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Creating a Family

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Brian pressed down harder on the gas pedal and cursed at the car in front of him for not letting him pass. He tried to ignore all the questions Mikey fired at him hysterically, knowing he couldn't break down. Not yet. Not before he found out what the hell had happened.

Glancing into the rearview mirror, he saw the confused expression on the trick’s face. What the fuck was his name again? Brian frowned. James? Justin? John? Something with a J. Maybe. Brian had pretty much pushed him out of bed and into the car without any explanation other than they had to get to the hospital after a quick detour to pick up Michael.

Their eyes met for a short second, and the boy smiled at him hesitantly. Brian appreciated him being quiet after the way he'd talked at record speed earlier in the loft. He reached out toward Mikey. Taking his hand, he asked him in the nicest way possible to shut up. He said he’d already told him everything he knew and that he didn’t know what had gone wrong.

Brian kept hearing Melanie’s panicked voice on his answering machine, asking him to come to the hospital right fucking now. She said she’d tried to call him all night, but he hadn’t picked up and now it was too late. It was all over. He'd heard a soft cry in the background before Mel hung up, and he thought to himself at least he'd have that to hold onto if it was the only time he’d ever hear his child’s voice. It wouldn’t be enough, but at least he’d have that.

Brian double-parked his Jeep in front of the hospital and propelled the trick out of his way when he tried to get to the parking meter.

“But you might get a ticket.” The trick’s eyes were huge as he pointed to the sign that stated No Free Parking at any Time.

“What’s your name again?”

“Justin.”

“Okay, Justin. I’m not sure why I brought you . . .”

“Because my parents can’t know I’ve been out all night.”

“Oh, right. Anyway, you can’t come in with us.”

“Sure I can.” Justin stormed off after Mikey, and a look over his shoulder told him Brian followed close behind.

Running through the corridors, they followed the signs to the maternity ward. Brian recognized some of Lindsay and Melanie’s friends and stopped long enough for them to point to the right room. They all had tears running down their cheeks, and considering how tough those chicks were, that scared him more than he wanted to think about.

When they neared the room, they heard a woman sobbing on the other side of the door. Brian took a shaky breath and opened it. The sight of Mel holding onto a newborn infant made him double over in heartbreak as he began to understand the reason for her phone call.

Michael pushed the door open to get to Brian. Justin slowly followed him inside, suddenly not so sure he should be there.

“What happened? What the fuck happened, Mel?” Brian’s voice was barely audible.

“She was so brave. She started bleeding, but she didn’t give up. She didn’t give up, Brian! She didn’t let them pump her full of drugs. She wanted to see him. Hold him." Mel blew her nose and started crying again. "She was so beautiful when she held him. She loved him instantly.”

Michael broke down in tears. Justin tried to comfort him with a hand on his shoulder, but it was shrugged off.

“They couldn’t stop the bleeding, and she just drifted off. It was peaceful.” Mel looked up at Brian as if she hadn’t noticed it was him she was talking to. “Where the fuck were you?”

“Nowhere near my phone.”

“Out fucking the night your son was born and your best friend died? Selfish asshole!” She woke the baby in her arms. “Shit! It’s all your fault! Get out of here.”

“I’ll try to find a doctor to tell me what the hell went wrong.”

“She’s gone, Brian. That’s what’s fucking wrong.”

Brian motioned for the boy to get out.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, taking Brian’s hand.

Brian snatched it from his hold and walked away from him.

“Hey, wait up!”

“Listen, Justin.”

Justin bravely met his stare.

“You have to leave. I don’t care if your parents find out you’ve broken their rules, but you can’t stay here. Just leave, would you?”

A doctor walked by, and Brian grabbed his arm to stop him. “I’m Brian Kinney. My son was born tonight. His mom . . .” Brian’s voice broke, and he had to take a deep breath to continue. “She didn’t make it. I need you to tell me why.”

“Of course.” The doctor led Brian into his office and closed the door behind them.

Justin stood in the middle of the corridor, not knowing what to do. He wasn’t going home. He couldn’t leave Brian. Justin already knew he was the one, and you just don’t leave someone you love. He sat down outside the room where Mel was still crying, hearing Mikey’s calm voice even though he couldn’t make out the words.

One of the women noticed him. “Who’re you?”

“Justin. I’m . . . a friend of Brian's.”

She laughed hard. “So you’re tonight’s trick?”

“Um, no? I don’t understand.”

“Did he fuck you?”

“No.”

“Really? Well, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.”

Justin wasn’t going to tell them about the hand job he’d gotten that made him shoot so hard he could still feel it in his balls.

Minutes later, Brian came back, his cheeks red and wet with tears. “What the fuck are you still doing here?”

Justin shrugged. “Did you get any answers?”

Brian leaned against the wall and pulled Justin into his chest, resting their foreheads together. “Yeah. Not that it changes anything.” He buried his nose in Justin’s hair. “I should go in there again.”

Justin went up on the tips of his toes and placed his lips against Brian’s, waiting for him to kiss him back. They breathed against each other until Brian pushed his tongue into Justin’s mouth and hugged him tightly.

Michael peeked out the door and frowned when he saw them together. “Brian! Get your ass back here.”

Justin let go of Brian. He knew it was bad timing, but he couldn't help feeling a happy flutter in his stomach.

“What are you doing cuddling that kid?”

Brian ignored Michael and sat next to Melanie, who seemed to have calmed down a bit. “I talked to the doctor.” He ran his fingers down her back in a soothing gesture.

She leaned into his touch and looked up at him, her eyes red and her face pale. “Do you want to hold your son?” She placed the baby in Brian’s hands when he nodded. “Don’t drop him,” she whispered.

“That’s exactly what I was planning on doing.” Brian’s stare met hers, both of them knowing they were trying to keep things normal even though the one person who tied them together was gone. He lifted his son to his lips and kissed him. He wanted to tell Lindsay how fucking perfect their son was, but he handed him back to Mel when his arms went numb and his heart raced, making him feel as if he were going to faint.

“Are you okay?” Mikey was by his side in seconds.

“What the hell do you think?” Melanie answered. She noticed Justin standing in the corner, watching them in silence. “Who’re you?”

“I’m with Brian.” He blushed, tapping his foot on the floor.

A look at Brian told her now was not the time to complain about his lifestyle.

“Where is she?”

“Who?”

“Lindsay. Where is she? I want to see her.”

“Brian.”

“No. I have to see her.”

“You couldn’t have done anything.” Mel put an arm around him after she placed the baby in his arms again. “He needs you now. Not Lindsay.”

“No, he doesn’t. He needs his mother.”

Justin stepped up to them and held out his arms. “He’s sleeping. I’ll sit with him over there if you want to go see Lindsay.” He nodded towards the chair in the corner.

“You can bring him,” Melanie said.

“No, I don’t want him in there.” Brian handed the baby over to Justin.

“She looks very peaceful. Like she’s sleeping.”

“Doesn’t matter. He’s not coming with us.”

Justin sat back and hugged the baby tightly to his chest.

“It’s not like he’ll remember seeing her later on,” Mikey said.

“Well, then he really doesn’t need to go in, does he?” Brian gripped Mel’s arm and walked them out the door.

Slowly entering the candlelit room, Brian held Melanie up when she slumped over at the sight of her partner lying on a hospital bed with a white sheet pulled up to her chin.

“She’s beautiful.” Mel stroked a strand of hair on Lindsay’s forehead.

Brian sat down by the bed, not sure what to do or how to react. He found himself thinking of how to get a hold of Anita. He could definitely use her shitty drugs right now. Or a fuck. Sighing, he finally looked down at Lindsay.

“I’m sorry I had to leave the message on your answering machine. I didn’t know what to do when I couldn’t reach you. And I’m sorry I yelled at you earlier.”

“Sorry’s bullshit,” Brian mumbled out of habit. “I left my phone at home. I didn’t know . . .” His voice trailed off, his hand finding Mel’s and their fingers entwining over Lindsay’s head.

“I called her parents earlier. They broke down, of course, and said they’d be here first thing tomorrow. God! I hope they don’t try to take him from me.”

“Why would they?”

“I’m not his mom. I’m not anyone.” On the verge of hysteria, Melanie took deep breaths.

“If they give you a hard time, tell them his dad has no intention of letting them ruin his son’s life. They can’t claim him as theirs since he’s mine . . . in every way possible.”

“What about me?” Mel winced at how pathetic she sounded.

“You still want him, don’t you?”

“Of course I still want him! What’s wrong with you for even asking that?”

“Calm down. We’re in this together, even though just saying it makes my cock shrink.”

“Very funny.” She glared at him, but she was grateful that some things never seemed to change between them. “Yes, I still want him. I’m not giving him up, Brian. He’s our child. Mine and Lindsay’s. And yours.”

“I never wanted to be a dad.”

She waited for him to continue.

“But with these new rules that life apparently decided to throw at us, I guess we’ll have to find a way to take care of him together.”

Melanie sighed in relief. “Thanks for saying together.” She wiped away the tears streaming down her face.

“You’re one of his moms even though your cunt wasn’t enough to knock her up.”

“Fuck you,” she mumbled. Glancing down at Lindsay, Mel thought she would have been so proud to hear their conversation. It looked like her wish that they'd find a way to get along was finally coming true.

“Okay? Are you done freaking out for now?”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Brian leaned in and kissed Lindsay’s cheek. “Our son is perfect, Wendy.”

Chapter Text

Every fiber in Brian’s body screamed at him to make a run for it, to get the hell out of that hospital and never look back. It took all of his determination to go back to his son’s room and not give in to his instincts and do what everyone expected him to do.

“The nurse brought him a bottle when he started crying. Michael went out to call his mother and you and Melanie weren’t here, so I gave it to him. I hope you don’t mind. You can take him now if you want to. There’s still some left.”

Brian crouched down next to Justin for a second. “No, I don’t want to disturb him while he’s eating.”

“He’s beautiful, isn’t he?” Justin smiled widely at Mel when she came in. Then he remembered that it might be inappropriate. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Melanie nodded and stroked over the baby’s head. She carefully took him from Justin’s arms when the bottle was empty and carried him over to the bed and placed him in Brian’s arms.

“Ma will be here soon,” Michael said. “She’ll know what to do.” He waited for Brian to explode or at least call him pathetic for calling her, but he got no response at all. That was even more disturbing.

Brian lifted the baby to his nose and inhaled his smell for a long time. “Hi, Sonny Boy,” he breathed against his skin. He kissed his forehead and smiled when he heard Deb’s voice from the corridor, knowing she was apparently ready to take over the situation. Seconds later, both he and his son were wrapped up in her arms.

“I’m so fucking sorry.”

“Careful, Ma. You might end up squishing your first grandson.” Brian laughed when Deb cursed and let go of him.

“Give him to me,” she ordered, sitting on the bed next to Brian with her feet firmly planted on the floor. The love in her eyes shone through when she held the baby for the first time. “Who will take care of him?”

“Both of us.”

“Brian, you can’t be serious. You can’t handle a kid in your life.” Michael got so upset that he started to pace the floor.

“Why not?” Justin sounded surprised.

“Because he works too much and parties too hard. He drinks and does drugs and fucks everyone he can get his hands on!”

“Except his friends.” Brian winked at Justin. “And you. Not yet, anyway.”

Justin blushed, but he couldn’t help beaming at Brian.

“I can’t believe this is happening.” Debbie blew her nose. “You girls were so happy to be parents, and now this. Whatever you two decide on, you know I’ll be here for you. I’ll take him myself if it comes down to that. Mel, are you staying here for the rest of the night?”

“I think I need to. I can’t leave them here.”

“I’ll stay with you.” Debbie shooed the others out of the room. “Melanie needs to rest, and the baby will be sound asleep for hours.”

“I’ll drive you home.” Michael put his arm around Brian’s waist as they walked out with Justin in tow. “What are you doing?” he asked when Justin jumped inside the Jeep. “You’re not coming with us!”

“Stop it. Just take us back to the loft.” Brian sat in the back with Justin, leaning his head against his shoulder.

Michael turned and glared at them every now and then, but he kept quiet the entire way. “I’ll walk back to my place. I guess you’ll need the car tomorrow.”

“Take a cab,” Brian mumbled, handing him a stack of bills. He opened his building’s door and pushed the button for the elevator, too tired to even think about climbing the stairs.

Justin stepped in behind him, not sure what to say or do. He glanced up at Brian, hoping to get some clue as to what was expected of him.

“You can sleep on the sofa. Just don’t wake me up when you leave in the morning.”

“Of course not.” Justin checked his watch and realized he had to be at school in just hours.

Brian poured himself a drink and threw a blanket in Justin’s direction. He made a beeline for his computer then went straight to bed. He didn’t think he’d be able to fall asleep, but he drifted off the second his head hit the pillow and didn’t move until his phone rang at noon the next day.

“They need the dad to sign some papers so they can release the baby.”

He was a fucking dad. Brian fell back onto the bed and closed his eyes in an attempt to step back into his real world. The one he’d left the second he heard Melanie’s voice on his answering machine the night before.

“Brian?”

“Give me thirty minutes to get there.”

“You’re not at work?”

“I sent Cynthia an email and asked her to clear my calendar for the rest of the week.”

“Can you stop by the house and pick up the car seat?”

“Need anything else?”

“No.”

“Have Lindsay’s parents been there yet?”

“Her whole family came in early. They took turns holding the baby for a couple of minutes, then they sat with Lindsay for a long time before making arrangements to have her moved.” Melanie quietly shushed the baby, who’d just awakened and looked like he was about to cry.

“Is he okay?”

“I think he misses Lindsay’s voice and her heartbeat.”

“He’ll get over it.”

“Brian!”

“What? He’s a day old. I’m sure he’ll be fine even without Lindsay. It’s us I’m worried about,” he mumbled as he hung up.

Mel put the phone down and smiled at the fussing baby in her arms. “Your daddy cleared his calendar. He doesn’t do that for just anyone, you know.” She dried another tear from her cheek, annoyed with herself for not being able to stop. “I promise I’m not like this every day. Just when the love of my life dies on me.”

The baby wiggled his finger against hers and made a gurgling sound, sending her into another round of waterworks.

After a quick shower and a look around the loft to make sure Justin had really left, Brian drove over to the hospital. He nodded at the woman working the information desk. “I’m here to sign some papers so you’ll release my son.”

“Your name?”

“Brian Kinney.”

She searched through her papers and checked her computer twice then looked up at him. “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t seem to find you.”

“Try Melanie Marcus or Lindsay Peterson.” God, even saying her name felt like a punch in the gut and made his knees weak.

“Oh, I see. Yes, of course. I have the papers right here.” She fumbled when she handed them to him. “I’m so sorry for your family’s loss.”

“Can I write you a check now?”

“You don’t have to pay everything at once. We could set up a plan.” She handed over another paper that listed all the costs and watched him make out a check for the total and sign it without even flinching.

“Where is he?”

“Room 3B. Same as yesterday. It’s right over there.”

Brian leaned his head against the doorjamb and took a deep breath before entering.

“He’s sleeping. Do you want to hold him?”

“No. Is everything packed?”

“Yeah. Did you already take care of the papers?”

“I did, and I’ve paid for everything.”

“You didn’t have to do that!”

“Don’t! Just don’t.”

“Thank you, Brian. God, I can’t believe how often I’ve said those words during the last twelve hours.”

“I feel your pain,” he drawled, picking up her bags. “Ready to leave?”

They started to walk out of the hospital ward but stopped at the glass doors, both looking back towards the room Lindsay had been in the night before.

“She’s not there anymore,” Mel finally whispered, nudging Brian’s elbow with her fingertips. “She’s gone.”

Brian folded his lips inward and gripped the bags’ straps even tighter. “Let’s get out of here.” He pushed through the doors and hurried down the corridor with long strides. It hurt; it fucking hurt to know that Lindsay wouldn’t be going home with them. He felt like he was choking. Like he’d fall over and never be able to stand up again.

Melanie sensed he needed some time alone and slowed her steps. She focused on the sleeping beauty she was carrying in the new car seat she and Lindsay had bought just weeks earlier. It bumped her knee on every step she took, but he didn’t even seem to notice. Finally catching up with Brian by his Jeep, she fastened the baby down in the back seat.

“Where’s your car?” Brian looked across the parking lot.

“We came in the ambulance last night. Drive slowly or I’ll fucking get out and walk us there.”

Brian sent her a death glare, but she looked down at the baby and didn’t notice it.

“We need to give him a name.”

“I thought Lindsay said you had everything figured out and ready for him to arrive.”

“Everything but the name. She wanted Gus, but I like Abraham.” Melanie started to cry again. “It’s so fucking unfair! She should be here.”

“Well, out of those two alternatives, I’m gonna have to go with Gus.”

“Shocking that you’re on her side,” Mel muttered, but she couldn’t stop herself from smiling at Brian in the mirror. “Gus Kinney. I guess it’s a good butch name.” The car swerved, making her yelp. “What the fuck?”

Brian got it under control and exhaled slowly. “Dog on the road.” Gus Kinney. Gus Kinney. Gus Kinney. The words throbbed inside his head. He had a son. A son who had his last name. That wasn’t what he’d signed up for when he jerked off into that cup. Hardly noticing, he turned up in front of their house and watched Melanie carefully maneuver Gus out of the car. He jumped out to help her, holding the door open and grabbing the bags.

Melanie sat down on the sofa and took Gus in her arms. “I take it you don’t have a nursery ready for him at the loft.”

“Not likely.”

“If you want to take him home with you, we’ll need to take his crib apart so you can put it in your Jeep.”

“I don’t. You have everything he needs right here, and this is where he’ll stay. At least for now. I have a week off, and I’m guessing you’re not going into work anytime soon either?”

“I have ten days before I need to go back.”

“That’ll give us enough time to get the hang of this.”

“This? This being?”

“The baby.” Brian bit his lip. “Gus.”

“I’ll go upstairs to get some clothes for him and maybe a blanket. Does he feel cold?”

Brian felt Gus’s hands. “He’s warm.”

“I’ll get them anyway.” Melanie stood and looked down at the two of them. It seemed as if Brian were already hooked. She smiled when he took Gus’s foot in his hand and jiggled it carefully.

Brian watched her leave, then he rested his head on the back of the sofa and closed his eyes, hoping to catch a few minutes of sleep. He was jerked back to reality when he heard Mel crying loudly upstairs. He buckled Gus into the infant seat and got up. “What happened?”

“Nothing.”

“Need some help?” He felt fucking stupid standing there shouting at a staircase.

“No!” Melanie’s voice broke, and she cried even harder.

“Fuck this.” Brian grabbed Gus in his seat and walked up to the second floor. “Where are you?”

“In here.”

Rolling his eyes, he took the steps two at a time. He found her sitting on the floor in the nursery, holding onto a picture of herself and Lindsay hugging each other.

“She wanted this to be the first thing he saw when he woke up every morning.”

Brian winced, remembering how Lindsay had shown him everything they’d bought for the baby when he’d been up here with her just days ago. She’d been so happy and excited that she was finally going to meet him. She was finally going to meet their son for the first time. Mel was right. It was fucking unfair. Brian put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it, then he took Gus downstairs with him again.

Placing the infant seat on the table, he searched through the kitchen cabinets for the formula and bottles Lindsay told him she’d bought so Mel could feed the baby, too. When he finally found them, he read the instructions on the formula and put everything together, careful not to bump into Gus as he moved around.

“What are you doing?”

“Just getting this ready for when he wakes up.” Brian waved the bottle at Melanie.

As if on cue, the baby’s eyes fluttered open and his face scrunched up.

“Give it to me.” Melanie tested the formula to make sure it wasn’t too hot and carefully brought the nipple to Gus’s mouth. She sighed when he ignored it. “I struggled to get him to take a bottle for half an hour this morning at the hospital.” She tilted the nipple at a different angle and relaxed when he started to suck on the third try. “Okay. So far, so good.”

Brian fell down on the sofa and watched the two of them as the bottle was slowly and steadily emptied. “I’ll take him once he’s done. Why don’t you try to get some sleep? You look like shit.”

“You don’t look so hot yourself.”

“I’m always hot.” Brian walked back up to the nursery and lay on the floor next to Gus’s crib. He drifted off until Gus made a whimpering sound that instantly woke him. Opening his shirt, he placed Gus on his chest, smiling when it seemed to calm him down. “Your mom had to join James Dean and the other legends. The ones who’ll always be young and beautiful. One day I’ll tell you everything about them.”

Brian felt his son’s heart beating against his own, no longer able to stop the tears from falling.

Chapter Text

The next couple of days went by in a haze of trying to understand the mysterious ways in which their son worked and an extended argument over the Bris. An argument that left Mel devastated when Brian had finally won and him feeling shitty. While they’d been trying to recover, Lindsay’s dad called to give them the information about the funeral, sending Melanie back into tears and Brian outside to chain-smoke three cigarettes before taking the baby and letting her have some time alone.

“I’m going back to work next week.” Brian wiped Gus’s mouth and put him over his shoulder to burp him. Not ready to part with the shirt he was wearing just yet, he was careful to aim the baby’s mouth for the burp rag.

“I still have a couple of days left before they expect me back. I guess we’ll have to find someone to take care of him?”

“Listen, if you want to stay home with Gus, I’ll pay for it.”

Mel thought about it for a long time. Even though she was grateful he’d offered her that much money, she was also a bit annoyed. In the end, she knew she couldn’t do it. “I don’t think I’d make a good stay-at-home mom. But he’s still so small, I can’t really think about letting anyone else take care of him.”

Brian folded his lips in and nodded. “Would we still be able to work if we took turns having him every other week?”

“I’d need to clear it with the firm, but that could actually be a possibility as long as I show up for appointments and court dates. I’d have to work nights and weekends, but that’s not really a problem. It’s not like I get enough sleep anyway.”

Two days of negotiations later, they’d both convinced their bosses they could meet client expectations in half the time they normally spent on them without letting it interfere with the quality of their work.

“So, it’s settled then.” Brian hung up after explaining the situation to Cynthia, who promised to take on anything she could to help him. “You have him after the funeral, and I’ll have him the week after that.” It still felt fucking surreal to be sharing a kid with Melanie, but for two people who’d barely been able to tolerate each other, he was surprised they’d made it this far without too much drama.

---------

Melanie sat on the sofa and cradled Gus in her arms. She’d been up most of the night trying to come to terms with the fact that she was going to bury Lindsay. The mother of her child. The one she’d hoped to grow old with. She stared straight ahead in an attempt to keep it together and ignore everyone who talked to her. The house was filled with family and friends who were trying to help out with anything she might need, but their loud voices and nervous energy were about to break her. Melanie hissed when someone sat next to her and tried to take Gus.

“Hey, calm down. I just wanted to hold my son.”

“Shit! Sorry.” Carefully handing the baby to Brian, she watched him nuzzle his nose into Gus’s face.

“Have you slept at all?”

“No.”

A loud crash in the kitchen drove Brian to his feet. “Okay, that’s it!” His voice traveled around the house, making everyone stop what they were doing. “Everybody out. Now! Mel needs to rest before the funeral.”

Everyone looked at each other and shrugged, not able to find a reason to argue with him.

“Do you want me to take Gus to our house now?” Dusty looked at Brian when Melanie didn’t answer. She’d offered to babysit during the funeral and they’d happily accepted, not wanting to bring Gus with them.

“No, he’s staying with me until it’s time to leave. Lie down,” Brian ordered Mel, throwing her a blanket.

“Could you be anymore demanding?” Dusty’s soft voice took the edge off her words.

Brian ignored her and picked up a pacifier and the ever-present bottle.

“Who knew you’d turn out to be a good dad?”

“Lindsay,” Mel whispered, curling up on the sofa. “Lindsay knew.”

----------

Brian staggered up the stairs to the loft, drunk out of his mind but still not numb enough to get any sort of relief. Pictures of the funeral lingered behind his eyes, painful reminders that Lindsay was forever lost to the world. He frowned at the boy leaning against his door. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.” Justin smiled sweetly.

“Why?”

“Why not?”

“Lucky for you I’m drunk, or I would have . . .” Brian’s voice drifted off as he pointed down the stairs.

Justin tried not to laugh. He stepped out of the way so Brian could open the door, then he strolled in after him.

“What do you want?”

“You.”

“I’ve already had you. I don’t do repeats.”

“Technically, you’ve never had me.”

“Huh?”

“We’ve never actually fucked.”

“Your loss.”

“I know.”

They stared at each other until Brian shrugged and began to undress. “I’m taking a shower.”

“I’ll join you.” Justin eagerly threw off his clothes and hurried after him.

Brian stood under the spray with his eyes closed, ignoring the kid next to him who’d bit the tip of his thumbnail and glanced around the shower stall the last time he looked at him.

Justin’s fingers shook slightly when he reached for the soap and started to wash Brian’s chest, staring at his face in search of a reaction that would get him thrown out. When he didn’t see one, he became braver and told Brian to hold his arms out. Justin smiled when Brian obeyed. He wanted so badly to ask about the baby, but he decided not to when he saw the shadows and lines on Brian’s face. There was probably a reason why he was drunk at seven o’clock on a Thursday night.

Justin traced Brian’s muscles down to his waist then back up again. “Turn around.” He started to slowly massage Brian’s shoulders, which looked as if they belonged on a Greek sculpture.

“God, that feels great.”

Putting a little more force into it, Justin felt Brian relax under his touch. He soaped his hands again and ran them quickly over Brian’s ass, taking a deep breath as he reached around his hips and slid his fingers along Brian’s cock. He gasped when he felt how full and heavy it was.

“Aah,” Brian moaned when he looked down at the strong fingers working on his shaft. His hips snapped forward, pushing his dick faster through the tunnel Justin’s fingers created. “Fuck! You’re gonna make me come.”

Justin grinned behind his back, yelping when Brian gripped his arm and spun Justin around in front of him. Justin ended up with his chest pressed against the shower’s glass door and Brian’s dick pushing at the small of his back.

“Still a virgin?”

“Yeah.”

Brian cursed and backed away from him.

“No! Don’t stop. I want you.”

“Not like this.” Brian handed Justin a towel and steered him towards the bed.

Lying down, Justin's heart fluttered when Brian arranged himself between his legs and told him to put them on his shoulders. Justin slowly raised his legs, gasping at how exposed he felt. Opening the condom Brian handed him, he hoped he wouldn’t fuck up while rolling it on Brian’s cock.

“Good boy.” Brian reached for the lube, watching Justin tremble with anticipation while he readied him. Slowly working the head of his dick inside, Brian made sure not to rush things, bending forward to kiss Justin in an attempt to distract himself from the tightest ass he’d had in a long time. When Justin begged him to move, he carefully slid all the way in, pulled back, and started over again, angling it a bit differently to hit all the right spots and give the teenager a first time he’d always remember.

Justin giggled when they’d both come a second time, lying exhausted and tangled up in the middle of the bed. “That was amazing!”

“Not too bad.” Brian wiggled his hand free and lit a cigarette.

“Really?” Justin sat up and looked closely at him. “You think I did okay?”

“You did more than okay. Your ass is fucking lethal.”

Justin fell back again and buried his head in the crook of Brian’s neck.

Hours later, even though they’d fucked themselves into a state of near unconsciousness, Brian managed to set the alarm before they fell into a heavy sleep.

The next morning, Justin waited impatiently for Brian to get dressed. “You need to drive me to school.”

“I already said I would.”

“Could you hurry up? I don’t want to miss my first class.”

“You should have thought of that before you decided to stay the night.”

“I didn’t have much choice once you pinned me to the bed.”

Brian bent down to kiss Justin but ended up pulling at his clothes again to take them off.

Justin broke free and ran towards the door. “Come on!”

“God, you’re bossy.”

“How’s the baby?” Justin finally asked when they were sitting in the car.

“Great.”

“Is he staying with Melanie?”

“This week, yes.”

“I bet he’s cute. Can I see him?”

“No.”

“Please? I can babysit him.”

“Not likely to happen.”

“When can I see you again?”

“You can’t.”

“You’re not getting rid of me.”

“What are you gonna do, stalk me?”

“If that’s what it takes.”

“We’re here.” Brian pulled up in front of St. James. “Get out.”

“Okay, later.” Justin wasn’t going to give up that easily. He felt like he’d won when he caught Brian checking out his ass as he walked away.

