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A/N: This is more of an epilogue. It’s Justin’s POV and short(ish).



Re-negotiating a longstanding relationship is much harder than negotiating a new one. There are so many established patterns to fall back into. And when the other person is Brian Kinney, it’s even harder. It’s not as if he suddenly turned all talkative and lovey-dovey after what I call our ‘bathroom showdown’. He's still as taciturn and sarcastic as ever. And I have to admit that I’m surprised at how much I’m struggling with the new situation. I have to remind myself every day not to slide back into my old behavior of watching and hoping instead of asking or just doing.

Only everything is different somehow. There’s something in the way he looks at me or how he touches me. It’s as if he’s suddenly lifted a veil and I can see how he feels about me in every look. And then there's the amount of casual touching that he’s doing. He has always been very tactile. But it was always in its time and place. So playing with my hair while watching TV has always been okay, whereas standing behind me as I’m cooking with his arms wrapped around me, while he’s talking to me, is new.

At first I just hold still and enjoy when he does it, like I always did. There's still that fear in me that he'll bolt if I react, but that gradually subsides. What takes longer is the confidence to initiate it. One day I walk past him as he’s sitting at the dining table and I stroke his hair a little, then withdraw my hand quickly. It’s a conditioned reaction. But as I’m still admonishing myself in my head for my cowardice, his hand comes up and pushes my still lingering hand back into his hair without ever looking up from his book. I have to ask myself how much easier our life would have been if just one of us had been braver.

Of course, the real problem we have at the moment is that our touching doesn’t lead anywhere. We try to have sex after our talk and we try almost every day after that. Try being the operative word. It’s incredibly frustrating, not just because I want to have sex desperately but can’t. I also worry what it does to Brian. He’s not used to not having sex and I almost wish I hadn’t asked him not to trick. Now that he has promised to forsake as many others as he possibly can, I’m worried that he’ll regret it. I don’t actually know if he tricks still. I wouldn’t hold it against him, because I can’t ask a twenty-one-year-old to live without sex for weeks on end. But I don’t ask and he doesn’t say. If he does trick right now, I would approve, but I can’t work out when he would, unless he spends his time at college fucking rather than going to lectures.

And I know that he thinks my problem has something to do with him, that somehow he’s doing something wrong or I don’t find him hot anymore. If only he knew! But no amount of telling him that is going to make him believe it. That’s just Brian for you.

Despite of what he said, he refuses to fuck me or let me blow him. We tried both only the once to see if it would be enough to get me going, but when it didn’t yield any results on my side, he refused to do it again. I suppose he has his pride and I find it incredibly sweet, but it puts added pressure on me. I so want to do this for him. So much so that I'd fake it if I could. Anything would be better than seeing him so frustrated and trying to hide it. Every time we fail, his eyes get hooded and that veil comes back up. I know he’s doing that for me, so that I don’t see his disappointment, because he thinks this must be worse for me than it is for him. Susanna says it’s only a matter of giving it time and to try not to think about it and just let it happen. Yeah, right. I can think about almost nothing else.

So everything is different. What was missing in our relationship before is now the only thing that’s there. And what was prevalent is gone. I think we both know that this is one thing that will eventually split us apart. It’s unrealistic to think that this situation is sustainable indefinitely. I suppose it’s only because we’re both trying so hard to find our footing that it hasn’t done any damage already.

Other things are the same but different. When we talk about New York, it’s no longer painful. Brian talking about his plans doesn’t make me feel excluded like it used to. He wants me to come with him. He made that very clear. He doesn’t need to say ‘we’ in every sentence for me to know that I’m part of the package.

We have a long discussion about going. It’s an amazing opportunity for him and eventually we decide to move there for the five years of his contract. Ultimately he wants to open his own advertising agency and he knows he can’t do that without experience and he can’t do it in New York. So we'll give it five years and then probably return to Pittsburgh. But who knows what will be in five years? I try not to make any long-term plans any longer. We’re keeping the loft at any rate.

I’m more excited about going to New York than I thought I would be. I’m planning on finishing my degree there by doing a year of full-time study, and then get a job. Meanwhile I'll paint and check out the art scene. But what I really want to do is get into animation. All my courses at PIFA were graphics heavy because this has been a dream of mine for a long time. Painting is just something I do for fun. I’m also hoping that I can touch up Rage a bit and maybe shop it around for publication. Brian suggests to wait a little until he’s made some contacts I could use. And, of course, he wants to design an ad campaign for it.

But what I think will be really good for us, is that Brian will be working and we'll be living mainly on his money and in his apartment. A role reversal will make us true partners and it will be good for his confidence and good for my perception of him. I will no longer see him as the teenager I met four years ago, who was so fucked-up that it brought out my natural instinct to protect – among other things. We will finally be equals.

