Fandom: Queer As Folk (US)
Word Count: 3361
Warnings: some angst and some fluff
Summary: What if Justin was in the diner when Debbie threatened Loretta's husband in 504?
Disclaimer: Showtime and Cowlip and Russell T. Davies own rights. I don't, but I write for fun.
A/N: Okay, so this was supposed to be part 2 of 2, but it's now part 2 of 3. The last part should be up soon. The fluff warning comes into effect in these two parts, although I've tried to keep it from turning into sap. If you're worried, feel free to consider the story a one-shot that ends with part one.
Daphne drops Justin back off at the loft after a day spent at a nearly empty coffee shop gossiping about the guy she’s been seeing and how he’s ridiculously jealous of Justin, but Daphne hasn’t told him Justin’s gay because she thinks it’s funnier this way. She chattered on and on, the whole time, and Justin interjected a few comments as required, mostly just riding the endless, easy wave of her conversation. It meant he didn’t have to think about the events of the day before or the dreams that followed, and Justin was almost pathetically grateful for the reprieve from his own mind. He didn’t want to have to think about whether Brian would expect them to go out that night or if he would be able to sleep through the night without screaming himself awake. He didn’t want to have to think, at all, and Daphne always seemed to know when to carry the conversation.
It was Daphne, and Justin has never been less than comfortable in her presence. She knows him the way no one else does.
The timing of their little outing does not go unnoticed, of course. He’s fairly certain Brian had something to do with her call that morning, since Daphne doesn’t get up before ten unless she has to, but he was too grateful for the silent understanding even to consider insisting he can take care of himself, so he leapt at the chance to spend the day with his best friend.
Justin knows he can take care of himself, and so does Brian. But Justin still remembers learning the lesson of knowing when to ask for help, and he finds it’s less humiliating when he doesn’t even have to ask; when Brian picks up the slack without a word and doesn’t hold it over his head. And if accepting help means Justin doesn’t have to whore himself out to creeps like the fucking Sap, or spend the day alone after a particularly vicious round of nightmares, well, Justin can swallow his pride for that.
He’s done it before.
As he climbs the stairs up to the loft, Justin is struck by the memory of the first time he came here after being released from the hospital, and how hard it was to make it this far on his own. All of a sudden, the memories of that fucking awful time in his life--a time he has tried very hard to forget, to put behind him--seem far too close and familiar, crowding around him like over-eager tricks desperate to get inside him. He pushes them back, but they don’t go far, and he doesn’t like the way they circle around and look for weak spots in his defenses.
He’ll have to be vigilant, tonight, and guard his dreams as best he can.
Every time he thinks he’s gotten over what happened, some new horror rises up to smash him over the head again with how far he hasn’t come. He hasn’t dealt with what Chris Hobbes did to him, not really, and Justin’s beginning to think he never will. No amount of cathartic artistic expression or gun-toting vigilantism will ever make it go away, and he’s just so fucking sick of feeling like a victim. But being on the other side of the weapon didn’t do shit to take that feeling away, and he’s starting to worry that it might be permanent.
Because it’s a part of him, in the way that his memories of that night aren’t, and if that isn’t the world’s worst fucking trade-off, Justin doesn’t know what is. And now, after yesterday, it’s all too much like the way it was, the way he used to be, and he doesn’t know if he can go through all that again.
It took too much out of him the last time.
Justin reaches the top of the stairs and slides the door open, letting out a small sigh of what he refuses to call relief. He steps inside and slides the door closed behind him, locking it carefully. The urge to set the alarm is strong, but he knows Brian will be home soon, and it’s almost a game to see if he can withstand not setting it until Brian is inside the loft. Or it would be a game if Justin were sure he could do it.
God, he hates feeling like a cowardly little faggot.
