Chapter 25 - Love Buzz.
“Well, Sunshine. The choice is yours. Tick, tick, tick.”
Justin was angry, confused and scared. So much had happened to him in the past week and he hadn’t had much time to process it all yet. But he did know one thing for sure - HIS Brian was a kind, generous, caring man who had done more for him than anyone else in Justin’s entire life. He’d taken in a scared, naive little boy and shown him how to be a man. All the horrible and derogatory things that this Ms. Attorney was saying were wrong. They had to be wrong. That wasn’t his Brian. Either she didn’t really know him as well as she thought, or she was just plain lying. And Justin was no longer going to sit back and listen to anyone talking down about his boyfriend.
Justin, his face determined and clearly hinting at some of the anger he felt, looked from Brian to Mel and stated emphatically, “I’m going with him.”
To say that Mel was rendered speechless was the understatement of the millennium. She couldn't believe what this sweet young man was saying. Why would Justin choose to be with someone like Brian Kinney? I mean, yeah, he was good looking and, from what she’d heard, he was a fantastic fuck, but didn’t this kid understand that that was ALL Brian was? Mel felt it was her obligation to make Justin understand that he was about to make a very detrimental mistake.
“Justin you should really give this a little more thought. You don’t really know Brian that well - you only met him a week ago, right? I’ve known the asshole for a lot longer and I can assure you that you have no idea what you’re letting yourself in for,” Mel countered, trying to reason with the boy in spite of the stubborn set to the youth’s shoulders. “Besides, I didn’t actually hear Brian offering anything other than to take you home for a celebratory fuck. What are you going to do afterwards when he kicks you out without so much as a ‘Thanks for the Memories’?”
Justin looked at the adamant expression on Mel’s face and for just a minute he started to doubt. She seemed so sure about what she was saying. Sure that Brian was somebody completely different from the person that Justin thought he’d grown to love over the past week. But then the boy looked at Brian again, saw a flicker of repressed insecurity and fear in the beautiful green-gold eyes and knew that he couldn’t possibly have been wrong about this man.
“The first day I met you, Brian, you told me that the only way to tell if someone was good or bad was by the way they treat you,” Justin stated, his surety in the man he knew he loved shining out along with his sunshiney smile. “You said you just have to listen to your gut and trust your instincts. You told me that I would always know if someone’s a good person as long as I listened to my gut. And my guts tell me that you are the best person I’ve ever met, Just Brian. Nobody can convince me otherwise.” Justin shuffled forward until he could slip his hand into Brian’s larger grasp. ”Besides, you’ve never lied to me, Brian. You promised me you would do everything you could to get me out of that Hospital and you did - you sent Ms. Attorney to help me. You also promised you would never just abandon me. I believe you, Brian. I believe IN you.”
Brian felt entirely overwhelmed by the unbridled trust his boy offered him. No one had ever given him such a wondrous gift. No one had ever had such unshakable faith in him. In fact, usually it was just the opposite - people expected him to be the one to fuck up. But Justin believed in him and that was all that mattered. Brian thought that maybe it was time for him to trust his gut instincts too. This slip of a boy was turning his world upside down - but in a good way. As he looked down into the soft blue eyes of this young man, he was momentarily frightened by the realization that this kid had somehow turned all of his fundamental rules and laws and principles - all the precepts that he’d put into place to maintain control over his life and protect him from life’s harsh realities - into irrelevant vanities. It seemed that none of his rules applied to Justin. Maybe they didn’t even apply to Brian himself anymore. But his gut was telling him that Justin was what he needed in his life and that he’d be insane if he let this young man get away.
“Always trust your gut, Sunshine,” Brian replied, with a real smile that somehow managed to escape from behind the usual Brian Kinney mask.
Justin’s return smile was so brilliant that Brian could almost feel it radiating like the summer sun against his skin. And, without warning, he found he just had to kiss those invitingly sweet cotton-candy-pink lips. He gathered up his boy in a passionate embrace and voraciously drank at the fountain of that sunshiney smile. Little Justin, who had certainly come a long way in his boyfriend lessons over the course of the past week, kissed back almost as passionately. So passionately, in fact that the world around them sort of disappeared for several minutes.
