A Sudden Aense Of Liberty

R.C. McLachlan

Post 5.13

A uthor's Notes:I want to see if I can do as good of a job with Gus as sydneyalexis does.
D edicated to suzvoy, because she's amazing, and superstitiousme, because v-babe's just so darn nice.

***********


Justin was spraying his latest painting with hairspray when the knocking on his door started. It was a really cheap solution, but the paint finish he needed tended to be a little expensive. Hairspray did the job. Even as the rapping continued, he took a step back and studied his work, tilting his head at different angles, considering light sources and perspectives. It was an art deco piece, blocks and sharp angles and sweeping lines. Brilliant colors. A cool, aloof subject. Brian looked spectacular in his pinstripe suit; fedora placed askew, covering one eye.

He loved the Roaring Twenties.

The knocking had escalated into a pounding, and Justin frowned, tearing himself away from the image of his zoot suit lover.

The trip from his balcony to the front door wasn't a long one, but it was long enough for him to slam his knee into an old coffee table for the third time that morning. He really needed to move the stupid thing and was absently scanning his apartment for ideal new homes for it when he reached the door.

"It's nine in the morning. I could've been sleeping for all you know. Whatever it is, it'd better be--" He opened the door and stopped.

Gus waggled his fingers cheekily.

"-- good."


-//-//-//-



Justin watched as Gus hungrily consumed his chicken chow mein, which had arrived only minutes before from the Chinese place around the corner. The boy looked tired, face pale and shadows marking the skin under his eyes. His dark hair was matted with what could have been sweat, or maybe it just needed to be washed. His tee-shirt was rumbled, but he was smiling.

"So," Justin began, crossing his legs so he was sitting Indian-style on the floor across from Gus. "You ran away from home."

"Mphff hmm." A bit of clear sauce dribbled down Gus's chin. Justin cringed.

"Home, which happens to be located in Canada."

Gus swallowed noisily and belched. "Yup."

"How?"

The boy lowered the carton of chow mein and took a deep breath. Justin could feel his eyebrows beetle and the top of his lip lift in an unpleasant expression of 'oh no…'.

"Okay, so the moms are starting to get on my case, right? About colleges. I'm fifteen fucking years old! Kids my age don't have to worry about that shit for another year or two. But no, they want me to be prepared. But they're choosing the schools for me. Ma wants me to be a lawyer, right? But mom keeps telling me that my creative genius can be put toward more lucrative jobs which will propel me into the art world. Like graphic design. And which school is closer, and what's the student to teacher ratio, and the tuition and the reputation and who's come out of it a big, fat fucking success. But I want to be a… And then they find out that I fucked J.P. Beaubier at a party from some bitch's mother and they fucking flip because I'm not supposed to be gay, but then I fucked Laurel Roch, and now they're going off their nuts about sex lectures and responsibilities and the kind of role model I am for J.R., and God forbid I turn out like my dad and--"

Gus paused and speared a piece of white chicken with his plastic fork and popped it into his mouth.

"-- and so I left."

Justin knew he was staring, but he couldn't help but gawk at the little freak and his ability to say all that without taking a breath between sentences. That skill could've definitely come in handy when Brian had taken him to that hotel with the pool… He'd carried around Brian's come and six gallons of chlorine water in his belly for weeks.

"You left," Justin repeated, just to be sure he heard correctly.

"I left."

"Did you tell anyone?"

Gus smiled and shook his head. "Nope!"

The cops were probably on their way to his apartment. Lindsay was going to yell at him. Mel was going to cut his balls off. And Brian probably had a list of the creative deaths he could suffer.

"You… you won't tell anyone, right, Jus?"

Gus was entirely too aware of the fact that he had Justin wrapped around his finger.

Of course, the thought of Brian and his list of Death out-weighed Gus's large eyes.

Justin had his cell phone in hand faster than Gus could said, "Aww, c'mon, no!"

Brian picked up on the first ring.

"He's sitting right next to me," Justin said before Brian could get anything out, leaning against the leg of the old coffee table, head thunking against the wood. Gus crossed his arms and mouthed 'traitor'. Justin ignored him.

"… No, I realize he's in a lot of trouble."

Gus watched Justin curiously.

"… It's New Year's? When did that happen? … No, I've been busy, thank you very much. Yeah, the show's coming up soon… which means so are you… Bullshit, yes you are. I worked hard on all of these pieces and if you ever want to see me naked again you'll come up to see them."

Gus made a face and went to grab some crab rangoons.

"… It's not my job to tell you not to ground Gus for the rest of his natural life."

Gus decided to wait and sat back angelically. Justin rolled his eyes.

"… Stop yelling at me. He'll be perfectly safe with me until you come to pick him up. Just call off the bloodhounds. Jesus! Y… You're not gonna call Mel and Lindsay, are you? I value my life."



"… What are we gonna do? Well, I don't know. I could take him into town to see the ball drop."

Gus watched in disbelief as Justin dropped the phone and bared his teeth at it. A tinny screeching emitted from it, and he realized it was his dad, shouting.

"He's loud."

"No shit," mumbled Justin, reaching for the phone again. "Brian… Br-- BRIAN, SHUT THE FUCK UP!!"

Gus swallowed and focused on twiddling his thumbs.

"He'll be fine. And I doubt you want me to send him to the airport, just to high-tail it back to Canada. Gus'll spend the night and then you can come and pick him up tomorrow. Okay? Bye." Justin ended the call and shut the phone off, tossing it onto the worn couch behind Gus.

