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AN: Almost all the chapters from here on in have only one POV. They were just getting too long to fit both POVs into one chapter. They are still alternating though. We start off with Justin.




I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW






PART SEVEN


“I never meant for it to happen.”

It’s a stupid thing to say, but it’s true. When I saw Jon again after the first fuck, I expected it to be awkward. I’ve been in these situations before. You fuck and one or the other would like it to be more. The only place where that doesn’t happen seems to be Babylon and even there I had to tell people to fuck off once or twice.

I’m not like Brian. I can’t just fuck someone and then pretend not to know them the next day. Especially not when I see them around a lot. That just doesn’t work for me. At first, I thought it wouldn’t work with Jon either, because when I got to my studio two days after we first fucked, he was busy welding. That’s always noisy and he has that mask on to protect his eyes, but I thought it quite possible that he was deliberately ignoring me. Then he looked up, smiled, raised his hand in greeting and carried on working. And that was that. It was as if it never happened.

And then Brian told me about Ben and he never came back to the loft that night or any other night for almost a week. Jon asked me what was bugging me and I told him. He has this really calm way about him, where he listens without looking at me and then just throws out an opinion. Or not if he doesn’t have one. He doesn’t try to convince me that he’s right, just tells it as he sees it and if I don’t follow up, he just strolls away again. This time all he said was, “You can’t really blame him for something that happened before he met you.”

I like him, I mean, really like him. He’s the type of guy I would go for if I wasn’t with Brian. Come to think of it, he’s a lot like Brian, quiet, a little aloof, self-sufficient. Only he’s not so cynical, more open and he makes it clear that he likes me and would like it to be more without pushing it. He’s not nearly as hot as Brian, of course, and the sex is slower and softer, like the sex I used to have before I met Brian.

So I fucked him again the day after Vic’s goodbye dinner and every day after that. It was just so easy and I kind of fell into it. Brian did his disappearing act that always makes me wonder if we’re really getting somewhere in our relationship. When he’s around, I can believe that he wants this, that he wants to be with me but when he isn’t, I have doubts.

So when Jon touched my arm during a conversation, just gently, almost accidentally – although it certainly wasn’t that – I just went with it. It was nice to be wanted and cherished by someone, who says, ‘you’re beautiful’ during a fuck, not ‘I’m gonna fuck you until you can’t sit down for a week’. Someone who asks how I’m feeling and doesn’t ridicule me when the answer is anything other than ‘horny’.

But deep down I know it isn’t right. It’s unfair to Jon even though he knows full well that I have no intention of leaving Brian. It’s unfair to Brian even if I know that he probably doesn’t care. And ultimately it doesn’t even make me feel better, on the contrary it makes me feel worse, because I’m cheating on Brian and using Jon. I really don’t like myself much at the moment.

“I was going to tell you.” It’s true. I don’t like this situation. Jon knows the score, it’s only fair that Brian does, too. Only, I’m not entirely sure what the score is.

“And take all the fun out of it?” Brian sneers at me – naturally. What else did I expect? Does he really think I get some kind of kick out of going behind his back? Would he, if the situation were reversed? We’re lying on the bed after round two and he moves onto his side, with his head propped up on his hand so he can look at me. His other hand moves over my body until he’s stroking my cock.

“So, how big is his dick?”

“That has nothing to do with it.”

“Since when? You love cock. You love…”

“Stop, Brian. I’m not discussing this with you. Yes, I love sex. But it’s not about that.” Which is part or maybe all of the problem.

His hand doesn’t stop and he’s watching me intently, while I find it harder and harder to concentrate on the conversation. I’m almost hard again already. No one can turn me on like Brian can. I often wonder if that is because he’s so intensely sexual or because of my feelings for him.

But some part of me doesn’t want this, wants to talk about the situation instead. When Brian came to the studio tonight, I was rattled. It wasn’t just that I didn’t expect him to turn up and was caught in the middle of a fuck – that would have been embarrassing with anyone – but I also suddenly realized what I was doing, that I was effectively two-timing him.

I knew that Brian would know straight away what Jon and I were doing. He’s not stupid, plus he always expects everyone to fuck all the time anyway, like he does. I wanted to tell him myself, but failing that, I wanted to get a reaction. And I did. He snarked about the rules and then he kissed me like he never kissed me before. I swear I was close to coming just from that kiss alone. Then he fucked me, on the floor, just by the front door. It was fast, hard and a little rough. But it was real. It was a reaction and it made me feel claimed, owned. I needed that from him.

Then we moved to the bed and did it all over again. Sex with Brian is always fantastic, nothing compares. But at the moment I really need him to show me that he’s affected by what happened in some way. No, that’s not true. He has shown me, I need him to say it.

“It’s different from tricking. If you did the same to me, I'd be upset.”

He looks at me and he looks exactly how I would feel in his situation, hurt, disappointed, angry. For a moment it looks like he'll say something, tell me that he’s upset or that he wants me to stop seeing Jon, or that I should stick to the rules – anything will do.

“Lucky I’m not you then. You do what you have to do.”

And then he kisses me, slowly at first, then more and more desperately and I realize that this is the most I will ever get from him. If I told him to leave, he would get up and go without any hesitation. But I don’t want him to leave. I want him to tell me that he wants me to himself. That’s all he has to do. But, as always, I have to make do with what he’s giving me: sex, mind-blowing, passionate, beautiful, but wordless. And I really want it to be enough.




Jon nods when I tell him that I can’t have sex with him any longer. “Thought so.” He pats my arm and ambles back to his work bench. Well, that was unexpected. Maybe it shouldn’t have been, but I’m beginning to wonder if anybody will ever find me worth fighting for. It’s crazy. I should be happy that there‘s no ugly drama and instead I’m pondering what it means that the two guys in my life can walk away from me with not much more than a shrug.