They were eventually interrupted by the disapproving noise of Mel clearing her throat. “I think you’re dead wrong about this, Justin.” Mel had to state one more time for the record. “But, it’s your call to make. I’ll tell Lindsey to make up the the guest room just in case though. I figure Kinney will be done with you by say . . .” she looked at her watch, “no later than six pm. Just call me when you’re ready and we’ll come pick you up.” Mel smirked at Brian maliciously. “Now, if you’re through examining my client’s tonsils, Mr. Kinney, I’d like to get the fuck out of here. I do have a life outside of saving your ass.”
“Don’t get your thong in a twist, Mel,” Brian groused as soon as he came up for air, ignoring Mel’s prediction about how long his commitment to Justin would last. “I’m allowed to kiss my BOYFRIEND hello after not seeing him for almost two whole days.”
“Wow! That’s impressive. You used the word ‘boyfriend’, in context, and your head didn’t even explode,” Mel kidded him with a curious smile as she gestured towards the parking lot where her car was waiting. “Next thing you know, we’ll see pigs flying past the car.”
“Really? Flying piggies? That would be so cool. Where are they,” Justin was dancing in place, looking up at the sky and searching desperately for the flying piggies.
“It’s a figure of speech, Sunshine.” Brian stated with a hint of amusement in his voice as he grabbed Justin’s shirt tails and reeled the boy back in. ”If you’re in such a fucking hurry, Mel, don’t let us hold you up. I can always call a cab for Sunshine and myself.” Brian reached for his pocket and found it empty. “Shit! I forgot to get my phone and keys and shit back from those fuckers. Come on, Sunshine, let’s go get my shit and then we can get the hell out of here.”
“Ok. Have it your way, Kinney,” Mel said, turning on the heel of her stylish pump. “Good luck, Justin. I’ll let you know what happens with the estate stuff as soon as I hear anything. And, don’t hesitate to call if, or rather when, you need anything.”
“Thank you, Ms. Attorney, but I think Brian and I will be just fine,” Justin responded as politely as he could before turning his back on the woman and following Brian back inside the station house. “Brian? I thought you said that Lindsey and Mel were your friends?”
“They are. Mostly.”
“Well, then, I think you need some new friends,” Justin asserted, catching up to Brian and slipping his hand through the crook of his boyfriend’s arm. “They’re really not very nice to you. I mean, Ms. Attorney did help get me out of the hospital and get you out of jail, but she seems kinda . . . mean.”
“I believe the word you’re looking for, Sunshine, is ‘bitch’,” Brian added with a snarky smile. “But, I’m kinda stuck with them, you know, because of Gus. So, we just have to grin and bear it.”
“Ok. If you say so . . . But, I’m still going to have to have a talk with them about the way they speak about you. Especially in front of Gus. They can’t talk about my boyfriend like that and get away with it.”
Justin’s determined pout gave Brian a little internal thrill. He rather liked the idea that someone was willing to stand up for HIM for a change. Maybe this ‘boyfriend’ thing wasn’t all that bad after all?
It took another twenty minutes of delay and paperwork before Brian’s personal items had been returned to him. Then they spent an additional ten minutes tracking down Justin’s missing shoes. Brian threatened that, if Justin wasn’t going to wear them on his feet, he would duct tape them to his hands so that he would stop losing them. Justin simply laughed, entertained by the thought of wearing his shoes on his hands instead.
Finally, as they were heading back out the door, Brian turned his cell phone on in order to call for a taxi. He didn’t get even the first number punched in, though, before the phone started to ring. The distinctive notes for the song, ‘Short Skirt, Long Jacket’ by Cake indicated that Cynthia was trying to reach him. Brian cringed, knowing that he was about to get bitched out once again, but accepted the call nonetheless.
