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The Britin Trap by Tagsit

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The fall out after the fight with The Yeti . . . Enjoy! TAG

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Chapter 23 - How It Could Still Be.



“Ouch!” Brian grunted in pain as Justin pressed on a particularly tender area while he was trying to clean the cut above Brian’s left eye.


“Well, if you’d sit still and stop squirming around long enough for me to get this bandage on, I wouldn’t be hurting you,” Justin ordered, taking the paper wrapping off the small Band-Aid and expertly applying it over the cut as he spoke.


Brian made a show of folding his hands in his lap, the picture of all innocence, looking up at the worried faces surrounding him with a beatific smile.


“There,” Justin stepped back to admire his handiwork. “Gus, can you check and see if those cold packs we put in the mini-fridge are ready?”


The boy obediently trotted over to the cupboard where a small refrigerator had been built into the console that also acted as a dresser, an entertainment center, and a desk. He tugged open the appropriate door and retrieved a square plastic pack filled with blue gel. The girls watched as he assessed its temperature, shrugged, and brought it over anyway.


“They’re not super cold yet, but you can use this one for the moment while the other keeps chilling,” Gus suggested, handing over the cold pack.


Justin took the proffered item and tenderly held it up to the side of Brian’s face, where the redness from where he’d been struck was just starting to darken into a substantial bruise.


“I’m afraid you’re going to end up with one hell of a shiner,” Justin surmised, stepping back to look at his handiwork.


“That fucker. I should sue him for assault.” Brian winced as he shifted the cold pack he was holding and it caused him another surge of pain. “Hey, that’s not a bad idea. And, if I win, we could get your house back for you as part of the damages,” he teased, winking with his good eye at the girls who were standing behind Justin.


“It’s not fucking funny, Brian,” Justin moaned, plopping down on the other hotel bed and looking utterly dejected. “The man I was supposed to be marrying in less than two weeks just broke off our engagement AND threw me out of my own house, so excuse me if I’m not laughing. I’m now homeless. I’ll also be broke as soon as I get done paying the cancellation fees for all the wedding shit. I’m so fucked.”


Brian let the cold pack fall to the bedspread and got up to go sit next to his Ex, wrapping his arm around the smaller man’s shoulders. “Hey, I was just kidding, Sunshine. It’ll be fine. I know a great lawyer who’ll sort this whole thing out for you. There’s no way that fucker will get away with this. And EmmyLou is already on the wedding stuff - he’ll get you out of most of the fees, he’s an old hand at this crap.”


“He’s already on what?”


Brian cleared his throat and looked up at the girls, who were trying not to look too guilty. “Yeah, well, that’s the other part of the story of the kid swap, Sunshine. See, while Qianna was responsible for pumping me and the rest of the family for more information on our history and the circumstances surrounding their birth, she was also trying to enlist help to stop your wedding to the Yeti.”


Justin looked at his daughter with renewed irritation but didn’t say anything.


“Relax, Sunshine, it’ll be fine. Now, my proposal is this,” Brian continued. “We all deserve a bit of a rest - I don’t know about the kids, but the days when I could stay up all night long, have a fist fight before breakfast, and then still function at my usual brilliant levels of perfection the rest of the day are, sadly, past - so, I say we hole up here in the hotel for the rest of today and then get a flight back home to Pittsburgh first thing tomorrow.”


“Excellent idea!” Qianna voiced her approval. “I desperately need a nap; I was so worried about how Dad would take the news that I didn’t get any sleep on the plane last night.” She yawned and started to turn around to go through the connecting door of the hotel suite into the adjoining room.


“I think I’ll change into my suit and go for a swim,” Quinne stated. “Then I’m going to see what other damage I can do to Hairy Alex’s online footprint.” She laughed evilly at the enjoyable prospect ahead of her.


“Hey, Justin, is it okay if I tell a couple of my friends that you’re coming to town? I know QiQi says you hate talking with fans, but what about fellow artists. Or, at least, aspiring artists. We all love your work and they’d really get a kick out of meeting you,” Gus pleaded, looking at the famous animator with an almost reverent regard.  


“What? Wait . . .” Justin looked around him, seeming perplexed and just a tad bit angry. “Who the hell said I was going to Pittsburgh? I’m not going anywhere.” He crossed his arms over his chest and sat there glowering at the lot of them in total defiance.


“Sunshine, be reasonable . . .” Brian started, only to be savagely cut off.


