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PARTNERS IN CRIME



PART THREE


Things are heating up. The campaign is gathering momentum and I’m spending more and more time on it, in the office as well as away from it. Stockwell has taken to running his whole schedule and all his speeches past me for advice. I’m far from being a speech writer, but I know how to sell things, or people, and I find myself editing and tweaking statements that make my skin crawl with disgust even after I’ve edited them – especially after I’ve edited them. Stockwell’s vision for a cleaner city appeals to many voters already but the trick is to convince those who disagree with his methods that he isn’t quite as bad as they think. It isn’t so different from trying to convince people that they need a product when they really don’t. All advertising requires a generous dose of cynicism.

Two months before the election, I take Vangard’s camera crew and shadow Stockwell for a couple of days, gathering material for the TV spots for the last month. I want to focus on the man rather than the politician or the police chief and that involves watching him in a private setting. It’s a surreal experience. Even though it was my idea to use Stockwell’s family, I can’t imagine using my private life, and especially not Gus, for any cause. Not that the rest of my private life is suitable to win any votes at the best of times.

The heat gets turned up in other areas as well. Virtually everyone I know has joined the protest against the gradual eroding of the gay community. There’s no denying that there are cops everywhere on Liberty Avenue and beyond, patrolling the streets, sitting in bars, crawling by in their cruisers. It’s starting to get more than just a tad annoying.

One morning I’m having a rare breakfast with Michael at the diner and there are a couple of cops in one of the booths by the front door, doing not much more than intimidating people by their mere presence. It‘s the first time they‘ve targeted the diner and I could really have done without that.

“What are they even doing here?” Michael hisses exasperatedly. “Are they hoping that people will fuck on the tables, so they can arrest them?” Michael is the only one who talks to me as if I have nothing to do with Stockwell. I don’t know how he manages to conveniently forget that fact most of the time, but then again, he’s always been the master of self-deception.

“The quality of the coffee here probably makes them feel at home. And compared to their usual fare of doughnuts, the lemon bars must seem like haute cuisine.”

Michael grins and we both watch Lindsay enter the diner, pushing Gus in his buggy. One of the cops gets up and approaches her, making me start a little in my seat. I’ve trained myself not to react to the police presence. Most of them know that I’m working for their boss and leave me alone. The hard part is not to deliberately provoke them in any way. But here are Lindsay and Gus and I’m suddenly very alert.

“You don’t want to come in here, ma’am,” the cop says to her jovially. “This is no place for a lady. Or a child.” He bends down and tickles Gus’ cheek, making me want to smack him.

“Really? Why?” Lindsay looks around as if she’s trying to detect a hidden danger. Just why she includes checking the ceiling for that is another question.

“The customers aren’t suitable.”

Lindsay nods and smiles the deceptively sweet smile that she does so well. “Oh, thank you for pointing that out to me, officer. But I’m meeting my wife here and she’s a black belt, so I think I’ll be safe.” She pushes the buggy forward vigorously, forcing the cop to move out of the way in a hurry or get his foot run over, and makes her way to the back of the diner.

There are chuckles from the other patrons, although there aren’t many of them to begin with and most don’t want to draw attention to themselves in this new climate. The cop glares after her with a disgusted look and sits back down, telling his colleague loudly that DFS should have more powers to remove children from unfit mothers. I roll in my lips and take Gus when Lindsay hands him over.

“I’m tired of it,” Lindsay says quietly. “We can’t be ourselves anywhere anymore.” She gives me a long look full of accusation.

“It’ll all calm down after the election. He’s just making a statement.”

“And what if it doesn’t?”

It’s time to leave. In fact, recently it’s nearly always time to leave as soon as any of my friends turn up. With all the stress I’m under and the added hardship of having to deal with Stockwell on a daily basis, I just want to relax when I’m not working, but my friends have other ideas. To them it’s their life, not a job, and I inevitably end up in the firing line. It usually makes our interactions at the moment unpleasant at best.

But here’s Gus, whom I only see sporadically, and I can’t bring myself to walk away. So I just utter a confident, “It will,” and concentrate on my son. That always mellows Lindsay, who ends up smiling as she watches me and talks to Michael about Melanie’s health. Then the object of their conversation turns up, glaring at the cops on her way in, and I decide that enough is enough, hand Gus back to Lindsay and leave. It’s pretty much the same every time I meet them.