But over the next two weeks I can see the advantage in that. Jon behaves like he did before we started fucking. He’s as friendly as he always was, doesn’t try to flirt and the only difference is that we don’t talk much about Brian any longer. Brian turns up at the loft every night at exactly three o’clock, showers and then fucks me for as long as I can keep awake. In the mornings he chats as if nothing ever happened and not once does he mention Jon.

I’ve been extremely busy at work as we were nearing the opening for our emerging artist show. This is the first time I’m nervous about having my work shown. Up until now, I didn’t have any hopes or expectations. Selling art in Pittsburgh is really not very exciting. The paintings that I’ve sold so far have gone to private collectors and didn’t leave the slightest ripple in the art world. But this time there will be a critic from New York and that’s a whole different ball game.

Sidney and I decided that it will be better for me if nobody knows that I’m the gallery manager. It might give the impression that I only got my work displayed because I work here. So tonight I’m just standing around like the rest of the artists and the guests, itching to tell that waiter with the canapés to stop cruising and get on with his work. But when he catches my eye and I glare at him, he seems to get the message anyway.

Mom’s here, of course, beaming with pride and telling me that my stuff is the best in the room. I do agree, but I know she’d say that even if it wasn’t true. Daphne turns up with Steve, holding hands and looking radiantly happy. I never thought I’d see the day when Daphne falls in love. It makes me happy just to see her whisper in Steve’s ear and laugh with him. I like him, but if he ever hurts her in any way, I’m willing to bury his body where no one will ever find it. Luckily he seems just as smitten with her.

The critic from New York talked to me earlier. He seemed to be interested in my work, but I have enough experience to know that he was really more interested in my ass. He’s a real cunt, but an influential one, so I played nice. He went to look at the other work for a while and drink the free wine, but he keeps coming back to me, talking conspiratorially about the other artwork as if only he and I have a real understanding of it. Like I thought, a cunt.

Ben and Michael are here, too. Michael looks a little sullen, but he’s gracious enough about my art, if totally clueless as to what he’s even looking at. Ben has a better handle on it and we chat for a while. He's written a book – albeit with limited success – so he knows how nerve-wracking it is to have your work judged by other people. We've spoken on the phone since Vic’s dinner and neither of us have a problem with what happened with Brian. Michael, however, is a different matter. Ben told me that he keeps interrogating him about what the fuck was like. I really thought Michael was over that. Ben, on the other hand, doesn’t seem terribly surprised.

Lindsay has turned up with Melanie and she’s gushing over my paintings. I wish I could believe that she’s as sincere as she sounds. This is always the problem among artists, too much envy. But I can appreciate that she’s making an effort and we haven’t really talked much since she slept with Brian, so she may just feel a little awkward. I haven’t talked to anyone about the baby, although I’m convinced that they all talk about it enough amongst themselves. I’m just not sure if any of them know that it wasn’t planned. They probably think that Lindsay had her fondest wish realized and that Mel and I gave our tacit approval, because there was nothing we could do about it anyway. Just how anybody could believe that Brian would agree is beyond me. But they seem to sense at least that I’m not happy about it, so it doesn’t get mentioned. Small blessings.

Even Melanie and I tiptoe around each other a little. I think she’s still worried about what Brian will do in the end, but she wouldn’t discuss that with me, not after our last conversation on the subject. That’s fine by me. I just wish that Lindsay would get a clue and see what she has in Melanie. At the moment, Melanie merely looks at my paintings for a long time, then smiles and says, “You’re damn good. If you ever decide to paint something for me, feel free. I could finance my retirement with the proceeds when the time comes.”

Ted talks to me for a little while, sipping water and eating canapés. He hasn’t touched any alcohol or drugs since that druggie put him in a coma over three years ago. I’m not even entirely sure if he got laid since then. Naturally, Brian got the blame for what happened because he introduced Ted to the guy that night. Well, at least Debbie said something about it once when she was upset about Michael. As if Brian wasn’t feeling guilty enough about it already. Not that he ever talks about it, but I know. Then Ted spots Melanie and wanders over there.

Emmett was here for all of five minutes. He had some guy in tow and obviously more important things on his mind than staring at pretty pictures. I don’t mind. It was nice of him to show his support.

Jon asked me yesterday if he could have an invitation. I just laughed and told him that this is Pittsburgh and we’re lucky to get people through the door in the first place, so no, there aren’t any invitations. He looks rather handsome in his suit tonight and I’m glad he’s here. We’re friends and it’s nice to have someone to talk to who is an artist himself.

Then Brian turns up, fashionably late as always. He and Lindsay must have got closer again because he makes a beeline for her, kissing her cheek and exchanging a few unpleasantries with Melanie, by the looks of it. He just can’t leave it be, although I’m sure Melanie gives as good as she gets. She always does. Of all our friends she was the one person I never worried about getting upset over Brian, annoyed yes, but not hurt. I thought she simply didn’t care about him enough. But then, of course, he found a way.

Brian wanders over to Michael, but for once Michael doesn’t look too pleased about it. Their conversation is short and this must be the first time ever that I’ve seen Michael turn away first. He must have learned how to hold a grudge from his mother.

My heart beats a little faster when Brian turns towards me and comes over. He looks incredible in dark slacks and a white button down shirt. He could have stepped straight off the pages of a fashion magazine, complete with the deliberately mussed hair and the aloof look. But my heart would speed up no matter what he looks like. It’s Brian. Even after four years, I get excited when I see him. Every single time.

He kisses me a little too enthusiastically, but I expected that. Then he greets Jon with a short nod. “This it?” he asks, turning towards my painting.

“Yeah. What do you think?” Since I’ve started renting a studio, he doesn’t often get to see my work any longer. He used to watch me sometimes, when I painted at the loft, but nowadays he just sees it in leaps and bounds when he picks me up from PIFA.

“Why the fuck would you care what I think? It wouldn’t make it better or make you richer, if I liked it. And you have your own art critic right here.” He indicates to Jon. “It really doesn’t matter what I think, does it?”

