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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.

Six – Click
 

He’d spotted the best friends almost immediately, both of them on the edge of the dance floor, talking, laughing, at ease in their surroundings. They looked good together – even from his vantage point at the entrance to  the ballroom.  Brian had found himself admiring Daphne, a vision in billowing peach tulle. Justin’s back was to him, but Brian could still take note of the carefully gelled hair, crisp suit and shining shoes indicated the blond had dressed with care. That was when the command flashed across Brian’s brain: Leave. Leave now. It was a Friday night, he had the whole weekend ahead of him, and for god’s sake, he was Brian Kinney – fuck king of Pittsburgh, baron of the back rooms. He should be getting his dick sucked, not standing on the threshold of a ballroom in downtown Pittsburgh, dressed in a tux he’d barely remembered he had, crashing the prom of his 18-year-old . . . what? Boyfriend? Lover? Fuck buddy? Whatever, it was just a bad idea. He could see with his own eyes that Justin was okay, having a good time with Daphne at their prom. After the year he’d had, Justin deserved a little normalcy –  a night of relaxing and dancing to really bad music, eating hideous food and generally forgetting for a moment that in a week or two, graduation would come, bringing with it a  complicated mess known as “the rest of your life.” He had no business there, Brian thought, looking around the ballroom at the bright, shining, young faces. He’d had his fling. He was an “adult.”  And what the fuck did it say about him that he’d thought this would be a good idea? How the hell was he supposed to explain this change of heart to Justin – or to anyone else, for that matter? If he walked through that door, nothing was going to be the same – not between him and his friends, not between him and the rest of Gay Pittsburgh, and not between Justin and himself. This was a time to be sure of his actions, and if he wasn’t, it’d be better for him, and everyone else, if he just turned and walked away now.
 
His gaze swung back to the pair and he froze, two pairs of eyes pinning him where he stood, two gazes that at once set him at ease and scared him shitless. Daphne, who’d met his stare first, smiled a welcome at him before turning to Justin and placing a hand on his arm and nodding in the exec’s direction. Brian turned his attention to the blond at that moment, and their eyes met. There had been an incisiveness to the sky-blue eyes that Brian found unsettling, as if with just a glance, Justin was stripping away his protective layers and probing to the bone – analyzing, assessing, concluding. Brian wondered what the blond was seeing when he looked at him. But then the beginnings of a blinding smile blunted the edge of that gaze, Brian found himself drawn in, moving forward. If he’d thought he’d still had a choice on staying or going, that smile had taken it away.
 
“Need some help?”
 
He’d heard Justin approach, so he wasn’t completely taken by surprise, but the voice snapped Brian out of his reverie. He stared into the light of the refrigerator, the muted yellow glow reminding him so much of the lighting of the Deauville ballroom. Cool air from the appliance drifted out, raising the gooseflesh on his arms, and his fingers tightened in reminder what he had been doing before he’d opened the refrigerator door and been inexplicably sucked into the past.
 
“Just trying to figure out what to do with this.” Without looking around, Brian held up a Tupperware bowl of the orange ooze Justin had been so enamored of earlier and moved to close to refrigerator. “I don’t know whether to put it in here or report it to the EPA. This looks exactly like the shit the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were stepping in.”
 
“If it scares you that much, throw it away. I already know what it is.” The voice was moving closer, and in the next moment, Brian felt Justin’s breath dampening the back of his neck. “I could use it as blackmail: Tell Michael to stop bugging me about Rage, or I’ll have five quarts of kafta bilsaniya sent to your next board meeting.”
 
“Try it. Clients’ll put anything on a bagel these days.” Brian tensed as Justin pressed against him, encircling his waist with his arms. “And Mikey’s bugging you, because you have a fucking hit on your hands. You know it, I know it, and he knows it. Stop being a drama princess and return his calls.”
 
“I’ll think about it. I could use the money . . . and now that I’m getting to see the guy behind the Rage mask, I’m starting to like the idea of working on the comic more.” The arms tightened their grip, and soft lips brushed the nape of Brian’s neck. In his periphery, Brian saw Justin peering over his shoulder tilting his chin at the refrigerator. “You were looking for something? It’s not like you have to search for a place to put things. There’s plenty of room in there.”
 
Brian shrugged in response, a little uncomfortable about Justin’s remark about seeing behind the Rage mask – his mask. It reminded him much too much of the Rage party, and how Justin had seen him there in all his imperfect glory  . . . and then left with the music man.
 
“I’m not used to seeing this so full of stuff,” he said, glad that he had some morsel of truth to feed the blond. “Now the poppers have something to keep them company.” Gently disentangling himself from Justin’s embrace, and feeling even colder when he felt the blond move away, he bent and shoved the bowl inside, closing the door hastily on the leftovers and his reminiscences of the dance-that-almost-wasn’t.  “So, ready to resume our hop down memory lane?” 
 
“Sure. If you are.” Brian turned and saw that Justin was standing a few feet away, leaning casually against the breakfast bar. The artist’s expression was placid, and seeing him backlit against the light from the living room, Brian was reminded of the painted angels he’d seen as kid on Christmas cards, all shimmering blond hair and with eyes like liquid sky, calm and serene. “I wanted to do one thing, though, before we start again . . .”
 
Brian raised a brow. “Just one? You’re letting me off easy, Sunshine.” The words were barely out of his mouth before Justin began striding forward, closing the distance between them with startling rapidity until he was pressed into the exec, pinning him against the refrigerator. The blond leaned up and kissed him with lips still sticky with brown sugar glaze and wine, and swept his mouth with a tongue tasting of cumin and feta and curry. Brian allowed himself to be thus fed for a moment before gently pulling away.
 
“We’re getting ahead of ourselves, Sonnyboy.” Brian looked into serious blue eyes. “The kissing part comes later in the story.”
 
“Well, the way I figure it, we didn’t get this far last time we tried this.” Justin threaded his fingers through the exec’s hair, delivering a gentle peck on his bottom lip. “So you owe me.” He kissed Brian’s chin, flicking his tongue over the stubble shading his jaw.
 
