that.” He tells me.


“Partners?” I ask.


“Boyfriends if you want to use that, I mean you do want us to be together, don’t you?” He asks me.


“I just didn’t know we were at that point.” I tell him.


“Ted, I don’t know how much more I need to do before you realize that we are more than two guys who hang out.” He tells me.


“It’s just, well this seems so easy. It’s different than any relationship I’ve been in.” I tell him.


“Why does there need to be anything hard about having a relationship? We meet, we’re interested, and so far I like everything about spending time with you.” He tells me.


“I just need to stop trying to analyze everything. I’ve always done it.” I tell him.


“It’s time to get you out of your head.” He tells me.


“Can it wait until I deal with one more thing?” I ask him.


“Sure do what you need to do. I think I need a shower anyway.” He tells me, taking off his shirt.


I put the papers down and followed the trail of clothes to my bedroom. There I found a very naked Brandon, laying on my bed.


“I forgot, I already took a shower.” He smiles at me.


He got up, walked to me and started taking off my shirt and pants while kissing every inch of skin he revealed. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, he was one of the most beautiful men I’d ever seen. For a second I thought about Blake and how no matter how we tried, we never could manage what Brandon and I had without it always seeming so hard. Brandon took me in his mouth and I forgot everything but the man who was making love to me. I ran my hands through his hair and he looked up at me as he continued to make my toes curl. I felt like an idiot when I came quickly, but he swallowed and stood up, kissing me. He didn’t give me time to think as he pushed me on the bed, turned me over and spread me open. Then I felt his tongue doing things I’d only ever watched but never had done to me. I started to get hard again, when I normally never did after cumming, but he seemed to know just what to do. I reached for condom but he handed it back to me.


“I want to, but I want to feel you first.” He tells me turning me over.


I sheathed myself, amazed that he was willing to let me top. His reputation was like Brian’s in Liberty circles, and as far as I knew I was the only one he ever offered this to. He reached back and fingered himself, letting me stroke him, and it was more erotic than any porn I’d ever watched. He leaned down, kissing me while helping me enter him. I closed my eyes when I felt how tight he was. When I opened my eyes he was sitting up, which had me all the way in him. I held him still until I could see he was ready for more, then pulled out to thrust back inside him.


“Damn, I really should have just come in on our first date.” He moans, then starts moving.


He started riding me, and I made sure that when I saw he liked something to keep doing it. He stroked himself as I held him still and thrusted into him. I wanted him to cum for me so I angled my hips to hit the right spot and listened as he urged me to go faster. I felt him cum all over me and stopped when he shook from being overstimulated. He laid down next to me and smiled, turning me over and grabbing a condom, still hard after he came.


“I want you, but this time there’s no hurry.” He tells me, turning me so he could enter me after stretching me with his fingers.


Later when I we were showering, he asked to stay the night, and was there in the morning to show me there were advantages to a younger man.


JUSTIN


Brian had been really quiet for a few days since we left to come back home. Hannah and Gus took off the minute they woke up to play with Trina, which left me able to ask Brian what was going on.


“I want us to look for a house.” He tells me.


“Why, I thought you were okay with this one?” I ask.


“I would feel better if no one knew where we live.” He tells me.


“What’s going on, I haven’t asked because I was waiting for you to tell me, but I’m tired of waiting.” I tell him.


“I don’t like that Lindsay knows where to find you.” He tells me.


“Okay, but what is really bothering you?” I ask.


“I don’t know if we’re dealing with a rational person. Ted said it; having you followed isn’t something a rational person does. She thinks she was helping you, and that you screwed up by not listening to her. A psychiatrist I know is going to try to find a way to talk to her, to give me an opinion on what he thinks. I don’t know what to think of what she said. I went there to get answers, but she seems to go from saying you weren’t doing what you would have if you had listened to her, to blaming me for everything. I would feel better if she didn’t know where you and our daughter are.” He tells me.


“You want to lock us up for fear that Lindsay will show up to complain about what she thinks is wrong with me wanting a life with you. Brian, she can bitch all she wants but I’m not going to let her change anything else about my life. If we buy another house I want it to be because we want it, not because your friends can’t figure out they need to take care of their own messed up lives.” I tell him.


“It doesn’t bother you that she could upset Hannah?” He asks me.


“If she comes near my daughter she is going to find out what kind of father I am. We are going to live our lives without letting Lindsay or Michael dictate what we do.” I tell him.


“She’s our daughter.” He tells me, pulling me to him.


I pulled him down, kissing him and running my hands under his shirt. He cupped my ass and sat me on the table, pulling down my zipper. I smiled as he kissed my stomach, then he stopped, pulling my shirt down.


“What?” I ask.


“Our daughter and son are headed this way.” He tells me.


“Right now I'm going to call them yours.” I tell him, pouting.


“Later, Sunshine.” He tells me, kissing me again as the kids come running in.


DEB


I walked into the police station, nervous. I had a giant casserole dish, not really sure why I even came here. So what if he seemed like he was flirting, he was probably just being nice. I turned to leave, but Jen turned me back around and marched us to the desk.


“We’re here to see if Carl Horvath is available.” Jen tells the guy sitting there.


“If he's busy, it's fine.” I  blurt out.


“I'm sure he would love to thank you in person for cooking him a home cooked meal.” Jen tells me.


“Did you want to see him, he’s in.” The sergeant tells us.


“Deb would love to, I’ll wait here.” Jen tells me, pushing me towards the sergeant when he waved me in.


I followed him, feeling like a teenager with her first crush. Which after not dating for more years than I want to admit, I was. I really just wanted to hand the dish to the sergeant and run, because what if he looks at me like I’m some crazy woman he didn’t remember. I almost did until the sergeant announced me to Carl.


“Red, nice to see you again.” He smiles at me coming over and bringing me into his office before closing the door.


“I just thought you might like something to eat since you didn’t finish your lunch the other day.” I tell him, still holding it.


“We always welcome food here, most of the time we eat on the run.” He tells me, taking it from me and putting it on the desk.


“Okay, well enjoy it.” I tell him trying to get out before I say something stupid.


“Since you brought me dinner, how about I return the favor and take you out on my next day off?” He asks me, then seems to be waiting for an answer but I wasn’t sure what to say. He walked over to me and kissed me, pulling back. “I thought I’d get that out of the way, can you answer now?” He asks.


“Yes, sure.” I tell him walking to the door.


“I could look you up but it might be easier if you wrote down how I pick you up.” He tells me.


I wrote down my information and then pulled him in, kissing him again, before walking out to Jen. She smiled and dragged me out when I seemed to only want to stare at Carl.

“Please tell me you’ll stop cooking now. Everyone at book club has enough to feed them for weeks.” Jen begs as we get in her car to go.


MEL


Ted came over with Brandon, it was so nice to see him with someone. Ted had been talking nonstop about Brandon. I watch as Brandon seems to always keep body contact with Ted. It was unconsciously done and made me jealous, in a good way, for Ted. It’s something that I remember seeing with Brian and Justin at one time. Justin never seemed to see that Brian would touch him all the time, but it was almost like Brian wanted to make sure he was real and knew Brian was there. It’s something Lindsay and I never really did.


“Alex Wilder is willing to observe Lindsay, but how do we make it possible for him to do that?” Ted tells me.


“I don’t know, she and I aren’t really on good terms. Especially since her last visit with Gus.” I tell him.


“What about inviting her to the loft, Ted made it sound like Michael or Lindsay couldn’t resist an invitation there. Ask Brian if we could have a party there, I’ll invite enough people and get Michael to invite Lindsay. I know they seem to talk to each other a lot.” Brandon tells us.


“Michael would show but I’m not sure about Lindsay.” Ted tells him.


“I’ll tell Michael that Brian was planning on being there later.” Brandon tells us.


“It might work, it wouldn’t seem odd for Alex to be there.” Ted tells him.


“It’s makes it seem less suspicious than having dinner and Alex showing up.” I tell them.


Brandon started calling his friends telling them he needed help getting a party together and what he needed from them. He would walk by where Ted was and run his hand across Ted’s back. Ted blushed every time. When they were leaving, Brandon stopped and touched my stomach, smiling when the baby moved.

 

“Call if you need us for anything.” He tells me, walking hand in hand out the door with Ted.

Chapter 26 by starlight

BRANDON


Ted was reluctant to come with me to the diner everyone was going to lately. I didn’t get why, we've been together practically every day, except when I came to the diner.


“Do you just not want to meet my friends? Because they'll be at the party, so you'll meet them sooner or later.” I tell him.


“It's really that Michael and I haven't really been friends for a while. When I'm around him now, he irritates me. You said he's usually there.” He tells me.


“Jason and Kevin let him hang around, they said it's easier than him just popping up all the time. They really don't get Michael’s views on friends and how he thinks things are supposed to be. He really has some strange ideas about me.” I tell him.


“Let me guess, your reputation and how dating me would ruin it.” I tell him.


“It's like he thinks I'm only as good as my reputation. One that will eventually go to someone else, when the next guy shows up.” I tell him.


“It's how he views what Brian was doing when he lived here. Michael had some idea in his head that it was the only thing that mattered.” He tells me.


“It couldn’t have been, because Brian was working his ass off, and making a name for himself in advertising. To me, being a leader in your field sounds better than how many tricks you averaged.” I tell him.


“You seem to like being the guy everyone wanted.” He tells me.


“Yeah, but it's not a life that you find anyone you give a shit about, they only care past saying they made it to your bed.” I tell him.


“I don’t think Brian really wanted anyone to get close to him. For him it worked that he was alone.” He tells me.


“Then why Justin, because it always sounded like Justin annoyed Brian.” I tell him.


“Brian was anything but annoyed with Justin, but I'm sure that how Michael likes to tell it.” He tells me.


“I really don't get the way Michael talks, like Justin was some stalker who wouldn’t get a clue no one wanted him around. Brian and Justin fit each other.” I tell him.


“At first Brian treated Justin like he was a pain in his ass, but as time went on, he was always bringing Justin with him everywhere he went. Justin was getting into Babylon because the door guy knew Brian wanted Justin there. Michael was being pushed aside into the ‘only friends’ category, which wasn't what he thought would happen. Michael always thought one day Brian would suddenly want him, and only him. Michael never seemed to figure out that the label ‘best friend’ was all Brian was willing to give him. I think another problem was that Michael was a child in comparison to Justin, who was only seventeen when he met Brian. Justin was out, while Michael hid in a closet outside Liberty Avenue. Michael had to watch Brian watching Justin and nothing Michael did made Brian pay attention to him, when Justin was around. I get how Michael felt, because I was doing the same thing with Michael at the time, until Brian made me face the truth, that it was never going to be me for Michael. Of course, now I can't remember why I thought Michael was the one I wanted.” He tells me.


“He's not bad looking, it’s just he opens his mouth and nothing interesting comes out.” I tell him as we reach the diner.


Michael was talking to Kevin and Jason when we came in. He looked up smiling, but frowned when Ted came with me. Ted sat next to Jason and I ended up next to Michael, which had him smirking at Ted.


“Kevin said you were throwing a party. I thought we could invite some of the guys from Babylon.” Michael tells me, putting his arm around me.


“I wanted my friends to get to know Ted, not destroy Brian’s loft. Which Ted got Brian to let us use.” I tell him, removing his arm.


“Why would Brian let you guys use his loft?” Michael asks, upset.


“He suggested it when Ted and I mentioned having a party, said he might come by.” I tell him.


“Hey, I need to go, my shop needs to open.” Michael says, getting up in a hurry.


“Invite someone if you want, but don’t bring a bunch of guys that would piss Brian off.” I tell him, letting him out.


“So Ted, care to explain all that is Mikey to us?” Kevin ask.


“He’s kind of unexplainable.” Ted tells them.


“Thank God, we thought maybe we were the only ones who didn’t get Mikey.” Jason tells Ted.


MICHAEL


I called Brian’s phone but the number wasn’t working. I wanted to make sure he would stay around so we could talk, and he would realize that Justin and his kid would just get in the way of showing everyone Brian is the true stud, not Brandon. Brandon doesn’t understand that you can’t date someone like Ted if you want to be the ultimate playboy. When I couldn’t get Brian I called Lindsay, since she was the only one who still talks to me. I told her about the party and she told me she was coming, because Brian needs to listen to her about Justin. It’s the one thing she and I always agreed about, that Justin needed to leave Brian alone. I told her she could come with me so we could make Brian listen to us.


I walked by Liberty Diner, still bummed that the owner closed it for remodeling. I didn’t like the new place, it wasn’t the diner and it was like saying that life was over. I kicked a rock and kept going, running into my mother with Justin’s mother. I don’t get how Ma could be friends with Jen, they have nothing in common.


“Hi son, are you going to work?” Ma asks.


“It’s where I go every day.” I tell her.


“Great have a good day, Jen is helping me get ready for a date.” She tells me, walking off.


“What do you mean a date?” I ask, running after her.


“Michael, I’m sure you know what a date is, your mother has one. Have a good day.” Jen tells me, getting in her car.


“Ma, who the hell asked you out?” I ask.


“I met someone when I stopped letting you be the only thing in my life.” She tells me, kissing my cheek and getting in Jen’s car.


I was stunned, Brandon acted like Ted was interesting, then Brian treats our friendship like it didn’t exist, and now my Ma has a date. I don’t get it.


BRIAN


I was shouting like those parents you shake your head at, during Hannah’s first game. Sonny Boy was helping. Justin kept laughing at me and Gus, but Emmett and Charles seemed to understand when our girl made the winning goal. She came off the field and gathered her things then walked over like she didn’t just kick ass. One of the other kids came running with her along with the girl’s parents. Charles and Emmett hugged Hannah before leaving.


“In-coming, Sonya’s a great kid, but the mother makes me look like I don’t gossip.” Emmett whispers to me, before strolling off.


“Dad, Sonya’s parents want to go celebrate, can we go?” Hannah asks us.


“We’d love to have you guys come with us, I’m Kathy and this is my husband Cole.” Kathy introduces us.


“This is my Daddy, Brian and you know my Dad, and that’s my brother Gus.” Hannah tells them.


“We were going to take the kids for pizza.” Kathy tells us, as a boy runs up.


“This is our son Trent.” Cole tells us.


“Gus, do you want to go?” Justin asks him.


“Yeah, pizza sounds good.” He tells him, as Hannah shrugs.


We got to the restaurant and Hannah and I order a salad and wings, while the rest of them go to carb heaven. Hannah asked the waitress if the salad was pre-made or did they actually make it here, not just combine it in a bowl. Then she wanted to know if the dressing was from a bottle, when they told her it wasn’t made here, she asked for vinegar and oil on the side. The wings were baked which was great because we didn’t have to find out what kind of oil they used. I can be picky, but my daughter brings a whole new meaning to the word. When they asked me, I just told them to bring what Hannah was having, and of course Justin and Gus got a giant pizza with extra everything. The other parents ordered one pizza and Gus told the waitress that we needed two.


“Justin never mentioned you.” Kathy tells me.


“Brian and I weren’t together so I didn’t.” Justin tells her.


“Justin, you have to know everyone is wondering about Brian.” Kathy tells him.


“I’m sure they are, but I really don’t like talking about my life.” Justin tells her.


“Honey, it’s no one’s business.” Cole tells her.


“So Brian, what do you do?” She asks me, ignoring her husband.


“Nothing really, I just hang out and let Justin support me. I wanted to see if life was really as boring as housewives run around telling everyone.” I tell her.


Kathy didn’t seem to know how to respond at first, but then rallied. “Miles was telling us that you might start working with them.” She tells me.


“Not really my thing, working for someone.” I tell her, and I could see the loser points adding up in her head.


“I’m sure it wouldn’t be so bad earning a living.” She tells me.


“Why, it’s not like I can’t just let Justin be the breadwinner. What do you do, maybe I could do that?” I ask.


“I… I’m a housewife.” She stutters.


Justin was busy trying not to spew his coke all over the table along with Cole. After that, Kathy actually stopped being a bitch and seemed to get that I wasn’t going to give her anything to take back to the hens and Miles. I can’t wait to tell Miles who owns half the company, I’m sure it will just make his day.