I want to tell him that it matters to me. It always has. But I just bite my tongue and look at the floor, wishing that the night was over already. I don’t want to be here any longer. He puts his arm around my shoulders, pulling me closer and kissing my temple. I can smell the alcohol on him.

“It’s exquisite,” he says emphatically and I know that he means it.

I smile.

Then he looks around the room. “Now if you excuse me, I saw a waiter earlier, who looked in need of my attention. I’ll be home later, dear.” And then he’s off, heading straight for the guy with the canapés, who smiles and follows without hesitation at whatever suggestion Brian whispers into his ear. I will have to make sure that we never hire him again. He’s here to work, not to fuck in the bathrooms.

“He’s not, is he?” Jon asks with a disbelieving frown, following Brian and canapés-boy with his eyes until they disappear in the back.

“Yeah, he is.” I don’t know why he's so surprised. We’ve talked about Brian at length. Didn’t he believe me?

But Jon is already back to his usual laconic self. “Ah well, we make our choices and we pay our dues.”

I have no idea what he means by that, but when I look at him, he just smiles softly at me and walks away. I don’t have time to think about it either because Daphne and Steve join me almost immediately.

“Brian up to his old tricks again?” she asks and she doesn’t seem amused for once.

“Never old, Daph. Or ugly.”

“In that case, I suspect he'll run out before long,” Steve says in a deadpan voice.

We all look at each other for a few moments, then burst out laughing at the same time. It’s the single most enjoyable moment of the night.

It turns out that gallery showings are not at all what I expected. I’ve always enjoyed opening nights. Usually I’m insanely busy, making sure that everything runs smoothly and fixing last minute hitches. I never realized how boring it is to stand around near your work on the off chance that someone will want to talk to you about it or, if you’re really lucky, want to buy it. There’s some interest in my stuff, more than there is for any of the others, but I can’t shift the feeling that my paintings stand out only because they’re displayed in a mediocre environment. If the other art was more remarkable, maybe no one would even look at mine. And if the other artists were hot and gay, Simon Caswell wouldn’t be so interested in me.

But I’m wrong. Very wrong. When I get to work three weeks later, Lisa, our receptionist beams at me. “Did you see it?”

“See what?”

“You’re only in Art Forum.” She hands me the magazine, which just came out today. My copy of it will no doubt be waiting for me in my mail box when I get home. I thumb through it with shaky hands until she says, “Page 19.” She seems incredibly excited.

And there I am, complete with a photograph of me taken on the night and two large pictures of my paintings. I’m slack-jawed as I skim-read the article, which is spread in full color over two pages. The art critic cunt really did an impressive job. Impressive in that he’s using a lot of superfluously long words to describe my work and doesn’t leave anyone in any doubt that if I ever become famous, I will have him to thank for it. Caswell makes it sound as if he and I are best buddies and I wonder if people in the business will think that we fucked. Quite frankly he couldn’t have been more complimentary if I had agreed to his offer to ‘have a drink’ in his hotel room after the opening.

Everybody is really excited for me all day and I eventually get caught up in it, wanting to call everyone I ever met and tell them about it. Sidney has already trebled the prices on my paintings. A write-up in Art Forum for anyone in the show would have been a great success, but he’s even more pleased because I’m so closely connected to the gallery. He’s expecting this to give his business a boost and he’s probably right. It will bring in a lot of visitors.

By the end of the day, the excitement has left me tired but happy. I’m surprised to see Brian turn up. He often picks me up from PIFA because he has the Jeep more often than not, whereas the gallery is close to the loft, so it’s rare for him to come here. But when I’ve locked up the back and walk through the gallery switching off the lights, there he is, standing in front of my paintings.

“Hey.”

“Hey. What are doing here?”

“Admiring Sidney’s business sense.” He nods towards the new price tag.

I have to laugh. Brian takes my hand and pulls me towards the door. “Come. I’m starving.”

I want to tell him about the article, but I remember how he reacted when I asked him if he liked my paintings and I don’t want to spoil my good mood, or his. So I just follow him for a couple of blocks, listening to him talk about one of his lecturers, who has a habit of telling lengthy irrelevant anecdotes during class. Strangely enough Brian actually makes it sound funny, even though the point of the story is that it’s not.

Then he ushers me into a restaurant, where he gives his name and we’re shown to a table. We’ve been here before, usually on special occasions. Those would be when there’s something to celebrate, like exam results and such like, because this is Brian and celebrating things like anniversaries or, God help him, Valentine’s Day is out of the question. It’s a little more up-market than what we’re used to but not so much as to be stuffy. Brian orders some wine and while we’re perusing the menu, I marvel at how much he’s changed from our first meal together in Chicago. Then, he didn’t know anything about wine or food or how to order with just the right amount of confidence without coming over as an arrogant jerk. Now it seems second nature to him. He’s come a long way in some respects.

When we’ve ordered and the wine has arrived, he raises his glass to me. “To the next Andy Warhol.”

I smile. “You’ve seen the article?”

“Lindsay showed it to me in class.”

He drinks some of his wine and asks, “Is it as big a deal as she says?”

I nod. “Yeah, I suppose it is.” It’s a tremendous achievement and I’m only gradually becoming aware of it. My surprise and, quite frankly, my dislike for Caswell have so far distracted me from the enormity of it.

“So, was he a good fuck?”

I nearly choke on my wine. “Did you see him at the showing?”

“Which one was he?”

“The guy with the glasses, black hair – receding – the one Sidney was fawning over all night.”

“When the guy wasn’t drooling over you. Yeah, I saw him. So you didn’t fuck him. Wow. Your stuff must be good.”

“Must be.”

“I knew it was.” His smile is soft and he looks so… proud almost. But there’s something else there as well, that I can’t quite identify, something he’s holding back.

“Thank you.” It means a lot to me. I got used to Brian voicing an opinion about anyone and anything. Sometimes it’s amusing, sometimes annoying, but it never leaves me unaffected because no one is as important to me as he is.

For a while, we discuss the article, which he knows almost as well as I do. He must have been paying real close attention.

“So when are you leaving to conquer New York?” he asks casually.