“DON’T CALL ME SUNSHINE! You have no right to call me some stupid pet name from a decade ago. And I’m not going back to Pittsburgh or anywhere else with you, Brian!”


“Fine . . . ‘Justin’ . . .” Brian shook his head indulgently at the other man, but that only caused Justin to growl at him under his breath. “Shit, could you just pull that stick you’ve got up there out of your ass and calm down a minute? Please? Fuck, if this is what happens when you go full-on top mode, I say you were better off as a bottom boy. At least back then you weren’t so up tight. Pun intended,” Brian teased, in a ill-conceived attempt to lighten the mood.


“Fuck you, Brian Kinney!” Justin shouted, standing up and turning around so he was towering over the other man, who remained seated on the hotel bed holding the cold pack to his mangled cheek. “You don’t get to just show up out of the blue and insinuate yourself back into my life as if nothing ever happened. You don’t get to order me around and take over control of my life. And you certainly don’t get to make fun of me, or my sex life, especially not in front of my daughter!”


Justin’s rant effectively shut everyone up, including Brian, for the moment. The girls, who’d been about to head off to do their own thing, now huddled together near the door and Gus backed up a step, away from the fuming blond man. Even Brian was quiet for about thirty seconds. Justin wasn’t the type to get easily angered, but when he finally did reach his boiling point, it wasn’t a pretty sight. The whole group seemed to think it best not to further aggravate the situation while Justin stood there, his face flushed with fury and his chest heaving, clenching his fists reflexively.


Finally, though, Brian took the initiative to try and calm the blond storm. “I get that you’ve had better mornings, Justin, but can we please deal with this rationally for a second,” Brian began, setting aside the cold pack in order to hold his hands up in a placating gesture. “Look, Sun . . . Justin . . . I didn’t mean to make light of your situation. I know the thing with the Yeti . . .”


“His name is ‘Alex’,” Justin insisted.


“Fine, ‘Alex’,” Brian conceded. “I know the thing with Alex has got to be tough, but I won’t apologize for not wanting someone like that around my children. He’s a complete ass. You are better off without him. And, while you’re dealing with the fallout from that - and, for the moment at least, the fact that you’re homeless - there’s no reason why you and Qianna can’t come to Pittsburgh for a couple of weeks. At least there you’ll have a place to stay and the girls can spend some more time together while we,” he gestured in a back and forth motion between their two bodies, “figure out how we’re going to handle the fact that our TWIN daughters want to maintain contact. That’s not so unreasonable, now is it?”


“But . . . I can’t just hop on a plane and leave,” Justin maintained, his voice now sounding frustrated rather than angry. “I’ve got to deal with cancelling the wedding and I’ve got work and . . .”


“But you’re already off work for the next three weeks, Dad,” Quinne threw in. “You weren’t scheduled to go back till after the honeymoon.”


“And school doesn’t start till after Labor Day, so there’s no reason I can’t spend more time with Quinne,” Qianna added imploringly.


“You can just as easily make calls about the wedding stuff from Pittsburgh as you can here from a hotel, not to mention that you’ll be able to enlist Emmett’s help if you’re back there,” Brian suggested.


Justin, though, still appeared reluctant to accept the idea of a trip to his former hometown. He looked from one girl to the next, then darted a suspicious glance Brian’s way, before dropping his eyes to the carpet as he chewed on his bottom lip in silence. Quinne and Qianna looked at each other worriedly. Brian sat there mutely, simply waiting for his former partner to work through whatever it was he was thinking. And for a minute or so it looked like it might all fall apart.


Which was when Gus finally spoke up. “I realize you’ve got a lot of issues you’re dealing with that are a lot more important than me, Justin, but, well, if you did come back to Pittsburgh, you could also come to my birthday party next weekend. I mean, if my moms are to be believed, you were there when I was born eighteen years ago, so it seems kinda fitting that you’d be there to see me off into adulthood too.” Gus smiled shyly at the man he’d only just been reunited with.


That seemed to be all it took to completely melt poor Justin’s resolve. “Oh, Gus, I’d be honored to be there for your birthday,” he caved, reaching out to grip the boy’s arm and give it a reassuring little squeeze, before sighing deeply and looking around at the rest of his audience. “Okay. Fine. I can see that I won’t win this one. But I want to be on the record here that I am NOT happy at the way you four have all conspired to manipulate me into this. I told myself thirteen years ago that I would never set foot in Pittsburgh again, and I’m SERIOUSLY pissed at all of you for forcing me to break that promise to myself.”


