"Now, do you remember what Justin told you," Brian asked, tugging the tie through the knot before tightening it around Gus' neck. The little boy blinked and scrunched his nose in thought.
"Don't put my elbows on the table?"
Brian nodded, lips thinning. "Anything else?"
"Don't say anything that Daddy would say," Gus repeated solemnly, looking up at his Daddy Justin to get confirmation that he'd remembered it right.
Raising an eyebrow, Brian pinned Justin with a stare. Justin just shrugged, totally unphased.
"It was the fastest way," he reasoned.
"Daddy," Gus said, squirming in the car seat. "Why did we have 'ta get all dressed up? We're only going to Nana Jen's house."
"Because sometimes it's nice to dress up and act like adults," Justin said, watching the scenery pass outside of his window. To be honest, he'd been wondering the same thing, but his mom had asked them to do as much when she invited them.
"But none of my other friends have to wear Mani to dinner."
"That's Armani," Brian said, eyes locking on his son's through the rear view mirror.
"Mani, Armani. What's the difference," Gus grumbled in his seat.
Justin suppressed a smirk as he watched Brian grind his teeth.
When the door to Jennifer's condo opened, Justin had to blink because he wasn't sure he had the right house until...
"Mollusk? Is that you?"
The girl at the door rolled her eyes and stood back to let them enter. Gus took one look at the bright hair that was so much like his Jus' and the pink, form-fitting dress and fell in love.
"Wow. You're pretty," Gus said, smiling brightly at the teenager.
"You're not so bad yourself, squirt," Molly said, ruffling Gus' hair.
Gus instantly started to smooth his hair down. "Don't mess up my hair."
"Christ, he really is your son," Justin said, watching the boy's antics.
When it came time to sit at the dinner table, Gus scrambled for a seat beside Molly. Brian raised an eyebrow but just helped the kid into his chair. Jennifer, of course, noticed this.
"What is it with Kinney men stealing my kids," Jennifer said, smiling at the little boy.
Offering a mocking smile and a syrupy sweet tone, Brian responded, "Perhaps it's the good genes they inherited for you, Mother Dear."
Jen offered her own crooked smile.
As soon as Gus was settled and making moon eyes at Molly, Tucker started to help Jen into her seat and getting awfully handsy while doing it.
Justin glared at the guy because, while he might accept Tucker, he can't get passed the overly suspicious act. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Craig was a total tool. Not to mention the whole squick factor at the idea of his mom having a fuck buddy.
While dinner might have been interesting with just Brian's thinly veiled innuendos, no one was prepared for the Kinney-byte version of truth or dare.
"Are you Mollusk's partner," Gus asked, turning big, hazel eyes at the strange man across the table.
Forks clattered on to plates, wine glasses froze mid-motion, and Justin watched as the high color raise on Tucker's cheeks. He knew he should feel bad for the guy; Lord knows he'd been at the receiving end of a Gus interrogation. Of course, in this instance, he totally approved.
Yet another reason he loved the kid; his great ability to get to the heart of the matter. Just like his daddy.
Molly ruffled the kid's hair just to annoy him, finally understanding why Justin enjoyed it so much. "No, squirt, he's with my mom."
"But he's as young as Justin," Gus said.
Justin licked his lips to cover the smile. "Gus, do you remember what Daddy and I told you before we came?"
Biting his lower lip, Gus swung his little legs back and forth against his chair. "Don't put my elbows on the table," he said, making a show of taking them off.
"Don't say anything Daddy would say?"
"But Momma said it was rude not to answer someone's question," Gus said, twirling his fork in his hand.
Justin watched in astonishment as Tucker sat forward on his chair and began to answer.
"Gus, your Momma also probably told you that she was okay with whoever you loved, didn't she?"
Nodding, Gus smiled. "Momma said that boys can love girls like Nana Deb and Carl, and that boys can love boys like Daddy and Justin, and that girls can love girls like Mom and Momma. She said it doesn't matter who I love as long as I'm happy 'regardless of what that asshole in the White House says.'"
Tucker smiled at the little boy. "So it should be okay for me to love your Nana Jen then, shouldn't it?"
Gus crinkled his nose up for a moment. "I guess so, yeah."
Justin smiled over at the little boy. Okay, so maybe Tucker wasn't just arm candy.
Justin should have known what was coming when his mother invited 'the family' over. Should have seen it when she went out of her way to invite Brian and Gus when she found out he was staying for the summer. But the cincher should have been her making his favorite dessert--lemon meringue pie. Not the from the restaurant or from the freezer type, either. It was the slightly uneven, made at home by hand variety.
