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This is the first chapter of Decisions, the sequel to Plans. You do need to read Plans first to follow the story. I would tell you this is going to be a three part series but last time that prediction didn't quite work so I'll just say, this is probably one of three or four.

The two stories slightly overlap in timeline, but Decisions continues beyond the events in Plans. It is told in Brian's and Justin's alternating points of view.

I want to thank the world's beta-iest beta, gmta_nz, who has actually managed to come live in my brain... many times while writing this I heard her say things to me, and now and then when I was stuck, I said: What would my beta do? And then I did that and everything was wonderful. I want a beta for my life, too.

I also had additional safe sex beta-ing by orlith, one of my closest friends, and the asshole person responsible for getting me to start watching Queer as Folk in the first place. Thanks Travis honey! He did not beta this for gay boy sex accuracy as he seems to think I did ok with that in Plans, so anything that doesn't work is entirely my fault.

Decisions, Chapter 1

"Although every man believes that his decisions and resolutions involve the most multifarious factors, in reality they are a mere oscillation between flight and longing." - Herman Broch

Brian’s POV

There is absolutely no question that Justin is a scheming little shit. And much as I’d like to take credit for developing that aspect of his personality, the truth is, he came with it fully intact when I picked him up under that streetlight.

He also isn’t what you’d call the silent type, so when he suddenly started with the not talking, I was kind of pleased. Five years of more or less incessant chatter had worn me out. So it took me longer than it should have to remember that in addition to never shutting up, Justin is the most calculating person I’ve ever known, and that I was without question being set up for something.

But by then it was too fucking late. He was showing up out of the blue at my loft, he was leaving little art show flyers behind after a weekend of nothing but fucking and sleeping and taking showers, he was curled up warm and horny in the bed at the house, and he came sneaking in the kitchen door two days before Christmas, with a big smile on his face hiding his completely black and devious heart. All tied up with a big bow of sex and not talking about stuff, just what I’d always wanted. Thanks a whole fucking lot, Santa.

Because the next thing I know, we’re fighting over shit we’d already worked out before he left, like whether he needed to be in New York, which he suddenly didn’t seem to think he did.

Of course I argued with him, but at some point I could tell he wasn’t listening, and when I accused him of that, he shrugged. “This isn’t about me being independent or an artist, Brian. It’s about my address. Get over it.”

I started to wonder how it was that after six years, he could still come up with stuff I had to work on figuring out. I mean, when Justin got to New York and right away started with the blank emails, I didn’t really know what was going on with that, but it seemed harmless, and I went along with it without thinking. The kind of thing I later reminded myself isn’t a good idea, going along with things Justin has in mind without thinking. He says or does things, I try not to think about what they mean, and the next thing I know, I’m standing there with my arms or my bed or my loft full of blond and no clear idea how he got there. Or what to do about it. Or how to prevent it from happening in the future. And thinking, wasn’t I supposed to be the complicated one?

Friday morning after the Christmas Justin decided he was moving back, the alarm went off, and I tried to wake him up, but he just mumbled something incoherent and rolled away from me, pulling the pillow over his head. I took that as a subtle hint and showered and got dressed by myself. I was worried he might suffocate under there, so before I left I pulled the pillow off his face. He was all red and had little pillow wrinkles on his cheek, so I had to kiss him and make sure he was still alive. He was.


He licked his lips and actually managed to get a word out. “Hey.”

“Meet me at the loft for lunch?”

A blue eye looked at me speculatively. “Will there be food or should I eat first?”

I grinned at him. “Eat first.” He gave me half a smooshed up smile and pulled the blankets over his head. I left him there to asphyxiate himself and went to work.

Justin’s POV

I decided there’d been way too much lately of me naked in bed and Brian walking in, so I sat down on the sofa to wait for him at the loft. After about ten minutes, he walked in the door, looked around, saw me, and gave a big grin. I smiled back and stood up, and he walked straight into the bedroom, leaving me to follow. Asshole.

He stripped off his jacket and tie and shirt, and stepped out of his pants. Even going to work in his designer suit, he wasn’t wearing any underwear.

“Was that optimism or habit? Or just showing off?”

He smirked. “Optimism. I thought you might come by and blow me at the office.”

“Yeah, that’s gonna happen.”

“Yeah, like that’s never happened before.”

