I see him, now the clouds begin to disperse/ To reveal a wonderful presence, a presence full of love/ He is so lovely, standing there looking after me/ Seeing just how I feel, the presence of love itself *

In an instant, he was drowning. He took a deep breath and raised his head but the sensation persisted. He couldn't move his limbs. Could only feel himself slipping beneath the surface, unable to save his own life. Nothing left to do but give up then, let go. He closed his eyes against the fading light...

...and felt someone's hand upon his neck, holding his head above water. He didn't know whether to thank him or curse him. Michael had come. Sat stroking his hair. Only, he took no comfort from it, from Michael's presence. Blinking back tears, he took another, cautious breath, not convinced that he was out of danger yet. And he wasn't. His eyes widened and he saw

He and Justin and Michael laughing and running down the hospital corridor the night Gus had been born. Saw himself turn and look back at Justin, not once, but twice, the teenager laughing, trying to keep up with him. Why? Why had he looked back when it seemed logical that his future lay ahead of him, nestled in his mother's arms, in the room at the end of the hall. Why had he turned? What did he think he would see in Justin's face?

A tear slid along side his nose. He would give anything to go back, to still be running down the corridor with Justin laughing behind him. Anything. He sensed Michael moving, turning to look down the hallway, presumably for Jennifer and Deb; but he couldn't. He couldn't turn and not see Justin running after him. So he stared straight ahead and let the tears come as they would; the feeling that he was drowning having returned.

They had just entered the main waiting room when Deb and Jennifer rushed through the doors. Seeing Brian, Jennifer attacked. "You left him alone! Why did you leave him?"

"No," he whispered, the pain in his chest growing. "I didn't... I didn't leave him."

"Why weren't you with him! If you had been with him, this wouldn't have happened! Why did you leave him? Why?" she asked again, in a voice that begged to be given a reason, any reason why he had failed to protect Justin.

And how could he explain that Justin had gone back to get Daphne, to see her home like a good prom date should; that he and Justin had planned to meet later; that something had changed between them, standing there next to the jeep, in between one breath and another, the whole world had changed. But he couldn't find the words, the strength to tell her had fled.

"Jen. Honey." It was Deb. "Honey, let's find out where Justin is."

The desk nurse, having observed the exchange, called to them. "Are you Mrs. Taylor?"

"Yes," said Jen, panicked.

"You can go back. Someone'll meet you." She pointed to the glass double doors behind them.

Jennifer pushed through and rushed down the corridor.

Released by her departure, Brian stumbled away from Michael and his mom.

"Brian..." Michael called, but Brian didn't stop and, for once, Michael didn't follow.

Deb's gaze switched from Brian's back to Michael's face. She could see the pain there, from the realization that Brian didn't need him, didn't want him but, instead, wanted, needed Justin. Her heart went out to him, and to Brian, who had come to his realization in the midst of blood and violence. To find out that you loved someone and were in danger of losing them all at once... Christ, that kid never had it easy. She patted Michael's face. "He'll be all right, baby."

Michael's response was lost in Mel and Lindsay's arrival. "Is he okay? What's going on? Where's Brian?" All of this all at once.

Deb answered the first two questions. "We don't know how he's doing. Jen just went back."

Lindsay, holding Gus tight as if she feared to lose him, asked again, "Where's Brian?"

"Sitting somewhere alone probably," Deb replied.

"Justin's mom lit into him, accused him of leaving Justin alone, of letting this happen to him," Michael explained angrily. "She doesn't know shit."

"She's upset, honey," Deb said in her defense.

"Brian fuckin' saved Justin's life. If he hadn't been there, that Hobbs kid could have killed him."

"He shouldn't be by himself," said Lindsay, yet she made no motion to go seek him out, afraid of what she would find.

Deb handed Michael her purse. "Stay here, wait for Em and Ted and Vic. I'll go find Brian."

If Lindsay and Mel thought it was strange that Michael didn't go after his best friend, they didn't say anything.

Brian heard her approach and tried to stand, to escape the inevitable, but he couldn't. "I don't want any advice and I don't..." but he faltered and she slid her arms around him and held him as he cried, his face pressed into her side.

"I know, kiddo. I know." She wiped away a tear that had run down her cheek. "Come on," she said, gently putting him away from her. "Listen. I know this is tough, but Sunshine's countin' on you to be there when he wakes up, wearing that famous Brian Kinney shit-eatin' grin on your face."

"I could feel him slipping away."

