Best Days

Jennifer poured over the information packet the Institute had sent while Justin flipped through the course catalog. "Honey, are you sure you don't want to live in the dorm? You'd be close to your classes and..."

"And far away from Brian," he said, finishing her sentence.

"That's not what I was going to say," she replied. "Your father was going to pay for a dorm room anyway if you went away to school. And Deb refuses to take as much as she should." Jen paused. "Or are you planning to move in with Brian?"

Justin glanced away from the catalog. "He hasn't asked."

"You think he will?" He shrugged. "So you're still at three drawers, huh?"

"Yep." He smiled.

"Which you don't seem too upset about," she pointed out.

"Could be nothing at all," said Justin remembering when Lindsay had told him not to expect too much from Brian and when he'd asked what was too much, she had replied, "Anything at all." They'd certainly come a long way from those days but not as far as he hoped they eventually would. He smiled again. "Besides...I kinda like coming over after I've been away for a while."

Blushing at the thought of what they got up to in the loft--and outside Deb's house--and God knows where else, Jennifer cleared her throat and put aside the housing forms. "So, are you excited about orientation?"

His smile widened, if that was possible. "It's gonna be intense." He showed her the catalog. "Look at these classes. Drawing, Introduction to Modern Art, Painting Lab, Print and Digital Media, Freshman Seminar..." Flipping to a photo of a large room partitioned into two smaller spaces, he said, "That's one of the studios. You share the first year and after that you get your own." Eyes sparkling, he studied the photograph, memorizing every detail. "My own studio..."

"Pretty soon you'll be exhibiting in shows and I won't be able to spend any time with you," she said wistfully. She rose from the table, stroking his hair softly, and went to the fridge. "You want anything?" He shook his head, still engrossed in the picture of the studio. Pondering the contents of the refrigerator, Jennifer realized that neither did she. Except maybe to turn back time. She remembered the first set of paints she'd ever brought Justin. He must have been five. Watching him seated on the floor, still a little awkward, not quite coordinated enough to control the involuntary jerks of his hand, he nevertheless worked very hard to put paint on paper, presenting her with pictures of rainbows and farm animals, the school bus, their house, the swimming pool--which he loved--and Daphne. Now, he sketched pictures of Brian and Brian's son, Lindsay and Melanie, and male nudes. Closing the refrigerator, she leaned against it and watched him devour the catalog as if the meaning of life were hidden inside. Maybe it was, for him. His life was beginning. And no matter how excited she was for him, she couldn't help but feel that life, somehow, was beginning to end for her. Or, at least, to slow down to the point where she couldn't tell if she was moving at all.

Listening to Justin blather on about orientation with only a fifth of his attention, Brian debated telling the teen to either shut up or to go home. He had about thirty minutes of work left to do and Justin was making it damned impossible for him to get it finished. On the verge of shouting at him, Brian, instead, counted to ten and closed his eyes. Took a deep breath and put down his pencil. Gave the teen his full attention. The moment he did so, Justin paused in the middle of his monologue about how cool it would be to have his own studio and looked at Brian. "What's wrong?"

"I just have some work to do and I can't really do it if you keep talking," the ad exec replied, hoping that Justin didn't take it the wrong way.

Studying his face, Justin said, "You look just like my mom did this afternoon."

"Yeah? Maybe she had something to do too."

"Almost like she didn't want to hear about it."

"I didn't say that."

"You didn't have to."

"Why can't it be that I just have work to do?"

"Because it's almost never something simple. It's usually something you don't want to tell me."

Brian turned back to his papers. "Well, this time it's just work."


Looking up into his bright, blue eyes, Brian replied, "I promise." Justin kissed him softly and took his orientation materials into the other room and sat in the middle of the bed quietly musing over them. As he returned to his work, Brian felt a pang of guilt. Of course, Justin had been right. God, when had anything ever been simple with him? Unable to concentrate on the Jacobs account, he sat thinking about what was really bothering him.

Around a mouthful of scrabbled eggs, Michael asked, "So the Boy Wonder starts college next week, huh?"

"Yeah," Brian answered, waiting for the ribbing to begin.

"It's funny," said Emmett, "cause when you were starting college, he was just starting first grade."

"Yeah," added Ted, "and Justin was still probably more mature than Brian."

"And way smarter."

The guys waited for the expected, "Fuck you," but it didn't come.

Ted took a swig of juice. "If you're not gonna play by the rules--"

"Shut the fuck up," Brian growled.

"That's better."

"So what's wrong?" asked Michael.

"Nothing's wrong," he replied, finishing off his coffee.

Deb paused and refilled his cup. "Empty Nest Syndrome."

"What?" Michael asked, certain that this time his mom had gone around the bend.

"Empty Nest Syndrome. Jeesh, don't any of you watch Lifetime channel?"

"I know what it is," he replied, "I just don't know what it has to do with Brian and Justin."

"Brian's experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome." She explained it slowly, reckoning that the years of recreational drug use had taken a toll on their brains. "Justin's going away to college--"

"He's going across town," Michael corrected.

"And Brian's experiencing a sense of ma--ma--what's that word?"

Enmett popped up with, "Malaise?"

"Yeah. Thanks. Malaise."

Finally the person in question spoke. "And why's that?"

"Because he's going out into the world, starting a life of his own."

He put down his cup. "Bullshit."

"Then what is it?" she challenged.

"I'm just sick of hearing about it. That's all."

Deb nodded sagely. "Yeah." Left to wait on another table.

The guys all tried to find somewhere else to focus their attention other than the black hole that was Brian. Finally, he threw down some money to cover his breakfast and stood. "I gotta go."

"Coming to the gym after work?" asked Michael.

He thought about the long day ahead of him and decided that by then he'd need to release some tension and stress before going home. "Yeah. I'll be there." Slipping on his sunglasses he departed the diner, a couple of heads turning in his wake.

Ted shook his head in disbelief and disgust. "Even when he's not trying, he still manages to attract the best-looking guys."

Leaning over, as if Brian would suddenly return and discover them talking about him, Em asked, "Do you think Deb is right? That Brian's upset because Justin's starting college?"

Michael shrugged. "I don't know. Why should he be? Least now he'll be able to get some sleep. The Boy Wonder'll be too busy with his new friends, and homework, and classes..." He let his thought trail away.

"To spend much time with Brian," finished Em. He met Michael's eyes then dropped his.

"Who would have thought it? Brian Kinney actually needing someone," Ted commented with a raised eyebrow.

As he walked through the door of his apartment, he knew Justin was inside, probably lying on the bed or the couch, waiting for him. They had made plans to have an early dinner before Justin's shift at the diner but Brian had gone to the gym with the guys instead and now he had to face the consequences of his actions. Throwing down his bag, he glimpsed Justin's head over the top of the sofa. He was watching "Tales from the Crypt". Justin glanced over at him. "Hey."

"Hey." He put his keys down on the counter and started to remove his jacket.

"I ordered Vietnamese. It should be here soon."

"Sorry." He loosened his tie. "I forgot and went to the gym." His excuse sounded flimsy even to himself and he prayed that Justin was in an generous mood and would let it slide by. He seemed to be.

Rising from the sofa at the commercial break, Justin followed Brian into the bedroom and watched from the bed as the older man changed clothes. When he was done, he laid on the bed next to Justin and waited for the teen to crawl into his arms. In a couple of minutes they were entwined arms and legs and tongues, hair disheveled, clothing pushed aside in an attempt to get to warm flesh, forgetting the delivery guy who was due any moment and the fact that Justin had to go to work in an hour, just wanting to be together for a few minutes, utterly alone and unconcerned about anything or anyone else.

Brian lay on his back, thighs open, Justin's hand kneading his cock through his jeans. He was getting hard, the outline of his dick prominent against the rough denim. As if he couldn't wait for the food to arrive, the teen tore open his pants and pulled them down around his hips, lowered his face to Brian's groin, and began sucking on his cotton-covered cock. Just then there came a knock at the door. "Shit!" exclaimed Brian as Justin got up and tried unsuccessfully to rearrange his clothes so that his hard-on was less visible. Not bothering, Brian decided to remain where he was until the teen returned. He could hear Justin talking with the delivery man and then the door shut. But Justin didn't come back to the bedroom. Groaning, Brian buttoned his jeans and went in search of his tardy lover. Found him in the kitchen unpacking the food.

In answer to Brian's unasked question, he explained, "If I don't eat now, I won't get another chance for three hours and I'm starving."

Knowing it was his fault, Brian got out the plates and set the table. Poured them each a beer and waited for Justin to serve the food. For the first few minutes of dinner he was painfully aware of his erection, still unwilling to give up on the idea of Justin finishing what he'd started.