“Uhm, I wasn’t planning on it.”

“Why not?”

“Because my life’s here. And because a single article isn’t going to make me the darling of the New York art world for more than five minutes, if that.”

“So you’re just not going to try? What about your dreams?”

“What dreams are those?”

“Becoming a famous artist in a place that actually has an art scene?”

He has no idea. Does he really not know what my dreams are? Maybe it’s difficult to comprehend for a twenty-one-year-old that I’m at a stage in my life where I’m ready to settle down, where people are more important than places or a career. I could never leave here because I could never leave Brian. I would like to be able to make a living from my art, but I want to be with Brian more. I worked out some time ago that he’s my one chance at true happiness. I just have to wait for him to get to the same point.

Of course, if I pointed any of that out to him, he would scramble for the nearest exit. I’m very much aware that he’s not anywhere near that point yet. In fact, recently he seems to have moved further away from it. He’s spending more time at college now, hanging out with the other students, going to parties, getting drunk, fucking around. Whereas over the past two years, he seemed to gradually warm to the idea of a relationship.

Brian has always had phases where he pulled away from me to live more of an unattached life and phases where he’s seeking my company and even intimacy. I don’t know what happened over the summer that made him pull away, but I’m hoping that this phase will end soon. It’s been going on for months now, disregarding the spell when he was hiding from Lindsay, and there seems to be no end in sight. Sometimes I get despondent and wonder if I’m just a convenience to him, but I’m determined to stick with him until he gets it all out of his system. He’s worth the wait.

“You’ve no idea how many people come to the gallery every week to show their portfolio to Sidney or me. And half of them have a recommendation from their professor, or some newspaper article or someone or other in the art world, who thinks they’re the next Picasso. I’m not going off to New York, where I have no job, no place to live and no connections, to become one of them. New York has enough starving artists without me.”

He is unconvinced. “Maybe. But this could be your big chance. I'd be off like a shot.”

“I’m sure you would.” I smile softly because it came out a little more sarcastic than I intended. He’s young and ambitious. Of course, he would take whatever opportunity presented itself to him. And he never said that I'll have any part in his plans for the future. “I like my life.”

“I d…” He stops and then changes tack. “You should be very proud regardless.”

“I am.”

At the end of the meal, he insists on paying, saying that I can’t pay for my own celebration. I feel a little uncomfortable about that because I know he doesn’t have much money this year, but he insists and I don’t want to deflate his ego. Then he comes home with me to celebrate some more in our own unique style.




My two paintings sell within a week or so, but other than that nothing changes.

Two weeks later Debbie and Vic return home. They've emailed Michael a few times during their trip and the news was always upbeat and, quite honestly, too good to be true. Michael insists on having a welcome home party for them. I have my doubts about that. Even though I never expected to see Vic again, the fact that he survived the last two months doesn’t mean that he'll survive much longer. A party after a long flight might be too much for him to handle.

I arrive a little late because I was working at the gallery until eight. Everybody is already here and there’s food laid out on the table for people to help themselves, while Ben is setting up the projector for the slide show. Debbie squeezes me in greeting and when I see Vic, I’m surprised how well he looks. Not only does he have a suntan, but he also looks a lot less exhausted.

“Wow, Italy really agreed with you.”

He grins at me. “You should see the Italian men. But I have to admit that it’s more down to my meds agreeing with me.”

“They’ve kicked in?”

“Well, my T-cells are up. So yes, they’re kicking ass.”

I give him a spontaneous hug, which I’ve never done before. This is really the best possible news and all the more welcome for being so unexpected. We get interrupted by the lights going out for the slide show. There’s not really much room, so I move to sit on the side of the armchair Brian’s lounging in and find myself pulled into his lap within half a minute. I haven’t seen him since yesterday and we use the cover of the darkness for a make-out session as you can only have them with Brian.

I don’t see much of the slides, but I find other people’s holiday snaps boring anyway. I really hope that the others are engrossed because I can’t imagine anybody else finding it very entertaining having to watch us and my mother is here as well. Mom never says anything, but I still get embarrassed kissing in front of her. She doesn’t like Brian, never did, but sometimes I wonder if it’s less about him and more about the fact that he’s a guy. It was easy for her to accept my other boyfriends because none of them ever made it obvious what we were. Even when visiting her, we would always sit apart. Brian’s not like that. In fact, he revels in physical contact and innuendos in front of her because he doesn’t like her much either.

Debbie mutters something about how much she hates couples making out in front of her and to my surprise Brian just chuckles and carries on. After that I lose all my qualms about this because all I can think of is that he didn’t correct her when she said ‘couples’. And since he’s not jumping up to escape, I don’t have to fear him acting out because of it either.

Two months is a long time and there are a lot of slides. Not that I mind in the slightest. When the lights come on, Brian and I stop and he wriggles out from under me to go and have a smoke outside. He’s in extraordinary good spirits. I remain in the chair with my head hanging over one the arms, looking at Ted and Melanie upside down, while they’re discussing college funds. Nothing can faze me at the moment. Not even the thought of the baby and all the upheaval that might bring still. Everybody seems to be happy today. On days like this it really feels like a family.

We’re having a very pleasant evening until Brian uses a lull in the conversation to say, “I was headhunted today.”

“Isn’t that a bit early?” Ted says. “You’ve got a few months at college left to go and you haven’t done your finals yet.”

“The offer's dependent on keeping my high scores, but otherwise it’s pretty much a done deal.” He has every right to be so nonchalant about it, because he's never gotten anything below an A. I feel a sense of pride that people have already started taking an interest in him. I always knew he'd go far.

“Who made the offer?”

“Adam Lyons himself. He came personally to offer me the job.” He looks at me and it’s impossible to tell what he’s thinking. I do sincerely hope that the same is true for me.

“From Kennedy & Lyons in New York?”

There are a few seconds of silence.

“So, if you get this job, you’re going to New York?” Michael then says incredulously. It’s the first time he’s spoken to Brian all evening.

