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Picture Perfect

E


Timeline: Post-220
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Angst, romance
Author's Note: Justin and Brian are confronted with a physical reminder of prom.

Three – Snapshots of the Heart
 

Brian slid the loft’s metal door shut in one smooth motion, letting practiced fingers dance across the numeric pad that would engage the alarm system. Double-checking the deadbolt on the door, he took out his cell to check for messages, only half listening the two he had -- a dinner invite from Linds and some rambling message from Mikey. As the voices of his friends washed over him, Brian stared at the closed door, steeling himself to do a thing he and the teen had rarely done in the loft – or anywhere else for that matter – just talk.
 
The executive was sure that they’d be able to do this . . . this talking thing. It had worked well enough at the café, and it could work here . . . despite the fact that he was horny as hell and that no small part of him wanted to sling the blond over his shoulder, march into the bedroom, divest them both of their clothing, and coax the teen into sampling a cream that was well worth savoring in its natural form.
 
But no: Justin wanted to talk – and Brian realized that he, oddly enough, wanted that, too. So they would talk. They’d remain clothed. And upright. No touching, no fucking. Just talking.
 
Talking. Brian made a pained face, sliding his cell back into his jacket pocket. Maybe I need to get wasted for this.
 
Brian briefly considered the poppers he had stored in his refrigerator for just such an occasion, but pushed the thought away. He needed his head clear for this . . . talk. Justin deserved that much and he deserved to know that he could put his dick on the back burner for a change – he winced at that visual – and just talk to the boy, without pushing for more.
 
Pretending to study something on his alarm system keypad, Brian took another moment to get his game face on, compose himself and relax. Taking a mental inventory of just how much Beam he had on hand – just in case – he silently declared himself as ready as he was going to be for the task at hand. Of course, he had no idea what the hell he was going to say yet, but that wasn’t a problem. He was a pro at thinking on his feet. And since they were going to be staying vertical for this little confab, it would be a piece of cake.
 
Turning finally, he shrugged off his jacket, draping it over one of the stools near the breakfast bar. As almost an afterthought, he grabbed a batch of take-out menus from the bar and flipped them under his arm. He wasn’t sure how long this talk would take, but he was pretty certain that Justin would be hungry at some point, and the block of Camembert and the stale rice cakes in his refrigerator was just not going to do it –
 
Brian halted there, blinking in confusion as he realized that he was quite alone in the living area. He scanned the room from wall to wall, brushing over the desk where his laptop sat, the assorted furniture, the entertainment center. There was no sign of the blond artist, though his jacket was thrown across the divan near the television and Brian could have sworn he’d seen the boy throw himself on the couch – sneakers on, no less.
 
“Sunshiiiiine . . .” His eyes swept over the space, lingering on the leather chair that he and the boy had once christened with ‘ice cream kisses.’  A smile warmed his face at the memory. “Sunshiiiiiiine? Come out, come out wherever you aaarrre.”
 
There was a rustling from somewhere deep inside the loft. “Brian, what the fuck are you on? I’m in here.”
 
That stopped Brian cold. Barring a sudden change in the acoustics of the loft, Justin’s voice seemed to be coming from the bedroom. His bedroom. Not exactly an area conducive to doing anything but the activities Brian had assured himself would not be taking place. Brian tilted his head to one side, thinking. Maybe Justin was just passing through on the way to the bathroom. No big deal. There was no need to jump to conclusions. No need to panic yet.
 
The older man drew closer, eyes narrowing as he neared the stairs. There was an odd shadow on the steps that spread out a bit to the floor beyond. Brian stared at the steps for a few seconds before he realized what it was, and the recognition made his heart pound in his ears. All right – now maybe it was time to panic. 
 
It was the blue lights. They were on, shining in all their phosphorescent glory. The executive hadn’t gone near them since a just after finding out Justin wasn’t adhering to their rules. Since then, the lights stayed off, as Brian preferred to fuck his tricks in total darkness rather than be reminded of the nights he and the artist spent bathed in that blue glow, wrapped in each others’ arms. But now they were back. And Justin had turned them on. Justin, who was in his bedroom wanting to talk. Just talk.
 
“Hey, I like the new sheets!” The blond’s voice was a mixture of excitement and admiration. “Are these satin? I’ve always wanted satin sheets . . . and, um, Christmas is right around the corner and before that, my birthday. Do they come in red?”
 
