Title: The Mask
Author: Sian (Denise)
Pairing: Brian and Justin
Rating: R this chapter for language
Summary: The gang meets Justin
Disclaimers: QaF, and it’s a shame, belongs to Cowlip Productions.
Justin’s entire body was taut with tension. His hands gripped the phonebook so tight that his fingertips were white as he strained to catch every word of the conversation in the booth behind him. So focused was he, that Justin ceased to notice the crowd or noise in the diner, he didn’t pay any attention when one of the booth’s occupants got up and joined the waitress, Debbie, at the counter.
“I’m going over to the loft later to take Brian to Babylon.” Michael dropped his fork pushing his plate to the side.
Ted looked up from his plate in surprise. “Isn’t he still at the hospital?”
Michael shook his head, wiping his mouth before answering. “No, Lindsay called and said she was going to try and convince him to go home. She is staying at the hospital, and Gus won’t wake up until morning; there’s nothing Brian can do.”
Ted shook his head at Michael. “Still, I don’t he’ll be up for the thumpa thumpa. I mean shit, Michael, his son just got out of surgery.”
It amazed Ted that Brian’s best friend couldn’t see that Brian had changed, or was it that Michael didn’t want to see Brian changed? But, despite what Michael firmly believed, Brian wasn’t the same man he had been at 29. Shit! None of them were.
Michael wasn’t alone however; many of their ‘family’ refused to believe that Brian had grown up. Perhaps it was only because Ted had worked with Brian for years. Ted saw the wildness and restlessness of a 20-something Brian settle into a driven 30 year old committed to making Kinnetik the best.
There had been many small things that slipped by unnoticed unless you added them up. Ted saw a lonely and often solitary Brian, though it would be a cold day in hell before Brian ever admitted that. Sometimes they would be sitting together in the diner just talking about their partners of in his and Emmett’s cases, their latest love interest, and it would seem that Brian started to say something, only to stop himself and look away.
Ted didn’t know if it was his imagination, but he swore that he saw a longing flash across Brian’s hazel eyes more than once, almost as if Brian was searching for someone, or missing someone, but it seemed like Ted was the only one in their small group who noticed this. Despite Michael’s assertion that Babylon was the answer to Brian’s woes, the actual trips Brian had made to the dance club had dwindled down to almost none.
Ted could well remember the jealousy he used to feel when Brian’s face would take on a predator mode. The fire and sexual heat in his hazel eyes would scorch anyone they fell on. That fire had been absent from Brian for some time now, and for a few hours only, after he returned from another of his mysterious trips, Brian’s eyes would have a peacefulness in them that Ted had never seen his boss exhibit before.
Michael, per-usual, dismissed Ted’s comments, if he even heard them.
It wasn’t that Michael didn’t see the changes in his oldest friend, he just couldn’t accept them let-alone admit them out loud. If you asked him what he was so afraid of, Michael wouldn’t be able to tell you, but the darkest would be being left behind; if Brian moved on, Michael just knew he wouldn’t be beside him. That Brian could find someone else to take that journey with him never occurred to Michael, and he wouldn’t have accepted it even if he were hit in the face with it.
Ted leaned back in his seat, eyes roaming around the diner, unaware of the blond at the counter who stiffened noticeable at Michael’s remarks.
“Brian needs to take his mind of Gus and unwind. A couple of bumps, a few shots, and a few trips to the backroom to get his dick sucked, and he’ll feel like his old self. I know what my best friend needs.”
Michael sighed and rubbed a hand across his face; the family had been at the hospital for hours waiting for word about Gus. He looked back at Ted.
“You didn’t see him when his dad died. Brian was a fall down mess, drinking and drugged out every night. Hell, he was tricking three and four a night. I had to drive him home at night and pour him into bed.”
Ted nodded his head, he remembered that time, but what Michael refused to realize was that event had happened years ago.
Michael gave a slightly biter laugh. “I’d be prepared for some late night at Babylon.”
Justin couldn’t believe what he had just heard. It was his Brian the men in the booth behind were talking about he had no doubt; there couldn’t be two Brian’s who had a son in the hospital. But what they were saying! They didn’t sound like great friend’s to have to Justin, not and talk about Brian like that.
Justin’s Brian would never leave his small son in the hospital to go party. There had to be some mistake. The waitress Debbie, the flamboyant man she was talking to, all the too curious ears that were listening, disappeared as Justin rose and turned to face the men. He took a step closer to the booth, drawing their attention to him immediately.
Justin tried to keep the anger from his voice, but his fist clenched and unclenched. “Excuse me, but are you talking about Brian Kinney?”
Two pairs of eyes swung to regard the small blond, and most ears perked up at the mention of the Stud of Liberty’s name.
Michael rolled his eyes in annoyance, not another one! Once more it fell to him to get rid of some love-struck twink who thought he had a second chance at the great Kinney. But there was something about this blond’s tone and the look of anger in his eyes that had Michael’s hackles rising.
He couldn’t control the anger in his tone. “What the fuck business is it of yours?” Michael couldn’t believe this guy had just walked right up and interrupted them.
Justin frowned and looked at the other man in the booth, he didn’t like the other man’s attitude. He started to address Ted, but was startled by Michael’s next comments, and the look of pity he saw clearly in the man’s brown eyes.
“He’s had you. Brian doesn’t fuck a trick twice.” Michael turned away, dismissing the blond. If he only a dime for every time he had to repeat that to one of Brian’s hopefuls.