"But he didn't. Because he's strong and he'd never leave you. Not in a million years." Softly, "Not now." And by that she let him know that she understood exactly how things stood between him and Justin.

He didn't dispute her claim.

"Come on back to the waiting room. Lindsay and the baby are there."

But he shook his head, unable to deal with any of them right now. "I just-- I just want to be by myself."

"He'll be fine," she promised.

"You don't know that," he said in a whisper, afraid that if he said it aloud it'd somehow influence fate.

Deb said nothing, just stroked his hair and left him.

With Deb gone, he sat alone in the corridor as he had done before Michael's arrival. And the pain in his chest spread to his belly. He bent over in the chair, arms wrapped around his waist, trying to keep the hurt contained, but he couldn't. It spread throughout his body and he gasped and stayed like that, bent over and crying, not caring who saw him because he thought that he was dying.

"Baby don't you know I love you so/ Can't you feel it when we touch/ I will never never let you go/ I love you oh so much."

He could still see them dancing in the middle of the floor, the rest of the teenagers standing in a circle around them, shocked into silence and inaction. When he had first walked into the ballroom, he had felt as if he were entering a coliseum, surrounded by jeering Romans who wanted him thrown to the lions. And then he saw Justin and Daphne, watching him with wonder on their faces, the joy in Justin's warring with the incredulity. He had smiled and gone over to the two of them, never letting them see the fear, the apprehension that he felt.

Holding Justin in his arms as they twirled around the dance floor had been incredible. The teenager had looked so beautiful and Brian had felt proud to be there with him. Proud, and a little frightened, because there was no going back from here. How could he pretend not to care when he had broken every rule, every one, to be here with Justin?

It had been thrilling to dip Justin and then lift him in his arms and kiss him, imagining the faces around them frozen in disbelief, although he had seen a couple of the girls smiling from the sidelines. Taking Justin's hand, he had led them from the dance floor, only stopping to grab his jacket from Daphne just before leaving the hall. They had danced and laughed their way through the parking lot. "Did you see their faces?" "Yeah, gave them a prom they won't ever forget." "Me either."

Brian squeezed his eyes shut. "It was the best night of my life." "Even if it was ridiculously romantic." Not disagreeing. Seeing them kiss, like two guys on a first date. God, for the first time in his life he had hesitated, staring into Justin's bright, blue eyes, heart pounding. How had it happened? In the time it took to exhale, everything had changed. He had leaned in and waited, seeking Justin's permission, seeking his own to take this step. In the end, he had closed his eyes and kissed Justin softly upon the lips, taking the risk. And he remembered his words to Michael, said half in jest, being a smartass as usual, "Life's not worth living if you'll not take risks."

Alone in a row of seats in a deserted hallway, he hoped no one else would come for him. Didn't want to see the pity in their eyes. Poor Brian, fell in love with his twinkie trick. What took him so long? Should have done it months ago and saved them all the two-hanky weeper. Fucking drama queen. He felt his chest tighten and a tingling across his shoulders. Not again. He couldn't fuckin' cry again. But he could. And he did. Cried again, trembling, angry at himself for not having a better grip on his emotions, angry that he even gave a shit about being in control. Justin...

How many times had he pushed Justin away with some feeble line about not being into boyfriends, into lovers, into dates...? "But I want you," Justin had said, and he'd replied, "You can't have me." Staring into the teen's eyes while Hotlanta went down on him. Telling Justin to come back in an hour and see if he'd gotten a better offer, the night the teenager had won the King of Babylon contest. Yelling at him to pack up his shit and to get the hell out of the loft after the robbery. The examples were numberless. Yet Justin never gave up on him. Even the King of Babylon escapade had been a desperate attempt to get his attention, to slap some sense into him. And he had given the teen just enough affection to keep him interested, but not enough to fully satisfy him. Worse yet, as soon as an opportunity arose for him to escape Pittsburgh and, by extension, Justin, he had taken it. And still Justin had been there for him. Looking at apartments in New York on Brian's laptop, trying to find a way to share his life, even if it meant helping him move.

He had looked so happy, white scarf around his neck like a World War I flying ace or a knight wearing one of his lady's favors. Off to do battle and return victorious. A bright light in the midst of darkness. Now the scarf was stained with his blood. No longer pure. No longer bright. Everything gone so horribly wrong.

Brian wiped his face and took a deep breath. Now, Justin needed him. Taking the bloody scarf from around his neck, he stuffed it in his jacket pocket and stood, head above water.