----------

Brian cursed and stopped himself from throwing the wrench across the loft. Who the hell designed cribs that were impossible to set up? He downed another drink and started over again. An hour later, he was finally straightening the sheet on the mattress and reaching for the fluffy rabbit Debbie had insisted would be Gus’s first best friend. The minute he sat down to light a joint, Mel called. “Hey.”

“Do you have everything he needs, or should I pack something?”

“I’ve got it covered.”

“Maybe some clothes?”

Brian looked over at the stack of baby clothes he’d bribed Cynthia into buying. “No.”

“Okay. We’ll be there at ten tomorrow morning.” Mel was emotionally and physically exhausted, having lived through the toughest weeks of her life. Looking forward to time alone, she anticipated long days at the office and nights when she’d have a chance to really grieve Lindsay.

Brian ran down the stairs the next morning when he heard the buzzer for the building’s front door. He helped Melanie transport Gus, the infant seat, and tons of shit into the elevator. “I thought I said you didn’t have to bring anything.”

“I know. I’ll take it all back if you don’t want it.”

“Leave it.” Brian placed Gus in his seat and set it on the coffee table, making sure it wouldn’t tip over or fall off.

Mel rummaged through the stuff she’d laid by the door. “I brought this. Not sure if you have one.”

“A handbag? It’s safe to say I don’t.”

“It’s a diaper bag. You need it when you take him out.”

“You couldn’t have bought one without pink flowers?”

“Believe me, it wasn’t my choice.”

They both looked down at Gus as the sorrow of losing Lindsay took over once again.

“I should get going.” Melanie kissed Gus and hurried out the door before she started crying, not at all ready for her heart to break into thousands of pieces when she had to leave the baby behind. She forced herself to breathe slowly as she drove off, knowing that Brian would do a great job with Gus. She studied his every move the week they stayed at her house, and he hadn’t made any more mistakes than she had. Still, it felt like turning around and taking Gus home with her again was the only right thing to do.

Brian went through everything Melanie had brought and found a few things he’d overlooked even though he never would have admitted it. By the time he was done, Gus had fallen asleep. “Feel free to keep that up.” He placed his son next to his computer and worked his way through all of two emails before Gus woke up. “Are you hungry?”

Gus tried to focus on him, but he scrunched up his face and started to whine.

“Okay, okay. Take it easy.” Brian quickly made a bottle and exhaled when Gus took it right away. “Your sucking skills are improving, Sonny Boy.”

After a nauseating diaper disaster and an hour of crying, Brian decided to take a walk in an attempt to calm them both down. He glared at the cheap-looking bag when he passed it in the hallway. No fucking way he’d be seen with it. Searching through his closet, he looked for the Prada shoulder bag he knew was in there somewhere. It was last season’s, but he figured he could stand it for now.

At 9:30 he sat down on the bed, exhausted but happy to have survived the day. He pulled Gus’s crib closer then curled up and fell asleep, the work he’d planned on doing long forgotten about. When he woke up a third time before midnight, Brian thought for a brief moment of asking Mel to come and rescue him. Thankfully, a bottle seemed to calm Gus down long enough for both of them to get some real sleep.

By the end of the week, Brian had stopped looking into mirrors and was ignoring the stains on his clothes. His daily walks in the park with Gus and the odd visits from Deb were not enough of a reason to spend valuable time in the shower. When a delivery guy didn’t even try to flirt with him, he just sighed, picked up Gus and the food, and returned to the couch, thinking his life was pretty much over.

Chapter Text

Justin sneaked out of his room and talked Daphne into driving him to Babylon. “I can’t wait to see Brian again!”

“How do you know he’s going to be here?”

“I’ll keep searching the clubs until I find him, but I’m pretty sure this is where he is.” Slamming the car door, Justin lit a cigarette while quickly walking up to the bouncer. He flashed him a smile and his ID card at the same time. Inside, he scanned the guys leaning on the bar then walked up to the platform to search the dance floor, ignoring those who tried to pick him up.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

Justin turned towards a nice looking man. “I’m looking for someone.”

The guy seemed surprised that Justin actually spoke to him. “Maybe you just found him?” he said shyly.

“I’m sorry, but it’s not you.”

“Yeah, can’t say I’m too shocked.”

“Don’t worry, Teddy. You’ll find someone soon.” A slender, colorful man hugged Teddy’s shoulder.

Justin smiled at them and kept walking through the crowd when his eyes caught the reason why he was here. He hurried downstairs again and touched Brian’s arm with his hand. “Hey.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Dancing with you.” Justin wiggled his eyebrows and molded his body against Brian’s, forcing him to move with him. He pulled Brian’s head down a little so his lips could reach Brian’s and kissed him tentatively at first. He deepened the kiss when Brian didn’t stop him. “You should take me home and fuck me for hours.”

“Not gonna happen. I’m gonna make it an early night. I could let you blow me in the back room, though.”

“Why?”

“Because I enjoy blow jobs, and you should be so lucky to be seen with me in there.”

“Oh, please. Who hasn’t been seen with you in there? I meant why are you leaving early?”

“None of your business.”

“Tell me.”

Brian bent down and kissed the pouting lips that were starting to feel a bit too familiar against his. “Mel is dropping Gus off in the morning.”

“Gus? My first teddy bear was named Gus.”

“Fucking fantastic.”

“Can I see him?”

“Want to blow me or not?”

Justin took a step backward and looked at the walking wet dream in front of himself. He knew he was probably about to make a huge mistake, but he wanted Brian for so much more than that. “No, it’s okay.”

Brian sighed, pulling him back.

“What?”

“Don’t be a twat.”

“I’m not. I just don’t want to be someone you’ll forget about the second you come.”

“That’s how I work.”

“Okay.” Justin tried to leave, but Brian held onto his arm.

“God, you’re annoying.”

“Well, let go of me and I’ll be out of your hair in a second.”

“Come on.”

“Where?”

“The loft.” Brian blamed it on sleep deprivation and the kid’s amazing ass, which his hands wandered towards as soon as he stopped controlling them. Once in the car, he fiddled with the stereo until he found some music he approved of. “He’s one month today.”

“I know.”

“Mel and I are still trying to find some routine for this. Neither of us were prepared to stay home with him.” Brian shook his head. Where the hell had that come from?

“How are you handling it?”

“We each have him every other week. When it’s my turn, I try to work when he’s sleeping, but I’m constantly behind. I have no idea how Melanie handles it with the workload she has. She doesn’t complain, though.”

“Do you? To her, I mean.”

“No, I guess not.”

“Hard for her to complain to you since she risks losing him if you decide to keep him all to yourself.”

Brian stared at Justin as he parked the car. “I’d never do that.”

“Yeah, but still, it must be difficult for her.”

“How old are you again? Fifty?”

“I’m turning eighteen soon.”

Two blow jobs later, Brian fell asleep and Justin decided to stay because he hadn’t been told to leave.

Justin was searching for his shoes when the loft’s door slid open the next morning and Melanie entered with Gus in her arms.

“Hi.”

“Who’re you?”

“Justin. We met the night Gus was born.”

“Oh, right. Sorry, I didn’t recognize you. Where’s Brian?"

“Here.” Brian came out of the bathroom, drying his face after shaving.

Mel studied him closely, the dark shadows on his face more prominent than they’d been when she’d seen him just days earlier.

“No, I’m not drunk, hungover, or high.”

“I wasn’t thinking you were. You look tired, that’s all.”

Brian pointed at Justin. “He kept me up all night worshipping my cock.”

“I did not!” Justin blushed furiously. “I didn’t.”

“I believe you.”

“Justin, can you watch Gus? I need to talk to Mel.”

“Sure.” Justin took the baby into the bedroom and eavesdropped shamelessly on their conversation.

“I’m tired as fuck because our son keeps me up every other week and I work around the clock the weeks I don’t have him while also trying to have some sort of social life.”

Melanie nodded.

“What about you?”

“I’m fine.”

“The fuck you are!”

“Excuse me?”

“You’ve been fine for a month. I don’t believe you. If I ask, I want the truth.”

“Exhausted. Tired. Scared. Sad. Devastated. Is that enough for you? What do you want, Brian? To pull me further down into my misery?”

“Believe it or not, I care about you.”

“Really?”

“Of course I do. You’re the one I share my kid with.”

“Not by choice.”

“Look, I won’t try to take him away from you. You’d have to fuck up majorly for me to even care. That said, I think we need to get some help.”

As much as Mel hated it, she had to agree with him. “I don’t want to put him in day care, though. Not yet.”

“So, how do we solve it?”

“Deb and Vic volunteer to babysit every time I see them. Even if we can’t ask them to take him every single day, maybe we can use them when we’re really stuck?”

“Are you coming to Sunday night dinner tomorrow?”

“I’m planning on it. Why?”

“Might be a good time to ask them.”

Mel’s shoulders relaxed as she managed to take a deep breath for the first time in what felt like weeks. The future suddenly didn’t seem too bad now that she knew they had a way out when things got rough. “I really need to go. Thanks for switching weekends with me.”

Justin walked over to them when Brian told him to get his ass back there. “I’m a mean babysitter if you need help.”

“I can tell.” Mel kissed her sleeping son and punched Brian’s arm on her way out.

“If you want to work, I can take care of him for a couple of hours.”

Brian eyed Justin, trying to figure out if it was a good idea to encourage him.

“The second he starts crying and won’t stop, he’s all yours.”

“Fine.” Brian fired up his computer, losing himself in the load of work that needed his attention. From a distance, he heard Justin talking nonstop to the baby when he was awake and singing quietly to him to keep him asleep.

Justin made a point of not disturbing Brian, although he did ask him before he fed Gus to make sure he didn’t screw up. He really enjoyed being around the baby, glancing over at Brian from time to time to make sure he was real. He’d dreamt about just being close to him since the first time he’d met him, and now here he was spending a night and a day with him.

Brian finished up an ad and had time to go over several ideas and emails he was sadly behind on. He emailed Cynthia, again thankful that she’d stepped in and covered for him more often than not lately. Then he got up and stretched his long, lean body. “I’ll take Gus out for a walk. I need some fresh air.” He handed Justin a couple of bills.

“You don’t have to pay me! I didn’t do it for that.”

Sensing he was serious, Brian put the money away and rolled his lips in. “Thank you.”

“Here.” Justin handed Brian a note with his phone number on it. “Call me if you need help.” He went up on his tiptoes and kissed him. “Later.”

Brian waved Gus’s tiny hand at him. “Bye, Justin.”

“Bye, Gus.” Justin’s smile almost split his face in half as he bounced down the stairs.

“So, Sonny Boy, ready to spend some time with your old man?”

Gus blinked a couple of times, gurgled, and fell back to sleep.

Brian walked for a long time, finally letting everything come crashing down. He thought about his past with Lindsay and how Melanie and Gus apparently were his future. And how Gus would never really get to know his mom since stories and pictures couldn’t replace the real thing. He thought about how much he missed his old life, even though a life without Gus already felt impossible.

When Gus started to cry and Brian was starving, he walked towards the diner to let Deb work her magic on both of them. The baby stopped crying as Deb fussed over him, fascinated with the colorful lady.

“I need food, Deb.”

“I’m busy with my grandson.”

Ten minutes later, Brian finally got to order. Michael and Vic joined him at the table.

“How’re you holding up?”

“I’ll survive. Justin helped me out for a couple of hours this morning, so I got some work done. I haven’t been caught up in a month. I’ll be fucking lucky if they don’t fire me.”

“Who’s Justin?” Michael felt a twinge in his stomach. The same one he always got whenever Brian talked about someone he didn’t know.

“Some kid.”

“Justin? The same Justin you brought with you to the hospital?”

“Yeah.”

“He’s a trick! You let him take care of your son?”

“He offered, which is more than I can say for you.”

Mikey glared and stomped off to the restroom.

“If you trust him with an old queen, I’ll be happy to help.” Vic winked at Brian.

“Thanks.” He squeezed Vic’s shoulder.

“So, Justin?”

“He’s just a kid.”

“How much of a kid is he?”

“Eighteen. Soon, anyway.”

“Hot ass?”

“Not bad.” Brian laughed. “And he’s proven himself to be great with Gus.”

“Sounds like a keeper.”

“Okay, let’s not get carried away.” Brian dug into his food, happy to let Vic busy himself with dangling a key chain in front of Gus to keep him calm.

Mikey returned after a while but didn’t meet Brian’s stare. Instead, he focused on his cup of coffee.

“Want to come over and watch a movie later?”

“I’m meeting Em and Ted at Woody’s. We were going to beat them in pool tonight. Remember?”

“I do remember, but I can’t bring Gus in there just yet, can I?”

“You said it was Mel’s weekend.”

“It was until she had to take care of a work crisis. You have no idea how fucking much I want things to be different, Mikey.” Brian stood up and threw some money on the table.

“Brian, wait!”

Gus started to cry, and Brian couldn’t really blame him. “I don’t have the time or the energy to keep you both happy. You decide if you want in on this or not, but Gus will always be top priority from now on. If you can’t deal with that, it’s too bad.”

Michael slumped down at the table again and rested his head in his arms.

“Who chewed on your dick?”

“Ma!”

Deb tapped her finger on the table impatiently.

“Brian.”

“Of course! What did he do this time?”

“We had plans, and now he’s yelling at me for being upset that he can’t make it.”

“Honey, sweetie, Brian’s got a kid.”

“Yeah! A kid he wasn’t supposed to have any interest in.”

“Lindsay died. His best friend died.”

“I’m his best friend. Or I was, anyway.”

“You can have more than one, you know.” Debbie smacked his head. “I expected more from you. Your friend is stuck with a kid. His whole life is turned upside down, and he can probably use all the help he can get. Shame on you!”

Michael looked at Vic, who nodded at him. “Okay, so I screwed up. What else is new?”

“Listen to her this time, Michael. You know changes are scary, so think of how scared Brian must be. He used to drink, drug, fuck, and suck like there was no tomorrow. Now he’s a dad with responsibilities he wasn’t prepared for, and he has to deal with Melanie to make it work.”

----------

Brian pulled up in front of Deb’s house at the same time Mel arrived for their weekly family dinner.

She opened the Jeep’s door and showered Gus with kisses. “I’ve missed you so much!”

“I’ve missed you, too, dear,” Brian drawled, making her laugh and roll her eyes at Gus.

“Daddy’s hilarious, isn’t he? Just don’t pay too much attention to what he’s saying because most of it is bullshit anyway.”

“Did you finish up the case?”

“Yeah. I worked most of the night, but it’s done.”

Brian lit a cigarette and took a step away from the baby to make sure the smoke didn’t blow anywhere near him. “I let Justin babysit for a couple of hours yesterday.”

“You went out fucking when you had Gus?!”

“I worked while Justin and Gus set up camp on the living room floor right next to me.”

“Oh.”

“Listen, Mel. Are you listening?” He waited until she nodded. “I know what kind of life I’ve lead, and believe me, I miss it so much it’s driving me insane. But don’t think for one second I’ll leave Gus with someone we hardly know so I can have a night out.”

“I guess my mothering instincts are kicking in after all.”

“You’re a great mom. Gus told me so this morning right after he puked on my new Stefano Bemer shoes.”

Mel couldn’t help but laugh. He was so goofy from time to time she could almost see why Lindsay had insisted he was one of the good guys.

“Where’s Michael?” Brian looked around Deb’s kitchen and nodded at Emmett and Ted, who were chatting with Vic.

“He’s on a date.”

“Little Mikey’s on a date? With who?”

“A chiropractor! Can you believe it? I’ll have a doctor for a son-in-law.”

Mel handed Gus to Debbie. “Brian and I wanted to ask if you and Vic could take care of Gus for a couple of hours every now and then?”

“We’d love to, wouldn’t we, Vic? Who thought we’d get a grandson to raise?”

“Calm down, sis. They’re not giving him to us.”

“If it interferes with your shifts at the diner, you have to tell us.”

“We’ll make it work, won’t we, Gus? We’ll make it work.” Deb poked his stomach over and over again.

“He just ate. You’ll make him throw up,” Brian warned.

“No, I won’t.”

Seconds later, the front of Gus’s onesie was soaked with formula.

“Fuck! Oops, good thing he’s too young to understand that word. I’ll change him.”

Brian grabbed the bag with extra clothes and went with her into the bathroom. “I know you’ll say no, but I won’t let you babysit him for free. Both you and Vic will get paid for it.”

“It’s really not necessary.”

“Use it to pay for Vic’s meds, or buy yourself a new coat.”

She turned to stare at him. “What the hell is wrong with my coat?”

“Nothing. It’s beautiful.”

She nodded and focused on getting Gus’s clean sweater in place.

“Are you really up for this? Is Vic going to get tired of having him around?”

“We’ll be fine, honey.” She patted his arm. “Don’t worry so much.”

“I haven't done anything but worry since he was born. It’s fucking exhausting.”

“That’s the general feeling among parents. I’m so proud of you, Brian. You really tackled this head on.”

“He’s my kid. I didn’t have much choice.”

“You could have made so many bad choices, but you didn’t.”

“Mikey’s mad at me.”

“After our little talk, he’s more embarrassed than anything else. He’ll come around.”

“Thanks, Ma.”

“He’s all clean and ready to nap. Let’s sit down and eat.”

Halfway through the meal, Emmett put his fork down and took a sip of water as if he were getting ready to make an announcement. “Ted and I would love to take care of Gus, too.”

“That’s great, Honeycutt.”

“Don’t call me that.” Emmett pouted but recovered quickly. “Anyway, I could dress him up in some fabulous outfits, and Teddy here could teach him all about opera and the stock market.”

Mel thanked them, but the look she shot Brian made it clear she’d have his balls if he trusted the diva of disco and crystal coma man with their son.

Chapter Text

Brian forced himself to go out on Friday night after leaving Gus with Mel. Even though he was tired as hell, he wanted to blow off some steam. He needed to get drunk and fuck around to start feeling like his old self again.

Walking into Woody’s, he ordered a beer and searched for Michael in the crowd, finding him sitting at a table and holding a man’s hand. Brian picked up his glass and decided to join them. “Why, Mikey, have you been hiding someone from me?”

“Brian, this is David.”

“David.” Brian put an arm around him. “Nice to meet Michael’s husband.”

“Stop it, Brian.”

David moved closer to Michael. “I take it this is the best friend you told me about?”

“Talking about me while getting fucked by someone else? I’m honored.”

“He wasn’t . . . We haven’t . . .”

“Can’t get it up, Doc? There are little blue pills for that. I can get you some if you want me to.” Brian looked at David innocently then walked over to the bar again to order a shot of Beam. He fucking missed having Mikey around, but from the looks of things, they wouldn’t be spending the evening together getting high and reading comics.

“Hi!”

Brian turned around and met Justin’s happy smile. “Forget it. I’ve had Gus all week. I’m done with kids for now.”

“I turned eighteen yesterday.”

Brian clinked his glass against Justin’s bottle. “Congrats.”

“Thanks.”

“How did you celebrate?”

“I was thinking you’d fuck me over and over again.”

“You know I don’t do repeats.”

“Yeah, you keep telling me that.” Justin stroked over Brian’s back and up to his neck, tugging on his hair. “I want you inside me.” Breathing heavily, he licked Brian’s ear. “Take me.” Justin took Brian’s hand and put it on his hard-on.

“I guess I could bend my rules. It is your birthday after all.”

-----------

“What time is it?”

“Noon.”

“Shit! I had an appointment with my personal trainer at ten.”

“Bummer. Why don’t you work out with me instead?” Justin molded himself against Brian’s naked body and slowly humped his leg.

Brian spun him around and pressed him up against one of the beams. “Can’t get enough, can you?”

“God, no.” Justin wiggled his pants down under his ass and spread his legs to give Brian better access to him.

“Such a horny boy,” Brian purred, rubbing his cock up and down Justin’s crack. He reached into the pocket of Justin’s pants and found a condom and a tiny tube of lube. “Happy to see you’re always ready.”

“I’ve learned from the best.” Justin gasped when Brian carefully entered him without preparing him as much as he usually did. “You’re fucking huge.”

“Tell me when I can move.”

“Uh-huh.” Justin took a deep breath and tried to get used to the thick head of Brian’s cock opening him up. “Go slowly.” His fingers gripping the beam, he struggled not to ask him to stop. It fucking hurt, but it was such a good pain he didn’t want it to go away.

“Are you okay?” Brian kissed Justin’s ear down to his neck and licked the corner of his mouth. “Want me to pull out?”

“No, keep going.” Justin pushed backward, making Brian’s dick slide in down to the hilt.

Brian groaned loudly and started fucking him hard. He slid an arm around Justin’s waist and took his cock in his hand, jerking him in rhythm with his thrusts. Listening to the sounds Justin was making and watching the sweat run down his body as he writhed under his touch threatened to send Brian over the edge. “You look so fucking hot.”

“I need to come. Brian, please, take me.” Justin pressed back against him, and seconds later it was over. They both fell into a heap on the floor, exhausted.

After a lengthy and quite naughty shower, Justin sat down with his sketch pad. Brian didn’t really mind the company as long as he was quiet, so he let Justin stay while he worked for a couple of hours. When Justin suggested pizza for dinner, Brian let him order it without too much fuss.

Brian was still dead to the world early Sunday morning when Justin woke up to the sound of someone pounding on the door. Hesitating for a second, Justin hurried to get dressed and opened the door.

“Oh, hi. I’m Justin. We met-”

“I know.” Michael tried to push past him.

“Wait. Brian’s sleeping. Can you come back later?”

“He wants to see me.” Michael went up to the bedroom and saw Brian getting out of the tangled sheets.

“Mikey, I thought I heard your voice interrupting my beauty sleep.” Brian walked over to Justin on his way to the coffee machine and wrapped his still sleep-warm naked body around him.

“Sorry, I tried to stop him.”

“It’s okay. We need to talk anyway.” Brian kissed Justin deeply and moaned when his cock started to swell.

Justin sneaked a hand between them and gave it a squeeze. “I’d love to take care of that. Too bad I’m leaving.”

Brian laughed softly. “I guess I’ll have to manage on my own. Later.”

“Later.”

“So, Mikey, what can I do for you?”

“How many times have you had him?”

“Two. Three. I don’t know. Want some coffee?”

“Could you put some clothes on?”

“Why? Does it bother you that I have a better body than David? Oh, wait. You haven’t seen him naked yet.”

“I’ve seen him! We actually took the next step in our relationship last night.”

“The next step? You mean you fucked?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

“Good for you! How was it?”

“Great.” Michael watched Brian yawn and stretch his perfectly sculptured body. “I’m sorry I haven’t been around much. I didn’t know what to say or what to do.”

“‘Need help?’ always works. Or maybe ‘You seem tired. Let me hold your son for a while so you can lie down and rest.’” Brian took Michael’s hands in his. “Listen. You can’t expect everything to be like it was before. All the booze and drugs in the world can’t fix this. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

“Mom said you and Melanie asked her if she and Uncle Vic could babysit sometimes. She was ecstatic.”

“I figured she’d be.”

“Thanks for letting her be a grandma.”

“No one else around to do the job.”

“Want to have breakfast at the diner with the boys?”

“Let me just take a shower and wash the cum out of my hair.”

“Your hair?”

“He’s eighteen.”

“Right.”

Brian found himself relaxed around his friends for the first time since Lindsay had died. Spending the rest of the day working, he was surprised to see how much he could get done when he wasn’t too tired to think straight, and he ended the day with a visit to the gym and a quick trip to the baths to enjoy a really hot piece of ass.

----------

Four Months Later

“Are you busy?” Mel crossed her fingers, hoping Brian would say no.

“Yeah, why?”

“Work called. A hearing was just moved to tonight, and I need to get to the office by two-thirty so I don’t lose the whole case.”

“Fuck! I can’t get out. Not today. I just can’t.”

“Deb’s working, and I don’t want Vic to take Gus for that many hours by himself. I could tell how tired he was the last time when Gus had been crying nonstop. Maybe Michael could help?”

“He hasn’t spent one second alone with Gus, not to mention he’s never changed a diaper in his life.”

“Okay, I guess I’ll just have to let this case go. Along with my career.”

“Hold on. I’ll call you back.” Brian searched through his wallet and found the note with Justin’s phone number on it.

“Hello,” Justin whispered.

“Why are you whispering?” Brian was annoyed with himself for doing the same thing, like he was going to disturb someone on his side of the line.

“I’m in class.”

“What time do you get off today?”

“Two. Why?”

“Can you take Gus from then until who the fuck knows how long?”

“I’d love to!”

“Mel will pick you up and drop you off at the loft. I have no idea when either one of us will get home. It might be pretty late.”

“Don’t worry. Oops, I’ve got to go.” Justin hung up and looked innocent when the teacher glared at him.

“Problem, Mr. Taylor?”

“No. Everything is fine.”

“What was that?” Daphne whispered.

“I’ll tell you at lunch break.”

“Oh, my God, Justin!” Daphne squealed, almost knocking her tray over when she hugged him. “He called you and asked for your help? That’s huge!”

“I know!”

“But what about the paper we have to hand in tomorrow? We still need to finish it.”

“Why don’t you come by the loft after your final class? I’ll let you in.”

“You don’t think he’ll mind?”

“No. Why would he?”

Melanie waved to Justin as he stepped out of the school building and thanked him profusely while she drove to the loft. “You’re a real lifesaver.”

“I like spending time with Gus. He’s totally adorable.”

“Did Brian warn you it might be late before either one of us can get home?”

“Yeah. We’ll have a great time together, won’t we, Gus?”

Gus ignored Justin and continued to suck on his fingers.

“You’ll have to feed him.”

“Sure. I need the key to the loft.”

“Hold on.” Mel searched through her handbag and pulled out a key chain with several keys on it. “This was Lindsay’s. I know she had Brian’s key on here. Oh, crap. Just take the whole thing.”

“Come on, Gus. Let’s get you some food and maybe a diaper change.” Justin talked to the baby as he tried key after key. Finally finding the right one, he slid the loft door open and put Gus down in the infant seat while he took off his jacket. “Christ!” he yelled when the alarm went off. Staring at it, he quickly picked Gus up and called Brian.

“Kinney.” He sounded stressed.

“I need the code to the alarm!” Justin shouted, making Gus cry.

“What?”

“The code to your alarm!”

“0201.”

Justin sneaked inside, exhaling when it stopped. “Okay, it’s quiet. I need to go. He’s upset.”

“Can you handle it?”

“Sure. Gus says hi.”

“Yeah, whatever. My meeting is about to start.”

Justin picked Gus up again. “Let’s start over, shall we?” Half an hour later, Gus had been fed and was playing happily with his toys. Justin sat next to him on the floor, doodling in his sketch pad. Noticing the charm hanging from the handle of the infant seat with a picture of Lindsay on it, Justin started to draw her with Gus in her arms.

Gus was sleeping when a very bored Justin heard the buzzer ring. He jumped up, happy to get some company.

“He’s so cute!”

“I know. He looks just like Brian.”

“Is that Melanie?” Daphne pointed at the drawing.

“No. It’s Lindsay, his biological mom.”

“Oh, that’s so sad. I brought food.”

“Thank God! I’m starving.”

They set the coffee table in the living room and moved Gus right next to them so he’d have company when he woke up. Daphne and Justin had eaten and written half of their paper for school before he demanded to get out of his seat and play.

Daphne studied Justin and Gus together. “He really likes you.”

“Yeah?” Justin smiled widely. “He does seem happy to see me, but he’s also happy to see a colorful toy, so who can really tell?”

“We should get the paper finished before I have to leave. I promised my mom I wouldn’t be late.”

An hour later, Justin stood up. “I need to feed him one more time before he goes to sleep for the night.” He made a bottle for Gus and sat down on the floor with him while Daphne read aloud what they’d written.

They’d just finished making a couple of changes they were both satisfied with when Justin yelped.

“Shit!”

“What?”

“He threw up all over my hands.” Justin wiped up the mess with a towel and gave Gus the rest of his bottle. “Keep an eye on him, would you?”

Daphne moved even closer to Gus and let him play with her curly hair. She looked up when the loft door slid open and the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen walked through it.

“Who the fuck are you?”

“Daphne. I’m a friend of Justin’s. He’s just in the bathroom washing his hands.”

