Justin hadn't known how to react when Brian called and asked if he wanted to spend the day with Dadda and Sonny Boy. At first he thought maybe Lindz and Mel had stuck Brian with babysitting again and that the proud papa was trying to ditch Gus with him, but when the black jeep pulled up to Deb's there was Gus smiling from the back in his car seat (he'd already begun exercising the considerable charms he had inherited from the Kinney men), and there was Brian smiling from behind the wheel. In the very back of the jeep were all of the baby's accoutrements: stroller, diaper bag, a cooler for his formula and juice, and a host of assorted toys to be called upon in case he got cranky.

"Where are we going?" Justin asked as he shut the door.

Brian retrieved a sheet of paper from the sun visor overhead and passed it to him, keeping his eyes on the road. "A list of Mommy-approved activities for growing, young minds."

Reading the list, Justin asked incredulously, "The Children's Museum?"

"Yeah, you can cross that one off right now. No fucking way am I going to be stuck in a confined space with about a thousand hyperactive higher-order primates."

"Didn't you do an ad campaign for them?"

Slipping on his sunglasses, Brian replied, "I'll market anything. Advertisers are whores. Remember that."

Justin snorted. "Like I could forget." He turned his attention back to the list. "The park."

"The park we can do."

Flipping the paper over, Justin inquired about list on the other side. "What are these?"

"All the places I'm not supposed to take him."

Justin laughed. "Woody's. Babylon. Bars or clubs in general. The baths." He raised an eyebrow, a habit he had picked up from Brian. "You wouldn't take him to any of these places. Would you?"

"Not until he's at least fifteen," Brian retorted.

"Not fourteen?" referring to Brian's first time.

"I was advanced for my age."

Justin replaced the list behind the visor. "So what's first?"

"Breakfast." Brian peeked at the baby in the rear view mirror. "Isn't that right, Sonny Boy?"

Bypassing the diner entirely, they ate a quiet patisserie far from Liberty Avenue. The counter girl made a huge fuss over Gus and pretended not to notice that Brian and Justin were 'together' and instead exerted her limited amount of charm trying to snare Justin in a conversation. Responding in polite, monosyllabic words he made his escape as soon as he could and joined Brian and the baby at their table over by the window where Gus could see the people walking by outside.

Brian grinned as he sat down. "What is it with you and straight girls?"

"Shut up." Justin took a bite from a huge cinnamon roll.

"It must be because you're so incredibly butch."

Justin mouthed, Fuck you.

"Not in front of the minor," Brian scolded. Gus gurgled as if he understood what his daddy had said and agreed. Which caused Brian's eyes to light up. Justin smiled. Brian really had beautiful eyes. Sometimes they looked so dark as to be almost black and other times as green as moss. Their color shifted with his moods and today they were their normal hazel shade, only brighter, clearer than they had been in a week. Justin had thought that he would never see Brian happy again, not after his attempts to exorcise the past had failed, but here he was today, cheerful, playing with Gus, laughing. And they were together.

Brian caught him staring and asked, "What? Is there chocolate on my face?" He had been eating an éclair.

Justin shook his head.

Their leisurely breakfast over, next on their agenda was a brisk stroll through the park. Justin envied Brian his longer legs. He seemed to glide without effort over the uneven, rock-strewn paths. Gus bounced up and down in the stroller giggling or doing what Mel and Lindz had assured them was giggling. After a quick jaunt around the park, Brian slowed down and they meandered until they found an empty bench near enough to the playground so that Sonny Boy would be entertained by the busy children yet far enough away that Dadda wouldn't be irritated. Brian released Gus from the stroller's confines and held him in his arms, pointing out various people and things to him. He gestured at a little girl who seemed to be giving orders to a group of kids. "Future lawyer." As for the little boy who was ignoring her and surreptitiously collecting all the best toys, he predicted, "Future broker in need of a lawyer."

Justin caught hold of one of Gus' flailing hands. "What do you think Gus is gonna be when he grows up?"

"Something requiring a fabulous wardrobe: either President of the United States or a world class gigolo in Monte Carlo---maybe both"

"What about you? What did you want to be?"

Without blinking and eye or seeming the least bit embarrassed he replied, "Undisputed ruler of the universe."

"And you went into advertising?"

"Exactly." He lifted Gus in the air and jiggled him until the baby giggled again. "I get to tell people what they want, what they need, how to feel, and what to do." He turned and caught Justin's slightly disapproving look. "I know, it's not as noble as being an artist, but it's what I'm good at." He winked at Gus. "Plus I get to wear fabulous clothes."