“Damn it, Brian! Where the hell have you been? I've been trying to get a hold of you all night. You promised you'd be back in Pittsburgh yesterday . . .” The tirade went on and on, so loudly that Justin could hear every word even though he was more than two feet away. “I can't do the job you're paying me for if you keep disappearing for days on end like this, Brian . . .”
“Whoa! If you'd stop bitching long enough for me to get a word in edgewise, Cynthia, I'd tell you that I'm back in the Pitts already. What's the fucking problem now?” Brian yelled back, not really happy to have to deal with whatever the latest crisis was before he’d had a chance to get a shower and some sleep, and not really caring how grouchy he sounded anymore.
“Well, to start with, Simone Dennison has called three times wanting to make sure you and - I quote, ‘your sweet little blond boyfriend’ - are alright,” Cynthia started to explain. “It seems that ever since I called there earlier in the week she's been worrying about you two. She even sort of apologized for whatever the hell happened back in Portland. It sounds like your escaped mental patient date made a big impression on the sentimental Mrs. Dennison. I promised to have you call her as soon as you got back. I really think if you play this right, Brian, we might still have a chance at her husband's account, and fuck knows we need it.”
“That's fantastic, Cyn! Hah! Sunshine strikes again!” Brian thrilled, communicating his happiness to the Sunshine in question with an affectionate squeeze to the young blond’s waist and a quick kiss to the boy’s temple. “I'll call Simone right back . . . Or better yet, I'll have Justin call her! Let him work a little more of his special magic on her. That should do the trick. What else?”
“Well, actually, the phones have been ringing off the hook the past couple of days. I'm not sure what the hell you've been up to while you guys were on your cross country odyssey, but it looks like you might have managed to drum up a shitload of new accounts in the process,” Brian could hear the excitement in Cynthia's voice even over the phone line. “You've got messages from all over the place . . . A Frank Pearson called and said his brother Hank gave him your card - he's got a gourmet meats business in Kansas and wants you to do an ‘Eat The Meat!’ type ad campaign for him. Also, somebody by the name of ‘Bill’ called from Idaho and wants you to call him back about advertising for his Outdoorsman chain of stores. Then there was a Cliff Carter and also a Wilford Carter, both from Illinois. Wilford said he's with Shaw’s Catering and his cousin Lula insisted that he hire you to do his advertising or she’d ‘fricassee his gizzards’. And finally, the owner of a club called Zoobabies in Springfield, Illinois left his number too. Basically, it sounds like we’ve got a crapload of work to do if we're going to be getting all these accounts.”
Brian was so stunned by this stroke of good fortune that it took him a several moments to respond. “Wow . . . I mean, I know I handed out a few business cards along the way, but you never really expect that much of a response that quickly . . . Wow!”
“Maybe I should send you on the road more often, huh, Boss?” Cynthia sounded upbeat but slightly stressed. “Anyway, it sounds like you made quite an impression, no matter where you went. Way to go, Rainmaker! The only problem now is that I have no idea how we’ll manage to get five new campaigns up and running at the same time - six, if we can land the Dennison’s. We’re going to need help - lots of help - right away. Starting with an art department.”
“Hahaha! Now THAT’S the kind of problem I like to have, Cynthia,” Brian couldn’t stop laughing over this windfall of business. “Hang on a minute, Cyn.”
Brian turned to Justin who had been standing nearby, listening in on Brian’s half of the conversation. “Sunshine, I know you had your heart set on making a living via hand jobs, but do you think I could talk you into becoming a full-time artist instead?”
“You mean drawing pictures and stuff, like what I did at the Fair?”
“Well, more like what you did when we were talking to Miss Lula at Carter’s Fish Market. You’d be drawing pictures for me and the businesses I’m going to do advertising for. It would probably mean that you’d have to eventually go back to school and learn some additional skills, like computer graphics and drafting, but I’m sure you’ll be terrific at it. I can also provide any tutoring you may need. What do you say? Wanna work with me, Sunshine?”