Brian stopped moving completely. Sheets. Which were on the bed. Which seemed to suggest that Justin was also on the bed. Well, so much for the remaining upright part of the plan. Brian briefly wondered just what other surprises he’d find when he walked up those stairs. Wondered if he was going to be able to get a coherent sentence out – a word even – with Justin in his bed under those lights . . . those blue, blue lights . . .
 
Okay, fuck it. Change in plans. Corralling his thoughts as best he could, he walked to a side table and unscrewed a well-used bottle of black-label Jim Beam, pouring out a measured shot. Downing the Beam in one quick gulp, he closed his eyes and let the slow burn of the alcohol distract him from the latent heat that was growing somewhere south of his stomach. Slowly opening his eyes, he craned his neck toward the bedroom area. Those lights were still on. And Justin was presumably still there. Waiting for him.
 
Brian poured himself another glass. This shot went down even smoother than the first, and that did the trick as he felt the tension holding his body unnaturally taut drain away pooling somewhere around his ankles. Exhaling loudly, Brian opened his eyes again as he felt his heart return to its normal rhythm. Good old Beam . . . it was better than penicillin for curing ills. He felt much more mellow, confident. He could do this . . . this  . . . talking thing. It was going to be okay. Raking a hand through his hair and glancing toward the bedroom, the exec briefly considered a third hit of the liquor just to be on the safe side, but decided against it. A third shot always seemed to lead to a fourth . . . and a fifth . . . and a sixth . . .

Just like dear old dad . . .

And he wanted to be lucid, not delirious, and who knew what would happen if his inhibitions were totally obliterated. He might say something Justin didn’t need to hear – or worse, he might let slip something that Justin probably did need to hear, but that Brian wasn’t sure he was ready to say just yet.

That thought alone strengthened his resolve.  Turning his back on the bottle, he walked toward his bedroom. Reaching the steps, he hesitated only a moment before ascending the stairs and stepping into that looming azure haze.
 
His eyes took a moment to adjust themselves to the lighting in the room, but he was able to hone in on Justin immediately. The blond was sprawled on his stomach across the bed, facing the lights. Brian saw that Justin had removed his sneakers and was sliding his feet absently on his new ivory-colored bedcovers, a nice satin-cotton blend with an obscenely high thread count that Brian had bought as much for their smoothness as for the salesclerk’s sly insistence that the sheets were completely stain-resistant. Not that he’d had a chance to investigate the truth of that claim – in recent weeks he’d kept his tricking confined to the backrooms of Babylon and related alleyways, finding a quick hookup more than adequate to meet his needs and much easier on his laundry service.
 
Brian stared for a moment at Justin, who was resting his chin one hand and flipping through the magazine with the other. It was all surprisingly normal to the older man, seeing Justin there – it was like so many days and nights before when he’d walk into his bedroom and find the boy lying in bed sketching or reading or napping or waiting up for him . . .
 
He approached the side of the bed, trying to slow his breathing as he gazed at the downy head. “Comfortable?”
 
Justin looked up with a smile. “Finally. What were you doing out there? Pouring water over your head?”
 
“I don’t think it’s gonna be that type of evening.” Brian said dryly, wondering if maybe he shouldn’t have taken that third shot after all. “What’s with the lights? If you wanted to read, why didn’t you turn on one of the lamps?”
 
“I can see fine,” Justin said. “I’m used to these. When I’d draw you, I wouldn’t want to wake you, so this was the only light to work by. Reading’s nothing next to sketching.”
 
“Well I hope you remember all that when you’re shelling out money for Lasik surgery because you’ve fucked up your eyes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Brian paused, marveling at how Justin seemed to almost glimmer under the lights’ caress: The teen’s face seemed like an expanse of sky – all glowing pinks and reds that were balanced with deep blue and golden tones. In that moment, Brian understood his allegedly unconscious decision to put the lights on hiatus . . . nothing and no one looked as beautiful as Justin did under that indigo gleam.
 
“Roll over.”  Brian wasn’t surprised at how husky his voice sounded . . . Beam was said to put hair on a man’s chest and bass in a man’s voice. What did somewhat shock the exec was that he hadn’t catapulted himself on the slender boy and started kissing him senseless the minute he’d flashed him that famous smile. Matters became even more  . . . pressing when he saw the boy aim a pretty obvious look at his crotch before giving him another disarming smile.
 
“Roll over? What happened to talking?
 