I had my clothes off now too, and I pushed the duvet down and got onto the bed. Brian lay down behind me, wrapping his arms around me and twining his legs into mine. I bent a little at the waist and pushed my butt into his groin. He laughed and started slithering down, taking the blanket with him, running his tongue down my back. I rolled onto my stomach. I’m nothing if not cooperative when Brian wants to lick my ass.

He was making me wet with his tongue and I lifted up my hips, trying to get more, when he slipped a finger in, and then another one. The whole time his tongue kept lapping around my opening and sliding inside. He was fluttering his fingers over my prostate, and I kept backing a little closer to his mouth and hand. I reached under myself and grabbed my cock and started to jerk off, slowly. I felt him laugh against my ass and it felt so good I had to move a little faster, and shove myself back into him a little more.

He kept his fingers in my ass but moved up to lie next to me. I turned my head to him and kissed him. He was on his side facing me, his fingers still inside me, his other hand behind my neck and pulling me into him for the kiss. He pulled me all the way on top of him, his fingers slipping out. I straddled him, my cock standing up against my stomach and dripping a little bit. I rocked back and forth slowly, feeling his hard cock under me, sliding it up and down in the crack of my ass.

He rested his hands on my thighs and looked at me. Brian has a way of looking right into my eyes that can be unnerving and also very erotic, depending on the circumstances. Right now it was a little bit of both. But I didn’t look away. Or even blink.

He had just the smallest smile on his lips. “We should probably talk about this instead of just almost doing it and one of us stopping at the last minute.”

I rolled off him and lay down next to him. Some conversations worked better when I didn’t have to look into his face. Or sit on his dick.

 “You’re asking if I’m making a veiled request for your eternal and exclusive sexual fidelity in exchange for fucking me without a condom.”

He nodded. “Are you?”

“I already asked for everything I wanted.” It sounded kind of dismissive so I kissed him softly after I said it. He kissed me back and rolled me over on my back, throwing his leg over me and putting his hands in my hair along the sides of my face. He kissed me again, almost just a peck.

I kissed him, much more than just a peck. I sucked on his tongue and wriggled under him so he was more on top of me, and tried to get my legs up and around him. He wasn’t totally cooperating.

“Brian?” He didn’t say anything right away. I couldn’t quite read the look on his face.

He locked his eyes on mine. “I want to be sure you didn’t just ask for everything you thought you could get.”

I tucked my head under his chin so he couldn’t see my face. “I just… I want to feel you come inside me.”

Brian kissed me softly on my forehead.  “We need to talk about this when we’re not naked in bed.”

“Yeah, I know.” I felt kind of embarrassed. Brian just held me for a little while, stroking my hair.

I sighed. “Brian, I really don’t care if you fuck other guys. I never have. Well, not never. But not since I was old enough to vote.”

“And I don’t care if you fuck other guys, either. It goes both ways.”

I knew that. I just thought maybe he cared if I didn’t fuck other guys. “The thing is, Brian, I just want to do what I want to do, and not what you think I should do, or what anyone else thinks I should do. About that or anything else.”

“Well, you should.”

“Yeah, you say that until there’s something in my life you don’t approve of and then you totally forget you ever said it.”


“So, fine, I’m free to fuck other guys, or not fuck them. Whatever. Just like I can live where I want and work where I want and love you if I want and not have you going all drama queen on me like last time.”

“Last time being what?”

“When I left for New York.”

“Is that what I did?”

I laughed. “Oh please. Brian. You never thought you’d see me again, admit it.”

He didn’t say anything. I turned my head and he was looking right at me. “I never thought I’d see you again.”

The look in his eyes made me crazy, and I couldn’t stand it. I threw my arms around his neck. He stretched his whole weight on me, pinning me down. I kept my arms around his neck and spread my legs wide for him, and bent my knees.

Sometimes during sex, when “I love you, I love you, I love you” was running through my head in an unbroken chant, I almost let it slip out so he could hear it. I never did. I would swallow the words and groan or ask him to fuck me or ask for it harder or faster or just say his name. Or do what I did now, and try to get his entire body and soul inside of me somehow. My desire to protect him could sometimes overwhelm everything else. And I knew he’d hate to hear that, even while he was burrowing into me like I was the last safe place on earth.

With me, the amount of tenderness I felt for him translated into more tenderness, but for Brian, it translated into mind-obliterating sex. He was capable of incredible sexual gentleness, of teasing and softness and moments of empathy that left me feeling like Brian was energy moving through me and filling up every empty space inside me. But when Brian was overcome with tender feelings, it made him rough and messy and frantic, like he was struggling to get control of something that was getting away from him.

