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“How are you feeling? I mean, now that this part is just about over?”

“About as pulled together as a threadbare rug.”

“An apt description, indeed.”

Brian and Justin had taken the opportunity to be by themselves for a little while during the recess. Although as inscrutable as ever to those who didn’t know them personally, Mel had noticed that they were extraordinarily reserved, even for them. It wasn’t as if either of them were obnoxiously loud or annoyingly boastful on a good day, but they were never people to give monosyllabic answers to even the most mundane questions, unless they were close to losing the last tethers on their sanities. So she advised them to go and make use of empty clerk’s office on the other side of the courtroom while the Hobbs retreated back to the conference room in the opposite direction. As a precaution, Isaac and John were stationed outside of the closed door to give Brian and Justin ample time to talk and regroup… well as much as they could before the next set of invasive questioning began anyway.

“You know they are going to try to make this all about you, don’t you Brian?”

“Yeah, I do. I have to hand it to Melanie though. The way she questioned you didn’t leave them much room for cross-examination at all. If they would have brought up any of the questions about the prom in reference to you just then, they would have looked like the bullies they are. It was a smart move on Palmer’s part.”

“I guess so. I did notice their attorney’s face though.”

“Hm, Justin, why does he seem familiar yet... not?” Brian asked him. It was something that was continually troubling him since he first laid eyes on the man this morning even before the hearing with Craig.

Justin smiled wide. “It’s his son.” At Brian’s puzzled look, Justin confirmed. “We’re dealing with William Dale Palmer, not his father William Edward Palmer. ‘Dale’ as he’s known in our circles was raised with his maternal grandparents. My guess is that he was called in because of the gag order. I just hope that he isn’t as easily manipulated as his father was.”

“Wait… why was he raised by his maternal grandparents away from the nest?”

“Oh, they are high up in their own area, but William remarried after Dale’s mother died. The woman didn’t want any reminders of her predecessor and ordered him to send Stephanie’s son to live with her parents. I’m pretty sure that William and Evelyn regret such a hasty decision now, since it became evident that she was barren. At least with Dale around she would have been pitied and applauded for raising Dale into the fine man he’s grown to be. But, since everyone knew what she had done, she was shamed and ridiculed. If you think our world is full of bitchy queens, you should hear what happens when polite society gets down and dirty.”

“If it’s anything like the verbal volley you threw at Lindsay this morning, then I think I have a lot to learn.”

Justin chuckled. “You do. Keep spending time with Mom, you’ll learn quick.”

Brian laughed. “I’ll bet! The way she took him apart from the hot seat… and then you… talk about poise under pressure! I’ll be lucky if I get through it all without finding myself in a cell next to Rudyard. Christ, what a name!”  Brian took a deep breath. “You did real good up there, Sunshine.”

“I had you to hold me together, even if I still feel like a threadbare rug. I just can’t believe all of the alliances formed because I chose my own road.”

“Any regrets?”

Justin looked at Brian, thinking of all they had been through thus far and smiled softly. “A wise man once to me that there’s no turning back. I think I’ll happily go with that. In the meantime, I think I know the perfect way to bring us both back into focus.”

“Oh yeah? How?”

“Reach into my inside jacket pocket.”

Brian did as he was told, palming the items he held there. Smiling wide, he looked into the seemingly innocent blue eyes staring back at him without a hint of remorse. “Sunshine…”

“What? I was never a boy scout, but the same wise man who told me there was no turning back also told me to always be prepared. So what’s it’s going to be, Yoda?”

“Smartass twat,” Brian murmured as he leaned down and kissed Justin.

Glancing at his watch, he knew that time was of the essence. Half the time of recess was already gone, so whatever interlude they were going to have had to happen now. Before he could even utter such a sentiment, Brian felt his slacks being loosened and slid down his long legs.

“Hurry,” Justin demanded against his lips as he palmed Brian’s cock, pumping it to full hardness while single-handedly undoing his own trousers.