Dinner over, empty cartons tossed and plates in the dishwasher, they paused at the door and kissed softly. Justin slipped away, smiling, and promised, "Later." Watching him go, Brian was possessed of an urge to grab hold of his hand and keep him there. Justin gone, he glanced around the loft, wondering what to do for the next six hours.

Opening the front door to find Brian standing on the other side, Mel yelled, "Honey! Look who's coming to dinner!"

"I've already had dinner."

"Funny," she said pointedly, "we haven't."

Lindsay arrived just in time to avert a minor spat and escorted them both to the dining room, handing Gus to his Dadda while she and Mel ate. "See? No bloodshed."

"Thank you, Mahatma," Mel grumbled and Brian laughed. Which made Melanie laugh too.

Midway through dinner, having run out of innocuous conversation, Brian took the baby into the living room and propped him up against some pillows. Removed his camera from its case and attached the flash. "Come on, Gus, smile for Dadda. Come on. Smile." But Gus just stared at him.

"Don't quit your day job," suggested Melanie.

"Bitch," whispered Brian and the baby giggled as if he understood at least the feelings behind the word if not the word itself. Taking advantage of the change in mood, Brian took a dozen or so shots of the baby and then turned and took a few of the two mommies before they realized what he was doing and hid their faces and protested that their hair wasn't done and they weren't ready. Grinning, Brian lifted Gus in his arms and carried him back to the dining room, both of them looking self-satisfied.

"So why haven't you taken any pictures of you and Justin?" Mel asked.

"Who says I haven't?" he sneered.

"I mean of the non-pornographic variety."

"Mel!" scolded Lindsay.


"Actually," Brian began, reaching into his jacket pocket, and he burst into laughter at the horrified look on Lindz's face. "These aren't the ones," he explained. "Those are in a special place." He handed Lindz a photograph. "I thought you should have one. In case Gus forgot what his old man looked like."

"We have pictures of you," Melanie reminded him.

"In case he forgot what his old man and..."

"And who?" she pressed.

"Would you shut up?"

Mel snickered. "What exactly is Justin?" She poured another glass of wine while Lindsay examined the picture of the two men. "I bet you can't even say it."

"He's my," Brian began and he paused, "he's my lover."

Raising her glass in tribute, Mel said, "Salute."

Lindsay showed her the picture of Brian and Justin and remarked, "It's very good. You have an eye for photography."

"The fuckin' camera does most of the work." Gus seemed interested in the photograph, so Brian took it back and showed it to him. "See? Dadda and Justin."

"When's he moving in?"

Brian sat up. "What?"

Mel repeated her question. "When's he moving in? You two look like a poster for connubial bliss. When's the commitment ceremony?"

Cutting his eyes at her, he stood and carried the baby into the other room. Lindsay gave her a hard look as well.

"What did I say?"

Lindsay left the table and went after Brian. He had taken a seat in his favorite chair and sat holding Gus in one arm and studying the picture he'd taken. She watched him struggle with his thoughts. "It's a big step," she said, voicing them for him.

"Yeah." He spoke so softly it was only because Gus moved that she could tell he had said anything.

"But you're thinking about it, aren't you?"

"He's starting college next week, Lindsay." Shook his head. "College." Looked down at the picture he held, faced with the differences in their age, with the differences in their experiences, backgrounds, everything.

"It'll be a year," Lindsay said and when he seemed puzzled, she explained. "Since you met. On Gus' birthday. It'll be a year, a whole year you've been together."

"We weren't together."

"Yes, you were. Even if you wouldn't admit it." Her next words were interrupted as Mel got up to clear away the dinner things. "A whole year. And look at all the things you've been through together. And you're still together."

Brian handed her the picture. "I don't know why he stays."

"Because you love him. And he loves you." Lindsay went to the couch and selected a framed picture from the collection on the table. Removed the existing photo and placed the one of Brian and Justin in the frame in its stead.

"Things'll be different." In an attempt to ward off any further depression, he smiled at Gus and the baby grinned back at his daddy.

"Maybe they'll be better," she suggested, finding a place for the photo near the one of Brian and Gus, a copy of the one Justin loved.

But he couldn't lie. "Maybe they won't."

Sitting on the couch, Lindsay asked, "You think asking him to move in is gonna change any of that?"

"I don't know. Maybe." He shook his head. "I just--I don't want to wake up one day and realize that I did everything wrong. Again," he added in a whisper.

Hoping Brian would be asleep when he got back--cause they both needed the rest--Justin tiptoed into the bedroom and peeked in at his lover. Who was sitting up in bed reading a report, it looked like. Justin groaned. "Brian..."


"You should be asleep."

"I was waiting for you," he explained unnecessarily.

"I know." He plopped down on the bed and took off his shoes. Laid back where he was, tired as shit. Brian put away his papers and crawled to where Justin lay and kissed him, forehead to chin and chin to forehead. Justin reached up and touched Brian's bare body. He'd been naked beneath the sheet. They kissed for a while like this, saliva smearing their mouths and faces as they sought a deeper connection and Justin forgot about being tired, about needing sleep. As they kissed, Brain reached down and grabbed his cock through his pants. Stroked him, feeling the teen's dick grow beneath his hand. Feeding on his lips and chin and neck, Brian increased pressure on his penis until it threatened to burst through the polyester material.

Then, continuing his crawl, Brian moved down Justin's body until his head was over the teen's groin. Justin undid the drawstring on the inside and pushed the pants down around his thighs. His erection was still trapped by his underwear, a pair of Ralph Lauren knit boxers that were barely restraining him. Closing his hand around Justin, Brian tugged on him, rubbing his thumb under and over the head, and around the rim. His own dick stiffening, Brian ignored his hard-on and concentrated on Justin's. Finally, he lowered his face and sucked him through his underwear. Justin's heels dug into the bed as Brian's mouth tightened around him and pulled, tugged, and twisted around the head, while his hand ran up and down the shaft and squeezed his balls. Justin felt wet and hard and horny as hell. "Take em off," he breathed, "I gotta...take em off."

But Brian wouldn't. Instead, he unbuttoned the fly and drew Justin through it. Pounced on him immediately, taking most of his shaft into his mouth. Twisting his body around so that he straddled Justin's legs, he continued to suck him off, head bobbing over the teen's groin, saliva glistening on both his lips and Justin's cock. He freed his lover's balls as well, diverting attention from his shaft to suck on them, laving the round sac with his tongue, sucking them up into his mouth, filling his cheeks as he lapped and licked and fed on the heavy testicles.

Releasing Justin, Brian knelt over the boy's face and spread his cheeks. Was rewarded for his earlier efforts, feeling Justin's tongue flickering at his hole. Head thrown back, he panted and tried to open his hole even wider. The tip of Justin's tongue eased inside him and he cried out. Two or three more forays into his ass and his cock felt like it had turned to stone. He pressed back on his dick and sank it into Justin's mouth. Rising and falling, he fed his lover, growing harder by the minute. Justin made love to the head, his kisses landing like butterflies upon the swollen flesh. Reaching for a condom, Brian twisted around and unrolled it over Justin's dick. Squeezed lube over the tip and spread it over the shaft. Eyes on Justin's face, Brian reached behind him and held Justin's cock upright. Placed the head against his hole and lowered himself onto it. Both sets of lips stretched as he was penetrated: one to accommodate Justin, the other to maintain a steady supply of oxygen flowing to his lungs.

As Brian engulfed his cock, Justin squeezed his eyes closed and tried to keep calm. He didn't know what had set Brian off tonight but he was always glad of the opportunity to top him. Except, technically, Brian was still the one on top, as he knelt over his lover, taking the last few inches of Justin's dick. When Justin was completely encased in his bowels, he placed both hands on either side of the teen's torso and gave himself a moment to get used to being full. He rose up off of Justin a few inches and remained in place, letting the teen thrust up into him. Brian's dick bounced in front of him, every so often the force of Justin's jabs causing it to slap against his belly. "Oh, baby," he moaned as they fucked. "Oh, baby..." He lowered his hips and rocked back and forth, feeling Justin's head and shaft work against the walls of his asshole, press against his prostate. Strands of clear precum dripped from his cock onto Justin's belly. He stroked himself and hissed as Justin wiggled and pumped beneath him.

Finally, he rose up and laid on his back. Justin knelt between his open thighs, his dick still poking through his underwear. As he jacked off, Justin eased his cock back inside him and fucked him as he continued to pull on his meat. Having established an easy rhythm, Justin took over from him and began pulling instead. Brian cried out as Justin pounded his ass, it was as if he intended to fuck the cum from him and it was working. "I'm coming," he whispered, and the first stream erupted, wetting Justin's knuckles. The teen continued to jack him off until the last few drops fell upon his belly. Barely pausing to wipe his fingers clean, Justin leaned over Brian, supporting himself on his hands, Brian's legs around his waist, and resumed his ride, fucking Brian's asshole until he felt his balls tighten and knew he was about to come. Giving Brian a few hard thrusts, he stiffened and dropped his load... wishing he could spray his lover's insides with his cum... wanting to withdraw and watch as cum trickled from his opened hole, startling white against his red lips.