“Smartass.” Brian pressed his tongue into his cheek. “We are gonna talk when you get off my side of the bed.” He folded his arms, trying to look menacing. There really was no “his” side of the bed, but he needed something to diffuse the sexual tension that hung heavy like a lubed condom in the air, and a playful game of “hardass” was as good a way as any to do that. “The sooner you get your ass to your – to the other side, the sooner we can start our little chat.”
 
The boy didn’t move. “Why can’t you sit on the left side just this once? I am your guest, and isn’t it your duty as a host to make sure that your guests are satisfied and comfortable?”
 
Guests in my bed are never anything but comfortable and very satisfied.” An eyebrow quirked upward. “But I don’t let them park their dicks on my side of the bed, either.”
 
Justin glowered at him for a moment before scooting over to the opposite side. “Screw you, Brian.”
 
“Amazing. You’re in a bed for what -- five minutes -- and already you’re dreaming.”  Dropping the menus, the exec flopped down on the recently vacated space, giving Justin a wry smile. “There. Much better.” Brian rocked onto his side and propped himself up on one elbow. Justin did the same, placing the magazine on the pillow between them, resting his hand lightly on the pages. They remained in that position for an interminable period, trading gazes and tentative smiles, each waiting for the other to take the initiative to begin the conversation, and each pulling back to take refuge in their own thoughts.
 
Brian was cognizant of his reluctance to speak, though he hardly thought it was unusual, under the circumstances. He was unsure of exactly what to say, and of what direction and tone this “talk” should have. What direction or tone could any sort of talk have when they were in his fucking bed together and all he could think about were the old days, when blue lights and Justin usually meant hours and hours of mind-blowing sex? He remembered how amazed he’d been that sex with Justin was always good, despite the boy’s relative lack of experience and his own disdain for doing the same men more than once. It was just another way the boy had set himself apart from every other man in Brian’s life – or, for that matter, any other man he had ever known – intimately or otherwise.
 
He wanted to touch the blond, wanted to draw him into his arms and hold him tight. And even though Justin was staring through him through heavy-lidded eyes that showed a familiar hunger, and wore what could have been the beginnings of a “come-hither” smile on his face, Brian resolved to keep his hands to himself until their talking played itself out. But it was going to be hard – literally, Brian acknowledged, gritting his teeth. He grimaced as he shifted in the bed, trying to ease some of the pressure in his groin. It wasn’t helping that Justin's slight smile had spread into a knowing grin, letting the older man know that he knew exactly why he was squirming. Brian shifted again, sliding a little on the slick surface of the sheets. Shit.  He glanced up at the teen, ready with some quip that he’d hope would take that smug grin off his face and allow him to concentrate, but was surprised to see the smile had disappeared completely and Justin was studying him with a serious expression. Brian began to sweat a little. “What is it?”
 
“Nothing.” Justin rolled onto his stomach again and stared at their picture. “Just . . . I was just going over in my head all the things I was gonna say to you . . . I had it all worked out . . .”
 
“What, like a little speech?”
 
“Kind of. I even had note cards and everything . . .”
 
Note cards?” Brian changed position so that he, too, was on his belly, and he inched forward to join Justin in admiring the page. “Jesus, you really are a college student.”
 
Justin’s smile was fleeting. “But now . . . thinking about it, it just all seems so lame.” He looked over at Brian. “I really don’t know what to say. Part of me is still so freaked out by just seeing it. I mean, I was never expecting to see anything like this.”
 
“Me either.” Brian took in their image once more, noting how at ease they seemed in each other’s arms, how perfectly positioned they were, as if they were made just to dance together like that, to laugh together as they had, to kiss the way they had. Looking at the picture, Brian reminisced about that night, recalling just how perfectly they’d fallen in step together during their dance, how they fed off each other’s energy, how effortlessly they alternated taking the lead, how well they fit together physically. The perfect fit. That’s what it had been. The perfect fucking fit.  Brian sucked in a breath as the memories faded and he was left staring at the flash-frozen image of the two of them, smiling, looking otherworldly beneath the blue lights. “It came out of nowhere. I’d be worried if it didn’t throw you for a loop.”
 
“What about you?” Justin asked softly. “Does it freak you out looking at this? I mean, I know that you remember everything, but still . . .”
 