Chapter 27 by starlight

ALEX


I arrived at the party late, so it wouldn’t seem as if I was waiting for Lindsay to show up. Everyone seemed to be talking and having a good time. I looked around and didn't see Lindsay in the crowd, but Michael was there on the couch with his arms crossed, and I guess you could say confused. I stood looking where Michael was and saw Ted and the recent stud standing together talking to some guys. Ted tilted his head toward the bedroom when he saw me. I left Michael on the couch because he'd always been rather transparent in his obsession. Getting to the bedroom, Lindsay was looking through the empty closet and drawers, I had a feeling she'd already searched most of the room. Walking by her I went in the bathroom to wash my hands and came out to try to start a conversation.


“It's Lindsay right?” I ask.


“Do I know you?” She asks.


“I think we've seen each other around, I know Brian.” I tell her.


“Did Brian invite you? I've been waiting for him to get here.” She tells me.


“You know Brian, he shows when he wants to.” I tell her.


“Lately he barely bothers, he really should realize if he wants to be a father to our son, then I expect him to show me he wants that.” She tells me.


“I heard he has another child?” I threw out there.


“Which just shows you how careless he is, he never bothered to know the child. At least with Gus, I made him do what any responsible father should. I just couldn’t do it again with another child.” She tells me.


“How would that be your responsibility?” I ask.


“Are you kidding? Brian left it all to me. I tried to get Justin to see that he couldn’t have it all.” She tells me.


“So he told you to handle it. You're right, he isn’t very responsible.” I tell her.


“Brian has to tell Michael what to do. I just know when I have to do things. I couldn’t let Justin think he could have a career and a baby. Unlike Brian, I didn’t want Justin’s dreams to end, when he could have waited. Justin could have found someone else later if he wanted a child. All having Brian’s child would do was ruin all the things I tried to help Justin realize.” She tells me.


“You don’t think Justin could have been able to juggle parenting with a career, a lot of people manage to do that?” I ask.


“He's a child raising a child, he couldn't understand, the way we would. He really had the life everyone dreams of, and couldn't do what he needed to do to realize it. He should have listened to me because he ended up the way I knew he would.” She tells me.


“He might not have wanted the life you dream of.” I tell her.


“Why wouldn't he want the respect of everyone? No one likes to feel like they never did something people could see and finally be proud of you for, instead of comparing you to someone else.” She tells me.


“I guess Justin’s parents were always comparing him to his sibling?” I ask.


“They didn’t care about him, it's why I took him under my wing. How could they not see he'd be more than someone who disappointed them?” She asks.


“Didn’t Deb actually let him stay with her?” I ask.


“She was probably upset that Michael once again wasn’t going to get Brian. I really think she kept Justin at her house to help Michael. In a way I hoped it would work, because Michael could have saved Justin by taking his place as Brian’s toy.” She tells me.


“I guess I never saw Brian being all that interested in Michael. Michael had been around for years, but their relationship never developed beyond friendship, at least that was how I saw it.” I tell her.


“Brian likes what he couldn’t get easily. Justin should have figured out Brian was going to lose interest when he made it as easy as Michael did for Brian to use him and toss him aside when there was a willing ass to take their place. I learned to not let Brian think he could do that to me, I guaranteed my place.” She tells me.


“How?” I ask.


“I gave him immortality.” She tells me.


“By having a child with him? Justin did that too, didn’t he?” I ask.


“Justin didn’t need to copy me.” She tells me.


“I doubt he saw it that way.” I tell her.


“You don’t understand, no one does. I tried to make Brian see it, but he acts like I took something from him. He never cared enough about Justin that it should matter to him. I have to find a way to stop him.” She mumbles.


“From what exactly?” I ask.


“Doing what he already did, ruining another person who should have become more.” She tells me.


“Did Brian do this to someone else?” I ask her.


“He does it to everyone. I was going to be a great artist, but he got in my way. Instead of focusing on what I should have been, I was trying to keep up with Brian’s never-ending party. I thought when I got off the ride called Brian and met Mel that I would be able to get my life on track, but instead, my art wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Mel wanted us to have stable lives and couldn’t see painting as a way to do that. I had to give up everything.” She tells me.


“Because of Mel or Brian?” I ask.


“With Brian I was still able to feed my muse, but I didn’t have time to do anything. With Mel, my muse didn’t have the freedom to develop. I didn’t want that for Justin. I kept an eye on him, hoping that I wasn’t going to see my life happen to him. I almost left Mel to stop Justin, but I couldn’t.” She tells me.


“Why couldn’t you?” I ask.


“Brian would have found out about it. It was so close that he would have, but Justin let the opportunity go once again. He could have still made that show, there were other people who could have stayed at the hospital with the kid while Justin was showing the art world who he was. Instead, he missed the show. I showed up in New York and once again saw what Justin gave up. The contacts he would have made would have given him the chance to see the world. I would have given up everything to have what he was practically handed.” She tells me.


“Why didn’t you try then to show everyone what you could have done with the opportunity? You were there and could have furthered your dream.” I ask.


“I can’t do what Justin does. For him it’s almost as if he doesn’t know he creates masterpieces. He sketches with a pencil and you can see what it would become in paint. His paintings are so lifelike and pull you in. He never seemed to see it as hard, to show his vision. He would have opened so many doors that only some artists will ever open, I wanted to be the one who helped him. It would have been magnificent.” She tells me, almost as if imagining this world.


“Why are you talking to a shrink?” Michael asks, looking between Lindsay and I.


“What?” Lindsay asks.


“Alex’s is the guy Brian used to talk to when he had some crazy idea there was something wrong with his life.” Michael tells her.


“Did Brian send you here to talk to me? Because you need to tell him that nothing is going to stop me from keeping Justin away from him.” She tells me, getting up and leaving angry.


“She doesn’t get that it’s Justin who’s in the way.” Michael tells me, sitting down.


“You can’t get that Brian never saw you as anything but a kid who would never make a life of your own. Michael, everything in your life happens because you want the world to stand still. Justin was never the reason Brian didn’t love you the way you wanted. You didn’t see that your best friend wanted someone to stand up to him, not constantly kiss his ass.” I tell him what everyone saw.


“He had everything, and Justin was changing the rules.” He tells me.


“Brian changed the rules, he was starting to see that his life didn’t have to end in Babylon. Justin gave him a reason.” I tell him.


“He never loved Justin, because he left him behind. I was still allowed in Brian’s world.” He tells me.


“He knew you couldn’t be hurt by staying, he cared too much to hurt Justin. He wanted Justin to have everything he didn’t think he could give him. He gave you the same opportunity, but you couldn’t even try. I believe Brian was hoping one day Justin would meet him again, only Brian would then be able to give Justin what he wanted. You see, Brian listened to you, but he talked to me.” I tell him, leaving.


I knew what I was dealing with, but who would she hurt to be at Justin’s side, was the problem.


BRIAN


I was outside mowing the lawn while Gus and Hannah were playing baseball. I waved when the gossip patrol walked by. I was enjoying being the one who watched the kids and the house. Justin told me that as long as I didn’t cook, I could live my dream. Miles brought Trina over and I decided it was time for Miles to be disappointed that he couldn’t be the winner in the contest for Justin.


“Miles, I thought you’d be at work.” I tell him.


“I was, but I thought I would see what being lazy was like.” He tells me.


“I hope you don’t plan many days like that, I really expect a lot from my employees. Like I told Charles, every employee will pull their weight or I’ll show them the door.” I tell him.


“What are you talking about?” He asks.


“The company that I just merged with, you know, Hawthorne. Well it will Hawthorne-Kinney tomorrow, since I own half of it. Didn’t I mention that when I talked to you?” I ask, smiling.


When Justin came home, I could tell Miles was talking around the watercooler. Only I didn’t like that Justin seemed pissed. He tried not to show it, but I know that you worry when he’s quiet. I waited until the kids were in bed, before finding out what pissed him off.


“I guess no one’s going to be surprised tomorrow.” I tell him, as he walks into the bathroom.


“Miles might be, if he says one more thing.” He tells me, and I’m relieved he’s pissed at Miles, not me.


“What did Miles say to you?” I ask.


“He told me he gets why I let you back in my life, but I was giving up a real relationship for a guy who will eventually dump me for someone else, when playing daddy gets old. I told him that was his life, not mine. I don’t think he liked it when I told him that. Of course I might have mentioned that I kept you around because you were good at everything you do for me.” He smirks, getting in the shower.


I followed Justin in and made sure he always believed it. I turned him around, grabbing a condom and lube. He put the condom on for me and fingered himself so I could watch, before turning around and impaling himself on my cock. I wrapped my arms around him and enjoyed the way he moved for us. He pulled my lips to his and sealed us together completely. He held my hips still while he moved for us. I ran my hand down his chest until I could wrap it around his cock and let him fuck my hand and cock. Justin broke the kiss, panting harder and groaning loudly when he came. He held himself up when I started thrusting faster, shivering from being over sensitive. I swallowed the moans by kissing him and came biting his shoulder to keep from screaming.





Chapter 28 by starlight

BRIAN


I stood at front of the conference room, ready to bring this company to life. Charles was explaining what this move meant for the company and letting everyone know that it didn’t mean that staff changes were going to leave anyone who supported change as a good thing, jobless.


“The changes that are coming mean great things for Hawthorne-Kinney. We are going to be expected to spread our wings. Brian Kinney will be here to help show how to apply your talents to advertising, and one of our own will be on hand to give direction on applying what we do in graphics to a new medium in art. Justin Taylor has been our go-to when it required more than a computer, but he also let me know which of you had the ability to work with both mediums and you, along with Justin, will be part of the new department that works with the new branch we are opening in Pittsburgh. There will be opportunities for advancement with the opening of the first branch in Pittsburgh, but not for people resistant to the changes that are coming. Brian and I both want the family atmosphere that we’ve always had at Hawthorne to extend to our new family in Pittsburgh and Hawthorne-Kinney. So please do me the honor of showing Brian that we welcome the changes he and I see as a brilliant future for all of you and our new extended family.” Charles nodded to me, it was my turn.


“I believe in change. Without change, your futures will stagnate. I understand that staying in the same place you’ve been comfortable gives us all the feeling of safety, but safety doesn’t offer growth. Growth is what a company needs in order to continue to survive the changing world we live in. I’ve been able to see what you each contribute to a company that has an impressive record. Charles and I want to see a future where this company goes global for offering more than graphics, and that’s where all of you come in. I might sell the companies on an idea, but without visuals, we won’t win a campaign. Your jobs are not to wait for an assignment to show us that you want the campaign. No one will be pigeon-holed in the role you’ve always been in. When a campaign is won, I want to see you fight for your place to bring the vision you see it going in, we don’t want a campaign to lose because we only thought of one way to sell the product, clients welcome any change that will increase market share, don’t be afraid to butt heads when you see a better way. You will have an entire art department that have worked solely in Advertising, they will gladly welcome fresh ideas. With all the changes, you are now open to opportunities to help bring Hawthorne-Kinney into the future. I want this team to show my team why Hawthorne is the leader in Graphics in this industry. If there are any questions, feel free to approach me and I will make sure there is no mistaking what I see as your role in our new company. This isn’t something I play at, when I want something, I fight to see it happen. I won’t be here just for something to do, or as if my interest is only until something new comes along to take my interest. Like anyone, I believe in staying the course and giving everything I am to what’s important to me. It’s something I learned from a man who never let anything stop him from doing what he wanted.” I tell them, looking at Justin.


I walked around, being introduced to people I hadn’t had a chance to do more than pass by. Justin had left the room to take a call and I finally got away to see what was going on. He hung up smiling, so it had to be good. I walked over and pulled him to me.

“What?” I asked.


“My mom’s boyfriend called to ask for my permission to marry her.” He tells smiling.


“When did Jen get a boyfriend?” I asked.


“She dated a lot for a while. I wasn’t thrilled with who she seemed to want to stick around, but he finally just had it out with me and showed me that for him it was about loving my mom, not a number. He’s a bit younger than her.” He tells me.


“So he asked you if he could marry your mom?” I ask him.


“He asked both Molly and me, he loves us. It’s nice after other things.” He tells me.


“Craig isn’t worth the time it takes to mourn his loss. He’ll always be the loser for trying to turn you into something you couldn’t be for him.” I tell him.


“I don’t really have time to worry about Craig, Hannah fills the place he used to be.” He tells me, trying to convince himself.


I take him to his office and shut the door. I never really shared with Justin anything beyond what he could glean from being near me. I could pretend that I didn’t want my family to be more than they were, no matter how much it seemed that I didn’t care.


“You know a little about my father, and mother. Even with all the abuse and neglect I suffered at their hands, it didn’t make me hate them. They were my parents, I wanted what everyone wants, to know they want us. I know I made it seem like you needed to let it go, but I didn’t want you to have to constantly hope for something you might never get from Craig. It’s a painful lesson I wanted to protect you from. It was hard to watch you want the father you grew up with, when he drew the line at accepting you for the man you are. Deb was wrong to think that somehow death would change the fact that my father hated me for being everything he could never be for lack of trying, there was no reason I needed Jack to be more than a sperm donor. It’s nothing either of us did, it’s on them for not realizing what they missed by not loving us the way we both love our children.” I tell him.


“I don’t have any illusions about my father, but like you said, it’s hard not to wish things were different. I let him be someone in the background of my life. Tucker didn’t try to be my father, but a friend, with no strings attached to it. Even if it didn’t work out with my mom, he saw us staying in touch and made sure Molly and I knew he would always be there for us. After what happened with Lindsay, Tucker made me see that his friendship wasn’t dependent on his relationship with my mom. Other than Emmett and Daphne, I had a hard time opening my world to other people. I hated myself for letting her do that to me.” He tells me.


“I can’t wait to meet him.” I tell him.


“He wants to propose to Mom with Molly, Hannah, and me there. He even said to bring you.” He tells me.


“I want that someday soon.” I tell him.


“You told me it’s good to want things.” He tells me.


MICHAEL


I went to tell Alex he was wrong about me. He didn’t know Brian the way I did, and wouldn’t understand anything about me and Brian. He was sitting at Woody’s talking to the bartender when I walked in. I sat down next to him and heard the sigh, but he didn’t get to be the only one who talked.


“Michael, is there some reason you keep following me around? It's  not going to win you any popularity contests by being around me.” He tells me.


“You seem to think you know anything about me or Brian, I was just here to straighten out the bullshit you came up with.” I tell him.


“Michael, I normally wouldn’t have said it so bluntly, but with you, subtle doesn’t work. Of course I’m not sure being blunt does either, since you now feel the need to bother me.” He tells me.


“You made it sound like I sat around waiting for Brian.” I tell him.


“If not Brian, what are you still waiting for, you’re almost forty and your life hasn’t changed in any way from when you were young.” He tells me.


“I own my own business and have had relationships. I didn’t care what anyone thought of who I wanted.” I tell him.


“Michael, you only left because Brian didn’t offer to take you with him. I doubt anyone would have been able to stand in the way if Brian had told you he wanted you with him.” He tells me.


“You're wrong, I wanted David.” I tell him.


“Then why didn’t it work Michael? You barely left and were already back here doing everything you already did before you left.” He tells me.


“David expected too much, and I got tired of feeling like he saw me as the little woman to pat on the head. I wanted someone who shared the way I thought things should be.” I tell him.


“Then you want to be in the shadows watching other people. It’s all you had before and I guess it worked for you.” He tells me, turning to his drink.


“I have a life.” I argued.


“Then why are sitting here trying to convince me and yourself of it. Go show me you really do have something beyond your wish that Brian would stand on the platform dancing with you for the rest of his life.” He tells me, taking his drink to a table.


“You didn’t even give me credit for opening my own store.” I tell him following him.


“Good Job, Michael. I would think you were old enough not to need a pat on the head, but I won’t deny you if that’s what it takes for you to find someone else to talk to.” He tells me.


“You can sit around talking to Lindsay, but not me?” I ask.


“Michael, nothing about you is anything new to the world of psychology. Everything about you is an example of selfishness.” He tells me.


“I looked out for my friends and always made sure they knew when they screwed up.” I tell him.


“That’s really caring of you. Michael, if you want to continue therapy then make an appointment with another doctor. I know too much about you to be able to let you cry on my shoulder because you screw up.” He tells me, waving me away when another guy sits down. “Michael I’m not asking you, go find someone who has time to listen to your fantasy.” He told me, when I stood there.