Justin woke sometime around six in the morning with a hard-on and Brian lay on his belly and let the teen fuck him from behind, his dick trapped between his stomach and the bed, his ass still slightly sore from their earlier session. After Justin jerked to a finish, Brian sighed and held him against his back, his cock still buried inside him, and masturbated, coming in the early morning light.

Quiet at breakfast, Brian went over in his head all the reasons why he should ask Justin to move in with him--and all of the reasons why he shouldn't--and by the time they were done with their meal, he still hadn't made a decision. Plus, Justin had begun to suspect that he was grappling with something and keeping it from him which meant he began to fret.

Finally, Justin spoke up. "I wish you'd just tell me."

"Tell you what?"

"Don't," Justin warned. "Don't do this. Don't pretend that it's nothing."

And it wasn't. It was one of the biggest somethings of his life. He didn't want to lose Justin, he didn't want to drive him away and end up alone with regrets, and he didn't want to do something foolish out of fear and do equal harm to their relationship. Fuck, he hated that word. Are we even ready to live together? He didn't know. He didn't know anything. He had spent all of yesterday evening after coming back from the Munchers' trying to figure it out and hadn't, and all of this morning and hadn't, and he suspected if he had another lifetime he still wouldn't be able to figure it out. And Justin was sitting across from him, worried, wondering if he was going to yet again do something to fuck things up and he was sitting across from Justin wondering if he were about to make the biggest mistake of his life. Christ, his mouth was so fuckin' dry Taking a desperate swallow of coffee, he opened his lips and let his mind go blank, let his mouth decide. "I want you to move in with me." Staring at the shocked look on Justin's face, he imagined that his own looked much the same.

"What?" asked Justin in disbelief.

And he had to say it again. "I want you to move in with me." This time he thought he sounded a little surer but he couldn't be certain.

Justin laughed a little. "No, you don't."

"Yeah." Pissed at being doubted, Brian reiterated. "I do."

But Justin ate a last forkful of pancake and shook his head. "No, you don't. I don't know why you asked, but you don't want me to move in with you."

"Why not?" asked Brian, confused, angry, shocked, a little hurt.

"Because you're the most solitary person I've ever met in my life." He smiled softly. "You don't want to share your space. I'm glad just to have three drawers. Really."

Brows drawn in to a point, Brian opened his mouth and shut it. Sat back in his chair. Then sat forward again. "So you're saying no?"

"Yeah." Justin stood and cleared away their plates.

Brian followed him and took the plates from him, set them down hard upon the cabinet. "I fuckin' agonized over this and you just say no?"

Standing on his tiptoes, Justin kissed his lover. "I appreciate it. I think it's sweet." He opened the dishwasher. "I'm really glad you asked." Began loading the appliance. "Could you bring the coffee cups?"

"Fuck the coffee cups and fuck you." Brian stormed from the kitchen and shut himself in the bathroom.

It was the first time Justin had ever seen him close the door except when he had company. Standing alone in the kitchen, Justin figured he could have probably handled that better. But he knew Brian didn't want him to move into the loft. Brian liked living alone. He liked having a place all his own. And nothing over the months he had known him had ever convinced him otherwise, not even the last three months. So he wondered where the urge had come from. And he guessed if he were being honest with himself, he would admit that he had reacted so nonchalantly to keep from being hurt by the truth.

Brian sat on the toilet seat and brooded. Aware of the foolish picture he must have presented, he got up and stood in front of the mirror. Only, then he was faced with himself. Why had he gotten so angry? He knew as well as Justin did that he wasn't ready for the teen to move in with him. The moment the words had come out of his mouth he'd regretted them. He'd wanted to mean them, but he hadn't. And just because one of them had the good sense to speak the truth, he got pissed. Fuck. Yet another reason why it was a bad idea. So how was he going to go back out there and face Justin after his hissy fit? Staring at his face in the mirror, he went, "Fuck it," and opened the bathroom to find Justin sitting on the bench that ran around his bedroom. Swallowing his pride, Brian said, "You're right." He sat next to him. "I wanted..."

"You wanted to be able to want me to move in," said Justin and both Brian and he laughed.

"We must belong together because that actually makes sense to me." He shook his head.

"So what's really wrong? Why did you think you wanted me to move in?" Justin reached and laced his fingers through Brian's. "Huh?"

Shamefaced, Brian hung his head. "You're starting college next week."


Brian looked away but Justin turned his head back towards him. "So, you're gonna be busy."

"You mean, the way you're busy sometimes with work and stay at the office late and I don't see you for days at a time?" asked Justin with a crooked smile.

"Know-it-all asshole," grunted Brian.

Justin grinned. "But you love me. Don't you?" He moved closer and kissed Brian's neck. "Don't you?"

"Yeah," whispered Brian, finding the boy's lips and kissing him soundly. He really did.

Checking his appearance in the mirror one last time, Justin glanced over at Brian who was reading the paper. "Well?"

Brian looked up, looked over his outfit. "I'd fuck you."

"That's a given," Justin replied, wagging his tongue.

"Someone's getting a little cocky."

Justin glanced down at his crotch. "A lot," he amended. Brian laughed and went back to his paper. "So it's okay?"


"You're not looking at me," complained Justin.

Putting his paper down again, Brian got up and went over to where the teen was standing. Examined him from head to foot. He was wearing a pair of khaki canvas cargo pants and a long-sleeved green polo shirt with racing stripes down the sleeves. The Old Navy poster boy. No matter how hard he tried, Justin persisted in dressing like every other teenaged kid in the world. Oh well. Brian kissed him. "You look great."

Justin beamed. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." He smacked him on the bottom as he returned to the table. "You'd better eat. Your mom is gonna be here in fifteen minutes."

Sauntering over to the table, quite pleased with himself, Justin said, "I'm too excited."

"Maybe they'll have refreshments."

"Maybe." He sat in his chair and watched Brian read his paper until the man looked up.

"What is it?"

"You gonna come with me to the reception on Friday?"

Brian bought himself a little time by taking a sip of his coffee and checking his watch. "If I say yes now I'm probably going to save myself three days of aggravation, right?" Justin nodded. "Fine. I'll go with you." And then he flashed on the last academic-related event he'd attended with Justin and reached for the teen's hand unconsciously.

"It's okay," Justin assured him, knowing what he'd been thinking as he'd been thinking it himself. "I'm okay."

Brian released his hand. "Ten minutes." There was a knock at the door. "What do you know? She's early." He craned his neck. "It's open!" he called just as Justin got up to let her in. By the time Justin reached the kitchen counter she had pushed open the door.

Jennifer paused just over the threshold.

"I promise all the pornography and sex toys have been put away--it's perfectly Mom-proof," Brian reassured her. Leading his mother to the dining table, Justin bumped Brian with his hip.



Although they'd come to an understanding, sort of, it was reasonable to assume that they'd never be bosom buddies. Seeming to relish their discomfort, Justin took his time gathering his stuff.


Jen shook her head. "No. Thank you. We should really get going. Ah, Justin..."

He appeared with his knapsack. "I'm ready."

"Well." She smiled. "It was nice seeing you again."

"You too," replied Brian standing.

"I'll... I'll just..." She left them at the table and went to wait by the door.

Glancing to make sure his mom wasn't watching, Justin pulled Brian's head down and kissed him long and hard. "Wanna go dancing tonight?"

Brian smiled and shook his head. "You've got school tomorrow." He laughed. "I love saying that."

"That's okay, old man." Justin danced out of reach and smiled. "Later."

"Get outta here." He watched as Justin and his mom left the loft, then finished his coffee and made ready to leave for the office.

There was no way to really tell if any of the other kids in his class were cool or not as their parents insisted on shepherding them through each session. By the time lunch came, he was ready to kiss his mom because she, at least, hadn't insisted on coddling him at every opportunity. He guessed she'd done a lot of her letting go during the months he'd been living at Deb's. Opting to eat away from the campus, they found an out of the way cafe and sat outside. "Just like Paris," Jen mused, smiling.

"Brian said we might go to Paris next year," Justin told her. For the fiftieth time.

Instead of telling him so, she played a game they'd made up together, 'What do you think?' "What do you think you'll like best about Paris?"

He thought for a moment. "The Louvre. Definitely. And then maybe Notre Dame. Or walking in Montmartre." He remembered the slide show Michael and David had shown upon their return. "We will not have any slides."