“YES! Yes, yes, yes, yes! Yes! I would LOVE to work with you, Brian! I really, really, really want a job. I like the idea of making money of my own and at the same time helping you and your business. This is perfect. Plus, I won’t have to pretend to be an artist that works for your company anymore because I’ll really and truly be one! Besides,” Justin lowered his voice to a confidential whisper, “I know you said you’d teach me more about hand jobs and blow jobs, but I think I’m really better at drawing than that other stuff anyway.”
Brian responded with a kiss planted right on the sweet bubble-gum pink lips of this intriguing and beguiling boy before lifting his phone back to his ear. “Looks like I’ve got at least one artist for our Art Department already, Cynthia!”
“Oh . . . that reminds me. I got one other odd phone message last night,” Cynthia added as an afterthought. “Somebody by the name of Phil Lind from the Nebraska State Fair called. He wanted to know if Mr. Taylor was available to work in their Caricature Booth full time. It seems his niece got her picture drawn by Mr. Taylor and he loved it.”
“That would be a ‘No’ Cynthia - I think Mr. Taylor will be too busy drawing pictures for Kinnetik for the foreseeable future,” Brian chuckled at the idea of his talented little blond being so in demand all of a sudden. “Start calling everyone back and set up conference calls with all of them. It looks to me like Kinnetik is finally in business! Now, is there anything else that can’t wait until our new Artist in Residence and I have had a chance to get home and get a shower?”
“Just one more, Brian,” Cynthia interjected quickly before Brian could hang up on her. “There was another message - this one from a Melody Gibson - who was calling about the RV her ex-husband Daniel was supposed to turn over to her as part of their divorce settlement. She seemed to think you had information on where her Neerdowell-Ex might be or at least where the RV was?”
“Ah! That explains so much . . .” Brian responded, glad to hear that the ‘stolen’ RV they’d bought and subsequently wrecked wasn’t precisely stolen after all. “Call Ms. Gibson back and tell her that the RV is currently in Wheeling, West Virginia . . .” Brian hesitated as he tried to come up with some way to explain away the damage to the vehicle, but while he was thinking he came up with another alternative. “On second thought, Cynthia, why don’t you ask Ms. Gibson how much she wants for the mansion on wheels - keeping in mind that it’s now got a bit of body damage. Who knows, maybe Justin and I will make a habit out of these cross-country trips where we drum up accounts out of the blue?”
Justin beamed at the thought of seeing all those interesting hidden away places they’d been to again. Or maybe even seeing some of the places he’d read about that they’d been forced to bypass. The idea appealed to him all the more because it sounded like Brian wanted to share the experience with him. Justin knew that Mel had been wrong about Brian treating him badly and his statement to the person on the other end of Brian’s phone call was all the reassurance he needed. What with Brian offering him a job as a ‘drawer’ for his advertising agency and now his intimation that the two of them would be making future trips together in the RV, Justin started to relax a little and let go of the nebulous fears he’d been harboring about that hazy concept known as his ‘future’.
While Brian was finishing up his phone call, Justin’s attention continued to drift while he contemplated that subject . . . THE FUTURE . . . it had always seemed to Justin that the phrase didn’t apply to him. He’d never had a future before. At least not one that HE would have been responsible for arranging. But now, in just one short week, all the constraints put on him and his future had disappeared. His controlling mother was dead. If Ms. Attorney could be believed, he had more than enough money to cover any of his physical needs. And, on top of everything else, Justin now even had a job doing something he enjoyed and thought he could do well. So what else was there? What else did he have to sort out in order to have a future?
While Justin was still mulling these things over, Brian had finished his conversation with the mysterious Cynthia and was now dialing the number to call them a taxi. Sometime while they’d been standing there, Brian had grasped Justin’s hand, and was even now holding on, seemingly not even aware that he was doing anything so ‘couple-y’. Justin squeezed Brian’s hand, and the larger hand squeezed back automatically. Justin really liked the feeling of the large, warm fingers wrapped around his own smaller hand. He had really enjoyed being Brian’s ‘boyfriend’ for the past week. Of course, now that they were back in Pittsburgh, Justin didn’t know where exactly they stood any more. Were they still boyfriends? Brian had said he wouldn’t abandon him but he hadn’t ever said that they would continue to be boyfriends. It had all been pretend - at least at the beginning - but it felt like it had become more . . .That part of the future, though, was still uncomfortably vague.