Brian was quiet a moment. It was a good question. On some level, he acknowledged that the photo shook him – and not just because he could see his feelings for Justin so evident upon his face. Before seeing himself in that picture, he hadn’t imagined that he could look so damned happy. Maybe it was that he was so used to the casually diffident expression he'd spent years perfecting and saw in the mirror every morning before he’d met Justin -- and had been seeing every morning since the blond walked out of his loft and life – that he was surprised he could look anything like the beaming man in the picture. Then again, he was aware that very few pictures existed of him where he was actually smiling. Smirking, yes. But actual smiling? Not really. He considered smiles – real ones – precious commodities, things to be doled out on special occasions – the birth of a son, for example, or the reuniting with a lifelong friend whom you thought you had to push away in order for him to have any chance at happiness. Or, he thought with an inward grin, staring at the two of them, the most ridiculously romantic night of your life.
 
“Yeah, I guess it does. But it’s not necessarily a bad type of freaking out,” Brian murmured at last, glancing over at the teen. “It’s more like a “Fuck, that really was me” type of thing . . .” Brian paused a moment. “It’s been awhile since that night. . . and yeah, I remember . . . things . . . but over time, memories can fade or get twisted. It’s different to see something like this – a snapshot of a certain moment in a whole sequence of events. But it can be a good thing to have something like this. I’m glad we have this.” He smiled into the blue eyes. “So now you can see for yourself how fucking amazing we were that night.”
 
Justin smiled half-heartedly, which gave Brian pause. The executive studied the somber face, wondering if he had said something wrong. He was about to bite the bullet and ask when the blond began to speak.
 
“It does makes me feel happy. To have this, I mean. To have proof that it was real,” Justin said slowly, trailing his fingers across the page. “It’s so fucking awesome, that I want to feel only happy and glad. But I can’t . . . I don’t. ‘Cause it makes me sad, too. And angry.” He looked the older man full in the face, and Brian shivered at the depth of pain in those beautiful eyes. “Everyone talked about what I could have lost – my life, my ability to do art – that no one seemed to realize what I did lose . . .  what Hobbes did take from me. And I didn’t realize it either, until now.” Justin sat up suddenly, grabbing the magazine from the pillow, holding it up before Brian’s eyes. “This. I lost this. Hobbes took this. He took our dance from me. Our kiss. Everything about that night that was special. He made me forget it all . . . that you were there, that we were fantastic together . . . that you ever smiled at me like this . . .” His chin wobbled slightly. “That you ever looked at me like this. He took that memory away. That knowledge away.” Justin took a deep, noisy breath in, and leveled a clear-eyed gaze at the older man. “He made me forget that you loved me, Brian. That you loved me, and that you did more than just say it – you showed me that night. You showed everybody.”
 
Brian swallowed down the lump in his throat. He was not going to look away. On that, Brian was firm with himself. Didn’t matter that there were tears threatening to fall down his face, it didn’t matter that he was fighting his own set of tremors, it didn't even matter that some part of his soul him bled to hear it. Nothing mattered now except that his eyes remain locked on Justin’s face.
 
“I wanted the words,” Justin went on, maintaining their stare. “I thought everything would be great between us if I could just hear you tell me that you cared. I got hung so up on wanting the fucking words. I thought, ‘If he loves me, why can’t he say it? It’s three fucking words – what’s the big deal?’ And then came all that drama princess shit, and all my bitching about you never showing me any affection, and . . . and the whole thing with Ethan. All because I didn’t remember this.” He shook the magazine. “And it’s so fucked, because I look at how you’re looking at me here, and in your face I see every word I have ever wanted to hear you say to me. And more.” He voice wavered, and he hastily swiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. “And I feel like such a fuck up. If I’d remembered anything about that night other than Hobbes hitting me, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere, Brian. I couldn’t have left you.” His tone was earnest, his face pleading. “I would have never been such an ass about wanting words. I would have known that words were bullshit next to this.” He pointed to their picture. “There would have never been any Ethan or any ‘me and Ethan,’ if I’d remembered any of this. I would have never been such an ass about wanting words." He closed the magazine and placed it gently aside. “If I’d remembered, there wouldn’t have been a thing anyone could have said or done that would have made me doubt how you felt about me. Nobody could have made me doubt us.
 