Remembering his report of the less-than-festive festivities accompanying the couple's return, Jen gave a little laugh before sipping her coffee. Looked over the rim. "What do you think Brian'll like best?"

"Shopping at Yves Saint Laurent." No doubt about it.

Thinking on his outfit that morning, a dapper grey suit with an electric blue shirt, she commented, "He certainly is stylish." It was the one quality he possessed that she wished would rub off on Justin. Still, he was a teenager and what teenager could afford Yves Saint Laurent?

"He's a fanatic," Justin confessed. "You would not believe how much money he spends on clothes."

"Well, I suppose he has to dress a certain way, being in advertising."

"He says he's not really selling his ad concept, he's selling confidence in him."

Although she knew Brian had won awards for advertising, she hadn't really believed him to be serious about it, hadn't believed he was capable of being serious about anything except satisfying his own urges. But, gradually, her picture of him was changing. "He sounds like a smart man."

Justin gulped down his Coke. "He is. It's just that sometimes... he lets his emotions get in the way." He debated telling her about Brian asking him to move in, decided it wouldn't hurt anything. "He asked me to move in with him."

Jennifer's heart began to beat faster but she made herself at least appear calm on the outside. "What did you say?"

"I told him I thought we should wait. Actually, I told him no."

Breathing easier, she was nevertheless confused. "Why?"

"Because we're not ready," he answered, picking up the last fry from his plate.

Jen studied his face, so deceptively young. "You're a smart man too," she told him and she meant it. "I'm proud of you."

"For what?"

"For doing the right thing instead of the easy thing."

And Justin laughed. "You think living with Brian would have been easy? I would have been back at Deb's in a week, tops. With a footprint in the middle of my ass."

Against her will, she laughed. "Justin!"

He shook his head. "There is nothing easy about Brian Kinney. Believe me." The teen grinned. "He's hard from top to bottom."

Jennifer's mouth fell open. "Justin Taylor!" She glanced around to see if anyone else had heard, scandalized even though no one had. Checking her watch, she was grateful to see that it was time to head back to the Institute. "Come on." Shaking her head. Incorrigible.

When the afternoon session was over, Jennifer drove Justin--or, rather, he drove--to Deb's and they told her and Vic all about the Institute and the programs and how it looked on the inside and all kinds of meaningless things that meant a great deal to all of them.

Deb hugged Justin. "I'm so proud of you, Sunshine. Some people would have given up," she said, referring to his decision to go to IFA instead of Dartmouth.

"Brian wouldn't let me." He recalled their conversation in Babylon. "He said that it's scary to make your own way than to do what's expected of you. But that it was okay, if that's what I wanted."

Jen couldn't believe it. "Brian said that?"


"I told you, there is a brain inside that pretty head of his," Deb said.

Vic snorted. "Now, if he'd only use it for good instead of evil."

Justin lay on this back and talked to Brian on his cellphone. "I miss you."

"What are you doing over there?"

"Missing you."

"Get dressed and I'll come get you."

"Can't. I promised my mom I'd spend a couple nights a week at home."

"What about tomorrow?"


"How was school?"

"That's good. Taking an interest in other people. You're learning."

"Fuck you."

"Not from there, you won't."

"Ah, young Grasshopper, you have much to learn. I could fuck you from across the country, little boy."

"Really? Do it now."

"Another time. I'm tired."

"So why do you want me to come over?"

"And you got a 1500 on your SATs?"



"Because I sleep better when you're here."


"You're gonna make me wish I'd said yes the other day."

"Too late. It was a time-sensitive offer."

"Fuck you."

"One-track mind."

"I'm horny."

"So jerk off. You remember? It's what you used to do on a regular basis before you met me."

"Did not."

"Did too."

"Maybe a little."

"Maybe a lot. I bet your cock is hard already. I bet you've got your hand around it, don't you?"


"Pulling your meat. Taking those long...slow strokes."


"Rubbing your thumb over the head. Are you wet yet?"

"Not yet."

"I love it when your cock drips."


"Spreading that shiny stuff all over your dick."


"Are you wet yet?"


"Pull on it, baby. Pull on that hard cock."

"I'm pulling."

"Pull harder. Jerk on it."

"I am."



"Do it."

"I'm doing it."

"Are you coming yet?"


"I want you to blow your load. A big, fat load all over your belly."


"I wish I was there to eat your ass."

"Oh yeah..."

"You coming?"






"I'm coming."

"That's it, baby. I wanna hear it."

A cry.

"That's it. Get your hand all wet and sticky."

A couple of ragged breaths.

"Are you sticky?"


"Rub it over your belly."

"I am."

"Feel good?"


"I wish I was there to lick it off. Lick my baby's belly clean..."

"Me too."

"Now, go to sleep."

"I love you."


"You too."

Hanging up, Brian padded around the loft barefoot, a shot of bourbon in one hand and the mock-up for the latest La Jeunesse anti-aging cream print ad. But his mind wasn't on it. It was on Justin and their phone conversation. And the fact that he had hung up without saying, "I love you," to the teen. He didn't know why he'd choked at the last second. After all, he'd told Justin plenty of times that he loved him. Even given him a fuckin' poem for Christ's sake. So what was the big deal? Nothing. Picking up his cell, he started to dial him again and changed his mind. He didn't have to say it to Justin all the time. Justin understood, even if no one else did. Dropping his phone to the desktop, he tossed the ad next to it and went to bed.

He'd tell him tomorrow.

The second day of orientation, the seventy freshmen were divided into groups according to the division they'd been accepted to: art, dance, film/video, theatre, and music. Although the faculty had explained the day before that they expected and encouraged cross-disciplinary collaboration, students in the different divisions had their own spaces, their own core classes, their own requirements for graduation, etc., which were better explained during separate sessions.

As the orientation leader explained the studio system, Justin found himself standing near two other new students. He'd seen both of them the day before from afar and had wondered at the time if they were in the art division. They looked as if they'd be at home in any of the areas. They looked like artists. He never thought he looked like an artist. Maybe it was because he'd gone to prep school and grown up in the suburbs. He didn't know. All he did know was that he did not look like these two. The guy had cornrows and wore baggy Diesel jeans and a pair of Timberlands. His arms were covered with tattoos and both his ears were pierced. As was one of his eyebrows. The girl could have been his twin in terms of attitude except she was white with flaming red hair chopped off in a flat-top. And she wore all black. Black tee-shirt, black jeans, black Dr. Martens, black nail polish. Thinking about his Old Navy ensemble, Justin felt decidedly normal and sub-par. Still, hoping to make the best of it, hoping they wouldn't snub him as being too common, he turned to them and said, "Hi. I'm Justin."

The guy nodded. "Xavier."

"Rennie," said the girl. And she smiled.

They found some space outside on the steps and sat down to eat. Rennie, as Justin had guessed, was a vegetarian. "No meat, no fish."

"So what?" asked Xavier. "We just turn you loose on the lawn and let you go crazy? Is that it?" He and Justin laughed as Rennie gave him the finger. "Nasty girl."

Nose turned up as the two young men consumed their cheeseburgers, Rennie asked Justin, "So you're actually from Pittsburgh?"


"Wow," she said picking at her fries. "I didn't realize anyone was actually from Pittsburgh."

"What about Warhol?" suggested Xavier in Justin's defense.

Rennie paused. "Cool."

Xavier was from Washington, D.C. "Chocolate City," he said, grinning broadly at Rennie's discomfort and Justin's utter cluelessness. "Cause it has the largest population of black people in the country."

"Oh," said Justin. "Where are you from?" he asked Rennie.

"Nowhere," she replied. Then added, "Del Mar."

"Where's that?" Justin chewed on his cheeseburger.

"California. Outside of San Diego."

"Do you surf?"

Rennie gave him a withering look. "Do I look like I surf?"

Giving her the once-over, Xavier said, "You look like direct sunlight would kill you but here you are and it ain't even overcast."

Trying not to laugh, Justin concentrated on his burger but Xavier giggled and they both cracked up.

"Fuck you, Xavier," replied Rennie and then she joined them. "So what do you do, Prep Boy?"

Justin stared at her. "Are you talking to me?"

"If the striped tie fits..."

"They call me the Boy Wonder," he announced and for once it didn't make him feel completely silly.

"Why's that?" she asked, challenging him.

"Name says it all," he explained.

Xavier nodded his head and smiled. "I like it. The Boy Wonder. I'm a Dark Knight fan myself. Nightwing too."

"Nightwing rocks," Justin added.

Determined not to be left out of the conversation, Rennie repeated her earlier question, "So what do you do?"

"Artistically or what?"


"I sketch. Mostly figure drawing. I want to be an animator. Maybe. I haven't decided."