I left Woody’s wondering why anyone would listen to Alex. I needed to go find out about Ma thinking she should be dating.


LINDSAY


I sat at a cafe waiting for an old friend in the art business. She had contacts everywhere and liked to show off that she knew everyone in the business. Natasha air kissed my cheeks and sat down, ordering tea and wrinkling her nose at my coffee.


“How have you been, I heard you’ve been staying with Lynette.” She said with a smirk.


“I wanted time to decide my next big move.” I tell her.


“I heard from a friend that there might be an opening at a gallery here. It’s not New York, but then your time to shine just never really came did it?” She asks me.


“I wanted to devote myself to my child, I hate how everyone we know can barely remember their children. Although things are looking up, my friend Justin Taylor is going to have his first show. I’ll have to invite you when everything is finalized with it.” I tell her.


“Where have I heard that name, hold on, are you talking about the show in Chicago?” She asks me.


I smile and get up, I’m done here. “Thanks, I was hoping you knew.” I tell her.


“I thought we were going to have lunch and talk about old times?” She asks.


“Call Lynette, since you both love to put me down together.” I tell her, not caring anymore about this bullshit.


I called Lynette and told her that I wanted to get a way for awhile, it should give her and her pool boy privacy to screw without her husband finding out. She just asked how much I needed and told me to get out of her house and not to come back after that.


I had one more person to visit, someone who I owed for fucking up my life. I got to my old home, deciding that this would be a good time for Mel to find out how I feel about what she did to me. She opened the door and I shoved her back and walked in.


“What the fuck do you think you're doing?” She asks me.


“I want my box.” I tell her.


“I gave it to the person who didn’t deserve what you did to him.” She tells me.


“They belong to me not him, it was my fucking life!” I screamed, charging at her, but was stopped when someone grabbed me from behind.


“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Ted asks, getting in front of Mel.


“Nothing, because that’s all Mel ever was to me, nothing!” I yell, ripping the hands off me from the person holding me. I left, not caring if I ever see Mel again.

 

Chapter 29 by starlight

BRIAN


Mel called to tell me about Lindsay acting unhinged at her house. I called Alex to find out what he thought of meeting with Lindsay, and to tell him what she did. Alex stayed quiet for a minute before talking to me.


“Brian, she's a sociopath. She shows all the signs, her sense of entitlement, her belief that it's not her fault that she's not an artist, and the outbursts when things upset her. Most sociopaths show who they are, but most of the time you see it as antisocial, not what it is that she lacks, the normal filter that can tell her right from wrong. It’s not that she doesn’t know something she’s doing is wrong, but that she doesn’t care how it affects other people, only her. In a way she views Justin as her proof that it wasn’t her, but everything else that caused her failure at everything in her life. In most cases the person has suffered a form of abuse or neglect, and in Lindsay’s case it sounds as if her parents weren’t the most supportive of her life. It’s surprising that she held it in check for so long.” He tells me.


“Mel said that after I left, Lindsay seemed to change. She went from being charming, to insulting people and making fun of things she used to support. Like with Justin, she practically mothered him and acted as if he was important to her, then was kicking him out of her life and lying about him to everyone. What I don’t get is why she didn’t lie to me or even talk about Justin around me.” I tell him.


“What would you have done if she or Michael told you about the baby?” He asked me.


“I would have come home and taken care of him. I would have known she was mine, it was the only way it could have happened.” I tell him.


“She didn’t want you to give Justin what she wanted, but then she didn’t want Justin to do anything she did for you either. Remember, as confusing as all this sounds, to her it makes sense. Justin was taking what she felt was hers, you and art. She wouldn’t want him to succeed, because who does she blame for her lack of success with you and art? I’m sure if you talk to Justin you’ll find where she would do something intentionally to cause problem between you two, but it wouldn’t seem that way to you, unless you saw the bigger picture.” He tells me.


“Action and reaction. Justin and I were talking about the past and he jokingly said that he had the action and reaction part of the Kinney Operation Manual aced.” I tell him.


“What did he ace?” He asks me.


“He mentioned that when Lindsay or Michael would say something about us being a couple, it sent me running out and shitting all over our relationship. Lindsay would constantly make comments about Justin and I, and I took off to the baths. Michael would say something about Justin owning me, and I acted like an asshole to Justin.” I tell him.


“She needed a victim and used Justin that way. Most sociopaths target a person who is everything they aren’t, or has something they feel is theirs. Justin had you and art, everything Lindsay believes belongs to her. She blames both you and Mel for her failure to live up to her dream, and Justin for trying to be her by having your child.” He tells me.


“Why bother with Mel?” I ask him.


“Mel had something she believed belong to her, her trophy. She collected those reports because for her it was a way to validate that she was right and everyone else was wrong. Mel took the home, the income, and the box, so Lindsay needed to show Mel what happens when you mess with Lindsay.” He tells me.


“What about Justin and my children?” I ask him.


“Brian, you need to worry more about what she’s going to do when she finds out you left here to be with Justin. She isn’t going to take it well, because you lied to her about where you went. In her mind it’s okay to lie to you, but not the other way around. Especially because you're giving Justin something she secretly wanted, the house and family she wants from you.” He tells me.


“Justin is about to have a show here in Chicago.” I tell him.


“That wouldn’t be something she’d be happy about, because it would mean she could use the excuses she had for why she never made it. The parallel she draws in her mind about her life and Justin’s will crumble when he out does her at something she didn’t believe he could. Justin shouldn’t be able to accomplish anything she couldn’t. She excused her failure at art because she was too busy partying with you, and sees that as something Justin did just like her. Then she had your child and gave you immortality, but Justin does the same thing and she sees it as though he wanted to be like her, but failed to get you to be a father to your daughter the way Lindsay made you do for Gus.” He tells me.


“I would have been a father to Hannah if I’d known.” I tell him.


“She knew that, and tried to prevent it from happening. When she couldn’t stop Justin she simply made it so you didn’t find out. The thing you need to know is that she isn’t insane, she knows what she’s doing, but in her mind she’s right in everything she does. She wasn’t keeping up with Justin for any reason but to prevent him from getting the things that she feels are rightfully hers. Lindsay isn’t capable of caring about anything. She can make it seem like she cares, but the minute something doesn’t go the way she wants, you deal with the sociopath hiding under Lindsay’s charming, sweet nature. She managed to keep herself in check when you were around but when you weren’t there, she no longer had to be all the things she wanted you to believe she was. Mel told me about the way she spoke to Ted, and it’s classic for someone with this disorder. That Lindsay stayed with Mel as long as she did is unusual, but then Mel was serving a purpose as provider to Lindsay’s whims. Michael most likely amused her and that’s why she left him alone, he didn’t threaten her in any way. She will say she wanted you and Michael together, but in her mind she knows you didn’t want Michael, so she was fine that he was around. She didn’t mind Justin at first because like you said, she could do things to make you dance to her tune and watch Justin being hurt. She isn’t going to know how to deal with Justin getting everything, because in her mind he doesn’t deserve it, she does. Most sociopaths aren’t very good at planning, because they believe they shouldn’t have to work for what they get, it should be handed to them.” He tells me.


“Why did she make it sound like she was doing it for Justin? You make it sound like it’s about me?” I ask him.


“They lie to everyone and themselves. She lied to you because she it suited her purpose. She believes that she was doing something to help Justin. Most sociopaths can pass a lie detector test because they lie without feeling any remorse for the lie.” He tells me.


“Is she going to do anything to put my family in danger?” I ask him.


“In most cases sociopaths don’t really have a plan, because they can’t get organized. She would want to do it in a way that would make it hard for anyone to say she was to blame. If she can find Justin or you, you’ll likely deal with the old Lindsay. She’ll try the same things she did in the past, because it worked.” He tells me.


“It won’t work now, because I wouldn’t do the things I did to Justin in the past.” I tell him.


“Does anyone know where she is?” He asks me.


“She left Mel’s and then Lynette called to tell Mel she wanted Lindsay’s shit out of her house. Other than that, no one knows where she is.” I tell him.


“Do yourself a favor and find out, before she shows up at Justin’s door.” He tells me hanging up.


MICHAEL


I went to the new diner and overheard Kevin and Jason saying that Brandon got a job with Brian’s new company. I asked about it and they said that it was announced yesterday in the news, Brian is opening an agency here and in Chicago. I left, pissed that once again Brian didn’t tell me anything. I called Brandon to ask why he didn’t tell me, but got Ted instead.


When I asked if he knew, he told me “Yes, but it was confidential until the announcement in Chicago yesterday. Brian told us not to talk about it.”


“Why would he tell you then?” I ask.

“I work for Brian too.” He tells me, hanging up.


I got back to my apartment and found Lindsay waiting for me. She followed me into my apartment and dropped her bag on my sofa.


“You're not staying with me.” I tell her.


“I thought you might want to go with me to see if we could get Brian to talk to us. No one seems to know where he is.” She tell me.


“Where the fuck do you think he is, it should be pretty obvious by now. He’s most likely up Justin’s ass, like always.” I grumble.


“Why would you say that?” She asks.


“Because Justin is like, Brian’s drug of choice. He can’t see that Justin will never make him happy the way I would. It doesn’t matter that I would give anything to give Brian a child and for us to be married.” I tell her.


“He wouldn’t want you anyway.” I hear her say quietly.


“What do you mean he wouldn’t want me? You were always telling me that Brian and I were perfect for each other.” I ask her.


“Perfect? I doubt I said perfect. You wouldn’t fit in with the people Brian knows. It’s not your fault, you just weren’t raised to be around the people Brian was around in New York. Why do you think he never really invited you to visit him, it wasn’t because he was busy, since Gus and I went there to see him. It’s because you can’t seem to have a conversation about anything that isn’t juvenile. I’ve tried to help you have things in common with Brian, but unlike me, you weren’t raised to understand the social networks that Brian would be in. Now that he’s not working any longer, you might fit in his world again.” She tells me.


“I guess you're behind on the news. Brian opened a business and guess where it is... Chicago. Which is why I said he was likely with Justin.” I tell her.


Chapter 30 by starlight

BRIAN


I waited for the kids to go to bed before talking to Justin. He was in the shower and well, I simply decided that the rest could wait. I got in and pulled him to me. He turned his head and kissed me while letting his hands run down my body. He turned to me and continued the assault on my mouth. I ran my hands down his spine then reached the junction where his ass flared out, then I used my finger to rub over his crease. Justin panted when I circled his rim and pulled his leg up to wrap around my waist. I used the wall to anchor him and pulled his other leg around me as I grinded against him, loving the feel of us rubbing against each other. Justin adjusted us and I thrust home, then stopped when I realized what we just did. He pulled up and pushed back down.


“Justin, I need to get something.” I whisper.


“Crap, I forgot. You're clean right?” He asks.


“Yes, but that’s not the only thing we have to worry about.” I tell him.


“Then get a condom.” He tells me, pulling up.


I had to stop him because there was too much sensation in having him raw. I was worried about cumming because it felt so different to me. I finally managed to pull out and get a condom on but it still worried me that we went that far. I swiped the liquid that collected on the slit of my penis, praying that we didn’t cause another possible child when I didn’t even know how Justin would feel about it. Then Justin and I were too busy to remember the slip. He turned to let me back in and I thrust back in while he clawed the walls. Justin came on the wall while I filled the condom.


We were laying in bed when I decided to broach the subject of moving. It was about more than standing up to my friends, it was about keeping Justin from killing anyone who threatened our children. Lindsay didn’t see that unlike her, Justin would destroy anyone who hurt his children. I didn’t want Justin dealing with the person who used him to get to me.


“Justin, it’s time we looked for a new place to live. Listen to me before you say no. Lindsay isn’t going to walk away, and there isn’t any reason to help her find us. It’s about protecting our children, so let go of your pride.” I tell him.


“Brian even if we find a house, it’s not like we could move right away.” He tells me, at least showing he’s listening.


“Justin, money motivates and I have a lot to motivate people with. Before you start acting like you can’t let me do it, remember that Hannah is my child too, and I can and will do what it takes to protect her from Lindsay or anyone who wants to hurt her. Gus needs us have a stable home and relationship so that no one is going to listen to what little Lindsay can offer versus what we can. I want more from you than to just live with you and raise our daughter and son.” I tell him.


“What do you want?” He asks.


“I want it all, everything you can give, and then I want everything you will give me in the future. I want you to believe in me enough to give me what I want and need from you. I want us to be so tied up in knots that we can’t find the end of us.” I tell him.


“You’re really worried about what Lindsay might do?” He asks me.


“No, I’m more worried about what you’ll do to her.” I tell him, kissing his lips.


Justin turned me on my back and licked my chest, then bit my nipple before he lowered himself down to my hard cock. I watched as he looked straight into my eyes when he took me in his mouth. I handed him lube and a condom, to let him know if he wanted it, it was his. He slipped a finger into me and found the nerves that made my cock dance for him. I arched when he added the second finger, fucking me with his hand to loosen me, and then I felt the blunt head demanding entrance and pushed, biting the pillow at the burn. Justin pulled out and slowly made his way back in, moaning at the tightening of my walls as he invaded me.


“It’s too much.” He pants.


“It’s never enough.” I tell him, as I move with him.


Justin held back as he continued his assault on my virgin ass. It was too hard for me to trust anyone but him there, and I knew if I ever gave someone this it had to be Justin. He pushed my legs up over his shoulders and thrust faster, watching me to see when I was ready. I stroked faster as I felt him thicken, and spurted on his chest as he sped up and thrust three more times, holding still while emptying into the condom.


I pulled him to the place I needed him while his breath evened out. He fell asleep with his ear on my heart. Then I heard him mumble that he was there, to allow me to sleep. I fell asleep to the promise he gave me.


JUSTIN


I woke up early enough to get pants on Brian before the kids wanted to invade the room. Brian thought we should explain about knocking first, but I asked if he was ready to explain the birds and bees to our children. He pulled me to him.


“I love it that you never see the difference in Gus and Hannah.” He tells me.


“Gus was mine the day he was born, he showed me you did love.” I tell him.


“You both taught me that, I was yours from the beginning.” He tells me.


“We need to find a place to keep our children happy and safe.” I tell him.


“Can you trust me to find it and have us moved. We need to go to West Virginia for a meeting. I don’t want you here alone with the kids, not with all the other things going on.” He tells me.


“Then we go as a family.” I tell him, getting dressed.


BRIAN


“Do you ever want more kids?” I ask, because it’s something we need to decide and do something to stop it from happening if he doesn’t.


“I never really thought about it. We didn’t have Hannah on purpose, we took precautions. Why?” He asks me.


“We forgot for a minute, and if that happens I don’t want to put you in a position that you might not want again.” I tell him.


“I want a big family, but what happened still scares me. I loved the feeling of her being in me and would love to feel it again. It would give you a chance to be there for all of it. I wouldn’t hate doing it all over again. What about you, what do you want?” He asks me.


“I want you to marry me.” I tell him.


“Why?” He asks.


“I told you I want it all.” I tell him.


“I’ve loved you for years and I’ll love you for the rest of my life. Yes.” He tells me, kissing me as the kids invade us.


“What are you two doing?” Gus asks.


“We decided to get married.” I tell them.


Hannah and Gus looked at each other and Hannah handed Gus a dollar. Justin and I were puzzled.


“I thought you already decided that.” Hannah shrugs.


“I told her that you wouldn’t have not told us. So I bet her and Auntie Emmett that you two hadn’t decided yet.” Gus smiles.


“How much does Auntie Emmett owe you?” Justin asks.


“He promised if I won that we would stay with him and Uncle Charles. Something about you two needing time without curious eyes.” Gus tells us.


It was an interesting offer, Justin and I could go to West Virginia for a weekend alone. I was going to ask Jen along, but this way I could have time with Justin alone. “Let Auntie Emmett know he just lost and he’s paying up this weekend.” I tell him.


MICHAEL


“I don’t get why Lindsay seemed to get angry, it’s not like we didn’t know the minute Justin comes around that Brian loses his mind. I get that Justin was his way of staying young, but I thought he finally got over the need to use Justin’s youth. What the hell could Justin give him that I couldn’t. I’ll tell you, another fucking brat that he never wanted. I could have given him that too and the life we promised each other all these years. Of course, Justin Fucking Taylor just had to show up the minute I thought I was finally going to get what I wanted and once again have Brian running after his ass.” I tell Alex, taking another drink.