Justin petulantly flopped down on the bed across from the one where Brian was still sitting, looking more like a pouting toddler than he probably wanted to know. Brian repositioned his cold pack again, using the motion to mask the fact that an ear-to-ear grin had bloomed across his face. The kids were less circumspect, sharing jubilant smiles all around, and both girls leaned over to deposit kisses on Justin’s cheeks.


“Thank you, Dad,” Qianna beamed.


“Yeah, thanks, Dad,” Quinne echoed.


“You do realize, now that there’s two of them, nobody’s ever going to be able to stop them,” Gus commented with a chuckle as he watched the two girls head off into the other room, arm in arm.


“Yeah, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, though,” Brian replied, joining his son with a chuckle or two of his own.


Justin didn’t join in with the laughter, continuing to just lie there on the bed, sprawled out like a helpless starfish washed up on the beach, looking up at the ceiling dejectedly and sighing. Brian’s amusement died pretty quickly when he noticed his Ex’s demeanor. He caught Gus’ eye and then jerked his head towards the door in a silent request that the boy leave the two adults alone. Gus nodded and silently backed away, pulling the door that connected the two rooms closed behind him.


Before he could actually shut the door all the way, though, his sisters were there, pulling him backwards and taking over. Qianna had her finger over her lips, warning Gus not to say anything. Quinne took charge of the door, pulling it almost all the way to, but leaving a gap large enough to allow them to continue to eavesdrop on the conversation in the other room. Then the three of them gathered closer, leaning in so that they were all three only inches from the crack.


“If you’re really not okay with this idea, Justin, I’ll try and rein in the girls and we can make other plans,” Brian’s soothing baritone voice said.


There was a pause for several seconds before they could hear a loud sigh and Justin answered. “No. They’re right - we can’t keep them apart. It wouldn’t be right. They need to have as much of an opportunity to bond as we can give them. I just . . . I really never thought I’d have to go back there and I . . . I’m not sure I’m ready.”


“Still that pissed off at me?”


“No . . . I mean, yes, but . . .” the kids could hear yet another heavy sigh. “It’s more complicated than that, Brian, and you know it.”


There was nothing further for at least a minute and the snoops listening in from the other room thought maybe that was all they’d get, but then Brian began talking again, his voice dropping to a lower tone that was somehow more intimate and more sad at the same time. “Despite what many people seem to think, I have actually grown up a little over the past eighteen years, Justin. And I know that a lot of the blame for WHY things got so ‘complicated’ was on me. I’m fully aware of my propensity to be a total ass - usually when it’s least appropriate and most harmful - but I’d like to think the past few years of being a single dad have . . . let’s say ‘mellowed’ . . . me a little. So, here’s me proving that.”


The listeners could hear the sound of motion, fabric sliding against fabric, a little grunt of movement and two faint footsteps, before more fabric noises and then Brian’s voice came again, this time from closer - giving the impression that he’d moved over to sit on the other bed with Justin.


“When Lizette backed out of the surrogacy contract I was devastated,” Brian continued. “And that’s not to say that you weren’t too - I get that - but, well, I guess it sort of surprised me how hard it hit me. I never expected to feel that level of grief over something we never even really had. I know most of my friends doubt that I even have a fucking heart, but that day . . . I finally knew what being heartbroken felt like. So, I lost it. Completely.”


“We both did, Brian,” Justin’s quiet response came through the pregnant pause.


“Yeah, but I didn’t need to take those emotions out on you the way I did,” Brian answered, his voice raising with the strong feelings he was admitting. “I shouldn’t have blamed YOU for what Lizette did. I knew that, even as I was screaming at you about it; I just felt so gutted that I needed to lash out at someone and . . . you were there.” This time there were dueling sighs, both loud enough that the kids in the other room could hear them. “I hated myself for that for months afterwards. I kept reliving that argument on a fucking loop in my head and hearing myself telling you that if you didn’t like the way I was reacting you could just leave . . . Fuck. It still makes me cringe, even now . . . And the second the words were out of my mouth I knew I’d gone too far. So I left. I went back to the loft and stayed there all night, drinking myself into a fucking stupor.”


“I figured you’d gone out tricking,” Justin interjected wistfully.


“No. I was too fucked up to fuck around,” Brian explained, laughing mirthlessly at his own joke. “I didn’t even wake up till the middle of the next afternoon and then I spent the rest of that night puking my guts out. I hadn’t tied one on like THAT since . . . well, since before I’d met you, I guess . . . Anyway, when I finally did come crawling home two days later, you were gone. I thought I’d finally done it; I’d driven you away for good. And I knew I deserved it after the way I’d acted, so I just . . . started drinking all over again and didn’t really stop until Lizette showed up again, almost a year later. She handed Quinne to me and it scared me back to my senses.”