Brian would have given just about anything he owned – the jeep and his special-ordered jade vibrator included – to completely share in Justin’s belief that if all had gone well at the prom – or at least if he’d had some recollection of it – that all would have gone completely right in their relationship. The effects of the bashing on Justin's memory had made it all moot, but Brian knew that he would have, more than likely, given the boy a reason to doubt his feelings at some point. The tricking might have done it – Brian couldn’t imagine giving that up, ever, and he knew that Justin wanted monogamy. Or the pressures and demands of work might have driven a wedge between them that would widen and widen until it caused an irreparable split. The age thing might have eventually given Justin second thoughts, maybe. It would have been something. There was always something keeping him from contentment and enjoying a normal life – be it his combative relationship with his mother and sister, getting turned down for the job of his dreams or witnessing the near-death of the man, there was always something that reminded him that he was one of those “damn Kinneys,” and when had any of those “damn Kinneys” ever done anything but turn everything they touched to shit? It more than likely would have gone that way with him and Justin regardless, but if prom had worked out . . . maybe, maybe they would have had something of a chance. 
 
Brian surfaced from his melancholy musings to find Justin had changed position, turning slightly away from him. The blond head was bowed, his head bowed, his face in shadows. But for the sniffling, the exec might not have known the boy was doing his best to fight back tears. Justin hated for anyone to see him to cry, always afraid that the presence of tears would mark him as some ‘weak little faggot’ – a prime target for the ass-kickings the Chris Hobbeses of the world seemed all too willing to dish out. Brian often admired Justin’s mental toughness and his determination to not show weakness to those who would expect it and seek to exploit it.
 
But not now. Now, Brian wanted the boy to cry. He wanted to see the tears fall, wanted Justin to find some solace, some catharsis in them. Justin needed to mourn what had been taken from him, the thing that had died in the swing of a bat -- the memory of their time together at the prom. No amount of replaying of their song or retracing of their dance steps could ever recapture the magic of that night; Brian understood that now. What had happened at the St. James Academy 2001 senior prom had been one of those vaunted ‘once in a lifetime’ things – a term Brian had believed was bullshit until the minute he walked into that ballroom and saw the blond’s face light up at the sight of him. All that had been beautiful about that night – everything that he remembered, that Teren remembered, that everyone who'd been in that ballroom would always remember – had literally been smashed from Justin’s mind in a matter of seconds. And while the article and their picture had given him a glimpse into that night, it had also done something more – it had alerted Justin to the extent of his loss. And now that Justin knew, it was time for him to give vent to the grief. Everyone else – his parents, his friends, the whole fucking queer community, Brian himself – had had their turn to lament over what had happened, and in the end, they hadn’t lost half so much as what the blond had. It was Justin’s turn now.
 
Slowly raising himself to a seated position, Brian reached out a tentative hand and gently stroked the teen’s back.  He waited for Justin to tell him to fuck off or to ask him to back off or to remind them of their “talking, not touching” pledge. When no protest seemed forthcoming, Brian gently turned Justin around until they were facing each other again. He slid a finger under the blond’s chin and lifted his face so that until they were at a level to look into each other’s eyes. He stared into the twin pools of sapphire, his expression a silent appeal for permission to draw closer, and it wasn’t until he saw an answering glint in the boy’s eyes that the older man allowed himself to proceed. He had to unmask himself once more – had to lower the walls and recede the moat that kept everyone from reaching the real Brian Kinney and let Justin in again, just as he had the night of his prom. And as it did that night, the prospect of it scared him, but it had to be done. Even if after this, Justin decided to walk out the door and never see him again, it had to be done. He should have done it long ago.
 
Brian leaned forward, planting gentle kisses on Justin’s forehead, the tip of his nose, his chin, and both cheeks. “Sunshine.” Brian murmured against his skin, trailing kisses down to the bridge of his nose. He looked into the brimming eyes and landed kisses on the teen’s eyebrows, gently stroking the fine hairs with his lips. He pulled back and stared into those eyes once more, eyes that held him in thrall while they fucked, eyes that he loved to see crinkle at the corners whenever the boy smiled or laughed, eyes he loved to see following him whenever he walked around the loft, eyes that were so expressive, eyes that made him melt inside whenever they locked gazes, eyes that had pierced him through the heart at the Rage party just before he turned his back on him and walked out the door. Those eyes. He loved those eyes. 
 
“Sunshine. . .” He whispered the endearment in the blond’s ear, punctuating the word with kisses to the earlobe, venturing down to cover the smooth column of his neck. “It’s okay.”
 