Stealing one of Justin's fries, having eaten his own, Xavier said, "Did you see Final Fantasy?"

"Yeah, it was all right. The animation was awesome but the movie sucked. Ghost in the Shell was better."

"That is the best movie," agreed Rennie.

"You've seen it?" Justin asked, totally amazed.

"I own it on DVD."

"Sweet." He turned the tables on her. "What about you?"

"I call them assemblages. Not really paintings, not really sculpture, a little of both."

"Me too," added Xavier. "I do installations. You ever seen any of Leonardo Drew's stuff?" Justin shook his head. "I got an exhibition catalog I'll show you. It's crazy. He just finds all this old junk and then he glues the pieces to these huge wooden canvases... I saw this exhibition at the Smithsonian, man, I thought I was in another world."

"It must be cool to live in a place with so many museums."

"Yeah. They get some good stuff. Mostly at the Hirshhorn. I am definitely into modern art."

Afraid to share his feelings since they were kind of old-fashioned but deciding to do so anyway, Justin said, "I like Michelangelo."

"Yeah?" Xavier smiled. "Me too."

Justin returned his smile shyly, glad to have met Xavier.

"I like Cindy Sherman. The really gross pictures," Rennie announced.

Justin laughed. "You would."

They spent the rest of the afternoon together during the remainder of the orientation activities and made plans to meet up again tomorrow evening at the reception for new students. Justin was walking on air as he headed for the bus stop. He couldn't believe he'd found such amazing friends already and it was only the second day. Of course, that only made him think about Daphne. He wondered how she was doing at school and hoped she'd found some new friends too. She hadn't called again since she'd first arrived there but the weekend was coming up and if she didn't call him, he'd call her. He missed her. When the bus arrived, he decided to go shopping instead of heading back home. Maybe he could find her something and send it. Let her know he was thinking about her. Least she'd only gone to New Jersey, he didn't know what he'd have done if she'd decided to go to Palo Alto like she'd planned. But scholarships to Princeton didn't come everyday and her parents had convinced her that it'd be better to be closer to home. In case something happened. To them. Or him.

He spotted Justin waiting by the Jeep with a shopping bag in his hands as he got off the elevator in the parking garage. Strolling over nonchalantly as if he wasn't surprised, Brian pecked him on the lips and unlocked the door. Threw his briefcase in the back and went around to the driver's side. Once they were both strapped in, he started the car and backed out of his space. "What's up?"

"I was out shopping and thought we could have dinner."


Justin leaned back against the headrest and closed his eyes, content just to be with Brian. "I don't care."

They ended up at this Mexican place Justin loved and had huge chicken chimichangas that were guaranteed to put ten pounds on them each.

Between bites, Justin told Brian about his new friends and all the exciting things they'd be doing in class once classes started and Brian smiled and laughed in all the right places and asked all the right questions and never let his attention lag or wander and never once let on that he was shaking on the inside.

"The Institute teaches these night classes for the public, I bet you could take a photography class." But Brian shook his head. "We could be together," Justin said, hoping to change his mind. "I could come over from the studio during breaks and we could hang out."

Brian toyed with his bottle of beer. "That's your place. I don't want to interfere in that."

"You wouldn't be. I want to share it with you."

"And you will. I'll come down to your studio and look at your stuff, and come to your shows. That's enough." Even though he knew he was right to say it, he felt a little sad, that he was making it easier for Justin to spend time away from him.

"What's wrong?" the teen asked, sensitive to every shift in his mood.

Instead of replying, 'Nothing,' Brian decided to come clean. "You've got so much ahead of you, Justin. You're gonna meet new people... Do new things... I don't want to stand in the way of that."

"We can do them together."

"Maybe. Some things. Others... You're gonna have to go it alone sometimes. That's the way life is."

"It doesn't have to be that way with us."

"Especially with us," Brian said with a tiny laugh.

Justin stole a sip of Brian's beer. "The age thing again," he commented ruefully.

"The age thing," agreed Brian.

Gazing at Brian from beneath his eyelashes, Justin asked softly, "You're still coming tomorrow, right?"

"I'll be there," Brian assured him. "What time do you want me to pick you up?"

"I could stay over tonight at your place," he suggested.

"Didn't you promise your mom you'd stay at Deb's tonight?"

"Yeah, but--"

"But nothing."

"I miss you."

Brian glanced away then looked back and smiled. "You can stay over the weekend." Added, "It's probably a good idea that you spend more time at Deb's. You're gonna be in class half the day... Working... You don't want to burn yourself out."

Not wanting to admit it, he did anyway. "My mom thinks I should only stay over on the weekends."

"Maybe she's right," Brian said in a quiet voice.

Justin looked up in alarm. "Things are already changing. What's gonna happen with us?"

"I don't know," Brian confessed. "But I want you to do well. I want you to be the best thing that school's ever seen. The best, period."

"Like you?"

He grinned. "Like me."

They finished at the restaurant and Brian drove Justin back to Deb's place where they sat in the Jeep for the longest time, just being together, Justin's fingers entwined with Brian's. Talking about their plans for the weekend, Gus' upcoming first birthday, visiting Daphne at Princeton... Finally, Brian leaned over and kissed the teen, signaling the end of their evening. Justin clutched his arm for a moment, then released him and got out of the car. Waved and went inside. Brian watched the door close and drove off.

But instead of going home, he stopped in at Woody's to see if the guys were there. They were. Holding court around a pool table. Michael, as usual, oblivious to the flickers of interest coming from the guys that passed by; Ted, aware of the interest and wishing it were directed towards him; and Emmett, actively generating as much interest as possible. Pausing to grab a beer first and successfully fending off two tricks, Brian joined them.

"Where's the Boy Wonder?" Michael asked, taking a shot.

"Home in bed, I hope."

Emmett raised an arched brow. "So why aren't you?"

"In his bed at Deb's," he explained.

"Ah," said Ted, "that explains why His Majesty deigns to consort with the peasants."

"I thought I'd up the class quotient."

Having lost control of the table, Michael perched on a stool next to Brian. "So how's he like college so far?"

"They haven't started classes yet." Knocked back his beer. "But he's met some kids already."

"Any cute, gay boys?" Em inquired.

"Looking for a new beau?"

"Honey, I leave the chickens to the chickenhawk." They all pointed at Brian.

"Fuck all of you."

"So?" pressed Michael.

"I don't know."

"You worried?"

"What? That he'll meet some kid who could actually compete with me? Yeah. Right."

"It could happen," said Em. "It's possible."

"Just not probable," added Ted. "Accountants love probabilities," he explained. "And I would say that the probability of Justin actually voluntarily leaving Brian for another twink would be in the point oh oh oh oh oh one percentile range." He paused and said for Em's benefit, "Highly unlikely."

Michael's dark eyes grew darker as he watched Brian shrug off the line of inquiry. But he couldn't keep himself from asking, "What would you do? If he did?"

"Go on. Life wouldn't end, you know," he said casually.

Ted shook his head, still not believing it, "Brian fuckin' Kinney in a relationship. Miracles never cease."

"In that case, you might actually get lucky."

As he prepared to take his shot, Ted replied, "Lucky in love, unlucky in life; lucky in life, unlucky in love. Out of the two, I'd pick life."

"I've got both," bragged Brian.

"Lucky you."

Putting the finishing touches on his wardrobe, Brian asked Justin, "So is this Xavier kid gay?"

"You looking for a replacement?"

"Are you?" Brian asked breezily.

"No, he's not gay," Justin replied. "I didn't get any kind of vibe from him."

"Oh, and you're the expert on the gay vibe?"

Justin came up behind Brian and tickled him then scampered away before Brian could retaliate. "I knew you were gay."

Like he was confiding a secret to Justin, Brian whispered in his ear, "It could have been the fact that we were on Liberty Avenue and I was coming out of a gay club."

Justin swatted him away. "I couldn't believe it when you came up to me. I kept thinking, 'No way is this guy coming to me. He's fuckin' gorgeous. Why would he want me?' "

Brian raked his hair from his eyes. "Because you were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen," he said softly, without any trace of guile. "So innocent. I've never looked like that. I guess that's why--" He bit off the thought.

"Why what?"

"Why I wanted you," he replied easily, although they both knew he was lying, that what he was really talking about was the incident with his coach. They'd never discussed it again, since the night Brian confessed his fears to him about their first time together. Justin supposed they never would. He'd been so scared that night, not knowing if he'd said the right things, if he'd convinced Brian of anything, if they'd always have the rape between them like an ugly reminder of how things might have been if they'd been different people. Even now, sometimes, he looked at Brian and he didn't see him as he was now, he saw him as he'd probably been back then: scared and hurt and confused. Maybe he still was.

Brian turned and modeled his outfit. "How do I look?"