“Yeah, but I made the first move back then. Not you.” Brian closed his eyes as Justin’s fingers began to work their way through his hair and to the back of his neck. He was fine, he assured himself, everything was fine. He could handle a kiss. “But . . . I like a guy who shows initiative.”
 
“I learned from the best,” Justin murmured against his throat. “You’re amazing, Brian. You’ve given me just what I needed . . . what I’ve wanted all day.”
 
“Ahh.” Brian reared as Justin’s hand moved from his face, down his neck and along his collarbone, before stopping to gently circle the exec’s nipples through the thin T-shirt he wore. Okay, now they were approaching can’t-handle-this territory. Brian groaned as the fingers teased the flesh into stiff peaks, jolts of sensation turning his cock to iron and making a frenzied rhythm out of his heartbeat. He made a half-hearted effort to push Justin’s hands away. “That definitely doesn’t happen until later, Sunshine. Talk first, fuck later.”
 
“All I was doing was just thanking you for dinner.” Justin pressed a last kiss to Brian’s neck and stepped back, allowing the exec a little more room to breathe. Justin’s expression was pure innocence, but Brian could see humor in his eyes. “And we are fucking later? Thanks for the confirmation.”  He turned and walked unhurriedly away, leaving Brian to stare after him, molded still to the refrigerator’s cold surface.
 
The blond paused at the threshold, looking over his shoulder. “You coming?”
 
Brian narrowed his eyes at the casual tone, and the slight lift of eyebrows that accompanied those words. “Twat.” Pointedly ignoring Justin’s answering grin, he peeled himself off the refrigerator, adjusted himself none-too-discreetly, and followed the swaying hips back into the living room.
 
“Just out of curiosity,” Justin said, settling back on the floor. “How long have you gone without having sex since you started having it?”
 
“Why?” Brian perched near him, leaning against a footrest for balance. “Do you think I’m probably breaking that record tonight?”
 
“Umm . . . maybe.” Justin was horrible at hiding a smile, and Brian was extraordinarily thankful for that. “You’re being so . . . virtuous. Kind of inspiring, in a way . . . really, really weird in other ways.”
 
“O, ye of little . . .  faith.” Brian craned his head back, staring at the network of wooden beams above them. “Actually, I think the longest was a couple of weeks – if you’re not counting beating off.” He looked down and watched Justin try to hide his incredulity.
 
“A couple of weeks?” The blond seemed undecided on whether he was being teased. “Wow. I’m . . . hmmm. I don’t know if impressed is really the word.” Justin snickered, and shook his head. “What were the circumstances? I wouldn’t think it’d have been voluntary – not for you. Were you sick or something? In traction?”
 
“Close. I got roped into one of the center’s bullshit fundraisers, so I guess that would qualify as some kind of illness. A mental one.” Brian grimaced, rubbing his forehead as if to coax the memory from the depths of his mind. “I didn’t want in on any of their usual bullshit fundraisers, so I created my own: The Kinney Celibathon. I got sponsors, and every day I went without fucking someone, I got twenty bucks from each of them. I could jack off, but it had to be alone – no mutual. And no sucking dick or eating ass, either. The guys followed me around the bars and the clubs to make sure I didn’t ‘cheat.’ Mikey would come and tuck me in and hang around once I got home. I got about 15 people to sponsor me, all of them figuring I’d cave the first night. I went for 16 days.”
 
“Sixteen? Fuck.” Brian could see Justin doing the math in his head. “So you made –”
 
“—Nearly five grand.” Brian nodded. “Which I matched, and sent in to the center with my best regards. Of course, it helped that I’d just come back on one of Ryder’s ‘planning’ retreats in the Poconos, and I had fucking poison oak everywhere.” He grimaced, imagining he could still feel his ass itching. What the hell had possessed him to fuck the guy from Tech in the “great outdoors” he’d never understand. The guy hadn’t even been that hot. “I could’ve gone longer, but Day 16 was Canadian Mountie night at Babylon, and I met this stud from Manitoba, and the cream my derm gave me was starting to work . . . anyway, I figured I’d proven my point.”
 
“This is unreal. That beats my record by, like, three days,” the blond said, and Brian wanted to laugh at the awe in the boy’s voice. “About a month ago, I was working on something for my classics class. We had to research Goya’s Caprices, pick two and present them in a modern-day context. I chose a couple that were kind of obscure, and it took forever to research. So, I kind of just dropped everything and threw myself into it. It was a lot of work, and it took five all-nighters, but it came out pretty cool. I got an A. But in the meantime, I hadn’t done anything except jerk off in the shower to get rid of my morning hard-on. I really wasn’t horny or anything. I really didn’t think about it until it was all over.”
 
“I’m sure the music man must have loved that,” Brian said quietly. “But I’m sure he understood it was for the good of your art.”
 
Justin flushed and looked away. “He wasn’t . . . um . . . around. He was at some big string festival in Jersey for a couple of weeks.”
 
“Oh. Well, good thing. You artists and your timing . . .” Brian kept his tone mellow and added a smile to give his words less of a bite. He didn’t know what had possessed him to bring the Fiddler into it the conversation at all, except that he found it interesting that someone as passionate and romantic as Ethan Gold seemed to be would stand idly by while his boyfriend kept his hands off his dick for, what, thirteen days? Now Brian had his answer, and the look on Justin’s face made him wish he hadn’t asked.
 
“Yeah, well . . . it’s not like it was anything new.” Justin still wasn’t looking at him. “There were times he’s been around and we didn’t . . .” The artist stopped speaking, and an awkward silence stretched between them like miles of bad road. “Um . . . anyway.” Justin cleared his throat, slowly turning toward the exec, but keeping his eyes lowered. “I remembered what I wanted to ask you about.” Brian noticed the magazine with their picture was half hidden behind Justin’s left hip. “But you just reminded me of something else I wanted to know.” Justin made no move toward the magazine. “Uh . . . why didn’t we leave the prom together?”
 