He toes out of his shoes, fighting the urge to kick them across the room the way he used to do when he was a kid, and tosses his jacket onto a stool as he makes his way to the couch. Everything is quiet, but Justin can hear his dreams lurking in the empty corners of the loft, so he turns on the TV to dry to drown them out. He had a long and beautiful relationship with television back when he was too fucking scared to head out the door, and it looks as though they’re about to have a joyful reunion.
Halfway through a rerun of Law and Order, he hears the elevator and gets up to open the door for Brian. But he doesn’t slide it open until after Brian calls out and Justin is sure it’s him. It’s just a precaution, he thinks, one that they should have been taking all along, especially with all the tricks Brian has brought home over the years, and all the people in Brian’s life who seem to come and go through the loft without ever knocking. He can’t count the number of times someone has walked in on them when they were naked and in the throes of some debauchery or another.
(Justin remains convinced that he had set the alarm that time back when he was still in high school—half the free world seems to know how to get into Brian’s loft and usually does, and he’s ninety-nine percent sure the break-in wasn’t his fault.)
Brian never gives the appearance of being too bothered by the unwanted interruptions, but Justin has never been one to let people have such easy access to his private space. Or maybe it’s just that, after years of never living anywhere that really belonged to him or wasn’t on loan from someone who begrudged giving it, he has grown selfish, when it comes to what does belong to him.
But he doesn’t want to think about the implications of that idea, so he shakes it off and watches Brian walk in with a huge bag of take-out in one hand and another bag from some music store in the other. Justin slides the door closed behind Brian and makes certain it’s locked, conscientiously setting the alarm this time. He tells himself he doesn’t do it any faster than usual and that his hands aren’t shaking, and then he walks quickly around to the other side of the counter so Brian can’t see the shaking that his hands aren’t doing.
Maybe he should have scrounged through Brian’s stash for his last joint. Just to take the edge off. His mind keeps ricocheting from one thing to the next, and none of the thoughts he’s thinking are reassuring ones. He feels rather like an abused pinball, and he just wants to stop slamming into things and careening off into space.
“Hello, darling. How was your day?” Brian asks, and Justin is grateful for the sarcasm that is nothing like how Brian used to treat him after the bashing. He’s desperate for something not to feel the way it did back then.
This isn’t then, and Justin needs the reminder that he isn’t actually drowning in the past, so he takes Brian’s cue. “Wonderful, honey; how was yours? Did you have a tough day at the office?”
Brian sets the take-out down and rests one hip against the counter, pulling off his gloves and laying them aside. “My day was pretty much for shit. And since I really can’t deal with any other ignorant people today, I thought we might stay in and park ourselves in front of the TV again, for a few hours.” He holds up the other bag and shakes it.
The memories make Justin smile a little, and he can’t resist. “Oh, really? What movies did you get? Regarding Henry? The Fisher King? My Boyfriend’s a Pussy?”
“Now, is that any way to treat someone who just wants to cuddle with you on the couch? Honestly, Sunshine. And after I bought you a present, too.”
Justin’s smile turns a little more sincere. “So sorry. What did you get me?”
“There’s my mercenary boy.” Brian pulls something out of the bag and hands it to Justin. “Don’t say I never did anything for you.”
Justin stares at the objects in his hand, then looks up at Brian in disbelief. “Harry Potter? I love Harry Potter.” He does. Daphne brought him the first book when he was in the hospital and there wasn’t really anything to do when he wasn’t sleeping or in physical therapy. He liked it so much his mother bought him the rest of the books that were out, and he’s been a devoted fan ever since.
Harry is a survivor with a head scar, too, and Justin can appreciate that in a person.
Brian shrugs. “I know. I do listen to you, on occasion, you know.”
“Thank you.” Justin always loves Brian, but there are times when he falls even more in love with him. “You know this means I’m going to make you watch these with me, though, right?”
“I figured as much.”
“Just so we’re on the same page.” Justin looks at the bag, again, and realizes there is something else inside it. “What else did you get?”
Brian’s hand disappears inside the bag, but he pauses before he pulls it out. He gives Justin a serious look and raises his eyebrows at him.
