Justin lay awake. The silence of the apartment wrapped around him but his mind would not rest. After he poured Brian into his bed, he had come back to his and Daphne’s, trying to think of something, anything, to stop Brian’s rapid decline. He couldn’t just wait around and watch as he self-imploded. Justin knew he had to come up with something.
Reasoning with Brian wasn’t going to work. The man denied that there was even a problem. None of his “friends” showed much worry, so Justin knew he couldn’t count on them. Appealing to emotion, Ha! Justin could just imagine Brian rolling on the floor laughing at him, and that was before he kicked his ass out of the loft! No, this required a plan, a plan worthy of a Great Kinney Master plan. Justin shook his head at his own melodrama. But losing his job had hit Brian to hard; reminding him of his father’s drunken ramblings that Brian would never amount to anything. Failure was not a Brian Kinney trait. That was what was stumping Justin so hard. Brian never gave up, at least until now.
Justin knew he’d never convince Brian to allow him to help. The older man accepted help from none, and forget pity, it made his dick soft. Oh, he helped his friends out, bailing them out time and time again. But he used his wealth to do that. He saved Mel and Lindsey’s wedding, footing the entire bill himself. He showered Gus with gifts, but was uncomfortable being alone with his son. Justin had realized a long time ago that Brian showed he cared, that he loved, through his money. For some insane reason that he had never figured out, the older man thought that was all he had to offer; that if he were broke, no one would care. And look where he was now. No wonder Brian was avoiding everyone. This firing had hit him right in his ego, and the older man’s very self-worth had been damaged.
Justin frowned and shifted to his side on the futon. A terrible idea formed in his mind, but the effects! Justin clenched his eyes tightly closed and tried to banish that thought, but the idea kept swirling and swirling around his brain. He could do it. Hell, Michael had already accused him once of using Brian for his money. But the fall-out would be massive. The whole family would hate Justin, none of them would see the big picture, the why’s. He’d have to distance himself, cut all ties with everyone. Could he do that, for Brian?
His mind spun with the possibilities, what he would have to accomplish and what he would have to give up. Could he be convincing? This would require careful planning, but if it worked, it would push Brian back on track; give him the fire he needed to fight back, to retake his life. Justin would be giving up a major part of his, his heart. Could he stand to be hated, cause that’s what the outcome would be if he did this. Debbie would be the obstacle to overcome. Everyone else would let him fade away, but not the red-head waitress. She would demand answers and his presence; long after he would be accepted. Justin felt tears sting his eyes. This would mean giving up Brian, doing something that he could never be forgiven for. He would lose the older man, but Justin had wracked his brain, there was nothing else to be done, but this…
The diner was busy when he strolled in, the hour just a little after noon. Justin had cut his afternoon classes. His mind made up, he had to act fast before he lost his nerve. He took one of the last spots at the counter and waited for Debbie to notice him.
“Hey, Sunshine!” was the greeting, and he summoned up a half smile for her. Justin could tell she knew right away that something was wrong. That’s what he wanted her to think.
“Hi Deb,” he called, as she rushed by him, arms full.
“You just keep that bubble-butt parked until I have a sec,” Debbie ordered. Justin had no plans on moving, this was a step he had to take, for Brian.
A half hour had passed; he had long finished his coke before she could interrogate him properly. Debbie sat next to him, still breathing heavy. “What’s up, kiddo?” she asked, eyeing him with that look that said she already knew it had something to do with Brian. She always knew.
“What’s he done now?” she demanded, barely stopping herself from the eye-roll that usually accompanied that statement.
“Nothing Deb,” Justin said, shaking his head at her. “This time it’s me,” he said simply, letting the silence build for a moment while he worked up his courage. He looked down, unable to meet her gaze as he prepared to lie to her. “I am going to break up with him,” he said, waiting for the explosion.
But none came, and in wonder he looked up into her compassionate eyes. “If that’s what you need to do kiddo. I’m sure you have your reasons.”
Justin couldn’t stop his mouth from hanging open. He had expected yelling and cries of “what had the asshole done to him now!” Justin lowered his gaze once again, preparing for the second part of his announcement. “I might not be around much for a while.” He started to explain, but she cut him off.
Debbie rose and patted him on the arm. “You do what you need to do, Sunshine. But you’re still apart of this family, as fucked up as it is. We’ll work something out,” and with that, she left Justin sitting there, stunned at how easy it had been. Now if only the second step were this painless.
He waited until early evening, the normal time he would be strolling in the loft door. Brian sat right where Justin expected him to be, on the couch. But the older man wasn’t staring aimlessly out the windows; he appeared to be looking through some papers. Justin did see the ever-present bottle of Beam on the table. Justin took a deep breath and not saying a word, went to the closet and pulled a duffle bag from it. He packed silently and carefully, wandering how long it would take Brian to notice.
He carried the bag out of the bedroom and started gathering his art supplies, cd’s, and books that always seemed to be scattered about. He felt Brian’s gaze long before he looked up to acknowledge it. Brian’s hazel eyes were clear today, and he wore a frown as his gaze went from the bag to Justin, back to the duffle bag. “What are you doing?” he asked.
Justin knew how he had to play this. He couldn’t come off angry; he had to keep his cool. He had to appear sad, but at the same time, not to broken up. “What’s it look like, Brian. I’m packing,” he said simply, tone matter-of-fact.
Brian rose from the couch and moved to the center of the room. He leaned against one of the pillars, glass of Beam in hand. “Going somewhere, Sunshine?” he asked, eyes guarded, tone mocking.
Justin turned away briefly, fighting the bile that rose as he prepared to do this. Turning back with an apologetic smile, Justin shrugged his shoulders, fighting to keep his eyes locked with Brian’s. “Brian, this has been great, but it’s not working anymore,” Justin winced internally as the older man’s eyes narrowed.
“What’s been great, Sunshine,” he dared Justin, body already stiff and stance aggressive. This was more fire than Justin had seen Brian display in weeks.
Justin sighed but didn’t take the bait. “This used to be fun, Brian. You used to be fun.” Justin knew that would enrage the other man, making him more likely to buy this. Justin continued, knowing what he said next would kill any feelings Brian had for him. “I’ve got tuition due for next semester and now you can’t pay that. Plus I miss going out, having take-out all the time. Hell, we never even go to the diner anymore.” Justin rushed on, if he paused, he would never get this finished. “No offense, but you used to take better care of yourself. You have let yourself go. I think,” Justin swallowed. “That I need to focus on finding someone who can help me reach my goals, and since you lost your job, that’s not you anymore.”
Silence built between them, and Justin tensed, waiting for the explosion. But it was a lot quieter than he thought it would be. Brian just stared at him, disbelief in his eyes, then raw hurt; that had Justin biting his lip to prevent the cry that wanted to escape. Justin couldn’t stop the violent flinch he gave as Brian threw his glass of liquor at the wall, shattering the glass, sending the brown liquid flying.
He said so softly that Justin almost didn’t hear him. “Get out.” Justin just stood there. Now that it had been done, he was frozen, unable to believe that he had done this to Brian.
Suddenly Brian stormed towards him and Justin flinched. But Brian only reached down for Justin’s bag and with the other hand he grabbed Justin by the arm, dragging him towards the loft door. He let go briefly to slide the heavy door open, then gave Justin a shove through the opening. “Get the fuck out Justin, and don’t you ever come back,” Brian whispered, his tone at odds with the fury in his eyes.
Justin stared at the closed loft door, his body shaking, ears still ringing with the sounds of shattering glass. He had done it. Now he just had to live with the consequences.
To be continued...