The exec felt his stomach roll over. “What?”
 
“Well, Daphne said we made this dramatic exit. She didn’t really go into details, but she said it was killer.” Justin’s fingers drummed on the floor. “She said that . . . she followed us out, ‘cause she needed to give you your jacket.” He looked at Brian. “Why did she have your jacket, anyway?”
 
“You gave it to her.” Brian put a hand to his head, the echo of Justin’s footsteps as he walked away from him resonating clear through to his stomach. “You took it off me . . . maybe you thought I was getting overheated.”
 
“Yeah, like you being too hot would be anything new.” Justin grinned, shaking his head. “Well, she said you took it, and she figured that we were gone . . . that she wouldn’t see me until Monday, if then, ‘cause the Monday after Prom Night is always Senior Skip Day. Um, anyway, you said that, ah, after we got to the Jeep, we kissed and then you got in the Jeep and I  . . . walked away. And then –”
 
“Yeah.” Brian preempted the rest of that with one word, and they sat quietly for awhile. In the weeks immediately following the bashing, Brian had found that if he clenched his jaw tight enough to possibly spit out teeth, he could keep the sharp whirring sound of a bat slicing through air before coming to rest on flesh and bone out of his ear. But it wasn’t working tonight. He was sure he was clenching hard enough to burst a blood vessel, but he still heard it, heard that and his own frantic voice screaming Justin’s name. Too late. Too fucking late. Brian gave it up and relaxed his mouth, rubbing the underside of his aching jaw. “I remember.”
 
“I was just curious.” Justin reached back and grabbed the magazine, carefully placing it on his lap and flipping open to their picture. “I couldn’t imagine why I wouldn’t have gone with you, not after this . . .” He gestured at the photo.
 
Brian was somber, thinking of his refrigerator-induced memory. “Remember back when Ted almost died?” Brian knew that would seem to Justin a nonsequitur, and Justin’s perplexed expression indicated as much. “Maybe you don’t. You and I hadn’t known each other that well. We’d only fucked, hmmm . . . maybe four times.”
 
“For you, though, isn’t that almost commitment-ceremony territory?”
 
“You are so fucking adorable, Sunshine,” Brian deadpanned, a wide, false smile appearing and disappearing with in seconds. “Anyway . . . Ted was in a coma courtesy of his twinkie boyfriend. You remember Blake, don’t you? Blond . . . kind of hot? Very fucked up on crystal?”
 
“Yeah, I remember him. It was sad about him and Ted.” Justin nodded. “I thought Blake was cool. He had a thing for Warhol. We had this great conversation at Michael’s going away party.”
 
“Sorry I missed that,” Brian said, his voice dripping with a sarcasm he knew would be lost on the blond – for the time being, anyway. “Well, dear Theodore was in a coma . . . and he’d appointed me as the executor of his fucking living will.”
 
You?” Justin sounded as if this was the first he was hearing of it and that stunned Brian a little. The blond had not been in the loop back then, but surely that story had to have come up several times by now. “Not Emmett or Michael or Mel? Mel’s his best friend, and she’s a lawyer.”
 
“Trust me . . . it was a complete surprise. Especially since I didn’t find it out until he’d been in dreamland a couple of days.” The situation still rankled at Brian, being thrust into that position, faced with making the call on whether Ted lived or died . . . as if just because he was built like a god, he had to act like one. “I had to decide whether to pull the plug. I had Theodore’s life – such as it was – in my hands. He wanted it that way. And do you know why?”
 
The blond mulled that for a minute. “I would guess because you’re his friend.”
 
“Wrong, Sunshine. That’s exactly why he didn’t pick Mel or Mikey or Emmett. They were his friends. He didn’t want to put a friend in the position of having the power to pull his plug, because he didn’t think a friend would have had balls in the end.” Brian’s eyes went misty a moment at the inexplicable hurt it still caused that the porn king had not, at that time, considered him a friend in the traditional sense. “He wanted – needed – an unrepentant, selfish asshole to do the job, ‘cause, see, Sunshine, a selfish asshole would know just when to give it up . . . call lights out. . . . and he’d do it with no hesitation, no tears, no second thoughts, no apologies, regrets, excuses. Ted told me all this later, after he’d come out of slumberville and returned nominally to the land of the living. He looked right in my face and said my being a self-absorbed prick made me a fine candidate for executorship over his so-called life.”
 
“That’s not you.” Justin reached out and rested a hand on the exec’s knee. “You’re one of the most unselfish people I know. You do things for people all the time. You helped Ted find a job when he got fired, for one . . . you helped Mel and Linds get married . . . me and school . . . Michael and the store –”
 
“Oh and don’t forget the hospice care I provide out of my bathroom, and my Prada for the Poor campaign.” Brian rolled his eyes. “I don’t need to be petted, Sonnyboy. Ted was right: I am a selfish, me-first bastard. And I fucking like it that way – like me that way. Modesty and nicey-niceness doesn’t sell. We've done studies.” Brian spoke with a philosophical air. “I’m a prick, and it’s why, at age 29, I was in upper management in one of the biggest ad agencies in the tri-state area. It’s why at 30 I’ve made partner, own my home free and clear. Have enough money in the bank to not need a Super Savers card from Giant Eagle. If I weren’t exactly what Ted said I was, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today . . . and I was always just fucking fine with it.” Brian smiled faintly. “But it’s a funny thing, Sunshine. I get to your prom, I’m about to walk through the door, and I’m suddenly hit with feeling I’ve not had a lot of experience with . . .”
 
“Uh . . . nostalgia?”
 
“Not really. I’ve been trying to forget my prom for almost 12 years. And if Mikey hadn’t stopped me before I poured my old man’s special black-label Beam into the punch bowl, I probably would have succeeded.” He cocked his head slightly. “No. I got to that over-decorated ballroom, saw all those young ‘leaders of tomorrow’ dancing – or whatever the fuck that was – all having fun, fun, fun . . . I felt . . . guilty. I fucking felt guilty,” he repeated, a bitter laugh punctuating his words.
 