I know exactly how he feels. And our conversation over dinner comes back to me, where he told me that he'd be off like a shot if he had an opportunity like mine. I should have paid closer attention.

“Not if, when,” Brian says cooly.

I want to be happy for him. I want to congratulate him because Kennedy & Lyons are one of the best advertising agencies around. I want to be proud and I am. But at the same time, all I can think is that he'll be leaving next summer. And, for once, I don’t care what people will make of it, I just pick up my jacket and leave.



PART EIGHT here: http://kachelofen.livejournal.com/23565.html

Date: 2012-12-09 01:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] itzy68.livejournal.com
For fuck sake Brian!! You don't spring that on your boyfriend in front of everyone else. Coward! I just want to hug Justin, he is giving Brian so much patience so he can grow and mature and play the field the least you could expect Brian to do is to show Justin the same respect. I need another chapter now! I cant wait for 2 days, pretty please :D Great chapter!

Date: 2012-12-09 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Well, at least there was some reaction from Justin this time. Even Brian must have noticed that maybe that wasn't the way to do it. Or maybe there was never any good way to do it anyway.

Thank you. But despite you asking so nicely, it's still Tuesday for the update. :-D

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] itzy68.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-12-10 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-12-09 01:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] doramaholic.livejournal.com
Brian really knows how to break hearts without really trying. Justin deserves better and i hope he would soon give up on waiting for brian to grow up.

Date: 2012-12-09 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
It takes great talent to create that much havoc with so little effort. :-D

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-09 02:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] duffy-60.livejournal.com
Just getting caught up with the last two updates.
Oh, Brian, you just have to egg Justin on with the headhunting/NY comment. I don't blame Justin at all for being upset. He certainly has the right to feel like "he" will never be enough for Brian. I know for Jon he would always be enough, but Jon is not Brian, therefore Jon wouldn't be enough. Oh, boy.

Looking forward to Tuesday! Can't believe we're just over halfway through with this!

Later, sweetie!

Date: 2012-12-09 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yes, Brian really knows how to put the boot in. Shame Justin isn't in love with Jon. It would solve so many of his problems.

Thanks, Daphne.
See you Tuesday.

Date: 2012-12-09 02:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pet0511.livejournal.com
I like the long single POV's. Still it's too short. Theoretically I could have go on reading and reading and listening to Justin. Theoretically. Practically not. I did breaks in between reading and tell myself it's because this way I lengthen the reading time but after having finished the whole chapter I realize now that's not it. I have to "swallow" part after part because my heart can't bear it all at once.

Jon. I feel crazily sorry for the ending of their fucking time. I see Justin's point, and I don't like that he sort of used Jon, no matter of him being aware of that. But Jon was good for Justin. Jeez, you can't just keep on waiting for someone to finally commit to you, watching him doing his ways, not caring about how you're feeling while watching. Of course I want Brian to see coming around ASAP and of course I don't want Justin break up with him. But in opposite to the show which focussed more on making Brian looking "better" (at least so I felt) I can hear more from Justin's POV and ...can I dare saying it? - I like him better as the show!Justin. Watching QAF I made so many excuses for him being so young but sometimes it felt lame, it didn't fit show!Justin all the time. This grown up Justin - not flawless, no, not that I don't want to throddle him every now and then - but I can understand him better, even when he makes what I think as mistakes. So...I liked him getting closer to Jon and then his ending it, how he did it, this was so better as show!Justin handled Ethan.Yes, I realized that I really "feel" this Justin here.

The article. The whole part around the opening, the article, the celebration afterwards: yes. Very very good.

And of course it was the perfect transition (can I say so?) to the welcome back dinner, Vic being better, including the make-out session of BJ while non-watching a million photos and, in the end, Brian's revealation regarding the job offer (did I ever tell you how much I hated this part of QAF? I hated it with my full heart). It was amazing to see that I reacted like you'd killed me: I shouted a big NO, don't you dare bringing up THAT here...! Like always you didn't listen. But seriously, you left me sitting here with a very unlucky feeling because now I have this one BJ scene in my mind after Brian gave his by me so hated speech about never looking back - fuck!!! It really works me up, you know? I feel the need to take Brian prisoner and this for as long as it needs to make him see that he can't say things like "not if, when..." because it hurts, it really does like fuck!

Thanks for this new chap, Betty! I wasn't bored......😎
Hugs. 👍
Pet

Date: 2012-12-09 03:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I'm glad you like the single POV because it's been bugging me. It probably won't be so noticable when the fic is finished and can be read in one go. And if you thought it was too short, the next part is about a third longer. :-)

Justin is way too nice to string Jon along. In fact, Justin is way too nice, period. That's probably the reason you like him better here than on the show, where he was inconsistent to say the least. I think there are many ways young Justin could have gone, so here he is with all his maturity... well, matured. It doesn't seem to help him much though, poor thing.

I actually liked the scene where Brian gives his 'never looking back' speech. I thought it was nicely acted by both of them and made sense for both characters. And there's that one tiny detail that always gets to me at the end of the scene. When they're hugging, you can actually see the indentations of Justin's fingers on Brian's back because he squeezed him so hard. Love it.

Sorry to work you up so much. Not. Lol. But seriously, I'm very glad you weren't bored - yet(?). ;-) Thank you for your lovely comment.

Hugs,
Betty

Date: 2012-12-09 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lanbeo.livejournal.com
I think I'm a M,'cause I love Justin's POV chapter more than Brian, because it hurts, it hurts so much. Silly me again, I should see it coming when Brian took Justin to celebration. Hmm, some celebration.

(Ok, if I'm a M, you must be a S for torturing poor Justin like that. Aww, I so wanna scream at Brian's thick head)

Date: 2012-12-09 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pet0511.livejournal.com
Second that!