“Michael as much as you seem to think everyone wants to hear your version of the truth, it would be better if you didn’t do it so publicly. I have a friend who is more than willing to take you on as a patient, where you can tell her why you can’t seem to see the truth everyone knows.” He tells me.


“I had to go somewhere, Lindsay started talking crazy after she found out where Brian most likely is sticking his dick again.” I tell Alex, not liking that thought.


“Michael what do you mean she was taking crazy?” Alex tells me.


“Like she always does when she thinks Brian and Justin might manage to be more than fuck buddies. She starts acting like she needs to find a way to keep them apart. It’s why she had me help her make everyone believe Justin was a whore. Which he was, for fucking other guys and not staying true to Brian. If I had what Justin did, I wouldn’t have fucked around.” I tell him.


“What was Lindsay saying she wanted to do?” He asks, shaking me.


“She said something about letting Justin see that Brian couldn’t love him. I told her just to show Brian a willing ass and as usual, Brian will leave Justin waiting around. There is no way Brian could give up being the leader of the pack. I just need him to see that I’m only looking out for his best interest. Then he’ll see it’s me that he needs, not a fucking twink trying to make Brian into someone he isn’t.” I turn to see what Alex thinks, but he left. Looking at the bartender I hold up my glass.


“Sorry but I really don’t think drinking is going to change anything for you. Go home and sober up, find a life that isn’t attached to a guy who obviously never loved you the way you want him to.” He tells me.


“What would you know?” I sneer.


“I know if Brian really wanted you, you wouldn’t be sitting here bitching about the guy Brian wants.” He tells me.


“You know Brian?” I ask.


“No, I know the guys who drink aren’t the ones who get the guy, because you drink to forget that you weren’t the one. You're no different than anyone else who loved someone who couldn’t love you, get over it and find something that you can have.” He tells me, putting my bill in front of me.


“He told me always have and always will.” I mumble, reaching for my wallet.


“Always is only until never.” He tells me, handing me my change.

 

Chapter 31 by starlight

TED


Brandon was meeting Brian and Justin in West Virginia, Brian wanted Brandon to be the go-to guy on this deal. It was weird not to have him around the way he’s been since we started dating. I called Mel since I had free time and told her we could meet at the cafe she liked. Mel has been seriously looking at moving, and told me she wanted to make sure she could be closer to Gus. She’d been worried about how I would take being the one having to travel to be in our baby’s life. I wasn’t planning on constantly being around at first, but I wanted to be there as much as possible and to help her when she needed it. We’d figure it out, but it’s a strong motivation for moving, and part of me wonders how a new relationship would survive if I didn’t stay here.


“Ted?” I hear looking up to see Blake and another guy walking by.


“Blake, how have you been?” I ask.


“Good. Working at the clinic. How have you been?” He asks.


“Good. Well, I quit my job and got a new one working with Brian Kinney.” I tell him, wondering why neither of us seem to mention anything meaningful to each other.


“I heard you were dating again.” He said quietly.


“I am, what about you?” I ask him.


Blake sat down and drew patterns in the table. “It took a while, but he’s not so linked with my past the way you and I were with each other. I always thought one day we could find a way to get past everything and be together. I guess that was just wishful thinking.” He tells me, looking at me.


“I think we were constantly at the wrong time. When one of us was ready, the other wasn’t. You look happy and that’s all I ever wanted for you.” I tell him.


“You always made me happy, it was just like you said, we couldn’t seem to get together when it was the right time. You seem happy too, is he what you always wanted?” He asks me.


“He’s different, and we want the same things. He only cares that I’m happy, and I like who I am with him. I had to get past thinking he was something he wasn’t, but I like what I found with him.” I tell him.


“It helps that he’s gorgeous.” He tells me, looking back at the table.


“So are you, but it’s not all I see when I see both of you. It’s just different, like you said. Blake, I loved you, but I couldn’t seem to get you to believe it. It was something that always seemed to get in the way for us.” I tell him.


“I love you too, be happy.” He tells me, hugging me. “I’ll always be happy you were in my life.” He tells me, going to the table with the new boyfriend.


Mel sat down and smiled sadly at Blake as he left.


“Everything okay?” She ask.


“He just wanted to say hi.” I tell her.


“Do you miss him?” She asks.


“I wanted a lot from him, and it just wasn’t in the cards for us. In a way there will always be a part of me that wishes we could have gotten together enough to make it work.” I tell her.


“I think we all wish for the one who got away.” She tells me.


“Who do you wish for?” I ask her.


“Someone who couldn’t settle down, she wanted to live her life without the things I needed to be happy.” She tells me.


“She was also young when you dated her. A lot changes, look at Brian. No one ever saw him settling down, it just took him figuring out he let the wrong one go.” I tell her.


“Who’s the wrong one for you?” She asks, tilting her head at Blake.


“A year ago I would have said he was the one I wanted more than anything, now I can see we were in this cycle of trying for something that didn’t have to be as hard as we made it. Hopefully we can still be friends.” I tell her.


“Do you see a future with Brandon?” She asks me.


“Strangely enough, yes. He doesn’t play games, he knows what he wants, and would fight to get it.” I tell her, smiling.


“I want someone to fight for me.” She tells me.


“Then don’t overlook someone because you’re scared to find out she didn’t change. You spent too many years unhappy to fight being happy with someone.” I tell her.


“I need to have our child first, then maybe when I move I’ll have time for other things.” She tells me.


“I’ve been thinking about that, other than Brandon, I’m not sure what keeps me here.” I tell her.


“I would love for you to move with me, but you need to talk to Brandon. He makes you happy.” She tells me.


My phone goes off with a text. “I HATE THE IDEA OF SLEEPING WITHOUT YOU!!!!” Brandon texted, making me smile like a goofy teen.


“I’ll talk to him.” I tell her.


LINDSAY


I left to go to Chicago, I had to look up how to get to Justin’s house. I remembered the address but didn’t know the area. I sat in the rental car, looking at the house that Justin bought and couldn’t help seeing that he even had to buy a house like mine. No one could see that everything was parallel to my life. He met Brian and wanted him, doing everything to be with Brian. He let Brian turn his world upside down and ended up having a child for Brian. Then did nothing with the talent that he had. I’m sure if he had a relationship it would have ended because Justin can’t seem to understand that Brian will never give him what he wants. It’s all there, if anyone would pay attention; Justin wanted what I had, which was Brian wanting me around.


Someone knocked on the car window, which made me realize I’d been sitting here for a while.


“Can I help you, you looked lost?” The guy asks.


“I wanted to visit a friend but it doesn’t look like anyone is here.” I tell him.


“You know Justin?” He asks.


“I was looking for Brian. Our son said he and Brian were here to visit an old friend of ours, Justin Taylor.” I tell him.


“You’re Gus’s mother?” He asks.


“Yes, I was hoping to catch them here and convince them to come home. I miss having my boys home.” I tell him.


“Brian lives with you?” He asks, scowling.


“Of course he does, we’re married, that’s usually what you do when you’ve gotten married.” I tell him rubbing my ring.


“Does Justin know you're married to Brian?” He asks.


“Justin’s a kid who used to run around with Brian and his friends. I was his mentor, but he seemed to get along with Brian really well. Brian and I had to tell Justin it was time for him to find a life outside of our family. He has so much potential, but staying around us just seemed to make him give up wanting to do what he should. Brian and I got married after Justin left for college, but I’m sure Brian shared our happy news with Justin.” I tell him.


“I doubt it.” He mumbles.


“Do you know where they are? I miss Gus and wanted to spend some time with him.” I tell him.


“My daughter said they were going out of town.” He tells me.


I looked over as a man and woman pull into Justin’s driveway. The woman looked familiar and when she helped the guy put a ‘for sale’ sign in the yard, I saw it was Cynthia. The man I’d been talking to was staring at the sign. “I can’t fucking believe Justin would do this.” He tells me.


“What?” I ask.


“Nothing, it’s nothing. You probably should call your husband. I think there’s more going on than you know and Justin doesn’t deserve what he’s doing to him.” He tells me.


“If you know something you should tell me.” I tell him.


“He’s lying to both you and Justin. Justin shouldn’t have Brian fucking with his head.” He tells me.


I waited for something that would at least tell me where they went. Now that I know Brian is here ruining everything, I needed the information, so I could make Justin see that Brian isn’t who he should ever want. I was about to say something, but Cynthia was looking directly at me while on her phone. I started the car and pulled out, almost hitting the guy who was still standing there. Cynthia needs to remember that her relationship with Brian isn’t as important to Brian as mine is. She didn’t fare any better than Justin, Brian left her behind too.


BRIAN


Justin answered his phone while we were driving to the meeting. Justin was finalizing his show and checking on the kids for us, so he seemed to be on the phone the whole way. He reached into my breast pocket and pulled out my pen, writing down things on his sketch pad. Brandon watched us, amused at the way Justin didn’t just use his pencil, the one he put behind his ear.


“He likes my pens, I use to have to body search him before he left my loft.” I tell Brandon.


“I’m sure that’s exactly why you did it.” He tells me.


“How are things with Ted?” Justin asks, when he hung up, putting my pen in his pocket.


“Good. I wish he had come with me, but he seems to think we don’t have to spend every second together.” Brandon tells him.


“Ted always seemed like a loner, I mean he was always with Emmett and the guys, but most of the time he was almost apart from them. I never really got to know him very well until recently. He’s so different from what I thought.” Justin tells him.


“He is, at first I thought he wasn’t interested. Then again he probably thought I wasn’t the kind of guy who wanted more than a trick, but he knows better now.” He tells Justin.


“He was probably comparing you to Brian. You became the next ‘it’ guy in Babylon, so he figured you weren’t interested in more.” Justin tells him.


“I get that a lot. It’s fun, but then what’s left but a series of people whose names I can’t remember. I like waking up and knowing the guy next to me gives a shit if I’m breathing.” He tells Justin.


“People could never understand that I didn’t have a problem with what Brian and I were doing. I would have always wondered if it had only been Brian. I couldn’t do that now, but it’s more because I don’t see the point when I know he’s who I want.” Justin tells him.


“I was waiting for the person who made me not want anyone else. Ted makes it easy for me to bypass that life.” Brandon tells us.


We got to the meeting and I let Brandon lead and helped him when he couldn’t answer something. I wanted my execs to be able to convince a client that they could be as good as I was, and Brandon was showing me that he wanted any opportunity I gave him. It made me wonder if having Brandon in both cities wasn’t the better idea. I wanted to be there for Hannah, but advertising didn’t always make it possible to for me to be there for everything. When we left I asked Brandon if he would consider basing himself in Chicago. Cynthia had already interviewed five people who were willing to leave their firms so Pittsburgh would have the people it needed without Brandon being there.


“I’m not attached to Pittsburgh, but it would depend on other people.” He tells me.


“Ted could easily work from Chicago.” I tell him.


“If he could I don’t see any reason to not make the move.” He tells us.


Justin and I were in the hotel putting away our things. He’d been quiet in the car after the meeting and I wanted to know what was going on in his head.


“Is something bothering you?” I ask him.


“Listening to Brandon really made it obvious that you can see things wrong.” He tells me.


“What do you mean?” I ask.


“I’m sure people compare him to you and don’t see past what they want to believe. Brandon isn’t afraid of commitment, he was just having fun until the person he wanted came along. I feel like I was misjudging him based on the way he was living his life.” He tells me.


“What bothers you about that?” I ask.


“It’s not that it bothers me, just that it proves that sometimes what I thought wasn’t what was really going on. It’s like when you left and didn’t call me. I saw it as you rejecting everything about me. I never stopped to think that you could have wanted me to have a chance at a life different from what you thought you wouldn’t give me. That you wanted me to be happy, even if it wasn’t with you. It makes you look at things differently.” He tells me.


“Justin, I wanted a chance that Pittsburgh wasn’t going to give me. I wasn’t in a place where staying with you was what I needed at the time. I won’t lie to you and say there wasn’t some selfishness on my part. I really thought you’d end up finding someone to give you everything you wanted. If you didn’t than we’d meet again, only older and wiser and start out on an equal footing. I put you in the back of my mind and did what I wanted, but you were always there.” I tell him.

 

“We’re older, wiser, and together, so as usual you got what you wanted. If you’d only learned to listen to me than you wouldn’t be an old man when we met again.” He tells me, taking off when I went after him. The twat was laughing at me when I caught him.

Chapter 32 by starlight

CHARLES


Cynthia called to tell me she saw Lindsay. Brian and I agreed that she would contact me if it happened. We didn't want Lindsay surprising anyone with what Alex told Brian. I almost want to ask if he was misdiagnosing her, after Miles ranted while Cynthia was on the phone that she sounds psychotic. Emmett was in the game room with the kids when I came in.


“Will you two be okay while I talk to Uncle Charles?” Emmett asks when he saw me.


“We won’t do anything you wouldn’t.” Hannah smirks.


“Don’t do that either, we’ll be in Charles’s office.” He tells them, taking me with him.


I closed the door because I don’t want Gus hearing anything we say about his mother. The poor kid doesn’t need to know my opinion of the woman. I was about to say something when someone rings our doorbell. Leaving Emmett in the office I check to see who’s there and see Miles and Trina standing there. Miles came in and let Trina go play with the other kids and followed me to the office.


“Not a word until the kids can’t hear.” I warn him.


“You need to call Justin, I have something he needs to hear.” Miles tells us when I closed the door.


“What would Justin want to hear from you?” Emmett asks him.


“That he’s being played by Brian. Justin doesn’t need to be someone’s piece on the side when there are better, AVAILABLE, options.” He tells us.


“Miles, Justin doesn’t see you as anything but the father of his daughter’s friend. He won’t give you what you want.” Emmett tells him, then wrinkles his nose. “I can’t believe that came out of my mouth.” He tells me.


“But he doesn’t need to be someone Brian is using to get his rocks off before he runs home to the wife. It’s sick that he involves his kid with him to hide what he’s doing. Why are you laughing?” Miles asks Emmett.


“If Brian married anyone, it wouldn’t be a woman. He’s the guy off the charts past the gay spectrum. If there isn’t a dick, he’s not interested.” Emmett tells him.


“I guess Justin never told you about Lindsay, Brian’s wife.” Miles tells him smugly.


“I guess Justin never told you that I knew all of them before Justin, and Lindsay can wish all she wants, but Brian wouldn’t marry her.” Emmett tells him.


“I don’t understand.” He tells Emmett.


“I met Justin through Brian. Brian was a friend of someone I thought was a decent person. I know all the people in not only Brian’s life, but in Justin’s. Regardless of what bullshit Lindsay spews, it doesn’t make anything true. Wait, when did you meet Lindsay?” Emmett asks.


“Lindsay is in Chicago, Cynthia just called and told me.” I tell him.


“How did she end up with Brian’s child if they aren’t together?” Miles asks.


“That’s Brian’s story to tell, and really isn’t your business. I think you need to understand something about Brian and Justin. No one will separate them, they were meant to be together. You can keep jabbing at Brian, but in the end Justin won’t ever see you, because he’s never been able to see anyone but Brian. It just took Brian time to see that Justin wasn’t better off without him. If you want to be forced to find a new job, keep interfering with their relationship. Brian won’t feel the slightest bit sorry about firing your ass.” Emmett tells him.


“My work is impeccable.” He tells Emmett.


“So are most of my employees, but I won’t have problems because you think Justin should have chosen you. You're honestly going to be looking for a job if I hear any more rumors about Brian buying Justin’s love. You seem to forget that most of the people who work for me look up to Justin, and don’t like when someone says things about him. I’ve had complaints about the things you’ve been spreading around, and impeccable or not, it’s not endearing you to me right now. Your personal feelings need to be left at home or you WILL be looking for another job.” I tell him.


“Charles we’ve been friends longer than you’ve known them. You can’t tell me you don’t see Justin needs to find someone who can give him everything he wants and wouldn’t leave him raising a child alone.” Miles tells him.