That should have been a fucking omen.
But oh no he had just assumed she was happy her child was home from the wickedness of New York City. That he'd made his career in the art world and chose to come home to his partner.
How wrong he was.
He had just bit into his third to last bite when she made the announcement.
"Tucker and I are getting married."
Justin looked from his mother's beaming smile to Tucker's smug one to Molly's bored expression.
"You knew about this," he accused his little sister who just shrugged.
"Kinda hard to miss, Jussy. I mean I live here."
While the Justin of ten years ago would have queened out and stomped out of the room. The newer, improved, city savvy Justin was very capable of hiding what he was thinking. Putting on his best fake smile, he said, "Congratulations, Mom," before leaning across his seat to kiss her on the cheek.
"Thank you, honey."
Jennifer sent them home with the rest of the pie and some leftovers. After that day, though, Justin swore off lemon meringue.
As soon as they got the door, Gus was already trying to get out of his coat and tie and only succeeding in strangling himself in the process. Without thinking, Brian reached down and started helping the kid while Justin unlocked the car and flopped into the passenger's seat. Head resting against the cool glass, he closed his eyes and tried to will the headache away.
"I can't believe my mother's getting married."
Climbing into the car and turning the engine over, Brian side-eyed Justin. "I'm sure your mother said the same thing about both of us not that long ago.
Releasing a put-upon sigh that Brian knew meant 'you're right, but I'm not willing to admit it,' Justin continued to watch his mother's neighborhood pass by his window.
"I just don't want her to end up with someone like Dad again. I mean...he had to have been good to her at some point to get her to marry him..."
Lips thinning as he flicked on the turn signal, Brian chose to remain silent because, while he was familiar with the concept, his own parents and his sister tied the knot out of necessity instead of love--both Joanie and Claire had gotten themselves knocked up.
When the food was put away and Gus was safely tucked away for the night, Justin collapsed onto the bed and continued to stare at the ceiling.
"I can't believe she's getting married," he repeated for the four billionth time. Brian was starting to suspect Justin had had a stroke or was going through post traumatic stress.
Rolling his eyes and counting backwards from ten, Brian remained silent, thanking the Powers that he'd had enough years with Mikey to learn to control his rage somewhat.
After toeing off his shoes and stripping himself of his coat, tie, and shirt, he started to eye the blond on the bed wondering if he fucked Justin long enough would it stop the broken record routine.
"My mother's going to be Mrs. Tucker..." Justin paused, turning onto his stomach.
There was a long, long pause that made Brian think Justin had finally gone into catatonic shock. That was until he watched his partner's face twist in horror.
"My mother's getting married, and I don't even know the guy's last name!"
The second time Jen called asking 'the family' to come to dinner, Brian answered the phone. He'd been quick to tell her no. That is until she turned on the patented Female Guilt Routine. Tested and perfected over many years, it have proven highly useful in the passed.
And, although he was gay and had had a shitty mother, he still wasn't immune. Witness his inability to tell Lindsay no when she asked him to father Gus and Deb talking him into dressing in drag one Halloween. The one and only Halloween that was never mentioned under pain of death.
"Jen, as much as I'd like to, I don't think Justin's up to another round of Leave it to Breeder."
Jennifer was quiet for a long moment, and Brian knew she was just regrouping.
"Do you remember the first time you and I had a real conversation?"
"Are we counting the time you dropped off Justin's shit in my office or the multiple times you told me to stay the fuck away?"
He swore he could hear her smile into the phone.
"I meant the time you and I talked about him getting better."
And now it was Brian's turn to smile. She'd come into his loft begging him to take her son. Too pale, too drawn, too tired, and terrified, but she'd done what she needed to do because she loved Justin.
That was the moment he saw her as more than just Justin's mother.
Ballsy and to the point just like Deb. He never did tell Justin just how much Jen called to get updates on her son or later, when the boy had run off with Ethan, she'd kept it up.
Somewhere along the way, she'd gone from Jennifer Taylor, mother of Justin to Jen the not-quiet a mother-in-law.
"I do vaguely recall us having such a conversation, yes."
"Good. Then you'll also remember how awkward it is to meet the family of the people you're involved with."
"Why Mother Taylor, are you asking Justin and I to accompany you on your first meeting with the in-laws," Brian said in that falsetto tone that meant he was amused.
"They're throwing a big dinner party on Sunday. Some gala for saving the rainforest."