Brian didn’t need to be told twice. Briefly releasing the his hold on Justin’s lips, he moved them to stand behind the empty desk in the corner. Using the armchair conveniently placed there, Brian sat down so that he was eye level with Justin’s ass. Opening the small plastic cap on the lube bottle, Brian lubed his fingers before separating the rosy globes before him. At first touch of the sensitive orifice, Brian relished the gasping sound emitting from Justin, followed by a deep groan. No matter how short on time they were, he wanted Justin to enjoy being with him this way as he always did. Circling the hole, Brian slowly inserted first one and then the second finger, acknowledging that there wasn’t time for the slow prep they were accustomed to- that would come later.

Justin in his impatience, pushed back against Brian’s marauding fingers hard, determined to have as much time with his prize as possible. He wanted it hard and fast for two reasons: to relieve Brian’s tension and his own. “Fuck! Brian, do it!”

“Hold on…” Brian eased a third finger inside of Justin causing the instinctive clenching of Justin’s inner walls. After several hard drives and easy withdrawals into Justin’s depths, Brian stood behind Justin’s panting body. “Now, Sunshine.”

Brian donned the condom, applying the rest of the lube before easing himself into Justin. Allowing minimal time for adjusting, Justin pushed back, stopping only when Brian had bottomed out. Holding Justin’s hips still with one hand, he used the other to grip the back of Justin’s hair bringing his head back and fusing their lips to together. The kiss became rough and all-consuming even as Brian began to move his hips against his lover. Justin met and matched Brian stroke for stroke as they humped and pressed against each other, trying to wring every ounce of stress out of the other and replace it with pleasure.

It was there that they communicated most effectively, in a language no one else would ever understand. Through the grunts, groans, gasps, moans, and shivers, each of them spoke of promises renewed and anewed; strengthening their resolve to see this episode of their lives through to the end and to move on together, no matter what was next. If this was the only weapon of epic 'FUCK YOU' proportions they had at their disposal at the moment, then they were going to use it in the most lethal way possible, and Hobbs of the world be damned!


“I know. Come on, Sunshine. Don’t…”

“I won’t… Ah, Bri….”

And Justin released into the palm of his lover who had been jerking him off in time with his forceful movements. He could feel every last vestige of the anguish he’d felt for the last few hours draining away; all of the anger, all the fear… even the moments of self-doubt hidden on the outskirts of his psyche. Pass or fail with this trial, he had already won so much more than he’d ever bargained for with the man whose own climax was culminating within his body. He may have been battered, but Justin was no longer broken.

Brian’s arms tightened around the nearly-limp frame before him, barely keeping each of them upright. He couldn’t deny that he’d taught Justin well. Undoubtedly, he was more than refocused; he was battle-ready. And he could tell that the man in front of him was as well, but he still had to ask. “Feel better, Sunshine?”

“Lots!” Justin answered with a smile on his face.

Brian bent down to kiss the amazing set of plump lips, lingering there to sip and taste. Reluctantly drawing back, Brian stared down into Justin’s eyes. “I guess we’d better clean up and get back in there.”

“Yeah. You ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be. You?”

“As much as I can be to hear everything, Brian. But once this is done, it’s done and we can move on.”

“And we will.”

“But one more thing…” Justin said as he began to move off to the right of the room where the restroom was with Brian following close behind him.”

“What’s that, Sunshine?”

“Well two things, actually. The first is not to let the bastards get to you. If they detect even the smallest amount of weakness, they’ll play on it. That includes Dale. He may not have grown up with this set of WASP, but he is one of us just the same.”

Brian nodded in acknowledgement before asking, “And the second thing?”

“I don’t want to go home tonight, Brian.”

Brian narrowed his eyes for a moment before realization dawned. “Then we won’t.”    

After a quick clean-up, they arrived back into the courtroom just as the bailiff was getting into place to call the court to order. Melanie took one look at the two of them and at first, was scandalized but then realizing that it was Brian and Justin she was regarding, just snickered.

“Everything okay?” Shavonne asked her.

“More than you would know or believe,” Mel answered.

“Looks like the Kinney-Taylor modus operandi of pain management is alive and well,” Emmett said, smirking in their direction. Daphne, Ted, and Cynthia laughed while Jennifer gasped.