“How can you say that after everything that’s happened?” Justin’s voice was hoarse with the effort of resisting the pull to cry. “You knew all along what you’d done for me that night, what you’d given me . . . and you kept giving . . . you agreed to rules . . . you kept your end of the bargain . . .coming home to me.  . . and I fucked it up . . .”
 
Brian rolled over onto his back, pulling Justin atop him, burying his face in the soft blond hair. “How can you think any of it was your fault? You didn’t know.”
 
Justin squirmed to create a space between them, and he looked up at the older man with confused eyes. “I was the one who doubted you, and I shouldn’t have. I knew you’d come to the prom – that should’ve counted for something with me. And still I ruined it. I broke all our rules, I – I lied. I cheated . . .”
 
“We both managed to piss on what we had,” Brian said, gently massaging the boy’s hair. “But I as good as held your dick for you while we did it. I started this. I was selfish, Sunshine. I always pushed you away when you wanted to talk about prom or I tried to fuck the hurt away for you because I couldn’t deal with it. Because I remembered it all.” Brian flushed with pain as the memory of his desperate warning, Justin’s dazzling smile, and then the deadly hiss of the bat’s descent flashed in quick succession in his mind. “I was fucked up. I couldn’t think about what was incredible about that night without remembering how it ended . . .” He twined his fingers through the boy’s hair, relishing the feel of his arms being filled with beautiful, blond teenager again.
 
“I just didn’t want to deal with my memories,” Brian said in a whisper. “But you couldn’t remember any of it – and that’s just as painful for you as remembering is for me.” Brian’s thumb circled the soft area just above the swell of Justin’s right cheek. “I didn’t know it, though. And I didn’t know you were hurting, because I never gave you a chance to tell me.” Brian leaned forward until their foreheads were touching, and he indulged in the feeling of being connected, of feeling soft skin beneath his, and hot breath against his lips. “I don’t want to you to hold it in any more, Sunshine. You’ve dealt with it on your own long enough now. I’m here.” Brian drew back, and ran his fingers over the boy’s eyelids, coaxing them closed. Tears ran hot and fast down Justin’s face, pooling beneath his chin before dropping onto the silken covering below. Brian exhaled as the next wave of tears came down, and Justin’s shoulders began to shake.
 
“That’s it, Sonnyboy, let it out . . . It’s okay. You need this.” Brian guided the boy’s head to his chest, and he reclined slowly back onto the bed, drawing the duvet around them as they found safe harbor in each other’s arms. “You’ve needed this for awhile, and I kept it from you - I wouldn't let you tell me.” He kissed the top of the boy’s head, the sound of Justin’s weeping resonate throughout his body, rocking him to his core. "I fucked up, Sunshine, and I’m sorry.” He lapsed into silence then, burying his face in Justin’s hair, rocking him gently as the teen bathed his chest in tears.
 
Some time later, when Justin had calmed, and Brian’s shirt was nearly soaked through, the older man heard a muffled sound and felt Justin’s lips move against his chest. Brian pulled away a little and tilted his eyes downward. “What was that?”
 
The teen turned a tear-streaked face toward Brian, his lips curving into the slightest of smiles. “I was just thinking -- you’re apologizing? I thought sorry was bullshit.”
 
“It is.” Brian didn’t flinch when Justin reached up to brush away a tear that had somehow slipped out and was making its way down his cheek. “But I think this gets a special dispensation.”
 
Justin nodded once, and burrowed his way deeper into the man’s arms, tracing lazy circles on Brian’s back. “This is nice. I could totally sleep for hours just like this. Me and Daph were up . . . all night.” There was a very long pause, and then a yawn. In a drowsy voice, Justin mumbled, “I love these sheets.” Another yawn.
 
“Falling asleep on me?” Brian wove his fingers through the golden hair. “Fuck . . . so much for talking.”
 
Justin’s laughter was muffled by Brian’s shirt. “This is just a little break. We’re not done yet.”
 
Brian tightened his arms around Justin in response, listening as the teen's breathing evened out into the slow, steady rhythm that indicated sleep was close at hand. Holding him close, Brian was keenly aware of how much he’d missed the feeling of completeness, in companionship and in love, whenever Justin was with him. Letting the steady thud of Justin’s heartbeat lull him to sleep, Brian contemplated the truth of the blond’s words. They weren’t done yet. They weren’t done yet. And if he had anything to say about it, they weren’t going to be. It wasn’t over between them. Not by a long shot.

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