“If anyone asks, I bought this for you.”
Justin bites the inside of his cheek. “Of course.”
Then Brian pulls out another box and holds it so Justin can read the title. It makes him grin.
“Not one word, you little shit.”
“Of course not.” There is something incredibly endearing about Brian’s guilty purchase, and the fact that Brian is letting him in on the secret means more to Justin than the knowledge that Brian remembered he loves Harry Potter. Sometimes, it seems as if Justin has had to fight and scrounge for every scrap of information about Brian Kinney he possesses, and to have this one offered to him voluntarily feels vaguely like cheating, but a lot more like he won some contest he forgot he entered.
He looks away from the lettering on the front cover of the box and back up at Brian’s face, wanting to understand this side of him. “It’s because it’s kind of a western, isn’t it? At least, that’s what I’ve heard, but I never saw any of the episodes.”
Brian hands the box to him while he shrugs out of his jacket and lays it on top of Justin’s. “That’s because you don’t know quality television when it’s on. This isn’t some lame-ass shit like Gay As Blazes. This has strong characters, witty dialogue, and really hot guys. Guys you’d actually want to fuck. The fact that they canceled it before it ran for a full season just goes to show that this country is populated by ignorant fuckers who wouldn’t know a good idea if it kneed them in the balls.” He bends over to untie his shoes, adding nonchalantly, “I figured it wouldn’t kill us to stay in for a few days or so and watch them.”
The defensive nature of the speech makes Justin smile, but the comment at the end leaves him momentarily without words. He’s grateful to Brian for realizing he can’t go out yet—and he knows he can’t. It’s an enormous relief and a pleasant surprise to know he can avoid the throngs of people at
“…I see,” he says, finally, finding his voice again, and then he begins tearing off the plastic wrapping of Brian’s purchases. “Well, as long as we’re watching quality television, who am I to complain?”
“Watch it, Sunshine, or you might be in for another spanking. And this time, don’t expect anyone to walk in and save you before you’re well and truly punished,” Brian says, raising his voice as he disappears into the bedroom to change out of his Armani suit.
“Promises, promises.” He throws Brian a wink and a smile, just like the song says, because threats like those deserve that kind of response, and Justin’s relief and nervous energy have been known to translate into flirtatiousness before. Besides, it’s almost the default setting in his relationship with Brian.
His partner, who would die before ever admitting to being the sweet, thoughtful man he can be when he’s not trying to pretend he’s the biggest asshole ever to walk the earth.
Of course, Brian’s gestures never have just one meaning. This is also an apology for Brian kicking him out of the loft when Justin tried to do this for him, and Justin knows it. He knows Brian, and he wonders why people seem to think Brian can make only the big gestures. It’s always been the quiet ones that have meant the most to Justin.
“Bring the food,” he calls over his shoulder as he makes his way back toward the TV, shaking his ass just enough to get away with the order, “and grab some beer.”
Justin can hear Brian grumbling about not being anyone’s fucking servant, and he closes his eyes for a moment and just listens to the familiar sound of Brian’s footsteps as they cross from the bedroom to the kitchen. The weight of these noises is comforting. If he has to stay in and hide from the monsters in his own mind, at least he has the best and hottest company anyone could ever want.
Things aren’t so bad.
“Which do you want to watch, first? Space-western quality television or boy-saviour goes to private school to learn magic?”
Brian sits down next to him and hands him a beer, then starts lifting containers of Thai food out of the bag. “I’ve had good luck starting things with schoolboys in uniforms.”
That brings Justin’s head up, and he looks over at Brian, casually arranging the food in front of them. It’s amazing. Every once in a blue moon, Brian will say something or do something, be romantic in the most offhand ways, and every single time he does it, it knocks Justin on his ass. And since Justin is never allowed to acknowledge said action or words overtly, all he can do is stare at Brian and think how grateful he is that Brian took him back after the temporary insanity that was the Ethan debacle.