“Guilty?”
 
“Yeah. I thought . . . I actually thought that this was maybe the one time in my life I’d ever thought being a selfish prick might be a liability.” Brian bit his lip. “I saw you and Daphne together, having fun. You looked good, and fuck knows your year had been for shit . . . and I was partly to blame for it. I outed you, made you a target.” And coming there, I made you into one again. With effort, Brian kept his voice steady. “I didn’t think it was fair, me just appearing, stealing the show . . . your show. And Daphne’s.”
 
“But I wanted you there. I asked you. Daph knew that,” the blond spoke in a voice that pleaded with Brian to believe him. “I love Daph, but I only asked her because my mom and Debbie were talking about how I shouldn’t miss out on my senior prom and all that shit. Plus, I saw it as a way to show Daph that I wanted to make up with her after all the weirdness after she and I had sex.”
 
“You had sex with Daphne?” Brian pretended surprise. “But . . . according to that article, it was all just an ugly rumor. Everyone knows queers don’t fuck straight girls. They fuck lesbians, maybe, but not heteros . . .”
 
“Dickhead,” Justin muttered with affection, but unsmiling. “I’m serious. Daphne thought it was totally cool that I’d asked you, and that you showed after all. She didn’t mind.”
 
I minded for her, Sonnyboy. For both of you. It just didn’t feel right. Not at first. I was thinking about leaving.” Brian flinched at the pain that flashed across Justin’s face. “You wouldn’t have been any the wiser and I would have found something to do. I always do. But then, you and Daphne saw me standing there. And . . .” You smiled. Brian let out a long, low breath. You smiled, and I was gone. “. . . I figured what the fuck. I’d gotten dressed up, I’d paid the fucking parking fee . . . and . . . you didn’t seem exactly unhappy to see me.”
 
“No shit.” Justin was looking at the picture again. “I bet I about pissed my pants when I saw you come in.”
 
“You were . . . surprised. You got over it quick.” Brian thought back to the moment he and the blond made eye contact and he’d been flayed by that cutting blue gaze. “Daphne was very cool about me barging in on her date. On her night. I asked her . . . right before we went out on the dance floor . . . I asked her if I could borrow you a minute.” He peered into Justin’s eyes. “And that’s what I meant. We’d made our point . . . given your classmates a night they’d remember –”
 
“Some of us more than others,” Justin said faintly, and Brian fell silent a minute, cursing his choice of words.
 
“Anyway, I’d never planned on us just taking off. I figured we’d see each other soon enough.” Brian was subdued as the echo of their unfulfilled “laters” resonated through his body. “What the fuck kind of date would you have been, leaving Daphne stranded?”
 
“She wouldn’t have been stranded. We took her dad’s car. She’s the one who drove us there.”
 
“Not the point, Sunshine. But it’s almost funny, Sonnyboy.” Brian shut his eyes, then opened them quickly when the image of himself with Justin’s blood on his hands floated across his brain. “The one time I wanted to be Mr. Benevolent . . . put someone else’s feelings before my own interests. And it turned out just great, didn’t it.”
 
“Bri, don’t,” Justin said quickly, holding up a hand. “It’s okay. I understand –.”
 
“It was stupid. I was stupid.” Brian stared at the floor. “We should have just gone. I don’t even know why I didn’t . . .” Just pull you into the fucking Jeep and take off. Brian remembered how turned on he’d been after their kiss by the car, how hard his dick was . . . how much his balls ached. He’d wanted Justin, wanted the boy right then and there, but he’d just let him walk away, too fucking scared of what else he’d been feeling that night to hold on to the blond. “Hobbes wouldn’t have had a chance to take a swing at you. You wouldn’t have . . .”
 
“Brian.” Justin knee-walked over to the exec, halting his words with a hand to his thigh. “When are you gonna believe me when I say what happened wasn’t your fault? You didn’t know how psycho Chris was . . . I didn’t even know . . . and I’ve known him since sixth grade. You couldn’t have known what he was gonna do. He was in the parking lot, too. If we’d gone off together, he might have gotten into his own car and followed us. Rammed into you, like my dad did. Then we both could have been hurt, and he might’ve beaten both our heads in.”
 
“If I hadn’t come . . . maybe he wouldn’t have done anything. You ever think of that?”
 
“If you hadn’t come, we wouldn’t have this.” Justin held up their picture, the light from above reflecting off the pages. “We wouldn’t have had our dance, and I wouldn’t have been able to see it.”
 
“Not good enough,” Brian’s voice was thick, and he cleared his throat. “Nothing’s worth this.” He thumbed Justin’s scar, and then nodded at their picture. “Not even that.”
 
Justin eyed Brian a long moment, and the exec lowered his eyes, feeling Justin’s gaze burn into his forehead. “Brian . . . the only thing I regret about that night, other than the sucky way it ended, is that I can’t remember it for myself. That is the only thing.” He put his hand under Brian’s chin and lifted it until they were looking at each other again. “Don’t tell me you’re sorry that you came, or that if you hadn’t, Chris wouldn’t have hit me, or that you’ve been kicking yourself about it ever since . . . because then . . . it’ll be like all we’ve talked about – all we went through . . . was for nothing. You thinking about wanting to be kid to Daphne . . . that’s so like you, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it.” The blond squeezed Brian’s shoulders hard. “Maybe you’re a ruthless shit in business, and to people who deserve it, but you’re always thinking about other people, putting other people first, even when you don’t want us to know you’re doing it. I can never understand how the guys can see what you do for others – and especially what you do for them – and have the balls to call you heartless.” Justin stared at him a moment longer, then released him. “Anyway, that answered that question. I want to go on to the next one.”
 
“It’s your night.” Brian immediately registered the loss of Justin’s hands on him. The teen’s fingers had dug into his flesh, and there was a fair chance he might have slight bruises the next morning, but Brian wanted those hands back. “What’s next?”
 