"Amazing." And he did. In a light, almost gossamer silk and wool blend grey sweater, not as slutty as the one he'd worn to Into the Woods but damned close; paired with black stove-pipe pants and his square-toed Prada boots. Okay, one pair of his square-toed Prada boots. He had three.

"You sure this is dressy enough?"

"They're artists. They can't afford Armani. You look wonderful." He smiled. "Just think: a whole three-day weekend." Then it hit him, suppose Brian didn't have the day off? "You're not going into the office on Monday, are you?"

"The office is closed." He took a dismaying look at Justin's outfit. "You're wearing that?"

Justin had on his blue sweater and a pair of jeans. "They already think I'm this rich kid, prep school dweeb, total wannabe artiste."

Brian gathered him in his arms and held him close. "I fuckin' love that uniform. It totally makes me hot."

"Yeah?" Justin's lips parted.

"Yeah." He nuzzled Justin's neck. "I think this calls for another photo shoot."

"We've got all weekend. A long weekend," he reminded him.

Brian nibbled at his ear. "Thank God for Labor Day."

Brian parted from Justin at the door to grab a drink from the bar while the teen went in search of his friends. Found them standing in the corner looking bored. "Hey, guys."

"Hey, Boy Wonder." This from Rennie. She was still wearing black but had changed into a dress, a la Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice.

"Justin." Xavier gave Justin his hand. "What's up?"

"Nothing. You guys look like you're about to fall asleep."

"This reception is like a wake," Rennie pouted.

"That explains the dress," cracked Xavier. He and Justin grinned. "Seriously, it's totally dead. They won't even put on any good music. I mean, The Goldberg Variations? Even the music majors are starting to doze."

"And talk about a room full of lo--hello." Rennie glued her eyes one someone across the room. "What a babe. I hope he's one of the art professors."

"Who?" asked Justin.

"Why? You interested?" Rennie inquired.

With a slight smile, Justin replied, "No." But not for the reason she thought. "So where is this guy?" Rennie pointed. To Brian. And Justin almost fell out laughing. "Oh. Brian."

"You know him?" Rennie's estimation of him rose a few points. "So is he one of our art professors? Please say he's a sculptor. Look at those hands."

"Nope." Xavier and Rennie waited. "He's my boyfriend."

Xavier found his voice first. "Your boyfriend?"

"You're gay?"

"Yep. Brian's in advertising," he added as if that made a difference. He could have been in pork belly futures as far as they were concerned.

"He's your boyfriend," Rennie restated. "Lucky bastard."

Giving Brian a smile from across the room, Justin agreed. "Don't I know it."

Not quite ready to meet the rest of the Rugrats, Brian returned Justin's smile and wandered the room. Stopping by a group of paintings done by upper-year students, Brian sipped his drink and worked up the courage to take on three teenagers at once. Someone stopped next to him. He turned. Not bad. Actually pretty good. Six one, heavy honey-blond hair, green eyes. Good hands.

"I hate these things." At Brian's look, he explained, "Not the paintings. These Art Department receptions. Boring as shit. Trevor Janson. Art faculty."

Brian took his hand. "Brian Kinney."

"You're not one of the new students, are you?"

"My school days are long past, Prof. I'm here with someone."

"A student?"




"Cousin?" Brian shook his head. "You're too young to be somebody's dad."

"See the blond kid over there, next to the girl in black and the guy with the tattoos?"

Trevor plundered his memory and came up with a name. "Justin. I met him...yesterday."

"I'm with him," and Brian smiled to let him know just how it was with them and watched as comprehension dawned.

"Too bad," said Trevor, at last.

"Why's that?"

"I was hoping I'd have a chance."

Brian beat down a surge of jealousy. "With Justin?"

"With you." Trevor smiled and moseyed along.

"So," Rennie asked, "do you care if people know you're gay?"

"Not anymore."

"Why's that?" Xavier wanted to know. "Why'd you say it like that?"

"Cause a third of Pittsburgh knows it. Or they will once the trial starts."

"The trial?"

"Yeah," and he explained about the prom and Chris Hobbs and waited for their faces to change or their attitude towards him to change, for them to pull away or worse, pity him. But they didn't do either one. Instead, they were cool about it.

"Now, that's some shit to channel into your art," pronounced Rennie.

"All I got is growing up poor in the projects," said Xavier.

They were still laughing when Brian sauntered over and slipped his arm around Justin's waist. "So," he said. "Introduce me."

"Brian, Xavier and Rennie. Xavier and Rennie, Brian."

Rennie held up her hand and Brian took it. "You're gorgeous," she gushed quite unexpectedly, sort of overcome by him up close. Immediately, her face turned red.

"So I've been told," he replied and he kissed her hand. When he let go, she looked as if she'd never wash it again. Justin caught Xavier's eye and shook his head.

Xavier gazed at Brian in amazement. "That's some powerful mojo."

"Tell me about it," Justin said, adding Rennie to the list of girls who'd fallen for Brian. Looks like Daphne had some competition.

"So gay or not gay?" Justin asked Brian once they'd gotten home and crawled into bed.

"I can't tell. He wasn't interested in me," he answered, cutting off the light.

"And all gay guys are interested in you?"

"The smart ones are."

"What about me?" asked Justin, cozying up to Brian.

"You're the smartest one of all."

True to his word Justin did have one of his school uniforms in his drawer at Brian's place and as he had promised, Brian popped in the film and took a series of definitely 'For Their Eyes Only' photos of his little boy: Justin on his belly, fully dressed, with his pants and underwear tugged down just below his buttocks; with his shirt unbuttoned just a little and pushed to one side to reveal his nipple ring; his tie stuffed in his mouth and his cock hard and drawn through the fly of his trousers; the tail of his shirt pulled up out of his pants to show his waist chain; on his back wearing only the jacket, with his tie wrapped around his cock; standing with his shirt raised up under his arms, nothing else on, and his hands tied behind his back; sitting at Brian's desk, only the top half of him clothed, his cock and balls hanging free between his thighs; lying on his back almost completely naked, legs raised to take off his pants which were caught around one ankle; and standing against the column by the desk wearing only his tie, slightly loosened around his neck.

Having taken the last picture on the roll, Brian put aside the camera and they came together, hard as hell, rubbing their dicks against the other's belly and hip, leaving trails of precum. Justin made a tunnel of his hand and held their cocks together, sliding his fist back and forth along their shafts as they devoured one another's mouth.

Justin sat on his lap while Brian licked his underarms--deodorant-free in preparation for the afternoon's activities--and sucked his tits. Standing, the teen rubbed his cock along Brian's belly and chest, then brushed the head against his lover's throat. Brian slipped a condom over the wet tip and sucked him until Justin cried out and begged him to eat his ass. He turned and grabbed hold of the desk while Brian spread his cheeks and licked his hole until it was wet, until the lips relaxed, until his hole opened up for Brian's tongue, until Brian's tongue was necessarily replaced by his finger; and then Brian fingered his hole until it was loose, until it needed two fingers to really do the job, until what he really needed--what they both needed--was for Brian to fuck him.

Wapped in latex and lubed, Brian's cock waited patiently for Justin's hole to slide down the length of its shaft. Removing the condom from his dick, Justin pressed down on the neck until the head touched Brian's stomach. He stood over Brian, his legs bent and held onto his shoulders in one hand while Brian thrust up into him. They fucked like this for a while until his legs grew tired and he sat down upon Brian's lap, cock buried completely in his hole. He reached back for the desk and gripped it while Brian rose from the chair and held onto his thighs, Justin's legs over his arms and the teen's back and hips up in the air. He began jabbing against his ass, grunting with the effort of supporting a great deal of Justin's weight and because he was getting closer to his climax. He pushed Justin onto the desk, thighs still gripped in his hands, and began the last leg of his race. Sweat dripping onto the teen's body, Brian plunged into his hole with abandon. Justin grabbed his dick and began pulling on it. Moaned and aimed it at Brian's belly. His cum splattered Brian's skin and rolled down into his pubic hair. "Fuck!" Brian shouted and he held Justin to him as he bucked against the youth and pumped his load into the condom.

Having survived the first day of class and Professor LeGrange's dry lecture on the birth of modern art, the three friends rejoiced at being released in time for a late lunch.

Xavier was completely outdone. "How could you turn something as exciting as modern art into something so boring?"

"Welcome to college," Justin answered.

"So you blew us off Sunday."

He slapped his forehead. "I totally forgot. Sorry."

Rennie gave him a knowing grin. "Too busy enjoying the looong weekend."

"Wasn't long enough." He bit into his sandwich and ate it with a smile.

"Who are you sharing a studio with?" Xavier asked.