Ted, Emmett, and Vic had also arrived by the time he went back to the waiting room. He saw the shock on all their faces, staring at the bloody scarf hanging out of his pocket, at the blood on his lips and neck, at his expression no doubt. Looking briefly away, he sniffled and looked back again. Caught Deb's eye. "Has there been...?" but she shook her head before he even finished. Reaching for a chair back, he sat, his legs suddenly unsteady.

Lindz leaned over him. "Bri? Are you all right?"

And he paused before answering. "No. I'm not." Looked down at his hands, unable to face any of them.

At that moment the doors to the examination rooms opened and two policemen brought Chris out into the waiting area, hobbling, followed by his parents. Acting in concert, Em, Ted, and Michael blocked Brian from getting to him; he had stood so quickly, moved so fast, it was a miracle they were able to come between them.

The Hobbs kid began yelling. "I hope he dies," he said over the efforts of his parents to get him to be quiet. "I hope he fuckin' dies! Fuckin' faggot!"

But before the cops could take him away Brian said in a calm, even voice, "You'd better pray that he lives. Because if he doesn't, I'm coming for you. And it'll take more than bars, and guards, and laws to protect you. I won't wait for the state to put you down. I will fuckin' kill you myself." He broke away from the guys and returned to his seat in the silence that ensued.

A police detective, following Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs, stopped where Brian sat, as the uniformed escort shuffled Chris out of the hospital. His parents trudged behind them, despondent. "Mr. Kinney?" Brian looked up. "I need you to make a statement about what happened. Down at headquarters. Soon as possible."

Mel approached the detective. "Can't this wait until tomorrow?"

"Be better if he could do it tonight. There might be charges"

"Charges?" exclaimed Deb.

Just as Melanie was about to argue, Brian said, "It's all right. I-- " Rubbed his face. "Just let me find out how he is, and I'll come down."

"Fair enough." The detective exited.

Lindsay sat next to Brian. "You want anything?" He shook his head. Gus reached for him and he pulled away.

"I've got blood on me," the last of his sentence but a whisper.

Handing Gus to Mel, Lindsay took a baby wipe out of her purse and tried to clean his face and neck but he wouldn't let her.

"It won't come out," he said and Lindz stood and pressed her face into Mel's shoulder. All of them looked away, unable to watch him like this.

Just then Jennifer Taylor emerged from behind the double glass doors. Trying not to crowd her they waited for her to report on Justin's condition. "He's got a slight skull fracture and there's some brain swelling..." She paused, unable to go on for a moment. Deb put her arm around her shoulders. "But the doctors said there's no need for surgery, yet. They've got him in intensive care, they're going to watch him to see if there's any more swelling. And he still hasn't regained consciousness. They won't really know the extent of his injuries until he does." Brian shifted in his seat, stood, and she finally noticed him. "You stay away from me. And you stay away from my son. He's no good to you, now. You can't fuck him! Why are you even here?"

The vehement tone of her voice pushed Brian back. He stared at her, unable to say anything. And then he turned and walked away.

Michael couldn't keep quiet. "I know you're upset, but if it weren't for Brian, Justin might have been killed."

"If it weren't for Brian, Justin would never have been in this mess in the first place."

"That isn't fair," said Em. "The night Brian met Justin, Justin was out looking for trouble."

"And he found it."

"Brian's looked after him, in his own way. And he'd never let anything happen to Justin," Emmett added. "Not if he could help it."

Michael said softly what they had all been thinking, "Brian loves him."

"He doesn't love anyone but himself. Justin's said so. You've said so."

"I was wrong," Michael admitted, his dark eyes filling with tears. He wiped at them and swallowed hard. "Because he loves Justin."

"He's still a child," countered Jennifer, unwilling to accept the fact.

"Not a child," Deb said, correcting her. "A young man."

Jen trembled and Deb held her as she wept for her baby.

He deserved it, every accusation that she had flung at him. All he had ever done was fuck things up. He looked down at his hands, at the blood on them, and it seemed right that his hands should be bloody, that he could no longer hide his deeds inside a pretty package, like Dorian Gray and his portrait; now his sins were right out in the open where everyone could see them.

Unobserved, she watched him for a few moments. Saw him stare at his hands. From where she stood she could see the blood on them, Justin's blood. Blood on his neck and face, where he had crouched over Justin, shielding him from further harm. Her mind made up, she approached him. He looked up as she neared him but he couldn't quite meet her eyes. Before she could speak he said, "I know that I should have protected him and I didn't. I know that." His lips trembled. "I know that." Then in a choked voice, "But I didn't leave him. I never meant for this to happen."

