Newish Warning: The next chaps are particularly anti-Michael just so ya know.
Thanks again to my beta Judy, of course; any errors that are still here I'm sure are all mine.
[Here are more photos that I have and simply like - they don't necessarily tie into the story, sorry.
Also, I just saw Randy in Waiting for Godot in Stockbridge- I posted those photos on my LJ if anyone's interested. http://grover301.livejournal.com/ ]
It's nearly midnight when we get back to the loft; I don't even bother to take Justin and James to their home. It's just sort of assumed that we go back to my loft.
When we walk in, I tell the boys to brush their teeth and then I lay out some PJs for each of them.
"You have messages," Justin says quietly, looking down at my machine.
Justin ignores me (go figure) and pushes the button. "You have eleven new messages," the tinny machine voice informs us. I groan.
"Brian, please, please call me!" Debbie. "What happened today at the diner was such a stupid misunderstanding and I wish I could take back everything I said! I love you, kiddo! Emmett and I talked for a long time this afternoon after Michael went to the Comic store and that queen really opened my eyes - to about a million and one things that I really already knew deep down but just refused to admit 'cause some of those things don't show Michael's best side." Guh. What the hell?
"I'm so sorry… I don't know how Emmett got through to this stubborn old lady but he really got me thinking.
"I guess getting yelled at by an irate queen for hours on end can wear you down no matter who y'are." She chuckles. "Just please call me so I can apologize to you proper-like, okay?"
Then there are about three more messages from her, each sounding more desperate than the last. I admit that I'm surprised she wasn't camped outside my door when we got home. (It's hardly worth mentioning that I'm also shocked Debbie Novotny is apologizing at all - and to me.)
Then Emmett. "Brian, hi sweetie! It's Emm! Look, I know what happened today at the diner was outrageous and frankly, I'm still p-o'ed at Michael for how he made your friend feel, not to mention your little boy… but I talked to (well, harangued) Debbie for a while this afternoon and I think she kind of understands what happened a little better now. Not only that, but I think she understands YOU a little better. Who'd have thought I'd be the great espouser of Brian Kinney and his merits?" I snort as I hear that. Certainly not me, but it's been a day of surprises. "Call when you can, okay? And take special care of that juicy morsel you roped in! I can't believe you're still seeing him after months! That's a record, sweetie. Hell, you fucking someone more than once is a record; all of gay Pittsburgh knows that!
"Plus it was pretty obvious how mutually smitten you guys are. Be careful, Brian - this man could be The One. Wink wink!"
I roll my eyes and predictably, Justin is grinning at me from ear to ear. I ignore him.
Then there's a brief message from Theodore simply saying how happy he is for Justin and I, his favorite neighbor and his favorite boss (which he says with a tinge of sarcasm, I note). It sounds like he doesn't even know yet about the shit that went down after he left for his NA meeting. He did say on Friday that he was going into Kinnetik to take care of some paperwork at some point over the weekend. I imagine that he went in after his meeting and hasn't been around anyone who knows what happened yet. I'm vaguely surprised Emmett didn't call him, though. I guess he was busy reaming Debbie out all afternoon.
As predictable as Justin's big grin is after Emmett's message is the fact that the last six messages are from Mikey. At first he sounds upset and contrite but by the final message, his true colors show and I again want to kick his teeth in. "Listen, Brian. I know you don't really care for that little church mouse and while of course I don't believe you're weak-minded or easily manipulated, I really do think he's up to something. Besides, you having a "significant other" goes against all that "is" my best friend – the guy I've known for years and years and the guy who's the Stud of Liberty Avenue and beyond! You're my hero!" Michael clears his throat, apparently embarrassed for having said too much. "Well. Call me. We can go out and things can go back to normal. I know I was a little out of line today. I mean, I guess I was. But someone has to be the voice of reason here, Brian! I don't know what that little shit has done to brainwash you, but it must be something big for you to say all those things to me! I'm sorry shit went the way it did but God, something's gotten into you and I don't like it!!"
I'm gritting my teeth and Justin looks crestfallen. "Shit," he mumbles.
"Now THAT is the reason I no longer consider Michael my best friend," I hiss. "Or even friend," I add under my breath.
"Brian, he's just—"
At that moment there's a pounding on my door and Justin jumps but I know exactly who it is. No-one else would have the nerve to come over here at midnight. "Go away, Michael!" I call through the door.
"Brian, where the fuck have you been? I've been calling you all day and even stopped by earlier but your Jeep wasn't here!"
"Daddy?" Obviously Gus was awakened by the pounding on the door and again, I grit my teeth and hold back a sigh; I know Michael won't leave until I talk to him.
"It's okay, Gus. Try to go back to sleep," I tell him, knowing it's hopeless. I wish he slept as soundly as James. I march over to the door and it takes a lot of self control not to rip it off its tracks. "What do you want, Michael? It's the middle of the fucking night and I have two children trying to sleep here! Not to mention a guest and myself who are about to go to bed!" I'm surprised when Michael glares at me briefly and then pushes past, shooting daggers at Justin who is looking a little like a deer caught in headlights.
"You're still here??" he spits, ignoring what I said completely. "Is that your dinged-up beater parked behind Brian's Jeep? It doesn't belong anywhere near a place as upscale as Brian's! Why don't you just get your for-crap car and your ugly ass out of here! For good!"