We’re planning to be in Pittsburgh a lot. All our friends and family are here. We don’t expect any of them to be pleased when they hear about our move. Naturally, Daphne is the most supportive. She sees all my arguments and agrees with me and, let’s face it, out of all our friends, she’s the only one with the means to fly out to visit us a lot.

Jon just nods and says, “Wow.” in that quiet way that he has. He gave up any designs on me when I didn’t break up with Brian after he came back from New York. If he’s disappointed, I can’t tell. I just know that he’s a great friend, whom I’m hoping to keep, despite the distance and I’m really surprised that he gets on well with Brian, too. Jon has recently started an affair with one of the professors at PIFA, who is so hot he makes anybody, male or female, doubt that monogamy is a desirable concept. Jon calls it ‘casual for now’ and who am I to tell him that inappropriate relationships aren’t a good idea or never work out?

My mother is devastated. And angry.

“It’s all about Brian,” she says in a tight voice. “Like always.”

“It’s about his job, yes,” I admit. “But I want to go as well. Try my luck in New York. See something new and then maybe be more settled afterwards.”

“But you'll have to rely on him, sweetheart.”

“Like he had to rely on me in the past.” That’s not quite true because I still have money left from my trust fund, enough to see me through a year or two if need be.

“Well, you’re reliable. He isn’t. He might lose his job or get sucked into the New York gay scene. Or he’ll try and control your life, now that you’re dependent on him.”

I’m already starting to lose my patience a little. “Make up your mind, Mother, which one is it? He’ll lose interest in me because of other guys or he’ll have too much interest and make me his slave? You can’t have it both ways.”

“Honey,” she says in that voice that she has when she wants to get her point across but knows that I won’t want to hear it. “You know that he’s unreliable. And I know that you love him, but you have to face the fact that he doesn’t love you. He’s just using you. He always did. Going with him is madness.”

And my escalating anger runs away with me again. My retort is rather loud. “He looked after me for weeks, Mom. He cleaned up after me every day and it wasn’t pretty. And he never once complained. What more does he have to do to prove that he loves me? I think you just wish that I’d find someone who cooks and cleans for me while I go out to work. You know what? That’s never going to happen. Because I’m gay! I’m never going to have a little wife to look after me. I don’t want one. I wouldn’t even want one if I were straight. And I don’t want a gay imitation of one. And I’d thank you to mind your own business from now on.”

I storm out of her condo, ignoring her calling my name a few times. Mom always seemed to like my previous boyfriends, but now I’m wondering if that was only because they were never a threat to her. I never even kissed anyone in front of her or held hands and on the few occasions that I took a guy home, we would sit with a few inches between us. She must have known that I didn’t really love any of them, so she found it easy to accept them. Brian is the only one who ever changed anything between Mom and me. Because he doesn’t hold back in front of her and makes her face up to the fact that I’m gay by supplying the evidence. And because I love him more than anyone.

In the car I’m still fuming and thinking how good it will feel to get away from Pittsburgh for a while. Maybe Brian isn’t the only one who needs to grow up. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody, except maybe me and that he has done, emphatically. Thinking of Brian, of how much better he is than people give him credit for and how much innate trust I’ve always had in him because he was the only one I trusted enough to look after me when I was sick – all while I’m so angry with my mother – causes a very unexpected reaction. Oh my God.

I break every speed limit to get back home, where I’m incredible relieved to find Brian sitting over his books. He looks up and frowns when I stomp into the loft. “I take it your visit didn’t go w…?” He doesn’t get any further than that because I grab his hand and pull him up off his chair and towards the bed.

“Fuck me, right now.”

He looks down at my hard-on and has the biggest grin on his face. I don’t think we ever got undressed quite that quickly before. Then he gets down on his knees and kisses my stomach almost reverently before he blows me and it has never been this wonderful. Relief and joy make it the best orgasm I ever had. And when he fucks me afterwards, I can’t believe that I didn’t have this for so long. How did I ever get through that? Come to think of it, how did he ever get through that? I come with his name on my lips.

“You should visit your mother more often,” he smirks afterwards.

“Yeah.” Or not. I can’t believe I shouted at her. But then again, it was long overdue. I may be doing her an injustice because she has always tried to be supportive. It’s just that I could never shift the feeling that deep down she wished things were different. Either way, I won’t let anyone interfere in my life any longer.

Brian and I make up for lost time for weeks afterwards. It seems that anything can set us off, a touch, a word, a look. We don’t care where or when and I feel almost like a teenager again. And Brian finally gets his wish of fucking me in an alleyway. I find it hot and exhilarating and don’t even care that we almost get caught by a cop.

Everything gets slowly set in motion for our move to New York. We tell everyone at one of Debbie's dinners. As expected, nobody really approves. Michael and Lindsay freak out and it isn’t difficult to see how worried and upset they are about losing Brian amongst all the barely coherent arguments they have. I wish they would get over their crush already and Brian seems to agree, although he does have a long talk with Michael in the garden.