And sometimes that wasn’t tender, and it hurt, with teeth on my skin and hands leaving bruises on my thighs and hips and arms, and his cock tearing into me so hard I’d still feel it days later. Sometimes even coming like that would hurt me, burning up out of me like actual fire and cramping and a pain like I was trying to hold it back, even when I wasn’t. And that day at the loft, god, that’s what it was like. I had my legs up on his shoulders and he was pressing me back so hard I almost couldn’t get a breath in or out. And when I came it took me by surprise, a burn that spread out from where his cock was hitting me inside, and then just overflowed, like it was water filling the room and I was immersed in it, instead of something coming from inside of me and pouring out.  

And then he growled my name and snapped his hips into me, and I felt him shudder and freeze, and then fall onto me.

Brian’s POV

I tried to move off Justin, but I couldn’t. It’s possible if the loft had been on fire, I’d have just lain there on him like I was already dead. There could be worse ways to die, than completely and totally boneless after fucking Justin, with him lying under me and my cock still inside him.

I must have fallen asleep or passed out or maybe just gotten lost somewhere, but I came back enough to get my dick out of him and the condom off and most of my weight off him. That pretty much wore me out and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get dressed, let alone go back to work. And the meeting I had that was the whole reason for working today was at 3. I didn’t even have the energy to check the time.

I had no idea if Justin was awake or not, and I didn’t really care. I just wanted to lie where we were, and not talk or think or move, for pretty much the entire foreseeable future or until his stomach started to rumble. I hoped he’d had lunch already.

He must have been hungry, because a little later I felt him nibbling on my arm where it was lying across his mouth. I meant to smile but I couldn’t even move enough to do that. He bit a little harder and the jolt of adrenaline was enough to let me move my arm.

“What time is it?” I guessed at some point I’d have to know.

Justin didn’t answer and I started to drift off again, when I felt him gather himself up under me, lift his head a little, and then drop it back down on the pillow. “A little after two.”

Fuck. I reached down for some reserve of energy and actually managed to sit up. Justin, the little shit, just smiled at me from the pillows.

“I think this is where we started the day. You all warm and sleepy and me getting ready to go to work. I thought you didn’t want to be the wife?”

Justin laughed. “Don’t blame me that you’re a fucking workaholic, Brian. If you want to trade your job for mine, just say the word.”

“Your ex-job.”

He blinked. “Yeah. Ex-job. Wow, maybe I really am the wife. I don’t actually have a job anymore, do I?”

“Think about that later. Right now, come take a shower with me.”

“I’m so not doing that.”

“Then I’ll just go to my meeting smelling of fuck.”

“I’m sure it won’t be the first time.” And he rolled over while I went and took a shower.

When I came out, he was actually up and dressed and sitting at the kitchen counter drinking some juice. I went over to him and kissed him while I fastened my cufflinks. He looped his arms around my waist inside my jacket and rested his forehead on my chest. His voice came out all muffled. “I was going to go to New York today and get my stuff, and come back tomorrow or maybe Sunday. But maybe I’ll wait.”

“Is there stuff you need?”

“At my studio. And I need to go see Armand and make sure he can store my big canvases until the show, otherwise I have to get them shipped here and I have no idea if the shippers can do that, they may just transport art inside New York City.”

“Wait ‘til next week, I’ll go with you.”

“Mmmm, Brian in New York. That means we add an extra two days for you to buy clothes.”

“I see you’ve met me before.” Justin pulled his head back then and looked up at me. He was smiling, but I noticed the dark circles under his eyes. The boy needed a nap. “Just take it easy, Justin. Why don’t you go home, or even just stay here and get some sleep?”

He yawned. He kissed me. He went back to bed. That was easy. I was sure I’d pay for it later.

Justin’s POV

I wasn’t really looking forward to driving to, or in, New York, so if Brian wanted to watch me pack up my studio in his Armani clothes, and drive me around in cabs and limos, and pay for an expensive hotel room and take me out to hot clubs at night, I wasn’t going to argue.

The first time he’d been to my studio in New York, I’d worried he’d be appalled. He hadn’t seemed too thrilled with my studio in Pittsburgh, which was bigger and maybe slightly less grungy than the co-op, but he walked into it cool and self-contained, as if everyone wore expensive clothes and shoes and drove up in a limo down there. Seeing Brian walking around my studio was like seeing someone walking a panther on a leash on a city street. When Kalli or her friends looked at my work, they would crouch on the floor or hoist themselves up onto my worktable, and stare and talk and ask me questions. He just walked from piece to piece, tilting his head to see the ones hung up high.