Justin had to agree. At that moment, dressed for a casual day out, Brian had on a stunning, new, knee-length, black leather frock coat, a sleek, grey wool and silk blend sweater, and a pair of slim-fit black trousers with thin grey pinstripes. He looked like he had just stepped out of an issue of GQ. The entire ensemble accentuated his slenderness yet, instead of making him look fey, it emphasized his lean strength. No one would ever mistake him for just another pretty boy. He radiated subtle power, combining beauty with might.

As if he had been privy to some of Justin's thoughts, Brian commented, "Nice shirt."

So surprised was he by Brian's remark that Justin had to look down to see what he was wearing. It was his white, lycra Fcuk shirt. "Would the real Brian Kinney please stand up?" he asked.

"What?" Brian shifted Gus on his lap. "You can't take a compliment?"

"You've seen me in this shirt like thirty times or more."

"So? It's a nice shirt."

"And you never said a word," continued Justin.

"Well, I'm saying it now," replied Brian. He took a last look around the park. "All right. Enough of the fuckin' Green Acres motif. Let's go somewhere fun." He strapped Gus back into his stroller and stood.

"Where?" asked Justin, sure that their destination was probably on the mommies' list of forbidden places.

"The zoo." Justin's mouth feel open. Brian reached over and pushed up on his chin. "Come on, Junior. Be good and you can go into the petting zoo and do some heavy duty stroking."

Still in shock, Justin followed father and son, trying to match the taller man's strides. "Have you ever been to the zoo?"

In the car he continued his line of questioning. "You do realize that there are going to be hordes of screaming kids there and their parents?"

Pursing his lips, Brian nodded. "I promise I won't kill anyone." And then he raised an eyebrow. "Okay, at least not everyone."

Even if he lived to be a hundred, Justin thought he would never forget the sight of Brian Kinney lifting Gus to look at the sea lions swimming past the viewing window in the Kids Kingdom. Or singing to the orangutans in the Tropical Forest complex while Justin and Gus laughed: "The monkeys stand for honesty,/ Giraffes are insincere,/ And elephants are kindly but they're dumb./ Orangutans are skeptical/ Of changes in their cages,/ And the zookeeper is very fond of rum…" Waiting for fifteen minutes in Cheetah Valley for the big cats to appear and then watching them for twenty minutes, mesmerized by their grace and strength, their agility, their pride. Maybe, thought Justin, he recognized a kinship with them. It was like he was a different person, one that Justin had only glimpsed from time to time. To hear him laughing with Gus, to see him smile openly, it was worth every tear he had ever shed because of Brian.

Glancing over at Justin, Gus tucked under his chin, Brian gestured towards the door. The baby had begun to get fussy so Brian had given him his pacifier in hopes that he would fall asleep. It had worked.

Walking back to the car, Justin said, "That was the best day."

"Not over yet," promised Brian.

They found a sleepy café not far from the zoo where the patrons all spoke in hushed tones. Brian fully expected Gus to wake up at any minute and begin crying for his lunch so he asked the waitress to heat his bottle, which she did, not without giving him the twice over in hopes of piquing his interest.

Justin smirked. "How butch," he declared. To his surprise Brian laughed softly before turning his attention to the menu. He noticed that Brian continued to smile as he perused the restaurant's offerings and he wanted to run his fingers over Brian's lips, to imprint the feel of his smile on his skin.

During lunch they talked, or rather he talked. Brian asked him about Daphne and his parents and really seemed to listen to him, saying very little but asking a couple of astute questions that let Justin know that he had been paying attention. And, miracle of miracles, not once did he catch Brian cruising another guy. Not that any real hotties had come in who could give Justin any serious competition, but still, it was nothing short of miraculous. Unused to having Brian's complete attention, he got a little flustered and mixed up his words once or twice, but instead of ridiculing him or smirking in that superior manner that he used with lesser beings, Brian just smiled gently and waited for Justin to straighten himself out again. Throughout lunch Justin tried to put his finger on just what it was, what was different about Brian, and then it came to him: he seemed at peace.

They returned Gus to two very anxious and relieved mommies that afternoon.

As Lindz put the baby down on the couch, Mel asked Justin, "So what did you guys do?" as if he would squeal on Brian.

"We went to breakfast, and then… to the park, and the zoo---"

"You went to the zoo?" she asked interrupting his recitation.


She exchanged an astonished look with Lindz. "And what inspired this parenting miracle?"

Brian piped up from the chair he habitually occupied whenever he came over, "I don't want my kid to grow up a fucking moron. He should know the difference between a howler monkey and a gibbon."

Both Lindz and Mel looked as if they had just been handed proof that extra terrestrials existed. Justin knew exactly how they felt, he had felt that way the entire day.

Walking out to the car Brian asked, "What do you want to do?"

Justin paused with the door to the jeep open in his hands. "Take a nap?"