“Idiot. How your liver has held up this long, I have no idea,” Justin commented.


“It’s a mystery, all right.” Brian’s tone briefly lightened and then returned to a more somber level. “You know I suck at the whole apology thing, but if it helps, I really am sorry. I didn’t mean what I said and I certainly didn’t mean to drive you away from your home and your family.”


Justin’s response came a minute or two later, his voice sounding empty and lifeless. “I appreciate the apology, Brian, but it doesn’t really change anything.”


“Is there anything that would change things?” Brian asked.


“I don’t know . . . I . . . I don’t think so . . .”


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“We have to do something!” Qianna announced to her posse, getting a nod of agreement from her twin.


Gus reached over to grab another slice of pizza out of the delivery box that was sitting on the floor between the two beds in the ‘kids’ room’. “Don’t you think we should stay out of it? Pops and Justin ARE adults, after all. They should be able to work out their own shit, right?”


*Pfffft!* Quinne scoffed at that idea and threw the crust of her last slice back in the box. “Yeah, right! If they could work out their own shit we wouldn’t be just meeting each other after twelve years apart. We also wouldn’t be sitting here in a hotel room after Justin’s love interest threw us all out of Justin’s house. And Pops is no better - running around still pretending he’s twenty and fucking his way through the male population of Western Pennsylvania because he can’t be with the one man he ever really loved. These two are hopeless if you ask me. If we don’t fix this, they’ll just muddle on with their heads stuck up their asses for ANOTHER twelve fucking years.”


“I’m with Q here,” Qianna agreed. “Our dads are useless when it comes to relationship stuff. We need to do something. I don’t want to live 3,000 miles away from you guys for the next six years.”


“Okay, but what?” Quinne asked the question they were all thinking.


“I think you two are underestimating the Kinney charm,” Gus speculated as he engulfed the last of his pizza and then chugged the remains of his soda to wash it down. “I say, we leave Pops to his wicked ways. I mean, if all those rumors we’ve heard over the years have any meat to them, he does just fine with the guys he chooses to go after. And it seems like he’s pretty much intent on going after Justin now, so shouldn’t we just let him do his thing? He won over your dad once, right?”


“Yeah, but you don’t know how STUBBORN my dad can be,” Qianna warned. “When he gets his back up, there’s nothing you can do about it. I don’t think even the legendary Brian Kinney could talk Justin Taylor out of something if he really dug in his heels.”


“Trust me, Pops won’t try and TALK him out of anything. That little speech earlier is probably the most he’s talked in years. If I know Brian Kinney, there will be a lot less talk and a lot more action,” Quinne commented, raising chuckles from her siblings.


“Listen, ladies, I may not remember much from when I was a kid, but I do remember those two when they were together,” Gus insisted, rolling over so he could sit up on the bed he was occupying. “I used to love staying with Pops and Justin. I remember how they used to touch pretty much all the time. I remember joking about how much they’d kiss. I remember how they used to laugh all the time - with each other and with me - and how happy they always seemed when I saw them. I refuse to believe that all of that somehow just evaporated. Didn’t you see when Justin was bandaging Pops’ head? The way he was so gentle and concerned? Nope. It’s not gone. Those feelings they used to have are still there - they’re just suppressed. All we need to do is help them remember how it could still be.”


“Hmmmm. You might be right,” Quinne seemed to have been swayed by her brother’s logic. “Justin did seem really concerned about Pops’ injury. And he did agree to go to Pittsburgh in the end. If he was going to fight this, he’s not trying very hard.”


“If that’s the case, then we just need to help them remember what they used to be like,” Qianna summed up. “So, how do we do that?”


“Easy. We make sure they have to spend LOTS of time together, so they have plenty of time to reminisce. And we keep them talking about the past. We ask questions. We MAKE them think about all the good things they’ve been missing all these years,” Quinne directed, getting a familiar, mischievous glint in her eye that her co-conspirators found reassuring. “But we’ve only got two weeks to do it, so we have to work fast. Here’s what I suggest . . .”


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Info:

12/16/18 - Well, I’ve got them together again and Justin’s going back to Pittsburgh . . . I don’t think we have the whole story about what happened to send Justin running away though. Stay tuned. LOL. TAG

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