"I know." She watched as a tear slowly rolled down his face, one more trail among the many that scored his skin. "Do you love him? Do you love my son?"

He sat so still that she thought he would refuse to answer, would once again fail Justin, but then he spoke. "Yes." A breath. "I do." So softly now, "I love him."

"Maybe you'd like to see him." She rose. "He'd want you there."

The door closed gently behind him and he leaned against it, hoping to gather enough strength to cross the room and sit at Justin's side.

He moved a chair from beside the window and drew it up to the bed. Studied the young man beside him. He was so pale, almost as white as the bed sheets. As pale as the bandage wrapped around his head. He seemed so lifeless, Brian lifted his hand just to assure himself that he still lived. His flesh was cool but there was a pulse, faint but steady. Brian laid his hand back down upon the bed and pressed his face against it. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "I'm so sorry." His chest heaved. "Just don't leave me. Because I don't think... I don't think I can do this anymore. Not alone." And he wept, his tears wetting Justin's skin. Wept for all of the things he had never said; for all of the things he had said in anger, in confusion, fear; wept for his cowardice, for all of his failings. When he was done, he wiped his face with the back of his sleeve and laughed. The old Brian Kinney would have never been caught dead crying at someone's bedside, and he would have never used his shirt sleeve to wipe his face. Before the waterworks started again, he stood and leaned over Justin. Gently, like a breeze in April, he kissed the teenager's full lips. "Wake up. Please." But he didn't because this wasn't a fairy tale and Prince Charming's kiss didn't have any magic in the real world. Brushing Justin's mouth with his own, he turned and left the room.

Mel closed the door behind her while Brian laid his jacket over the back of a bar stool. That done, he just stood in the middle of the floor, seemingly lost in his own home. "You need anything?"

He shook his head and sat down. "Thanks. For going downtown with me."

"I just hope they charge that homophobic little prick with attempted murder. Asshole!"

In his mind's eye he saw Chris Hobbs sneaking up behind Justin in the side view mirror. Replaying the event in his head, he saw where he hesitated. Maybe if he hadn't, if he had called out sooner, maybe Justin-- He lowered his head. No. No. No more guilt, no more blame, he couldn't bear anymore.

"You want me to call Michael?"

Remembering the hurt look in Michael's eyes when he had refused to cry on his shoulder, Brian said, "No. I'll be all right."

She shuffled her feet a little, still getting used to being nice to him. "Listen, you need anything..."

"Yeah, I've got your number."

Instead of leaving, she hung around the counter. "You did a good thing. You saved his life."

"I should have gone with him when he asked me. If I had gone..."

"If you had gone, maybe that little shit would have still clobbered Justin. Only, maybe he would have gotten the both of you." She moved closer.

"I don't deserve him."

She smiled. "I know." He looked up and around and laughed weakly, but it was a laugh nonetheless. "I don't deserve Lindsay either. Looks like we're both a couple of lucky bastards."

And even now, when he was scared to death of losing Justin, could he honestly say that things would be different between them? Some things, yes. There was no longer a reason to push him away, to pretend that the teen meant nothing to him, but could he truthfully say that he would be faithful to Justin, forsaking all others? That he wanted to grow old with him? He glanced at Melanie's wedding band, then at the leather band around his wrist. One failed relationship and another that was just beginning, only this time he was Cam and there was a young man in love with him. Could he do it? Be everything that Justin needed him to be? Did Justin need him to be faithful? Then, remembering his anger at Justin for tricking in the backroom, he asked himself, Do you need him to be faithful to you? What did it even mean? To be faithful. And the words of the song he and Justin had danced to came back to him. "...the music's fine like sparkling wine go and have your fun/ Laugh and sing but while we're apart don't give your heart to anyone..." Maybe, just maybe they could find a way.

"If he--" he said aloud and stopped abruptly, not meaning to give voice to his thoughts, not wanting to say, 'If he makes it.'

Mel understood. "Yeah," she said softly, "he will."