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Date: 2012-12-09 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazy-8s.livejournal.com

Awesome chapter! There was no Fiddler like fallout from Justin's relationship with Jon, but I imagine Brian will probably revisit that. Apparently, Brian did want Justin to come to NYC with him, but asked a la Kinney style. LOL So, now Justin is reeling from Brian's announcement. Can't wait for that confrontation. :)
Edited Date: 2012-12-09 02:40 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-12-09 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yes, Justin did the right thing here, or the wrong thing, depending on your pov. But, you're right, Brian has a long memory. :-)

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-09 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] poiuhbvs34567.livejournal.com
I really like this story. Your writing style is so good. My guts are hurting because of you and I love it.
Thanks.

Date: 2012-12-09 04:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'm glad it's making you hurt in a good way. ;-)

Date: 2012-12-09 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lrknow.livejournal.com
Brian follow him you f***!!!
Ok here I was thinking (foolishly) that this chapter was light on the angst, what with the not-fiddler situation, celebratory dinner, Vic getting better, the "Frenching" scene, but then Bwam!! Brian's dropping a freaking bomb on us, the asshole why couldn't he tell J during dinner like a normal person, but then again we all know that he's about 100 shades of fucked up :)
But in all fairness I think he does want J to go NY but telling him would be against his long espoused philosophy of "it's your call where you want t be"...
This very long rambling means only one thing, that I'm immensely enjoying this fic and can't wait for more ...

*Big hugs*
Kimi

Date: 2012-12-09 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
To be fair, Brian didn't know about the job offer, when they were having dinner. But there must be about a million better ways to go about telling Justin. :-)

I'm happy that you're still enjoying it, Kimi, but you should know by now that there's no such thing as 'light on angst' in my fics.

Thank you.
Hugs,
Betty

Date: 2012-12-09 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] koalared.livejournal.com
Oh Brian. Oh Justin. If I didn't want them together so badly
I'd want Justin to go for Jon and Brian to go to NY. But alas
they must end up together. I was glad to see Justin actually react to Brian's announcement. Unfortunately I'm afraid Brian won't react to Justin's reaction. Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday.

Date: 2012-12-09 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
They must end up together? Is that, like, a law of the universe? Lol. We shall see what happens. Yes, Tuesday.

Thank you.

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Date: 2012-12-09 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] love4movies.livejournal.com
Reading your stories is always so logical. Everything falls into its place, like a puzzle.
But, and that is part of your art, the reader never really knows where the story is going. That is what makes it a great read.

Oh Brian. Wake up. You're worth loving.

He didn't really expect Justin to go to NYC because he was supposed to know, that Brian would go, too, in the future?

Date: 2012-12-09 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Well, I'm glad you find them logical, because when I'm writing, sometimes it just seems like such a muddle to me. But I suppose in the end even I understand what I was trying to say. :-D

I like your question. Brian didn't even know he was going, but he still expected Justin to go because of it? Maybe he was just hoping that Justin would drag him along as yet another freebie he's giving Brian?

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-09 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petulant2u.livejournal.com
I'm finding Justin to be very pathetic right now. I'm sorry, but really...He's 'saving' himself for Brian thinking one day he'll be at the same place and what a life with him. It's almost matrydom! (did I spell that correctly? no spell check at work - yeah, I'm reading at work! lol)

I'm fine with Brian. He's 21, never promised Justin anything, has his whole life ahead of him, and has always been honest with Justin.

Justin is living in this dream world. He wants what Brian can't give him and has this delusion that one day Brian will be able to. I don't understand why (as an adult who should know better) he just doesn't 'enjoy' Brian as Brian enjoys him. Instead, he craves these little shows of affection, and even manufactures in his head that certain acts mean more than they do.

Maybe Brian will 'grow' up one day. And Maybe that day he'll want to be with Brian, but Justin really needs to get a life. And stop 'waiting' around! Brian is not waiting for anyone. He's living his life. Good for him!

Justin should have went to NY. And now I understand (and for the firs ttime - thanks Betty) the ending of QAF. Justin SHOULD have went to NY! His life was not with Brian, his life is his own to live. Love always finds a way, but it doesn't find it's way if you have to sacrafice who you are because in the end, love may let you down, and you've wasted your life 'waiting' for it.

I'm happy for Brian, and I hope Justin goes to NY and tries his hand at being sucessful. If they are together, great, if not, at least they are both living their lives.

Great update.
Gina

Date: 2012-12-09 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
You're reading at work? Ah well, serves them right for making you work on a Sunday. :-)

I'm not sure if Justin is really fabricating things in his mind or is just very good at reading between the lines. Maybe that's the whole reason they are still together after all this time, because Justin knows in his heart that there's more there. Or maybe you're right and he's completely delusional. Lol.

Thanks, Gina.

Date: 2012-12-09 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bastdazbog.livejournal.com
OMG reading your stories hurt. And this one, omg, it hurts so much. I knew this and I was going to wait until it was all posted so it wouldn't hurt as bad this time - like ripping off a band-aid better to do it all at once - but I couldn't. I broke down and had to read it now, each new post taunting me ... I think I must like the hurt, else why would I want to torture myself, and even though it's a life-affirming hurt - because if my heart wasn't alive it wouldn't feel like it's been put through the wringer - OMG ...
Thank you so much, you are a fantastic writer. A mean, cruel, sadistic writer, but a fabulously talented one. I am off to go curl up in a corner and cry now.

Date: 2012-12-09 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yep, I'm so cruel, mean and sadistic that I really love this comment. Lol. I thrive on making people hurt. :-DDD

Seriously: to be able to evoke emotions is what every writer wants, so this made me very happy. I also love that you couldn't resist in the end. That's a huge compliment.

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-09 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] missbecks1022.livejournal.com
Okay, I am not good at consistently commenting, but I need you to know that this story is killing me .... In a slow, painful way! LOL. I do think that since Justin is in his 30's, he is being a little ridiculous. His self esteem must be negative 100, because I see nothing from Brian that would make any self-respecting person wait that long for Brian to grow up. Of course, thanks to your fantastic writing, we all know that Brian's modus operandi is to hurt first, so he won't get hurt....he thinks he's not worthy of anyone's love, so he may never open up to Justin completely. And Justin will keep hanging around for the few crumbs he gets....although the celebratory dinner was very nice of Brian, it is still more crumbs in the big picture.