“Justin doesn’t need anyone telling him what he wants, he’s always known, from the first time he set foot on Liberty Avenue. He could have had anyone he wanted, Brian ended up being lucky enough that Justin wanted him. You seem to see Justin as someone who doesn’t have his own mind, but you don’t know Baby the way I do. You're most likely going to meet him though if you keep pissing off Brian, because Baby will protect Brian from anything.” Emmett tells him.


“Why does he love that guy? He’s a jackass who left him and Hannah alone for years.” Miles asks.


“The same reason anyone loves someone, because that person is their happiness.” Emmett tells him.


“I would have given him anything.” He tells us.


“Brian gives him everything he wants and needs, you wouldn’t have been anything but the guy who wanted what Justin couldn’t give you.” Emmett tells him.


“I won’t believe that.” He tells us, leaving and taking Trina with him.


“Jesus, how did Justin land a Michael? The only difference is that Justin wasn’t even friends with him.” Emmett tells me.


“Emmett, we have other things to worry about than Miles’s delusions. Lindsay’s here.” I tell him.


“And off her rocker, if she’s telling people she’s married to Brian.” He tells me.


“I need to know if I should call Brian or let him and Justin have the weekend.” I tell him.


“Call Brian, he needs to know the crazy has reached Chicago. Can you watch the kids, I need to handle something?” Emmett asks, trying to leave.


“Emmett, I don’t like the idea of you confronting her.” I tell him.


“”I don’t like her coming here ruining my city. I’ll be fine, just make sure you keep Gus from seeing her.” He tells me, kissing me.


“Is she one of the reasons you don’t want to get married?” I ask him.


“Nope, I just think it’s my turn to ask, you’ve only asked the last three times.” He tells me, leaving me smiling.


BRIAN


Justin was asleep when Charles called. I left the bedroom and sat on the sofa to hear that Lindsay was in Chicago. I didn’t like the idea of her anywhere near Hannah and Gus.


“Brian, I won’t let her near them. I’m more worried about what Emmett thinks he can accomplish, he can’t seem to understand that Lindsay isn’t the person he remembers. When it comes to Justin and Hannah, Emmett isn’t very rational.” Charles tells me.


“None of us are when it comes to Justin and the kids.” I tell him.


“Miles came over here after talking to Lindsay, and she made him believe that you were married to her, and using Justin for fun. I have a feeling Miles is going to be out of job if he doesn’t stop letting what he wants cause problems.” He tells me.


“I left that up to you, I don’t want him to come back and sue us saying that I fired him because of Justin. I can deal with him wishing Justin wanted him, as long as he doesn’t make it our job to put out the fires he keeps trying to light.” I tell him.


“We’ll see what he does and if it ends up causing more problems I’ll hand the complaints to HR. Emmett made the comment that Justin ended up with a Michael in his life.” He tells me.


“Justin was smart enough not to let Miles in any part of his life that gave him significance. I think we should be more worried if Lindsay decides to use Miles. Then we won’t need HR, because she’ll help him lose everything, it’s something she’s mastered in life.” I tell him.


“Brian, what’s going on?” Justin comes out of the bedroom and sits next to me.


“Lindsay’s in Chicago, and Emmett ran off to talk to her.” I tell Justin.


Justin picked up his phone and called Emmett. “Go home don’t bother with her.” Justin orders him. “You are taking care of Hannah and Gus, which means I’m trusting you to keep them safe… What are you going to do, search every inch of Chicago?… She’ll find you most likely, I just want to know that when she does, you’re keeping the kids safe, the way you always have for Hannah… I will, and when we get back I promise if she shows up you can tell her whatever you want.” He tells him, hanging up.


“I think Justin convinced him to come home.” I tell Charles.


“No Justin didn’t, Emmett is just amusing me.” Justin tells me.


“We’ll be home as soon as we can get a flight out. Brandon can handle anything from Pittsburgh.” I tell Charles.


“Don’t meet us in Pittsburgh, I need to see the new building anyway. Let Lindsay run around Chicago, while we are somewhere else.” He tells me.


“We’ll be there tomorrow.” I tell him hanging up.


“So we’re going to Pittsburgh?” Justin asks.


“Sure, long enough to pick up the kids and the people who are our friends. Then I think it’s time you make an honest man of me.” I tell him.


“Only you would think getting married right now is a what we need to do.” He tells me, pulling me off the couch. “Let’s go back to bed and sin before the wedding.” He tells me.


“I’ve always thought sinning was the best part of being Catholic.” I smirk.


Justin pulled my shorts off to show me how much sinning his mouth could do to my dick. I held his head as he looked up at me, letting me see everything he was doing. He ran his hands up my thighs until he reached my balls and pulled back letting my dick fall from his lips before taking my balls in his mouth and using his tongue to massage them. His hands stroked me while his mouth was handling the rest of me. I knew he was trying to make me cum but I wanted to be in him when I did. I pulled him to his feet and laid back on the bed, letting him put the condom on. He took me in his mouth again then sheathed me before climbing on and lining me up to thrust home. Justin rode me the way he danced, giving me a show that only made me harder when he held my dick and played with it as it came out and then thrusted back in. He leaned over me sealing his lips on mine as he increased his movements. I let him bring us to completion while I used my hand to stroke his needy dick. When he came I thrust into him faster and only managed three more strokes before I let go.


Justin fell beside me but moved under my arm and kissed my neck before falling asleep. I managed to get the condom off and throw it away, but a shower would have to wait. I didn’t want to wake him up when he fell asleep smiling.



I couldn’t sleep yet because I needed to figure out what we were going to do about Lindsay. She’s managed to finally have her family shut the door in her face, but Nancy wouldn’t be thrilled to have Lindsay embarrass the family name so there was a chance the old bitch might be willing to help us. A small one, but it was worth a shot to contain Lindsay.


Chapter 33 by starlight

JUSTIN


We got to my mom's house and were waiting for everyone to show up. Brian left, saying he needed to go talk to some people but to have everyone ready to go. He'd been on the phone with Cynthia the whole way back, and had her coming back to arrange everything for us. I wanted to tell my mom about our plans before everyone showed. She always was the last to know and I wanted her to be the first this time.


“Brian and I are getting married.” I announced.


“Oh Honey, I hoped you two would work everything out, he always made you happy. When are you two planning to get married?” She asks.


“He wants to do it while we are here. I wanted to make sure you were included.” I tell her hugging her.


“So nothing too big?” She asks.


“As small as possible right now. I have to be in a show soon, so there isn't time for more right now. Just friends and family that will be happy for us.” I tell her.


“Would you consider letting Deb be there, I know you and she haven't had a lot to say to each other, but she's really trying to make up for everything.” She tells me.


“That's up to Brian, she means more to him than to me. I want to be able to have her in my life but she made it hard for me.” I tell her.


“Deb did a lot of thinking after Brian left with you and didn’t like the person she saw. She hates that she pushed you and Emmett out of her life. She knows now that she let herself believe Michael because it's what parents do. I know I'd want to believe the best when it comes to you and Molly.” She tells me.


“You never believed anything until you knew the facts, and didn’t blindly defend us. She did.” I tell her.


“She's not perfect Justin, but she isn't pretending that Michael can do no wrong anymore. She wants to make it up to you two, but doesn't want either of you to think she was trying to force herself on you. She knows that she has years of things she needs to make up to Brian for, especially for making him feel like he had to be there for Michael. I’m working with her on the whole idea that Brian never expected something for taking care of her, she never seems to get that it's just Brian's way of doing things.” She tells me.


“I'll talk to Brian but it's his decision.” I tell her.


BRIAN


I wanted to check on Deb, and to see if the Peterson's would give a shit that Lindsay might land her ass in jail if she keeps up the bullshit. I'll make it more public than they can handle if they don't help us. They caused a lot of Lindsay’s problems with inferiority. Alex agreed to talk to them with me, and Mel was going to come to try to help too. I'm hoping they get there heads out of their asses about their daughter.


When the three of us got there, it was to see Lynette having brunch with them, she wasn't happy to see us, but let us in. Nancy and Ron took us to the living room, not any happier than Lynette was to see us.


“If this is about Lindsay, you’re wasting our time. We've washed our hands of the trouble she causes herself.” Nancy tells us.


“Nancy…” Ron tried, but we all know who runs the house.


“Ron, she's caused enough problems, we aren’t going to keep cleaning up after her. She wanted to live a life we didn’t approve of with Mel, but expected us to continue helping her. After blackmailing Lynette to get her way, we can’t stand by and let her think she can get away with it. Lindsay has always been a disappointment,  if she'd just learned to follow Lynette’s example she would have finally done something we could be proud of, but instead she showed us she wasn't ever going to do anything we would be proud of her for.” She tells all of us.


“She couldn't understand that Mommy and Daddy only wanted her to do something other than constantly screw up her life.” Lynette adds.


“Lindsay just needed us to understand her.” Ron tells them.


“Lindsay didn’t care if she hurt us.” Nancy tells him, glaring.


“Your daughter is missing the part of her that cares if what she does is right or wrong.” Alex interrupts.


“What do you mean?” Ron asks when Nancy leaves the room, not wanting to hear anymore about Lindsay.


“I'm praying that I'm right and Lindsay is only a sociopath, but it's hard to diagnose someone I’ve only talked to briefly. I can only tell you this because she isn’t a patient under my care. Lindsay exhibits signs that she understands what she's doing, but changes things to suit what she wants everything to be. Most sociopaths feel that what they want is right, and to hell with what the truth is. They tend to never be able to do anything because they believe other people make it impossible for them to become who they thought they should be. She will do things just to get a reaction, but be angry when it's not what she thinks should have happened. She can fake caring and most emotions, but only when it suits what she needs. Her capacity to distinguish right from wrong is there, but unless it's what she wants, it won't matter to her.” He tells Ron.


“Lindsay was just needy.” Ron tells him.


“Has there ever been a time when you sensed that she overreacted to something simple?” Alex asks.


“Every child does at one time or another.” Ron tells him.


“Not in the way someone with this diagnosis does. It could be something you overlooked thinking it was jealousy.” He tells Ron.


“Like when Nancy threw Lynette a large sweet sixteen, but didn't for Lindsay, or when we wanted to get married but you and Nancy treated it like it wasn’t important enough to be there or help her, the way you do with Lynette. Ron she's spent years trying to get your attention, and ended up in bed for days until Brian or I did something you wouldn’t do for her.” Mel tells him.


“Which is why I worry about what she's been doing to Justin.” Alex tells him.


“Who is Justin?” Ron asks.


“The man I'm going to spend my life with, Lindsay’s been stalking him. She recently turned up at his house, which she has no reason to do. She and Justin aren’t friends.” I tell him.


“She doesn’t still believe you want her does she?” Lynette asks.


“Why do you say that?” Alex asks.


“It's all she talks about, wanting Brian to finally marry her and show me she could do better than I have. I thought she got over it when she met Mel, I guess not if she's running after Brian.” She tells us.


“Has she ever mentioned Justin Taylor to you?” Alex asks her.


“Something about him thinking he's going to have her life. She mumbled something about him never being able to compete with her place. I really wasn’t paying much attention, since she's always jealous of anyone who did things she never did.” She tells us.


“Was there ever a time you felt like Lindsay didn't like something you had or got that she didn’t. She could have hidden her feelings from your parents because she wanted their approval, but you were the competition.” Alex tells her.


“There were lots of times it happened, but there was the dog my mother got me once. I wanted a puppy like all the other girls had, and my mother gave me one for Christmas. Lindsay was upset because Mommy told her we couldn’t have any pets. She kept trying to get me to let her have it, but it was mine and I'll admit it made me laugh that I got something she didn’t. Eventually I got tired of dealing with the damn thing and gave it to her. She was thrilled until Mommy told her the maid wasn’t there to clean up after Lindsay and the dog. Lindsay was pissed because Mommy let the maid do it for me. We all knew Mommy loved me more than Lindsay.” Lynette smirks.


“What happened to the dog?” Alex asked looking worried.


“I don’t know it just disappeared one day. Lindsay told us it got lost, but I think she just left it somewhere because I saw an ad about a lost dog in the paper later.” She tells him.


“Do you know if it was yours?” Alex asks.


“Possibly but it's not like I cared.” She tells him.


“Why are you asking?” Ron asks.


“In hopes that she didn’t kill it, because then we're dealing with another problem that could be worse than I thought.” Alex tells him.


“Fine, yes I even checked. It was my dog.” Lynette tells him, reluctantly.


“Why didn’t you just say that?” Ron asks.


“I liked that he was bothered that Lindsay was a psycho.” She tells us, giggling.


“This isn’t something to joke about, because a psychopath would eventually want to get rid of anyone she views as an obstacle to get what she wants. She'd eventually come after you for having what she wants.” Alex tells her, getting angry.


“Why did you come to see us?” Ron asks, when Lynette seemed to understand this wasn’t some joke.


“Lindsay needs help and isn't going to do it without being forced to seek treatment. As her parents you could have her admitted for an evaluation.” He tells Ron.


“What about Mel, they’re married?” Ron asks.


“We never went through to actually get married. She didn't see the point when Nancy didn’t react to it the way Lindsay wanted her to.” Mel tells him.


“She didn’t want to be tied to anything if Brian wanted her. She was just waiting, but didn't want to miss pissing off Mommy. She said she liked that Brian and you were jealous of each other, it showed her that Brian wanted her.” Lynette tells us.


“I'm willing to help her.” Ron tells us.


“Ron, it's not our problem. Lynette is the only one who deserves anything from us, for always being the daughter we could be proud of.” Nancy tells him, walking in smiling at a smirking Lynette.


“Lynette, revolving door marriages are really something to be proud of to you?” Mel asks.


“Get out of my house, no one talks about Lynette that way.” Nancy orders us.


“Give me a minute.” Ron tells us, grabbing mother and daughter taking them out of the room and closing the door. Then he seemed to remember he was the breadwinner by yelling at both of them.


“They raised two of them.” Alex tells us.


“How could Nancy not raise two spoiled brats.” Mel comments.


“Sociopaths,  Lynette shows the signs of one. Not being able to stay in a marriage, using Lindsay as her victim to show the world she's better, and using her Mother to taunt Lindsay with. Jesus, it's like a house of horrors here.” Alex tells us.


When Ron came back we left him with Alex to see how to handle Lindsay once she reappeared. Ron was willing to come to Chicago and try to talk to Lindsay.


“He finally found his balls. I really started to think Nancy cut them off.” Mel tells me.


“Let's hope he has the balls left after Nancy figures out he's going to help Lindsay.” I tell her, dropping her off. “Justin and I are getting married, want to see what you never thought I'd do?” I ask.


“Only if Justin wants me there.” She tells me.


“He gave you the opening by saying you should come to Chicago. Do what Ted did and call him.” I tell her.


“I was afraid he hang up on me.” She tells me.


“Justin loved you. That didn't go away when you didn’t check on him.” I tell her.


“He has always been one of the best men I knew. I'll be there.” She tells me.


“He made me see that love wasn’t impossible.” I tell her.














Chapter 34 by starlight

BRIAN


I pulled into Deb’s yard to see her and Michael arguing, while another guy stood on the porch watching the spectacle. When I turned off the car Michael stopped arguing, when he saw me he came running to the car. I got out and put my hand up when he tried to hug me.


“Why are you acting like this?” He asked.


“Like what Michael?” I asked.


“As if I’m contaminated.” He tells me.


“I’m just making sure you know the boundaries. You can’t seem to understand that treating Justin like shit took away your rights to call me your friend.” I tell him.


“You came here to tell me I have to be nice to Justin if I want us to be friends?” He asked.


“I came here to check on Deb and make sure she’s doing okay.” I tell him.


“What about me, you didn’t plan on taking the time to see me?” He asks me.


“How are you still not getting that any friendship we had ended the last time I saw you?” I ask.


“He’s been saying shit to make you act like this, he’s the one who left without telling you about that kid.” He complains.


“That’s between the two of us, and really, you lost the right to worry about what Justin does or doesn’t say about you when what you say to him only makes me want to kick your ass. Of course, you’re not significant enough for Justin to care about.” I tell him.


“Really, then why did he hit me if I’m insignificant to him?” He sneered.


“You opened your mouth about our daughter, it’s the one area that Justin won’t let pass. It’s something you should know about me too, since you know Gus. I hear you say shit about my kids, and what Justin did to you will seem like a pat on the shoulder compared to what I’m going to do to you. Which I kind of owe you one for trying to use Gus to find me.” I tell him.


