Summary: Justin doesn't know what he wants.
Notes: So unless you've been living under a rock somewhere you know that, courtesy of season 4, Brian and Justin are partners now. I feel so validated. Anyway, erin21boch wanted me to write the original "partners" discussion. So I did. Surprise, Erin. :P Schmoop ahead.
Around the time that Justin is interning for Brian, he decides that he’s had enough.
“Brian,” he says, walking resolutely into his office one day and shutting the door smartly behind him. Brian looks up from his paperwork and braces his chin on his hand mildly. That just irritates Justin further.
Justin takes a breath. “Here’s the deal. I’m not just a fuck and I’m not just some one-night stand and I’m not just your friend. We’re not straight and we’re not lesbians and we’re not some happy homo couple. I know you don’t love me like that and you won’t ever love me like that, but we’re both adults and I think you can handle this.”
Brian raises one eyebrow.
Justin sort of gives up on his tirade and shrugs and sighs. “So what am I to you?”
Brian looks at him calmly for a moment. “As far as I’m concerned,” he says, brushing an invisible speck of lint off his two-thousand dollar suit, “you’re my employee.”
Justin doesn’t come to the loft for two days after that. On the third day, Brian blows him in the bathroom at work and things go back to normal for a little while. Justin stops asking difficult questions and lets Brian fuck him on his desk, and Brian is visibly relieved.
But of course Justin doesn’t forget. Two weeks later they’re both unemployed and at Woody’s and Justin insist on paying the tab because looming credit card bills fill his mind.
“Another one for my boyfriend,” he says to the bartender casually, motioning to Brian’s scotch glass, and out of the corner of his eye he sees Brian pause, blink, then continue lighting a cigarette. He accepts the drink and sips it calmly and doesn’t say anything about the b-word.
Justin considers it a small victory until the bartender ruins it all when he smirks and says, “Boyfriend, huh?”
Fuck you, buddy, Justin thinks, watching Brian toss them both sardonic, angry glances and stomp away to play pool. Only, pool is never just pool when it comes to Brian. Sure enough, within a few minutes he’s approached by a blond sex god and they disappear into the bathroom.
Justin thinks of the well-worn phrase Brian Kinney doesn’t do boyfriends. Sometimes it feels like he heard that every day when he was seventeen. And it isn’t that Brian is fucking another guy, because God knows he does that often enough – but some random person gets a whiff of Brian’s feelings and he can’t deal. That had been happening since Justin was seventeen, too.
“Can I get you another?” the bartender asks, and Justin sighs and holds out his glass.
One night soon after that Brian picks Justin up from the diner and throws a dry cleaning bag in his face. “Put this on,” he says.
Justin opens the bag with an eyebrow raised. “A suit? Why do I have to put on a suit?” He notices Brian is wearing one himself, under his best cashmere coat.
Brian informs him that they’re gate crashing a high-society fundraiser in the hopes that he will be able to schmooze a few potential clients for his new agency. He runs a stoplight on the way over, lights a cigarette and puts it out, and Justin knows he is probably thinking of those credit card bills, too.
“So why do you want me here?” Justin asks in confusion as he follows Brian out of the car and into the hotel where the event is being held. They stop just outside the door.
“Well, turns out that the host of the evening is a dyke, so I figure showing up together can’t hurt my chances. Now keep your mouth shut and smile.” Brian adjusts his tie, kisses him on the forehead and determinedly makes his entrance, with Justin trailing in his wake.
Justin manages to stand quietly near the bar for most of the evening, avoiding the security guards. Eventually, however, Brian grabs his hand and drags him over to meet a potential client, a dignified older woman standing with her timid-looking husband. Definitely not the dyke host.
“Justin, this is Rebecca Harling.” Brian names her as the owner of several upscale golf courses, an account Justin knows he would love to win. “Mrs. Harling, this is my--”
He pauses. Both Justin and Mrs. Harling look at him. Brian smiles. “My coworker Justin Taylor,” he finishes. “Justin is an artist. Mrs. Harling is very interested in the art scene, Justin.”
Justin knows he is expected to smile and be charming and make nice with the rich lady. So he smiles and talks charmingly about PIFA (ignoring that whole expulsion thing) and when Mrs. Harling is sufficiently drunk and charmed, she agrees to call Brian to set up a meeting tomorrow.
Justin seethes as Brian squeezes his ass and seethes as they drive home and seethes as Brian promptly strips him naked as soon as they’re in the loft. He figures he might get a better answer out of Brian if he’s well-fucked, though, so he lets Brian fuck him on the floor; knees and hands slipping on the hardwood, sweaty chest pressed against sweaty back, Brian’s mouth fastened to Justin’s neck. It’s a good fuck, which is unsettling, because Justin would rather stay mad at Brian. He can’t let his inner seventeen-year-old heart take over.
Afterwards they remain on the floor. Brian is still on top of him and seems content to stay there, stroking Justin’s hair and kissing his neck lazily.
Stop being so nice, you bastard, Justin thinks. “Brian?”
“What the fuck happened back there? When you introduced me as your coworker?”