Justin came jogging out. “Is he okay?”

“He’s fine.”

“Oh, hey! Have you met Daphne?”

Brian gripped Justin’s arm and walked him into the kitchen. “What’s she doing here?”

“We were studying. I’ll tell her to leave.”

“Why don’t you both leave?”

“Brian, listen. I hadn’t left Gus’s side for one second until I needed to wash his puke off my hands.”

“He threw up? What’s wrong with him?”

“Nothing. He just drank his bottle too fast and spit up a little.” Justin could see Brian calming down. “Why don’t you go to the gym? He’ll be out for the night soon anyway. I don’t mind staying.”

Brian looked at Justin and tried to make up his mind. ”Are you sure?”

Justin nodded.

“I’ll call Mel and let her know that Gus might as well stay here until tomorrow.” Brian grabbed his bag and ran down the stairs as he dialed her number.

“I’m sorry this is taking so long! I’ll be there as soon as possible.”

“Gus can sleep here.”

“No, that’s not right. It’s my week.”

“Just like it was my week when you had to take him twice because my workload went overboard?”

“Okay. Thank you. And make sure to thank Justin for me.”

“Oh, believe me. I’ll thank him plenty.”

“Christ! I don’t care what you do. I just don’t want to know about it.”

“It’s just cocks and asses. Nothing to be grossed out about.”

“Stop it! I need to go. I’ll come and get him in the morning.”

When Brian returned to the loft, he seemed calmer. He headed for the shower before he sat down next to Justin. “Is he asleep?”

“Yep. I guess it’ll be time for another diaper change soon, though.”

“Oh, great. I was afraid I’d miss that.” Brian picked up Justin’s sketch pad.

“Don’t look at it!”

“Why not? Did you draw my dick again?”

“No.”

Brian flipped it open and grew quiet when he saw the drawing of Lindsay and Gus.

“I’m so sorry. Here, let me take it.”

“Where did you see this?”

“I didn’t. I mean I saw the charm with her picture and decided to try to make a bigger version of it, and it turned out so well that I added Gus in her arms. I can see why you’d get upset.”

“Jesus, stop talking and take a breath before you pass out. You managed to capture her perfectly.”

“I did?”

“Yeah.” Brian studied the drawing closely. “She wanted a kid so badly. She would have been a natural with Gus. Not like Mel and me. We’re still a fucking mess with missed deadlines, bad consciousness, and stressed out brains. It’s a wonder they let us keep him.”

Justin put an arm around Brian, ignoring his glare. “You’re a great dad. Gus is a happy kid. You and Melanie are learning how to do this without any help. Not only that, you have to figure out how to be friendly with each other and work together.”

“I just feel so fucking lost,” Brian mumbled.

“You know, Gus is four months old now. He’s old enough to be in day care a few hours a day. That would give you both a chance to catch up on your work.”

“You’re right. I think it’s time. And maybe he’d like to be around other kids, too.”

“I’m sure he would!”

Brian tackled Justin and lay him down on the sofa, giving him a long, slow blow job that made him beg for more the second he came.

Gus was on the floor surrounded with toys when Mel came by in the morning.

“Hi, honey. Are you waiting for me?” She bent down and kissed him. “I’ve missed you so much.”

Brian handed her the drawing of Lindsay. “Justin made this yesterday.”

“Oh, my god.” Mel started crying the second she saw it.

“Hey. Hey, don’t.”

“She’s so beautiful. Look how peaceful Gus looks in her arms. Can I keep it?”

“Take it. I think it’s time we tried out day care for Gus.”

Mel sighed. She knew Brian was right. They’d both struggled so often during the past months, and Gus would probably enjoy it once he got used to it. “Lindsay and I had a place picked out for him. I’ll contact them and see if they can still take him. They might want to meet with both of us, though.”

“Just let me know when.” Brian rolled his lips in and picked up Gus. “A couple of hours a day away from us won’t kill you, will it?” He buried his nose in Gus’s neck and tried to fight off the feeling of abandoning his son.

Mel patted his arm. “He’ll be fine, Dad.”

Chapter Text

Justin dragged his feet up the stairs to Brian’s loft. His whole body hurt when he thought of what he was going to do, but he couldn’t see any other way out of the mess he’d gotten himself into. Had he known the consequences he’d have to face, he would have kept pretending to be everything his parents thought he was. At least until he was old enough to make his own money. Knocking on the door, tears filled his eyes when he heard Brian’s footsteps on the other side of it.

“What’s wrong?”

“He threw me out.”

“Who?"

“My dad.”

“Why the fuck did he do that?”

“My mom asked me about my weekend with Daphne and I was tired of lying, so I told them the truth. I said I spent it with you. Not my best decision, I guess.” Justin took a step backward when Brian slid the door open to let him in. “I just wanted to say good-bye.”

“Where are you going?”

“New York. I’m going to work as a go-go dancer.”

Brian huffed out a laugh. “What?”

“I’ve got a great ass.”

“I know.”

“And Daphne says my hair is perfect.”

“It’s annoyingly thick.”

“That’ll take me a long way.”

“What about school? I thought you’d chosen the only one worth going to?

“There are art schools in New York, too.”

“So you’re planning on earning enough to both live and study in New York?”

Justin nodded. “I have nowhere to go here.”

“I see.”

“Bye.” Justin kissed Brian, inhaling his scent to make sure he wouldn’t forget it.

“Don’t go,” Brian mumbled in his ear.

“Why not?”

“Because I have Gus this week and can’t come to the rescue when your plans fail.”

“Why do you think they’ll fail?”

Brian shrugged, already regretting that he hadn’t just let him go and make his own mistakes.

“Tell me.”

Letting out a long sigh, Brian motioned for him to come inside. “You’d have to work several clubs at the same time and do tons of drugs so you don’t fall asleep in the middle of some dance routine. You won’t eat enough, and no matter how much you want to, you won’t have enough time or energy to work on your art.” He tugged on Justin’s jacket, pulling him down on the sofa beside Gus.

“So what do I do?” Justin picked up Gus’s blanket, gave him a stuffed animal, and checked the temperature of his bottle before putting it in Gus’s mouth.

Brian watched both boys, wondering if the sleep deprivation had finally driven him crazy. He took the phone with him into the bedroom and dialed Mel’s number before he had a change of heart. “Justin told his parents he's gay and ended up getting thrown out. Now he's got his mind set on going to New York and being a go-go dancer.”

“There’s no way he’ll make it.”

“Don’t you think I know that?”

“Has he left already?”

“No, he’s still here. He’s feeding Gus and watching the Powerpuff Girls.” Brian shook his head at the whole situation. “Anyway, he could be the solution to our problem of leaving Gus at day care too long.”

“He’s a kid.”

“He’s eighteen.”

“Right. I keep forgetting he’s not as young as he looks.”

“We could drop Gus off when we leave for work, and Justin could pick him up when he gets out of school.”

“Do you think he’ll do it?”

“It’s either that or dancing on bars. He’s applied to the Institute of Fine Art, so that might work in our favor if he gets in. I’ll talk to him and let you know.”

Mel sobbed quietly on her end of the phone.

“What now?”

“Lindsay always dreamed of painting with Gus. She hoped he’d love it as much as she did. Maybe we could ask Justin to teach Gus?”

“He’s just mastered the skill of sitting up without toppling over the second we let go, so I guess art classes are the next natural step for him to take.”

“Very funny. Let me know what Justin says.” Mel hung up, not waiting for his reply.

Brian knew it probably wasn't wise to encourage Justin to be around more than he already was, but he couldn’t ignore the fact that he was great with Gus. He watched him pick Gus up and smiled when his son molded himself into Justin’s chest.

“I think he’s tired.”

“Yeah, he refused to take his afternoon nap. Apparently, his feet were more interesting than sleeping judging from the way he tried to chew his toes off. We should get him ready for bed and put him down before all hell breaks loose and he won’t sleep at all tonight.“

“Can I help?” Justin stood up, whimpering when a pain shot through his back and Brian caught him as he stumbled forward. “Thanks. Daphne’s couch is so fucking short and lumpy. My back’s killing me after just two nights on it. It’s better than the train station, though, so I shouldn’t be whining.”

“You’ve been sleeping in the train station?”

“If you can call it sleeping. But that was just for one night, and at least I had a place to rest for a couple of hours.” Justin smiled bravely at Brian.

“Do you mind cleaning up in here?”

“Sure. No problem.” Justin hurried to put away Gus’s toys, clothes, and bottles, which were scattered across the living room area, then he sneaked into Gus’s corner of the loft and watched him fall asleep as Brian’s fingers lightly stroked his head.

Brian looked up when he heard Justin coming but ignored him until he was sure Gus was really asleep. He took a hold of Justin’s neck and pushed him from behind until they reached the bedroom, both of them falling down on the bed. “I have a proposition for you.”

“Cheesy.”

“A business proposition.”

“Oh!”

“How would you feel about picking up Gus from day care when you get out of school and babysitting him until either Mel or I can get away from work?”

“I’d love that!”

“We might ask you from time to time on the weekends, too, if we can’t make it on our own.”

“What about Debbie and Vic? I thought they loved having him.”

“They do, but we can’t count on them to take him every day. We’ll pay you what we pay them.” Brian told Justin the amount and watched as he bit the tip of his thumbnail. “Got a problem with it?”

“No, no. Well, yes actually. It feels weird that you’ll pay me to be here.”

“I won’t pay you to be here for me. I’ll pay you to be here for Gus. If it makes you feel better, I can stop fucking you.”

“Yeah, right. Like that’ll happen.” Justin rolled on top of Brian and cocked an eyebrow at him.

“Don’t be so fucking smug.”

Justin sat up and unbuttoned Brian’s shirt, slowly licking his skin down to his waist. He glanced at Brian. “Want me to continue?”

Brian unzipped his pants and stroked his cock. “What do you think?”

“I think you’re going to come deep down my throat in record time.” Justin buried his nose in Brian’s pubes and inhaled his strong scent. “God, you smell sexy.” He licked along Brian’s thick shaft and sucked lightly on the head of his cock, making Brian squirm under him.

Brian tried to force Justin’s head further down, sighing when he drew back. “Come on.”

“Patience.” Justin giggled and pushed his tongue into Brian’s slit, moaning at the precum leaking out of it. He dove down onto him, taking him to the hilt and sucking hard and rhythmically until Brian yanked at his hair and groaned loudly as he came.

“Christ, you’re good at that.” Brian pulled Justin close and kissed him for a long time. “You know, you could stay here just for a couple of nights and get a break from the couch from hell.”

----------

Brian was on his way to a presentation when his cell rang and Justin’s name came up on the display. He cursed silently. Hadn’t he hired him so he wouldn’t be disturbed during work hours? “What?”

“There’s a problem.”

“Don’t tell me. You forgot to pick him up.”

“They won’t let me take him.”

“Who?” Brian heard Gus’s annoyed cry in the background. He knew it would take a lot of work to calm him down and get him out of that mood.

“The day care center. I’m not on the list.”

“What list?”

“You’re supposed to tell them who’s picking him up when you drop him off in the morning.”

“For fuck’s sake. Let me talk to them.”

“Mr. Kinney? This is Angie. I’m sorry if we haven’t informed you about it, but the list of approved people we can release Gus to is for his safety. I’m sure you understand we can’t let just anyone take him.”

“Justin’s not just anyone,” Brian muttered as he fired up his computer in the meeting room. He nodded at Cynthia when she asked if he wanted a glass of water. “Write this down: Justin Taylor, Debbie Novotny, and Vic Grassi. One of them will pick Gus up when his mom or I can’t make it.”

“That’s everyone?”

Brian ignored the tone in her voice. “For now, yes. We’ll let you know if it changes. Are we done here?”

“Of course.” She handed the phone back to Justin.

“Thanks for clearing that up.”

“He’s not a happy camper.”

“I’m sure he’ll be fine once we get home to his oatmeal.” Justin gave Gus his pacifier and smiled when the distraction of having something to suck on made him quit fussing. “Oh, he stopped already. I really am good at this!”

Brian laughed and hung up.

----------

Gus woke up from his nap when Mel’s doorbell rang and startled him.

Perfect, just fucking perfect. She tried to calm him as she went to open the door. "Mr. and Mrs. Peterson! What are you doing here?"

"Do we have to have a reason other than seeing our grandson?" Nancy stormed past Melanie and took her coat off before she noticed the crying baby. “What’s wrong with him?”

“Nothing. The doorbell scared him.”

“Nonsense.” Nancy took him out of Mel’s arms, making him scream even louder.

Melanie flinched and tried to take him back. “Let me just calm him down.”

“I think I'm more than capable. I am a mother, after all.”

Mel was too tired to start a fight, her anger somewhat controlled by the look Mr. Peterson shot his wife.

He put an arm around Melanie’s tensed shoulder. “How about we leave them alone and let them get to know each other?”

Mel hesitated.

“She won’t kidnap him.”

“No, of course not. Can I get you anything?”

“Coffee.” He steered her towards the kitchen. “How are you holding up?”

She switched on the coffeemaker and sat down next to him. “I miss Lindsay so much I can hardly breathe, but having Gus around helps. I catch up on work to keep myself busy during the weeks he’s not here. What about you?”

Mr. Peterson shook his head. “I know we weren’t exactly close, and that was entirely our fault. But she was our daughter, our little girl. It’s hard. The sorrow comes crashing over us in waves and leaves us numb.”

“Who are you?" Nancy’s upset voice startled them. "Melanie!”

Justin stood in the doorway, looking around in surprise at the chaos he’d stepped into when he saw Gus fighting with his arms to get away from the unknown woman and heard him sobbing.

“He just walked in like he owns the place.” Mrs. Peterson pointed accusingly at Justin.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t want to ring the doorbell and wake Gus.” He looked over at Mel, who forced a smile at him. “You said Sunday at noon, but I can leave if you don’t need me.”

“No, no.” She took a hold of his arm. “Please stay.”

“Who is he?”

“Nancy, Ron, this is Justin. He helps Brian and me with Gus. Justin, this is Mr. and Mrs. Peterson, Lindsay’s parents.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“You’re the babysitter?”

“Uhm, sure.”

“Melanie, don’t tell me you’re letting a child take care of our grandson?”

“He’s not a child, and he’s great with Gus.”

“A fag, a lesbian, and a teenager. We have to put a stop to this. We’re taking it to court.”

“No, we’re not,” Ron said firmly, meeting his wife's stare.

“What do you mean, no? This is clearly not a good place for this baby to grow up.”

“That’s not true.”

“Justin, don’t,” Mel warned him.

“Gus is happy to have Brian and Melanie as parents.”

“Happy? Does this sound like a content child to you?”

“Well, you can’t expect him to be happy when you’ve interrupted his nap and won’t give him his pacifier.” Justin pointed to the rainbow-colored pacifier on the table. “Is it sterile?” he asked Mel.

“Yes, and I think it’s time he lies down again.” Mel took her son back, happy to see his eyelids fluttering to a close. She smiled when Justin kissed his cheek and whispered that he’d take him to his crib.

“You’ll hear from our lawyer.” Mrs. Peterson collected her coat and handbag and left.

“Don’t worry. She won’t do it once she calms down. I thought it would be good for her to have a relationship with Gus, but I don’t see it happening at this point. Take care of my grandson, will you?”

“Thank you.” Mel patted Ron’s back and closed the door after him.

“Whoa,” Justin whispered as he started to pick up Gus’s toys from the floor. “And I thought Brian’s parents were bad.”

“He told you about them?”

“He came out to his dad the other night and ended up drunk in Michael’s bed. Michael drove him home the next day and blurted everything out before Brian had a chance to stop him.”

“You know he doesn’t fuck his friends, right?”

“Who knows what might happen when he’s drunk and sad?”

“Believe me, he won’t do it. If he had, Mikey would have been able to move on a long time ago.”

“Did you know he’s dying?”

Mel dropped a baby blanket she was holding and sat down. “Who?”

“Brian’s dad. He’s got cancer.”

“Fuck! Is Brian okay?”

“You should ask Michael. He knows everything.”

“They’ve been friends for a long time.”

“I just wish he’d talk to me, too.”

“He’s letting you stay with him. That’s huge.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Justin beamed at her. “He said I could stay for a couple of days, but that was a long time ago. Do you think I should ask him how long he’ll be okay with having me there?”

“God, no! As long as he thinks you don’t notice he’s letting you live there, everything is fine. It’s when you mention it that he’ll freak out.”

Justin laughed. “Yeah, you’re probably right. Let me take care of Gus when he wakes up so you can get some work done.”

“Thanks. I really need to catch up on this case before Monday.”

Chapter Text

“Mel told me you met Lindsay’s parents,” Brian said while he changed Gus’s diaper.

“I did.”

“You defended us.”

Justin nodded.

“We can fight our own battles, you know.”

“I’m sorry, but she was really mean.”

“Sorry’s bullshit.” Brian lifted Gus and handed him over to Justin.

“She called you a fag.”

“Well, she wasn’t exactly wrong, was she?”

“She didn’t give Gus his pacifier even though he clearly needed it,” Justin muttered.

“You’re fucking brave. She’s one scary woman.” Brian kissed Justin and poked his finger into Gus’s stomach, causing him to gurgle with happiness.

“Can she take him from you?”

“No.”

“Really? Because she sounded pretty sure.”

“Don’t worry about it. We’ve got it covered. Come on, let’s feed him before he gets too hungry.”

Justin smiled when Gus wouldn’t take his bottle and Brian opened his own mouth widely, hoping the baby would mimic him. “How’s your dad?” Justin sighed when he got a shrug in response.

“I don’t know because I haven’t talked to him.”

“Oh, okay.”

“I know you want in on every little detail of my life. But you’ll have to deal with not knowing if you’re gonna live here.”

“So I should shut up, babysit, and be here when you’re horny?”

Brian closed his eyes and rolled his lips inward. “I didn’t say that. Look, I know you can’t see it, but letting you stay here, fucking your brains out on a daily basis, and trusting you with my son means a hell of a lot more to me than having you take care of me when I’m drunk out of my mind because the man I grew up hating is dying.”

“I just feel left out sometimes.”

“Deb and Mikey have been my family since I was fourteen. You’ve been around for a couple of months.”

“You’re right. It was stupid of me.” Justin kissed Brian but ended up laughing when Gus kicked their hands, obviously upset at not being the center of attention.

Michael walked in without knocking, stopping and staring at the scene in front of him. Brian and Justin stood on opposite sides of the kitchen island, laughing between kisses as they fed Gus in his infant seat on the counter. Michael watched them until Brian finally noticed him.

“Hi.”

Swallowing his words about Brian being domesticated, he pulled himself together and walked up to them. “I just wanted to see if you’re coming to Woody’s tonight. It’s been ages since you’ve been there.”

“Six days can hardly count as ages.”

Michael frowned at him.

“Come on, Mikey.” Brian hugged him. “Stay here. We can watch TV and talk about guys we’ve fucked.”

“You’d be doing most of the talking.”

“That’s not true. You’ve had your fair share of cocks.”

Mikey looked pleased. “Okay.”

Justin sat down with his schoolbooks and tried to focus on studying for the following day’s test while he listened in on their conversation about the hottest guys in Pittsburgh. Brian was in the middle of a detailed story, and Michael pretended to cover Gus’s ears with his hands.

“Don’t worry about him. He won’t understand the context until he’s . . . what was it, Justin?”

“Three years old, but I doubt he’ll get it even then. Although he will pick up on the change of tone in your voices very early on.”

“What is he? A public service announcement?” Michael looked back and forth between Brian and Justin.

“Very handy to have around when my encyclopedia’s out of reach.”

Justin stuck his tongue out at Brian, his eyes never leaving his books. “He’s smart as hell,” he heard Brian mutter. “Scored 1500 on this SATs.”

“1500?” Michael shouted, turning to Justin. “You can get into any school you want.”

“I know, but I’m hoping to get into Pittsburgh Institute of Fine Art.”

“You’re an artist?” Michael looked at the drawings on the table he’d noticed earlier. “Are these yours?”

“Yep.”

“Holy crap! You’re really talented.”

“Thanks.”

“Gus needs a diaper change before he goes to bed. Want to do the honors, Uncle Michael?” Brian held his son out toward his friend.

“No, thanks! I’d probably throw up or put it on backwards.”

“I can do it. I’ll be done with this chapter in a minute.”

“Nah, I’ll do it. Maybe you could bring me his pajamas?”

“Sure!” Justin jumped up and searched through the drawer in the bedroom, trying to find Gus’s P.J.s with the purple and yellow sharks that he liked best.

“Really? The sharks again? He’s gonna grow up very confused about the underwater world.”

“Oh, please.”

Brian and Justin kissed Gus goodnight and made sure he was okay lying in his crib before they tiptoed away with their arms around each other and sat down next to Michael.

Michael tried, but he couldn’t stop his jealousy from compelling him to remark how adorable they looked while playing house.

“It might not be the life I wanted, but he’s my kid and I’m going to do my best not to turn into my dad.” Brian yawned, putting his feet up on the table and his head on Michael’s shoulder.

“I’ll take the night shift tonight,” Justin offered. According to the books, Gus was in a growing phase that, hopefully, would end soon. Until then, he was likely to drive them insane.

“You have a test tomorrow.”

“I’m still young. One sleepless night won’t kill me.”

They stared at each other until Brian nodded.

Michael kissed Brian’s cheek and got up. “I’ll let you go to bed. Bye.”

Brian waited until Michael had shut the door before he spread his legs, pulling Justin up against his chest and wrapping his arms around him. He fell asleep in seconds, his head leaning heavily against Justin’s neck.

Listening to Brian’s breathing change, Justin felt himself drift off. He slept until Gus woke up an hour later, then he slid up from the sofa and put the pacifier back in his mouth, humming quietly to calm him down.

Brian stumbled over to the bedroom and fell down on the bed, not bothering to undress. “Want help with the crib?” he mumbled, but he was asleep before he had a chance to hear the answer.

Justin gently pushed Gus’s crib over to the sofa. He found the blankets and a pillow and made himself comfortable, ready for a night of crying and fussing. He managed to get in a couple hours of downtime before Brian brought Gus back into the bedroom at five a.m., set the alarm for Justin, and placed the clock on the coffee table in front of him.

“Did you sleep okay? I tried to quiet him as quickly as possible.”

“Well enough to keep me from thinking of giving him up for adoption.”

“Great!” Justin grinned at Brian. “Maybe you’ll even have enough energy left to fuck me tonight.”

“Why wait?”

“I need to be at school in forty minutes.”

“And I’m ready to get off in two.” Brian was so horny his fingers shook when he unbuttoned his pants. He stopped Justin from taking off his shirt. “Leave it on. Your uniform is fucking hot.”

“Anything to please you, Mr Kinney,” Justin purred.

Brian crashed down over his mouth and kissed him urgently. He yanked at Justin’s pants to take them all the way off and groaned when Justin lifted his legs up, giving him a perfect view of his ass. “Christ!” He bent down, lapping once around Justin’s hole, making him shiver with anticipation.

Justin handed him a condom and stroked his own hard-on while he watched Brian cover up.

“Lube.”

“No, I want to feel you all day long.”

“Believe me, you will.” Brian reached for the tube and quickly slathered some on, then he pushed inside with one hard thrust.

“Oh, God!” Justin arched up against him.

“So fucking tight.” Brian stuttered and pulled back, only to smash into him again. “Feels amazing.”

“Yeah.”

“Come here.” Brian took a hold of Justin’s tie and pulled him up, kissing him sloppily. His beard rasped over Justin’s face, enough to make it burn for hours and remind him who put it there.

Justin fell back on the bed and jerked himself, moaning when a string of precum shot out of him.

Brian swatted his hand away and used it as lube. He stroked Justin with the same rhythm he was using to pound into him. “You want me to shoot deep inside your teenage ass?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Or do you want me to pull out and come in your mouth?”

“Brian!”

Brian laughed at his desperate tone and timed his own orgasm to happen with Justin’s.

Justin panted and let his legs fall to the sides, wincing when Brian pulled out.

“Did it hurt?”

“No, I just like it better when you’re inside me.”

“Me, too. Believe me.”

“Romantic.” Justin giggled when Brian made a face. They both sighed and got up when Gus started to cry.

Brian kissed Justin one last time then went to wash up before taking care of whatever crisis his son was having.

“Later!” Justin shouted over his shoulder as he ran out the door.

----------

Justin found a seat on the bus to Brian’s apartment and fished his cell phone out of his pocket. Calling Daphne, he leaned his head against the window while he waited for her to pick up. “Hi.”

“That’s not a happy hi. Did something happen?”

“I’m an orphan.”

“What? Where are you?”

“On a bus.”

“To where?” The nervous tone in her voice made him pull himself together.

“Don’t worry, I’m not running away. I visited my parents, hoping they would have changed their minds about me, but it’s pretty much useless to try anymore. Mom and Molly miss me, but not enough to tell my dad to fuck off.”

“I’m sure your dad misses you.”

“Oh, he does. He misses his straight son. The one I can never be.”

“I’m sorry, Justin.” Daphne sniffled. “I feel so fucking helpless. You’re my best friend, but I don’t even know where to begin to make this better.”

“It’s okay. I know you want to, and that’s enough.”

“Do you like living with Brian? I mean apart from him being the sexiest man we’ll both ever meet?”

“I do, but sometimes I miss being with my family. I miss just being a teenager and not having to take care of myself and Gus and the drama queen.”

Daphne huffed out a laugh. “Is he still acting up from time to time?”

“Last week he got upset because I dropped Gus’s toy cars on his hardwood floor. It didn’t dent it or anything, but just the thought of it made him shout.”

“He’s in for a surprise when Gus gets older. Remember how Molly’s toys used to fly across your house when she got upset or happy or even when she was just playing?”

“I know! I can’t wait for that to happen. Okay, I’m home. I’ll talk to you later.” Justin hung up, feeling a little better. But sorrow overwhelmed him again as soon as he was standing in the middle of the empty loft.

Brian heard crying when he opened the door. Stopping for a second, he almost thought it was his week with Gus. Then he remembered he’d dropped the baby off at Mel’s place the night before. He sat on the bed next to Justin when he found him curled up and soaking his new sheets with tears. Brian stroked Justin’s back, hoping it would calm him without having to actually ask what was wrong.

“I got accepted into the art school.”

“And you’re crying because?”

“My dad won’t pay for it. I went to see my parents after school to tell them about getting in. Even though my mom was happy for me, she told me not to expect any money from them.”

“That fucker! Isn’t it enough that he threw you out?”

“Apparently not. I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, they’re always short on go-go dancers in New York.”

“You think so?” Justin looked up at Brian with a glint of hope in his eyes.

“How the fuck should I know? It was a joke.”

“Oh.”

Brian lay down beside him. He wiggled his arm under Justin’s neck and drew him close. “You did remember to pick up Gus, right?”

Justin shook his head.

“What the fuck?!” Brian flipped him over, forcing Justin to look at him. “You left him at day care?”

“Debbie wanted to take him today. Mel called me earlier and said I could have the night off.”

Brian pushed Justin to face away from him again and lay against his back.

“You’re hot when you’re upset.”

“I’m always hot.” Brian nibbled at Justin’s neck. “I’ll pay your tuition.”

“I can’t let you do that. You’ve already helped me so much.”

“Don’t let your homophobic parents ruin your future.” Just when Brian thought Justin had fallen asleep because he’d been quiet for so long, he felt Justin squeeze his hand.

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Justin frowned when Brian sneered at him once again for no good reason. Putting his book down, he waiting until Brian glared at him. “Any chance you’ll tell me why you’re in a shitty mood?”

“No.”

“Okay.” Justin went back to his book.

“You’re everywhere I look,” Brian growled. “Not to mention your things are taking over the whole fucking loft.”

Justin thought that wasn’t exactly true, but he decided not to argue. “Anything else?”

“Do you have to cook every fucking day? This place stinks of all of your experiments.”

Yeah, he was right about that one. The smell of the previous night’s jambalaya with a twist seemed to linger in the air. Who knew those herbs wouldn’t work together?

Brian walked into the bathroom and sighed. “How hard is it to pick up the wet towel from the floor after you’ve showered?”

“That’s yours. Mine is hung.”