“That’s better.” Justin took his hand, tenderly kissing the palm. He settled between Brian’s legs, and after a moment, the exec realized that Justin was not moving back across the room. “Now, what I really wanted to ask . . .” He set the pages of the magazine on Brian’s lap, angling it so they could both see it well. “What is the deal with this scarf?”
 
Brian had been staring at the shot of the two of them, looked up sharply. “What?” he asked slowly, thinking of Justin’s first question about why and how he decided to come to the prom . . . the one he knew would come up again to bite him on the ass.
 
“Well . . .” Justin hesitated. “The first time you and I were . . . together – after the bashing, I mean – isn’t this the scarf you had on under your clothes?”
 
“Yeah. It’s the same one.” Brian nodded numbly. The white scarf, his silken hair shirt, one of the most incongruous reminders he’d ever have of the fragility of life, the uncertainties of fate. One moment, it was just a beautiful garment, pristine and shimmering, a perfect complement to his all-black attire, and the next, it was a relic of a horrific event, crimson staining its threads, blood mixed with Justin’s scent imbedded upon it forever. “What about it?”
 
“Well, first, I wondered how I got it. It was yours. Teren even made a point about how cool it looked on you. But here,” he indicated the picture. “I’m wearing it.”
 
“I put it on you,” Brian said tonelessly, feeling an ache begin right behind his eyes. “It was . . . we were fucking around with it . . . while we were dancing. Passing it back and forth to each other.” A brief smile lit the exec’s face as he recalled looping the satiny length around Justin’s neck, and pulling the boy to him. “You had it on there,” he said of the picture, “but by the time we got off the dance floor, I had the scarf back on and my jacket off. You took it off me . . . threw to Daphne –”
 
“I did that while we were dancing?” The blond blinked rapidly. “Shit . . . was I high?”
 
“Nope. Just . . . creative. It was a nice move.” He nodded to the teen. “Now that I know you had formal training.” Brian grinned when the teen’s ear tips turned bright red. “If we had more baby-sitters teaching their kids to cha-cha instead of sitting them down in front of Barney or whatever the fuck, we’d have a crop of inventive youths . . . we’d probably have more fags, too, but that’s not a bad thing.”
 
“Why did you keep the scarf?” Justin asked softly. “It was . . . it had . . . blood on it. And you were wearing it.” He reached up and touched Brian’s face. “I wanted to ask you about it when I first noticed it, but I didn’t know anything about the scarf except that the blood on it was probably mine.”
 
Brian stared into space for a moment. “That scarf . . . it’s got an interesting history.  Two people who wore it . . . and both of ‘em were about a breath away from kicking off within minutes after putting it on.  They didn’t die, though . . . even though there was a  . . . decent chance they might.”
 
Justin looked at the picture, then at Brian, then at the picture again. “Who was the other person? I know I’m one . . .”
 
“There were only two people who ever wore the damn thing.” Brian replied in a calm tone. “Me and you.”
 
“Yeah, I know. But you said two people almost–” The teen stopped talking then, no warning, no sharp intake of breath, nothing to indicate that he had not finished his thought except the horror in his face that hit Brian like a smack. “No fucking way . . . you?”
 
Brian remembered the first night Justin had awakened him with a nightmare. He hadn’t screamed very loudly, and he hadn’t thrashed around in his sleep or called out for help. He’d simply sat bolt upright in bed breathing heavily, sounding more like he was having an asthma attack than a nightmare. But it was the look on Justin’s face – an unfiltered, terrorized expression that chilled Brian to the marrow – that let Brian know a hug, and not an inhaler, was what was needed. And that was the look the blond wore as he gaped open-mouthed at Brian, hands tightening around the edges of the magazine. The blond was scared now, and he, Brian, was the bogeyman, filling his head with frightening images and words and the scary thing was, it was gonna get worse – way worse. Almost everything inside Brian advised him to shut up, bundle the kid out the door, tell him to have a nice life, and that he should run as fast as he could anywhere else . . . go back to the music man, go home, go anywhere . . . because it only got more fucked-up from there – he only got more fucked up. But the small part of Brian that wasn’t screaming for him to shut down was also the same sliver of . . . something that Brian was sure Justin had seen in his eyes when they’d locked gazes on the dance floor, and then later at the Jeep. And at that moment, that tiny voice, that shred of something that ached to be loved, to have Justin love him, was stronger than all the other voices telling him to not bother trying . . . that no one could love someone like him, not  ever, ever.
 
Neither of them moved, Justin staring at him expectantly, and Brian decided to heed the small voice and continue. They’d come this far . . . what was a little more dysfunction in the grand scheme of things?
 
“Day before your prom,” he began, “I came home from work, showered . . . put on a pair of jeans . . . inhaled and smoked some substances of questionable legality . . . drank a little Beam. Typical end-of-the-day unwinding.” He looked up at the ceiling, recalled how difficult it was to get the damn thing around one of the beams. It had been the one moment he’d regretted having high ceilings. “With a twist. Do you know what scarfing is?”
 
“Scarfing?” Justin sounded wary, like a person who’d gone into a movie knowing that there was going to be a scary scene, and was expecting it to come up at any moment. “Um . . . you mean like eating fast? Devour . . . uh . . . bolt . . . gobble?”
 
Brian was caught short and, the gravity of what he was about to tell the blond the only thing keeping him from rolling on the ground laughing. The earnest look on Justin’s face set the edges of his mouth twitching, however, and he stood up quickly, knowing he’d better start moving, or he’d lose it for sure.  “Forgot I was talking to Mr. 1500 SATs. You’re in your element, Sunshine. Think alternate meaning: Scarfing. Verb.”
 
Justin looked mystified. “No, sorry . . . that’s the only scarfing I know,” he said with a shrug, then something appeared to dawn on him. “Well, wait . . . there was that weird thing me and Daph saw on the Web.”
 
My Sonnyboy never disappoints. Brian’s smile was knife-edge thin. “Weird thing?”
 