Brian laughs a little. “Come on, Mrs. Harling is a conservative old bag. What was I supposed to say?”
Justin rolls out from under him and flips Brian on his back. “You are so pathetic.”
“Don’t be a princess. It’s no one’s fucking business what we are to each other.”
“It wouldn’t kill you to try.”
“Is this the pouting stage of the evening?”
Justin glares at him. “I thought I was there as your date.”
Brian winces in exaggerated disgust. “Christ, you know how I feel about swearing in this house.”
That makes Justin smile a little. Damn him. Brian senses his weakness, matches his smile, and kisses him gently. “So pathetic,” Justin repeats against his lips, and Brian pulls him down for round two.
It doesn’t really start to get bad until Justin arranges to have Brian pick him up one afternoon. He’s having a little reunion with some old PIFA friends, giggling over coffee with students who are already so caffeinated Justin is slightly afraid. Justin relishes the opportunity to be a twenty year old kid for awhile, to wear the same sneakers as everyone else and talk about the latest Tom Cruise movie. It’s a lie, of course, because he doesn’t go to school and he doesn’t have a real job and he lives with a thirty-two-year old guy, but it’s fun.
Marissa, a soprano in the music program, gives Justin the latest, unwanted, gossip on Ethan (“I heard he got fat”) and then asks how many times Justin and Brian fucked last night. Justin is still boggling a little when Brian glides into the coffee shop, tie loosened and looking grumpy.
“You ready?” he says to Justin, fiddling with his keys impatiently.
The other kids blink and shuffle awkwardly, but Marissa is wide-eyed. “Ooh, Justin, is this your lover?” she breathes.
Brian looks like he wants to slice her with his car keys.
Justin lays his hand on Brian’s shoulder. “Yes, this is my lover,” he says, and manages not to wince. He smiles convincingly and thinks of all the ways Brian will kill him later. He finds he does not really care.
Brian takes his elbow and guides him out of the coffee shop. In the car, he is silent for three intersections before he says carefully, “A question.”
“What the fuck is with you lately?”
It’s his calm, no-nonsense tone that he uses at business meetings, which is when Justin starts to care. Justin wants him to queen out. A fight would be easier to handle. He stays silent.
Brian considers the steering wheel. “Is this about the other night? Mrs. Harling? What the fuck, Justin, I thought you were...” he gestures vaguely, “...okay with things.”
It’s the most introspection Brian has had about their relationship in three years.
“I am,” Justin says slowly.
“What do you want, my validation? You want pretty songs and a ring on your finger?”
That is a low blow, even for Brian, and Justin feels fidgety because it’s not his validation he wants, not really. He had learned his lesson about that. But he finds it a little hard to believe that after all this time Brian still has such a problem with this, even as something as simple as putting a name to their relationship, and Justin is really just tired of having to introduce Brian with, “Well, he fucks me more than once and we live together but we’re not dating, really, I just got hit in the head once. It’s kind of complicated.”
“No,” Justin says finally, “I don’t know what I want.”
Justin looks out the window and Brian doesn’t say anything else for a long time.
The next week Justin is having lunch with Daphne at the diner. Justin doesn’t tell her about the sort-of fight, or the tug of uneasiness he has felt between himself and Brian; they eat fries and Daphne chatters about her new boyfriend. Eventually, though, she catches something in Justin’s expression.
“How are things with Brian?” she asks.
Justin fiddles with his fries and smiles blankly. “Fine.”
“Shouldn’t you be getting home to see the hubby?”
“Better not let him hear that,” Justin says, giving a real smile this time. He kisses her cheek and walks back to the loft slowly.
It’s a Sunday but for once Brian isn’t working; he’s talking on the phone in the bedroom when Justin slides the door open. He doesn’t appear to hear when Justin comes in.
“Frankly, Pierre,” Brian is saying, in his loudest, bossiest voice, “I don’t care what your schedule is. I made that reservation last week.”
Justin frowns as he gets a bottle of water from the fridge, remembering they made vague plans for dinner weeks ago.
“Well, I think your opinion is bullshit,” Brian continues. “No, it would not be convenient to reschedule.” Brian paces the bedroom floor, his back to Justin. “I’m the CEO of Kinnetic, Pierre, and I’ve been coming to your restaurant for client lunches for years. If you’d like to continue to have my valuable business, I think it would be in your best interest to find a table for myself and my partner for dinner tonight.”
“Fuck you too. Merci,” Brian finishes sarcastically, and throws the phone on the bed. He turns and sees Justin, standing still in the kitchen, hand frozen on his bottle of water.
“Fucking piece of shit restaurant says they don’t have a record of my reservation. Anywhere else you wanna go? How about Thai?” Brian asks. He wanders into the living room and collapses on the couch, thumbing through a phonebook.
Partner. Justin puts down his water bottle, walks into the living room slowly and stands before him. And because he can’t resist, he touches Brian’s face and runs a hand through his hair, stroking gently. Brian looks up after a moment, brow furrowed. “What?”
Justin smiles and thinks that maybe it’s not so complicated after all. “Nothing,” he says. “Thai would be great.”
This fic would not exist without ragingpixie and erin21boch so thank you and much love to them.