He shook his head. “I almost don’t know what to say that you’ll believe. I know you know these are good. And I know art is like any other product, it’s all about what sells and for how much, not about how good something is.” He paced over to the first one he’d seen, and then looked back at me. “These are good enough to make me doubt that’s true.”

I did know they were good. I was happy when Kalli liked them. I was happier when Armand liked them and wanted them for the group show. But for some reason having Brian like them did something weird to my stomach that no one else could do. He must have seen that on my face because he came over to me and just stood looking at the paintings, his arm over my shoulders.

I knew that letting him see this work was a risk, because he was going to think it was all because of New York. And to be honest, it was partly New York. Working in this space had helped me, it’s how I’d met Armand, and if my stuff did well in the group show, that alone really could make all the difference for me.

But that had nothing to do with how good my work was. I carried that around with me everywhere I went.

Besides, I was tired, tired of people saying that wanting to be with Brian was immature and romantic and meant turning my back on art. I was tired of being presented with two choices and hearing, it’s one or the other. That was the real bullshit. There are never only two choices. There are two choices, and then there’s everything between them.
But I was still in the “no talking about stuff” stage of things, so I didn’t say any of it, and just hugged him.

Brian’s POV

Justin’s paintings were the kind of thing that makes you wish you weren’t cynical and jaded and that you didn’t know better than to believe in miracles. Even if I was biased - and he was right, of course I was - I’d seen enough art, spent enough hours in galleries and museums and working with artists, to know that he was more than good. I had no idea why he was even asking me for my opinion, but he was. And I felt the strangest feeling in my stomach when I saw the look on his face when I gave it to him. And for the first time I wondered how I was going to leave him here and go back, because I suddenly wanted to be the one to make him feel that way about every painting he ever did.

But we went out and got into the back of the car, and I took him shopping and bought him things he didn’t really want, and took him back to the hotel and fucked him in the shower, and tried not to think about leaving him here at all.

We were sitting on the bed, me flipping channels with the remote and Justin on his laptop, checking email. He had his tongue caught between his teeth, and I knew if we didn’t get out of this room, I was going to fuck him again, and we’d be here all night.

“We should go to dinner.” He looked up at me, surprised.

“That’s a switch, you bringing up food. Do you actually eat when you’re out of town?”

“I’m just trying to be proactive, before your stomach starts making those noises. It’s embarrassing.”

We went out to dinner and then I took him to a club Kinnetik had done the advertising campaign for, a huge renovated space in Chelsea. He was wearing the clothes I’d bought for him that afternoon, which was a good thing, because I wouldn’t have been caught dead with him there in his usual clothes. But in a pair of pants that actually fit and a shirt that just skimmed his waistband? All in black with his blond hair and white skin? I didn’t mind. In fact, I actually couldn’t seem to keep my hands off him.

My name was on the guest list, and we were ushered upstairs to the VIP room. Justin stood on the catwalk, looking down on the dance floor. I stood behind him, holding him. Still having that problem with keeping my hands off him.

Justin’s POV

This club had a second dance floor upstairs, that you could only get into through the VIP room. I wanted to check it out, but Brian stopped me by pulling me hard into him. He leaned his head down and kissed me, and I felt his tongue, and something on his tongue, slide between my lips. I only hesitated a second before taking the little tab of E. It was the weekend. After I swallowed it, he started to lick the inside of my lips, and made the kiss deep and hard. Then he pulled back from me, took a swallow of his beer, and then leaned back down to me and gave me a little bit of that, too.

I was more or less dancing with him when it started to hit me. I say more or less because some people might have described it as making out on the dance floor. It was Brian’s and my own personal dancing style. I wrapped my arms around his neck and went up on my toes and started showering his jaw and face with kisses. I undid the last buttons on his black shirt and kissed his chest. He slid his hands down my back and cupped my ass and pulled me into him, grinding our cocks together. I loved when he did that.

“I love when you do that.” I kissed his neck.

Brian laughed and took my hands off his shoulders, and then pulled me back into the VIP room. He held my hand and took me over to the bar, got me a bottle of water, and led me over to a sofa in an alcove. It was really dark there, and I saw couples on sofas in other alcoves. I guess it’s what they were there for.