“Surely, you are all mistaken.” She looked over at her son and his lover, raising an eyebrow questioningly. “Justin?” At his steady regard and blush-stained cheeks, she nearly yelled. “Justin! You know what… No, Brian! You and I are going to have a chat!”

“But I didn’t do anything… well, it wasn’t…”

“Save it. It might not have been your idea this time, but I expected you to control the impulse-driven creature sitting unrepently next to you.”

Brian and Justin snickered then. “Control Justin? Jennifer, meet Justin; Justin… Jennifer. I haven’t been able to control him since the morning after we met.”

“I… Oh alright, I’ll give you that.” She smiled at him good-naturedly, but shook a finger at Justin. “During the next recess if there is one, you’re staying close to me, Justin. And here I thought Brian was the Big Bad Wolf...”

“I’ve been trying to tell you that Little Red Riding Hood was actually the big troublemaker for awhile now,” Brian said, barely able to keep a straight face.

“All rise! The Honorable Lisa Lano, presiding.”

“Be seated. Ms. Marcus, are you ready to call your next witness?”

“I am, your honor. I call to the stand Brian Kinney.”

Brian got up from his seat, allowing Justin to place a small kiss on his knuckles before disengaging their joined hands. As planned beforehand, Emmett moved into Brian’s empty seat beside Justin, occupying it while Brian was testifying. They all knew it was going to be quite an emotional testimony, since it would cover their relationship as a whole, and not just the beginning.

“Please state your full name for the record and your relationship to the plaintiff in this case?”

“Brian Aiden Kinney, and I’m Justin Taylor’s partner.”


“Yes. Some would use the term boyfriend, but that antiquated term simply doesn’t apply to Justin. He’s a young man far wiser than his years.”

“Is that what attracted you to him?”

“Not initially. It was his… physical assets. Justin is a beautiful man. What attracted me was his innocence and the innate need to protect him. That was something new that he’d stirred within me the first time I looked into his eyes. But what kept me- keeps me- enthralled to him is his intelligence, his kindness, his ability to see people and situations as they truly are… and yes, the physical aspect of our relationship isn’t half bad either.” Brian smirked causing Mel to suppress a laugh and want to smack him all at the same time.

“So when did you really know that he was more than just your standard fare?”

“Objection! Can counsel speak in English for the heterosexuals in the room?”

“No need for the objection, Mr. Palmer as I as a heterosexual understood the innuendo even if your overly hetero and bonafide-confused clients did not. However, Ms. Marcus, I would ask that you stick to the word trick or other popular words used in this instance. I’m sure that Mr. Taylor will not take offense.” She looked over to him and received a bright smile in confirmation. “Please proceed.”

“Thank you your honor and I will. Mr. Kinney, when did you realize that Justin Taylor was more than a trick to you?”

“I can admit that it was the first night, although it took me awhile to recognize him as such. I told Justin things that I had never even said to my then-best friends.”

“What things?”

“I told him about the particulars about my first time and how I actually felt about it. Sure Michael knew when it was and some of the circumstances surrounding it, but he didn’t know that I was scared out of my mind. I don’t know… I just knew that I could share that with Justin and it wouldn’t go any further than the loft.”

“Is that why you brought him to the hospital to name your son?” she asked quietly. Melanie had always wondered. She’d heard Michael’s account of how Justin had come to be there and Lindsay’s bitching about how Brian bringing his trick had put a damper on her golden moment among her friends and Brian, but she’d never heard from Brian’s own lips how Justin had come to be inside of the hospital room instead of just waiting out in the car.

Brian cleared his throat. “I guess even then, I wanted him to have a night that he would always remember; a way to remember me… a way that I would remember him. He was only supposed to be a one and done, but there was just something about him that made me want to hold onto his memory even past that night.”

Melanie cleared her throat from the emotion lodged there from hearing Brian’s words. But she just had to know… “If that was the case, why did you fight against the feeling so much and so long, Brian?”