There's a long pause; I'm gawping at Michael in disbelief and Justin looks incredulous. Finally, Sunshine speaks.
"Not that it's really any of your business but yes, that's my car. And yes, I'm still here. I think I'll be here for a long time to come, too," Sunshine sneers, recovering his wits quickly. I'm silently (silently) pleased to see how confident and strong he is. But I'm not surprised.
"Think again, blondie," Michael sneers back, his voice dripping with contempt. I can't help but continue to stare at him; who IS this guy?
Justin is fuming now. "Look Michael, I'm not quite sure what you have against me except for the fact that Brian's been with me for months now and I have what you so desperately yearn for: Brian's friendship, love and the fact that I can enjoy being fucked by him everyday. It's incredible." I can't help but chuckle at Justin's vehemence and quite honestly, at Michael's shocked expression. He deserves to be cut down a notch. "Plus I have a much better ass than you," he adds in all seriousness and this time I laugh out loud. "Shut up, Brian," he tosses at me and I cover my mouth but am still laughing. "I'm cuter, younger and very much in love with Brian. Brian's not your best friend; he's not your lover; he's your sick obsession, Michael! You sure as hell don't have to like me and it's pretty obvious that will never happen, but you better expect to see me especially if you still plan on seeing Brian because I'm not going ANYwhere! The only one who can tell me to leave is Brian and so far, that hasn't happened and it doesn't appear that it will either! So get over yourself!
"You've built Brian up in your mind as this static, god-like hero that, as Brian told you in the diner, is not who he is! He's a man who has feelings, a child, a lover, a full life on all fronts and your stubborn refusal to see beyond this weird, phony "Brian-Fucking-Kinney" image you've created in your brain is almost obscene!"
I decide now is not the time to quibble over all this "love-talk" crap.
Then I truly freak out when I see Michael, having turned an alarming and peculiar shade of enraged red, jumping across the gap between himself and Sunshine and actually taking him by the neck.
"MICHAEL!" I scream, leaping on the man to tear him away from Justin who looks about as shocked as I feel. I pull him off forcibly off and shove him up against the door, literally seething and using every ounce of control I can muster to keep from tearing his throat out. "WHAT THE FUCKING HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?"
"Get off me, Brian!! Did you hear what he fucking said to me! ME? Your best friend?!"
I glance at Justin who is massaging his throat and coughing. "Are you okay, Sunshine?" I ask gently, still keeping a firm hold on Michael who is struggling to free himself.
Still choking a little, he nods. "Fine," he rasps. "Just surprised as hell," he adds.
"You and me both," I agree grimly and turn my attention back to Michael. "Get out of here, Michael. I never want to see you again." My voice is strangely calm. I sure as fuck don't feel calm. I maneuver a little, slide open the door and push him out into the hall. Shit, I have to change the locks now; Michael has a key. For the time being I'll just have to settle on changing the alarm code.
I quickly do so and turn to see Justin still trying to catch his breath and my son standing there looking so scared it makes me want to rip my hair out. Fuck! In about two days I've somehow unwittingly managed to completely traumatize my own child. I go over to Justin and rub his back and motion for Gus to come over. "Daddy? What just happened?"
"I'm honestly not sure, Sonny Boy, but Michael appears to have come a little unhinged…" I glance at the clock over the range. 2 am. Terrific. Gus is now clinging to my leg and starting to shake. "But you're safe now, Gus. I'll take care of you and nothing bad will happen to you, Justin or James."
He's crying quietly and I feel helpless not for the first or even tenth time today. "Or you?"
I smile despite myself. "Or me, Little Man."
"Why did he try to hurt Justin?"
"I don't know, sweetheart. But he's gone now." I find that Gus AND Justin are both clinging to me. "Hey, how 'bout you sleep in the big bed with me and Justin again tonight?" I feel him nod. "Okay, let's go lay down then. It has been one kicker of a long day." I lead him and Justin to the bed and frankly, I collapse without even stripping down to my boxers and only barely take the time to flip off my shoes. I look to the small bed where James is still snoozing like he's in fucking hibernation. Lucky kid. I look into Justin's eyes and before I can stop myself, I caress his cheek with the back of my hand. Shit, his skin is so soft. "Do you even shave? I've never seen you shave," I ask with a smile, trying to lift just a little of the somber mood that's fallen over the loft.
He grins. "Nope. It's some kind of weird, genetic trait in my family that us blondies don't have to shave – rarely, anyway. I sorta wish I did have to. It's not like I'm not plenty old enough; it's a bit embarrassing that my face is as smooth as a baby's butt."
I decide to ignore the hoarseness still evident in his voice. "Pfft. I like it. And as someone who would probably have to shave at least once every two minutes to get even remotely as smooth as you are, I think you should count your blessings." I look down and not surprisingly, Gus is already sleeping.
He strokes my cheek. "I love your face, stubble and all." Sap. "You are seriously the most beautiful man I've ever fucking seen."
"Yeah, well, you've led a pretty sheltered existence, Sunshine."
"Boy, has that ever changed in the last few months!" he exclaims, rolling his eyes. I don't comment. "And no matter how sheltered my life was before I met you, that doesn't mean I don't recognize beauty when I see it."
Hmm. I think I smile.