“Yeah . . . it’s supposed to be some sex kick. You tie something around your neck so your airflow’s restricted, I think, and then you beat off, and when you come, it’s supposed to feel even better. It sounded really stupid though, and –” And there it happened again: the abrupt end of a sentence and blue eyes going wide with terror. “Brian . . . you didn’t. Please . . . please tell me you didn’t.”
 
“Riiiiight there.” Brian watched Justin’s eyes follow his hand as he waved toward the rafters. “Right there. I got up on a chair . . . put that white scarf around my neck  . . . tightened it . . . took my dick out –”
 
He never finished the sentence, because Justin on his feet and in his face almost at the same instant, hands gripping his throat, eyes feverishly roaming the skin as if checking for marks. “Jesus fuck, Brian!” The youthful face went scarlet, and for a moment, Brian thought the blond was going to sock him. “You stupid shit . . .  you could have died doing that!”
 
“So I’ve been told.” Brian shrugged as casually as he could with Justin’s fingers pressed into his windpipe. “Would’ve been something to read about in fag rags, wouldn’t it? I could see the opening line of the obit now . . . ‘If ever there was a person in our community who we imagined dying with a hard dick and a smile on his face, it would be Brian Andrew Kinney . . .’”
 
“Brian, what the fuck were you thinking?” Justin’s voice trembled with anger. “Christ . . . you’re smarter than that . . . and how the fuck could you do that after getting fucked up on E and god knows what else –”
 
“Just E and Beam and weed . . . didn’t want to overload myself.” Brian forced a grin on his face. It felt false and ghoulish to him, and he could only imagine how it looked to Justin. “Had to maintain a delicate balance . . .”
 
Justin let him go, taking a step backward. “You knew you could die . . . and you did it anyway. Why?” The sadness packed into that one syllable made Brian’s stomach churn. “Why would you want to do that to people who love you – Gus and Michael and Linds and Mel. Deb and Vic. Em and Ted. Me.” His chest heaved and for a moment, Brian was concerned Justin was having an asthma attack. “How could you even think about leaving us just like that?”
 
“Look, like I told Mikey: I didn’t come home, decide, ‘Hey . . . I’m gonna go keep my old man company in St. Adelbert’s. He could use the excitement of having his ass-fucking, evil-living Sonnyboy camped right next to him . . . dead with a hard-on, no less. He could show me around Hell . . . he must’ve put in a good word for me by now.’” Brian found it a little hard to speak around the lump in his throat. “What I wanted was to get off –”
 
“If that’s all you wanted, you could have called me –”
 
“You were at Mikey’s sendoff, remember?” Brian tilted an eyebrow at him. The party before he and Dr. What’shisnuts headed out to stroke the sycamores.”
 
“Then you could have gone to Babylon . . . picked someone up. Fucked him, had him suck you. Whatever.” Justin spat the words at him, and Brian could see the teen was trembling. “Just like you do anytime all you want is to get off. You did what you did because you knew you could die . . . that made it even more fucking appealing to you, didn’t it?”
 
“Wasn’t it appealing to you?” He sneered at the dumbfounded look on Justin’s face. “The night they found that twink dead in the Dumpster . . . I put my hands on your throat and started choking you . . . and you got hard as a fucking brick, and when we fucked, it was awesome. Only difference with scarfing is that it’s a solo enterprise.”
 
“Fuck you, Brian. That’s exactly why it’s not the same.” Justin’s eyes blazed. “I wasn’t alone! I knew you weren’t going to kill me. When I told you to stop, you did, and even if things had gotten out of control and I lost consciousness or something, you would have been there to get me some help . . . take me to the fucking hospital. If you’d lost consciousness when you were scarfing, you would have fallen off that chair and hanged yourself! So I think there’s a big difference between being a little kinky with someone who gives a shit about you and jerking off with a fucking noose wrapped around your neck!”
 
The exec was silent while Justin railed at him, because he really didn’t know how to refute Justin’s words. “What made it appealing, was everything I read on the Web about it . . . everything I’ve ever heard about it, everything everyone who’s tried it and lived to tell about it said – that doing it is like being sucked off by the sky . . . like you’ve got rocket fuel in your balls . . . that’s what I wanted to feel, Sunshine.” He crossed his arms. “I wanted my last hurrah before my descent into my destiny, as foretold by my father, John Francis Kinney Jr., reluctant family man, all-around asshole and cancer-ridden, newly dead prick.”
 
“What are you talking about? What does your dad have to do with any of this?” Justin asked, confusion mixing in with the anger on his face. “I thought you said you’d forgotten about him a long time ago . . . even before he died.”
 
Brian rubbed his chin and shrugged. “Thought you’d figured out by now that I can be a little inconsistent, Sunshine. Especially when I’m trying to prove a point.”

He turned his back to Justin and studied the Mapplethorpe print on the far wall. “A few months before my dad kicked off, we had a conversation – most of which a bottle of Beam erased, but I do remember some of it. Or at least, I did when I decided to try scarfing.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, eyes squeezing shut at the memory of a whiskey-sour breath rasping about sports scores, retirement plans, pending strikes, and of bloodshot eyes that stared into his, devoid of any warmth, of any sense of tenderness or love. “He said he and I were a lot alike – free spirits. Not meant to settle down and get  . . . roped in by domesticity. Wife, kids, that sort of thing.” Brian heard Justin breathing hard behind him, and sensed the blue-eyed gaze boring into the back of his neck. “He said something that I’d never heard from him before, but he said it often enough – usually with a right hook or a backhand. He said . . . he never should’ve been a family man. He . . .”
 
Brian trailed off, shaking his head. It was humorous, in a way:  the man who’d given him his eyes and his hair and his height and tried to give him his hate, as well, had been dead more than a year. Well before their talk at the lodge, Brian had believed that his father never loved him, and their meeting and Jack Kinney’s words, whiskey-induced as they had been, had just confirmed Brian’s suspicions, and what hurt him most that night, what brought the tears to his eyes that night, was not getting confirmation that his father had never given a shit about him, but that he still cared one way or the other what his father thought. Brian thought he’d given up giving a shit about his father’s feelings, but that night, and later, crying in the dark in Mikey’s bed, made him realize that not only did he still give a shit, but despite his best efforts and better judgment, he probably always would.
 