“Oh! Well, that doesn’t mean everything is fucking peachy.”

“No, of course not.” Justin tried not to laugh. Picking up the few things of his that were lying around, he folded his clothes and placed them in his bag. He stuffed his schoolbooks in his already-full backpack. Then he realized his socks were at the bottom of the bag and unpacked everything.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“Looking for my socks.” When he finally found them, he put all his clothes back in, careful not to leave anything on the floor. “I’m going out for lunch. Do you want anything?”

“No.”

“Okay. Later.”

Justin sat at the counter in the diner and waited for Debbie to take his order.

“Are you eating here?”

“Yeah.” Actually seeing Brian’s point about being around all the time, he decided to make an effort to give him some space, at least during Brian’s Gus-free weeks.

“Justin?” Deb touched his arm.

“Oh, sorry. I was thinking of Brian.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Not like that. He threw a tantrum when I left. I was trying to figure out a way to not get kicked out.”

Debbie wasn’t going to defend Brian or take Justin’s side. She could imagine how hard all this was on Brian, but she also knew the kid had nowhere else to go if he got thrown out. She put the plate down in front of him. “What do you want to drink?”

“Coke.”

“You know, if you want to stay away for awhile, Vic could use some help around the house.”

“Really? I’ll go over there right away when I finish eating.”

“You’re such a sweetheart.”

Vic opened the door, waving a list in front of Justin’s face. “Sis made this. I think she’s trying to kill me.” He smiled happily and let Justin in.

“Let me look at it.” Justin saw that Vic had only crossed off a couple of tasks, and there were lots of things to choose from. “Why don’t you sort through the recycling pile while I rake leaves and clean the gutters?”

A couple of hours later, they had most of it done and started to make dinner.

“Is everyone coming?”

“Just Brian, Mel, and Gus. Mikey’s on another date with David.”

“Are they getting serious?”

Vic shrugged.

Justin thought Vic looked as if he sensed everything wasn’t right between them, but he decided not to ask about it. He found the plates and glasses and set the table while he waited for the cake he’d put in the oven to finish baking.

Vic counted the place settings twice. “We need one more.”

“No, nothing for me. Brian thinks I’m everywhere he looks, so I’m trying to leave him alone.”

“He can hardly stop you from eating.”

“It’s for the best. At least for today.” Justin put his sweater on. “I had fun helping out. Give me a call if you ever want some more help. Or just some company.”

Vic promised there was enough work around the house to keep them both busy for years to come.

----------

Deb squealed when she saw how much they’d managed to get done.

“Jesus!” Brian was standing a bit too close to her when excitement struck. “Careful with those vocal cords of yours.”

Debbie ignored him. “That kid is the best. The best!”

“What kid?”

“Justin.”

Brian sighed and sat down at the table.

“Don’t you dare sigh. He’s been here helping Vic all day.”

“He even made a cake for dessert,” Vic added.

“So, where is Boy Wonder?”

“He left.”

“What?!” Debbie shouted, hitting Brian’s head.

“Ouch! What the fuck, Ma?”

“You told him to stay away. It’s your fault.”

“Why did you do that?” Mel had been listening from the door, holding a sleeping Gus in her arms.

“None of your fucking business.” Brian took his son from her and sat down again. “Can we just eat? I’m starving.”

They all stared at him.

“What? I missed lunch.”

Justin slid the loft door open and noticed that the place had been aired out when he didn’t smell jambalaya anywhere. He set the Chinese takeout down on the counter and took off his sweater. Remembering to put it away, he stopped when he got to his corner of the bedroom. His bags were missing. So was the sketchpad he’d placed on top of them.

No! No, no, no! Brian couldn’t have kicked him out without telling him! Or maybe that’s exactly what he’d done earlier?

But still, his stuff had to be somewhere. The second he took out his cell to call Brian, Justin spotted his sketchpad and pens neatly placed on Brian’s desk. Spinning around, he saw his schoolbooks on a shelf with notepads and post-its on top of them. He walked over to the closet. His clothes were hanging perfectly straight next to Brian’s. Justin smiled, daring to hope things were okay after all.

Brian came home hours later and found Justin deep into a marathon on the Discovery Channel. He relaxed when he saw the kitchen area as clean as he’d left it.

“Hey. How was dinner?”

Brian kicked Justin’s feet to the side to make room for him on the couch. “The cake could have used more frosting.”

“Noted. How was Gus?”

“He missed you.”

----------

Justin heard the phone ring in the middle of the night but ignored it, falling back to sleep in seconds. When he woke up in the morning, he found Brian on the sofa, cradling a bottle of whiskey. “Brian.” He rubbed his arm. “Are you okay?”

“More than okay.”

“You’re drunk. Fuck!” Justin checked the time and realized he was going to miss his first class if he didn’t leave in ten minutes. “Brian, please.”

“What?”

“Sit up and talk to me.”

“What’s there to talk about? It’s over.”

“What’s over? Come on, you’re freaking me out.”

“He’s dead.”

For one horrible second, Justin thought he meant Gus. His heart almost stopped. Then he understood Brian was talking about his dad. “Was that your mom who called last night?”

“My sister.”

“Even though he wasn’t the best dad in the world, I’m really sorry.”

Brian snorted and sat up long enough to take another drink from the bottle. “Sorry’s bullshit,” he slurred before he fell down again.

“Do you want me to call Michael or Debbie?”

“No.” Brian put a hand on Justin’s back and dragged him down on top of himself, burying his nose in his neck.

Justin mentally went through his schedule for the day but couldn’t come up with anything that required him to be at school. Deciding to take the day off, he wiggled his cell out of his pocket and sent Daphne a text saying he was coming down with a cold and would try to cure it with a day in bed. “Brian, you need to call Cynthia if you’re staying home today.”

“My phone’s in the kitchen.” Brian let go of Justin. “You call her.”

Justin found her name in the phone book and prayed she’d be understanding. “Cynthia? My name is Justin Taylor. I’m Brian’s, uh . . . I’m his son’s . . . ”

“I know who you are, Mr. Taylor.” Her voice was filled with laughter.

“She’s the best!” Brian said so loudly that Justin walked farther away from him.

“Oh, good. Brian wanted me to let you know he can’t come in today due to a family crisis.”

“Is Gus okay?”

“Yeah, he’s fine.”

“Tell her I’d fuck her if she were a guy,” Brian shouted across the loft.

“What was that?”

“He said he’s sorry for causing you trouble.”

“I bet he is.”

“Okay, so he’ll be there tomorrow for sure. Bye.” Justin hurried and hung up before Brian could interrupt them again.

“Bring food and your ass over here.”

“Yes, dear.” Justin rummaged through the cabinets and came up with a bag of chips and some crackers to help soak up the alcohol in Brian’s system. “Will these do?”

Brian reached for the snacks and started to work his way through them. “Sit down.” He pointed to his feet, lifting them enough to let Justin slip under them.

“You didn’t promise your sister you’d help her with anything today, did you?”

“Nah, she and Mommy Dearest can handle everything except picking out his suit. Not that he had that many to chose from.” Brian took another swig from the bottle and grunted when Justin took it away from him. “What happened to your ass that I asked you to bring over here?”

“You told me to sit down on it.”

“That’s just stupid. It should be here.” Gesturing towards his crotch, Brian slung an arm across his face and fell asleep.

Justin stood up and got rid of what was left in the bottle, pouring him a glass of juice instead. He made himself breakfast and sat down to watch the news, careful not to wake Brian up.

A couple of hours later, Brian started to stir and furrowed his eyebrows at Justin. “Why?”

“Why what?”

“So many things.” He drank the juice and then walked to the bathroom.

When Justin heard the shower running, he switched the coffeemaker on so he’d have a cup ready when Brian came back out. He looked up when he heard Brian’s footsteps and stared at his perfect body. It was dripping wet. The towel wrapped around his waist showed off more than it hid.

Brian wrapped his arms around Justin and hugged him hard. “You’re not in school today.”

“I’m not.”

“I’m apparently not at work, either. Did I call Cynthia?”

“No, I did. But you did tell her you’d do her if she were a guy.”

Brian shrugged. “I would. She’s fucking great.” He drank the coffee and made a face at its strong taste. “Did you use all the beans?”

“I’m just trying to sober you up.” Justin’s fingers brushed across the bulge under Brian’s towel, enjoying the moan that slipped from his lips. “Want something to eat?”

“Why don’t we go out for an early lunch?”

“Sounds great! I’ll just take a shower and change into something that doesn’t smell like baby puke.” Justin looked down at the tee he’d had on the previous night while he was feeding Gus and decided it was time to throw it in the washer. Slowly undressing, he made sure to keep eye contact with Brian as he pushed his pants down and wiggled out of his underwear. He saw the bulge grow when Brian rubbed over it.

“It’s not that I don’t want to, but I’d probably throw up on you if I tried to fuck you right now.”

Justin wrinkled his nose. “I can live without that experience.”

Half an hour later, they were out the door and walking down the street in search of a place to eat, their arms around each other and the sun shining in a clear blue sky.

“Besides the hangover, are you okay?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Brian pulled Justin closer and pointed to an almost empty coffee shop. “That one?”

“Yeah, sure.”

They ordered cream cheese bagels and carrot cake, which Brian swore he wouldn’t touch. He ate half of it while they waited for the bagels to get grilled.

“Did I have chips this morning?”

“And crackers. Almost a whole bag.” Justin couldn’t hide his grin when Brian sighed deeply.

“You could have gone to school today, you know.”

“I know, but I thought you’d like some company. Even though I’m not Mikey.”

Brian kissed him deeply. His teeth scratching over Justin’s lips made him gasp. “Thank you,” he whispered, running his fingers across the soft skin on Justin’s back.

Justin arched into his touch and moved close enough to trace all his favorite spots on Brian’s body.

“You’re certainly not Mikey.” Brian swallowed a loud moan when Justin’s fingers sneaked into his pants. He let him continue until their food arrived, kissing him again and telling him to behave or they’d get thrown out.

“Do you regret telling your dad you’re gay?”

“Doesn’t matter much now.”

“I regret telling mine every day. I miss my mom and dad. Miss being a part of a family. I guess I just feel lost.”

“It’s different for you. Your dad isn’t a drunk who beat you up every chance he got.”

“No, he’s just a homophobe.”

“So our families suck. Not much we can do about it, is there?”

Justin shook his head and tried not to feel too sad. “Mel said she’ll get off early today, so I’ll just pick Gus up and take him over to her place. It shouldn’t take more than an hour.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“Great!” Justin beamed and ate the last of the carrot cake, washing it down with a glass of water.

“We should go home and fuck first, though.”

“Are you over your throwing up phase?”

Brian nodded and left a couple of bills on the table. “Bad as new.”

----------

Gus waved at Brian and Justin when they entered the room.

“Hi.” Brian bent down to pick him up.

Gus reached for Justin and made happy sounds when he was transported into his arms.

“Don’t mind me. I’m just the dad.”

“We can share him if you want.” Justin tilted Gus so his head nudged Brian’s.

“I thought we already did.”

Justin stopped and stared at Brian, who was crouching down to collect Gus’s things.

“What? You see him more than I do.”

“I didn’t say anything.” Justin buried his nose in Gus’s neck, making him giggle and squirm around.

Melanie looked up when she heard voices at the door. “Brian! What are you doing here?”

“We took the day off. Why are you home so early?”

“I spent the day taking care of our papers and bank accounts. It was the last of the things I’ve been dreading.”

“What about all of Lindsay’s stuff?” Justin set down Gus and started to give him some pieces of a banana.

“None of your business,” Brian said.

“It’s okay. I think I need to realize it’s time to take care of it and stop clinging to her things.”

“I can help if you want me to, or I can babysit Gus while you do it.”

“Thank you.” Mel thought she’d probably end up doing it in the middle of one of her many sleepless nights. “Why don’t you guys go out and do whatever you’re doing and let me cuddle up with our son for the rest of the day?”

“Ooh! We could go out and get drunk and play pool!” Justin looked at Brian hopefully.

“Getting drunk two times in one day seems like a really bad idea.”

“We could fuck again?”

“Good boy.”

Chapter Text

“Can you take Gus on Saturday from ten until God knows how long?”

“Planning to have a fuckfest at the loft?”

“My dad's funeral.” Brian glared at Melanie, his tongue poking the inside of his cheek.

“Oh, crap! Is Justin going with you?”

“No. Michael and Debbie are, of course, and probably Honeycutt and Theodore. Mostly because Emmett can't miss out on any festivities.”

“Don’t you think Justin should be there?”

“He’s never even met my old man.”

“He's met you.”

“He's not a part of this. I don't want him there.”

Mel started to protest, but she stopped herself when she saw the look on Brian's face.

“I don't want him anywhere near those homophobes. He doesn't deserve their sneers and remarks. Besides, he has plans to fuck Daphne tomorrow.”

“He’s doing what?!”

“She wanted him to be her first.”

“That's actually kind of sweet.”

----------

Justin slid the loft door open and was met by four pairs of curious eyes. “What?”

“So, how was it?” Michael asked.

“Okay.”

Brian folded the newspaper he’d been reading. “Planning on going straight?”

“Did she come?”

“Mikey!”

“Did you come?” Ted looked like he regretted his question the second he'd asked.

“You did get it up, right, sweetie?” Emmett actually sounded worried.

“He could rub up against a tree and get a hard-on,” Brian said rather proudly.

“I'm gonna take a shower. I hope you’re all back to normal by the time I’m done.”

Brian stood up. “I’ll help you clean all those difficult to reach places.”

“Always the gentleman.” Justin grinned and began to undress as he walked to the bathroom.

“How was it really?” Brian asked as he washed Justin’s hair.

“Not too bad, but it was definitely weird.”

“Melanie said you'll have to be prepared for Daphne to fall in love with you.”

“Why would she do that?”

“It's apparently common sense to fall in love with the first person you allow into your body.”

“Yeah, that sounds about right.” Justin molded himself into Brian's chest while he washed his hair. “This feels nice,” he murmured.

“Tired?”

Justin nodded and put his hands around Brian's waist. “How was the funeral?”

“My sister was a crying mess, but my mother seemed rather calm, probably thanks to all the wine she inhaled during the whole thing.”

“And what about you?”

“I'm fabulous.”

“And how are you really?”

Brian sighed, leaning his head against Justin's. “Fuck if I know.”

Justin reached for his hands and squeezed them. “When's Mel bringing Gus back?”

“Tomorrow morning. Why?”

“I was thinking we could try out that new dildo you bought last week.” He smiled when he felt Brian's dick kick against his hip.

“You have the best ideas.” Brian turned off the shower. He wrapped his arms around Justin from behind and walked them into the bedroom. Opening the panels, he heard his friends gasp when they saw them naked and hard. “We're gonna fuck in less than two minutes, so I suggest you leave unless you want to watch.”

----------

Brian stepped inside the loft and heard Gus’s happy sounds mixed with Justin’s laughter. Stopping for a second, he thought it wasn’t the worst thing to come home to now that privacy and quietness were apparently out of the question.

He joined them in the kitchen and saw Justin bathing Gus in a sinkful of sudsy water, which his son was splashing everywhere. “Having fun?” Brian kissed the top of Justin’s head.

“Uh-huh. We had a particularly messy experience with the oatmeal and jam dinner.”

Brian waved at Gus, who smiled widely at him.

“I couldn’t reach the ceiling.”

“Huh?”

“The ceiling.” Justin pointed upwards.

“Yes, I do know where it’s located. What about it?”

“Blueberry stains.” Justin wrapped Gus in a towel and handed him to Brian.

“How did this happen, Sonny Boy? Did Justin twirl you around while he fed you?” Brian glanced up at the ceiling and winced at the blue freckles above the table.

“It’s actually your fault.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“If you hadn’t sent me that very naughty text, I wouldn’t have dropped the spoon and he wouldn’t have had the chance to drench himself and the loft in food.”

“I see. And that’s why you neither replied to it nor put on the black pants I love to take off?”

“Yep.”

“Normally I wouldn’t be happy to be neglected, but I guess you’re forgiven this time.”

“I promise to make it up to you.” Justin leaned in and gave him a kiss.

“I’ll take care of the stains if you put him down for his nap.”

Gus curled into Justin’s chest, almost asleep by the time they reached his crib.

“Creating chaos is exhausting, isn’t it?” Justin kissed the baby’s forehead and pulled the blanket up around him, watching him fuss for a minute then drift off to sleep.

Brian was standing on a kitchen ladder and working on the stains when Justin came back out of the bedroom.

“Is it coming off?”

“Yeah.”

Justin rubbed Brian’s thighs and stroked his flat stomach under his shirt. “You’re hot.” He went up on his tiptoes and licked Brian’s smooth skin.

“Really? You get off on watching me clean?”

“No, I get off on having your cock at the exact right level for a blow job.” Justin unzipped Brian’s pants and sneaked his fingers inside, smiling when he felt no underwear. “Do you have any idea how sexy that is? I love to always have easy access to your dick.” He took it in his mouth and put his hands on Brian’s hips to hold him still.

“God damn it, Justin.” Brian swayed on the ladder, steadying himself with one hand on the ceiling. “Don’t fucking stop.”

Justin felt him grow hard under his touch and moaned when the head of Brian’s cock swelled against his tongue. He pulled back, then he sucked him in down to the hilt and buried his face in Brian’s pubes, inhaling his intoxicating scent before starting all over again.

“Feels so good.” Brian’s fingers found Justin’s hair. He pulled at it to make him take him deeper, to speed up, to make him come right fucking now. He finally lost it and shot hard down Justin’s throat when Justin took his balls in his hand and gently pulled at them. “Oh, fuck!” Brian bent down and took hold of the ladder as Justin hurried to grip his waist.

“You okay?”

Brian’s legs shook when he climbed down and drew Justin in for a kiss. “Never better.”

----------

“How was your first day as a college boy?”

“Not bad. Everyone seemed extremely focused and determined to make it as an artist.”

“I miss the uniform.”

“I still have it if your longing gets too bad.”

“Good to know.”

“Gus has been a pain all afternoon. He’s all yours. I’m going out.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Mel thinks he’s teething. She called Dr. Persaud yesterday, who suggested she buy a teething ring. She dropped it off a couple of hours ago, and Gus has been working on it ever since.”

“Does that mean we can finally start giving him real food and not those god awful purees and oatmeals?”

“Why else would he grow teeth?”

“I’ll look it up. Come to Daddy, Gus.” Brian stretched out his arms and smiled when Gus wiggled his way over to him with his new favorite toy secured in his mouth, drool dripping onto his shirt. “Where are you going?”

“Somewhere quiet. I’ve got two assignments I need to work on.”

“They already gave you homework?”

“Yep.”

“God, I’m happy I’m out of school.”

“I’m surprised you even remember how it was, considering how long it’s been.” Justin smiled sweetly at Brian, who flipped him off behind Gus’s back. “Later.”

----------

Brian sat on the sofa, cradling a feverish Gus in his arms. He looked up when Justin stumbled out of the bedroom.

“What’s wrong? Is it his teeth again?”

“I think so. He’s chewing like crazy on everything I put in his mouth.”

“God, how long will this go on?”

“Well, he’s only got three so far, so I say pretty much forever.”

“Want me to take him for awhile?”

“No, it’s okay.” Brian reached out for Justin and pulled him in for a kiss. “I’ll stay home with him today.”

Justin cuddled up next to him. “You’re warm.”

“He’s like a furnace, but he won’t let go of the blanket.”

“Did you get him to drink anything?”

“I’ve got it under control.”

Justin patted Brian’s knee and stood up. “Want coffee?”

“Please.” Brian hugged Gus tighter when he started to cry.

Justin flinched at the high-pitched sound. He searched through the medicine cabinet and found the numbing ointment Melanie had given them when Gus’s first tooth was breaking through and brought it over to Brian. “Try to rub this on his gums.”

Gus stopped crying while Brian’s finger was in his mouth, but it didn’t last long.

“I guess showering together is out of the question?”

Brian sighed. “Don’t even talk about it.”

“I’d love to feel you deep inside me.”

“Justin.”

“I’m so horny. I’m gonna jerk off in there.”

Brian shook his head. “That’s just mean.”

“If you could time his afternoon nap with me getting home from school, we could actually do it together.”

“Don’t hold your breath. He might have stopped sleeping for good.”

“Maybe I’ll pick up some trick on my way home and let him buy me drinks and fuck him.”

“You should.”

“And tell you all about it?”

“That’s a given.”

----------

Justin heard loud crying as he walked up the stairs to the loft after school. For a second, he thought about turning around and actually going down to Liberty Avenue. He found Brian walking the floor with Gus, his hair sweaty and his clothes stained with juice and food. “Hey.”

Brian spun around. “Thank God.” He placed Gus in Justin’s arms and headed towards the shower.

“Did you break Daddy?”

Gus sniffled.

“You don’t look so hot yourself. I think it’s time to change your clothes.” Justin took Gus into the kitchen and sang to him while he washed his hands and face, happy to hear the baby giggling for a moment as he forgot about his sore mouth. He made a quick job of getting him out of his sweater and pants and putting new ones on. “Look at you!”

Gus looked down and pointed to the cars on his legs.

Brian came back and stared at them. “What the hell did you do to him?”

“No idea. I just cleaned him up a bit. Why don’t you get some sleep while he’s quiet?”

“Need some air.” Brian sneaked out the door when Gus was looking the other way.

Justin rubbed the ointment on Gus’s gums and snuggled him into his chest, breathing easier when Gus fell asleep within minutes.

Brian returned and frowned at how quiet it was. He set the take-out bags down and walked over to the sofa. “I brought food.”

“Thanks.”

“So, how was your after-school trick?”

“Non-existing. What about you?”

“I walked down to the Chinese place and back again. Can you get up without waking him?”

Justin slid off the sofa, and Brian placed a pillow under Gus’s head.

“Be quiet, or I’ll have to gag you.”

----------

“Hi, Gus. How’s your day been?”

Gus banged a doll on the floor with one hand and rolled his toy car with the other.

“I’m happy to see you missed me.” Melanie glanced at Justin, who yawned widely. “You look tired.”

“I am. I haven't slept much in the last two nights. Brian keeps bringing tricks home, and sleeping on the couch with my headphones on just isn’t relaxing. I think staying home with Gus last week brought him close to the edge of how much domesticity he can take.” Justin didn’t really blame Brian as the teething experience was something he could live without, and knowing they weren’t even halfway finished with it was just depressing.

Mel wasn’t going to remark on Brian’s lifestyle as long as it didn’t interfere with Gus. She actually understood his need to lead his life every other week like he’d done before Gus came into their lives. “You’re welcome to stay on my sofa. It’s a little lumpy, but you won’t be needing headphones to shut out any noises. Gus must be in a good phase. He’s sleeping through the nights.”

----------

“Where were you last night?”

“At Mel’s place.”

“Problems with Gus?”

“No.” Justin started to make dinner and sat down to eat while he did his homework. He tried to ignore Brian, who’d taken out his treadmill and was running next to him, but Brian’s chest was glistening and his muscles were begging to be traced by Justin’s fingertips. Pulling himself together, Justin flipped the page over, having no idea what he’d just read. He finally gave up and started to undress when Brian got down on the floor to do his sit-ups.

“What are you doing?”

“What does it look like?” Justin straddled Brian and bent forward to kiss him. “You’re so fucking hot when you’re working out.” Slowly rocking back and forth, he grinned when Brian’s cock got hard beneath his ass. “Wanna fuck me?”

“What do you think?” Brian pulled his pants off and smiled when Justin handed him a condom. “You come prepared.”

“You’ve taught me well.” Justin lifted up and waited until Brian told him to go for it, then he sank down onto him and moaned when the head of Brian’s cock opened him up. “Christ! You’re huge.” Taking a deep breath, he slammed down, taking all of Brian inside.

“Oh, fuck!” Brian gripped Justin’s hips, groaning as they found their rhythm.

Justin fucked him fast, not stopping until they both came hard. “Don’t pull out yet.” He lay down on Brian’s chest and breathed deeply. “I love having you inside me.”

“Are you sleeping here tonight?”

“Depends.”

“On what?”

“If you’re bringing home tricks who’ll keep me up all night or not.”

“It’s my home.”

“I know. I’m not complaining. I just need to make sure I get enough sleep to make it through the day.”

“I won’t. Not tonight anyway.” Brian held onto the condom and slipped it off. He pulled Justin close with a hand on his back. “Your ass is unbelievable.”

“Your cock is pretty amazing as well.”

“I know,” Brian drawled, flipping them over. “Want me to show you just how amazing it is?”

“Please.”

Justin decided to make it an early night. Creeping under the covers at ten, he didn’t even notice when Brian joined him at midnight. He woke up the next morning with Brian’s arms around his chest, smiling happily when he felt Brian’s naked body molded against his back.

Chapter Text

Gus shouted in frustration when he couldn’t drag himself up into a standing position. He looked at Justin with tears in his eyes.

“Need help?” Justin lifted him upright and waited until he gripped the table.

Gus’s legs shook a little, and he stomped his feet a couple of times before he slowly walked around the table. Waving at Brian, he lost his balance and fell down.

“Come on. Try again.” Brian helped him up and took his hand. “Let’s walk over to Justin.” Holding him steady, Brian guided Gus as they made their way over to Justin.

“Hi!” Justin hugged Gus when the baby clung to his legs.

Gus laughed while Brian swung him up in the air, then he buried his face in the crook of Brian’s neck. “Daddy.”

Brian sat down with a thud next to Justin. “Did he really say that?”

“Can you say it again, Gus? Say daddy,” Justin pleaded.

“Daddy.” Gus smiled and took Justin’s hand. “Daddy.”

Brian and Justin spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get Gus to talk more, but he abandoned them for his car collection.

“He’s talking,” Brian said matter-of-factly when he dropped Gus off at Mel’s.

“What?”

“He said daddy yesterday.”

“To you?”

“To both Justin and me.”

Mel looked at their son. “Gus, get ready for a week of mommy training.”

Gus squealed happily and hugged Melanie. “Daddy.”

“Oh, my God. Did you hear that?” Mel’s eyes filled with tears. “Fuck, I wish Lindsay were here.”

“Me, too,” Brian whispered. He patted Gus on the back before he left.

----------

Brian cursed as his phone rang, missing the days when Mikey was the only person who disturbed him at work. Now it was as if he had an open hotline to the whole fucking world. “Kinney.”

“Listen. Say it.”

Brian heard Gus chattering nonsense into the phone. “Exactly what am I listening for?”

“Come on, Gus. Say mommy.”

“Daddy.”

Melanie sighed. “He said it last night and again right before I called you.”

“Nice try, Mel. I gotta go.”

----------

“Want to go to Woody’s?”

“Yeah, let me just call Justin to let him know.”

Michael stared at Brian.

“Gus is my kid, after all. I can’t just leave him.” Brian put his jacket on while he waited for Justin to pick up. “Can you keep him for a couple more hours?”

“Uh, yeah. I can do my homework later.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Go. Have fun.”

Brian hesitated for a second, then he shrugged and hung up. “Come on, Mikey. Let’s play pool.”

Two games later, Brian was on his way to getting drunk. He gave his cue to Michael and followed a trick into the restroom. Strolling out of there fifteen minutes later, Brian decided to grace Babylon with his presence for the rest of the night. When he finally got back home, he was met by a dark, silent loft. He switched on the lights and jumped when he found Justin sitting on the sofa. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Trying to get my assignment done, but I keep falling asleep. Gus was in a horrible mood tonight. It took me forever to get him to calm down.” Justin set his laptop on the table and rubbed his eyes.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Nothing. He’s a kid. They cry for no good reason at all.”

“Come to bed with me.”

“I can’t! It’s three a.m., and I need to finish this before my first class in the morning.”

“Fuck! I had no idea it was that late.”

“They don’t have clocks in the back room?”

“Are you angry because I fucked the night away and you didn’t?”

“No, I’m angry because you said you’d be gone for a couple of hours more, not eight. Could you please leave me alone so I can do this?”