Thank gosh he picked up his coat and left after Brian's bombshell....I seriously doubt Brian will go after him, but maybe I'll be surprised!?? Amazing story! I love reading it!

Date: 2012-12-09 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I'm not sure if Justin's problem is low self-esteem or if he has just been worn down by Brian over time. He certainly sees something in Brian that no one else sees, not even Brian. He does mention that Brian had made some progress and then slipped back again after the summer. I think he's still trying to work out why and whether it's a temporary setback.

Thank you for commenting. I really can't fault anyone for not commenting consistently because I am absolutely terrible at it. So thank you for taking the time. It is much appreciated. :-)

Date: 2012-12-09 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 95baker.livejournal.com
My comment will be short, sick at the moment and now crying. Not good for a cold. I am losing hope that these boys will ever get it right. They both are breaking my heart. Maybe it is just the wrong time and wrong place, yet Justin seems to hang on. However, I think the dental floss just snapped.

Your writing is amazing as always, stirring up so many emotions and fears.

Date: 2012-12-09 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Sorry to hear that you're not well, Kate. And now I made you cry on top of that. :-(

But: the dental floss just snapped? LOL.

Hope you feel better soon. Thank you for commenting even though you're poorly.

Here's a big HUG to cheer you up.

Love,
Betty

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From: [identity profile] 95baker.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-12-09 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2012-12-09 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Yeah, I think you're reaching a little there. The dinner is two to three weeks before the welcome home party. But Brian always wanted to go to NY. Maybe he was hoping he could tag along with Justin if Justin went. Or maybe his ego is so big that he could never imagine that he wouldn't make it there. Whichever, this was not the way to spring it on Justin.

Thank you. :-)

Date: 2012-12-09 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bksbracelet.livejournal.com
Oh dear I think Justin is in for a world of hurt for awhile. Brian is so clueless a lot of the time and he springs this on Justin in front of the family without thought how Justin would feel.

Date: 2012-12-10 09:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
You gotta feel sorry for Justin, although he would probably be hurt no matter how and where Brian told him.

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-09 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] armandyouidiot.livejournal.com
That was mean of Brian not to talk to Justin privately first. Especially after Justin assured him that he wasn't going off to NY himself. Ah Brian, you can be such a jerk. :)

Date: 2012-12-10 09:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Maybe it was just thoughtlessness, Brian doesn't seem to have much of a clue about anything.

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-10 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] toto-too514.livejournal.com
I know I have been very remiss about commenting... but I just wanted you to know that I have been following this story with great excitement. It's another real gem.

One line in paricular really got to me:
but I’m beginning to wonder if anybody will ever find me worth fighting for. It’s crazy. I should be happy that there‘s no ugly drama and instead I’m pondering what it means that the two guys in my life can walk away from me with not much more than a shrug.

Even during QAF, with the "real" Brian and Justin, KNOWING something in your head doesn't make your heart want it any less. I always felt bad that Justin had to give up so much to Brian in that regard. Even if Justin knows Brian loves him, and he knows it's not something Brian can verbalize easily, sometimes it's just nice to hear those three little words... it's not wrong that Justin wants a little validation of their love - outside of the mind-blowing sex.

Date: 2012-12-10 09:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I totally agree. Nobody can help the way they're feeling, and that doesn't change just because you accept the person the way they are.

It's nice to hear from you. Thank you for letting me know that you're reading and enjoying it.

wow2

Date: 2012-12-10 06:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erdmut1.livejournal.com
not as wonderfully creative - and talented with words - as you so will simply have to opt for "wow" once again.

Re: wow2

Date: 2012-12-10 09:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Lol. Wow ist still great. Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-10 11:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jg1225.livejournal.com
Loving the story, definitely has me hooked!

Date: 2012-12-10 03:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Thank you. And thank you for friending me. :-)

Date: 2012-12-10 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pam81.livejournal.com
You know what? Reading one of your stories is always like a ride on a rollercoaster!
I 'feel' so much, every time.
And it's a crazy! Because one moment you're happy because Brian did a sweet thing, the next one you feel all Justin's pain for some shit Brian did...
One day, you're going to kill me ;)

Great, painful, chapter!

At the I was like "Way to go, Justin"
so happy he left. There's a limit, and Brian went too far this time...

Thank you and see you tomorrow with the new update ;)
*hugs* ♥

Date: 2012-12-11 10:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
Thank you, Pam. It's a great compliment that my story moves you so much. I have to be careful now that I don't kill you because you would be sorely missed. :-D

I hope you enjoy today's update as well. Although I'm not sure if 'enjoy' is the right word.

Hugs,
Betty ♥

Date: 2012-12-10 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hopperl.livejournal.com
There so so much pain in this story, yet I love it so much. Not sure what that says about me.

So the entire Jon/Justin thing seems to have "quite too nicely" been swept away. Justin does not love Jon so best to be done with that. I feel that it was a bit of a wake up call for all involved. Justin got a bit more from someone and realized it was more about the "who" he was with than the "what" he was getting. Brian also realized that he might just want to be the one who makes Justin a bit happier.

I have to disagree with some of the earlier comments. I think that Brian is of course 21 and living his life for himself. However, I don't feel that he is being honest with anyone. When making decisions completely in the moment and from his true self he protects Justin, cares about Justin, loves Justin and chooses Justin. He creates a false life for himself as a way of protection, but that is in no way, shape, or form honest. I am not saying that Brian shouldn't go to New York and persue his job, and Justin would never ask him not too. I also think he was an ass about how he broke the news to Justin. If nothing else 21 years doesn't call for you to be a disrespectful ass to someone who has done/sacrificed a lot for you. It is in moments like this that Justin refuses to put up with it. Him walking out is forcing Brian to face facts in one way or another. I am not saying that I would put up with as much as Justin or could, but sadly it takes that kind of person to undo the damage that was done to Brian for his first 16 years on Earth.