Brian sat down with one leg on the floor and the other up on the sofa, and pulled me in between his legs, my back to him, and made me drink more of the water than I wanted. I giggled when some of it spilled out of my mouth, and I twisted around and knelt between his spread legs, and started kissing him with my wet mouth. I thought that was really funny, the cold water and his hot tongue. Funny and hot. Especially when he pressed his hand between my legs while I did it. That was more hot than funny, though.

Brian’s POV

Justin was just flying. He was kneeling in between my legs and I was groping his crotch and he was moaning and rutting into my hand and nuzzling my neck and whispering dirty talk in my ear. I was leaning back against the sofa arm and the wall, and he was kneeling up tall in front of me. I pushed his shirt up and pulled his stomach in to my mouth and started kissing it. He threw his head back and laughed softly, his hands in my hair. He was so easily distracted when he was like that.

I glanced to the side while I tongued his stomach and realized that while no one was doing anything so obvious as standing around watching, pretty much every guy and more than a few of the women were staring at us. This wasn’t a sex club, hell, it wasn’t even really a gay club, although this was probably not the first sex these couches had ever seen. And it was dark in the alcove. I opened Justin’s pants and pushed them down on his hips. He giggled and started to stroke his cock when it bounced out of his pants. I pushed his pants down to his knees.

I twisted him around so his bare ass was pressing into my crotch and slid his pants all the way off. He laughed again and kicked them down to the bottom of the sofa. His bare legs were spread out, the left one lying inside mine against the sofa back, his right one lying on top of mine, sliding off the couch. His foot didn’t touch the floor, though.

He arched back into me, tipping his head all the way back and turning it slightly to the left so he could kiss me on the mouth. Both his arms were lifted up behind him, one hand in my hair and the other tucked behind my neck. At this point, several guys really were frankly standing around us watching, closing in a tight circle that created a feeling of privacy. Not that Justin even had his eyes open. I had my left hand on his cock and was stroking it slowly, slowly, and he was writhing against me, his legs falling open. I ran my right hand up under his black shirt, pulling it up, still kissing him.

I pulled my hand away from his chest and groped around down on the floor until I found the fallen water bottle, pulled the sports top open, and brought it up to his face and made him drink some. He let it spill out of his mouth again and then half twisted himself around and dribbled some into my mouth and down onto my chest, laughing softly like it was the cleverest thing he’d ever done. Then he licked my face and my chest, chasing all the drops of water. “Wet Brian, my favorite flavor.” He laughed a little with his lips pressed into the side of my throat.

I looked up and locked eyes with the guy nearest our end of the sofa. He was tall, with dark hair and the most intense eyes. I raised an eyebrow and those eyes flickered down Justin’s body, and I shifted him a little, making his legs fall open a little more, and almost imperceptibly nodded.

The guy moved fast then, and put his hand on top of mine on Justin’s cock, and I slid mine away. I rested both my hands on Justin’s stomach, and Justin put his hands on top of mine. His breathing got faster and shallower, and I looked down at his face. He was watching the guy between his legs, his lips just a little open, all pink and wet, his eyes half closed. His tongue was there, just inside his open mouth, just the tip of it visible. I glanced at the guy, who has licking at Justin’s cock, his hands resting on Justin’s thighs, stroking them softly while he ran his tongue up and down the shaft.

Justin started moving a little restlessly, making small sounds and closing his eyes. He tried to pull his hands back but I grabbed them and held them down with mine, on his stomach. That seemed to calm him, even though his breathing was getting faster. He licked his lips and I suddenly wanted to kiss him.  I pulled him up a little higher on my chest, the guy following him with his mouth and kneeling between Justin’s and my spread legs on the sofa. I licked Justin’s lips, and his mouth opened, and I kissed and licked and nibbled at his lower lip, and then I kissed him, hard, with our mouths open. He tried to move his hands again, and this time I let him, and he brought both our hands down to the head of the guy blowing him. He left mine there, his resting on my forearms, letting me guide the guy’s head.

The feeling of that was incredible. I was reading Justin’s body like I did when we fucked, but it was someone else sucking his cock, and I was feeling it through my hands like I did when I tangled my fingers in Justin’s hair while he blew me. I was so hard I almost thought I could come just from the almost-friction of Justin’s ass moving inside the curve of my crotch, like some teenager getting off in the backseat of a car. And then another man dropped to his knees on the floor next to the sofa, and started licking at the inside of Justin’s right thigh where it splayed over mine. Justin moaned again, this time loudly, and pressed his ass more firmly back into me, and then shifted forward.