Brian woke the next day to the sound of Gus’s cries. He sat up and groaned when his head felt as if it were splitting open. What the fuck had he mixed last night? He vaguely remembered buying some shit from Anita before entering Babylon. And where the fuck was Justin when you needed him? He slowly got up and went over to Gus’s corner. “Come here, Sonny Boy. Please stop crying or you’ll make me puke.” Sitting on the sofa with him, Brian noticed the pillow and blanket. Justin obviously hadn’t gone to bed at all. “What do you say . . . a quick shower and then breakfast?”

Gus poked Brian’s ribs and squealed with delight when Brian did the same to him.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

Brian dropped Gus off at day care, then he stopped by the diner for coffee with lots of sugar.

“Out all night?” Deb asked.

“Yeah.”

“I thought it was your week with Gus.”

“Justin was home.” Brian winced when Deb didn’t say anything, knowing it was a bad sign. “What?”

“He’s a teenager. When was the last time he did anything besides study and babysit?”

“How the fuck should I know? He’s free to do whatever he wants.”

“Is he?” Deb turned away from him and walked into the kitchen.

----------

“I can’t tonight, Daphne. I’m late with another assignment, and this one has to be perfect after last week’s disaster.”

“What disaster?” Brian asked when Justin hung up.

“I failed big-time.”

“You never fail.”

“Apparently I do when you’re out all night.”

Brian knew that night would come back to haunt him, but he never thought he’d feel this shitty when it happened. “Okay, this has to stop.”

“What?” Justin frowned.

“Your first priority is your education, not Gus.”

“Don’t be silly. Gus comes first.”

“The fuck he does!”

“Huh?”

“For Mel and me, he comes first. Not for you.”

“I love Gus.”

“I know, but that’s not the point.”

“Oh.”

“You’re great with him, but you need to focus on school.”

“So what do you want me to do?”

“You can start by meeting Daph for an hour or two tonight. You’re a teenager. You’re supposed to screw up and fuck around.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t fail any more classes.”

“That’s a contradiction.”

“Do I look like I care? Figure out how to make it work, but don’t think for one second I’m going to let you fuck up your youth because of Gus and me.”

“Do you want me to move out?”

“No.”

“Great!”

“Fine!” Brian stormed off into the kitchen cursing every damn teenager in the world, especially the one in his home.

Justin called Daphne back. “One hour, that’s all. I’ll meet you at the Liberty Diner.” He put his jacket on and was halfway out the door when Brian’s strong hands stopped him.

“Gus thinks you’re pretty great.”

“And what do you think?”

Brian kissed his face. “That he’s a smart kid,” he mumbled, his lips pressed against Justin’s.

In seconds, a wave of arousal swept over them as they clung to each other.

“Take me,” Justin panted, reaching for the zipper on his pants.

Brian gritted his teeth when he heard a loud crash followed by Gus’s cries. “I’ll fuck you senseless tonight.”

“Okay, I can wait. I think.” Justin put his clothes back in place and left. Taking a deep breath when he stepped outside, he thought this was exactly what he needed and promised himself he’d get the drawing done as soon as he came back. He spent the next hour listening to Daphne chat about her school and the people she’d met, feeling a little sad that they didn’t know the same people anymore.

“You’ll always be the one I care about most. You know that, right?”

“I know.” Justin hugged her hard. “I miss you so much. I miss us. I love Brian and Gus, but they don’t really know me. The old me.”

“I feel the same about my new friends. I don’t share any childhood memories with them.”

Quickly making plans to have lunch the following week, they ran off to different bus stops just seconds before their buses were leaving.

Justin waved back at Gus, who was acting as if he hadn’t seen Justin for months. “I need to finish this drawing or I’ll never get it done.”

“Want something to eat?” Brian asked.

“I ate at the diner.”

Brian went over to the sofa and drew Justin in for a kiss. Looking down at the sketch Justin was working on, Brian saw a pair of entwined hands. “That’s beautiful.”

“Thanks!”

“What’s the assignment?”

“Strength.”

Brian’s attention quickly shifted to Gus, who’d just thrown his spoon on the floor. “You know you’re too old for that now, right?” he said as he hurried over to him. “I’ll super glue a spoon and a fork to your hands if you don’t stop it.”

“Noo!” Gus laughed and threw it down again. “Daddy! Up!” He finally fell asleep in his bed after a bath, three bedtime stories, and a cuddle with Justin.

Brian cleaned up in the kitchen and poured himself a drink. “Do you want one?”

Justin shook his head, his pencil flying over the paper.

“What happened to the hands?” Brian sat next to him.

“Finished.” Justin nodded towards the table. “This is for next week. I’m almost done.”

“Working ahead?”

“Uh-huh.”

Brian gave up trying to talk and turned on the TV instead.

Half an hour later, Justin put everything down and flexed his hand. “I can’t believe I did it. It was actually fun to draw. It’s been so long since I’ve enjoyed it this much.” He curled up against Brian. “You promised to fuck me senseless.”

“I will.”

“Now?”

“Yeah.” Brian straddled Justin’s hips and began to slowly kiss his face.

----------

“No! Gus, no!” Justin sank to the floor and buried his head in his hands, ignoring Gus’s angry cries.

Brian looked at them. “What the hell, Justin?”

“He ripped it in half.”

“What?”

“The drawing with the hands. It was for my first class today. I’ll never be able to redo it.”

“Fuck!”

“I can’t fail again.”

“You won’t. Come on. Stand up and get yourself together.” Brian dressed Gus in record time, then he handed him a piece of fruit to chew on. “Get your shit,” he told Justin. “Including the drawing.”

Justin ran down the stairs and helped Brian fasten Gus into his car seat. “Where are we going?”

“What do you mean where are we going? To school, of course.”

“But day care is that way.”

“I’ll take him later.”

Brian parked right outside the entrance and took Gus out of the car before he steered Justin inside.

“Are you coming with me?”

“Looks that way. Where’s your professor?”

“Probably in the classroom. Class starts in ten minutes.”

Brian opened the door that Justin had pointed out. “That’s him?”

“Yes, but . . .”

“Hi. Brian Kinney. This,” he yanked the drawing from Justin’s hand, “is a masterpiece. Was,” he corrected himself. “My son,” he nodded at Gus, who was waving his banana peel at him, “ripped it this morning.” Brian gestured toward Justin. “You can’t fail him for that.”

“And may I ask who you are?”

“His . . . uh . . .”

“We live together,” Justin interrupted Brian.

“I see. Well, from what I can tell, your technique is excellent, as always.” The professor held the two pieces of Justin’s drawing together. “Interesting take on the assignment.” He glanced at Brian and Justin. “Your hands, I assume?”

“Yes.”

“Really?” Brian frowned. “I didn’t notice.”

“And by having the strength to rip it apart, I guess this little guy put himself in the drawing.”

Gus grinned and handed the banana peel to him.

Justin’s professor took it and laughed. “Thank you!”

“Are you gonna fail him?”

The professor looked at Justin. “No.”

“Great!” Brian kissed Justin. “Later.”

“Later.”

“Later,” Gus said, giggling happily when Brian and Justin stared at him then kissed each other again. He squealed when Justin ruffled his hair.

“So, Mr. Taylor. You’re living with this Brian Kinney?” Justin’s professor didn’t mince words.

God, don’t let him be another homophobe, Justin thought. “Yes, I am.”

“And he’s got a son?”

Justin nodded, not sure where this was going.

“It must be difficult for you to study at home. I remember when my kids were that small. It was almost impossible to get anything done.”

“He’s only there every other week.”

“Shared custody with the mother?”

“His biological mother died giving birth to him, but her partner has him half the time.”

“That must have been hard on everyone.”

“It’s been a struggle, but it’s also a lot of fun to watch Gus grow and discover new things. It seems like he learns a new word every day now.”

“You’re extremely talented, Justin. I was sad when I had to fail you last week.”

“I’m so sorry about that. It had been a crazy week, and things got out of hand.”

“Try and see to it that it doesn’t happen again.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“You know, if you want to, you can use the studio here. Think about it, and remember to keep your finished work out of reach.”

“Believe me, I’ve learned my lesson.”

“Mr. Taylor?”

“Yes.”

“You get an A on Strength.”

“Thank you!”

----------

Brian dialed Melanie’s number as he sat down at his desk. “Can you take Gus this weekend?”

“Sure. I can pick him up Friday at four.”

“Thanks.”

“Exciting plans?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

“It’s Justin.”

“What about him?”

“He’s . . . I . . . We . . . Fuck.”

“You need some time alone with Loverboy?”

“He’s had a couple of not so great weeks. He failed a test, and this morning Gus shredded the drawing he was supposed to hand in first thing.”

“Oh, no.”

“I talked to his professor, and he seemed to understand.”

“You talked to him? That’s so romantic.”

“Shut up. I think he needs a break to just be a teenager for awhile.”

Mel was quiet for a long time. “I guess we’ve used him as a babysitter quite a lot.”

“He’s not a fucking babysitter.”

“I know, but you have to admit we’ve put a big responsibility on an 18-year-old.”

“His education is expensive as fuck. He should focus on it.”

“Is his dad paying for it?”

“No.”

“You’re paying?”

“It was either that or he was going to be a go-go boy in New York.”

“I wish Lindsay were around to see you with him.”

“We’re not a couple. I despise that word.”

“Whatever you are, I know she’d be so happy for you. Brian?”

“What?”

“Someone asked me out on a date.”

“Did you go?”

“No.”

“Why the fuck not?”

“I had Gus. And then there’s Lindsay. I don’t know. I just couldn’t.”

“For fuck’s sake! It’s been a year. Do you want to date her?”

“She’s nice. Not Lindsay, of course, but nice. Different.”

“Call her and say you want to meet tonight.” Brian stopped himself, fearing he was about to actually become a lesbian. “It’ll be good for you to eat some pussy.”

Chapter Text

Justin ran through the loft with Gus on his back, both of them screeching at a volume that made Brian consider moving out and starting over somewhere else. Brian waited until they darted toward him again, then he slung an arm out and gripped Justin’s waist.

“Hey! We’re running laps here,” Justin panted, slightly out of breath. “Don’t stop us!”

Brian ignored him and pried Gus’s fingers out of Justin’s hair. “Come here. We’re late for an appointment.” He handed Justin a bottle of water and remarked that he looked as if he were going to pass out.

Justin gulped half of it down. “Really? Are we going to try out that new playground I told you about last week?”

“Just take a shower and put on something you’d wear on a grown-up play date.”

----------

“It’s a bit early for dinner, don’t you think?” Justin reached for a menu on the counter anyway and smiled at Debbie and Michael, who were waving at Gus from across the room.

“Look,” Debbie said to the group of guys she was serving. “That’s my grandson over there. Have you ever seen such a cutie?” She laughed when they obediently shook their heads and assured her he was an amazing kid.

Everyone stared at Brian as he nuzzled his nose into Gus’s face and caressed Justin’s back while he laughed at something Justin said. The entire group had fond memories of Brian and his dick. Who would have thought he’d end up with a family and look quite happy about it?

“You can put the menu back,” Brian told Justin. “We’re not drowning ourselves in grease tonight.”

“So what are we doing here?” Justin bumped it lightly on Gus’s head, making him giggle.

“We’re meeting Melanie. She’s going to take Gus.”

“Why? It’s our weekend.”

“I asked her to.”

“I’ll watch him if you have to work.”

“No, you won’t.”

“Why? Did I do something wrong?” Justin glanced at Gus, checking to make sure he was okay.

“I just wanted to be alone this weekend.”

“Oh. I can sleep at Daphne’s place.”

Brian sighed and drew Justin close and kissed him deeply. “Alone with you.”

“Did you hear that, Gus? He soooo loves me.”

“Hi, honey!” Mel walked into the diner and hugged Gus hard when Brian handed him to her. “I get to have you for over a week. Yes, I do.”

“So, did you get any snatch?”

“Jesus, Brian. Do you have to tell everyone?”

“You had a date?” Justin’s eyes glittered.

“Yes. She was lovely. We had dinner and a drink.”

“You’ve already moved on? What about Lindsay? And Gus?”

“Shut up, Mikey!” Brian glared at him. “She’s been gone for a year. I hardly think she’ll mind. You and David breaking up doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk.”

“For your information, I’m over David. I’ve met someone else. His name is Ben, and he’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”

“I’m happy for you.” Brian squeezed Michael’s shoulder.

Justin ignored them and beamed at Melanie. “You’ll have to tell me all about it later,” he told her before he said good-bye to Gus.

Gus waved his arms. “Bye, Daddy!” he shouted to both Brian and Justin.

Brian waved back. “Behave, Sonny Boy.”

“You let him call Justin Daddy?” Michael asked.

“I don’t let him do anything. He calls Justin whatever the fuck he wants to.” Brian turned to Justin and asked him what he wanted to do.

“Have dinner at a nice restaurant before we dance the night away at Babylon.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“Maybe we could even fuck in the back room?”

“That could be arranged.”

“Threesome?”

“Even better.”

“Foursome?”

“Wanna go to the baths?”

Justin thought it over for a second. “Yeah. Let’s order take-out and get ready for a night of debauchery.”

----------

Brian woke up when Justin’s head thumped down on his chest. “Ouch!”

“What?” Justin peered up at him.

“Head. Chest,” Brian mumbled.

“Oh.” Justin buried his face in the crook of Brian’s neck and crawled on top of him. “Better?”

Brian’s arms encircled Justin’s body. “Much. You need to stop wiggling, though.” He took a gentle hold of Justin’s hips.

“Why?”

“You’re making me horny.”

Justin spread his legs. He made a low purring noise in his throat when Brian’s dick swelled against his. “That feels nice.” Pressing them closer together, he slowly humped him.

“I won’t be able to go back to sleep if you keep that up.”

Justin stilled. “I’m sorry, sir,” he whispered in Brian’s ear.

“That’s not helping.” Brian’s finger traced down Justin’s spine and stroked his crack. He rubbed over Justin’s hole. “Are you sore?”

“A little. We were hot last night.”

Brian wet the tip of his finger and massaged Justin’s sensitive skin. “I doubt any two guys have ever gotten that much attention at the baths.”

“They did seem happy to see us there. Have you had any of them before?” Justin yelped when Brian pushed two digits inside him.

“I don’t do repeats. Ever.” Brian carefully pulled his fingers out and slid them in again, setting a slow rhythm that made Justin moan.

“Don’t ever stop.”

“I’m not planning to.”

Justin sneaked a hand between their bodies and fondled Brian’s balls. “They’re so full. I want you to shoot deep inside me. I want to feel your hot come in my ass.”

“Justin.” Brian slammed his fingers inside of him more forcefully.

“It’s so good. One more, Brian. I need more.”

“Such a greedy boy.” Brian flipped them over and added another finger before Justin had a chance to prepare himself for it.

“Oh, fuck!” Justin lifted his legs and hooked them around Brian’s waist.

“Want me to fuck you?”

“What the hell do you think?”

Brian smacked his ass hard. “Where are your manners?”

“Please. Please take me. Please.” Justin’s head tilted back as he begged, his hips jerking in an attempt to get closer to Brian’s hand.

Brian pulled out and bent down to kiss Justin while he put on a condom. Sitting up, he positioned himself between Justin’s legs and nudged the head of his cock against Justin’s hole, playing with the opening.

Justin slung an arm over his face and arched up against Brian. “I can’t wait. I need to come.” He stroked his dick fast, but Brian interrupted him when he was so close he could feel the tingle in his spine.

“Don’t!” Brian swatted Justin’s hand away and dove into him in one quick move.

“God!” Justin held onto Brian’s shoulders and groaned loudly on every thrust. “I won’t last. Too good. It’s too much.”

Brian changed his angle and bumped into Justin’s prostate until Justin shivered violently and came. He waited until Justin’s orgasm was at its peak before he let go and came with him.

“That was fucking amazing!”

“Glitter and shine,” Brian mumbled, making Justin laugh. “Now can I please get some sleep?”

“Can I set up an easel? I feel like painting. I’ll take it down before Gus gets back.”

“Do whatever the fuck you want as long as you’re quiet.”

“So grumpy.” Justin kissed him and went to take a much needed shower.

Brian got out of bed hours later. He made himself a pot of coffee and sat down at his computer.

“Want something to eat?”

“Whatever you’re having.”

“Who said I’m willing to cook?”

“Then don’t.”

Justin rolled his eyes. He made them tuna sandwiches and gently forced Brian to sit down at the kitchen table to keep him company.

“What happened to the easel?”

“It was a stupid idea.”

“And why is that?”

“I was afraid the paint fumes would be bad for Gus to inhale.”

“I’m sure we can get them out before he gets back.”

“My professor said I can use the studio at school.”

“So why don’t you?”

“Yeah, maybe I should.” Justin smiled when he thought about having the spacious studio all to himself. Not worrying about spilling paint on Brian’s expensive hardwood floor or being interrupted by Gus sounded good, too.

“I’m meeting Michael at Woody’s before we go to Babylon. Are you coming?”

“No.”

“Are you moping?”

Justin laughed and kissed him. “No, I’m really not. I just want to watch TV and play video games all by myself.”

“Aww, like a real boy.”

“Shut up.”

Brian insisted Justin sit on the bed and help him decide which black shirt to wear. He studied his reflection in the mirror. “I’d fuck me.”

“Me, too.” Justin walked up behind him and stroked over Brian’s ass.

“Dream on.”

Justin ordered pizza for dinner and made himself comfortable on the sofa with Brian’s whiskey and pot stash. Flipping through the TV channels, he grinned when he found The Yellow Submarine. He hummed along to the songs as he drew a picture of the Beatles with one hand and smoked a joint with the other.

Brian slid the loft door open at midnight and strolled inside.

“You’re home early.” Justin was happy Brian hadn’t brought a trick back with him for once.

“Slow night. No new faces.”

“Poor stud.” Justin giggled and sipped his whiskey.

“Are you high?”

“Maybe.” Justin handed him the last joint.

Brian inhaled deeply and lay down on the sofa with his head in Justin’s lap.

“Did you meet Ben?”

“Yeah. I’d already met him once before, though.”

“Where?”

“At the white party a couple of years ago.”

“No!” Justin punched Brian lightly in the stomach. “Do you have to fuck every man you see?”

“I’d be stupid not to use the gift I’ve been given.”

“Michael won’t be happy to hear about it.”

“That’s why we’re not going to tell him.”

“Oh. Okay.” Justin’s hand sneaked down the front of Brian’s pants. “So . . . that thing we talked about before you left?”

“Look, I’m happy to fuck you until the sun comes up, but you’re not getting anywhere near my ass.”

“But it’s such a cute ass.”

“Even you must know that’s not the way to get into it.”

“So there is a way?!”

Brian turned onto his stomach, unzipped Justin’s pants, and took him into his mouth. He smirked when he looked up and saw Justin’s head tilting back against the sofa with all thoughts other than getting off down Brian’s throat forgotten about.

----------

On the way home from Sunday night dinner at Deb’s house, Justin asked Brian if he wanted to check out the art studio at his school. Brian changed radio stations and stared straight ahead for awhile, then he turned the car around and drove toward PIFA. Justin tried his best not to laugh out loud at the process Brian had to go through before he felt safe enough to follow Justin’s suggestion.

Walking down the corridors, they heard violin music coming from one of the rooms. Brian stopped to look through the small window on the door and saw that the guy inside was totally caught up in his music, his body swaying as he played. Brian turned back to Justin.

“At least you won’t be alone when you’re painting.”

“Believe me, company is the last thing I want.” Justin pulled at Brian’s arm. “Come on. The studio is just down the hall.” Checking to see if it was empty, he gave Brian a tour. “Isn’t it great? Look at how the light comes in from all directions. I really like the atmosphere in here!” Justin pondered over where he’d choose to work then nodded when he found a perfect spot. “I’ll set up my easel right here. I’ll have to buy new brushes, though. Mine are so old and disgusting. I already know what colors I’ll use. I can see the pattern.”

Brian put his arms around Justin’s neck. “You’re fucking hot when you’re intense.” He rubbed his cock against Justin’s stomach.

“We can’t fuck in here.”

“Sure we can.”

----------

“Why are you dressing up?”

“Daphne’s taking me to a concert for my birthday.”

“I can tell by your pout that you’re really excited.”

“Violin concert.”

“Aha. I see your point.” Brian helped Justin with his tie and kissed his forehead. “Have fun.”

“Yeah, right. Bye, Gus.”

“Bye bye.”

Brian looked at Gus. “What do you want to do for the rest of the day?”

Gus folded his lips in and thought. “Cars, and uh cars.”

“I see. How about playing with your cars?”

“Yes!” Gus jumped happily up and down. “Cars!”

“God, you’re easy.”

Brian played with him for an hour then started to prepare dinner. He glanced at the clock as he set the table, deciding not to wait for Justin. Not that he didn’t enjoy his son’s company, but their conversations were a bit on the boring side. He found himself missing Justin’s chatter. When Gus was asleep for the night, Brian flopped down on the sofa and watched an old black and white movie on TV until Justin returned.

“That was one long concert. How was he?”

“Talented, even though it’s not my kind of music.”

“I meant in bed.”

“Not too bad.” Justin shrugged. “I’ve had better, though.”

“I should hope so. Was he hot?”

Justin handed over the program he’d been drawing on.

“He looks slightly familiar.”

“Have you had him?”

“No. Wanna join me?” Brian shifted on the couch to make room for Justin.

“Sure. I’ll just take a quick shower.”

Chapter Text

“Brian! You’re early.”

He checked his watch. “No, but I guess time flies when you’re getting eaten out.”

Melanie blushed and cursed under her breath. “This is Corinne. Corinne, this is Brian, Gus’s dad.”

“Nice to meet you.” Corinne gave him a little wave from under the covers.

“Is it safe to leave my son here, or will the two of you fall back between each other’s thighs?”

“Just take him downstairs while we get dressed.” Mel threw on her robe and hurried after Brian. “Do you mind if she’s here when I have Gus?” God, she despised herself for even asking, but she still felt it was the decent thing to do. After all, Brian had discussed it with her before he let Justin take care of Gus. “We’ve been seeing each other for months now.”

“Why would I mind? Gus will be fucking thrilled to have another person waiting on him hand and foot.”

Corinne walked up to them with her bag on her shoulder and gave Melanie a peck on the cheek. “I’ll call you later.” She took a step back in surprise when Brian placed Gus in her arms.

“Bye, son. Give them hell.”

Mel laughed at the look on Corinne’s face. “I guess you’re approved.”

“Was that the Antichrist?”

“I know. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.”

----------

Brian pushed his trick out of the loft minutes after they’d walked in. The guy had looked promising in the dark alley outside of Babylon, but once Brian got him naked he realized his mistake and told him to leave, making it clear that begging wouldn’t get him fucked. He waited until he heard the front door slam shut, then he walked back inside and turned on his computer.

Christ! What does a guy have to do to get off? he fumed when he clicked on his favorite porn site only to find it locked down. Flopping down on his bed, Brian’s hands traveled down to his crotch before he stopped himself, thinking he’d wait for Justin to work his magic on him.

Two hours later, the door silently opened and Justin tiptoed inside. He undressed in the living room and tried to sneak past the bed to get to the bathroom.

“Where the fuck have you been?”

“Painting.”

“It’s 3:30.”

“I know. I got carried away. I’ll join you in a minute.”

----------

Gus hobbled towards Justin, dragging Brian’s jacket behind himself and tripping over his own feet every now and then.

Justin tried to rescue the jacket, but Gus fought him and plopped down on it again. “I’m not taking the blame for this, okay?”

Gus nodded and drooled on the sleeve.

“Oh, boy. Your dad’s gonna be so mad.” Justin wiped Gus’s mouth. “You really need to get this drooling under control soon. How about we go to the park so we’re out of the house when he finds it?”

Gus toddled to the door and whined when he couldn’t reach the handle.

Justin hurried to gather everything they’d need and put Gus in the stroller, ignoring his loud protests.

Twenty minutes later, they settled down near the swings, where Gus did his best to play with the older kids even though he was sadly ignored. After a while he gave up, busying himself with pulling out blades of grass and handing them to Justin one by one.

“Do you want a snack?” Justin asked when his own stomach growled.

“Apple!” Gus crawled onto Justin’s lap and jumped up and down while he waited for the fruit.

Handing it to him, Justin felt his cell vibrate in his pocket. “Daddy’s calling!”

Gus smiled. Dropping the apple, he grabbed for the phone.

“Hang on,” Justin said into the speaker as he produced a cracker from his bag to keep Gus happy. “Okay, I’m back.”

“Where are you?”

“The park. Why don’t you join us?”

Gus yelped and slid to the ground when he saw a kid playing with the yellow car he’d brought with him but left in the sandbox.

Justin kept an eye on Gus and bit into the sandwich he’d packed.

“Any reason why my new Prada jacket was in a heap by the door, still wet with what looked like drool?” Brian sat down next to Justin and waved to Gus, who looked up when he heard his dad’s voice.

“Nope.”

“Justin?”

“It’s not my drool.”

“I hope not.”

“Gus missed you, and your smell on the jacket was the second best thing?”

“Aha.”

“He was cute when he tried to wear it without falling over?”

“That’s more likely.”

“I’ll take it to the dry cleaner tomorrow.”

Brian bent over and kissed Justin. “I’ll do it myself. The loft is a mess with toys and shit everywhere.”

“Excuse me for not having time to both clean up and rescue your expensive as hell clothes from the little tornado over there.”

“I know.” Brian drew him closer and lifted Justin’s legs onto his. “I was thinking we should turn a corner of the loft into a room for him.”

“Oh! Maybe with a folding screen, lots of colorful boxes, and wallpaper with animals on it?”

“Animals?”

“Like snails and lions and spiders.”

Brian just stared at Justin.

“No? Okay, let’s start with the folding screens.”

“What about them?”

“I could draw cool pictures on Gus’s side but make them expensive-looking on the outside so the tricks who follow you home just to see the historic loft won’t be scared away.”

“Hopefully, that’s not the only reason they come with me. Although an astonishing number want me to fuck them over various pieces of luxurious furniture.” Brian drifted off in thought, making Justin giggle.

A loud shout from the sandbox forced them to go rescue Gus when a kid twice his size covered him with sand. The kid’s mom apologized profusely as Brian lifted Gus up and tried to shake all the sand out of his clothes.

“I think it’s time to go home and get cleaned up, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Gus patted Brian’s hair, coating it with God knows what.

An hour later, Justin handed Brian a towel when he stepped out of the bathroom with Gus propped on his hip. “I can go shopping for the folding screens tomorrow after school if you want me to.”

“I’ll leave you my credit card in the morning, which means what?”

“That I’m not allowed to buy some cheap crap.” Justin laughed at the fact that Brian looked proud of his answer.

“Why don’t you take a shower and wait for me in bed? I’ll put Gus to sleep.”

“Not tonight. I really feel like painting. I’ll try not to be too late.”

“You do that.” Brian set Gus down and kissed Justin sloppily for a long time, leaving them both breathless. “Later.”

“Bye, Gus.”

“Bye bye.” Gus waved his rubber ducky at Justin.

Brian tried to stay awake until Justin came home, but he fell asleep around midnight. He woke up at four with Justin’s damp hair clinging to his chest.

----------

Melanie swung by the loft on her way home to spend a couple of minutes with Gus before his bedtime. She always missed him, but some days were so bad she just couldn’t stay away.

Brian looked up when she walked in the door. “What are you doing here?”

“I won’t stay long. I just need to see him.”

“Want something to eat?”

“If you have enough.” Mel took off her jacket and picked Gus up.

“Mommy!”

“Hi, son.”

“Hi.” Gus smiled at her and started to chat about his apparently exciting day.

Managing to make out most of his words, she nodded every now and then to show him she was listening.

Brian huffed out a laugh when Gus got caught up in a story he couldn’t seem to find a way out of.

Gus pointed accusingly at Brian, repeating the same incoherent word over and over again.

“God, he just won’t stop talking.”

“Remind me again why we were in such a hurry to teach him new words?” Mel gave Gus a toy to make him forget about whatever he was trying to communicate to them.

“Fuck if I know.”

“Fuck. Fuck, fuck. Fuck.”

“Oops! I guess we have to be careful what we say around him from now on. Come to think of it, maybe you shouldn’t talk at all?”

Brian stuck his tongue out at Mel and handed her a plate of pasta and meatballs.

“Where’s Justin?”

“Probably at school. Painting. Or fucking.”

“Fucking?”