Can't wait for more, pain and heartbreak. I'm starting to wonder about my mental health. :)

Date: 2012-12-11 10:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
With Justin being older, he would realise that what he's doing with Jon is not right, so he would stop. He's basically decent and honest. I agree with you though that Brian is anything but. His attachment to Justin is pretty strong, yet he's disregarding it either because he doesn't realise it or deliberately. It's only when Justin reacts that he stops to think. Or not as the case may be. But you're right, Justin's way is the only way to undo the damge done to Brian before he met him. Brian needs to put some distance between himself and his past before he can be open for other people. But Justin is only human and eventually he will snap.

And now I'm wondering about my mental state that I enjoy putting the guys through so much pain. :-D

Thank you so much for this.

Date: 2012-12-11 06:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snapegirlusa.livejournal.com
I'm shocked to see that I haven't commented on this chapter yet.

Anyway right off the bat I love Jon. Especially when you can see that he's not only perfect, but has such great insight:
“You can’t really blame him for something that happened before he met you.”

And Justin's reaction is spot on:
I like him, I mean, really like him. Join the club, blondie! He's a real winner. Although, he's no Brian. No matter how you slice it. I could see why Justin has been with him more than once. He's affectionate, but not clingy. And yes, sometimes you do get fragile and need to hear the niceties: It was nice to be wanted and cherished by someone, who says, ‘you’re beautiful’ during a fuck, not ‘I’m gonna fuck you until you can’t sit down for a week’. Although, in Brian's defense, the fact that he's putting in the effort to make it the best fuck possible, means that he cares about you more than anyone else. ;)

The point is, Justin is not waiting around, or being in an abusive relationship. He's living his life --admittedly tricking, certainly carrying on with Jon-- while reading between the lines with Brian and his extremely dysfunctional ideas about life and love. He's just discouraged because so much is hitting him at once. Usually he builds up his security in between situations with Brian. So he's on shaky ground and doesn't know how to deal. He's a bit vulnerable and needy right now.

We’re lying on the bed after round two and he moves onto his side, with his head propped up on his hand so he can look at me. His other hand moves over my body until he’s stroking my cock.

“So, how big is his dick?”

LOL I love that Brian is so insecure that he has to wait until after ROUND TWO before he can ask Justin about Jon. He thinks so little of what he has to offer someone like Justin, that he needs to solidify his place in pleasuring him to the max before bridging such a shaky subject. And, of course, instead of asking if Justin really likes this guy, he measures it all up to the sex. *sigh* When will you truly feel that you are 'enough' for anyone Brian?

I'm so glad you used the Art Show moment. You always seem to pick out my favorite moments in the series:
“Why the fuck would you care what I think? It wouldn’t make it better or make you richer, if I liked it.”

He puts his arm around my shoulders, pulling me closer and kissing my temple. I can smell the alcohol on him.

“It’s exquisite,” he says emphatically and I know that he means it.
*draws hearts and flowers around their love!*

I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! Brian is insecure about being in this "art crowd", especially with Jon -- the 'competition'-- right there. So of course he'll give a flippant remark. But I adore that he can't disappoint Justin, and has to really comment. He gives him two words that make the world all better, and solidifies Brian in Justin's heart so soundly. And all Brian did was tell the truth. It means so much more coming from him than any art 'critic'.

TBC...

Date: 2012-12-11 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snapegirlusa.livejournal.com
Sorry, the comment was too long, so I had to divide it in two!

~~~~~~~

The dinner was so adorable. You can cut the tension with their steak knives:
So you didn’t fuck him. Wow. Your stuff must be good.”

“Must be.”

“I knew it was.” His smile is soft and he looks so… proud almost. But there’s something else there as well, that I can’t quite identify, something he’s holding back.

Brian is soooo jealous that Justin is leaving him behind. First Jon, now this art critic. He knows that Justin is too talented for the Pitts, and to stay with Brian. That 'something' he's holding back is relief that you didn't sleep with 'Mr. Art Critic'.

“Thank you.” It means a lot to me. I got used to Brian voicing an opinion about anyone and anything. Sometimes it’s amusing, sometimes annoying, but it never leaves me unaffected because no one is as important to me as he is.
Annnnnd there it is in a nutshell. The reason why Justin will put up with anything Mr. Kinney throws out.

“So when are you leaving to conquer New York?” he asks casually.
Ha! There's nothing casual in this question. Brian is trying to act as if he doesn't care because he thinks it's inevitable that Justin will leave him to move to NY and become a huge success. Both insecure that he's not enough to keep someone happy in Pittsburgh, but also because he has more faith in Justin's talent than even Justin himself.

So this line hurt a lot...
he told me that he would be off like a shot if he had an opportunity like mine. I should have paid closer attention.
Ouch! Justin is destroyed here because Brian leaving him is the worst thing he can conceive. Nothing is more important to him. But Brian is only trying to protect himself since he thinks it's a foregone conclusion that Justin will be in NY. He's just trying to get there too so he can be in the same City. Hopefully keep himself in Justin's orbit. If only he could tell him how he really feels, we wouldn't need this...

I don’t care what people will make of it, I just pick up my jacket and leave.

Oh these boys! When will they learn to communicate!!

Date: 2012-12-11 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kachelofen.livejournal.com
I agree. I certainly don't see Justin as a doormat. He does his own thing and is waiting for Brian to grow up and be what he needs. Jon is just a bit of comfort for him and it's a bit of a shame that he can't really enjoy it because he feels guilty about both of them.

Brian is starting to crack a little. His insecurities are practically screaming at Justin, about Jon, about the critic, about New York. Of course, it's difficult for Justin to decipher because Brian is so good at hiding behind snarky remarks.

And yes Justin's biggest nightmare has just arrrived. Brian leaving him. I bet he didn't see that one coming.

Thank you, JoAnne, for your lovely comment. ♥

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