“It wasn’t right that you left Lindsay in the dark. She’s his mother, and has the right to know where you took Gus. I really have to say, bringing your son with you so you could screw Justin’s ass was…” I didn’t let him finish.


“Shit, did you hurt yourself?’ Deb asked, when I shook out my hand.


“You fucking hit me!” Michael screeches.


“Not hard enough, you’re still running your fucking mouth.” I sneer at him.


“You saw that didn’t you?” He asks the guy who came walking over.


“Deb, I’ll pick you up later.” The guy tells her, kissing her before walking away not paying any attention to Michael.


“He’s a fucking cop and he just leaves!” Michael yells.


“Carl doesn’t see the point in doing anything when he wanted to do the same to you for coming here this morning and ordering us to stop seeing each other. So he couldn’t see the point in listening to any more from you. If you can’t respect my choices then stay away. And if my being happy with the man who thinks about what I want first bothers you so much, you don’t need to come around me.” Deb tells him.


“Ma, just because someone finally asked you out doesn’t mean you have to say yes to them. It just screams at men that you're desperate for anyone.” He tells her.


“The only thing it screams to me is that I spent too much of my life on a son that only cares if it’s what he wanted me to do. I’m sure Brian could tell you the same thing about his supposed ‘best friend’. In your mind, if you're not the one we give all of us to, you aren’t going to let us be happy for the first time in our lives. I’m not wasting my life waiting for you to approve of the way I live it.” Deb tells him, walking into the house and slamming the door.


“I’m done with this shit. When you and Ma realize that your both fucking up your lives, I’m no longer going to be the one cleaning up your messes. It’s time I live my life without having to take care of all your asses.” He shrieks at me.

“I guess we feel the same way you do, we’re done wiping your ass too.” I tell him, going into the house to see Deb.


Deb was sitting on the couch flipping channels, and really, the remote didn’t do anything. I took it out of her hand and sat next to her, letting her lay her head on my shoulder while she cried.


“How did I raise him to be this way?” She asks me.


Normally I try to take some of the blame but it wasn’t anything I did, he came to me that way.


“You smothered him and never let him grow up.” I tell her.


“I wanted him to know that he was loved. He didn’t have anyone else.” She tells me.


“It made it so he couldn’t be happy if anyone wanted something he didn’t want. All those years, if anyone stepped away, he tried to handcuff us to him, the way you were doing with him. Deb, in the end it was up to him to grow up and away from it, but he didn’t because you expected all of us to handle his problems and we did. When I left, it made it harder to be blind to the things that we did to keep Michael happy. Now I only care that Justin and the kids are happy, so I won’t be able to pick up the pieces when Michael falls apart, and you need to stop trying. He’ll never do anything if you sit around trying to figure out what you could have done and then do it for him. It’s up to him now.” I tell her.


“It’s hard to watch him struggle, but I don’t want to ruin the new life I’m building. Carl’s really a great guy and he loves me. It’s nice to have that.” She tells me, drying her eyes.


“Yes it is.” I tell her.


“I’m sorry for being less of a mother to you than you deserved.” She tells me.


“I wish I still had it in me to lie to you and say you were. After what happened with Justin, Emmett, and you, I could no longer say you were the mom we all thought you were. You knew Emmett well enough that he never saw hurting people as an answer. Instead of asking him, you ignored the man you knew and blamed him, as if he did this all the time. You did the same with Justin, when Michael got hurt again. Never questioning why, but ready to blame anyone but Michael. Then you involved my son, by trying to say Justin would hurt Gus. Yet when Ted and I told everyone we were going to help you, Justin and Emmett understood, even after you had thrown them out. Your mom card was tarnished in our eyes, but we still love the woman who made sure we were fed, and loved us as much as she could, even though we weren’t her sons. Hopefully someday it will shine back to the woman you could be.” I tell her.


“I’m working on it, but it’s not something I can do overnight. Jen’s really been great. I went to see her when I met Carl. She let me in and let me gush about it. I left her house for the first time without it being me complaining about Michael. She called and invited me to do things and it’s been great to doing things that were just for me. She kept me from trying to talk to you and Justin, but it was because I need to give you time and the respect of not feeling like I’m pushing to get involved in your lives.” She tell me.


“Justin and I don’t want the life we were living. Everything here is just a reminder of what went wrong. We managed to find a balance by not falling back into the same pattern we were in. I asked him to marry me.” I tell her.


“Be happy with him.” She tells me.


“I already am. He left it up to me to tell you and invite you. I wouldn’t mind if you came, it’s my offer for a new start with us.” I tell her.


“I won’t if you really don’t want me there. Justin shouldn’t have anyone there if it makes his day less than he wants it.” She tells me.


“Come, but don’t expect too much from Justin or Emmett.” I tell her, kissing her head and leaving.


JUSTIN


Charles and Emmett came over and the kids spilled about the marriage. Emmett told me that Brian and I were going to have the best wedding he could do in three days. We had to wait for the license before getting married. I tried to tell Emmett that we were just going to do it at the courthouse, but he told me I needed to do so the kids could see how special it was that we were getting married. I left Emmett, Mom, and the kids to plan a small wedding. Charles and I went to see the building that was going to become Hawthorne-Kinney. Mom told me that she thought Brian would like it. I stood in the old bathhouse and almost wanted to laugh that my mother picked it. Charles told me it was perfect because it was so open. I got a phone call from the gallery and went outside to take it while Charles finished touring the place.


I hung up, ready to go to Chicago and kill Lindsay. Brian pulled up while I was trying to calm down. There was only so much anyone could expect me to put up with.


“I’m going to stand out of the line of the explosion.” Charles tells Brian, when he looked at me.


“I want someone to tell me why that crazy bitch is still on the street.” I yell.


“What did she do now?” Brian asked, standing in front of me.


“She went to the gallery where my show is, trying to tell the owner that I was cancelling the show. He called after having her escorted out to find out if I really wanted to cancel, since we just talked about a second show if this one does well.” I tell him.


“Let me guess, they couldn’t do anything because there was nothing illegal in what she did.” Brian asks me.


“Nope, she was smart enough to leave without acting like the crazy bitch she is. Although I can have her barred from coming. I wish it wasn’t so important, I’d put a big fucking sign on the building that said anyone welcome but Lindsay Peterson, there’s failure in anything she fucking does.” I tell him.


I stopped when Brian was trying not to laugh, and really, it was just too ridiculous not to laugh. Charles ended up snickering and I walked into Brian’s arms and let out my frustration by laughing at the idea of putting a sign like that up.


“I know it’s not funny, but if you want a billboard like that I’d do it. Anything it takes to see you smile.” Brian whispers, as I smile at him for being serious.


Chapter 35 by starlight

LINDSAY


I waited all day for the asshole next door to go into his house. He needs to get a fucking life. How am I supposed to do what I came here to do with the watchdog all over the damn place. I had to go buy a flashlight, because it was dark as hell after I unscrewed the light that kept turning on. Then the damn neighbor came out, as if he was hoping Justin was home.


Miles is a chicken shit, who's too scared to do what it takes to get what he wants. I tried convincing him the way I do with Michael, that helping me would get him what he wants, but he kept saying he would lose everything if he helped me. Although he helped when he told me that Justin’s house didn’t have an alarm system in it. I didn’t need the police showing up when I just wanted to laugh at Justin for thinking he could still be an artist. The gallery owner didn’t get it, there was no way for Justin to do anything of merit when he had a kid attached to his hip.


I found a window that I could get open on the side of the house, and climbed in. I looked around at the room and hated that he couldn’t see that his daughter represented all the things he did wrong in the world. It was full of all the events my detective couldn’t get. I got lost looking at pictures of him looking as if he could be happy in this life, and needed to move on. I opened the door and went into the next room. I guess it was Justin’s room, I went looking through the dresser and closet for my box. I almost screamed when I saw Brian’s clothes in the closet, and started tearing apart anything that showed Brian had been in this house. I ripped the pillow off the bed and smelled my Brian betraying me again. He can’t do this to me, I’ve been waiting all my life for him to finally see that I am everything he could want.


I threw everything on the bed and wanted to scream, because Justin kept managing to have my life. After making sure his life looked like mine by destroying everything in the room, I went to find the one thing that would prove he didn’t managed to have it all. I ended up having to break into the room because it was locked, and knew this was what I was looking for. I opened it, and smelled the world I wanted all my life. I could see he still didn’t understand how to keep a studio, the place was a mess. Brushes laying everywhere, paint laying out on the desk. I started cleaning it, the way it should be, then stopped when I looked at the walls. I hated him in this moment more than I have ever hated anyone. Until I really looked at the paintings, and saw he recognized he’d never been more than someone Brian let sleep in his bed. Sitting in front of the one where two people stood looking away from each other, with a divide between them that couldn’t be crossed told me he saw what I’d been telling him. Brian never wanted more from him. Why is he letting Brian stay, when he knew in this painting there was nothing he could do to cross into Brian’s world. I looked at the others and didn’t like seeing that he still held out hope. I was about to tear it out of the frame when I saw lights flashing. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but realized that Miles was wrong, there was a system, only it was just in this room. Someone put motion detectors in here. I ran to the window when I heard fucking Cynthia, telling them the room was the one that would set off the alarm. I got out and ran to the house next door, Miles was standing with the door open, looking at Justin’s house. I shoved him in and shut the door.


“What the hell were you doing over there?” He asks.


“None of your fucking business. Keep your mouth shut or I’ll make sure your daughter only has one parent left.” I tell him.


“I’m not losing my job…” I didn’t have time to listen to this bullshit, so I hit him with a pan.


“Daddy?” I hear from upstairs.


“It’s okay sweetie, he went to check next door. Go back to bed. I’ll be here until he gets back.” I tell her, smiling and trying to keep her up there.


“Who are you?” She asks.


“I’m a new friend, remember, I came over earlier.” I tell her, hoping she’ll just get in fucking bed.


She stood there for a second, then went back to bed. I left out the front door, locking it before heading away from any chance of being stopped from bringing Brian back to where he should have been if Justin hadn’t come along.


BRIAN


I woke up when my phone went off. Seeing it was Cynthia I slipped out from under Justin and left the bed. We stayed at the loft when Emmett said he was still paying off his bet to Gus and Hannah. I didn’t mind, I wanted Justin and I to have any time we could alone. I answered when Cynthia sent a text saying to call her.


“I know I asked a lot of you by asking you to stay in Chicago, but you can sleep.” I joke, knowing we probably needed a laugh before what she needed to tell me.


“Lindsay broke into Justin’s house. They didn’t catch her. You should have put an alarm at the door, not just Justin’s studio.” She tells me.


“How did they not catch her?” I ask, angry that she tarnished a part of Justin’s life.


“She must have waited to break open the door to his studio. What she did to the bedroom is bad, just be thankful she didn’t touch your daughter’s room, it’s the window she managed to get in. Justin’s room looks like someone tossed it. I’d get it cleaned, but the police need to process it. It’s weird, but it looks like she was trying to straighten up Justin’s studio before she ran.” She tells me.


“Tell the police to catch her ass. She finally did something that we can do something about.” I tell her.


“Brian they can’t take my word for it. They’re having someone come to fingerprint everything. I need you to have anyone who came to the house recently, fingerprinted, so they could rule out people.” She tells me.


“Go to the neighbor behind Justin’s house, he shows up all the time, thinking Justin will eventually love him. His daughter comes over a lot, so they can start there.” I tell her.


Cynthia told me to hold on while she let the officer know. I grabbed Justin’s phone and called Mel to let her know to keep Gus away from Lindsay. Cynthia came back on and said the police were going over there. We were talking about random things while she waited.


“Brian, I think something happened over there.” She tells me.


“Check on Trina.” I tell her.


“Brian, why are you telling someone to check on Trina?” Justin asks, staring at me, worried.


I held out my arm to him and waited until he sat down before telling him. I could feel Justin’s anger in the way he shook. He grabbed his phone and called Emmett and quietly told him what was going on.


“Emmett I don’t care about the wedding, she fucking broke into my house… What if she hurt Trina, I might not like Miles, but Trina doesn’t need someone scaring her in her own home… We’ll just have to wait.” He tells Emmett.


“No, we get married the easiest way we can, without all the things that we can do again later.” I tell him, because no one is taking this away from us.


“Emmett, call Trina’s other father, because I’m sure Miles won’t. He needs to get Trina.” Justin tells him before hanging up.


“Where is the other father?” I ask Justin.


“He got remarried and Miles was giving him shit about it. Travis loves Trina, but couldn’t deal with Miles anymore, so he left. Miles used it to keep him from Trina. It’s why I never really got to know Miles. You don’t screw up your kid’s life because you're bitter.” He tells me.


“At least we know she’s okay. Cynthia said they had to wake her up, she did let the police know that Lindsay was in the house. Lindsay screwed up by getting to know Miles, because Trina met her and could tell them who she was.” I tell him. “This will make getting custody of Gus easier, even though I don’t like how I’m going to win.” I tell him.


“I’m never going to want to go back to that house.” Justin tells me.


“We can find a temporary place until we find what we want.” I tell him.


“I’m just glad Hannah’s room was left alone. I would have hunted her down if she touched that.” He tells me.


“The minute she went to Chicago was enough for me.” I tell him, not hiding how I feel about any of my life hurting his, or our daughter.


MICHAEL


I went to Babylon to blow off steam, and found Kevin standing at the bar. I started bitching about Brian and my Ma to him. I asked if Brandon was around.


“He’s with Ted, something about having to move for his job.” Kevin said, eyeing the guys around us.


“Once again I’ll have to pick up the pieces, when Ted figures out Brandon was only using him for fun. I’m always having to deal with them when they should have just known that I was right. No guy wants someone like Ted when they could score with hot men, not a boring ass opera loving old man.” I tell Kevin, smirking that once again I’m right.


“I thought you were friends with Ted?” Kevin says, looking at me confused.


“I am, but I won’t pretend he’s some catch when he isn’t. My friends might not like the truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that their lives would be better if they listened to me.” I tell him.


“Well, that made my decision easier, would you like to dance.” A really hot guy asks Kevin.


“Sure, my name’s Kevin.” He tells the hunk.


“Ben. You really need to make better friends than that.” He tells Kevin, taking him to the dance floor.


Whatever, he might be hot but he wouldn’t be worth my time. I left, went to my apartment and grabbed a comic, falling asleep before finishing. I woke up to banging on my door. When I opened it Lindsay rushed in, looking like hell.


“If anyone asks, I was here all night. Do you understand, I’ve been here.” She practically orders, while shaking me.


“Why would anyone ask?” I ask her, and watch as she grabs a drink from the bottle of Beam she left on her last visit.


“I think Justin and Cynthia are going to try and say I did something. I just need to be here for a couple of days without anyone knowing. I also wanted to help you with Brian. He’s going to be devastated when he figures out Cynthia is helping Justin trick him.” She tells me.


“At least it will get that bitch out of his life too. She never seemed to like me.” I tell her.


“She wanted Brian for herself, you and I were in her way.” Lindsay tells me.


Now that I think about it, that makes sense. Cynthia and Justin were trying to take what Lindsay and I had.

 

Chapter 36 by starlight

BRIAN


Cynthia was staying in Chicago to watch the house. The cops told her it would be another day or two before they could release the house to get cleaned up. Charles made a call to make sure that it was understood there would be heads rolling if anything was screwed up. As much as I wanted to make our wedding a little more, there was just too much going on for what Emmett had in mind. I called and let everyone know Cynthia had arranged it so we could have it in a judge's private chambers. Jen insisted on she and Tucker paying for dinner at a restaurant for everyone after the wedding.


Justin and the kids went to pick up Molly and Daphne and bring them to the courthouse. I went to get rings because I wanted to engrave them with something to tell him what it meant to me that he allowed me back in his life. Charles and I went looking at the jewelers together. He told me when Emmett was ready he wanted to have everything ready to go. I ordered the rings when we were coming here. I wanted a titanium band with yellow diamonds on Justin’s and plain ones on mine. They were ready when we got there. Charles and I stopped for coffee before meeting everyone. We arranged to have the wedding this afternoon and then have everyone meet at the restaurant afterwards. Charles had been checking with Cynthia to see if there had been any news.