I slid my left hand down the outside of Justin’s thigh, and hooked my hand in under the back of his knee and pulled his leg up hard, making him slide down from the force of it, holding his leg up. The guy blowing him immediately moved to his right, licking and kissing at the inside of Justin’s leg, and then down it toward his asshole. The guy on the floor moved up, letting Justin’s leg fall onto his shoulder, pressing it outward, sucking Justin’s balls. Justin started to arch again, his cock abandoned while one guy licked his hole and the other sucked at the inside of his thigh, and then back to his balls, and then back to his thighs. Justin was going nuts, trying to move my hands to his cock, but I resisted. And when he brought his own hand there, I pulled it away.

I felt him turning in my arms, probably trying to get more tongue in his ass, or to get some friction on his cock, or for no reason at all, just mindlessly moving. I almost let him, thinking about his ass in the air in front of all these people, thinking about him getting fucked while I held him, thinking about fucking him myself. But I thought maybe it was better not to push it any more than we already were. That’s why Justin was flying on E but I was just a little drunk. One of us could still think.

The guy eating Justin’s ass must have stuck a finger in it along with his tongue, because suddenly Justin’s whole body went tense and he bucked upwards. I pulled back harder on his left leg, trying to see, and yeah, the guy’s hand was in there, and he was moving it in and out, finger fucking him while he rimmed him. The other guy had his hand on Justin’s balls and started to suck his cock, working mostly on the head while he squeezed the base with his other hand. Justin went absolutely still and then turned his face into my chest and gasped while his come poured out of the guy’s mouth, down onto Justin’s belly and pubes and onto the sofa. The guy rimming him pulled his head back and I let Justin’s leg drop, and the two of them licked every bit of come off of Justin, until he was wet and clean, and then I pulled Justin up into my arms and kissed him and held him tight, until his breath went back to normal and his heart stopped pounding.

Then I gave him some more water, had one more cold/hot kiss, and whispered in his ear, “That was so fucking hot.” He just nuzzled my neck and closed his eyes and smiled.

Justin’s POV

When I got back to the house, Lindsay and Melanie had left a note saying they were going to Debbie’s for dinner with the kids. I’d slept almost all afternoon, and I remembered why I thought today was a good day to go to New York: I had fuck all to do. Brian was coming home late, I had nothing here to paint with, and at this point I thought taking another nap was really overdoing it.

I tried watching TV but when I noticed myself dozing off on the couch, I got up and went into the kitchen and checked to see if there was anything I could use to cook dinner. Lindsay and Melanie had been doing the grocery shopping, so amazingly, there was. I got my laptop and looked online for a recipe that had no fat, carbohydrates, or calories, and finally gave up and decided just to make something good and then lie to Brian about the nutritional composition of dinner. Then my cell phone rang.

I assumed it was Brian and didn’t look at the caller ID. It was my mom. She was at Debbie’s for dinner and extremely surprised to find out I was in town from Mel and Lindz. Shit.

It’s not that I was avoiding her. She and Molly had gone to Mexico for Christmas, and I wasn’t exactly sure when they were coming back, but I really did mean to let her know I was in town. And moving back. With Brian. None of which would necessarily have bothered her, assuming I could have given her the story in my own way. And it seemed the girls had told her about my new car, so now I was suddenly “invited” to dinner. There are people on earth who can resist both my mom and Debbie at the same time. I’m not one of them. I called Brian on his cell but it rolled to voice mail, so I left him a message saying I was going to Debbie’s and he should come there after his meeting. And then I headed out.

Brian’s POV

I didn’t realize my cell was still off, so when I got home and no one was there, I was sort of confused. Justin’s laptop was on the kitchen table, and for a minute I wondered if he was still at the loft. Then I checked my messages, and found out he was at Debbie’s. Fuck.

I also had a call from Ted, asking me to call him back as soon as I could, so I phoned him at home. He started talking about some shit that hadn’t gone right at the meeting and I got annoyed and told him to come to the house if he insisted on dealing with this on a Friday night, and bring food.