But where things get really hot is with you. I’ve long since given up on telling myself that I should stop fucking you. I’m Brian Kinney and I can do whatever I please. If I want to fuck you every time we meet, who’s to tell me otherwise? I’m not the one with the boyfriend, so I don’t have to account to anyone. And if it doesn’t interfere with my work, it’s no one’s business. Okay, so the only reason it doesn’t interfere with my work is because we work mainly from the loft and always get the fuck out of the way first. It’s just easier than working with a constant boner. And if by the time we finish working, the tension between us has grown to require another fuck or three, then what’s the harm in that?

I feel like I’m kind of suspended in time. I just have to get through the weeks until the election somehow. After that, things will go back to normal. Liberty Avenue will no longer be in the spotlight of ambitious politicians. My friends will calm down and forget what I did – they always do. You’ll be off on another job. And I will be working on launching the New York office. Nothing is permanent, so nothing matters.

But the fact remains that, apart from my few dealings with Michael and Lindsay, you’re pretty much the only person I talk to at length outside work. I’m a bit surprised how available you are. Not only are you always willing to fuck, you’re also around a lot. We work together most afternoons and then spend the evenings together and quite a few nights, too. I’m beginning to wonder if you’re even still dating Ethan, but I’m staying well clear of the subject. You really are good company, independent of the fact that you’re almost my only company at the moment.

The day after the breakfast at the diner, I step into Stockwell’s office, which is depressingly familiar to me by now, and find you there as well as the usual suspects. I didn’t expect to see you until later on in the day and wonder what’s going on.

“Ah, Brian,” Jim says in his booming voice. “Please, tell Mr. Gold here how valuable some publicity would be for the campaign.”

I look at the only guy in the room I’ve not met before, a short, slightly stocky guy with dark curly hair and a weird patch of hair on his chin. He looks as much like a teenager as you do and his dark eyes are trained on me with obvious dislike, giving him a sulky look. So this is the elusive boyfriend and he doesn’t look quite as indifferent to what’s going on as you’ve led me to believe. He seems just one step removed from a temper tantrum. I can only hope that there won’t be a scene.

I stretch out my hand and smile down at Ethan, who’s sitting in one of the soft chairs in front of Stockwell’s desk. “Hey, I’m Brian Kinney. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Gold.”

Ethan looks at my hand and hesitates for a moment. You’re standing beside him and now touch his shoulder a little, a gesture hidden from everyone else’s view by my body. That makes Ethan finally stretch out his hand and I shake it gently, taking care not to squeeze too tightly when I notice the bandage around it.

Then I ignore the wet blanket that is your boyfriend and put some physical distance between us by stepping over to the side of the desk. “So, what’s this all about?”

It seems that Stockwell’s team want Ethan to go public with his father’s donation, but he refuses, saying that his father insists on staying anonymous. That’s a shame because getting the reclusive Nathanial Goldstein behind the campaign would be a great publicity coup for its sheer rarity. Even just focusing on his son would be enough, but Ethan seems horrified, almost panicked, by the idea. Mostly he doesn’t seem very interested in the proceedings at all, watching me closely and leaving the talking to you. I try my best to change his mind but to no avail. And however much you might agree with me, your influence over Ethan, and especially Ethan’s father, doesn’t reach that far.

The contrast between the two of you couldn’t be starker. It isn’t just the light and dark coloring, it’s your whole personalities. Ethan is sullen and withdrawn, barely answering questions with more than one word. He obviously takes after his father. You, on the other hand, are your usual chatty and friendly self. It becomes obvious very quickly that everyone in the office is quite taken with you, even that Warner bitch. You know everyone’s name and talk to them as if you’ve known them for a long time. I can’t make up my mind whether to admire or despise you for playing to the audience – this audience in particular. But then again, don’t I do the same? Maybe I'm just not used to not being considered the most charming person in the room.

When you leave, I watch you and Ethan walk along the corridor and even though you’re not touching, your relationship is there to see – at least to me. It feels like there’s something odd about it, as if the power is definitely on your side, despite Ethan holding all the cards, but I dismiss it as unimportant. Unless Ethan is as well-preserved as you are and older than he looks, you have at least three years on him, so maybe it’s natural. My main interest is that I’ve nothing to fear from him – in any respect.

“Why does he have a different name from his father?” I ask.

“He’s a musician. Violin, I think,” one of Stockwell’s advisors says. “He was worried that it would be an embarrassment to his father, so he changed his name to Gold.”