“I thought it was bullshit,” Brian said suddenly, blinking until his eyes cleared. “He was a pitiful shit who could barely hold a job any stretch of time, he never had much ambition I ever heard of, other than making enough to keep my mom off his back and have a little left over to play cards, bowl with the boys and drink himself out a reality for a few hours. He’d never gone anywhere, never won anything, never had his picture in the paper – not even for his fucking obituary. And he liked pussy. How the hell was that anything like me? I couldn’t figure it out . . . chalked it up to him being drunk off his ass and me being bored enough to listen to him.” There was a slight pause. “Then I turned 30, and I understood just what the fuck he was trying to say. That was a great fucking week, the day I turned thirty. You remember it?” Though Brian hadn’t really expected a reply, but his heart knocked painfully at the silence. How much of Justin’s short-term memory had been lost? “Let me sum up: I got passed over for a job I was fucking perfect for, for a brownnosing breeder barely old enough to have hair on his balls . . . for my birthday, my good friends threw me this kick-ass party, complete with coffin . . . and my best friend was moving to a frozen fucking wasteland with a guy who had a personality to match.”
 
“I did think the coffin was going a little far, but everyone said you’d get a kick out of it.” Justin sounded embarrassed. “If we’d known about the New York thing beforehand, we would never have –”
 
“No, it was perfect, Sunshine, because that little get-together brought things totally into focus for me. Things were changing, and I wasn’t changing with them. Wasn’t going to New York, wasn’t starting a new life with new clubs and a new place in a new town. And that’s when I figured out what my father meant by me and him ‘being alike.’ He wasn’t talking about the way we thought or the way we looked or even the way we acted. He was laughing at me. The sonofabitch had been laughing at me, and I couldn’t see it before that moment. He was telling me that no matter what kind of fucking job, car, money or loft I had, in the end, I’d be just like him – stuck here. I’d missed my chance – my youth, I thought, was gone. And much like my dear old man before me, I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Brian Kinney, you’re 30. Thirty. You’ve reached your fucking peak, and this it is – you’re in the Pitts . . . a place you thought you’d be long gone from by the time you were 21, and it looks like that’s where you’re gonna fucking stay . . .’”
 
He stopped, wondering over his words. It seemed so pathetic to have such feelings, especially considering where he’d ended up – partner in a firm, successful, well-off . . . and even loved – honestly loved – by people who weren’t maniacs. But until recently, alone and as directionless and sorry for himself as he had been in the days after his 30th birthday. Brian shuddered to think how much worse his wallowing in self-pity could have gotten if Justin hadn’t been in the picture then.
 
“So, in honor of my discovery of the futility of life, I wanted to have a little celebration. I wanted to give myself something huge . . . something I’d always remember . . . but I didn’t really know what that was. According to everybody who thinks they know shit about my life, I have damn-near everything, so I couldn’t figure out what to get that would have meaning. Then one day that week, I went with Linds and my son to some high-end version of linens and things. She went on about how amazing it would be to grow old, get wrinkles . . .  all the shit only a dyke would say, because breeder women know a good anti-aging cream’s better than a double-headed dildo. Smell’s better, too. And that’s when I saw it.” He made a whipping motion with his hand. “That scarf. I saw it wrapped around the mannequin, just waiting for me  . . . I touched it . . . and I knew I’d found what I was looking for . . . a way to feel like I was still in the land of the living . . .” That I still had a life to risk.
 
“Was it worth it?” Justin’s voice at his back was quiet, and Brian couldn’t discern the tone. It was somewhere between furious and heartbreakingly sad. “Did you come so hard, you hit the ceiling? Did you have the biggest boner of your life? Did you feel like you were fucking orbiting Pluto?”
 
“I never got the chance to find out.” He squinted into the pane of glass covering the artwork. It looked dirty. “Just as I was about to shoot, in bursts Mikey. Apparently, he was pissed because I didn’t make his party, and he’d come in to check on me. He cut me down, and I wanted to fucking kill him. There he was about to leave the Pitts for the other side of the U.S., and he’s ruining my good time, just for old times’ sake. He went nuts ranting something about Captain Astro and saving me, that I was a stupid twat, blah, blah, blah. I told Mikey just like I told you: Dying wasn’t on the agenda. And just like I told Mikey, and I’m telling you now . . .” He turned and met the blue eyes with an even stare. “If it had happened that I choked while choking it . . . it would’ve sucked, but it wouldn’t have been the worst way in the world to go. I would’ve died just like this.” He stood ramrod straight, feeling his muscles flex beneath his skin as he stood tall. “With this face . . . these lats and delts . . . my ass . . . and my dick hard. Young forever. Immortal. Who wouldn’t want that?”
 
Brian touched his own face as he spoke, felt the smoothness above his brow, but noticed a slight change of texture where lines were beginning. Fuck. Time for another order to La Jeunesse. “Just like Dean . . . Hendrix . . . Cobain. They told the world to fuck itself every day they lived in it, and they died that way, too.  We’ll always remember them for that. If I was gonna go out young, like them, why not be fucking fabulous doing it?” He paused and waited for Justin to speak, but the teen stood silent, lips pressed tight. “Mikey told me that was bullshit . . . he said a lot of things made me think Mikey’s been fooling all of us all these years and he’s grown up after all. “Said no matter how fucking old I’d get . . . I’d always be young and beautiful and a lot of other profound shit that I didn’t hear, because I did end up passing out. In bed,” he added at Justin’s sharp look. “And when I woke up the next morning, I realized something – always-young, always-beautiful people can get whatever they want. Do whatever they want, when they want.” He took a deep breath, held it, and wondered how – and if – Justin would respond to his next words. “And that night, what I wanted . . . was to be with you.”
 
