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Brian has been really impossible the last few days.

I don't know if it's work, or his damned experiment, or maybe it's just me. Maybe it was too soon for me to move back in. Maybe there are just too many changes going on at once. I don't know. I just know that I have to do something, because otherwise I'm going to seriously have to consider killing him.

Sunday was fine. Mel and Lindz had some family thing with Mel's cousins, so we had Gus for most of the day. We took him to the Zoo, and that wore him out, so he slept for quite a while in the afternoon which gave both Brian and I a chance to catch up on some of our work. After the girls had picked him up, we still had lots to do, so we just had a quick dinner (well, okay, we fucked and then had dinner), and got on with it. I've got a test this week on stuff I've hardly even looked at yet, and he has two big client meetings, plus the first meeting with Senator Baxter and her campaign committee.

I don't think either of us realised how much work we would have just to catch up. And, in Brian's case, repair the damage that's been done to the relationship with important clients. It seems like they all want to meet with him to reassure themselves that he is back on board, and that their accounts are being looked after by him personally. But all those meetings leave him hardly any hours in the day to do the work. So all that's left are the hours in the night.

It's Tuesday now, 8pm and he's still not home. I don't think he's out tricking. In some ways it would be better if he were, at least then he'd come home more relaxed.

As it is, we haven't even fucked since Sunday, just after the girls picked up Gus. We both had stuff to do Sunday night and he was still at the computer when I finally went to bed, doing some research on the Senator's previous campaigns.

We forgot to set the alarm - well, I thought he would, and he thought I had, so yesterday morning he was running really late. Then last night I was working at the diner till nearly midnight and by the time I got home, it was all I could do to get my clothes off and fall into bed. He didn't seem to mind, or maybe he just wasn't interested.

I don't know. Maybe he was out tricking while I was working, so he wasn't really up for it. Except that he was snaky again this morning. He started on about how dumb it is for me to be working at the diner, and that I don't need to and all that shit; but until I can get all my schoolwork on track, I just can't commit to the sort of hours I'd need to be available for work at ... I was going to say "Vanguard" but it's Vanguard-Kinney now. I get a buzz out of that; I can only imagine what it's like for Brian. If he ever had time to stop and appreciate it.

He was going on about me working as many hours at the diner as I would in the art department and not getting paid as much, but that's not true. With tips, I actually make more at the diner per hour. And anyway, I can fit the diner in around my extra classes, and study groups more easily. I'm not tied to office hours there.

We finally got so pissed off at each other that we had separate showers. And then he said he didn't have time for breakfast and just rushed out.

It's just so not Brian. At our worst, the sex has always been great.

Apart from that time right after the ... thing. Right after the bashing. It's weird how even now my mind sort of steers away from that word. From anything that actually says what happened. We all seem to do it. Mom calls it "the incident". Daph says "the Chris Hobbs thing". Everyone else, if they mention it at all, talks about the Prom, when what they mean is what happened after. The Prom was the best night of my life. Even if I can't remember it, I know that's true. That Brian came at all, but that he danced with me the way Daph describes it ... and kissed me, right there in front of everyone. I just wish ...

Well, right now I wish I knew what's going on in Brian's head.



By the time I got home last night he was in bed asleep.

I'd spent all night standing over those dickheads in the art department to make sure that this time they got the designs for Brown and Liberty Air at least vaguely the way I wanted them. Fuck! I wish he was still working there. At least then I could maybe get my designs close to right the first time round instead of wasting so much fucking time.

I was so horny, I nearly woke him up. But he's exhausted. I want him to quit the diner, but when I even mentioned that yesterday morning he went into full drama princess mode.

Well, no, I guess that's not fair, but he made it clear as fuck that he wasn't intending to quit any time soon. Kept on about needing the money, and needing to be independent, and all that shit.


My family have been sponging off me for years.

Mel and Lindz have their hands out on a regular basis. (I mean that's okay. I told Lindz that she shouldn't have to worry about money, and I'd never want Gus to go without. But how come I'm only his father when they need more money, or a baby sitter?)

And Mikey, ... well, I don't want to get into thinking about Mikey ...