"And you'd like to have more than one pretty face to accompany you."
Jen sighed in relief into the phone. "Yes."
"And I'm correct in assuming this is a black tie affair? Tons of wealthy elite in suits." A beat. "Ample hunting ground for new clients." The 'or tricks' heard but unsaid.
"Sunday. The Marriott's Sateen Room. 7 sharp," she said, hanging up before he could refuse.
Brian smiled into the phone. Yet another habit he'd taught the Taylor tribe.
Now all he had to do was tell Justin.
"You what," Justin asked, rolling his sweat and cum covered body from Brian's and out of the bed.
Standing above him and staring him down, Justin said, "I can't believe you fucking agreed to go to some lame ass party without even asking me first."
Rolling his eyes up towards the ceiling and releasing a puff of air, Brian looked back at his partner.
"Justin, she was scared. She wanted back up. It's one night." A beat. He pinched the bridge of his nose to try and stave off the impending headache. When the fuck had the world reversed enough that he'd become the one that argued for family fun and togetherness?
"She's going to meet Tucker's parents. The same people that are almost the same age as her. The same people who are probably not even old enough to be your grandparents."
After hearing Brian's argument, Justin collapsed onto the edge of the bed, burying his face in his hands. Brian edged up on the mattress beside him. Slowly, Justin scrubbed his hands over his face.
"No good ever comes from us wearing tuxes or going to parties."
Offering the ghost of a smile, Brian linked his hand with Justin's.
"We'll go. We'll meet your step-grandparents. We'll get incredibly stoned, drink copious amounts of alcohol, fuck in the bathroom, and call it a night."
Justin offered a mischievous smile. "We could always spike the punch like you did at Lindz's lame party."
"Now you're thinking," Brian said, leaning in for a kiss.
The lame party turned out to be the most extraordinarily pretentious affair either one of them had gone to. The room was filled with guests dressed in couture and fur. All of them laughing a little too high and too long to be anything but faking it or well on their way to stoned. Most of them didn't smile when they laughed either. Justin was convinced it was Botox.
"Jesus. It's like a fucking jewelry commercial in here."
Brian snorted. "I was thinking plastic surgery ad," he said, glaring at the blonde out of a bottle that had breasts the size of flotation devices. It was like a bug light; he couldn't not look.
"It actually reminds me of a lot of the gallery openings I went to except without the halfway decent art on the walls," Justin said, gazing at fugly flowers eating up the stripes on the wall.
"And just think Sunshine; your mom is marrying into this family," Brian said, drowning the rest of his Beam to cover his smirk.
And Justin had no idea just how much that statement was true until he spotted his mom on Tucker's arm talking to Blonde with Flotation Devices and the older, kind of hot guy with her.
Justin caught his mother's narrowed lips and tightly squared shoulders and read it for what it was--she was trying to stop herself from climbing a clock tower.
"Think we should save her," Brian asked, grabbing his fourth drink from a passing waiter who was too ugly to fuck.
Nodding, Justin grabbed Brian's elbow and guided him through the mass of people.
As they neared, they overheard Slightly Hot Guy said, "And, of course, Jessica and I enjoyed the trip to Monte Carlo this year, didn't we Snookie?"
"Justin! Brian! So glad you could make it," Jennifer said a little louder than necessary. "Trevor, Jessica, this is my son, Justin, and his partner, Brian Kinney," she said, motioning to each as she introduced them.
"Pleasure to meet you, my boy," Trevor said, holding out his hand to Justin and then Brian.
"Likewise," Justin replied, eating every sarcastic remark that came to mind.
"So. Tell me about yourselves," Trevor said, fingers bringing the phallus-sized cigar to walrus-mustache covered lips. And, if Justin thought that guy looked like Mark Twain before, that had been the cincher.
"I'm an artist," Justin supplied, offering a polite smile because he knew what was coming; he'd heard it a thousand times before. Most of all from his father.
The condescending tone that held an underlaying message; so...you're unemployed then?
And, of course, his mother tried to jump to his rescue.
"Justin's quite talented; he's been featured in several galleries in New York."
Which was always followed by the non-verbal stare down and 'hmm' that counted as phase two of the unemployment snub. Phase two was sometimes followed by stage three...
"Have you had your work featured in any place I might had visited before?"
Translated roughly, that meant: has your work been hung in a museum or important collection.
"I sent off a few samples to the Louvre, but, as I'm sure you're aware, they have strict requirements for the artists they feature." A beat as Justin watched Walrus Man's smug expression start to emerge. "Of course, since the main requirement seems to be that the artist be deceased, I obviously can't meet their needs."