Admittedly, Brian had talked about them going on more trips but would that just be part of this job? Would Brian still want an unworldly, ignorant, know-nothing like Justin around now that they were back on his home ground? Justin knew he was naive and not highly educated. Why would someone like Brian - strong, handsome, clever and worldwise - want to be boyfriends with someone like him?
And, even more worrisome, Justin still didn’t know where he was expected to live from now on. He couldn’t bear the thought of going back to his mother’s house. That place symbolized everything horrible and traumatizing about his previous life. He wouldn’t go back there. What he wanted was to go with Brian. But Brian hadn’t yet said out loud that he wanted Justin to stay with him. That they would continue to be boyfriends and live together and keep on doing all those gloriously naughty boyfriend things. Justin didn’t care what happened - he didn’t even care if he got pregnant - just so long as he got to keep doing boyfriend things with his Brian.
“Ready to go home, Sunshine?” Brian asked as the yellow cab turned the corner at the end of the street and started to pull up to the curb.
Brian had said the word ‘Home’. Did he mean it? Did he mean that he wanted Justin to share HIS home? Justin had to know and, regardless of the answer, he knew his feelings for Brian wouldn't change . . . even if the answer broke his heart in the most terrible way.
“Brian . . . Where IS home?” Justin asked in a shy voice pitched just above a whisper. “I don’t . . . I don’t know if I have a home anymore.”
Justin’s question seemed to throw Brian for a loop. He paused, turned so that he could focus on the youth’s face and was surprised to see the depths of confusion in the unguarded blue eyes. “Justin, I just assumed . . . You know you can stay with me, right?” Brian offered hesitantly, noting how the words he’d hope would reassure had somehow fallen flat. He took a deep breath and decided to try again. “Sunshine, you definitely DO have a home and it’s with me. I want you with me Justin. I guess I thought you knew that. But, just to be clear . . . well, I want you to live with me.”
“You mean like boyfriends who live together?” Justin had to ask because he didn’t want to misunderstand anything this important.
“Yes. Like boyfriends - if that’s what this is. To be honest, I don’t really know exactly what it is we’re doing. I’ve never even thought about this kind of thing before. I’m not sure I’ll be very good at it, either. But I do know that I want to keep on doing whatever it is that we’ve been doing . . . that is, if you’ll have me?”
“I don’t know . . .” Justin started off, keeping his head turned to the side so that Brian couldn’t see his expression clearly. “My gut tells me that being your boyfriend will be a lot of hard work, but . . . I suppose we could always try it. I guess I could learn to put up with you.”
“You little twat!” Brian responded, grabbing the boy around the waist and tickling him mercilessly as soon as he finally caught sight of the boy’s irrepressible grin and realized he was being teased. “You think I’M hard work? Me? I’m a piece of cake. Try learning to live with someone who’s constitutionally incapable of wearing shoes. Now that’s definitely going to be a problem. I mean, I won’t be able to take you anywhere, Sunshine!”
“But shoes hurt my feet - you know that, Brian.” Justin chuckled softly, leaving a quick kiss on Brian's lips as the older man bent to open the cab door for his Barefoot Blond. “Besides, once you get me back HOME, I don’t think I’ll need shoes. At least I hope I won’t, seeing as you promised me a lot more boyfriend lessons . . .”
“Well, you just might have a point there, Sunshine. Boyfriend lessons really should be done barefoot. Yep, you just might have a point,” Brian stated as he climbed into the cab behind the best damn thing that had ever happened to him and pulled the cab door closed behind him with an emphatic, final clap.
Which leaves us not at the end but at The Beginning . . .
[Inspiration: A cover song sung by Nirvana from the group Shocking Blue]
Would you believe me when I tell you
You are the queen of my heart
Please don't deceive me when I hurt you
Just ain't the way it seems
Can you feel my love buzz?