But the one person that I actually want to take care of won't hear of it. Goes ballistic at the very idea.


Then it occurred to me that he should be getting some money at least from Rage. But when I asked him about that, he practically laughed in my face.

Said that there hadn't been anything from the last two issues. He just shrugged it off. Like he wasn't expecting anything.

I guess that they might not be selling. I haven't really asked. That's Justin's business. And Michael's.

And right now I just don't want to have to deal with Mikey.

He and Ben got back Monday and he was straight on the phone to me. Told Cyn it was an emergency and had her put him through to me in the middle of the fucking meeting with Dianne Baxter. Just to discuss "the situation".

Like it's any of my fucking business where he and Ben decide to live.

I got him off the phone by promising to meet him after work, but I wish I hadn't. I should have just told him I was too busy.

We met at Woody's and had a drink and talked. He talked, anyway. About all sorts of shit. And then he wanted to go to Babylon. Fuck! Like I had the time or the energy for that. He got really pissed off when I wouldn't and started saying stuff about how he supposed I had to get home to the wifey and I just got up and left. He's been leaving messages, but I can't talk to him right now. If I said what I really want to say, then that would mean ...

I was hoping to talk to Justin when I got home, but of course he was working extra fucking hours at the diner wasn't he? And by the time he got home, he was out on his feet.

So yesterday morning we had a fucking row about nothing, about that stupid fucking job.

Last night I had to work.

And this morning he pulls this fucking shit about me fucking tricking. Fuck!

As if I'd had fucking time! Or the energy, but I'm not going to tell him that.

Said that if the fucking experiment was making me so miserable I should just fucking forget it. Like I need his permission, or something.

This is so fucked up. This is why I don't do relationships. This is what I didn't want to happen this time round.

See, if you just don't communicate, and accept that, then everything's fine. But as soon as you start, you have to keep going and it's all such a complicated load of shit.

Now he's pissed off with me, and he thinks I'm tricking again, which is pissing me off, because I'm not. But I don't just want to tell him that because ...

Well, okay, there probably isn't a good reason. I just don't. I shouldn't have to justify myself to him.

He says I've been so fucking cranky the last few days. Shit! We haven't fucked since Sunday, what does he expect? So how come every time we just might have a chance to fuck, we have a fucking row instead?

Think, Kinney. Think.

If you don't figure out how to fix this, you're going to fuck it up again.

You're going to lose him.




I can not believe him. I just can't.

I got home from PIFA today at about 5. There's no way I expected him to be there. All the way home I was trying to work out whether I should call him and see if I couldn't get him to come home for dinner, or if I should just clear out for a while.

Things have been so bad this week. And I know it hasn't just been Brian. It's been me as well. I got angry this morning. I don't care if he's tricking. I really don't. I just want him to be honest with me, and with himself. If he is, I want to hear it from him, not from one of our friends. And if he's not, but he wants to, then he should be honest about that too. That's all I was trying to say. But somehow it all came out wrong, and I sounded like a total jealous housewife. No wonder he got pissed off.

I thought maybe I should move back to Daph's. At least till the end of the semester. Till I get all this work out the way, and get caught up, and maybe then ...

I was thinking about that all the way home on the bus. He sold the Vette at last, a guy came over on Sunday afternoon and handed over a check on the spot, and he hasn't even had time to pick out a new company car yet, so I'm bussing and he's taking taxis. He says I should too, but fuck that. I am not living off his money. I won't. Well, no more than I have to when we're living in his place, and using his furniture. What there is of it, because we haven't had time for that yet, either.

By the time I got home I was so miserable, I just wanted to crawl under the covers and sleep and hope it would all just go away. But I knew it wouldn't and I had to try to decide. I just wished we could talk to each other without these rows.

Then I opened the door, and Brian was there.

The first words he said were, "I have to go back to work," and I wanted to scream at him to just go, and sorry I'd come home when he wasn't expecting me and all sorts of stupid shit.

But then he said, really quiet and sad, ‘I just needed to see you."

And all of a sudden all I wanted to do was to throw myself into his arms. But I didn't. Because although I wanted to, it was no good. That wasn't enough anymore.