I decided if I was going to have to work on a Friday night, I was going to be fucking wasted when I did it. I had a few drinks. I started thinking of ways to punish Debbie and Jennifer for luring Justin away. That made me feel tense so I smoked some pot and then had another drink. I was just beginning to relax when I heard Ted’s car pulling into the driveway. I met him at the door. I forgot I still had my bottle.

“You are totally fucked up.” Gosh, Ted, you’re a genius.

“Not totally. Yet.”

“OK, Justin and Mel and Lindz aren’t here.” He didn’t phrase it as a question.

“Brilliant. You didn’t figure that out when I said you could come over? Remind me to cancel that raise I gave you.”

“You haven’t given me a raise that I know of. And I’d know if you had, since I’d have to approve it.” Logic. Accountants. I went over to the bar, took another mouthful before setting the bottle down, and lit a cigarette. I went over to the couch. Lying down suddenly seemed like a good idea. I waved vaguely toward the bar. “Help yourself. I’m sure there’s some girly shit over there you can drink.”

Ted sighed, went out into the kitchen, and came back with a diet coke in his hand. The munchers kept that toxic shit around.

“OK, Brian, I don’t think there’s much point in us talking now, is there? Maybe I’ll just head out. I can heat this food up for you before I go, you should eat something.”

I rolled off the couch and onto the floor. I meant to do it gracefully but I sort of thumped my head. It didn’t hurt. I was way past the stage where I could feel pain.

I lay there on the floor staring up at the ceiling of the media room. The lighting guy had done some weird thing with the fixtures in here, they were all sparkly. I heard Ted sigh, and come over and sit on the floor next to me. “Uh, Brian? Still with me?”

I blew a smoke ring towards the ceiling. “Are you and Blake monogamous?” Where the fuck had that question come from? Maybe Ted was onto something with this sobriety thing.

“Yeah. Why?”

“What’s that like?” Fuck. I needed to shut up soon. Maybe drugs really are bad.

Ted looked alarmed. “Why are you asking me these questions? You’re scaring the crap out of me, Brian.”

I shrugged and reached up and stubbed out my cigarette in the ashtray on the table next to the couch. I thought longingly of the bottle of Jack Daniels all the way over on the bar. “Just curious.”

“Right. OK, what it’s like is, it’s great. Like Claudio Abbado’s new recording of The Magic Flute is great. Meaning, I like it but that doesn’t mean you’d like it too.”

I thought about that for a few minutes. “I hate opera.”

“You asked.”

“Do you guys fuck raw?”

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

“Just curious.”

“You and Justin have never…”

I shook my head and rolled over on my stomach, away from Ted. He was sitting up cross-legged and staring at me. Made me nervous.

“You’re considering monogamy… MONOGAMY, which as you so often point out is a word closely related to MONOTONY … in order to fuck Justin without a condom?”

When he put it that way, it sounded so perfectly accurate. “Yeah.”

“Brian, are you fucking insane? Why?”

“What part of fucking Justin in the ass without a condom do you not understand?”

“That’s a secondary benefit to monogamy, not a reason to be.”

“I suppose it would show what a totally irredeemable hedonistic asshole I am to admit it’s the most compelling argument in favor of it that I can come up with?”

“You mean other than your deep and abiding love for him?”

I gave him a look that was supposed to come out a glare, but he didn’t seem scared so I figured my face must not be working right. I decided to try words. “What the fuck does monogamy have to do with any feelings I might have for Justin?”

“Sometimes people have sex with someone as a way of expressing love.” Yeah, and sometimes people wear clothes they bought at the Big Q. That seemed really profound to me so I repeated it out loud. Ted sighed. He had the same patient look on his face he used when he explained to new employees how to fill out their tax information forms.

“Sometimes people decide to have sex just with one person, the person they love, as a way of showing their commitment to that person, and to their relationship. They choose to be faithful to that person because they love them.”

 “Sex with other guys has nothing to do with Justin.” This made perfect sense to me. I really didn’t see why Ted looked confused.

“Has Justin asked you to be monogamous?” I shook my head.

“Then why are you freaking out over this?”

“The condom thing.”

Ted sighed. “Brian, you need to talk this over with Justin. Later, you know, like tomorrow, when the blood levels in your alcohol have risen.”

“You know something, Theodore?” He just looked at me.

“I am So. Totally. Fucked.”

“I won’t tell anyone.” He helped me back up to the sofa, said he’d leave the food in the fridge, and he’d call me tomorrow. Just as I was slipping off, he said, “Although everyone already knows.” Or maybe I just imagined it.

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