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PROLOGUE

 

 

 

 

Pittsburgh -  August, 2007

 

Brian pinched the bridge of his nose. The headache was getting stronger, his head was now throbbing with pain. Maybe he should take another painkiller, but he didn’t want to get up. It was a rainy day and his mood was shittier than ever, after spending the whole night awake. In fact, he wasn't in the mood to do anything. He just wanted to stay there, smoking and laying on the expensive Italian sofa. But he had stuff to do.

 

He couldn’t stop thinking about the way things had happened in his life these past months. But his mind was set, and self-pity wasn’t his thing.  “You're all you have, you're all you need,” he thought, sighing and closing his eyes.

 

He wondered what they would say when they heard the news from Ted. Fuck, he could already see their faces, wrinkled with unnecessary worry. But it would be for a short time; soon worry would be replaced by gossip; they loved to talk about his life, almost always to criticize him. Now would be no different. And Mikey, well, his friend would be upset, but he had his own life to worry about; he would let go after a while. After all, Brian was alright, he was ALWAYS alright. Nothing could bring him down, he was Brian Kinney, for fuck’s sake!

 

He looked at his watch. Eight-thirty; it was almost time. He turned his face to his desk, looking again at the brown envelope resting there. He had to make sure Ted got these things and sent them where they belonged. Tomorrow, Ted would receive an email telling him the news, and asking for some favors. He trusted the older man would do just as he asked. Then everything would be in the right place. Like Justin’s place was away from him.

 

Shaking his head, he cursed. He wouldn’t think about him. This kind of shit was for dykes, and he'd rather die than turn into some sentimental fag. Justin was where he was meant to be, and Brian understood all his reasons. He just couldn't live with them. Brian always made his own rules, and he wouldn’t let this roller coaster dictate his life. He wouldn't let himself be caught off guard. It happened once, but it would never happen again.

 

“About time!” he thought, when he heard the phone ringing. Getting up too fast, he had to fight the dizziness that made him lose his balance. “Shit!” he said, sitting down again. He decided to give it another try, this time getting up slowly, hoping the person wouldn’t give up. But it wasn’t who he was expecting.

 

“Hi, Bri!” said a familiar voice, as soon as he answered the phone.

 

“Theodore...what a surprise!” he said sarcastically. “Miss me already?” Ted somehow had grown into his best friend. Well, kind of. Now that Michael was living in the suburbs with Ben and Hunter.

 

“What time will you be coming today?” Ted asked. It was Saturday, and Brian had the habit of spending the whole morning at Kinnetik, working like a madman.  And Ted was always there, saying he didn't want Brian to spend the whole Saturday by himself. So they worked, talked, sometimes ordered lunch. And then Ted left for home, where Blake was waiting for him. And Brian always said he would be going home too, but always ended up staying until late in the afternoon. Or the next day.

 

“Uhh, I’m not going in today.”

 

“What? What happened, Bri? Are you all right?” Ted asked, concern showing in his voice.

 

“Just a hangover, Ted. No need to worry about it.”

 

“Do you want me to come over?”

 

“Please, don't. I just got home. Busy Friday night, you know. I just need to sleep.” Well, that wasn’t a lie. He really needed to sleep. The only problem was that sleep would not come, no matter how hard he tried.

 

“So, you went out yesterday? I didn't see you at Babylon,” Ted asked.

 

“Babylon is not the only place to go, Theodore.” Since he sold the club, he hardly went there anymore. Too many memories. ”If you know where to look.”

 

Brian wanted to hang up, he was tired and wanted to get over with it. He didn't like to lie, and Ted's concern seemed real, but he didn't want to talk to anyone right now. So he decided to lie some more. This would satisfy his friend and would buy himself some time to do what he had to.

 

“In fact, I'm with someone now, he's here and we are about to fuck…”

 

“Oh...Sorry, Bri.  Don't let me stop you.  All right then...Bye”.

 

“See ya.” said Brian.

 

“Brian...?” Ted asked before Brian had the chance to hang up.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I'm glad you're having a good time...”

 

“Me too, Ted,” Brian lied again, hating this.

 

“Are you going to Deb's dinner tomorrow?”

 

“I don't think so. Have better plans, you know,” Brian said, trying to sound nonchalant as ever.

 

“See you on Monday, then. Bye, Bri.”

 

“Goodbye, Ted.” Brian whispered.

 

He put the phone on the coffee table, but it started to ring again immediately.

 

“What?”

 

“Mr. Kinney, it’s Dave, sir. I’m here.”

 

“Wait, I’ll be right there,” Brian said, hanging up.

 

He walked to the door, where his suitcase was waiting. No Armani suits or Hugo Boss pants inside. Well, maybe two or three.  But mostly regular jeans, T-shirts (he was growing fond of T-shirts lately), socks, underwear. He stopped and took one last look at the loft, the place that screamed his life in every corner, the place that helped him know who he was.  And he felt that familiar pang inside his chest again.

 

Picking up the suitcase, he opened the door, listening to the sound of the metal. He remembered hearing it the night Justin left almost two years ago. Now the loft, along with the blond, would be a memory, at least for the time being. Later…well, the future would take care of itself; there was no point in guessing. Then, he took a deep breath; it was time, and nothing would make him change his mind. Closing the door, he went down the stairs, left the building with decided steps and entered the cab waiting for him outside. And he didn't look back even once.