Brian shrugged. “He’s growing up.”

“Is he cheating on you with someone?”

“He’s free to do whatever he wants.”

“He loves you, you know.”

“I wouldn’t count on it.”

“Don’t ruin this, Brian.”

Biting his bottom lip, Brian raised his eyebrows at her. “I’m not doing anything.”

“Maybe you should.”

----------

“I’ve changed my mind about Gus’s corner. I think we should leave the walls untouched. He won’t mind, and I think the rough look is good.” Justin waited for a nod from Brian before he continued. “So this would be great for the side of the screen facing the loft.” Justin held up a wallpaper sample for Brian’s approval and smiled widely when he got it. “I’ll order it first thing tomorrow. And for the other side,” he turned the screen around, pointing at the sketches he’d done directly on the wood, “I know we agreed on no animals, but these are pretty harmless and they’re hidden behind grass and flowers. You know how Gus is into zoology at the moment.”

“Do I ever. Last week he cried for ten minutes straight when I killed a fly. He didn’t appreciate my mad ninja skills at all.”

“Aww, I’m sure he’ll come around if you just give him a couple of years. Do you like the drawings? I can easily remove them and start over with something else.”

“No way you’re removing anything. It’s a fucking masterpiece.”

“Then I’ll color it in as soon as possible! I also bought two boxes for his toys that will fit perfectly in the corner.” Justin showed Brian the new containers. “See? They’ll swallow up all the stuff we usually step on at night. Now we just have to teach Gus to clean up after himself.”

“Should we start with you?”

“Shut up! It’s been a long time since my stuff was spread out.” Justin quickly picked up a pair of his socks from the sofa and threw them toward the bathroom.

Brian laughed and hugged him tightly. “Thanks for taking care of the makeover.”

“No problem. I’ve really enjoyed it.” Justin put on his sneakers and kissed Brian’s cheek. “Later.”

“Later.”

Justin walked into the bedroom hours after he’d left.

Brian looked up from the comic book he was reading. “Come here.”

“Five minutes, then I promise to make you a very happy guy.” Quickly undressing, Justin smiled seductively at Brian. “I just have to wash off.”

“You sure have been taking a lot of showers lately.” Brian held the covers open, wanting Justin to lie beside him.

Justin just nodded and cuddled up against Brian’s chest. He fell asleep within seconds.

Lighting a cigarette, Brian cursed the feelings he wasn’t ready to admit to having. He nuzzled his nose into Justin’s neck, sighing when all he smelled was soap.

----------

Brian gritted his teeth when he saw Justin outside the diner with a guy in tow. He glared at their backs while they walked around the corner and headed inside, busying himself with his cell phone as the bell over the door chimed.

“Hi!” Justin hugged Brian from behind and kissed the top of his head. “Oh, you ordered for us already? I just need to wash my hands.” Hurrying into the restroom, he was back at the table minutes later. “I’m starving.”

Brian snatched his plate away. “Are you fucking him?”

“Who?”

Brian gestured towards the guy who was slumped over the snack bar, watching their every move.

“Ethan?”

“Whatever. Are you?”

“Once. After the concert, but you knew that already.”

“And?”

“That’s it. Why would I bother with him when I have you?”

“You tell me.”

“I don’t. Okay?”

“Okay.” The tone in Brian’s voice made it clear he was far from satisfied with the answer.

Justin reached for his burger. “He wants me to hook up with him again, and I keep turning him down.” Taking a bite, Justin relaxed when he saw Brian smiling. “It’s getting annoying as hell.”

“You don’t want him?”

“I want you. I’ve always wanted you.”

Brian frowned, but he decided now was not the time to scold Justin for being too lesbionic. “Is he a real problem?”

“I’m thinking of taking down my easel. He keeps showing up whenever I’m at the studio.”

“So that’s where I know him from.”

“Huh?”

“He was playing his violin in one of the rooms that night you showed me the studio months ago.”

“He’s always interrupting me with serenades.”

“Romantic,” Brian drawled.

“I don’t want romance. Not that kind anyway.”

“What kind do you want?”

“I don’t know.”

“Sure you do.”

“The three of us going to the park. You letting me draw you for hours.” Justin moved closer to Brian and nipped at his neck. “When you fuck me like no one else exists.”

“Horny?” Brian slipped his fingers down Justin’s pants, stroking his soft skin.

“Yeah. I need you.”

The tips of Brian’s fingers ran up and down Justin’s crack. “Now? Want me to make you come right here?”

“Do it.”

Brian pulled on Justin’s thigh and spread his legs. He felt the bulge in Justin’s pants and smiled when he heard him gasp. “You’re hard.”

Justin nodded, slumping down in the seat. “Are you?”

“Why don’t you see for yourself?”

Justin’s hand crept over to Brian’s lap. He moaned silently when he felt his cock kick under his touch. Rubbing it, he bit his lip while Brian sank further down to give him better access.

“Keep going.”

“Someone will notice.”

“Do you care?”

“No. We should fuck.”

“Good idea.”

“Or you could eat your food and behave like normal people!” Deb gripped the back of their necks and pulled them apart. “Go sit on the other side of the table.”

Justin giggled and moved to the other side.

“He’s a teenager. He just can’t get enough.”

Justin ignored Brian and dug into his food, not caring that it was cold by now.

Brian smirked when he went to get them coffee and noticed that Fiddler Boy had disappeared. “You shouldn’t have to stop using the studio,” he said, setting one of the cups in front of Justin.

“I don’t know what else to do except keep telling him I’m not interested. The only time he leaves me alone is when I go there late at night. I’m tired as hell all the time, and I get cranky when I don’t get enough sleep.”

“You don’t say.”

Justin threw a leftover fry at Brian.

---------

“Hey.” Brian brushed past Ethan without even looking in his direction.

Justin spun around when he heard Brian’s voice. “What are you doing here? Is Gus okay?”

“He’s with Deb,” Brian explained, undressing as he talked. “You need a nude model, right?”

Justin huffed out a laugh. A naked Brian wouldn’t fit into the still life he was working on no matter how sexy he was. “You’re right. That’s exactly what I need.”

Brian finally turned to Ethan. “Are you into watching?”

“No.”

“Then I suggest you go back to your violin.” He grinned at Justin. “How do you want me?”

“On your back.”

“Shocking.”

Justin knelt between Brian’s spread legs and licked at his rapidly growing cock. “God, you’re hot.”

Ethan ran out and slammed the door, neither Brian nor Justin noticing.

Chapter Text

Melanie and Brian sat on a park bench, watching their son play on the swings. Gus had recently learned how to pump back and forth and could swing for hours before his legs gave up.

“I can’t believe he’s three-and-a-half already.”

“I prefer not to think about it.” Brian frowned at Mel.

“You know, you would have grown older even if he weren’t around.”

“Like I said, I prefer not to think about it.”

“He’s a happy kid, isn’t he?”

Brian shrugged. “He doesn’t seem unhappy.”

“Lindsay would have loved him so much. Do you talk to him about her?”

“Yeah.”

“I want him to know why we loved her.”

“He will.”

“I’m asking Corinne to move in with me.” Melanie waited awhile for Brian to respond. “Please don’t be a jerk about it. I’m happy with her.”

“We need to talk.”

“Don’t be such a selfish asshole! She’s my partner now whether you like it or not.”

“Why the hell would I care as long as she’s nice to Gus? Look, I realize it’s bad timing for you guys, but can Gus stay with you for the next couple of weeks?”

“Is something wrong?”

Brian lit a cigarette and looked away. “I have cancer.”

“No. Oh, God, no.” Melanie reached for Brian’s hand, then she stopped herself when she remembered who she was talking to.

“I’m going to have surgery tomorrow and will most likely need radiation after that.”

“What kind of cancer?”

“Testicular.”

“How bad is it?” Mel was blunt, but she knew Brian liked it that way.

“I’ll know more after the surgery. So can you take Gus?”

“Of course.”

“I mean if I die.”

“You’re not fucking dying!”

Brian slipped his hand around hers and squeezed tightly. “In case I die, we need to make sure Gus will be yours legally.”

Mel dried her tears and got herself together. “Right. I’ll draw up the paperwork. Thanks for wanting me to take him.”

“You’re his mom. Why shouldn’t you take him? Just one thing.”

“Anything.”

“You need to let Justin see him whenever he wants. Judging from how much they love each other, I’d say it’ll be pretty often.”

“That’s a given. He’s just as much a parent to Gus as we are. Is he devastated?”

“About what?”

“You. The cancer.”

“I haven’t told him.”

“Brian!” Mel snatched her hand back and stared at him.

“I don’t want him to worry and miss classes or even drop out because he feels he should take care of me. Or Gus.”

“But you have to tell him.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Wouldn’t you want to know?”

“That’s not the point.”

“He loves you.”

“So he says.”

“If I’d known Lindsay was gonna die, it would have changed everything. But she had no way of knowing what was gonna happen and couldn’t prepare me for a future without her. Can’t you imagine what it would feel like for Justin to know you didn’t tell him? That you didn’t do everything you could to make it a little bit easier for him?”

“I’ll tell him after the surgery.”

“Why wait?”

“Because telling him will be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

----------

Justin stirred as Brian lazily lapped up and down his shaft. He moaned and lifted his hips a little to let Brian know he was awake. “Mmm, that feels great.”

“Uh-huh.” Brian kissed the inside of his thighs while his hand roamed over Justin’s chest, pinching his nipples until he began to writhe under his touch. “I’m gonna fuck you.”

“Do it.” Justin spread his legs even wider.

The tip of Brian’s finger slowly circled Justin’s hole, then his tongue followed the pattern. “Not yet.” He drew back and gazed at Justin. “You look so fucking hot. I could come just from watching you.” He rubbed himself against Justin’s leg. “Feel that? Do you feel how fucking horny you make me?”

“God, Brian.”

“I’m gonna make you come, and then I’m gonna pound you so hard you’ll come all over again.” Brian worked two fingers inside Justin and slowly slid them back and forth. “Your walls are so smooth. I love how it feels when the head of my cock slides between them. So tight, Justin.”

“I need more. Please.” Justin tried to make Brian speed up or add another finger, but he was stopped by a slap on his hip.

“Hold still or I’ll have to spank you.”

“Really?” Justin’s face lit up. He yelped when Brian smacked the back of his thigh a couple of times.

Brian bent forward to take Justin’s cock in his mouth while he pulled out of him only to slide back inside with three fingers. He set a fast pace that he knew would get Justin off in no time.

Justin’s head fell back onto the pillow. He yanked at Brian’s hair as he arched up and shot his load deep down Brian’s throat. Before he had a chance to recover, Brian replaced his digits with his cock.

“Oh, fuck!” Brian moaned when he slid in down to the hilt. “I’m not gonna last.” He kissed Justin urgently. “Feels so damn good.” He tried to calm down, but his orgasm took over when Justin lifted his legs onto Brian’s shoulders and pushed his ass against him. Brian shuddered and came so hard he felt like he was about to pass out.

Justin clung to Brian’s body, carefully rolling them over so he ended up on top. He sat up with Brian’s cock still inside him and rocked slowly while he stroked Brian’s chest. “That was amazing.”

Brian held the base of the condom and pulled out, then he drew Justin down with him and hugged him for a long time.

“Wanna take a shower with me?”

“Yeah.” Brian checked the clock on the bedside table and saw that he’d have to hurry so he wouldn’t miss his flight. Getting out of bed, he slung an arm over Justin’s shoulders as they walked to the bathroom. “You’re very dirty, you know?”

“I know.” Justin grinned up at him. “I might need help getting clean.”

“I figured as much.”

Brian flipped the button on the coffeemaker and took two cups from the shelf. He waited until Justin got dressed to tell him he was going away for a week.

“For work?” Justin reached for the cup Brian handed him.

“Vacation.”

“Can I come?”

“No.”

“Come on! I want to go, too.”

“I said no.”

Justin studied Brian closely. “Are you okay”?

“Why wouldn’t I be? Just because I don’t want to be with you every fucking second of the day?”

“I just thought you looked weird.”

“I’m fucking tired of having to explain everything I do to you.”

Justin flinched and stepped away from him. “Have fun wherever you’re going.” He picked up his jacket and sketch pad to leave, making sure he didn’t rush out. Once outside the loft, he leaned against the door and fought the tears threatening to take over. He wasn’t going to freak out. Gus had been even more energetic than usual in the last few weeks, and Brian probably just needed a break. He deserved one. Justin squared his shoulders and walked down the stairs, determined not to let Brian’s words get to him.

When Justin returned hours later, the place was empty and Brian’s suitcase was gone. He cleaned up even though the cleaning lady would be there the next day. After doing everything he could think of to take his mind off Brian, he decided to call Melanie. “Do you need help with Gus?”

“Not this weekend, but maybe you can pick him up after school on Wednesday?”

“Hold on. Let me check my schedule.” Justin rummaged through his books to find it. “I get out of school at three.”

“Great! I should be home around eight or eight-thirty.”

“Brian left on a vacation this morning.”

“He told me.”

“He did?”

“You know, just letting me know because of Gus.”

“Did he sound okay to you?”

“Sure."

“He was so mean to me, but I guess he’s just tired?” Justin so wanted Melanie to say that was probably the case.

“I need to go, sweetie.” Mel couldn’t stand to hear Justin’s voice, which was cracking even though he tried to be brave. “See you on Wednesday!”

“Kiss Gus for me.”

----------

Justin walked into the loft after a long day at school with several tests and an afternoon with Gus, who’d been sad and clingy until Mel and Corinne came home. He realized Brian was back when he saw his shoes by the door and his shirt hanging from the back of a chair. Justin frowned when he saw Brian’s jeans in a heap on the floor, hoping he wasn’t with a trick. Entering the bedroom, Justin relaxed when he saw Brian curled up in bed. “You’re home!”

“Looks that way.” Brian’s voice was only a whisper. His skin looked pale and damp.

“Are you sick? Do you have a fever?”

“I’m fabulous. Just fucked out.”

“Where did you go?”

“Ibiza.”

“You’re not very tan.”

“No sun in the clubs. Or the back rooms.”

Okay, he’d fucked for a week. Justin could live with that. He lay down next to Brian and kissed his cheek, his hands wandering over Brian’s body.

“Don’t fucking touch me.” Brian got up and walked into the bathroom.

Justin hesitated but left him alone, not wanting to make things worse. He sighed and stood up. It was time for dinner anyway. Setting the table for one because he really wasn’t in the mood to play housewife, he watched Brian stumble back to bed minutes later.

The next day, Justin got ready to go to Mel’s house to keep Gus company while the girls were out on a breakfast date. He really liked Corinne and didn’t feel too bad for thinking she was a perfect match for Melanie since he’d never even met Lindsay.

“Going out?” Brian watched him through the bedroom panels.

“Looks that way.” Justin slammed the door behind himself.

He kept busy with Gus for the next couple of hours, trying to come up with reasons why he should stay after Melanie came home, but it was obvious she wanted to spend time alone with her son. “Brian came back this morning. He looks like hell even though he’s been in Ibiza for a week. He’s not even tan and says he did nothing but fuck unbelievably hot guys.”

Mel occupied herself with Gus, just nodding at Justin.

“Do you want me to take him tonight? Our week starts tomorrow anyway.”

“No, I don’t want to miss my last night with him. You know how it is.”

“Sure. Bye, Gus. See you tomorrow night.”

“Bye.” Gus gave Justin a quick hug before running away from them.

Justin went to work on his next school assignment when he got back to the loft, ignoring Brian until he felt his arms around his chest from behind an hour later. “Can I help you with something?”

Brian sat on the table in front of him. “I didn’t go to Ibiza.”

Justin finally looked at him. “Where did you go?”

“I had surgery to have my ball removed.”

“Yeah, right.” Justin rolled his eyes and started to stand up, but Brian’s hand stopped him.

“I have cancer, and it had to be taken out.”

Staring at Brian, Justin wondered if he was serious. He saw Brian’s lips fold inward as Brian waited for him to say something. “You have cancer?”

“I do. Did.”

“And you lied to me instead of letting me come with you?”

Brian shrugged.

“That’s a shitty thing to do. Everyone knew except me?”

“I only told Mel.”

“She knew?”

“I asked her not to say anything. I . . . I had to tell her because of Gus.”

Justin shook his head. “Why the fuck didn’t you let me come with you?”

“I needed to do it on my own. I didn’t want you to see me like that.”

Justin wiped the tears from his eyes. “But I love you.” Fuck! He knew that wasn’t the right thing to say, but he did love him even though it made Brian’s cock shrink every time he said it.

“Justin, listen. Are you listening? I can’t imagine anything worse than having to put you through this. If I could continue lying to you, I would. But I can’t because I need radiation treatments and there’s no way you won’t notice something’s wrong.”

“It’s not your fault.” Justin tried to hug Brian, but Brian winced and took a step backward. “Are you hurting?”

“Yeah.”

Justin pulled Brian to his feet and walked them into the bedroom, where they lay on top of the bedspread. “Are you dying?”

“They don’t think so, but no one can say for sure until I get through the treatments. I don’t want you to take care of me. In fact, you should move out.”

“Fat chance that’ll happen.” Justin kissed Brian’s fingers.

“I told Mel to make sure Gus doesn’t lose contact with you if I die.”

“Brian, don’t.”

“He deserves at least one set of parents if his biological ones aren’t around.”

Justin tried to hold back his tears but ended up crying on Brian’s shoulder.

“Hey, hey. I’m not dead yet.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I’m just so overwhelmed. When do you start radiation?”

“In a couple of days.”

“I’m coming with you.”

“The fuck you are.”

“I’m coming with you. End of discussion.”

Brian nodded and buried his face in Justin’s hair. “I’ll probably feel like shit for a long time. They gave me a long list of what to expect.”

“We’ll manage.”

“They replaced my ball with a fake one.”

“Good.”

“According to the doc, you can hardly tell the difference.”

“I’ll give it a thorough examination when you’re feeling up to it.”

“About that. I might not feel up to it for quite some time.”

“Oh.

“I expect you to go out and get laid at least twice a day.”

Justin huffed out a laugh. “I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

“No, seriously. Don’t let this affect you.”

“Of course this will affect me, but I won’t leave you. If I want to trick, I will, but not because you’re forcing me into it. “

“You’re stubborn.”

“Why don’t you rest awhile and I’ll make dinner?” Justin waited for Brian to fall asleep before he got up and cried his heart out. Then he called Melanie. “He told me.”

“Thank God! I was afraid he wouldn’t.”

“I’m so fucking scared.”

“Me, too. Imagine what he must feel like.”

“I’ve never seen him like this. He’s so skinny after just one week.”

“Those hours at the gym will pay off.”

“I know he asked you to have Gus during his radiation treatments, but I want Brian to see him as much as possible. Even if it’s just a couple of minutes at a time.”

“Of course. Corinne volunteered to pick Gus up in the afternoons, so you won’t have to babysit after school.”

“That’s great! I think I’ll need all the help I can get to manage everything.”

“We’ll get through it together. Did he tell anyone else?”

“No.”

“It’ll be hard to keep it a secret. “

“It’s up to him. I won’t even bother to worry about it.”

“You’re so fucking strong, Justin.”

“I have to be. I love him.”

“You know he loves you, too, right?”

“I know. If everything he’s done for me over the years hasn’t given it away, the pain in his face when he told me certainly did.”

Chapter Text

Justin giggled when Brian kissed him deeply and nipped at his neck. “How are you feeling?”

“Better than I did this morning.”

“Great! Want me to heat up some tuna casserole?”

“Fuck!” Brian ran towards the bathroom and threw up the second he reached the toilet.

Justin waited awhile before he went after him, wincing when he found Brian sitting on the floor with his head against the wall. He silently handed him a wet towel. “You could have just told me you don’t like my cooking.”

Brian tried to laugh but ended up retching.

“Are you done?” Justin stroked his hair and blew cold air on his neck.

“I think so.”

“Let’s get you to bed. I’ll give you something to snack on later.”

“Get out.”

“What?”

“This is only week one. Imagine what it’ll be like later on.”

“For the last time, you’re not getting rid of me.” Justin wasn’t too careful when he pushed Brian down on the bed and yanked the covers up around him. “I’m having lunch with Daphne. Feel free not to call me if you need anything.”

----------

Daphne stared across the table at Justin. “What happened to you? You look . . . I don’t know . . . not like you. You’re really pale, and I think your hair’s missed at least one appointment with the hairdresser.”

“Shit!” Justin used his knife as a mirror. “I think I forgot to shower, too. Sorry.” He smiled at Daphne. “I don’t smell, do I?”

She wrinkled her nose, laughing when he looked devastated.

Justin had been trying to make up his mind whether or not to tell her about Brian, but now that he was with her he saw no reason not to. “Brian’s in the middle of cancer treatments.”

“No!”

“He’s getting radiation, and it’s turning him into a vomiting drama queen.”

“Poor guy.” Daphne changed the subject when Justin threw her a glare. “Wanna go to a party with me tonight?”

“I’d love to!”

“Would you mind taking that shower and maybe changing your t-shirt?”

“Very funny.”

Seeing the dark shadows under Justin’s eyes, she reached out to take his hand. “Will Brian be okay?”

“We don’t know for sure yet, but it looks promising.”

“What about you?”

“I’m doing my best to stay sane. I know you want details, but can we please talk about something else?”

Justin felt like skipping down the street when he left the restaurant. Listening to Daphne talk about her studies and the guy she was dating at the moment was just what he’d needed to take his mind off Brian for an hour or two. Met by the smell of pot as soon as he stepped back into the loft, he saw Brian and Michael lying on the floor eating pizza and laughing at something on TV.

“Hi, honey!”

“Whatever.” Justin stepped over them to get to his things. As happy as he was that Brian had apparently told Michael, he would have loved to have come home to a clean and quiet loft.

Michael stared at them. “What’s his problem?”

“I am.”

Justin sighed and crouched down next to Brian. “I’m going to a party tonight, and I’m meeting Daphne before that. Will you be okay on your own?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

Mikey got up and followed Justin into the kitchen. “I’ll stay with him.”

“You’re high.”

“I’ll stop smoking right this second.” Michael put out the joint he was holding. “I just have to make sure he doesn’t see me doing it so he doesn’t flip out and tell me not to pity him.”

“He’s very whiny, isn’t he?” Justin smiled at Michael. “I think we both need a night away from each other.”

“You’re doing a great job taking care of him.”

“Thank you. By the way, he’ll throw up that pizza when he gets on his feet.”

“Got it.”

“And don’t let him drink any alcohol. I don’t think his body is quite ready for it.”

“God, you really are bossy.” Michael nudged Justin’s shoulder. “Go and have fun. You deserve it.”

----------

Brian woke up when Justin lay down next to him. “How was the party?”

“Not too boring.”

“Fuck any hot guys?”

“No.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Believe it or not, I’m able to go to a party and not end up with my dick in some guy’s ass.”

Brian sighed deeply. “Have I taught you nothing?” He pulled Justin in for a kiss and tilted their foreheads together. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Justin fell asleep with his head on Brian’s chest.

During the next couple of days, they managed to find some kind of routine without driving each other insane. Brian went back to work for a couple of hours a day, though Cynthia still covered for him and sent him papers to sign and contracts to read at home.

On Saturday, Justin asked Brian if he was up for seeing Gus. “We can take him to the park so he can run around without tearing down the loft.”

“You have the best ideas.” Brian nuzzled Justin’s cheek. “I’m starving.”

“No problem! Come with me, and I’ll show you how the kitchen works.”

Brian pouted, but he made them breakfast while Justin cleaned the place up and called Melanie to let her know about their plans.

“How’s Brian doing?”

“Today’s a good day.”

“How about you?”

“A bit tired from juggling school and doctor’s appointments and everything else, but I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll bring Gus over to the park in an hour.”

“Thank you.”

----------

Justin took Gus’s hand and crouched down in front of him. “Do you remember what we talked about? Daddy Brian has a really bad cold and his body is hurting, so you can’t jump on his lap or be too careless with him.”

“I remember.”

“Good. He’s waiting for you over there.” Justin pointed to the bench by the sandbox.

“Hi, Sonny Boy.”

“Dad!” Gus launched forward but stopped himself before he reached Brian. He tiptoed the rest of the way and hugged his legs. “Justin said you’ve got a cold.”

“I do.”

“When can I stay with you again? I miss you.”

“I miss you, too.”

“You do?”

“I do. I’ll try my best to feel better real soon, okay?”

“Okay!” Standing next to the bench, Gus shook his head when Brian asked if he wanted to sit with to him. “Daddy Justin told me to be very, very careful around you.”

“He’s right, but I think it’ll be fine as long as you don’t climb on me.”

Gus crawled up next to Brian and slowly slid closer to him. “Are you okay?”

“More than okay.”

They smiled at each other.

“Corinne gave me a new toy car last night. Wanna see it?”

“Yes.”

Gus took it out of his pocket and held it out toward Brian. “It can go really fast.” He started to drive it up and down his own legs.

Brian threaded his fingers through Gus’s hair and stroked his back. It had been too fucking long since they’d seen each other. “Do you like Corinne?”

“She’s funny! She and Mom put a picture of Mommy Lindsay on my new desk.”

“I’m sure she looks pretty in it.”

“She does! She’s got blonde hair and blue eyes. Just like Justin!”

Justin turned around when he heard his name and walked up to them. “Having fun?”

“Yeah.” Brian coughed and reached for the water bottle Justin was holding.

“Gus, wanna have a race over to the monkey bars?”

Gus nodded and jumped down from the bench, running toward his goal with Justin in tow. Playing for a long time, he ran back and forth between his dads, obviously happy to have both of them there.

“How about we drop Brian off at the loft, and I take you out to lunch at the diner? Grandma Deb is working today.”

“Yes!” Gus held onto Brian’s hand tightly when he got out of the car. “Promise to get better soon.”

“I promise.” Brian bent down to kiss him.

----------

Justin got home late in the afternoon and was surprised to see Brian dressed in his club clothes. “Going somewhere?”

“To Woody’s with the guys. Are you coming?”

“Sure! Wanna take a nap before we leave? I need a shower anyway. Gus and I ended up back in the park after lunch, swinging on the swings for hours.”

“I guess a couple of minutes of rest wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”

Justin smiled widely as Brian slung an arm around his shoulder. Walking down Liberty Avenue to meet up with the others, it hadn’t been too long since they’d been there together, yet with everything that’d happened, it seemed as if it had been a lifetime. Justin stopped talking when he realized he was chatting about school and Brian hadn’t replied in a couple of minutes.

“Go on. What did your professor say when he saw your solution to the impossible task?”

“You really want to know?” Justin looked at Brian, who nodded while he scanned the faces of the people they passed. “Okay, so he said it was the first time he’d ever seen anyone take on the task the way I did, and he gave me a B. That’s the highest score anyone’s ever received in that class.”

“You’re a fucking genius.” Brian drew Justin in for a kiss as they climbed the stairs to Woody’s.

Justin did his best to not constantly check on Brian to see if he was overdoing it at the pub as he tried to behave normally around his friends.

Brian leaned into him. “I’m officially giving you the night off. I promise to tell you before I faint or get sick.” He kissed Justin deeply as Emmett and Michael cheered.

Justin had been ignoring a guy who’d cruised him from the second they entered the bar. When he came up to their table, Justin smiled at him but shook his head and moved his chair even closer to Brian’s.

“Go with him.” Brian pushed at his back.

“Not interested.”

“Sure you are.”

“I’m not.”

“We haven’t fucked in weeks. You must be dying to have a dick up your ass.”

Justin stood so fast his chair fell over. “I’ll meet you at home.” Swatting Brian’s hand away when he tried to stop him, he quickly walked out.

Brian returned home after midnight and relaxed when he saw Justin sleeping in their bed. He tried to be as quiet as possible while he took a shower, but Justin was sitting up with his hair tousled and the sheet around him when he came out of the bathroom. “Sorry to wake you.”

“I can’t do this.”

Brian raised his eyebrows.

“I can’t take care of everything and have you telling me I should fuck around. I’m so tired I can’t think straight, and the mere thought of having sex with a trick is too much. And you nagging me about it makes it fucking unbearable. I’m still scared as shit you’re gonna die, and I don’t want to be with anyone else. Not even for a quick fuck.”