“Miles seems to be okay. Although hopefully this will teach him what happens when you stick your nose in something, that their are consequences.” He tells me.


“He was stupid enough to invite her in, but it made it so the police have more than a break-in to charge her with. Assault will put her away.” I tell him.


“It’s strange that she’s managing to hide, when they put her picture all over the news. It’s not like there is anyone in Chicago she knows.” He tells me.


“The car she rented has GPS, but she left it in the rental agency parking lot. It would have been nice if she’d just driven it to where she decided to go.” I tell him.


“Hopefully she’ll do something stupid.” He tells me.


“Nothing she’s done so far could be considered smart.” I tell him.


“It’s time to get you married.” Charles tells me, looking at his watch.


We drove to the courthouse, Gus and Hannah were waiting outside for us. I grabbed their hands as they led us to the right place. Justin was standing and talking with Daphne and Molly when I walked in. He looked at me and gave me the smile that stayed with me when I left. Everyone spread out, as Justin, Gus, Hannah, and I went to the desk. We were a family, and I wanted the kids standing with us.


The judge began speaking and I leaned over and kissed Justin. We both agreed, no long speeches, but wanted us to say something to each other.


“Justin, I had these rings engraved because it’s true. Love is impossible without you.” I tell him, before we put the rings on.


“Brian, I’ve been yours since the night we stood under a streetlight.” He tells me, kissing me.


It was over, because regardless of the judge still talking, Justin and I were married, and kissed until the judge pronounced us married.


“Is it hot in here?” I hear Emmett whisper to Deb.


“Honey, those two in the same room always raise the temperature.” Deb tells Emmett.


Jen led everyone out of the room, Justin and I came out with the kids and went to meet everyone for dinner. Justin was catching up on Daphne’s life, and I was getting to know Tucker. Jen was talking to Deb and Emmett when Tucker stood up and walked over to her. He asked if I would mind sharing our day with Jen, everyone he wanted here, was here. Jen gave him a puzzled look until he got down on both knees then all the women were tearing up.


“Jen, I’ve asked and received Justin and Molly’s blessing, so now I’m asking you, the woman I love. Marry me?” He asks.


“Mom, we need a good male role model.” Molly teases, when Jen smiled but didn’t answer.


“He loves you, Mom.” Justin tells her.


“Yes.” Jen tells him before crying all over him.


Justin and I kissed the kids before leaving. I wanted to do one last thing before going to the loft. Justin followed me up the steps and into the club. We walked to the middle of the floor and danced together. It didn't matter that there were other people there, because they disappeared as we danced with each other. I felt a bump and Emmett was dancing around Charles. Ted let Brandon move them, since Ted really never danced with anyone but Emmett. Justin and I held our heads together and I moved in time with him. Emmett tapped my shoulder and pointed at the screen. Justin and I looked up at us on the big screen. We danced for one more song, not caring that the camera followed us everywhere.


JUSTIN


Brian and I ran up the steps to the loft and only made it to the door before we were all over each other again. Brian was trying to get the key out, but I kept him too busy. He finally got it unlocked, but when he opened the door, we fell in, laughing. I started taking off his shirt while he tried to use his feet to get the door to slide closed. We both stopped long enough to shut and lock the door. Then ended up on the pillows on the floor, not being able to stop touching each other.


He scooted down to remove my pants and ran his hands inside my thighs, over my cock, then up my chest as he took me in his mouth. I ran my hands through his hair tugging when he swirled his tongue around my crown. He let me guide his head as he moved up and down, but stopped when he felt me shivering and crawled up to lick my chest and neck. I was reaching for the condom he threw next to us to put on him. He took it out of my hand and put it on me.


“I need you.” He tells me.


It would be my first time topping him. It's something he's offered, but I hadn't done. I turned him on his stomach and kissed down his back. Kissing each cheek before parting them, I gave him what he gave me our first night. Licking around the rim before applying pressure with my tongue to penetrate him. Brian’s hands were fisting the pillow as I continued to tease his tight entrance. I lubed my fingers and ran them around his quivering hole before pushing my first finger in. Brian couldn’t stay still but pushed back onto my finger, forcing it all the way in. I stroked his walls then added a second and third finger because he'd never done this before.


“Justin, this isn’t new for you.” He complained.


“It’s never been you.” I tell him.


He turned over and I lifted his legs over my shoulders and started pushing into him. I watched him and stopped, pulling out when I could see that he needed it, before pushing in again. It took everything I had not to cum, because he was tight as hell. When I was fully inside him I had to wait so that I wouldn’t cum too fast. I stroked his cock, using the fluids leaking out of it as lube. When he started moving, I took over, and leaned over him and thrust faster, kissing anything I could reach. He took over stroking his cock when I need my hands to hold him as I thrust in and out of him. When he came, I fucked him through his orgasm and came while still moving. I held us tightly together until I fell out of him.


We got up and took a shower, and Brian held me as he thrust into me. I used the shower walls for support as he drove into me over and over. I screamed for him to make me always feel him. He held my shoulders, pulling me back as he came forward. The water was turning warm when we came again.


We were both exhausted and barely made it to the bed before falling in it. He turned me and surrounded me, before we both fell asleep.






Chapter 37 by starlight

MICHAEL


I was sitting in my store reading, while people came in and out. Two guys came in looking at my new stuff, I really didn’t pay attention until I heard them saying something about Brian showing up at Babylon last night. It pissed me off that he went there without me. I had this fantasy of how everyone stared at Brian and me when I returned the king to his throne. Everyone would try to get me to introduce them to Brian. Then Brian would tell them he had the person who'd spend the night with him already, putting his arms around me. I alway smirked when Justin would appear and Brian would leave him standing alone on the dance floor while we danced the night away. Brian would tell me that he knew it was me all along.


Then I heard Justin’s name and managed to pull out of my dream.


“What were you saying?” I ask.


“We were talking about how the two studs seemed to be settling down. Brandon pretty much showed everyone that being with Ted was the only thing he cares about. I heard he's moving because Ted was leaving here, apparently he doesn't want to be anywhere without Ted.” He tells me


“I meant Brian, what were you saying about Brian?” I ask.


“Someone said Brian was there celebrating his marriage to Justin.” He tells me.


I got up and left the store, this can't be true. If he was marrying anyone else, I could deal with it, but not Justin.


“Hey, are you just going to leave this open?” The guy asks me, when he followed me out.


I kicked them out and locked the door before running to the new diner. It was probably someone making up gossip. I walked in, praying that someone would tell me Justin didn't get his claws into Brian.


Justin would never love Brian the way he deserves. He didn’t spend years around Brian the way I did. I would allow Brian to decide everything, while I supported him. We’d be the couple everyone wished they were. Gus would have me to show him everything he needed to be to make Brian proud of him, and if Brian wanted more children, we'd do it together.  


I saw Jason about to go in and stopped him to see if he heard the bullshit.


“Yes, but it's not bullshit. Brandon was there when they got married.” He tells me.


I walked off, not knowing where to go. Brian ruined everything. I got to my apartment and fell on the couch, crying. My whole life was wasted because of Justin Fucking Taylor. What was so special about the asshole that Brian would want him? I kept trying to think of something about him that made him the one Brian always ran after. I know I made a mistake leaving with David, but Brian was leaving and I didn't want to be alone. Brian must have given up on me, thinking I didn’t love him. He should have known it was always him, but that David was just so I had someone until Brian was ready. Brian will realize marrying Justin is a mistake, and I'll be ready, but it didn't stop the pain.


LINDSAY


Michael came in, slumping on the couch as if the world was ending. I watched him, not really wanting to bother with his tantrums, but he never suffers alone. I really wonder how it must feel to spend your entire life being a loser. He could have had it all if he hadn't fucked up with David. He kept hoping for something that would never happen, not that he seemed to know what everyone else did. Michael wouldn't fit into the world Brian was in. Brian needed someone who understood the what to do. How to host dinner parties and impress people with conversations. Conversations that didn't involve kids comics, or the latest news of Babylon.


It was the one thing that bothered me about Justin at first. He grew up in my world. He knew how to act, because that’s all there is in our world. I used to enjoy watching Brian walk away anytime it seemed like Justin expected too much. Brian wasn’t going to be tied down to a kid, not when I was waiting to give him the life he needed in order to show everyone he’d made it. We had a son and I was someone he could show off.


Justin’s art distracted me from Brian for a while. I had to watch Justin create these works of art that no matter how hard I tried to recreate, never looked anything like what Justin seem to be able to do without it even looking like it was hard for him. It wasn’t until one day when I told Lynnette about Justin, that I started to see that Brian kept Justin around because it was the closest to me he could get.


“Lindsay, did you hear me?” Michael yells.


“Sorry I was lost in thought, what has you crying?” I asked, hoping that it wasn’t some stupid superhero.


“Brian and Justin got married.” He tells me.


“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I asked, thinking I misheard him.


“They fucking got married. How could he want Justin when I was supposed to be the one he married.” Michael tells me.


“He was supposed to marry me!” I screamed at him.


“What are you talking about, he wouldn’t marry you. He never saw you as anything but some college girl who couldn’t get it out of her head that he didn’t want you.” Michael sneers at me.


“You think he wanted someone like you? You can’t even talk without showing anyone near you that you barely made it out of school. Everything about you screams low class. Brian would have had to make excuses for you everywhere you went, whenever you opened your mouth and said something that made people look down on Brian. I will never understand why he let you stay, when he could have left you behind.” I tell him.


“I guess he felt you were too low class too, since HE MARRIED JUSTIN. At least Justin can draw, and has a dick.” He smirks.


My vision went red, I wanted him to disappear for daring to say that anything about Justin was better than me in any way. I grabbed Michael’s hair and pulled him off the couch, trying to tear his hair out. He was screaming, but I couldn’t hear what he said. I felt him hit me, but right now I couldn’t feel anything and wanted to inflict pain on him for making me doubt myself. He tried to shove me off him, but I had such a hold of him that he fell forward with me. I turned us over so I was sitting on top of him. He tried to block the hits, but I just hit him anywhere I could reach, he couldn’t stop me. I stood up, trying to kick him, but he grabbed my foot. I picked up one of his dolls and used it like a hammer. I kept seeing Justin under me, and wanted to punish him for daring to think he could have Brian.


Michael got the doll away from me and shoved me back. Then he tried to kick me, but I moved before he connected and watched as he fell back and hit his head on end table, lying still. He was still breathing, but the neighbor was yelling that she called the police. I grabbed my things and left while the neighbor tried to follow me, asking what the hell we were doing. I didn’t answer, because I needed to leave before anyone found me.


BRIAN


I laid next to Justin, trying to find a solution to where we were going to live when we got back to Chicago. There was nothing to keep us there after Lindsay broke into Justin’s house. I called my attorney and explained what Lindsay did, and that Mel was in agreement that Gus should stay with me. Lindsay’s behavior was proving unstable, and with Mel’s agreement it was really just waiting for a judge to sign off on returning my rights. The only issue was where we would live. Jen had sent listings for us to look at, but we hadn’t yet because we didn’t see any reason when we were fine at Justin’s house.


My phone started going off, so I grabbed it and went to see what I could feed Justin. I answered Jen, likely wanting to know if we were still breathing after being out of contact all day.


“Lindsay was at Michael’s apartment. Before you ask, no they didn’t catch her. She and Michael had a knock down fight and the neighbors called the police. Michael woke up, apparently they found out you two were married.” She tells me.


“I’ll be there to get Gus and Hannah. I still own my apartment in New York, no one gets in without my permission.” I tell her.


I left Justin asleep and went to pick up the kids. I wanted all of them away from any possibility of running into Lindsay. I was worried more about Gus, because we haven't told him about Lindsay. If she showed up, Gus wouldn’t think twice about going with her. When I got there Jen was putting all the kids things in a bag and grabbed the file for the houses she told me she’d found. Deb showed up while I was there and let me know that other than a bump on the head, he was fine. She told me he was asking for me, but to ignore it if he found a way to contact me. I called Cynthia to arrange the flight so we could leave as soon as possible. We got to the loft and Gus ran ahead with the key to open the door. I was following behind them when Gus asked why I left the door open.


I ran to the door, keeping the kids outside and yelled for Justin. The loft was trashed and Justin wasn’t answering me. I called the police while trying Justin’s phone, which kept going to voicemail. When the police arrived I took the children outside and continued trying Justin’s phone.





JUSTIN


I woke up to a note from Brian, saying he was picking up the kids and would be back. I slept the whole day away, but lately we’d been running all over the place and sleep wasn’t something I got a lot of. I grabbed my wallet and decided to run to the corner store and get something to make for a late lunch. I was standing in line when police cars started passing by and everyone stopped what they were doing to pay attention to that. When It was my turn, it took the girl forever to ring me up because they were all trying to figure out what happened outside. I walked out and noticed the police cars stopped up near the loft and wasn’t paying attention, it’s the only reason she surprised me. I was shoved into her car, leaving my bags all over the place. She just jumped in and took off before I could get up.


I was waiting for her to have to stop and when she did, the doors and windows wouldn’t open.


“Don’t bother, I have the child locks in place. You aren’t going to keep having the things that belong to me.” She tells me, almost hitting a car at the intersection.


“He doesn’t want you, and I sure as hell don’t need to copy anything about you.” I tell her.


“I used to feel sorry for you. You couldn’t see where your future was headed, I could, since everything about your life was all the mistakes I made in mine. You should have been happy with your life, and not tried to take the one thing that was mine and only mine.” She tells me.


“Lindsay, where in your head did you see your relationship with a very gay man going? Brian was never going to wake up one day and realize his mother was right, and that being gay was just a phase. It wasn’t a choice for him, he loves men.” I tell her.


“It never stopped him from sleeping with me. You’re wrong if you don’t believe that he could want the life I could give him. You know, at one time I really thought you could be in our lives for when Brian got the itch, but you had to have that child. If you hadn’t done that, I would have ignored anything you and Brian did, as long as it was understood who stood at his side.” She tells me.


“Where are we going, you do realize that you're the first person people are going to be looking for. Nothing you do is going to bring Brian running to you.” I tell her.


“He’ll get over you the way he did when he left. I’ll be there to show him what he did with you was a mistake. He didn’t even ask about you, because he never loved you. How did it feel to know that he answered all my calls and sent for me when he wanted company in New York. He never left me out of his life.” She tells me, turning on the interstate.


“He answered when Michael called, so you weren’t the only one. How were you sure he cared you were there, and it wasn’t just Gus he wanted to see. You strangled him when it came to Gus, if he wanted to see his son you made sure he had to deal with you. When you think about it, possibly Michael was who he wanted. Why would he talk to Michael if you were everything you believed you were? You weren’t around to see the way Michael and Brian were when we were out.” I tell her, hoping to confuse her.


“I guess Brian didn’t tell you that he barely bothered with Michael. Most of the time it was only when Deb called him to see how he was. Michael would use it as an opportunity to get Brian to talk to him. He turned down any reason Michael used when he wanted to visit, because Michael wouldn’t have fit in the world that Brian was living in. Brian never turned me down.” She tells me.


“It’s something we have in common, finally. He never turned me down either.” I tell her.


Lindsay swerved and I knew I was getting to her. I wanted to get her to stop so I could kick her ass. She seems to think because she’s a woman we won’t touch her, but then all I see is a crazy bitch who needs to spend some time with her own kind.


“You want to know what made me different from the rest? Brian wanted ME Lindsay. He didn’t fuck me just once, but every chance he got. I didn’t even have to get him drunk for it to happen. Wasn’t that how your little one night stand with Brian happened? He got drunk and stoned and figured your hole was the only one available? I could be wrong, but did he stick around and want seconds or thirds from you, or were you like all his other tricks that he fucked and forgot? I mean you had the opportunity for a repeat when you wanted Gus, but wasn’t it the sperm bank for you? You seem to think because he still talked to you so he could see his son, it meant he wanted to see you. Yet in the entire time, not once did he ask for a repeat of your performance. Yet he’s wanted back in my bed from the first time he saw me.” I tell her, almost smiling at her frown.


“I was too special to treat like a whore.” She mumbles.