“Is he any good?” someone asks.

“Not with that wrist,” I say laconically. “Shame he won’t play ball. It would be good to have Goldstein on your official sponsor list. Still, you’ve got his cash. That’ll have to be good enough.”

“Haven’t got it yet,” Stockwell mutters, slightly annoyed. He always is when he can’t get his own way.

“I thought he contributed to your campaign?”

“He will. Only, all his money is tied up in trusts. He won’t be able to free such a large amount until two weeks before the election. Still, it can pay for the last spurt of the campaign. The last weeks are always the most expensive.”

I don’t really know anything about campaign financing and I’m glad that I don’t have anything to do with it. I push all of that, including Ethan Gold, from my mind and turn to the speech at the Chamber of Commerce that Stockwell will be giving this afternoon. This one’s easy. He’ll be preaching to the choir.




I rest my forehead between your slightly damp shoulder blades and ride out my orgasm before I finally pull out. Tying off the condom and lying back on the bed, I look at the ceiling with a satisfied smile. This is always so good. Maybe it’s because I don’t often fuck in the comfort of my own bed anymore, or maybe it’s because you’re really good at this, but either way I find myself looking forward to it when I know that you’ll be around later. Then again, I always look forward to my next fuck.

You sigh a little and twist around, coming to rest pressed against my skin. That’s another thing I enjoy, that we almost always end up naked, even if it’s just a quick fuck before we start working. It’s such a change from my usual fucks in the backroom with my pants just lowered enough to do the trick. I’ve even got used to the conversations afterwards. We usually spend a while talking about unrelated things. I find myself more inclined to talk when I’m relaxed after a fuck and you’re unusually mellow as well.

“What happened to Ethan’s hand?” I ask the first thing that comes into my head when my body has come down from its high and my mind starts drifting.

“He broke it.” There’s a long pause and I already think the subject’s closed when you continue. “We were having an argument on the stairs to our apartment. There was a scuffle and he slipped and fell.”

I hear a complete subtext in your voice. Normally, I can only read Michael just by the sound of his voice, but I’ve spent so much time with you over the last few weeks that I’ve become very adept at reading your moods. This is rare, this sadness. Usually you’re indefatigably cheerful.

“Will he be able to play again? He’s a violinist, isn’t he?” I would never admit that I googled Ethan after our encounter in the morning. I found some basic information about his father and that Ethan’s studying the violin, and there were even some youtube videos of his performances. I refrained from watching those. I can’t stand violin music.

“He needs to do more physical therapy. But he’s too depressed for that at the moment.”

“And that makes you depressed as well,” I say, picking up on your mood. “Do you feel guilty?”

“Yeah, I do. I didn’t mean to push him. It was an accident. But he still ended up with a broken wrist because of me.”

“And if he would just do his therapy, he would recover. His daddy’s rich enough to pay for the best there is. He’s making his own pain. You shouldn’t let him suck you into that.” It’s the first time I’m trying in any way to involve myself in what I deem your private life. In general, we never mention Ethan.

Whatever your response to that may have been, it’s cut off by a loud knock on the door. I can’t imagine who it could be at two o’clock in the afternoon, when only the people in the office know that I’m working from home. Taking a deep breath, I heave myself out of bed and get dressed, while you pick up your clothes and disappear into the bathroom.

I quickly spread the covers into a semblance of order and go to answer the door. There, I’m confronted with Lindsay, who shoves Gus into my arms, and walks into the loft, carrying two large bags, saying, “Cynthia told me you’re home. Which is good because I need you to watch Gus for a couple of hours.”

“Why? Where are you going?” I don’t even ask what made her call my office during the day in the first place. Was she hoping I would drop everything and come running to babysit for her or that I wouldn’t mind Gus crawling around my desk while I work? This had better be some kind of emergency.

“Our babysitter got sick and I have to go to…” She stops when you come down the stairs from the bathroom. Then she turns and looks at me with an ironic smile. “You call this work?”

“We are working. Which is why I can’t babysit.” I smile down at my son and make a face, which makes him laugh.

“Is this your son?” You smile broadly at Gus, leaning in close to me to get a better look.

Lindsay glares at you, obviously none too pleased with some stranger around her child. “Brian. I need to go to a meeting at the GLC. You know Mel and I are on the committee. If you could tear yourself away from your… entertainment and concentrate on your son for a little while, I would greatly appreciate it.”