I went over to him, and he said, "I thought that maybe if you got home we could have a quick .."

And I was ready to cut him off, and tell him that fucking wasn't going to solve our problems. It hadn't last time, and it sure as shit wasn't going to this time, when he finished:

"... talk."

And for a moment I thought that I just must have heard wrong, because Brian Kinney could not have said that.

But he cupped one hand round the back of my neck, and pressed his forehead against mine, and said, "I know I've been ... "

"Impossible," I put in, and fucked if he didn't grin at me. That tongue in cheek grin that he knows gets me so hot.

"Yeah," he agreed. "Impossible."

I butted my forehead back against his and said, "So've I."

He sort of laughed then. "Yeah, you have."

"Bri ...," I tried to tell him then what I'd tried to say this morning only to have it all go wrong, but he shushed me.

"No, listen." He sucked his lips in and then huffed out a breath. Then he said, "It's not you. Okay? It isn't you, Justin. And it's not about the fucking tricking. There's something else on my mind, and I do want to talk to you about it, but .. "

"Brian ... whatever it is. You don't have to, if you don't ..."

"Justin, I want to. I do. But it might take me a while," he grinned again, and somehow I knew that he really did want to share whatever was bothering him with me, and I couldn't help but slide my arms around his waist and hug him. He put both arms around me then, and touched his forehead against mine again.

"I'm new at this shit. I need time to sort of work up to it. Okay?"

I can only give a little nod. I feel so relieved. And so fucking happy. So why the hell I also felt like crying I've no idea.

He kissed away the tears from the corners of my eyes without saying anything. Then he hugged me hard. While I pressed even closer into his arms, he said, "Look, I have to get back to work."

I sigh and nod and move away. "Yeah. And I've got that test tomorrow and I still haven't looked at half the stuff I need to."

He nods. "Okay. But this weekend's Easter, so you probably won't have any classes on Friday, right?"

I nod slowly. "But you'll still have to ..."

"No. I'm just about on top of everything with the major accounts. Between tonight and tomorrow, I should have them nailed. Anything else can wait till next week. I thought ...,"

He broke off and looked sort of embarrassed and confused. I just stared at him and waited. God knows what he had to be embarrassed about. But part of me couldn't wait to find out. I found myself having to fight not to laugh out loud at the look on his face.

He stood up straighter and half turned away before he went on, "I thought if we both finished up early tomorrow we could ... gooutfordinnersomewhere."

The last words came out all in a rush, but there was no mistaking what he said. My God. He wanted to take me out to dinner. I don't know if it counts as a date when you're living together, but still!

I said slowly. "Yeah. That sounds good."

I was trying not to sound as thrilled as I felt, but I didn't fool him for a minute. He turned back to look at me and gave that tongue in cheek grin again. He didn't say anything, but I knew he was onto me. I could only smile at him like a fool.

He laughed, and grabbed hold of the front of my sweatshirt and pulled me against him. He put his mouth close to my ear and whispered, "I thought we could eat."

He paused and just allowed his breath to tickle my ear.

"And talk."

This time, he blew into it gently. My breathing started to get very heavy, and the only consolation I had for the way he was affecting me was that by the way his cock was starting to jut into me, it was affecting both of us.

He gave a deep throaty laugh when he realised how turned on I was getting, and that made my cock harden even faster.

I'd put up with all the teasing I was going to put up with. We hadn't fucked since Sunday for god's sake!

I grabbed him round the neck with one hand and bit at his lips, while I forced the other hand down inside his pants. I squeezed his cock a couple of times, and then ran my thumb over the slit. Precum seemed to gush across my fingers.

Before I could even stop to get his pants undone so I could go on with the job properly, he had mine undone and was pulling them down. For a moment I thought he was going to bend me over the stool and fuck me right there, and I wouldn't have objected to that at all.

But he grabbed my hand and started dragging me to the bed. When he realised how hampered I was by the pants that were down round my ankles, he just heaved me up over his shoulder, carried me to the bed and dumped me on it.

