CHAPTER 14: PROGRESS Part 2
One week later…
Brian stood by the loft door, watching Justin working at the pottery wheel. Brian couldn’t remember a time when he’d felt such contentment at viewing such a simplistic scene. He had to admit that Miguel’s idea was definitely taking shape. At first, it was a bit hairy. He had arrived home from the office several times to find a disaster area, which he had left pristine, blatant evidence of Justin’s meltdowns during the course of the day. The furniture turned over; broken glass strewn everywhere; a pottery wheel in shambles; a railing and weeping Justin shaking in the corner- all served as a reminder of how fragile Justin was, especially when he couldn’t get his hand to work.
Although Brian would be beyond pissed off, he intentionally refused to make a big deal out of it. He would simply go over to comfort Justin, making sure that the young man ate and had a shower, then took his meds and put him to sleep. After making sure that Justin was reasonably comfortable, he worked diligently to putting the loft back to rights. This was the side effect of Justin’s situation that only Jennifer had any inkling of. His fits of rage were still frequent, although they were getting incrementally better.
The major turning point in all this though was to the forefront of Brian’s mind just then, as he watched Justin. It had been through the most unlikely of occurrences that Justin had taken a major step in his recovery. It was on one of the few nights when Brian had arrived home later than expected and he had asked Ted to sit with Justin for him while he was supposed to meet with Mel to work out his next steps to extricate himself from Gardner Vance’s noose around his neck. Mel, running late herself, left him to the litany of Lindsay’s lamentations.
She spent the evening, once again, berating Brian for not spending enough time with Gus, and then turning right around to ask him for money. Mel had happened up at just the exact moment the disagreement had turned into a full-blown argument, ending with Brian telling Lindsay that until she set her own priorities in order in terms of her marriage, and figured out just who her husband is, not to speak to him because he was not it. He’d left as Mel began to question Lindsay as to why she was cornering Brian for money, since all of their finances were in order, thinking that it was time to bring Ted in on this once and for all. By the time he had arrived home, he was in a foul mood, but couldn’t risk showing that to Justin.
As he’d walked into the building and approached the door, he’d heard the tell-tale sounds of giggling- a sound that had seemed to be missing from his life of late. On any other man, he would have considered the sound the most annoying thing in the world, but when it was Justin… It was hard to hold back such lesbianic sentiments such as adorable or cute. In any event, he was happy to have the thought enter his mind, considering both of them had had so little to laugh, smile, or even giggle about as of late. The scene that greeted him actually tickled him. They were- two of the nerdiest men of Brian’s acquaintance- playfully disputing over Scrabble points. Justin accused Ted of padding points while Ted laughingly told Justin that he was mistaken. Justin had lost the game by a single point, so it made the argument more funny than contentious. Watching the two of them, Brian felt his mood lighten considerably, so much so that he planted a single kiss on the smiling lips of his young lover in front of his old friend.
Ted then excused himself, reminding Brian of the meeting with Mel and Cynthia for lunch the next day and that he had new information on the start of Kinnetik, Inc. Brian wished him a good night, pulling Justin to him before closing the door. As they settled on the couch, Justin noticed that Ted had left his wallet. Without thinking Justin grabbed it and took off like a shot hoping to catch Ted before he drove off. Brian being concerned ran after him, watching in amazement as Justin ran outside and began waving his arms. By the time Brian caught up to him, Justin was in a state of shock, finally registering what he had done.
“I think you’re ready to rejoin the world, Sunshine,” Brian whispered as he hugged him close.
After finally regaining his voice, Justin simply said, “I guess I am.”
They returned upstairs that night, arm-in-arm and called Ted, who said that he would come back for it since he hadn’t gotten very far. They had resolved not to tell anyone just yet, holding their secret close until Justin was fully confident that it wasn’t a fluke. From that night, under the cover of darkness, Brian and Justin began to take walks around the block no matter the weather.
“Brian! You’re home!” Justin jumped up from his place at the pottery wheel, having looked up after finishing.
“So I am. How goes the great sculpting project today?” He leaned over to kiss Justin in greeting, staring into the sparkling pools of blue. He was gratified to see something he hadn’t seen from the younger man in such a long time. Accomplishment.
“Better today than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow,” Justin answered, in what had become their personal mantra with each other.
“So I see. What are you making?”
“A frame?” Brian asked, puzzled why Justin felt it was a significant thing to do.
“I had my appointment with Miguel and Nicole today.”
“I know. How’d it go?” The apprehension of the answer suddenly assailed Brian’s body.