“Lindsay, this is Justin. He and I are wor-king.”

Lindsay’s demeanor changes instantly. She smiles widely and introduces herself to you, saying that she’s heard a lot about you. And you immediately start a conversation with her about the difficulty of finding decent child care facilities. I roll my eyes.

“Lindsay,” I say louder than intended. “Justin and I are here to work. I can’t look after Gus. And anyway, it wouldn’t be in my best interest to babysit for you. Not only would I then not be working for my client, I would also allow you to work against him.”

“I didn’t know you put politics above your son.”

I roll my eyes again at the obvious attempt at emotional blackmail, but before I can answer, you suggest that it will really be no problem to keep an eye on Gus while we’re working or to suspend work until Lindsay gets back if need be. By the end of that sentence, you’ve already taken Gus from my arms, unwrapped three layers of outer clothes and set him down on the rug. Lindsay is spreading toys everywhere and explaining the intricacies of bottle and baby food heating – to you.

Normally, I don’t let anyone ride roughshod over me, but I felt a small pang of regret at the thought of having to say no on one of the few occasions that the munchers are trusting me with Gus’ care, so I let it slide. Lindsay, who normally likes to linger, is out of the loft before I can change my mind. When I turn around from shutting the door behind her, you’re already sitting cross-legged on the rug ‘talking’ to Gus, thankfully in your normal voice and using ordinary words instead of annoying baby talk.

“Do you even know anything about kids?” I ask, wandering over and sitting down on the couch.

“I had a younger sister.”

“What happened?”

“Huh?” You look up from playing with the child, seeming a little confused.

“You said ‘had’.”

“Oh.” You blush a little and bite your bottom lip. “She died. Car accident. When she was four.”

I nod and don’t quite know what to say. I refuse to utter platitudes like ‘I’m sorry’ when it’s neither my fault, nor would it change anything. And I can see that you’re upset at the mere mention of your sister and change the subject.

Naturally, we don’t get much work done for the rest of afternoon. Gus is a very active and inquisitive child and the loft isn’t exactly child-proof. For a while, you entertain him with magic tricks. It’s easy to impress a small child by pulling toy cars seemingly out of his ear, but I can’t see how you do it either. I watch you intently and every time I’m surprised where the object comes from when it seemed to be somewhere else a second ago.

“Where did you learn to do that?”

“My mother bought me a magic set when I was a kid. It’s really not that difficult. It’s all about misdirection and sleight of hand.” It seems to be a habit of yours to be dismissive of your talents. I think it’s a pretty impressive party trick.

After Gus has eaten some food, he tires a little and ends up sitting on my lap, watching some child-friendly cartoon, designed to teach him his numbers. I should be bored, especially since Gus gets very upset if anybody talks during this very important program, but I find that I’m enjoying myself. I kiss his little fingers, which come up to cover my mouth whenever I say a word, and idly watching you draw in the big chair, I realize that Pittsburgh’s maybe not as bad as I thought. I certainly haven’t been as bored recently.

When Lindsay returns, her mood has changed to anger. I’ve noticed before that my friends take out their frustration over what’s happening in their lives on me, never more so than when they’ve all been together and talked about it at length. It’s as if without me working for Stockwell, their lives would be a gay paradise. I get it. I’m the only concrete target they have.

She starts immediately on the subject, roping you in as her support. Whoever told her ‘a lot’ about you, obviously failed to fill her in on a few minor details. So I take great satisfaction in telling her that you’re working for ‘the enemy’ as well. After that, she throws all of Gus’s toys into the bags and leaves without much more than a curt thank you.

The loft seems very quiet after that.

“She’s right, you know,” you say then. “Stockwell’s destroying everything the gay community has accomplished over the years. He will quash Liberty Avenue.”

I’m reluctant to give you the usual spiel about how everything will calm down after the election. You’re intelligent enough to work that one out by yourself. But I also can’t stand the idea that I will lose the one person I can talk to freely at the moment.

“Then why are you working for him?”

“I need the job.”

“So do I. When all this is over, Vangard will be in a position to open an office in New York. And I’ll be out of this dump.”

You look at me for a while. “Sometimes you have to bend your principles a little to achieve your goals. I get that. The question is how far do we have to go?”

I hear subtext again, but I’m not entirely sure what it means in this case. I twirl my hand in an encouraging gesture for you to expand your point.