“Sounds more to me like you didn’t offer anything he wanted to try again. You know, he loves it when I lick his ass, then get him ready for me. I love the screams he can’t stop when I’m fucking him, the way he never wanted from other people. The way, when we cum he’s still raring to go, and thrusts that big dick in me, knowing I’ll feel it the next day, and then has to fuck me again because he wants me to only remember him. The best times are when we’ve fucked four or five times in a row, then he still needs me to be where he can know I won’t disappear again, so he holds me while we rest. Unlike with you, he waited for me to come back to him, never allowing anyone to be in my place. How did it feel for you to know that if Brian ever saw me, I’d still be the one he wanted?” I ask her.


She turned the car into a field and stopped, getting out screaming, and then made the mistake of going to open the door. I kicked it, so she ended up on the ground. She was going to understand that I wasn’t a whipped little boy for her to keep fucking with. I got out and dragged her by her hair to the trunk. Grabbing the keys she let go of when she was trying to claw me to let her go. I opened the trunk one handed, keeping my hands on her hair and yanking when I just wanted to. She fought me when I was shoving her in, but I managed to get her in and close the trunk. I sat on it while she kicked and screamed, smiling the whole time.


“Shut up, I’m enjoying my honeymoon.” I yelled, hitting the trunk.

 





Safety Features can really Suck. by starlight

BRIAN


Jen showed up with Emmett at the police station. I had to stay calm for the kids, but once Emmett took them I couldn’t fake it anymore. The police had received a call from a woman who witnessed a woman shoving a man into a car and driving off quickly. The grocery store manager was able to show us footage of Justin in line, and the woman verified it was Justin who the woman took from the sidewalk. They showed her a picture of Lindsay, and the woman let us know that she looked less polished, but it was her. Unfortunately that didn’t tell us anything, like where my husband was and what the bitch was doing.


Carl came over and led Jen and I out of the middle of the station. I knew it was useless, but I kept dialing Justin anyway. Jen wasn’t handling this any better than I was, and wasn’t happy when she saw Nancy Peterson come into the station. Nancy walked in like she owned the place, barely looking at Gus when she walked by him. She came straight to me and Carl.


“I’m not happy with the news covering this.” She tells me.


“I’m not happy that your daughter thinks she has the right to touch my son.” Jen tells her, getting in her face.


“Which none of you can prove, so I feel it’s inappropriate to allow the media to cause embarrassment to my family. Maybe your son wanted attention and did this himself.” She tells Jen.


“Ma’am, you can bring all the lawyers you want, it doesn’t change what we will do to do our jobs. Your daughter didn’t seem to remember that there are cameras in front of the loft. We have her going into the building, after Justin left the building. There are also witnesses who called the police and can place Lindsay shoving Justin into a car. I’m sure your lawyer can console you when we arrest your daughter, but otherwise there isn’t any reason to be in my station bothering people who are worried about a loved one, who by your daughter’s actions, could be in harm's way.” Carl tells her.


“We’ll see what the mayor thinks, he’s a very good friend of the family.” She tells him.


“Lady, you can be friends with the president and it wouldn’t stop me from doing my job. You might want your lawyer to stick around though, I’m sure your daughter will need him.” Carl tells her.


“This is all your fault, you always led Lindsay astray.” She tells me, looking at me like I smelled bad.


“I’m surprised you remember you have a daughter. I mean, you’ve spent your life declaring how Lynnette was everything you could ever want in a daughter. She marries the right men, over and over again. What made you remember Lindsay, was your tennis game interrupted?” I sneer.


“She never did the things she did until she meet you.” Nancy tells me.


“Is that your excuse for how your daughter turned out? It couldn’t be that you were too busy to bother to see your daughter had problems, because her mother was a frigid woman who was too busy entertaining the club instructors. That would explain Lindsay believing the impossible, that a gay man would want anything to do with her, You seem to think men who get paid to sleep with you, want you. Anything happens to my son and there won’t be a place you can go that I won’t tell all your secrets to.” Jen tells her.


“There aren’t any secrets that I don’t know.” I warn Nancy.


My phone started ringing and I walked away from everyone before picking up. I saw who was on the screen and I took a deep breath before answering.


“Justin.” I breathed out when I answered.


JUSTIN


I sat on the trunk, having had to slam it back down when Lindsay found the safety feature that I’m sure is there for a reason for, but it just made it so I couldn’t get up. I practically laid down to reach my phone and turned it on. I was debating who to call first, the police or Brian. Brian won when I saw the amount of missed calls I had from him. I was dialing, but Lindsay, who still hasn’t figured out the backseat would probably be a faster way to get loose, tried again to open the trunk, like we hadn’t already covered that I was sitting here. Which only made me misdial a few times, before getting it right.


He breathed my name and I hated that he was scared.


“I kind of need someone to come get Lindsay.” I tell him.


“Where is Lindsay?” He asks.


“In the trunk of the car she shoved me into.” I tell him, listening to him laugh.

 

“Why do I always forget who you are?” He asks me.


“I don’t know, most likely because you love me.” I tell him.


“Where do I need to come?” He asks.


“I’m sitting in a field on the trunk of a white car off the interstate. Could you hurry please, my ass was already sore, and slamming the trunk with it wasn’t the way I wanted it to be sore.” I tell him.


“I’ll find you.” He tells me, hanging up.


BRIAN


I walked out, making sure no one saw me. I would call when I got there, but I wanted to be able to hold Justin before he ended up answering questions for hours. I drove along the interstate, and couldn’t miss Justin, who was still on the trunk, talking on the phone. I made the call to Carl to tell him where we were, and he was not thrilled with me for not letting him know first.  He growled to stay there until he got there. I pulled over and got out to get to Justin. He didn’t move except to slam the trunk again. I pulled him off the trunk and let her open it. She started crying, accusing Justin of trying to separate us, I slammed it back down and put Justin on top of it. I held his head and kissed him, relieved that he was safe.


Justin wrapped his legs around me and pulled me over to him, twining his tongue with mine. I felt him pulling my zipper down and reaching in, stroking me. I reached down, unzipping him and started rubbing us together. Justin held us together as we ground against each other. I kissed his neck then licked up to his ear as he stroked us even faster, he turned his head to catch my lips as we both came, moaning loudly. I had my head in his neck breathing him in.


We both remembered where we were when Lindsay started screaming under us, apparently she didn’t like hearing what we were doing. I pulled my shirt off and took my tee-shirt off to clean us up, slamming the trunk down for Justin, because his ass had things that I need it for, and bruising it for Lindsay was not one of them.


Carl arrived faster than it took me to get here. Justin was happy to be able to get away from Lindsay when Carl took over and handcuffed her. Lindsay kept telling Carl that Justin was the one who kidnapped her, not the other way around. Carl told her that she could tell her story at the station, to the person who witnessed Lindsay driving off after forcing Justin into the car.


I told Carl that Justin and I would follow, no one was taking him out of my sight. As soon as we parked, Jen grabbed Justin, looking him over. Justin kept repeating that he was fine, to calm her down. When Lindsay was being walked in, Justin held his mother when she tried to go after Lindsay. I would have loved to see what Jen planned, but ended up watching Deb slap Lindsay hard enough to have her head snap back. Deb held out her hands, saying going to jail was worth getting a chance to do what her boys wouldn’t to Lindsay.


Justin ran up the steps, passing everyone to find our kids, who ran out, latching onto Justin.


“Brian, I explained to them what was going on. They knew something was wrong.” Emmett tells me.


JUSTIN


Hannah kept kissing my cheek and telling me not to disappear again, because it made Daddy cry. I held my daughter, who worried about everyone the way her father did. I let her go and run to Brian, while Gus wouldn’t let go of me. I pulled him to look at me.


“Gus, I’m fine.” I tell him.


“My mom tried to hurt you.” He tells me.


“She didn’t though.” I tell him.


“Emmett said that nothing would change how you feel about me.” He told me, but I knew he was asking me.


“Gus, your Dad and I love you. What someone else does doesn’t change that. You still loving your mother won’t change what you mean to us.” I tell him.


“I knew, I just like hearing it.” He tells me, trying to smirk, but ended up with his head on my shoulder. I picked him up and followed Brian and Hannah into the breakroom. I let Gus stay on my lap until he no longer doubted that nothing changed the love we have for him. I told him about the house we were going to buy and that he and Hannah needed to decide how we decorate it.


Brian took the kids while I wrote my statement and answered the same questions fifty times in a row. Lindsay’s lawyer kept insisting he needed to be there to make sure no one was helping me incriminate his client. I was just really tired, and went off because I didn’t like the asshole.


“Your client managed to incriminate herself without any help from me. She broke into my home, leaving her fingerprints all over like a game of connect the dots. Then she just racked up assault charges from Chicago to Pittsburgh. Hell, you don’t even need me to press charges for kidnapping to have her ass in jail. I’d really appreciate being able to repeat the answers to the same questions fifty more times, without having to deal with the asshole the Peterson’s think will make it easier to go to the country club.” I tell him, turning back to the detective asking questions.


“You really need to go deal with your client, she can’t seem to figure out a story that anyone will believe. Justin might be tired of answering the questions we need answered, but the story never changes, or the answers. The facts won’t change either, no matter what name Nancy drops to try to get it to happen the way she wants it to. You might have two clients if I can figure out a way to get what Nancy is doing charged as threatening a police officer.” Carl tells him.

 

“I think I could really like you.” I tell Carl.

Chapter 39 by starlight
Author's Notes:

I'm ending this with the promise to write a sequel. I have two other stories to work on and would you believe I wrote another story in too? LOL

 

Thank you for giving me a reason to keep writing by reading.

 

STAR

TED


Brandon and I were at the new diner with Mel, talking about the move to Chicago. Brandon came home excited that Brian seemed to want him in a bigger role in this new company.  


“Brian sat back and let me run the meeting in West Virginia. He wants me to be based out of Chicago, and I want to do it, but only if you’ll be there.” He tells me.


“I was thinking about it too. Mel is going there and I don’t want to miss things in my child's life. I waited to talk to Brian before telling you.” I tell him.


“If I didn’t want to go, what would you have done?” He asks me.


“I would hope that you and I could manage a long distance relationship, but in the end, my child would outweigh you.” I tell him.


“You’re going to be a great father, but not alone.” He tells me.


“Then all that’s left is to find places to live.” Mel tells us.


“I was sort of hoping that you’d want to share a place with us, at least until after the baby’s born. You're going to need help until the baby’s born and maybe after. It would give you time to look for your own place afterwards.” Brandon tells her.


“You really want a pregnant women staying with you? You and Ted haven’t been together that long, I would think you would want privacy.” Mel tells him.


“I think with being in a new place, we’d all be happy to have familiar faces around.” I tell her.


We see Jason run in, looking around until he spotted Brandon, and then he ran to our table. He was out of breath and had to take a second before talking.


“Ted you need to answer your phone. I was paying a ticket and overheard that some crazy chick kidnapped Justin.” He tells me.


“I have to go.” I tell Brandon.


“Did you find out anything else?” Mel asks, getting up.


“A detective was hauling ass to his car with a few other officers when I left. The cop at the desk was complaining that some woman needed to learn the days of covering up your family’s fuck ups ended.” He tells us.


“I guess Nancy still thinks the law caters to the rich and stupid.” Mel tells me.


Brandon told me to call if I needed him, and it’s a given to me that he is the first person I would call anyway. Mel and I got to the station and went to find Brian. He was sitting at the front desk paying for something.


“Is Justin okay?” I asked him.


“He’s here, and Lindsay’s in custody.” Brian tells us, signing the papers the cop put in front of him.


“What are you doing?” Mel asks.


“Nancy has Lindsay pressing charges against Deb for assault. Carl had to arrest her, so the lawyer couldn’t say there was any special treatment for his girlfriend.” He tells us.


“Not that any of us don’t want to smack Ms. Peterson the way Deb did, it was priceless.” The cop at the desk says, under his breath.


BRIAN


The mayor walked into the station and asked to see the lead detective. He didn’t answer Nancy when she called to him, but went into the office and shut the door in Nancy’s face. She really expected the mayor to risk his career because she was worried how people would see her family. I kept waiting for Ron to show, since he seemed to want to help.


Justin came out and sat next to me. They were waiting to see if Carl needed any more from him before we could leave. The lawyer Nancy brought came out of the room with Lindsay and told the desk sergeant that Lindsay would need a lawyer assigned to her case.


“I’m paying you to get her out of this mess.” Nancy tells him, loudly.


“Ron called and told me that if I wanted to do it pro bono it was up to me. He wasn’t paying my bill.” He tells her.


“I’ll pay it, but you better make sure this goes away.” She tells him.


“According to Ron you don’t have any way to pay the bill either. He also told me to let you and Lynnette know he’s no longer an unlimited well of funds for you both.” He tells her, leaving.


When the mayor came out, Nancy hurried over. “I’m sure you know that my family expects you to straighten out this misunderstanding. No one wants to see you lose the support of the city’s leaders.” She tell him.



“I would hope that the city’s leaders would understand that I wouldn’t interfere with the police making an arrest. When someone commits a crime in my city, the detectives will do their jobs without being told to ignore the facts. I personally don’t want the support of anyone who wants to believe their family is above the law. Nancy, your daughter is in a lot of trouble, and I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror if I did what you're implying I should do. I want the voters to know their trust in me is solid.” He tells her, leaving her standing there.


“Now that you’ve called the mayor, is there anyone else I need to talk to before you get that I have a job that I’m going to do?” Carl asks her.


“This isn’t over, you’ll be looking for a new job when I’m finished.” She tells him, before stomping out.


“You know, there was a time when she would have been right. Luckily the mayor sees what trying to help Lindsay would do to his career. He came in thinking this was some kind of domestic quarrel, and wanted to know why there was so much coverage. He left knowing a career ender when he read the list of charges. Here she is being charged with - two assaults, child endangerment, and kidnapping,- you just don’t sweep that under a rug. I guess Nancy tried to say Lindsay was ill and didn’t know what she was doing. I explained that the assaults weren’t planned on Lindsay’s part, but the one in Chicago was after a planned home invasion. The kidnapping was spur of the moment, because Lindsay saw an opportunity and took it. Which most kidnappers do. I was told that I had the mayor’s office’s support to proceed in the way I deemed fit. He didn’t understand I didn’t need his approval to do the right thing.” Carl tells us, shaking his head.


“I bailed Deb out.” I told him.


“She’s going to be pissed, she thought she’d wait for Lindsay to arrive so she could show her mothering, her style.” Carl laughs.


“As much as I like you, I would really like to go home.” Justin tells him.


“I think we have everything we need. Just answer if we call.” He tells Justin.


Ted, Justin, and I were leaving - us to get our kids and Ted saying he would see us in Chicago. Mel stayed behind, saying she would wait for Deb.


MEL


I waited till the guys left and asked if I could see Lindsay. Carl went in and asked her and then waved me in. I walked in to see her handcuffed to the table, an absolute mess. The styled hair, perfect makeup, and flawless clothes were gone. The girl I once knew wasn’t the person sitting in the chair. She looked at me with the little girl lost look that would always have me giving in to her.


“Mel, I need you to help me. They keep saying I’ll go to prison.” She tells me.


“You are, there isn’t going to be Brian or me saving Lindsay from what she did.” I tell her.


“I know we are having problems, but how could you not help me? Everyone is lying to protect Justin.” She tells me.


“Every charge they have links to you, none are made up to protect Justin. I just came to tell you will no longer have access to Gus. If possible, for the rest of his life, but at least until he is eighteen and then he can decide for himself.” I tell her.


“When these charges are dropped I’ll make it so you don’t have any access to Gus, ever again.” She tells me.


“Live in your delusions, you know, the same ones that made you believe you could ever win the love that Brian only has for Justin.” I tell her.


“He loves me, more than anyone, you’ll see.” She tells me.


“He loves you so much that he’s leaving you behind and planning his life with Justin. You were really just the placeholder, while he waited for Justin.” I tell her, opening the door and leaving this part of my life behind.


JUSTIN


Mom invited us to dinner, but I really just wanted to go to the loft and spend the night with the kids and Brian. It felt like we were finally at the end of a long journey, and the beginning of a new one. We were moving to a new home with our kids, possibly having more one day. Nothing seemed impossible anymore.   


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