Brian shifted in his seat uncomfortably, reminding himself that he had to expose his secrets for Justin’s sake, even if all he wanted to do was tell Mel it was none of her fucking business. Inhaling and exhaling the breath slowly he said, “You have to understand what it was like for me to be told that I was loved but shown chronically that I was despised. My father was an abusive drunk. He hated me and said so right up until the end. I suspect that given more time, he would have at least tried to make amends; to understand the man that I became. I can’t say. But my mother, she was a different story altogether. She would hit me and afterwards tell me she loved me, but then preach to me about church, and hiding from the abusive cycle we lived in at the bottom of a sherry bottle while my father took his turn using me for his punching bag. So the word love in and of itself didn’t hold much weight with me at the time.”

“And now?”

“I still have some trouble with it, but Justin has proven that it’s not just words.”

“Is that why you’ve always taken care of him as you have?”

“I’m not sure what you mean. Justin hasn’t asked me to do anything.”

“That’s just it. You defended Justin; you took him in when he was kicked out of his childhood home for being gay; you tried to reconcile him to his parents, even when one of them still shunned him; you found him another place to live when the living situation between you two became untenable for a time; you protected him, even the first day after you met when one of the other students made a derogatory remark aimed at Justin’s sexuality; you made sure that he found a way to support himself, even though he had to pay you back after your place was robbed… there are a host of other instances that I could name and list but none more so than what you have done with and for Justin since the Prom. So again I ask, Mr. Kinney, is that why you take care of Justin the way you do?”

Brian swallowed hard. He had no idea that he’d done so much for the little imp that was fast becoming his entire world, but hearing Melanie name them so clearly, he couldn’t deny them. “Yes.”

“Good. Tell us why you showed up to the prom, Mr. Kinney.”

“Because it was the only thing that Justin has really ever asked of me.”

“But you said ‘no’ initially, correct?”



“For a number of reasons. First, I thought he was either really stupid, or really brave, or a combination of both to want to bring me to the prom with him. There is the matter of our age difference, but more importantly, the fact that we’re gay. Little did I know at the time that it was explained by Justin’s mom and our surrogate mother, Debbie that prom isn’t just about straight kids the way gay kids are led to believe, but about ALL kids- a rite of passage to signify the end of an era into adulthood. That is the way Justin looked at it, not to make a statement although that is exactly what we did.”

“And what was that statement, in your mind?”

“Objection! Calls for speculation!” Mr. Palmer jumped up. He was already nervous about this line of questioning as there was no way he would be able to put Chris Hobbs or his actions in a good light.

“Overruled. I would certainly like to hear Mr. Kinney’s opinion on the matter since he was there. Also, I would like to know what prompted you to go in the first place, Brian.”

“The statement was simple...that he had a right to be there, just like everyone else and with whomever he wanted to be with. Other than the fact that it was the one thing that would mean a lot to Justin, I was feeling a little down myself because the prom was the day after my 30th birthday. It wasn’t that my former best friend was moving away like everyone thought; I was actually pretty happy about that because he’d found his own life, even if I couldn’t stand the guy he was leaving with. It was that I had lost out on a job that was based in New York to someone younger than I am and that my lover was graduating high school… it wasn’t my finest-feeling moment. Yes, even I, Brian Kinney, have those rare introspective moments where things don’t look so bright. Thank goodness they don’t happen all that often.”

“Thank you, Mr. Kinney. Ms. Marcus, you may continue with your questioning.”

“Thank you, your honor. I know this is going to be a difficult question but what happened when you arrived at the prom?”

“Michael somehow found out that I was going to attend and stood in the parking lot for untold minutes, telling me that I was a fool for giving into the demands of the ‘twink who wouldn’t leave.’ I think what amazed me the most was that he expected me to give into the demands of the pain in my ass who wouldn’t go away… sorry, your honor.”

Judge Lano snickered. “It’s alright, Mr. Kinney. I suspect that you have a very good reason for referring to Mr. Novotny that way as of yet.”

“I do. But in any event, I ditched Michael, reminding him that he had a plane bound for Portland to catch and went inside the William Penn Hotel. When I arrived inside, it was the standard high school prom set up. Teens and balloons everywhere, chaperones in coffee clutches and faculty meandering about aimlessly, either making conversation or power-tripping in the usual ways. I spotted Daphne and Justin; she saw me first and then pointed me out to him. I have to admit that he took my breath away. It was the first time I’d ever seen him in a proper suit- an actual tux, no less- and he looked stunning. I walked over and told him that I came to recapture my lost youth.”