He pulled off my shoes, and I kicked my pants off while he toed his shoes off and undid his pants. He didn't even stop to take them off, just grabbed the tube of lube and reached for my ass, while I grabbed a condom and reached for his cock.

He was buried inside me faster than I would have thought possible. I think we set some sort of world record. Then he stopped for a moment to make sure I was alright. When I bucked up against him, he grinned down at me and then finally, finally! fucked me hard and fast, fisting my cock at the same time, so that I wound up coming first, although he wasn't far behind me.

After he'd finished, he rolled onto his back and got rid of the condom into the bin we keep near the bed. Then he stretched out his arm behind my head, so I lifted it, and he slid his arm down under it. I put my hand on his thigh.

"Fuck! I needed that."

He nodded. "Yeah."

I turned my head and met his eyes. They were smiling now like they hadn't been all week.

I stretched over to kiss him and he rolled on his side to meet me and the kisses went on for quite a while. Finally he groaned.

"I really have to get back to work."

I sighed, but nodded.

"And you have to study."


We both got up, and he went into the bathroom to clean up. When he came out, he'd taken off his pants. We both grinned. "Messy, aren't we?" I said.

He laughed and nodded while he pulled out a pair of tailored slacks. Even after hours, I guess he has to keep up the "partner" image. He pulled them on, then stood still for a moment while I looked round for my other shoe.


He sounded serious and I looked up.

"Will you do me a favour?"

"Uh, sure." My heart was beating a bit. I'd do whatever he asked, when he asked like that, so serious that I knew it was important to him.

"Will you not take on any shifts at the diner this weekend?"

I was silent, and he went on.

"I know how you feel about the money. I do. But we need to spend some time together when one or both of us aren't fucking exhausted."

I look at him. He meets my eyes straight on. He means this. This is important to him. He's asking me to put him first.

Looked at that way, there's only one answer.

I nod at him. "Okay. It's a deal. You don't bring any work home, and I won't work at the diner."

He nods. "Okay."

Then I realise that I have an essay due next week.

"Brian ..."

"It's okay. I know you might have some study to do. That's different. We can work around that."

I smile at him, and the words ring through my head: ‘We can work around it. We.'

I go to him and he comes to meet me. We kiss, quick and light.

"I'll try not to be too late, but it might be a while."


"If I'm not home, don't study too late. You'll be useless tomorr..."

"Yes, mom," I tease him.

He swats my ass. Then he pulls me close again for a minute.

"And just so you know," he says, and kisses me lightly on the nose, "the experiment is still alive and well."

Stupidly, I have to fight back tears again as he goes down the steps and towards the door. I want to run after him and hug him and tell him ... tell him ...

He stops at the door and I move towards him. Then I stop. If I touch him now, I won't be able to let go. He'll have to tear my arms away from him to get to work.

He smiles at me, that wonderful sweet Brian smile. Then he sucks his lips and finally says, really quietly, but so seriously that I know he means it. I know this is a promise and one he won't break. "Justin ... if that changes ... you'll hear it from me first."

Then he smiles at me again and he leaves and all I can feel is ... too much. I feel too much for this man who can break my heart with a word, and mend it again with a breath.

And I understand him now. This is how he feels. This is why he's afraid. This is what he's fought against all this time. Because he feels the same way. And it's fucking terrifying.

Or would be, if it were anyone but him.

Because I'm finally realising how fully I can trust him.

The question is, does he know he can trust me?

No wonder he's been scared. After the way things went last time, the way I lied to him, and deceived him and finally left him, I can't believe he has the strength and the courage to take me on again. And I resolve to do better this time. Not to fuck it up. Not to give him cause to doubt me, to doubt himself, to doubt us.

I'll do better. I have to. I am not going to let us fuck this up again. I'm going to fight for us, just the way he has today. When things go wrong I'm going to stop being a drama princess and find a way to make them right again.

Because we are right. We belong together. Sometimes he's hard work. So am I. We both need to be prepared to work hard at us. He is. And I will too.

As I sit down to go on with my study I suddenly feel like between us we can take on the world. Hell! if we can deal with each other, no one else stands a chance.


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