"Bledsoe." Both Rennie and Xavier groaned. Bledsoe was the only person who'd actually enjoyed LeGrange's lecture. "Could be worse. Could have gotten Rachel McGowan." They all agreed. Rachel had piped up every ten minutes in Freshman Seminar to protest the lack of emphasis on feminist art in the curriculum.

"She makes me feel like a slacker," confessed Rennie who claimed to be a feminist, just not a radical feminist.

"What are you doing this weekend?"

"I think we're driving to Princeton to see my friend, Daphne. She's been gone two weeks and I totally miss her." He had an idea. "Hey. You guys wanna come? We're leaving Friday after Brian gets off from work and getting a room. We'll spend Saturday there and leave early Sunday. Should be back in town by one, two o'clock. What do you think?"

"I'm all for it," said Rennie.

"I bet you are," teased Xavier. None of them could forget how she's practically salivated over Brian. "Do you think Brian would mind?"

"Not a problem."


Justin held the phone away from his ear and hoped the ringing would stop sometime this millennium. "They won't take up much room. They'll pay their own way." He added feebly, "And Rennie really likes you."

"Fuck. Four teenagers."


"Plus Daphne once we get there. And however many of her spastic friends she'll drag along." He groaned. "Maybe I'll drop you off and I'll go hang out in Philly until Sunday."

"No. I want to go with you. I want to be with you."

"But we'll have company," Brian reminded him.

"They'll get their own rooms. Please."


"I got my uniform dry-cleaned."

There was a silence at the end of the line, then, "Shit."

Justin grinned. He had him.

The guys couldn't believe it. Emmett almost choked on his steak. Of course, since they were at the diner, the steak was tough to begin with. "No fucking way."

"I promised Justin I would drive him to see Daphne this weekend."

Michael laughed. "And you're taking two of his little friends along? Fuck! I wish I could see that."

"You will. On the six o'clock news. 'Crazed advertising executive kills teenagers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike,' " said Ted.

"You can all just fuck off."

"Well," Emmett surmised, "obviously the Boy Wonder neglected to tell them about our fun-filled trip back from New York City wherein, if I remember correctly, Brian tried to reach into the back seat, while driving, to throw Justin from the car."

"I warned him about singing 'People,' " said Michael.

"There's the problem," explained Ted. "No short- or long-term memory."

Brian cradled his head. "Why do I feel like I'm making the biggest fucking mistake of my life?"

Twenty-four hours later, he knew why he had felt that way: because he had made the biggest fucking mistake of his life. Having listened to TLC for the last fifty miles he was ready to toss all of them out of the car just to get rid of that fuckin' CD. As it began to play for the fourth time, he pushed the stop button and ejected it. Taking the jewel case from the floor, Justin put the CD aside and asked, "What's next?"

"I got some Mary J. Blige," said Xavier.

Brian gave Justin a sideways look. "Um, not right now. How about some Moby?" When no one objected, Justin popped in the CD.

"So what kind of music do you like, Brian?" Rennie asked and the boys snickered at her pathetic attempt to make conversation.

"He's more of a Fatboy Slim, Crystal Method kind of person," Justin explained when no answer seemed forthcoming from Brian.

"There's this club," Xavier began, "in Dupont Circle that you'd love. They play techno house music and all the cute gay guys hang out there." At Justin's look, he added, "That's what they say. Me? I'm into The Fugees, De La Soul, Outkast, Snoop Doggy Dog..."

"Have you seen the trailer for Bones?" Rennie wrinkled her nose. "Pee-ew."

"You don't get it. It's like a cross Superfly and Tales from the Hood."

While Rennie and Xavier debated the merits of blaxploitation films then and now, Justin took a moment to check on their driver. "You okay?"

"I fuckin' hate the Turnpike."

"I could drive."

Brian sneered. "You sure that's Mountain Dew you're drinking? Cause I think you're hallucinating."

"I'm a good driver," Justin protested.

"Yeah. Right." He gestured at the teen. "Just turn around and play host. Ess."

They pulled into the motel parking lot around two thirty and Brian got out to get their keys. He'd made reservations for them all yesterday. After he saw Rennie and Xavier to their rooms, he returned to the one he and Justin shared and heard the teen tell Daphne, "So I'll see you in the morning. Later," just as he walked in. Looked around. They weren't bad rooms as motels went. Decorated in early modern crap. Throwing off his jacket, he headed for the bathroom and a much-needed leak. Justin had undressed and gotten into bed by the time he returned. Dropping his clothes to the floor, Brian crawled under the covers and shut his eyes. In a moment, Justin moved closer to him and laid a possessive arm over his hip. It was the last thing he remembered.

Teenagers were like puppies, Brian decided, watching Justin and his best friend cavorting in the parking lot of her dorm. Even Rennie and Xavier were excited and they didn't even know her except through Justin. Beaming, Daphne released Justin long enough to give Brian a shy kiss which he had to lean down to receive. "Hey, Daphne."

"Hey, Brian."

"Are all the co-eds as hot as you?"

She giggled. "Nope."

"Good girl. Know your worth I always say."

Climbing into the back seat between Xavier and Rennie, Daphne directed them to one of the main streets in town and they found a cute little place to have breakfast. Afterwards, she took them on a walking tour of the campus and the surrounding area, keeping up a virtually non-stop narrative on the history of the university, of Mathey College, and Blair Hall where she lived. Brian was impressed. He couldn't believe she'd only been there two weeks. He hadn't known that much about Penn State by the time he'd graduated from there.

Of course, Justin's two new friends fell in love with Daphne. They couldn't help themselves, she was just too full of life.

"I think your friend's a honey," Xavier confided in Justin while the two girls were over looking at some jewelry in one of the funkier shops on Nassau Street. Brian had opted to wait outside and enjoy the peace and quiet and an iced latte while the other four window-shopped.

Justin's response was interrupted by a new arrival in the store. The guy, absolutely hot and hunky, gave him a thorough once-over and smiled. Xavier nudged Justin. "That guy was seriously sweating you." Justin grinned. It was kind of nice to be noticed. Usually guys completely by-passed him for Brian but every now and then he was the one they wanted and it felt good. Not that he really cared. As long as Brian wanted him no one else mattered. Still, it was kinda nice.

They had lunch at a place on Nassau that Brian said wasn't the worst Chinese food he'd ever eaten and they planned to drive over to New Brunswick to have dinner at The Frog and the Peach. Brian had gotten the name from one of his online buddies and was dying to try it out. "Least I'll get something out of this trip," he said as he got dressed.

Justin embraced him from behind. "If you're lucky, tonight you'll get something else."

Skeptical, Brian asked, "Like what?"

Justin released him and opened his bags. Pulled out the tie from his uniform. "I couldn't bring it all but..."

Licking his lips, Brian growled. "Come on. The sooner we get there the sooner we can come back and play."


Sensing something was about to rain on his parade, Brian turned his attention to choosing a shirt to wear. He had two laid out on the bed before him. One maroon, one blue. "What?"

"Do you mind if I don't go to the restaurant? Daphne and me, we've hardly had a chance to spend any time together today. Please?"

Brian picked up one of the shirts, the blue one. "No problem."

"You sure?"

"Yeah." He kissed the teen quickly, then resumed dressing so as not to let Justin see the hurt look in his eyes.

"Brian didn't mind?"

"You kidding?" He was probably hoping to ditch us tonight." Xavier and Rennie had bailed on dinner too, preferring to hang out at the local pizza place and check out the college scene. Daphne and Justin grabbed a pie and took it back to her room so they could talk undisturbed. "We made him listen to TLC like three times on the way up. I thought his head was gonna explode." They giggled.

"So, I guess you've replaced me, huh?"

"Daph, no one could replace you. That's why I had to find two people." When she looked confused, he explained, "A black guy and a white girl. One wasn't enough."

She laughed and pushed him. "You are such a goon."

"You are."

"No, you are."

"You make any friends yet?"

"It's a bigger place, you know? So, I figure it's gonna take a while. But I saw this guy down in the library yesterday. I think he lives here in the dorm. He was checking me out."

Justin bumped her with his shoulder. "Xavier said he thinks you're a honey."

"He does?" She finished chewing her pizza. "What a relief. I thought he was gay."

"No way."

"I was getting worried."

"Didn't think you had a chance with him, huh?"

She swallowed. "No, I thought he might be competition. For Brian."

Justin laughed. "Daphne, no one can compete with Brian."

"You make a cute couple."

"He asked me to move in with him."

"No way!"

"I told him no," he said casually.

"What? Why?"

"Cause we aren't ready to live together."

"That's cool too." She sipped her soda and suddenly bounced. "What about Rennie? Is she? "

"Oh my God," he said. "You should have seen her face when she first met Brian. She actually told him he was gorgeous." Justin shook his head as if he still couldn't believe it.