After she had gone, he got up and stripped; stuffed his clothes in a garbage bag, intending to burn them the first chance he got. Stood under the shower head for fifteen minutes, barely moving, just letting the water fall over him, washing away the blood and tears. Fought off attempts by his heart to relive the first time he and Justin had ever taken a shower together-- and lost. Running the soap over Justin's back and shoulders. "My mom sometimes says she wishes I had never been born." "Probably because she's stuck with this annoying, little brat for the rest of her life." He laid his head against the cool tile. Remembered the time Justin had come into the shower to find him scrubbing his arm raw, after telling his old man he was gay. He turned off the water and got out, removed his robe from its peg, his hand brushing against the blue one he'd bought Justin. Feeling nauseous, he drew on the robe, left the bathroom, and laid down on the bed, not bothering to dry his hair, not caring if he got his duvet wet, and wishing Justin were there to rub his stomach and to fix him a soda water. He laid there, just breathing deeply, until the sick feeling went away.

He had slept after all. Woke up around eight alarmed that no one had called him with an update on Justin. He rummaged in his drawers for something to wear, dressed, and was headed for the kitchen to make a pot of coffee when someone buzzed him. His stomach muscles tensed and he paused before answering.

"Brian, can I come up?"

"Marty?" It was his boss. He buzzed him through and waited at the door for the elevator. "What are you doing here?"

"Can I come in?" he asked, yet the older man looked distinctly uncomfortable at the prospect of being in his subordinate's home. Brian stepped out of the way and closed the door behind him.

"I was just making coffee..."

Ryder glanced around the loft. "No thanks. This won't take long."

Brian laughed as he opened the freezer and removed a bag of Hawaiian Kona. "What? Am I fired?"

"How's your friend?"

That brought Brian up cold. He paused in the middle of filling the carafe with water. "Justin?"

"The boy who was hurt," said Ryder indicating that it wasn't important, what Justin's name was, only his circumstances.

"How do you know about Justin?" he asked, pouring the water into the coffee maker, making himself remain calm.

"It was in all the papers this morning. On the news too." Ryder glanced at the window. "There are about five reporters waiting for you to put in an appearance downstairs. I saw a truck from CNN in front of your building."

Brian's hands felt like ice. "They don't waste any time." Paused. "So why are you here? I know it's not to check up on me."

Ryder wouldn't look in Brian's eyes. "I think it would be best if you took a couple weeks off. Take sick leave, you don't even have to use any vacation time."

As the coffee brewed, Brian busied himself with finding a cup and spoon, taking out the sugar. "I don't need to take any time off."

"It would be best if you did."

Brian stopped what he was doing. "You mean I don't have a choice."

"Pretty much."

"Why?" He had wanted to keep his temper but he was coming dangerously close to losing it.

Ryder explained patiently, as if to a child, "Once they find out where you work, there'll be reporters there, asking if we knew about your relationship. Poking into other matters. Our clients don't want another scandal." Referring to the Kip Thomas debacle.

"He dropped the suit," pointed out Brian.

"It was a scandal nonetheless."

"You didn't seem to care when Liberty Air went national with my campaign." He poured a cup of coffee and stirred in a couple teaspoons of sugar. Took a sip. "I've worked my ass off for the agency."

"I know."

"And you're practically hurling me out the fucking door."

"We've taken into account your work, which is why we're only asking you to take a couple weeks off."

Although he had only been indulging in histrionics with his comment about them hurling him out the door, he realized that there was a great deal of truth in the statement. "So what are you saying? That if I hadn't been an award winner, you would have fired me?"

"Brian, you're high maintenance. I've ignored the drugs, your questionable sexual habits..."

He couldn't believe it, only rolled his eyes and drank his coffee.

"We can't afford any negative publicity."

That did it. He exploded. "Justin's in a hospital bed fighting for his life cause some self-loathing, homophobic piece of shit with the hots for him tried to bash his brains in and you're talking to me about negative PR!"

"You've been in a sexual relationship with a minor."

"He's eighteen!"

"How old was he when you met him?"

Instead of answering, Brian came around the counter and sat at the dining table with his back to Ryder. "Who's taking over my accounts?"

" Darren Johnson."

He laughed bitterly. "Darren Johnson wouldn't know a good idea if you shoved it up his ass."

"He doesn't have to. All he has to do is manage the paperwork and the people, something he's good at."

Suddenly weak, he let the coffee cup rest on the table.

"Take the days off," Ryder said. Then added, "And maybe take a hard look at your life while you're at it." His message delivered, Marty left.

His coffee got cold sitting on the table in front of him, but he had lost any appetite he may have had. As much as he wanted to go look out the window at the reporters gathered below, he didn't, not wanting to give them any photo ops, at least not until he went downstairs to go to the hospital. That couldn't be avoided. His cellphone rang. He picked it up off the counter and held it for a second or two, terrified of what it might mean.