Jesus! Justin looked at this guy in shock; he couldn’t believe how rude the man was and the shit Michael was spouting! They had to be talking about someone else. Justin looked at the other man who had been silent through the whole exchange; Justin also saw a flash of pity in that man’s eyes as well.
Ted had seen Michael more than once send one of Brian’s tricks on their way; and ignoring the stab of unease he also got at witnessing these scenes, Ted could blame Michael’s rudeness on their late night and the stress of Gus’ injuries. The blond was beautiful; Ted could well admire the golden hair, pale skin, and blue eyes, not to mention the blond’s great ass. But the young man wasn’t Brian usual type. Ted couldn’t shake a feeling of misgiving.
Justin didn’t see Debbie and Emmett approach the booth; his attention was on the other two. “There must be some mistake. You obviously are talking about a different man. My partner, would never leave his injured son to go get his dick sucked.” Justin started to turn away, convinced that there was some mistake.
A few shocked whispers broke out at the blond’s announcement, but most in the diner were too busy listening to this newest drama to react. Michael looked at his mom and Emmett over Justin’s shoulder. Rudely pointing a finger at the blond, he laughed once more.
“You believe this guy? His partner!”
Emmett winced at the volume of Michael’s voice. He met the blond’s eyes, slightly embarrassed by Michael’s actions. He heard Ted’s hissed, ‘Michael!’ and he felt for the blond.
Michael ignored his mother’s frown and his friend’s embarrassment. He was almost mumbling to himself about Liberty Avenue getting weirder every day, his rant moving slowly to cleaning up messes and twinks who had no clue.
Ted shifted in his seat, like Emmett, he was uncomfortable with Michael’s rudeness, and, despite his friend’s dismissal, Ted couldn’t help but look at the blond seriously, the confident tone the young man spoke with and the certainty in his eyes told Ted something else was going on here.
There was a lot Justin wanted to say to this fucker, but, on the off chance that the little asshole really was talking about his Brian and was possibly a friend, he decided to just ignore him.
Smiling his blinding smile, Justin held out his hand to Ted. “Hi. I’m Justin Taylor.”
Smiling, Justin also introduced himself to Debbie and Emmett. He noticed their hesitation in accepting overtures, but they all shook his hand and mumbled their names to him.
He continued. “I just arrived from Chicago. My partner had to return here for an emergency; his son was hurt, but he didn’t get a chance to tell me which hospital.”
Ted nodded, thoughtful. It did sound like their Brian, but it was something else that blond had said that caught his attention. Justin Taylor and Chicago. Those two things had Ted immediately reevaluating the blond in front of them. It took Ted only seconds to remember where he had seen that name; on papers - Brian’s papers - when he had added the name to ownership of the property.
Ted’s eyes widened. He was almost positive the blond in front of them was telling the truth. “There couldn’t be two Brian Kinney’s in Pittsburgh with a son in the hospital.” Ted saw Debbie nod at his words.
Michael tossed his napkin on the table in disgust. “Oh get real!” he snorted in disbelief. “Partner?” he demanded, “Brian Kinney doesn’t do boyfriend’s.”
Justin started to reply, but his name, whispered in shock behind him, stopped Justin cold.
The coffee induced, burning in his stomach was what prompted Brian to stop at the diner. He hadn’t planned on staying, only picking up something to take back to the loft with him. There was another reason. One he was loathed to feel, but he did never the less; Brian didn’t want to go back to his empty loft. The sterile atmosphere held no appeal; instead what he wished for was their warm comforting home in Chicago. After checking his phone one more time and frowning when there were no calls, Brian pulled open the door to the diner. The overhead bell’s chiming going ignored by the diner’s occupants; all were riveted by the commotion unfolding as the blond fought over the stud of Liberty Avenue.
At first he thought he was seeing things, imagining him here because that was what Brian had been so badly wishing for. But there was no mistaking that blond hair or slender build, or, as Justin turned, that blinding smile. Brian felt something in him shift and then settle; it was okay now.
Justin could see the strain, worry, and exhaustion in Brian’s eyes and ragged appearance. Justin said nothing, just smiled gently. Now was not the time to demand answers or explanations, particularly not in front of these people who had such a low opinion of his partner. Justin could wait, for now he was just thankful, especially when Brian’s arms opened and welcomed him in.
Brian closed his eyes and just breathed in the younger man’s scent, taking in the comfort so freely given by Justin’s embrace. He drew back reluctantly. Looking into Justin’s eyes, he could clearly see the worry, love, and uncertainty. Justin never hid what he was feeling.
Like Justin, Brian knew this wasn’t the place to address those worries. Instead, he held just a little tighter to the blond. “You forgot to turn your phone on again, didn’t you?” he whispered in Justin’s ear, smiling for the first time in hours as the blond laughed.
Justin couldn’t help his soft laughter. He hugged Brian tightly for a moment before leaning back to look up at the brunet. A small smile touched his face and he murmured a soft, ‘sorry’.
Neither paid any attention to the open-mouths and stunned expressions behind them. Brian dropped a quick kiss onto Justin’s lips before turning and leading the blond out the door.
“Let’s get out of here,” Brian said ignoring the loud demand behind him. Michael’s ‘Brian!’ went unanswered.
Saying nothing, Justin let himself be steered out of the diner; now that he had found Brian, Justin could wait for the rest.