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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t need a tree.”

“But it’s Christmas,” Emma said.

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

“I don’t participate in such activities.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“What if I go with you?”

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

“Excuse me,” he said to the man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hi,” he said to the little boy.

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

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



Chapter End Notes:

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

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