“Okay, okay. Sorry.”

“Sorry’s bullshit,” Justin mumbled.

“I just want something to be normal around here.”

“Well, it won’t be for quite some time.”

“I went to the baths after you left.”

Justin bit his lip so he wouldn’t yell at him. They hadn’t even tried to have sex yet, and Brian choosing a trick for his first time broke his heart.

“I wanted to see if I could get hard.”

“You couldn’t do that around me? Am I suddenly that repelling?” Justin shook his head in disbelief. “Did the guy you chose to help you out succeed”?

“I left before he even tried.”

Justin stared at Brian, blinking away the tears that threatened to take over. “Don’t make this any harder than it has to be.”

“I feel useless when I can’t fuck you.” Brian sat down next to Justin and slid his arms around him. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Practicing on a trick won’t make it easier for me.”

“Don’t you understand? I’ve done nothing but fail around you lately.”

“Have you heard me complain?”

“That’s not the point.”

“I give up. Do whatever you want. I’m apparently not what you need right now.”

“I’m fucking terrified of how much I need you.”

“Then stop treating me like shit!”

“I’ll try. I promise to try.”

“You can start apologizing by blowing me.”

Brian rolled his lips in, keeping his distance.

“You don’t have to. It’s okay.” Justin grasped Brian’s hand and squeezed it.

“Do you have any idea how much I miss making you shout my name while I deep throat you?”

“But?”

“I’m afraid I’ll throw up, and that would make you feel even worse.”

“Oh! Sorry. We should just sleep.”

“God, don’t give up so fucking fast. Lie down and spread your legs.” Brian took a dildo from the drawer by the bed and lubed it while he slowly licked the head of Justin’s cock. He moaned at the familiar taste as a bead of precome hit his tongue.

Justin gasped when he felt the tip of Brian’s finger slide inside him.

“I want to fuck you. Open you up with my cock and pound you for hours.” Brian held the base of the dildo and worked it all the way in.

Justin’s head fell back while he stroked his dick, mimicking the rhythm Brian had set. “It’s too good, Brian. I’m gonna come.”

“Do it.” Brian sped up, changing his angle to make sure the dildo’s thick head dragged over Justin’s prostate.

“Aaah, fuck!” Justin’s orgasm hit him hard, and he shuddered as he came. He pulled Brian on top of himself and hugged him tightly. “Thank you.”

“No, thank you for coming on my newly washed chest and smearing it all over the place.” Brian kissed Justin. “I love the sounds you make when you come.”

“It felt so fucking great. We’re gonna do this at least once a day from now on.”

“You’re very demanding.” Brian wiped them off with Justin’s t-shirt, then he curled up next to him. “Go back to sleep, twat.”

Chapter Text

Justin hurried up the stairs, grocery bags swinging from his hands. He was really looking forward to the party at Babylon that night and had called Brian twice during his breaks just to chat about it.

Finally recovered from the cancer, with every test Brian took coming back negative, their sex life was more frequent than ever. Even though Justin doubted they’d ever take a boner for granted again, he’d been slammed up against every wall in every club in town during the last six months, and he’d loved every minute of it. He’d never bring it up to Brian, but from what he could tell, the number of tricks who made it into their bed had slacked off drastically, and he couldn’t remember the last time Brian had been in a back room without him.

Justin slid the loft door open and saw Brian standing by the sofa in his robe with wet hair, apparently about to get ready for a night out. He sighed when he saw the thermometer in Brian’s hand.

“Gus has a fever.”

“I can stay home with him.”

“Yeah, like that’ll happen. You’ve been happy as a clam for a fucking week just thinking about tonight. Besides, LGBT parties make my dick soft.”

“You’re sweet when you pretend not to care about the community.” Justin kissed Brian. “So you don’t mind if I go?”

“I really don’t.”

“I can go to Grandma Deb’s. She loves to babysit me.” Gus looked hopeful, already picturing the enormous amount of candy she’d probably let him have.

“Nope.” Justin sat down with Gus. “You’ll stay right here and have Daddy wait on you all night long. I think you need lots of fluids, ice cream, and movies.”

“I’m gonna help Justin get dressed.” Brian hit PLAY on the remote control and waited until Gus was caught up in the movie before he followed Justin into the bedroom. “What will you be wearing?”

“I don’t know.”

“Let’s go over your options.” Brian steered Justin over to the closet. “So, I was thinking black pants and blue knit sweater.”

“I know you love how my ass looks in those pants, but I’m gonna go with jeans since you won’t be there.”

“Doesn’t matter if I’m there or not. Think of all the men who’ll chase you around the place, trying to get to your ass.”

“I’m sure they’ll chase me in jeans, too.”

“At least wear a pair of black ones.”

“How about blue ones?” Justin laughed when Brian fell on the bed with a groan.

“I give up. It’s like you don’t want to look your best.”

Justin held up a white shirt he hadn’t worn in a long time. “Do you approve?”

“Whatever.”

“Ah, don’t be grumpy.” Justin undressed and opened Brian’s robe, licking his lips at the sight of Brian’s naked body laid out in front of him. Straddling him, he rocked his dick slowly against Brian’s, smiling when he felt it rapidly filling. He leaned forward and kissed Brian deeply while sneaking his hand down to jerk them off together.

Trying to keep their moans down to a minimum, they panted into each other’s mouths when their orgasms took over, shuddering and shooting between themselves.

Brian’s legs wobbled when he went to clean up. Grinning, he flipped Justin off when he giggled at him.

“I need to go. I’m meeting Em and Mikey at the door before the first artist takes the stage.”

Gus furrowed down under the blanket. “Bye, Justin.”

“Bye.” He kissed Gus’s warm forehead. “Love you.”

Brian walked him to the door. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“I’ll try to refrain from picking up a lesbian.”

“Later, Sunshine.”

----------

“Dad, I think I need that ice cream now.”

“I bet you do.” Brian took two bowls out and filled each of them with a couple of scoops of ice cream. Spending the evening with his son wasn’t that bad, even though a night of fucking Justin repeatedly in the back room would have been nice, too.

Brian was startled by his ringing phone an hour after he’d managed to get Gus to sleep. He frowned when he saw Deb’s number on the display. “I told you I’d call if Gus’s fever got-”

Deb shouted at him to just fucking listen. “There’s been an accident at Babylon. The whole place is ruined.”

“We’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” Brian’s fingers shook so badly he could hardly dial Melanie’s number. “Where are you?”

“At home. Why?”

“Listen, you need to meet me outside of Babylon and take Gus for the night.”

“You can’t stop tricking for one night and take care of your son?”

“Deb just called and said the building is torn down, and Justin’s fucking in there! Now, can you meet me or not?”

“I’ll be there.”

Brian hung up in the middle of her apology and shook Gus’s shoulder. “We’re going for a ride.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

“Where are we going?” Gus’s lips quivered. He held onto his dad’s neck as Brian hurried them down the stairs.

“Mom will meet us outside a place called Babylon. She’ll take care of you.”

“But why?”

“There’s been an accident, and I need to be there.”

Gus started crying. “I want Justin.”

“Me, too,” Brian mumbled.

Melanie and Corinne stepped out of a cab the second Brian and Gus arrived.

“I’ll pay for it.” Brian threw the driver a couple of bills. “Hang on. We’ll need you again in a minute.”

Deb made her way over to them. “I can’t find Michael. I can’t find any of my boys.” She was on the verge of breaking down when Corinne took her arm and steadied her.

Gus’s eyes grew huge. “Is Daddy Justin hurt?”

“I don’t know, Sonny Boy.”

Gus threw himself from Brian’s arms into Mel’s and buried his head in her neck.

“I’ll go in and try to find everyone. Mel, take Gus home. He’s still running a high fever.” Brian made sure they were gone before he walked into the cloud of dust and smoke.

A paramedic tried to stop him. “Sir, you can’t go in there.”

Brian ignored him with a glare. “Justin! Justin!” He tripped over a guy lying on the floor, and his heart almost stopped when he noticed the blond hair. Bending down, he realized it wasn’t the guy he was looking for. “Justin!”

“Brian.” Ted came up to him.

“What the fuck happened?”

“They think it’s a bomb.”

“Have you seen Justin?”

“No.”

“Justin!”

“Brian.” The voice was only a whisper. “Brian!”

Brian turned around and saw a tousled and beat up Justin coming towards him. “Are you okay?” His hands ran over Justin’s body to make sure he was still in one piece.

“I think so. Where’s Gus?”

“With Mel.”

“Everyone was here, Brian. All your friends.”

“I saw Ted.”

“Em.” Justin pointed to his right, where Emmett was doubled over talking to someone on the floor.

“I don’t see Mikey.”

“Ben’s over there.”

Walking up to Ben, they were just in time to see a badly wounded Michael being lifted onto a gurney. Justin tried to talk to Ben, but he didn’t notice them as he hurried after the paramedics.

Brian put his arm around Justin’s waist and led him out of the club and over to Debbie.

She lit up when she saw them. “Justin! Oh, you’re alive, honey. Did you happen to see Michael in there?”

Brian squeezed her hand. “They’re taking him to the hospital right now. We’ll drive you there.”

“Is he hurt?”

“Yeah.”

“How badly?”

“We don’t know yet. Come on. Let’s go so you can get some answers.”

“My poor baby.”

Brian broke the speed limit several times, unable to stop thinking about the last time they’d rushed to the same hospital. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally pulled into the parking lot.

“I don’t know where to go,” Deb said. Her usually determined self was gone, her wig a little lopsided.

“In through there.” Justin stroked her hair and nudged her towards the emergency room entrance. “Ben’s waiting for you by the door.”

“Oh, of course. Silly me.”

“Give them some time.” Brian’s arms encircled Justin, and he held him against his chest. “I love you,” he whispered. “I love you.”

Justin looked up at him.

“I love you.”

Justin hugged him tightly for a long time.

“I was so fucking scared. I kept calling, but I couldn’t get through to you on your phone.”

“I’m here now.”

“We need to call Melanie and let them know you’re okay. Gus was hysterical when they left.” Brian asked her to give the phone to Gus when she picked up. “Hey.”

“Hi.” Gus’s voice was filled with fear.

“Justin is fine.”

“Really?” Gus sobbed.

Brian handed the phone to Justin.

“Hey, Gus.”

“Daddy Justin!” Gus broke into a real cry, sobbing loudly.

“You don’t have to be sad.”

Gus drew a shuddering breath. “What happened?”

“They think a bomb exploded.”

“Oh.”

“But I’m fine and Daddy is fine.”

“And Mommy.” Gus smiled up at Mel.

“Are you ready to go to sleep?”

“Yes.”

“We’ll pick you up tomorrow.”

“Justin?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t get bombed again.”

“I’ll try not to. Can I talk to your mom?”

“Yes.”

Mel walked out of the room to get away from Gus. “Is everyone accounted for?”

“Yeah, but Michael is badly hurt. We’re at the hospital now.”

“Shit! Keep me updated.”

“Of course.” Justin dropped the phone back into Brian’s pocket. “Ready to go inside?”

Brian looked the other way and lit a cigarette.

“What?” Justin pulled at his sleeve.

“Nothing.”

Justin looked at him closer and saw how nervous he was. “Michael will make it. It won’t be like it was with Lindsay.”

“You can’t know that.”

“You’re right. I can’t. Want me to go in by myself and find out how he’s doing?”

“No.” Brian took Justin’s hand as they walked inside.

Deb was sitting next to Ben in the waiting room, her face flushed and wet with tears.

“He’s in surgery,” Ben said without looking up.

“Can we do something?” Justin asked.

Ben shook his head.

“Deb, do you want anything?”

“No, sweetie.”

Brian sat down and pulled Justin onto his lap. Gray dust flew around every time they moved, making Justin cough.

“Want me to find you a shower so you can get that shit out of your hair and clothes?”

“No need to,” Justin said.

Brian studied him for a second and then hugged him closer. “Tell me what happened.”

“I’d just ordered a drink at the bar and turned to Emmett to tell him something when everything around me exploded. It was like a flash went off in my face. Then the lights went out and everyone started shouting. I fell over and someone fell on top of me, pinning me to the ground. When he finally got up, I had trouble moving. Debris was everywhere. I couldn’t find my cell and none of your friends were around.”

“Our friends.”

“Huh?”

“You keep referring to them as my friends. They probably like you better than they like me.”

Justin smiled and buried his head in Brian’s neck. “I hope Mikey makes it.” Coughing again, it took him a bit longer to get it under control this time.

A nurse came up behind them and asked if Justin had been in the explosion.

“Yeah.”

“You should have that cough checked out.” She hurried away down the corridor.

“I need to take a walk.” Deb got up. “I can’t just sit here.”

Brian put Justin gently in the chair next to him. “I’ll go with you.”

Debbie patted Brian’s arm as they made their way through the crowded waiting area towards the cafeteria.

“I can’t lose him,” Ben told Justin when they were gone.

“Oh, you won’t. He’ll be good as new in no time.”

“You didn’t see him up close. He was bleeding so badly.”

“Ben, don't even think like that.” Justin coughed again, completely unable to stop when he tried.

Ben finally snapped out of the haze he was in. “Hey, hey. Deep slow breaths.”

“Can’t.” Justin was turning red. “Can’t.”

“Justin!”

Justin slumped against Ben’s chest. “Can’t breathe.”

“Help! We need help over here!”

A doctor came running and asked Ben to help him get Justin into an examination room. “Are you his partner?”

“No, no. His partner just stepped out for awhile.”

“Get him.” The doctor pulled the curtain around Justin’s bed.

Ben ran down the corridor and spotted Brian and Deb sitting at a table. “Brian!”

They both stood up, Deb pale as a sheet. “No. God, no.”

“It’s Justin.”

“Fuck!” Brian hurried towards the room Ben pointed to. “Justin!” He threw the door open and found four beds, but Justin wasn’t in any of them. Brian grabbed a nurse by the arm. “Where is he?”

“Who are you looking for?”

“Justin Taylor.”

“He’s behind that curtain. A doctor is working on him.”

Justin started coughing again, and Brian heard a nurse tell him to focus on her. Pushing the curtain aside, Brian winced when he saw how badly he was struggling to breathe. “What the hell is wrong with him?”

“His lungs are fine, but the dust is giving him trouble. We need to get him into a shower and get rid of it so we can give him a real exam.

“Where’s the shower?”

“Just through there.” The nurse pointed to a door right next to them.

Justin slung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up.

“Easy.” Brian helped him into the bathroom. “Hold your breath.” He yanked Justin’s clothes off in record time.

“Whoa! Your talent for undressing guys for quick fucks finally comes in handy.”

Brian followed Justin into the shower and washed their hair twice, muttering about the poor quality of the shampoo. Drying off with paper towels, Justin put on Brian’s t-shirt first and then his own dirty jeans after Brian shook them inside the shower stall to clean them up a little.

“Your jacket is dusty.”

“I’m not planning on wearing it. Are you feeling better?”

“Much.”

“Come on. Let’s find that nurse so she can listen to your breathing.”

She handed Justin an asthma inhaler and showed him how to use it. “Don’t hesitate to come back in if he shows any signs of getting sick.” The nurse stared at Brian until he nodded.

Returning to the waiting area, they found Emmett and Ted sitting with their heads together, watching the news on the TV.

“How are you doing, sweetie?” Emmett stood up and was just about to hug Justin when he was stopped by Brian.

“He’s having trouble breathing from all the dust, so you’re not getting anywhere near him until you have a chance to change your clothes.”

Justin rolled his eyes. “I can talk, you know.”

Glaring, Brian moved three chairs away from the others, pulling on Justin's hand to join him. “Where’s Deb?”

“Mikey’s out of surgery,” Ted said.

“How is he?”

“We don’t know yet.”

Brian’s concern shifted from Justin to Michael as he stared out into the room, clenching his jaw. Justin knew he couldn’t say anything to make it better, so he just molded his body into Brian’s and stayed quiet. Half an hour later, Debbie returned and told them Michael was asleep. She said if he made it through the next twenty-four hours, he’d be okay.

“We’ll take you home, Deb. You need some rest.” Justin pecked her cheek.

“I can’t leave him.”

“They’ll call you if anything happens.”

Brian took her arm. “Come on, Ma,”

“Oh, honey. How are you handling all this?”

“I’m fabulous.”

“You’ll come back here, won’t you?”

Brian nodded.

“You’re a good son.” Debbie rose up on her tiptoes and hugged him.

Brian drove Justin back to the loft after he made sure Deb had gone inside. “I shouldn’t leave you alone.”

“You don't have to worry about me.”

Brian raised an eyebrow at him.

“I promise to call if anything happens.”

“How are you gonna call when you’re out of it?”

Justin was too tired to argue with him. “So?”

Brian turned the car around and pulled out his cell. “Hi, Mel. Michael’s out of surgery and okay for now, but Justin’s having difficulty breathing from all that shit inside Babylon. I don’t want to leave him alone, but I need to sit with Mikey so I’ll drop Justin off at your place in a minute.” Not waiting for her reply, he hung up. The look Brian gave Justin made it clear it wasn’t up for discussion. He watched Justin go into Mel’s house before he drove off.

----------

When Brian returned hours later, Justin was sleeping with Gus cuddled up next to him.

“Gus’s fever is almost gone, and when he woke up and heard that Justin was here he demanded to sleep with him,” Mel said.

“Any problems breathing?”

“No. He fell asleep about an hour after he got here.”

Brian began to undress.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Not answering her, Brian slipped under the covers and drew Justin close to him.

Mel smiled when she saw Gus holding onto Justin so tightly that he slid across the bed with him.

Chapter Text

Justin smiled when he woke up the next morning and saw Brian’s strong hands interlaced with Gus’s tiny ones across his chest. He bent over to kiss him as Brian stirred and opened his eyes. “Hey.”

“You okay?”

“Yeah.” Justin sat up and swung his legs over Brian. “I’m just going to the bathroom.”

“Want me to hold it for you?”

“I think I can manage.” Justin went back to bed as Gus sat up next to Brian, the three of them talking about the bomb and how he’d survived it. “How’s Michael?” Justin asked.

“Still sleeping when I left. Deb came back after a couple of hours to sit with him and ordered me to go home.”

“Did she get any sleep?”

“Doubt it.”

“She must be so tired.”

“I’m going back there again this morning.”

“I’m coming with you.”

A soft knock on the door interrupted them.

“Come in!” Gus shouted.

Mel sat on the bed by their feet and glared when Brian asked if she was looking for a three-way.

“What’s that?” Gus asked.

“Something grown-ups do,” Justin said.

“Is it fun?”

“No, not really.” Justin blushed when Brian raised an eyebrow at him. “We were talking about going to the hospital and convincing Debbie to go home for awhile.”

“I’ll call Dusty and ask her to look after Gus so we can all go.”

Gus was chatting about what games he’d play with his friends and was in the middle of a detailed explanation of the rules of an online car race when they heard Mel’s distraught voice coming from the kitchen. Scrambling out of bed, Brian and Justin threw on their clothes and hurried to find her. She was sitting on the floor with Corinne’s arms around her, crying loudly.

“She’s gone. Dusty was at Babylon last night, and now she’s gone.”

“Fuck!” Brian shook Justin’s arm off his shoulder and went out for a smoke.

Gus studied them with wide eyes, not sure what was happening.

Justin bent down and gave him a peck on his cheek. “I’ll take care of Gus today so you two can help Dusty’s family, okay?”

Corinne nodded. “Call me when you have an update on Michael.”

“But I want to go to Dusty’s,” Gus whined, his lower lip quivering.

“Dusty was very, very hurt last night and didn’t make it,” Corinne explained to him.

“Didn’t make what?”

“She’s dead.”

“Oh.”

“Come here, honey.” Mel pulled herself together and hugged Gus hard. “Why don’t we make breakfast while your dads take a shower and get dressed?”

“I can make orange juice, and Corinne makes the best scrambled eggs in the world.” Gus skipped after Corinne towards the fridge.

----------

Brian walked into the hospital, spotting Ben in the same chair where he’d left him hours earlier. “Any news?”

“No. He’s still sleeping, which they keep telling me is a good thing. I just want him to wake up so I can see for myself that he’s fine.”

“Mikey’s a lot tougher than he looks, you know.” Brian squeezed Ben’s arm. “Where’s Deb?”

“She said she had some business to take care of.”

Brian nodded and turned down the corridor to search for her. Finding Debbie’s red hair when he peeked through the hospital chapel’s window, he took a moment to prepare for the possibility that he might catch on fire when he entered the room. He slid down next to her while she finished her prayer.

“I told Him what to expect if He doesn’t make sure Michael’s okay.”

“What did He answer?”

“That we’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Figures,” Brian muttered, earning a slap on the head. “Ouch!”

“Behave.”

“Yes, Ma. Ready to go home and get some real sleep?”

“Do you promise to call if anything happens?”

“I’ll call.”

“I can’t lose them both, you see. I wouldn’t survive without my brother and my son.”

Brian leaned his head on Deb’s shoulder. “I miss Vic.”

“I know, honey.”

“Mikey will be okay.”

“It’s up to Him.” She pointed an angry red fingernail towards the ceiling.

Brian glanced up and shook his head. “I’ll drive you.”

“Is Justin okay?”

“So he says. Apparently wheezing when you breathe is normal after you inhale dust and God knows what shit after a bombing.”

Deb frowned at him.

“What? We’re about a mile away from the chapel. I strongly suspect He’s got more important things to worry about than which words I use.”

“Don’t be so sure of that.”

“Anyway, Justin is feeling fine enough to take care of Gus today.”

“Can’t Mel and Corinne?”

“Dusty died.”

“Oh, no!” Deb clasped a hand over her mouth. “No.”

“The girls will help her family with whatever they might need, so Gus will stay with Justin and me for awhile.”

“Gus is a great boy, you know.”

“Yeah, not too bad.” Brian’s voice was filled with pride.

“Couldn’t have asked for a better grandson.”

“You turned out to be a pretty decent grandma. Not that we had anyone else to do the job.”

“Still haven’t let him meet your mother?”

“As far as I’m concerned, you’re the only one who fits that description.”

“Oh, you.” Deb dried her eyes. “Just take me home before I fall asleep in this very comfortable seat.”

“You like it? I just bought the car.”

“It’s lovely,” she murmured, pulling her coat around her.

“Are you cold?” Brian turned up the heat.

“I’m perfectly fine.” Seconds later, her head fell backward and she was sound asleep.

Brian turned the car around, deciding to drive for awhile and let her sleep.

An hour later, Deb sat up and looked around. “Where the fuck are we?”

“Just outside Pittsburgh.”

“Why?”

“You fell asleep, and I couldn’t carry you inside.”

She shrieked. “Did you try?!”

“Calm down. I didn’t touch you.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Ben called. Michael’s awake and doing fine.”

They smiled widely at each other.

“Can you drive me home now? I think I need to lie down for a couple of hours before I work the night shift.”

“You’re not fucking working tonight!” Brian pulled out his cell and called the diner. “Kiki? Brian Kinney, here. Listen, Deb needs the night off. I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone to fill in for her? Great!” Hanging up, he told Deb she didn’t have to be in until late in the afternoon the next day.

“I know I don’t say it often enough, but you’re one amazing man.”

Brian folded his lips in and let her fuss over him for a minute, then he drove them back to the city.

----------

A month later, Brian tossed Justin’s clothes at him and woke him up. “Get dressed. We’re going out.”

“Why?” Justin struggled to put his pants on without actually having to open his eyes.

“Because I say so.”

“Can’t you just tell me?”

“No. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, and do whatever the fuck else you do in the bathroom for a half an hour every morning. I’ll make you some breakfast.”

“Shower. I need a shower.” Justin kicked his legs out of the pants and sighed when Brian rolled his eyes. “I’ll do my best to hurry up.” Not long after they’d left, he watched the scenery change from the car window as they drove farther away from the city. “Where are we going?”

“Patience.”

“Should I have packed clothes and food? Maybe we should stop for snacks?”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine without snacks.” Brian finally pulled over and parked the car. “Do you like it?”

“Do I like what?”

“The house over there.” Brian pointed across the street.

“That mansion? It’s beautiful.”

“Yeah?”

“Who lives there”?

“We do. If you want to.”

Justin turned to stare at Brian. “What?”

“It’s for sale. I found it the night I was driving Deb around after the bombing. If you like it, I think we should move here.”

“You do?”

“Look, the loft is too small when Gus is there, and you need a proper studio to paint in. We’ll have to move sooner or later.”

“But this is too much. It’s too big for us.”

“You don’t like it.” Brian got ready to drive off, but Justin stopped him.

“I never said that. I love it! At least what I can see of it. Maybe we can talk to the seller and take a tour?”

Brian held out a key. “Wanna do it now?”

Justin snatched it from his hand and jumped out of the car. Running to unlock the front door, he waited impatiently for Brian to catch up with him. “Gus would be thrilled to get this much space to run around in,” he finally said after they’d spent an hour strolling from room to room, imagining themselves living there.

“What about you?”

“I think I’d be happy here.”

“Great. I’ll set up a meeting with the seller tomorrow.”

“Wait. What about you? Do you like it?”

Brian shrugged. “Doesn't matter.”

“Of course it matters.”

“As long as you and Gus are happy, I don’t care where the fuck I live.”

“Brian, please.”

“It’s got potential.”

Justin studied Brian, realizing that he was most likely already redecorating the rooms in his head. “You do like it!”

“Yeah.”

“How much is it?”

“A lot.”

“Can you afford it?”

“I’m counting on you selling a lot of paintings now that you’re out of school.”

“Okay, no pressure or anything,” Justin mumbled. “Seriously, can we live here?”

“We can.”

Justin slung an arm around Brian. “Let’s go outside. I saw a building in the back.”

“Stables. And a pool.”

“Gus will love that! And I will, too.” Justin kissed Brian deeply. “I could wear those tight swimming trunks you like to take off of me so much.”

Brian growled and held Justin against his body.

“I’m sure I could find a reason to wear them almost every day.”

“Maybe several times a day?”

“That could be arranged. Is that a tennis court?!”

“Yeah.”

“This is totally too much for us, but now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. That room upstairs would make a great studio space for me. And Gus could have both a bedroom and a playroom.”

“And a horse.”

Justin wrinkled his nose.

“No horse?”

“I’d probably be allergic to it. Besides, I can’t see any of us riding.”

“Oh, don’t say that, Sunshine. You love to ride, and you’re good at it, too.”

“Cute.”

“Come to think of it, it’s been too fucking long since you rode me.”

“Let’s take care of that issue right away.” Justin grabbed Brian’s hand and dragged him inside.

Smiling behind Justin’s back, Brian thought he was fucking lucky.

----------

Melanie stopped as soon as she stepped inside the loft, listening to the sounds coming from the bedroom. Flashing back to before Gus was born, she remembered Lindsay and herself walking in on Brian having sex so often that they’d almost gotten used to it. She shivered and got herself together. “Hello!”

“Mom! We’re playing War. Daddy Justin built a fort, and Daddy and I are trying to take him out.”

“That sounds like fun! Have you packed the things you want to bring over to our place for next week?”

“Yes! My backpack is by the door.”

Brian rose to his knees from the floor and stood up. “Why don’t you clean up in here while Justin and I talk to your mom?”

“What’s up?” Mel looked at the men standing in front of her.

“We’re moving,” Justin said, smiling at Brian.

“What? Where?” Mel felt the old insecurity of not being Gus’s biological mom taking over again.

“Just outside the city.”

“Oh!” Calming down, she hoped Brian hadn’t picked up on her panic. “To a house?”

“It’s a fucking mansion,” Justin mumbled. “Do you have any idea how much work it is to pick out wallpaper that my partner approves of?”

“Hey, I just said we’re not living with cheap paper on our walls.”

“But the prices are crazy. We could do other things with that money. Fun things.”

Brian shook his head. “His inner drama queen can’t take all the excitement of decorating a house.”

“You’re a drama queen.”

“Great comeback.”

“Does Gus know?” Mel asked.

“No. We wanted to tell you first. Gus!”

Gus came running from his corner of the loft, where he’d stuffed the toys.

“Daddy bought us a huge house that we’re moving into,” Justin told him.

“Really? Can I live there, too, when I have my Daddy weeks?” Gus looked up at Melanie.