Justin couldn't be sure what amused him more--the fact that Brian and his mother hid their smirks behind the rim of their wine glasses or the look of horror Trevor shot him.
And that was when Trevor started laughing an honest to God laugh and slapped Justin on the back.
"You, my boy, are going to be fun to have around."
Tucker's mom was a far less friendly woman. Tall, rail-thin, and dripping in diamonds, her skeletal hands gripped her champagne flute as she worked the room.
Brian instantly dubbed her a Harry Winston whore.
"I just don't understand how she's holding herself up; it seems like all that platinum and diamonds would crush her. And that tiara! Who the fuck does she think she is? Queen Elizabeth."
Downing his sixth drink of the night, Brian eyed the woman.
"That, my dear boy," Trevor said, pointing to the woman with his cigar. "Is my wife."
Justin blushed slightly which made Trevor start laughing again.
"No worries. I've never been fond of the old bag; just keep her around because it's cheaper than the divorce settlement would be."
Which, of course, made him ask, "Then Jessica's..."
"I'd say personal assistant, but something tells me you two'd call me on it," he said, patting the girl's hand.
And, just as Brian was about to reply, the 'little woman' interrupted.
"Trevor, who is that woman dancing with Tucker," she asked, voice raspy from too many cigarettes. And, no, none of the gathered group missed the way she shaded the word 'woman' to sound like a expletive.
Justin tensed, turning a heated gaze on the old hag.
"That, Merriam, is our boy's intended, Jennifer Taylor," Trevor said, smiling broadly as his wife's face twisted in shock, eyes, already protruding from one too many face lifts, bugged out just a slight bit more. In a flash, Justin remembered who the woman reminded him off--Cruella deVille.
"But...but..." the woman stuttered.
"Careful, now. Don't go throwing stones. She's younger than you, and wears it a helluva lot better."
Back rigid with anger, eyes flashing annoyance, Cruella turned on her heel and left.
Justin watched her, eyes wide.
"The way I see it," Trevor started, "God's gonna forgive every mean thing I did on Earth for taking on that woman as my wife."
After both of them kissed Jen on the cheek and said their goodbyes, they took a cab back to the loft. When they got there, they found Debbie asleep on the sofa, QVC on the screen. As quietly as possibly, Brian turned the TV off and used the street light to find his way into the bedroom.
There, sprawled across the bed in a giant X, was Gus, snoring softly.
As the snuck into the bathroom to shower and change, a thought occurred to Justin.
"I hope to God Gus doesn't end up with in-laws like that woman."
Brian sneered at the remark. "Are you implying my son is going to be a breeder?"
Justin shrugged as he adjusted the shower's temperature.
"In the past month, he's developed a crush on Cynthia, Molly, and that little girl in his class...Jamie something."
"It's a phase. He'll grow out of it."
Justin smirked. "That's what my parents used to say."
Brian was in the middle of reading the paper when Justin came in, setting the bowl of Cheerios in front of Gus and coffee in front of Brian before returning to the kitchen to grab his own.
"Daddy, did you and Jus have fun last night?"
Folding the paper closed, Brian looked over at his son.
"Yeah, Sonny Boy. It was all right."
"Did you like Tucker?"
Justin bit his lower lip because he could so see where this was going...
"If Nana Jen is marrying Tucker, does that make him my Grandpa?"
Brian offered his son a crooked smile as he listened to Justin's laughter coming from the kitchen..
"Yeah, Sonny Boy, I guess that does."
Justin made it a point to repeat that little conversation to the whole gang.
The wedding was on a Sunday in September. It was a small affair--just under fifty people. Jen wore a pale pink dress and a smile almost as bright as her son's as she walked down the aisle on his arm.
In the front row, Brian sat and watched them process. The moment his eye caught Justin's they exchanged a smile.
As the ceremony began and Justin took his seat, Brian twined their fingers together, a small smile tugging at his lips as he felt the platinum band there; Jen might need fancy ceremonies and rubber-chicken filled receptions, but they never would.
"In that book that is my memory, on the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you, appear the words 'Here begins a new life.' "
Dante, La Vita Nuova
A/N: This has got to be one of the most schmaltzy things I've written.
I started it about five kajillion years ago as a second response to shadownyc's prompt. I just got stuck on how I wanted it to end.
Tried to do the opposite of Ends by only offering the beginnings of things--scenes, conversations, and relationships.