“Love the double entendre, Mr. Kinney,” Mel snickered.

“Well I do aim to please, Ms. Marcus. But anyway, we danced to an old song from the Drifters. “Save the Last Dance for Me,” said so much about what I’d wanted him to know that night.” Brian’s eyes misted so he quickly dropped his eyes to hide them.

“What happened after you danced?”

“Well after I spun him around and kissed him…”

“You kissed me?” Justin gasped breathlessly.  “In front of everybody?”

“Yeah… you should have been there,” Brian said softly, and the meaning of his words wasn’t lost on anyone within the courtroom.

Mel again cleared her throat of the emotions of anger, despair, and pure hatred for the Hobbs machine, sitting over there smugly in all their sanctimonious glory. “So now we’re basically up to the bashing. Tell us what happened from your point of view.”

Brian closed his eyes. “We were laughing, dancing around, and singing lyrics to the song. I drew him to me, when we got closer to the jeep. He told me that it was the best night of his life and I said ‘even if it was ridiculously romantic.’ We kissed twice… they were sweet, without our usual heat, but no less potent or addictive. Something changed between us that night. Anyway, he was going back in to get Daphne and return her home as a good date should, then we were going to meet up at my- our- place and… but we never got the chance because of a fiend with a bat.”

“Objection! The name calling is completely unnecessary!”

“Well what the fuck would you call him?!” Brian fired back. “He snuck up on Justin while his back was turned. If I hadn’t called out… Thankfully the fucking bat hit his frontal lobe which affected his fine motor skills and parts of his memory. And even though he nearly bled out before the ambulance even arrived, even though with three different surgeries he was able to survive, the fact remains that the ASSHOLE WITH A BAT ALMOST KILLED HIM AND HAD EVERY INTENTION OF DOING SO!!!”

“Mr. Kinney calm down!” Judge Lano banged her gavel. “Mr. Kinney, not another word. Just breathe for a moment. I realize that this has been a traumatic experience for you, and I’m not negating one word of what you have said, Sir, but you have to calm down now. As for you Palmer, the objection is overruled. I have read the reports submitted by the medical personnel who worked on Justin Taylor that night and afterwards, as you should have, too. Had Mr. Kinney not called out to Mr. Taylor, the young man would have been dead by blunt force trauma to the back of his head.” Palmer paled and Judge Lano saw it. “Ah, I see you understand the full implication of that statement. Now whereas I do agree that there should not have been name-calling as you so plainly put it, I do believe the description of the action itself is accurate. That is why I have overruled you, Mr. Palmer. Be seated. Mr. Kinney, are you ready to go on now?” she asked in a gentle voice.

Looking over to Justin who- despite the fact that was pale and being held by Emmett while he trembled slightly- nodded, Brian spoke, “Yes, your honor.”

“Good, but if you need a break, let us know. We realize this is difficult for you. In the meantime, Ms. Marcus, continue your questioning.”

“Yes, your honor. Brian, you took an action to keep Justin’s assailant from getting away. What was it?”

“I took the same bat he hit Justin with and hit him in the kneecap.”

“And what was the result?”

“I hear that he lost his football scholarship to the University of Kentucky.”

“And are you sorry about that?”


“Why not?”

“Considering that Justin almost lost his life and is now struggling to regain what could be his livelihood, I think it’s only fair.”

“What do you mean?”

“Currently, Justin is relearning to hold a pencil for longer than five minutes at a time.”

“But if I’m not mistaken, he’s ambidextrous.”

“He is, but his right hand is the one he’s conditioned for years to be able to write and draw on demand with and for long periods of time. The muscles in that extremity are far stronger than the left one.”

“And what steps have been taken to ensure that his hand can return to at least 80% use? Your honor, currently Justin’s hand is at 40% according to his physical therapist. I believe you have the current report dated for a week ago yesterday. 80% is the goal for which Justin will be able to pursue his chosen career full-time with minimum impediments, such as the spasms he experiences frequently now.”

Judge Lano checked her stack of papers and nodded.