“I’ve watched Stockwell’s campaign from the very beginning. He was well behind until you came along. It’s pretty obvious that he wouldn’t be anywhere near where he’s now without you. Your campaign’s sheer brilliance.”

That’s exactly what all my friends are saying, that Stockwell couldn’t win without me. That I’m the one who makes it possible for the community to be destroyed. But I don’t want to hear it from you as well. Abruptly, I turn to pour myself a drink. “You’re working for him as well.”

“I’m aware of that,” you say unhappily. “But let’s be honest, we’re both gay and we’re helping a homophobic prick, who’s hell-bent on chasing us back into the shadows.”

“Haven’t you heard? We’re all going to hell anyway.” I drink my JB without turning around.

You ignore my sarcasm. “What I’m asking myself is this: if it’s so obvious that it’s your campaign that’s boosting him up, how far does it have to go?”

Now I turn and look at you. “What are you getting at?”

You’ve never looked so serious before. “I mean, you and I rely on people taking notice of the campaign, so they can see how brilliant we are, or rather, you are. The question is, does Stockwell actually have to win for them to do that? Or would it be enough for him to almost win?”

“You’re nuts. It’s tough enough to run a campaign that works. It would be impossible to run one so that it almost works.”

You nod, deferring to my judgment like you always do. “It was just a thought.”

And what a thought it was. I can’t get it out of my head for a few days. It’s true that Stockwell doesn’t have to actually win to make me a success. Everything will be easier and virtually guaranteed if he does, but a near win would be almost as impressive for my – and your – reputation. This is mainly due to the fact that he was trailing so far behind when I approached him. That was the whole point. If Deekins had been that far behind, I’d be working for him right now, although his sponsors are nowhere near as impressive.

But the fact remains that it’s impossible to pitch the campaign just right to achieve that. There’s always the possibility that Stockwell will notice or that it won’t be enough. Advertising just isn’t that sensitive a tool.

And I’m ambitious. I want to win because I always want to win. Although maybe my dislike for Stockwell and everything he stands for could possibly outweigh my professional pride in this case. I’m already dreading the guy’s smarmy victory speech afterwards, so not having to listen to any of that would be good. But there’s always New York. Opening an office there may be possible with an almost win, but it isn’t a given. I’ve outgrown Pittsburgh. I know that. The thought of having to stay here makes me want to scream.

And if I can’t get away, there’s no guarantee that things will return to normal. My friends may take a lot longer to be forgiving this time than I’m expecting them to, which will be fine if I’m in New York, but pretty irritating if I have to stay here for some reason. And even if they stop treating me like a leper straight away, what would that really mean? They all have their own little families now. I don’t. I don’t want one. And the only person who made the last few weeks bearable will no longer be here either. What you and I are doing at the moment has a limited shelf life. After the election, we’ll go our separate ways. At some point Ethan will no longer put up with his boyfriend taking a walk on the wild side. And if you decide you want to continue, do I really want that? Because then you will want me to be your boyfriend and that isn’t part of the plan. However untethered I feel, it’s by choice. If there’s a home to be had anywhere, I will make one in New York, with new people and new challenges. And without being tied down by anyone, however good the sex or pleasant the company is.

There really is no alternative. I can’t risk getting stuck in Pittsburgh. It may be less than palatable to me but Stockwell has to win.



******JJJJJJ******



Daphne looks tired from her nightshift when she comes in. On the way home from the loft, I bought bagels and Starbucks coffee and have set out breakfast on the kitchen table. I’m dreading having to go into the bedroom because I know Ethan will manage to make me feel guilty without ever saying a word.

Daphne staggers exaggeratedly into her seat, saying, “Coffee,” like it’s the only drop of water in a desert.

I smile at her. We’ve been friends since we were in kindergarten and living together and fending for ourselves for the last four years has only cemented our friendship. We’re closer than I am to Ethan, especially since the accident, when he changed so radically. Not that Daphne liked him much better before that. But she agreed to let him move in with us because I convinced her. I’m good at that.

“How was work?”

Daphne looks up at my question. “Okaaay,” she says, noticing the signs. She always notices the signs just by the inflection in my voice. It’s uncanny and very comforting. “What’s up? You seem upset.”

“Not exactly upset. I fucked up yesterday.”

She puts down her coffee, instantly alarmed. “Fucked up how?”