"Hey." Michael. He hesitated.

"Just tell me," he said.

"He's awake."

Brian released the breath he had been holding. But it wasn't enough that he was awake. "Is he okay?"

Again Michael seemed reluctant to speak. Then, "He's asking for you."

"I'll be there in fifteen." Snapped the phone close. Went to put on his shoes. But the phone rang, not his cell, the other line. "What?" he snapped, pissed that he had been interrupted.

"Brian, it's your mother."

"Mom, you don't have to say it's you. I recognize your voice." Of all the days... And then it came to him why she was calling and he prepared himself for the worst.

"Is it true?" She was never one to beat around the bush.

Neither was he. "Yeah."

"And when were you going to tell me?"

"I promised Pop that I wouldn't."

There was a pause. "Your father knew?"

"I told him. Right before he died." Also told him about Gus but he wasn't ready to share all of his secrets today, over one phone call.

"Well, you've finally done it."

He swallowed the anger. "Done what?"

"Completely humiliated me. I can't even go outside, the neighbors all know. It's front page news."

"Fuck 'em," he growled and he thought that he would have felt angrier, but he didn't. Instead, he felt a profound sadness. "Why can't...?" he whispered, afraid for her to hear him and to answer him with something even more hurtful.

She had heard him. "Why can't what?"

"Why can't you ever be on my side?" he asked, and he felt foolish, so incredibly stupid for even asking because he knew the answer. Nothing he ever did would ever be good enough. He had fucked up the moment he had been born. The moment he had been conceived.

"I'm sorry if I'm not proud of the fact that you had sex with a boy twelve years younger than you."


"I have to go." She hung up without saying goodbye.

Laying the phone down gently, he sat on the bed and cradled his head.

Justin opened his eyes as he came into the room. Forcing himself to walk calmly across the floor, he sat in the chair next to the bed, took Justin's hand in his. "How do you feel?"

"Like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat," he replied, speaking just above a whisper and smiling weakly.

Brian didn't smile.

"It's supposed to be a joke."

"It's not funny."

The teen sobered. "I'm okay."

"You're in the ICU," Brian pointed out.

"Could have been the morgue." Brian pulled away and walked from the bed. "Brian," Justin called softly, no strength to speak any louder, and the man returned and sat down once more. "What's wrong?"

Brian looked into his face, so young, so fragile-looking, swathed as his head was in bandages. He could see him lying on the ground in the parking garage, blood pooling beneath him, and he lowered his face to the covers and shook. He felt Justin's hand on his head, running his fingers through his hair, and he lifted his head and kissed his fingers. "I thought..."

"I know."

Shaking his head. "No. You don't," he said in a hushed voice.

But Justin insisted. "You think I would have stuck around this long, if I didn't know?" he asked. Then added, "I got a 1500 on my SATs, remember? I'm not stupid."

Brian did laugh then. And, afterwards, quieted down and declared in a gentle voice, "I love you."

"You scared?" Justin asked.

"I'm fuckin' terrified." Their eyes locked and Brian watched as a smile spread across the teenager's face. Not the brightest one ever, by far, but the most beautiful one he had ever seen. "What are we gonna do?" he asked, aware that in any other situation, he would be the one giving advice, being the eldest, but he was lost, totally fucking lost.

"I'm gonna get well, and graduate, and we're gonna go to the Bahamas, and party all night, and fuck all morning, and lie on the beach all day driving the guys crazy," Justin replied. "And after that, I don't know. But whatever it is, I bet no one sees it coming. And no one's gonna know what to do with us."

Brian leaned over him and kissed him tenderly. "When you're better," he began, "first thing, before graduation or the Bahamas or anything else, we're gonna go to my place, and lock the door, and cut off all the phones, and we're gonna make love all night long..." and Justin giggled and groaned, his head beginning to ache again. Then his eyes widened as he realized what the man had said. Brian smiled. Surprises already. They were starting out together, then, and who cared if they weren't quite sure where they were going or what they were going to do when they got there? Fuck the rules. They'd make 'em up as they went along, make their own way. It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was that neither one of them was alone anymore.

And Justin was right... the world was in for it.

*"Love is Here," by Des'ree and Ashely Ingram, Sony Music Publishing UK (BMI)/Ashley Ingram, 1994.

"Save the Last Dance for Me," by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, 1960.

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