“Currently, Justin uses a number of therapies to increase his fine motor skills again such as a pottery wheel. He hasn’t gotten to the point where he can sculpt yet, but we’re working on it. He also plays Scrabble often with Ted Schmidt, myself, and his cognitive therapist which combines both the cognitive therapy with the occupational therapy. Miguel serves as both his physical therapist, which helps with his arm strength and restoring the long bones of his arm and wrist and as his occupational therapist which works with his short bones such as his fingers and ligaments therein. He is certified in both disciplines.”

“Thank you for that clarification, Mr. Kinney. And for psychological therapy, who is he seeing?”

“He sees Dr. Bethany Colbert, who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder and Dr. Alexander Wilder for all other psychological needs.”

“Why two?”

“Alex is gay and has a different perspective when it comes to reconciling who Justin was pre-bashing to who he is now.”

“And just who is Justin Cole Taylor as you know him?”

“Prior to the bashing, I would say that Justin was fearless, bold, brash, confident. Now he struggles with all of those things. He’s a lot more cautious, and struggles with remembering the young man he was when we tell him about himself. You see, there are aspects of his personality that were severely changed; things that made up the core of Justin Taylor. But he is also in the process of reinventing himself, so it may not necessarily be a bad thing, especially if he becomes completely happy with himself again. And that’s what I really want for him.”

“Thank you, Mr. Kinney. No further questions but reserve the right to recall should the need arise. Your witness.”

“Mr. Kinney, I’m…”

“I know who you are. You’re the son of their former attorney who is currently facing disbarment for his part in the debacle that was the criminal trial of Christopher Hobbs. But do go on, and tell me who you are.”

Palmer gulped. He had been warned about Brian Kinney’s forceful personality, but to be faced with it was something else entirely. “Well, be that as it may, Mr. Kinney, I would like to ask you a few questions.”

“By all means…”

“Morally, didn’t you consider what you were doing with Justin Taylor wrong?”

“Objection! What does that have to do with the law?” Mel asked.

“If I may, I would like to answer that question with one of my own…," Brian interrupted, but didn't wait for the permission to be granted before he asked his own question. "Mr. Palmer, don’t you find what you are doing morally wrong?”

“And what is that, pray tell?”

“Representing men who are criminals… one through violence, and the other by paying for his violent offender of a son to be let off the hook with a slap on the wrist.”

“Your honor…”

Brian chuckled sardonically. “The point, Mr. Palmer, is that if you don’t want your own morality called into question, then don’t call me on mine. Next question, if you have one.”

“Mr. Kinney, you were accused of sexual harassment not too long ago.”

“Yes, I was, but not sure what that has to do with this case, especially since the charges- which were false, by the way and thanks for asking- were dropped. Among other things, the entire Kip Thomas debacle was a ploy for revenge on behalf of his uncle, Howard Bellweather who will also be hearing from my attorney along with his publisher for printing falsehoods about Justin and I as told to him by a former friend. Anything other skeletons you would like to dig out of my proverbial closet?”

“I heard you have a son.”


“Well how would you feel if this was his situation?”

“It never would be.”

“And what makes you so sure?”

“Well first, I would never toss him out for being gay. Any educated person knows that sexuality is determined by the age of six and is unalterable, no matter how much men and women like Samuel Hobbs would like to believe otherwise. Just ask his closeted son over there. But another reason I know that this would never be my son’s situation is because I would have taught my son two things by the time he reaches Justin’s age: tolerance and self-acceptance. That’s two things that clearly Chris Hobbs has never been taught. Anything else?”

Palmer narrowed his eyes at the man before him, acknowledging that there seemed to be no way to shake him… that his best bet lie in letting his own clients explain themselves. He hoped to God that they could, because right now he seemed as if he was defending the indefensible. “No further questions for this witness, but reserve the right to recall should the need arise.”

“Mr. Kinney, you may step down,” Judge Lano intoned. “We’re going to take another half hour recess unless the plaintiff has another witness to be called?”


“No, your honor,” Melanie answered. Judge Lano nodded and banged her gavel, deciding that she needed to review some more of the testimony in reference to the affidavits. She certainly had some questions about those.



Chapter End Notes:



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