No that staring at Brian is a hardship, or even anything new. Brian has been Justin’s best and most constant model for years, although he can’t say that he stares at Brian only for inspiration.
Eventually Brian can’t ignore Justin’s gaze any longer, and when he looks up, Justin leans over and kisses him. He slides his hands into Brian’s hair and his tongue into Brian’s mouth, and he thanks him the best way he knows how—without getting naked, which is something Justin wants to save for later. The kiss is warm and wet and full of everything he can put into it to tell Brian what he is thinking and how much Brian means to him. When he pulls back, he is breathing heavily, and Brian’s eyes are dark and hot.
It’s a look Justin has always loved on Brian, and he paints it again in his mind for the millionth time, even as his eyes flicker down to Brian’s crotch just long enough to confirm that yes, Brian is as hard as he is. It’s such a shame he really wants to see the movies Brian bought him, because Justin is starting to crave the feeling of Brian thick and hard and thrusting deep inside him. But he’s never actually seen the Harry Potter films, and he’s kind of hungry, too, so he tells his body it’s just going to have to wait.
But first, there’s something he needs to say, and he won’t let Brian stop him, because it’s not often that Justin thinks he can get away with saying it without Brian almost running away. At the moment, Brian is being nice to him, and Justin intends to take shameless advantage of that fact so he can say this without retribution.
And he has to say it. Brian tends to ignore him when he does, or find some way to make him regret speaking the words out loud, but Justin decides that even if he’s scared shitless to go outside right now, he doesn’t have to be a coward about everything. So he takes a breath and lets it out and tells Brian that he loves him. He says it simply, because he’s stating a rather obvious fact, and they both know it, but then he adds something else. “You know that, right?”
Brian’s eyes glance away, then back. He doesn’t say anything, but after a moment, he dips his chin in a small nod.
“Good. Don’t forget.” Then, before it all becomes shamelessly sentimental and Brian has to say something cruel to defuse the situation, Justin moves away toward the TV, gliding his hand down Brian’s neck and off his shoulder in a lingering caress.
But Brian’s hand on his wrist makes him turn back. “Justin.”
He can’t finish, can’t say the words, but something dark and unfathomable behind his eyes is pleading with Justin to understand.
Justin allows himself one quick smile, one of the ones that earned him his nickname, because it’s more than he thought Brian would ever give him. He kisses Brian again, briefly this time, but it’s still enough to make them both a little breathless when he pulls away, and after, he rests his forehead against Brian’s for a minute.
Then he moves back and crawls away to put the disc in the player, giving Brian the chance to have a little space and ogle his ass. He grabs the remote and crawls back again, settling in and leaning ever so slightly against Brian. Justin picks up his chopsticks and pulls one of the containers of food toward him, but as the menu appears on the screen in front of him, he glances over at Brian, again, unable to stop himself.
Brian catches him at it. “What?”
“…Nothing,” Justin says, turning his attention back to the screen and the food in front of him.
* * *
That night, Justin makes it until before the nightmares have him screaming them both awake, and this time he doesn’t have to ask Brian to keep him from falling back to sleep. He wipes his hands angrily across his wet face, but Brian pulls them down and holds them against his chest. He throws one leg over Justin’s hip and uses it to pull Justin in closer, and in the wee dark hours of the morning, Justin allows himself to take all the comfort he can get. Brian holds him, his head tucked in close to Brian’s neck, until they decide it’s time to get up and have a shower.
As they step into the light of the bathroom, Justin can see that Brian’s eyes are heavy-lidded from lack of sleep. He curses himself and tries to tell Brian how sorry he is for waking him up, but Brian tells him to shut up and washes Justin’s hair for him, instead.
Justin’s just relieved there was no panic attack this time.
He closes his eyes and leans against Brian’s wet body, focusing on the feeling of Brian’s hands in his hair and thinking that if there were a mirror that showed your heart’s desire, this is what he’d see.
Concluded in Part Three