“I told Brian about Molly. I know, I know…” I raise my hands in a pacifying gesture. “It just slipped out. I was distracted by his kid. He asked what I know about kids and I told him I used to have a sister.”

“And?”

“I told him the truth. That she died in an accident when she was four. And that was it. He didn’t ask any questions. Luckily, he’s not really interested in my personal life.”

“Still. You don’t forget stuff like that.”

“I know. I said I fucked up. Hopefully, it’ll be all right. It’s only a few weeks to go.”

“Justin, you have to make sure that he doesn’t get too close. You know that. It’s bad enough that you fell for the guy.”

What? I haven’t fallen for him. It’s just… we’re working together most days and he’s really sexy. It’s a guy thing…”

“Justin. I may not be a guy or gay, but I know you. You’ve fallen for him.” She doesn’t look any happier about it than I am.

“Well, maybe a little. But I know that nothing can come of it. And when the time comes, I’ll walk away.”

Can you promise that?

Both of us turn to look at Ethan standing in the doorway. He’s dressed in yesterday’s clothes, which have obviously been slept in, looking at me with reproach and I curse myself for my carelessness. But at least in my own home, I wish that I wouldn’t have to mind my words. I don’t with Daphne, but Ethan is an altogether different matter. Especially at the moment, when he needs to be handled with such care. I wonder how I’d feel if Ethan had someone else he fucked on a regular basis and find that I wouldn’t mind, except for the obvious pitfalls in our situation. But on the whole it would be a relief not to be Ethan’s sole focus any longer.

I smile a soft smile. “I promise.” And it’s the truth. I won’t have much choice, even if my own situation was different. I’m under no illusion that you’ll want to continue what we’re doing beyond the election. You said as much on occasion. You want to go to New York and that blinkers you completely to your surroundings.

Ethan nods. “Come to bed,” he says simply and shuffles back to our bedroom.

Daphne pulls a face at his back for the first time in a long while. “He’s got to go, Justin,” she says tiredly. “He’s driving me up the wall. Just the sheer fact that I’m never alone anymore because he never fucking leaves the apartment.”

“Just give it a bit more time,” I say gently. “Actually, I wanted to discuss something else with you.”

She raises her eyebrows questioningly, while she spreads butter on a bagel. Then she puts it down and sips her coffee. She always finds it hard to eat something when she’s so tired after working nights at the hospital, no matter how hungry she is. Food also makes it difficult for her to sleep. Coffee, on the other hand, seems to have the opposite effect it should have.

“I want to stop Stockwell from winning the election. The idea that a guy like that becomes mayor goes against everything I believe in.”

What? You’re nuts. You don’t exactly believe in a lot of things, Justin, and this is where you want to make your stand? How would that even work? You can’t mess up your work on purpose. Brian would never allow that.”

I smile at the thought that me being ‘nuts’ seems to be the general consensus. Maybe I am. I always suspected that I’m slightly manic. I tend to take on tasks that make other people shudder when they even think about it. I know Daphne is concerned about me. She was when I told her that I wanted to do this job and she’s even more so now when you’re involved, albeit for different reasons. Over the years, she has always been my voice of sanity, stopping me from taking too many risks and I’ve learned that I’d do well to heed her warnings. I know that she’s right about Ethan, just as she’s right about you.

“If you don’t want to help Stockwell win, just chuck in your job. It’s not too late. We can find something else.”

“But then he would win regardless. He doesn’t need me. We bribed him to accept me. All he needs is Brian.”

She sighs. “What are you planning this time?”

I’m not quite sure of that yet, so I just grin and give a one-shouldered shrug. Daphne rolls her eyes and gets up, coffee in hand. “Please, be careful, Justin. This is really big. You’re trying to keep too many balls up in the air. It’s too much. We’ll talk about it later. For now I’m going to bed. Maybe all this will look slightly less crazy when I’m not so exhausted.”

I have my doubts about that.




PART FOUR HERE: http://kachelofen.livejournal.com/26153.html




Date: 2013-06-03 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-eyedstar.livejournal.com
Oh wow! I was only expecting this tomorrow! What a lovely surprise! ❤❤❤❤❤

Date: 2013-06-04 02:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yes, it's a little early. I'm glad you're not upset about that. :-DDDD

Thank you.

Date: 2013-06-03 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheburashka-2.livejournal.com
Yay, an update! And what an awesome one - the plot, as they say, thickens. Can't wait to read more.