“Next week, we work on me holding a pencil again.” Justin’s bright smile said all that Brian was feeling at that moment. It was a major accomplishment and meant that the muscles of Justin’s hand were making a comeback.
Brian couldn’t contain the proud feelings within himself. He was so happy for Justin. The young man- through all the ups and plenty of downs- had set his mind to working hard. Sure there were many days when he was all ready to give up the fight, but Brian wouldn’t let him. And more importantly, Justin wouldn’t let himself let the naysayers be right. He’d told Brian that the person most in the forefront of his mind wasn’t Chris Hobbs, but instead it was his biggest detractor, Craig Taylor. They were already kicking his ass along with his cronies, who had set out to make Justin’s life a living hell. It was time for Justin to get back to the business of living. It helped that his Uncle George had made it his business to keep Justin informed of all the things happening within the WASP nest. This made Justin even more determined to stare down his enemies. Brian was just happy to see Justin’s fighting spirit returning.
“Are you ready for our evening walk, then?”
“Sure. Let me clean up and you change clothes. Then we can go.”
“Good, although I thought we might try a little something different tonight.”
“Now hear me out before you say no, okay?”
Justin looked at him with a nervous gaze, but agreed anyway. “Okay. I trust you, Brian.”
Brian felt his heart melt just a little bit more at Justin’s pronouncement. Shaking his head and clearing his throat, he said, “Okay. So let’s get ready and when we’re on our way, I’ll tell you what I planned. Sound good?”
They set about their various ablutions and after about a half hour, walked out of the loft. They talked about inconsequential things and the one big thing of what was going on at Vanguard. Justin didn’t like what he was hearing in the least, but still listened attentively, asking questions that Brian answered or hadn’t even thought about. That was what he admired most about Justin. The young man always made Brian look at a situation from all angles both good and bad.
“So until I can work with Kinnetik, who are you going to get to run the art department?”
“I was going to bring Murphy over but…”
“You’re afraid he would bump heads with me, an unknown and someone who basically is brain-damaged.”
“You’re not brain-damaged, Justin.”
“Yes, I am. I’ve accepted it, but I’m also learning how to work around it. I don’t see life and art the same way anymore but so what, right? I’m still…”
“Better today than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow, I know. So that said, until you’re ready to draw again, how would you feel about being the Art Director but more in a consultant capacity at first? The bottom line is that you know me best when it comes to my work. You’ve walked and talked me through numerous ideas in the past and I trust your judgement to know exactly how I want things done and how they should look. I can’t say that about just anyone. Cynthia and I can set up interviews with potential artists, but you via Skype can have your say as well. Both she and I agree that this is also a step to get you moving back into the right direction of your life and will help fulfill you. That’s what we, as your family, want for you; to give you a sense of major accomplishment beyond just holding a pencil.
“If you’re about to tell me that you can’t do it for some bogus reason such as self-doubt I will feel compelled to remind you of what happened last night.”
Justin didn’t need the reminder of how he had made Brian cum using just his injured hand. Brian had cuffed his left hand to the hook at the top of the bed, making it impossible to move it. Then instructing him with soft words, phrases and grunting prompts, Brian told Justin what to do to please him. Justin had struggled for a time, but at last understood what Brian was trying to teach him… to let his hand guide him until such time as his brain could take control of the extremity again. If his right hand wanted to stray left, let it. If it wanted to be heavy-handed and clumsy for a time, allow it to be. Brian’s method of hand-therapy took the pressure to always ‘get it right’ off of Justin and helped him to just go with the flow. The lesson was greatly rewarded with mutual orgasms and the culmination of Justin plowing Brian’s ass so that the older man had to sit on a cushion for the better part of the morning.
“Okay, I see your point. We’ll try it your way, but if it doesn’t work or is not up to par…”
“It will work. I refuse to accept any other outcome, Sunshine. Besides, I don’t have bad ideas.”
Justin giggled at Brian’s self-assurance. His deepest wish was that he would be able to once again match Brian in arrogance. He missed that part of himself most of all. His inherent self-confidence had made him pursue Brian without thought or reservation. He wanted to be that sure of himself again.
Arriving at the park, Justin was surprised to see a few familiar faces. Daphne squealed when she saw him, causing Emmett, Mel, Cynthia, Uncle George, Vic, Jennifer, and Ted to turn and look as well. Mel lifted Gus out of his stroller and set the near toddler on her hip.
“Dus!” he squealed, as Mel whispered in his ear.
Brian looked down at the young man beside him, who was smiling through his tears. “I thought that we could let a few people know that your were making progress, Sunshine. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No not at all. Thank you, Brian.”
“My pleasure, Sunshine.”