“Of course.”

Gus pondered it for a minute, then he fired off questions about the house faster than they could answer them.

“There’s not room for a zoo with live animals, but we do have a pool,” Brian said.

“Can I swim in it?”

“Sure, as long as either Justin is with you or I am.”

“I can bring my bath toys to play with in the pool. Let’s not forget to pack them,” Gus said to Melanie, who promised to remember.

“Wanna come with us to look at it? We’re going out there this afternoon to see if maybe this wallpaper matches the kitchen cabinets better than the other three I’ve suggested.” Justin waved a wallpaper sample in front of an innocent-looking Brian.

“You’re redecorating the kitchen?”

“No, no. This is for two rooms down from the kitchen, but everything has to flow in a way that’s only clear in Brian’s head.”

Mel did her best not to laugh at Justin. “I’ll just call Corinne to let her know where we’re going.”

“Bring her,” Justin suggested. He picked up Gus’s backpack and his own sketchbook, which was filled with drawings of the new house. “Come on, Gus. Let’s get you strapped into your car seat.”

Mel stopped Brian on his way out the door. “I’m asking Corinne to marry me.”

“About time.”

“You don’t think Lindsay would mind, do you?”

“Look, Lindsay was a lot of things, both good and not so good, but I can’t imagine her not wanting you to be happy.”

“Thank you. And Brian, I know without a doubt she’d be so proud of us for the way we’ve created a family out of the crisis we went through with losing her.”

Brian looked away for a second, then he put his arms around Melanie and hugged her for a long time.

Chapter Text

Justin sighed. Brian had been in a bad mood for weeks. Moving into their new house before the contractors had completed all the changes was proving to be a bad idea. The early start times in the mornings and the messes they left behind annoyed him to no end, and there was dust everywhere no matter how many cleaning crews Brian went through. “I talked to the contractor again today. He promised they’ll be out by Friday.”

“Which Friday? One of the Fridays next year?”

“Nooo. The Friday that’s coming in three days.”

“Not fucking likely. Have you seen the hole in the wall?”

“What hole?” Justin smirked when Brian grabbed his hand. He couldn’t wait to see the expression on Brian’s face when he saw the beautiful window he’d asked them to install.

Brian threw open the door to Justin’s studio and stopped dead. “What the fuck?”

“Oh, did I forget to mention that to you?”

Brian shook his head at Justin and looked around. “Great choice.”

“I know. I love how the window breaks the light and the shadows it creates in here.”

“You’re sneaky.” A loud bang from downstairs made them both jump, and Brian cursed. “I want them out! Now!”

“No, you don’t. Gus will be here next weekend, and everything has to be perfect by then. We don’t want him to breathe in all this shit. It’s bad enough that we are. I had to use my asthma inhaler twice yesterday and once this morning when I went downstairs through the plastic they put up, which, by the way, isn’t very successful in keeping the dust out.”

“That’s it. We’re not staying here. Come on. Let’s pack our bags.”

“We can’t leave. They have like a thousand questions a day, and I’m working on a large piece for the exhibition that needs to be finished soon.”

Brian looked around the studio. “Are they done in here?”

“Yeah, it’ll be cleaned first thing tomorrow.”

“Okay, so you can stay here and in our bedroom.”

“I might need to eat and pee.”

“Not until they’re done.”

“Brian.”

“Just don’t inhale the fucking dust.”

“I won’t,” Justin whispered, beginning to undress.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“What does it look like?”

“I’m not fucking you in there with all the shit flying around in the air.”

“Don’t worry. That’s not what I had in mind.” Justin kicked off his shoes and pulled his pants down, waiting for Brian’s reaction to the skimpy swimsuit he was wearing.

“Jesus!” Brian licked his lips when his eyes zeroed in on Justin’s crotch. “Turn around.”

Justin slowly turned, spreading his legs a little when he faced away from Brian. In seconds, he felt Brian’s hard dick pressed against his ass.

“So you don’t want me to fuck you?”

“Not in here. I was thinking we could christen the pool.”

“Excellent thinking.” Brian steered Justin in front of himself down the stairs, noticing the looks they were getting from the construction workers. Most of them smiled knowingly, and a few of them looked at Justin as if they wanted to eat him up. “You’re drawing some attention to us.”

“Uh-huh.” Justin flashed a smile at a guy who was openly staring at him.

“Want him to join us?”

“Not tonight.”

Brian brushed past the guy without giving him any attention. He pulled Justin tighter to him and inhaled his scent.

Justin smiled and stopped when he stepped outside. “Can you wait for a second? I’ll be right back.”

Brian let go of him, watching his hips sway as he walked away. He unbuttoned his shirt and took off his belt, hearing soft music minutes later when Justin returned to him.

“Come here,” Justin purred, taking Brian’s hand. He’d lit candles around the pool and poured them drinks.

“Well, isn’t this romantic?”

“I know you like it even though you’ll never admit it.” Justin was sure he was right. Brian hadn’t answered him, but he hadn’t walked away, either. Justin sat on a sun chair and spread his legs, patting between them to invite Brian to join him.

Brian hesitated for a second, then he sat with his back against Justin’s chest and pulled a thick towel over them. Sitting in silence, they watched the sunset.

“When did you do this?” Brian finally asked as Justin turned to the side to pour them another drink.

“This afternoon. I called a pool company, and they came right away to clean it.”

“Was the pool guy hot?”

“Not bad.”

Brian turned his head and kissed Justin.

“Are you ready to dive into me in the pool?”

“What do you think? Those trunks are killing me.”

----------

Brian listened as Justin went over the swimming pool rules with Gus: No jumping in unless at least one adult is with him. No running anywhere near the pool area. Never let his friends in the pool without asking his dads first.

“But I can swim!”

Brian smirked. Gus’s kicking and arm flapping didn’t exactly qualify as swimming.

“You’re really good, but we still have to watch you to be safe.”

“I’m not some little kid.”

“I know,” Justin said. “But you’re still a bit too young to be in the water by yourself.”

“I don’t care what you say. You’re not my real dad.”

Brian threw aside the boards he was studying and stood up. “Gus!” he shouted, startling both Justin and Gus. Walking over to them, he stopped just inches from Gus, who searched for Justin’s hand behind his back with a glint of fear in his eyes. “Where did you get the idea that Justin’s not your real dad?”

“Brian, don’t.” Justin tried to stop him, but he was ignored.

“Justin’s been here since the night you were born. He’s just as much your dad as I am. Never say anything like that again. And stay out of the pool!”

Gus looked devastated, and Justin couldn’t really blame him. The wrath of Brian was not something you wanted to experience.

“I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t tell me. Tell Justin.”

Gus turned around, staring down at the carpet. “I’m sorry, Justin.” His shoulders shuddered as he started to cry.

“That’s okay.” Justin hugged him. “You know I love you, right?”

“I know.”

Brian crouched down between them and dried Gus’s tears with his hand.

“I’m sorry, Dad.”

Brian nodded and hugged him tightly. “Why don’t you and Justin go out to the pool? I’ll join you in an hour.”

“I’ll get my swimming trunks. I know where they are.” Gus slowly walked away from them, his head hung low.

Brian heard Gus’s happy laughter coming from the pool and saw Justin holding him up as he tried to teach Gus to float. He also saw that Justin’s lips were almost blue and his skin had goosebumps. “Hey.”

“Hi, Dad! Look what I can do.” Spread out on the surface of the water, Gus rested on top of Justin’s hands. “I’m floating!”

“That’s great.”

Justin lowered his hands and saw that Gus was actually floating by himself. He took a step to the side to show Gus he was on his own.

“You should take a break before you both turn into a block of ice.” Brian helped them out of the water and wrapped a towel around Gus, then he turned and did the same with Justin.

“Thanks.” Justin saw that Gus had already found the snacks Brian brought out to them, so he pushed Brian down onto one of the chairs and cuddled up in his lap. “You’re not a bad dad for yelling at him. I know you feel shitty about it, but you’re not.”

“It wasn’t you who did the yelling.”

“Not this time, no. But two weeks ago when he broke my expensive pens in half because I wouldn’t give him more ice cream, it was me.”

“Are you saying we’re both bad parents?”

“No. We’re normal parents with a normal kid. We’re gonna yell at him a lot more in the future, and it won’t turn us into our dads.”

Brian nuzzled his face into Justin’s wet hair. “How do you always know what’s going on inside my brain?”

“You’re not as hard to read as you’d like to think.”

----------

Brian crouched down to help Gus tie his tie. “Do you remember the rules for this afternoon?”

“Yes.”

“Let me hear them.”

“No running. No shouting. No touching the paintings.” Gus bit his bottom lip and furrowed his brows. “That’s all.”

“Don’t get drunk on the cheap champagne they’ll be serving.”

Gus giggled, holding onto the toy car he was allowed to bring. “I won’t.” It had taken a lot of negotiations with the other cars to pick just one. He still wasn’t sure the red truck was okay about being left behind.

Justin stepped out of the bedroom, seeing Brian stand up and stare at him. “Is something wrong?”

“No.” Brian straightened Justin’s already-perfect collar and kissed him lightly. “Ready?”

“Yep. Gus, you look great.”

Gus nodded. He did feel very grown up.

“Go downstairs and put on your shoes. We’ll be there in a minute.”

Justin studied Gus as he ran past them. “He’s a copy of you. I see lots of broken hearts in his future.”

Brian kissed Justin again. “We need to go before I rip those pants off of you. God, they’re such a perfect fit on your ass.” Hands roaming over said ass, Brian breathed, “I want you,” into Justin’s ear.

“Hold onto that thought for a couple of hours. Mel is taking Gus after the show. Why don’t we go out and find a back room to fuck in?”

“You have the best ideas.”

Justin stroked over the bulge in Brian’s pants, making him moan and spread his legs a little, pushing into Justin’s hand. “I want to suck you off.”

“Do it.”

Justin fumbled with Brian’s belt and slid down his body.

“Justin! I can’t tie my shoelaces!”

Justin groaned and leaned his head on Brian’s stomach. “Don’t jerk off. I want that for myself.”

“So greedy.” Brian stroked himself but stopped before it got too good. He rearranged his dick and willed it down.

“Are you nervous?” Brian asked as they drove to the gallery downtown.

“Not really. I’m just happy they wanted to show my paintings. I don’t expect them to sell.”

“Why the hell not?”

“It’s my first real show. People don’t know who I am.”

“They can still appreciate good art, you know.”

“We’ll see.” Justin patted Brian’s knee. “Thanks for coming with me. I know you don’t exactly enjoy these kinds of things.”

“And you do?”

“I might hate them even more than you do.”

The gallery was filled with energy even before it opened to the public. Caterers and gallery assistants did their final checks to see that everything was in place while the artists strolled around and pretended to admire each other’s work. A tall, slim waiter offered Brian champagne, but Brian shook his head no.

“Can I give you anything else?” Eyeing Brian, the waiter made it clear that drinks weren’t the only things he was offering.

Brian turned his attention to him, studying him closely. Justin thought Brian was going to go with the waiter, and he couldn’t really blame him. Even though he was a bit too obvious, the guy was hot. Justin put a hand on Gus’s shoulder, ready to walk away with him.

“This is Justin Taylor,” Brian said, “my partner and the most talented artist you’ll ever meet. And this is our son. I don’t know who hired you, but I’ll be happy to tell them how unprofessional you are.”

The waiter blushed. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean . . . I thought . . .”

“I’ll take a whiskey, and our son will have a Coke.” Brian handed a glass of champagne to Justin.

“Yes. Right away, sir.”

Justin grinned from ear to ear, ducking his head so Brian wouldn’t see. He sensed Brian wouldn’t want him to make a big deal out of it.

“Justin!”

“Mr. Bloom. This is my family, Brian and Gus.”

“Nice to meet both of you.” He shook their hands. “There’s a reporter from ArtForum who wants to talk to you.” Mr. Bloom’s voice made it clear that Justin should be impressed.

Brian laughed when Justin made a face before he walked off with the gallery owner. “What do you say, Sonny Boy? Should we take a look at the paintings before everyone arrives?”

“Okay.” Gus stood up and put the car in his pocket.

The waiter held out a tray with their drinks as he approached them. Gus glanced up at Brian before he carefully reached for his glass, which had five colorful straws and an umbrella in it. Taking Gus’s hand, Brian walked them around the room. He kept glancing at Justin while he talked to the reporter, who looked equally impressed with his ass and his art.

“Justin’s paintings!” Gus pointed at them.

“You’re right. Do you like them?”

“Uh-huh. He’s good. I wish I could paint like he does. And my mom, Lindsay. Mommy showed me a drawing she made of you.”

Brian ignored the ache in his heart. “Maybe you’d want to take an art class after school?”

“Can I?”

“Sure. Let’s talk to Mel about it when she gets here.”

They continued walking and came back to the entrance when it was time for the doors to open. Justin slid an arm around Brian’s waist.

“Ah, the great artiste.”

“Shut up.”

“How was he?”

“Creepy, but he’s genuinely interested in my work. Did you see the others’ paintings?”

“Yeah. Not bad, but they can’t compete with yours.”

“It’s not a competition, but thanks anyway. Are you having fun, Gus?”

“I got a Coke with like hundreds of straws and an umbrella, and I saw your paintings over there.” Gus tugged at Justin’s sleeve, making him bend down. “I need to pee,” he whispered to him. “Really badly.” He crossed his legs and bit his bottom lip.

“Brian, can you take him?”

“Of course.” Brian scooped Gus up in his arms and hurried away with him.

An hour later, Justin finally had a chance to get away and went looking for Brian, thinking that Gus would be bored by now. He found them next to the bar where the snacks were.

“Congrats, honey. Your paintings are amazing!” Mel kissed Justin’s cheek.

“Thanks!” Justin leaned on Brian’s chest.

“We’re talking about letting Gus take an art class,” Melanie said.

“Great idea! You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Gus nodded eagerly.

“Want me to check out where he could go?”

“That would be great. I think it’s time for us to leave. I promised Gus we’d rent a movie on the way home.”

Justin waited until they were gone, then he kissed Brian deeply. “I might be able to mingle for another hour, but then you need to fuck me silly, okay?”

Brian slid his hands around Justin’s back and into his pants. He growled when he noticed Justin wasn’t wearing any underwear. “I might have to do it right now.”

“Well, I did sell out already, so I don’t really have to be here.”

Brian took a step back to look at Justin. “You sold out? You do know Pittsburgh is getting too small for you, right?”

“After one show and three sold paintings? You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

Chapter Text

“This came in the mail today.” Justin handed Brian a copy of ArtForum, wiggling himself down onto Brian’s lap while Brian read the article and stroked the glossy photo of Justin with his fingertips. “So?”

“He liked your work.”

“He did.”

“You should leave.”

“Excuse me?”

“Don’t get stuck here with us. Your future is in the New York art world.”

“No, it’s not.” Justin moved over to his own chair. “Why do you say that?”

“Because it’s true. Look, all you know is living with Gus and me. That shouldn’t be enough for you.”

“But it is. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

“How do you know if you’ve never tried anything else? Just leave, would you?”

“Are you breaking up with me?”

Brian shrugged. “If that’s what it takes.”

“That’s not fair! You don’t get to decide how I live my life.”

“I don’t want you to miss out on any opportunities.”

“I’m not. And if I do, that’s my choice. Do you really think one art critic means anything to me? To my nonexistent career? I don’t want to move to New York. I’m nowhere near ready for that. I just got out of school, and I have no clue what I want to do. I just know I want to draw and maybe try out animation. So could you please stop being an ass and not push me into something I don’t want?”

“I forget sometimes how fucking young you still are.”

“If I ever decide to try out New York or any other fucking city, it will be my decision, and it will only happen if you and Gus can come with me. That’s not negotiable!”

“Okay, okay.” Brian held up his hands to stop him. “I get it now.”

“Do you really? Because we’re not having this discussion again.”

“What do you want me to do to convince you?”

“A mind shattering blow job always does the trick.”

Brian yanked Justin up from the chair and led him in front of himself, shoving Justin’s pants down around his ankles. “Spread your legs,” he ordered, taking Justin’s swollen cock in his mouth. He sucked it hard a couple of times, then he let it slip out and jerked him as he bent lower and licked over his balls, taking each one into his mouth and rolling it over his tongue.

Justin grabbed onto Brian’s shoulders so he wouldn’t fall over from the attack. His legs shook, and he took a deep breath to keep from shooting right away. He fucking loved how messy it always was when Brian blew him. He could feel Brian’s spit mixed with his own precum being rubbed over his dick and balls and back toward his hole. “Oh, fuck!” he growled when Brian put pressure on his hole, stopping before he slipped inside.

Brian looked up at him with a grin, then he deepthroated him and buried his nose in Justin’s pubes. His head bobbed up and down until he felt Justin was about to lose control, then he pulled back and dipped the tip of his tongue into Justin’s slit, loving his taste. “Wanna come?”

“Yeah.” Justin voice was hoarse, moaning loudly when Brian’s finger pressed inside of him at the same time Brian swallowed him again. Shuddering as he came hard, Justin shot ropes of come down Brian’s throat.

“Now do you believe me?”

Justin’s legs gave in, and he pulled Brian with him down on the floor. “Yeah, you did good.”

----------

The girls were standing on the porch when Brian and Justin dropped Gus off for his mommy week. “Lindsay’s parents want to meet Gus,” Mel blurted out. “Mrs. Peterson heard about Corinne and me getting married. I’m afraid she’ll try to take him from us.”

“They can’t, can they?” Justin stared at Brian. His heart felt as if it were about to explode at the thought of Gus not being in their lives anymore.

“No, but they can give us a hard time trying.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t get married?” Corinne looked miserable.

Melanie took her hand. “I’m not going to call it off.”

“Attack is the best form of defense,” Brian mumbled.

Melanie frowned at him. “So we should offer Gus to them before they ask?”

“No. We should invite them to dinner tonight.” He took out his cell. “I’m calling Honeycutt. He can put something together in record time.”

“Brian, shouldn’t we talk this over?” Justin nervously bit the tip of his thumbnail.

“No.”

“Okay, then.”

“Call them and tell them to be here at six if they want to meet Gus. If they can’t make it, too bad, because this is the only chance they’ll get.” Brian waved for everyone to be quiet while he ordered Emmett to cook up the best fucking meal he’d ever concocted and told him to bring one of those flower arrangements that made him hard just thinking about.

Mel waited until Brian hung up, then she called Lindsay’s parents. She told them in the nicest way possible what Gus’s parents had agreed on and what to expect from the evening.

Justin and Corinne stared at their partners.

“What?” both partners barked.

“That was hot.” Justin moved closer to Brian and kissed him.

Corinne blushed when Mel winked at her.

“Do I have to fuck you, or can you control yourself until we get home?” Brian mumbled, his lips locked with Justin’s.

“I can’t promise anything.”

Brian pushed Justin’s sweater up, running his hands over Justin’s body.

“Uh, guys, break it off.” Melanie wrinkled her nose.

“No.”

“Could you at least take it out of the kitchen?”

“No.” Brian gently kicked Justin’s legs apart and pulled him up onto his lap.

Justin slowly humped him and groaned quietly in Brian’s ear when their cocks bumped together.

“Jesus!” Corinne laughed and tried her best not to look.

Brian flipped his cell open when Emmett called him back. “What?” he said as Justin slumped down over his shoulder and breathed hard.

“I just wanted you to know I’ll be there in an hour. Should I bring the china?”

“How should I know? Talk to Mel.” Brian threw the phone to her and went back to focusing on Justin. “I’m gonna fuck you. I’m gonna fuck you all night.”

“Well, in that case, I guess I can survive without your cock in my tight ass right now.”

Brian closed his eyes for a second then pushed Justin off his lap.

“We have to clean up in here.” Corinne ordered Brian and Justin to make sure the dining room was spotless while Melanie went to talk to Gus about their guests.

“Gus, your grandma and grandpa are going to come over for dinner.”

“Yay, Grandma Deb! I’m gonna show her my new toys. But I don’t have a grandpa, Mommy.”

“It’s not Grandma Deb. Mommy Lindsay had a mom and dad who’d love to meet you.”

“I don’t know them.”

“I know.”

“Deb will be here, too, right?”

“Not today, sweetie. Maybe we can eat breakfast with her at the diner tomorrow so you can see her.”

“Okay.”

“You’ll need to take a bath and change your clothes in a little while.”

Gus sighed but agreed to do it.

Emmett rang the doorbell and rushed in with his troop of helpers. “Where do you want us to set everything up?”

Corinne pointed them in the right direction and looked at the food they’d brought. “This looks delicious enough to impress them.”

----------

“Mr. and Mrs. Peterson. I’m so happy you could make it.” Melanie greeted them at the door.

“We would have appreciated a bit more time.” Nancy’s voice made it clear that she was annoyed by how they’d been treated.

“You wanted to see Gus. We’re giving you exactly what you asked for,” Brian said, ignoring the nasty look she gave him.

Corinne and Justin walked out of the kitchen with Gus between them.

“I’m sure you remember Justin?”

Nancy frowned. “The babysitter?”

“My partner. And one of Gus’s dads.”

Mel took Corinne’s hand. “And this is Corinne. My fiancee.”

Gus molded himself against Justin’s leg. “Hi.”

“Gus, give Grandma a kiss.”

Brian swept Gus up into his arms when his son shook his head. “Why don’t you start with shaking their hands?”

“Okay!” Gus reached out, shaking his grandpa’s hand first and then his grandma’s.

“Nice to meet you, Gus,” Ron said while his wife pressed her lips together even tighter.

Gus wrapped his arms around Brian’s neck.

“Good boy!” Brian whispered.

“Please sit down.” Mel did her best to sound sincere.

Ron turned to Gus after they’d eaten in silence for a couple of minutes “How do you like school?”

“It’s lots of fun! I like to play with my friends and draw.”

“You like to draw?” Mrs. Peterson asked.

“Yes, like Justin and Mommy Lindsay.”

“He takes an art class once a week, just like Lindsay and I had talked about.” Melanie smiled at Gus.

“He’s talented,” Justin said. “Maybe you can show your grandma and grandpa some of your drawings later?”

“I can do that.”

Nancy turned to Corinne. “I understand you’re getting married?”

“We are.”

“I’m gonna carry the rings!” Gus exclaimed. “Daddy showed me how to do it.”

“That’s nice.”

“We think so.” Corinne ruffled Gus’s hair. “It’s important that he’s involved.”

“So, this marriage. Will it take place soon?”

Corinne glanced at Melanie and saw her struggling not to choke Mrs. Peterson. “In two weeks.”

“And you plan to live here in my daughter and Melanie’s house?”

“We already do.”

“I see.”

“We haven’t forgotten about Lindsay,” Mel said. “We have pictures of her on the walls, and Gus has lots of her things in his room. Brian and I make sure to talk to him about her.”

“He’s got pictures of her at our place, too,” Justin filled in.

“It’s not the same. Pictures can’t replace a real mom.”

Melanie bit her lip to not yell at her. “He’s got a real mom. Two, actually. Corinne’s been in this family for years.”

“Really? Didn’t take you long to replace our daughter.”

“No one can replace Lindsay, but I can’t live alone forever. I don’t think Lindsay would have wanted me to, either.”

Gus put his fork down and turned to his grandpa. “I’ve got two dads and three moms, but one of them is in heaven. No one in my class is as cool as I am.”

“That’s one way to put it,” Ron said with a grin.

Brian stood up and told Gus they were going to get his drawings, nodding when Mr. Peterson asked if he could come with them.

“Want to see my room?”

“I’d like that very much.”

“Are you planning to try to take him away from us?” Brian mumbled when Gus ran in front of them.

“It’s obvious he’s happy here. We can’t replace this.”

“And Mrs. Peterson?”

“She’s still in mourning. I’ll do my best to stop her from turning this into a drama.”

Justin joined them after a couple of minutes. “Brian, I think you should come back to the kitchen.”

“Problem?”

“Mel and Mrs. Peterson got into a discussion about Gus’s future.”

Brian checked to see if Gus had decided which drawings to show them. “Come on, Sonny Boy.” He strode over to the women. “Mrs. Peterson, I’m Gus’s biological father. Since you think genes are so important, I’m the one in charge here, right?”

“Uhm.”

“Right. So if you don’t think his other parents want what’s best for him, at least you know that I do. You can try all you want, but I’m not giving him up. I just talked to your husband about you seeing Gus more often, and I know everyone agrees with me because we all want our son to know his family. But that comes with some rules, and I’m the one who’ll set them.”

“So hot,” Justin mumbled, making Corinne laugh.

“I think it’s time we leave.” Nancy stood up and put on her coat.

“No, it’s not.” Ron gripped her arm. “We haven’t seen his art yet.”

“Oh, for God’s sake.”

Gus fiddled with his papers. “This is my favorite. I’m gonna give it to Grandma Deb in the morning. But you can have this one!” He held a sheet of paper out towards Nancy.

“And which one of all your parents does this Grandma Deb belong to?”

“She’s Daddy Brian’s friend Michael’s mom.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Nancy muttered.

“Deb’s great with Gus,” Justin said. “She loves Brian like her own son, and she’s crazy about Gus.”

“She really is crazy.” Gus giggled. “She gives me a lot of ice cream when Dad’s not there.”

Brian furrowed his brows at that information.

Ron sat down with Gus and really looked at his art, thanking him when Gus offered him a drawing. “I’ll frame it and keep it in my office.”

“You have an office? Dad, too. Justin’s got a studio. He’s a real artist.”

Nancy and Ron said good-bye, and Justin followed them out the door.

Melanie exhaled sharply when they left. “Please tell me we won’t do this ever again.”

“I’m on your side, honey.” Corinne kissed her.

Justin came back in and slumped against Brian. “I asked if they wanted to come to the park next weekend with Gus and me. Turns out Nancy doesn’t do playgrounds. Mr. Peterson said he might show up, and the look she shot him didn’t set him on fire, so maybe he’ll be there.”

“You just can’t help yourself, can you?” Brian patted his back.

“Blame my WASP upbringing. It’s like a disease. At least I tried.”

“I think it’s time for us to leave. See you next Friday, Gus.”

“Bye, Dad. Bye, Justin.” He hugged them tightly. “Dad, when are you and Justin getting married?”

“We’re not.”

“Why not?” Gus looked confused. “Don’t you love Justin?”

“Oh, God,” Justin mumbled.

“Yeah, I love him.” Brian sighed when Corinne and Mel stared at him. “What? Of course I fucking love him, but that doesn’t mean we have to get married. We’re not dykes or breeders.”

Justin thought Brian was on the verge of an outburst because he was so quiet on the drive home. “I don’t need a marriage to be happy.”

Brian stared straight ahead.

“I don’t. I just need you to fuck me when we get home.”

“That’s a given.” Brian took Justin’s hand. “If I ever decide to get married, you’d be the guy I’d ask.”

Justin laughed outright. “That’s actually romantic.”

“You’re easy.”

----------

Justin knocked softly on Brian’s office door, waiting until Brian looked up from the papers he was reading before walking over to him. “Did you see the picture Gus painted last night?”

“Hard to miss when you taped it to my laptop.” Brian looked at it again. Gus had drawn his two dads holding hands and himself standing between Mel and Corinne. A woman with red hair and the word ‘Grandma’ scribbled beneath her stood in the background. Smiling down on everyone was a bright yellow sun with Lindsay’s name in the center of it. Even though Gus had seen his grandpa a couple of times in the last six months, Ron apparently hadn’t made it into his world.

Justin sat down on Brian’s desk. “Sometimes it still amazes me that I have a family of my own.”

“Imagine what I feel like. I was gonna fuck, drink, and drug myself to an early death. I had everything figured out.”

“Bummer.”

“Yeah, who would have thought a twink and a kid would mess up my life to the point of no turning back?”

“I was pretty sure of it right from the start. I can’t imagine a better life.”

“I had these made for us.” Brian produced a box from his pocket, encouraging Justin to open the lid and look at the rings inside. “You know we don’t need rings or vows to prove to the person we love how much we love him, right?”

Justin nodded obediently as Brian stared at him.

Brian went to put the box in his safe, then he returned to Justin. “But if you ever feel like we do, you know where to find them, and I’m counting on you to use them.”

“I promise.”