Cheers,
Vin

Date: 2013-06-04 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yes, it's getting thicker, but not quite as thick as it'll get.

Thank you, Vin.

Date: 2013-06-03 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] itzy68.livejournal.com
Great chapter I want to know more about what Justin is after ;)
How many chapters are this story?

Date: 2013-06-04 02:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
There are 10 parts to the story. Well, actually it's 9 1/2 and an epilogue, because Part 10 is very short.

Thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Date: 2013-06-03 08:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thecrunchie.livejournal.com
I have been so sucked in by this fic! Can't wait for more! :D

Date: 2013-06-04 02:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Thank you. More soon.

PS: Love the icon. :-)

Date: 2013-06-04 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thecrunchie.livejournal.com
Looking forward to it! :)

I'm terrible because I steal icons from people and places, meaning to give credit but then I always forget where I stole them from! *sigh* :(

Date: 2013-06-04 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Terrible habit, isn't it? I do the same. In fact I think I might steal some from you because I love this one as well. :-DDDD

Date: 2013-06-04 04:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thecrunchie.livejournal.com
Always happy to share the joy (and encourage other peoples bad habits)! :D

Date: 2013-06-03 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yumyumpm.livejournal.com
Okay, there is definitely a mystery going on here. We know that Justin's mother suffers from MS, his sister died in a car accident when she was four. That Justin bought a program and why do I get the feeling that Brian is somehow involved? There's a couple of missing pieces, so I'll just have to continue reading til they are all there. Wednesday sounds good for another piece. Though truthfully I'd wait as long as I have to.

Date: 2013-06-04 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yes, it's a bit of a mystery story. There are some more clues to come before all becomes clear.

Thank you. Have fun piecing the clues together until Wednesday. :-)

Date: 2013-06-03 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rulisteningbj.livejournal.com
I am so stumped. I can't figure out what Daph and Justin are up to. They certainly need to kick Ethan to the curb. Thanks for the early chapter.

Dee Deee

Date: 2013-06-04 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Oh yes, Ethan needs a good kick.

I'm always surprised that the readers don't work things out after the first three paragraphs or so, because, naturally, it's all so obvious to me. But I suppose that's only because I now where it's going. :-)

Thanks, Dee Dee

Date: 2013-06-04 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] armandyouidiot.livejournal.com
It is fun to see how everyone takes to Justin. Loved when they were watching Gus and he put his fingers over Brian's mouth. The cop in the diner was such an asshole. Lindsey's response was great. Brian makes me shake my head in disappointment but it is fascinating how he rationalizes what he is doing. I hope he takes it to heart that Stockwell doesn't have to win.

Date: 2013-06-04 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Justin seems to have a way with people, doesn't he? He kind of did on the show as well, I always thought.

This Brian is S3 Brian without being tempered by having had Justin in his life for the last two years. His ambition is paramount in his life. Let's hope he'll engage his brain and his conscience soon.

Thank you.

Date: 2013-06-04 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 95baker.livejournal.com
So the plot thickens. Molly died as a small child and this is a slip. Is Justin looking for revenge? Why would this involve Brian? Or does it involve Stockwell? Is this the reason for the different last name? But whatever Justin is looking for...did he intend to fall for Brian? Can he walk away? I hope not. But I am more than fine with him walking away from Ethan. I am with Daphne here. He has to go.

You have me puzzled and completely intrigued. Love how they are both falling down that hole without really wanting to admit it but neither really grabbing on to something to stop them.

Hugs,
Kate

Date: 2013-06-04 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Lots of questions and very few answers, I know. But all will be revealed. Justin is certainly trying to hide things from his past. There must be a reason that he's no longer going by Justin Taylor. I don't think he meant to fall for Brian. Maybe that's the biggest slip-up of them all?

Thank you, Kate.

Hugs,
Betty

Date: 2013-06-04 01:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] duffy-60.livejournal.com
OMG, what the hell is going on!!??

I love a mystery, and I so want to read the last page -- but I can't. :-))
And you're a day early. Good on ya, sweetie!

See you later this week.

Date: 2013-06-04 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
What the hell is going on? No clue. *whistles innocently* :-DDD

I'm glad you're enjoying the mystery, even if it's a little trying for your patience.

Thank you, Daphne ♥

Date: 2013-06-04 07:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] urugwaj.livejournal.com
I love surprises and mystery! And here is a lot of this :) Can't wait for next chapter!