"Well, he is."

"Which is why I wish you wouldn't tell him. His head is big enough as is."

Grinning mischievously, Daphne said, "Sure is." She'd only gotten a glimpse of it that time in the loft, but once was enough.

Justin almost choked on his soda. "Daph!"

She smirked. "I'm sorry. I've seen yours, too."

"Daph!" He laughed despite himself. "You are such a freak."

She bounced again and grinned. "Miss me?"

He nodded. "Like crazy."

The maitre d' met him at the door. "Yes, sir."

"I have a reservation. For Kinney." Waited and watched as the guy glanced behind him. "The rest of my party won't be joining me," he explained.

"Right this way, sir."

Brian followed him to a table for two and sat down. Took the menu from him, "Thanks," and opened up the wine list although he didn't think he'd have any. So, here he was in one of the best restaurants on the East Coast. Alone. Get used to it, he told himself. Cause this is how it's going to be.


He looked up. A man was standing next to the table. An attractive man. A man who was most definitely not the waiter. "Yes?"

"I noticed you were alone. So am I." He looked away, then back at Brian, a bashful smile on his face, his brown eyes warm and familiar. "I thought maybe we could share a table."

Brian studied his face for a moment. Good-looking, not in an overwhelming way, just handsome. He didn't really want to eat alone, so, "Sure. Why not?" he said. What could it hurt? He'd have dinner with the guy and drive back to the motel a virtuous man.

"Adam Kincaid."

"Brian Kinney." They shook hands.

"I'm in town on business," Adam explained as he took a seat across from Brian. "Heard about this place from a friend who said I had to stop in if I got a chance."

"Same here. The recommendation part, I mean."

The waiter came with their water and inquired about the wine list. Brian declined and Adam decided to have a Cosmopolitan instead.

"You in town on business?" he asked once the waiter had gone to fill his drink order.

"No. Visiting Princeton with someone."

When Brian wasn't forthcoming with additional details, Adam asked, "You have a falling-out?"

"No." Brian smiled. "He wanted to spend time with a friend, I wanted to come here." Tapping his water glass, he explained, "We aren't very good at compromising yet."

"Maybe there was no need."

"Maybe there wasn't," he agreed.

"I guess I'm a poor substitute," Adam said ruefully.

"No offense."

"None taken."

The waiter returned with Adam's cocktail and took their order, promising to return with their first courses in a few minutes.

"How long have you been together?"

Brian wondered how to explain it, then decided what the hell did it matter? "A few months or a year depending on how you look at it."

"You knew each other before you got together officially."


Adam's eyes wandered over Brian's face and body, from his hazel eyes to his perfectly-shaped lips to his fine fingers. "He must be something else."

"You could say that," Brian replied with a little laugh.

They passed a pleasant enough evening together, both agreeing that the food was superb and worthy of the accolades heaped upon the restaurant. Brian even broke down and had dessert, a piece of chocolate torte cake with a raspberry sauce that was out of this world. Licking a bit of sauce from the corner of his mouth, he became aware of Adam's intense stare. The man turned away and pretended to study a painting on the wall. Dinner's over, he decided and signaled for the check.

Adam walked him to the Jeep, having taken a cab to the restaurant he explained. "You want a lift back to your hotel?"

"No, it's not far. I need the walk."

With a little shake of his head, Brian smiled. "I was sure you were going to invite me back to your room."

"If I thought you'd accept, I would." Adam raised an eyebrow. "But you wouldn't, would you?"

Brian gave another little shake of his head. "Not this time."

"So, the walk'll do me good." Adam extended his hand. "Thanks for dinner."

"You too."

He smiled and began walking down the street, hands in his pockets, head slightly lowered.

Brian watched him, holding the door in his hand, and told himself that the wise thing to do would be to get in the Jeep and drive back to Princeton. He remembered his conversations with Drew, dissecting his motives, trying to figure out why he did the things he did, and he paused and thought it over. You're pissed cause Justin didn't come with you and you're about to do something incredibly stupid. Climbing into the Jeep, he shut the door, started the ignition, and hit the street. As he drove past Adam he gave him a little wave and headed out of town.

Justin was sitting on the bed watching TV when he returned. "How was dinner?"

"Fabulous. You missed a great meal."

"Maybe next time."

"Yeah. Maybe next time." Telling himself to let it go, Brian started stripping.

"It was okay, wasn't it? That I didn't go?" Justin asked, aware of a kind of distance in Brian's voice, in the way he wouldn't look at him.

He paused and decided to tell the truth, to talk things out the way he'd promised he would. "I really wanted you to come with me." Started undressing again. "But I understand why you wanted to stay with Daphne."

"I didn't choose her over you," Justin explained. "It's just that--I don't know when I'll see her again."

"I know." He worked the kinks out of his neck and folded his clothes, took out his travel bag and put them inside. After he was done, he sat on the edge of the bed, unsure of what to do next. Justin crawled over and knelt behind him, began to massage his shoulders and neck. It felt so good, to let go of the tension and the anger, Justin easing them out with his hands. "Thanks, baby."

Justin slipped his arms around his shoulders. Kissed the nape of his neck. "Thank you. For understanding."

They curled up on the bed and watched About Mrs. Leslie, an old Shirley Booth movie, on AMC until midnight, then fell asleep in one another's arms.

Daphne met them early in the morning and hugged each of them, even Xavier and Rennie, her eyes misty. Justin's too. Brian kissed her and told her to take care of herself and her face lit up. Justin groaned inwardly. Now, she'd be impossible. Sometimes he thought Brian flirted with her just because it made him crazy. "Call me," she said.

"I will." Giving her a final hug and a kiss, he turned away quickly and got into the Jeep where the other three waited.

Brian waved and started the car. Glanced at Justin out of the corner of his eye. The teen's lashes were wet. Leaning over, he kissed him beside his mouth and wiped away a tear. "We'll be back. Okay?"

"Okay," he whispered.

After a rather uneventful drive back to Pittsburgh, during which Xavier did all of the Oompa Loompa numbers from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as rap songs, and Rennie proclaimed that Veruca Salt was a mixture of Sally and Lucy from Peanuts, Brian dropped the two of them off at the Institute and carried Justin home to his place.

They fixed stir-fry for lunch, took a long nap, woke around four thirty, and leisurely made love for an hour or so. "To store up for the week," Brian said. Afterwards, they showered and went over to the Munchers' for dinner since Gus hadn't seen his Dadda for a while. Garlic chicken consumed, they sat around and played team Scrabble ("How Cosby Show," Brian commented.) and the women gave the two men a terrible whipping. Brian shook his head in disappointment. "A fifteen hundred on your SATs and you still can't beat two lesbians?"

"I'm not playing by myself, you know," Justin reminded him and Brian gave him the finger.

"Sore losers," teased Lindsay and Mel added, "Disgruntled," which really hurt because that had been one of the words that had sealed Brian and Justin's doom.

By the time they got to Deb's house they were ready to forgive if not forget. After all, it was just a game. Nothing a hot and heavy make-up--out--session in the back seat couldn't cure. Climbing down from Brian's lap, Justin straightened his clothes and got his bag from the floor. They both moved from the back, Brian to the front seat and Justin to the sidewalk. He leaned in the window. "It's gonna be a long week."

Brian gestured for him to get back in the Jeep, which he did. "Your mom didn't say anything about us not seeing each other, just that you shouldn't spend so much time over at my place. Right?"

"Right. So?"

"So...we can still meet at the diner, and I can come over to Deb's sometimes. Maybe come down to the Institute and you can show me your studio."

"You'd really come?"

"I went to your boring as hell reception, didn't I?"


"So maybe it won't be so bad after all."


"Now, go on inside before Deb calls you on your cellphone. And bitches at me."

They kissed again. "Later."


Justin got out of the car and waited until Brian drove away. Then picked up his bag and headed inside. He remembered his mom telling him that being in college would be some of the best days of his life and she was right. He couldn't imagine things being any better. But with Brian, he knew that they could be.

An hour later, as he sat in bed doodling, his cell rang. "Hello?" he answered.

"I love you."

He smiled. "You too." Brian hung up without saying goodbye and Justin sat on the bed content. These were definitely the best days of their lives.

I can see the magic in your eyes baby.
I can feel the sunlight from your smile,
maybe I could deceive myself,
but why should I deny that you belong to me,
I belong to you.

"Trip on Love" written by Tom Kimmel/Liz Vidal, WB Music Corp./Maverick Music (ASCAP)/Samaxian Music (ASCAP) and performed by Abra Moore on the Cruel Intentions soundtrack, Virgin Records America, Inc., 1999.

"Down by the River" written by Des'ree and Prince Sampson, Sony/ATV Music PUblishing UK Ltd., 1998.

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