While most people wouldn't consider having sex for forty-five minutes taking a nap, Justin had discovered upon arriving at the loft that he had just enough energy left for a quick one, and then after they got started he realized that there was no such thing, especially not after lusting for Brian all day. They eventually collapsed, exhausted from fucking and from the day's activities, and then they did take a nap and would have slept on except that Michael called around five thirty to see if Brian was coming to Woody's or Babylon that evening. Keeping his face neutral, Justin waited for Brian to make plans to meet the guys and was stunned to hear him refuse. "Other plans," he explained. Listened to something Michael said and replied, "Yeah." Hung up. Fighting to contain his joy, Justin caught his bottom lip between his teeth and kept quiet. "Where should we eat?" Brian asked, well aware that Justin couldn't have been more pleased.

The teen shrugged. "I dunno."

Brian threw back the covers and tugged on Justin's arm. "You can think about it in the shower."

Watching Brian's ass as the man entered the bathroom ahead of him, Justin thought, Don't bet on it.

So they ended up eating in and ordering Thai. Feasting on gai sate, grilled marinated chicken with a peanut dipping sauce; po taak, a soup made from prawns, salmon, and calamari in a chili and lime and lemongrass broth; a cucumber salad; and lamb curry. For dessert they had coconut crème brule, Justin eating most of it since Brian claimed to be stuffed. Looking at his slender frame, Justin found it hard to believe that Brian worried about getting fat, but he did. Go figure. Anyway, that just meant more for him.

After finishing the crème brule, they cleared away the trash and dishes---Brian was fastidious in keeping his loft neat and clean. Of course, if you had as many visitors as Brian did you probably needed to be extra sensitive to how the place looked. Although lately Justin had been spending a great deal of time with Brian at his loft so unless he was bringing tricks home at lunchtime, the door count had dropped significantly. Still, he didn't doubt that Brian continued to do guys at work, at Babylon, at the cleaners, at the gym… the list went on and on. But he was definitely slowing down.

"Dance with me," Justin suggested as Brian loaded the last of the dishes. He showed signs of grumbling so Justin quickly added, "Just one. A slow dance. Please."

Brian relented. "Put something on." He followed his partner to the living room and waited while Justin put on a CD and found the right track. He recognized the piece as soon as the first strain of the song became audible. "Painted Face" by The Aloof. Not exactly appropriate for waltzing but too slow for an all out rhythmic assault. It was just right, the music building in intensity until their hearts seemed to beat in time with it. They moved slowly, pressed close together, arms around waists and shoulders until, seduced by the music, Brian tightened his hold on Justin and took it to the next level. One moment they were dancing and the next they were kissing as well. And then Brian backed Justin up against the sofa and the teen exposed his neck to Brian's feverish kisses… and he was up on the sofa, thighs open, raising Brian's sweater to get to his flesh, and Brian was pulling his pants down over his hips…

That was it, that… spot. Shivering, Justin swung his hips back and forth, forcing Brian's cock to rub against that spot, that spot, that--- He moaned and fanned his fingers over his belly and chest. Beneath him, Brian drank in his beauty like a man dying of thirst. Eyes wide open, he traced the lines of his lover's body, and where his eyes failed, he used his hands, fingers trailing down his spine and over his luscious ass.

Justin lay with his head on Brian's chest, very nearly purring as the older man stroked his hair. He kissed Brian's smooth chest. "This was nice. This day, I mean." He looked up to see the raised eyebrow he had expected. "And this too."

"I was beginning to think you were faking those moans."

"Like this?" asked Justin as he straddled Brian's hips, writhing about, hands running over his body, and began to moan deep in his throat.

Brian pulled him down and kissed him hard, kissed him until Justin began to moan into his mouth and this time they both knew it was entirely genuine. Giving him a nip on the bottom lip, Brian released him and they settled down once more.

"Why today?" Justin asked, his tone turned serious and beneath his question was another question, What does this mean?

"Why not?"

Justin reflected upon Brian's answer and decided he wouldn't get a better one even if he pestered him for a week, so he let it go. "I'm glad you invited me to come along."

After a moment, Brian said, "Me, too. Gus likes you."

He smiled, reading between the lines: Gus likes you and so do I. Out loud he said, "Yeah, right. He doesn't even notice anyone else when his daddy's around." Brian grinned. He debated whether or not to say anything else and then, being Justin, decided to forge ahead. "Neither do I," he added. He gave Brian a final kiss upon the mouth and turned over. " 'Night." As he closed his eyes, he felt Brian's lips on his shoulder, planting a light kiss, and then the bed shifted as he turned over onto his side. Justin's smile continued to shine like a beacon in the darkness long after the bedside lamp had been doused. No matter what happened tomorrow, he had today, and today had been perfect, his perfect day.

Lyrics for "At the Zoo" by P. Simon, © 1968.

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