Date: 2013-06-04 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I do hope there's more surprises in store for you. :-)

Thank you.

Date: 2013-06-04 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pet0511.livejournal.com
This really gets misty-twisty..... :-), can't say more because I have to wait where this is going. But I would think that Justin finds a way to convince Brian yet or something bad happens what makes Brian change his mind but omg please, don't come up with a killer again, you know and remember?
The scene with BJ, Lindsay and Gus in the loft just has everything I like.
Thanks for the chap and see you!!!
:-)
Pet

Date: 2013-06-04 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
As always I think it's obvious what's going on. But then again, I thought that before and you said something along the lines of "you're crazy, how could anyone guess that?". Lol. It's always fun to surprise people. And I promise I have no intention of killing anyone off.

Thanks, Pet. Hope you're ok. :-)

Betty

Date: 2013-06-04 02:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbow1907.livejournal.com
This story is just awesome :) Thanks for updating so fast, it's always great to know a story is already finished and there's no danger it might turn into a disappointingly abandonned WIP. I love the mysterious twist you're giving to Justin's background and it's fun to speculate about his motives. I'm looking forward to finding out what's up with him.
No idea what's up with LJ. I know others have no problems answering my comments, I'm getting other comments answered and nobody elso so far told me they're having problems with it. Weird... Hugs, Rena ♥

Date: 2013-06-04 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I feel the same way about abandoned WIPs. They are the bane of internet writing. I also think this story doesn’t lend itself to long breaks. You’d have to re-read the whole thing all the time if the breaks were too long. So that’s good for everyone, I suppose.

Thank you, Rena. ♥

So I’ll try and post this. See if it works today. Here goes nothing....

Date: 2013-06-04 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yay!!!!! It worked!!!!!

Date: 2013-06-04 03:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbow1907.livejournal.com
\o/ Hah! It worked!!!

Date: 2013-06-04 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hopperl.livejournal.com
Molly died in an accident. His past is getting more intriguing and the fact that he shouldn't be talking about it is even more intriguing.

Ethan reaching new levels of disgusting, which is impressive in itself.

I just can't imagine where this could all be going, and I love it. Can't wait for more. Of course that has been true about everything of yours I have read so far. :)

Date: 2013-06-04 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
All will become clear soon, my dear. :-D

Ethan is reaching new heights, is he? Lol. I wonder if it's even possible to write a story which makes people like Ethan. :-)

Thank you.

Date: 2013-06-05 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sjmpets.livejournal.com
Stockwell responsible for Molly's death? Justin retaliating?
Brian can see Ethan's manipulation, don't understand why Justin puts up with it. Can't be just guilt
Seems like he's hiding behind the relationship.
Brian's going to take that seed Justin planted and let it grow. Can't wait for Stockwell's humiliation. Thinking he's going to win yet doesn't. Oh so close to the brass ring.
Loved how Lindsay handled the cop.

Date: 2013-06-05 11:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Hey, that's an idea. Maybe Stockwell is secretly a serial killer? Lol. Don't worry all will be revealed soon.

Thank you.

Date: 2013-06-05 03:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zazuburgh.livejournal.com
Paging Mr. Taylor! Where's a schlocky electronics czar hiding when one wants him?

Interesting development, the well developed magic skills. Yet clever sleight of handy Justin was caught with his hand in a woman's purse? A woman who never noticed him, but he was seen by Carl. Was she really a woman unknown? Why is this incident so big a fear for them?

All this caper talk is just as confusing as you intend it to be. Justin' s job is not important to the mission, Ethan is. Justin is just now thinking of defeating Stockwell, it's a new thought? The big plan is different, the Ethan dad money (and does that dad know what is going on?) or its withholding will wreak revenge on something from the past, maybe auto accident related. Or not. We need details!

If Ethan began to ooze, he couldn't be worse. And well written with great economy, thank you very much.



Date: 2013-06-05 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I think I've gone a bit overboard with the obfuscating. :-D Not everything from Justin's past has a bearing on the present.

I'd say he was pretty good at pick-pocketing if the woman in question didn't notice. Carl must have been really on the ball that day.

Justin needs Ethan for this job because without him he wouldn't have a job to begin with. Stockwell wouldn't have given him the job without the donation. Although there may be more to it. Or not. Lol.

And I'm giggling inanely at the idea of Ethan oozing.

Thank you.

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