"… That probably wasn't the best idea," Gus put out, and Justin cracked a smile.

"Probably not."



"Wanna rent a movie?"


-//-//-//-



"You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a really great man."

Gus dug into his pint of Ben and Jerry's and brought out half of the ice cream on his spoon, shoving it past his lips. He hummed in rapture as the chocolate and the chunks of Heath bar slid over his tongue, and then gave a muffled yelp as the cold shocked his teeth. Justin rolled his eyes and ate from his own pint.

"Nice," he teased the boy, whose jaw was working madly to melt the ice cream and swallow it. Gus glared at him.

The medium-sized television was held up by a small… thing. Gus thought it might have been an entertainment center, but he'd never seen one that was wooden and black with white splatters of paint on it. The DVD player was on a shelf underneath it.

"I love this movie," Gus announced, but it came out more like, "ah ruv 'is boovey". Justin cocked an eyebrow in interest and nodded his agreement.

"Orson Welles is the best," continued the boy, jabbing his empty spoon into the carton. "And he would've been the greatest actor ever if it hadn't been for that fucking Hearst guy. Douche bag."

But all Justin could hear was, 'Brian Kinney would've been the greatest gay Casanova ever if it hadn't been for that Taylor kid'.

"Ah." Nothing else he could really say to that.

After a moment, Gus lowered his ice cream and pursed his lips, eyes hollow. Justin sighed and grabbed for the remote, pressing 'STOP'. He regarded the boy for a moment, took in his pale skin and the regal nose which belonged to his father, and scootched over, wrapping an arm around him.

"What's up?"

Gus let out a long breath. "Was I wrong to run away? Because of all that shit?"

Justin snorted quietly. "I ran away once… for much less."

That sparked the boy's attention. "Really? For what?"

And with that, Justin told the story of how he'd forgotten to set the alarm for Brian's loft and how Brian had kicked him out… not before unwittingly leaving Justin his credit card. Gus listened raptly, grinning at certain parts, frowning at others.

"He just… kicked you out?"

Justin smiled. "Well, it was very, very early in our relationship. At that point, I was just a trick that stayed too long."

"But dad came and got you."

"Yup. And Christ, what a… yeah."

The grin that broke across Gus's face was positively evil. "Hot hotel sex?"

Justin fanned himself dramatically. "You have no idea." Their hysterics tapered off into uncomfortable silence, and Gus drew his knees up to his chin. Justin's heart bled at the sight of such broken posture. Such defeat. "Start talking, sonny boy."

It won him a small smile. "I just… I don't think I can live up to their expectations. I want to live my own life, y'know? And I hate being away from dad and grandma and everyone. No offense to anyone Canadian, but it sucks up there. Nothing like home."

Gus leaned into the hand that started to stroke his hair with a hum. "I miss dad terribly. And you."

"Well, here I am."

"Are you ever going back to Pittsburgh?"

Justin said nothing for a long moment, just rested his chin on the top of Gus's head, staring out at the window behind the TV. He'd forgotten what it felt like to hold the boy he named once upon a time. Gus had grown into a gorgeous, young man. Well, with Brian Kinney's genes, how could he have been anything but? Justin tried to think back to the last time he had been held this way. Over four months ago, during a weekend interlude when Brian had come to New York on business. He could still feel the gaping hole left behind on his heart as a result of that departure.

He'd established himself as an artist… one of the best going. He'd made his contacts, his rounds. He'd had his shows, his stellar reviews. He had a show coming up… the one that would showcase his most recent work…

But he missed the other half of him. His muse. His reason for… everything.

He thought back to an afternoon in a grungy apartment, to the words that had echoed off the crumbling walls.

The next Warhol…

But he was Justin Taylor.

He smiled into Gus's hair. "Yeah. After my next show, I'm going home."

"Awesome," Gus whispered, closing his eyes. "That's brave of you… so, since you're so brave, could you talk to my mothers for me and tell them I want to become a vet?"


-//-//-//-



They watched the ball drop from the TV, their mingled voices chanting the countdown still ringing through the air. Outside, in the street, people were setting off small firework and waving sparklers around, cheering and raising champagne bottles. Gus watched them from the window.

He turned to say something, but was hit in the face with his jacket. Justin was leaning against his apartment door with a grin, coat zipped up to his chin.

"No way."

"It's been a while since I've danced in the street, but I think I can remember how it's done."

Someone had their car stereo blasting, and Justin closed his eyes, letting the familiar words rush over him. Gus was close by, thanking a pair of fags for the sparkler they'd given him, jumping up and down to the beat, waving the sizzling light around wildly.

He remembered a night when people had been partying like this, waving sparklers and flags, dancing and singing and laughing. He remembered the arm that had been wrapped around his waist, the lean form he had been pressed up against, the mouth that had whispered into his ear, "not everything".

An arm wrapped around his waist and pressed him up against a lean form, a mouth whispering into his ear, "you fucking kids and your parties."

His eyes flew open just as Gus shouted, "DAD!"

Justin turned and met that mouth with his own, breathed in the other's breath, and smiled.

"Not my idea of ringing in the New Year, but I'll let it slide… just this once."

But Brian was grinning, and Gus was hugging them both and still wanted to be a vet, and Justin couldn't remember the last time he was this happy.

"Mel's still going to kill you."

… There would be time for the rest later. For now, Justin wanted to dance with Brian and Gus in the streets of New York.

Happy New Year, indeed.

End