The rest of them let me know in various ways that they think I’m mad to leave everything behind to go off with him – well, except Vic, who thanks me for some unexplained reason. Although I must say that looking after me for weeks has raised Brian’s standing within the family somewhat. Maybe they finally realize that they’ve misjudged him. And I realize that for far too long I‘ve worried needlessly about how my relationship with Brian looks to other people. Just like he was concerned about his stud image, I was always concerned about looking like a lovesick fool in front of our friends and family. What do they know anyway? I’m taking the best part of my life with me.

We celebrate Brian’s graduation in a ‘our’ restaurant and have a long, looong session of glorious sex afterwards. Then we talk about the apartment that Kennedy & Lyons found for us. It’s small by New York standards, but in a great area for both his work and my school. I switch our cell phones back on while he lights a cigarette and they both go wild with text messages. I get a call before I can read any of them.

It’s Melanie. She admonishes me first for switching my phone off and before I can get a reply in, she tells me that Lindsay went into labor after her graduation and the baby has arrived. It’s a boy.

“We’ll be right there.” I flip the phone shut. Brian is already getting dressed after reading his messages. I hurry to catch up with him.

“I have a son,” he grins.

Lindsay and Brian’s relationship has cooled down considerably, to such an extent that they’re barely more than good acquaintances. When Brian and I finally talked about it, he was at first highly amused that Lindsay had thought he would willingly help her get pregnant, but then it got him thinking. Maybe ‘the mishap’ with the condom, as Lindsay calls it, wasn’t a mishap. After all, in more than four years of sometimes very vigorous fucking, none of our condoms ever broke. For a while, he just shrugged it off, because, as he rightly said, it wouldn’t change the fact that she’s pregnant if our suspicions were true. But over time he's withdrawn from her. He really doesn’t like getting played. We’ll probably never know if she did something untoward or if it was simply the accident it appeared to be, but if her goal was to chain him to her with a baby, her plan backfired spectacularly.

She often tried to guilt Brian into more contact during her pregnancy. She would have wanted him to come to all the doctor’s appointments with her and Melanie if she’d had her way. When she heard about New York, she went on and on about how much the baby would suffer without having a father around. She even managed to cry rather prettily. Brian just shrugged it off. I think that was also the point where Melanie realized how much had changed between them.

One afternoon in April, Brian and I sat down with Lindsay and Melanie to thrash out an agreement with regards to the child. It was a curious situation, with Brian giving the impression that he didn’t give a shit and leaving it to me to negotiate on his behalf, while Lindsay talked nonstop, pushing for him spending as much time with the baby as possible. She would have put in a clause to force him to visit if she could have done, I’m sure. In the end, Melanie and I agreed on a reasonable solution, which gives Melanie parental rights and allows Brian visitation on a rising scale. When the child gets older, he can stay with Brian at times. I’m not sure if Brian will even want that, but it’s there if he does. With Brian having no longer much of an interest in Lindsay, Melanie was more amenable than anticipated. I always knew she’s the reasonable one.

I’m sure Melanie would rather that Brian stayed away from the hospital, but Lindsay wants him there, so she relented. She always does. We’re running down the hospital corridor, dodging trolleys and people and laughing. This is very exciting – for both of us.

The room is full of Lindsay and Melanie’s lesbian friends, who glare at us when we burst in. Lindsay looks sweaty and exhausted, but proud and happy. Maybe this will be the kick she needs to get her priorities right. I can only stare at the small bundle in her arms. Brian’s son. That makes me almost a stepfather, doesn’t it?

Brian just lets out a heartfelt, “Oh my God.” Then he moves closer, his eyes transfixed on the baby.

Lindsay beams up at him. “You wanna hold him?”

Brian oh so carefully takes the baby and retorts Melanie’s admonishment to be careful and not to drop him with a sarcastic, “That’s just what I was planning to do.” But his mind is on other things. I call his name and take a photo of the baby and him, smiling softly. I know I'll treasure this picture forever because Brian just looks so amazed, almost dazed, as if he can’t quite believe it.

“So what do you think? Gus or Abraham?” Lindsay looks at him, willing him to make a decision in her favor.

Brian completely ignores Lindsay’s pleading eyes and looks back at me. “What do you think?” He takes a step closer to me and I move over to him until the baby is huddled between us. I love that he wants to share this with me. And in front of other people, too. It’s still so new and exhilarating each time he does it.

I nod and mouth Gus at him because it’s not really my place to make this decision, but I wouldn’t lumber the poor child with a name like Abraham either.

“Gus it is.” He smiles down at the child. “Hello, Gus, how are you liking your first night on Earth?”

All this time he told me that he was going to stay out of the baby’s life as much as he could and I’m sure he meant it. But looking at him now, I know that Gus will never want for anything because Brian has just given his heart unconditionally. I recognize Brian’s love when I see it.

And what do you know, he’s finally grown up.

A/N: Thank you for reading. And thank you for commenting. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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