Justin had been about say something, but he closed his mouth quickly. There was a lengthy pause before Justin’s hushed, What?”
 
The words had the desired effect, and had the added bonus of being the absolute truth, so Brian was satisfied.   “I went to work that morning, and I remembered what Mikey said about being young forever. And I thought about you . . . and how when you asked me to your prom, I said some fucking thing about being old . . . and you pretty much told me to shut the fuck up and get over it. It wasn’t like I was forty or anything.” He grinned, and got a tentative smile in return. “I was in my office that day, drinking one of the best lattes I’d ever tasted, and wondered what the fuck I was gonna do that night. I thought about the Baths and Babylon . . . thought about cyber hookups . . . Woody’s. But that shit seemed old, and you know me, Sunshine. I don’t do old. I wanted to enjoy my youth while I still had a chance . . . and I wanted to enjoy it with someone who could appreciate it . . . and appreciate me. Someone I . . .” he swallowed hard, keeping his eyes on the blond. “. . . cared about.”
 
The look on Justin’s face was indescribable, but Brian really didn’t have much time to assess it completely, because Justin was suddenly in his face and then in his arms, hugging him tightly, ear pressed to the exec’s heart.
 
“So I got home that night, made some calls, and after the fifth one, found out where your prom was.” Brian’s throat constricted as he came to the part that even now amazed him. “Got dressed and took off and didn’t think about what the fuck I was doing until I got downtown, and to the Deauville and saw you . . .” You smiled . . . and I knew why Deb called you Sunshine. He squeezed Justin to him until he could feel Justin’s heart beating in response to his. A fucking smile . . . and I couldn’t help it. It was over . . . no turning back . . . I was blowing my cover for you, Sunshine . . . and I didn’t give it a fuck.  Twat. Brian kissed the top of his head.  “And you saw me . . . and that was it.” He held himself still, waiting for the echo of the bat and that sickening thud to revisit his brain, and was mildly surprised when it did not. He relaxed completely. “The rest of the story . . . you know. Now.”
 
Brian heard a muffled sound faintly recognizable as the teen’s voice, and he pulled back a bit. “What?”
 
“I said,” Justin spoke louder, his cheek pressed to Brian’s chest. “I’d say I hate that scarf because what you almost did with it was so fucking stupid . . . but I still don’t get why you kept it.”
 
“I almost tossed it. I threw it on at the last minute, ‘cause I thought it was a nice touch . . . and I figured I should get some fucking use out of it, even in June.” Brian’s voice dipped low. “And I wanted a reminder of the thing that helped open my eyes . . . even though I guess it could have closed them. Forever.” Justin tensed in his arms, and Brian stroked his back in reassurance, caressing the teen until he felt the tension leave his body.  “You know that bullshit show Touched by an Angel? Linds used to be obsessed with that shit . . . everybody’s always learning some fucking lesson or being shown the true path or whatever. I’d been touched by the scarf: it got me to see what I really was. I was Brian Kinney, for fuck’s sake,” He grinned, remembering Michael’s vehemence when he’d uttered that phrase. “I could do what my old man didn’t think to – take what I have in life and make it suck my cock . . . eat my ass. Worship me. If all I’ll ever have is this fucking town, my fucking loft, and my fucking job, then I’m gonna make sure I have them on my terms. And after you . . . got hurt, I kept the scarf to remind me that I’d gotten a second chance . . . and  . . . you’d been touched by it, too . . .” He stared into golden strands. “So you were going to get your second chance. You weren’t gonna die. You couldn’t die. You weren’t gonna . . . leave . . . just like that.” Brian massaged Justin’s hair as he echoed the teen’s earlier words.
 
Justin’s body began to shake, and Brian stepped back, concerned, and then realized the blond was laughing.  “No way was I gonna die without rubbing it in your face that you came to my prom,” Justin’s voice was breathless. “Everyone knew what I’d suspected all along – you loved me . . . truly, madly, deeply, completely. And that night, you wanted me to know it for sure.” He kissed Brian’s forehead. “I love you.”
 
Brian pressed his tongue into his cheek, his heart clenching a little as it tended to whenever the blond declared his love. He’d never tell Justin, but the words were precious to him, especially since he’d heard them so seldom while growing up. “I didn’t come there to make some grand, romantic statement or to sweep you off your feet or any of that shit. You know me better than that.”
 
“Yeah, I do. And that’s why I know that all you just said is bullshit,” Justin spoke with conviction, kissing Brian’s left cheekbone, side of chin and earlobe in rapid succession. “I’m on to you, Brian. Remember?”
 
“Whatever you say, Sonnyboy . . .” Brian did his best to sound unconcerned and he began to rock back and forth, bringing Justin with him in a lazy dance.  “You’re 19 years old . . . what the fuck do you know?”
 
“More than you probably ever expected me to . . . more than you probably thought you’d ever tell me. More than I ever fucking hoped for.” He kissed Brian again, and the exec swung the blond out, beaming when the blond smiled at him and executed a picture-perfect turn.
 
“That was good.” Brian hid his excitement, steering Justin toward the middle of the floor and swung him out again. This time, Justin turned twice and returned to Brian as they fell in perfect step for a waltz. It was not the dance of that night . . . that sort of . . . inspiration, was the only word Brian could think that would describe it, only came once in a lifetime . . . but their impromptu spin around the spacious room was nothing to sneer at, especially considering the woodenness and awkwardness of their first re-creation attempt. The blond was buoyant, light on his feet as they moved slowly around the living room floor, their bare feet smacking rhythmically against the hardwood, and their bodies pressed so tightly together, they seemed to move as one. Brian hummed the tune to Save the Last Dance for Me as they moved. Feeling a gentle vibration against his chest, Brian quieted down some and was shocked to realize Justin was humming with him.
 
“Daph has it on CD,” Justin said, seemingly anticipating Brian’s surprise. “She played it for me last night over and over again. It is . . . a nice song. But sorry . . . I still think it’s kind of corny.”
 
“It is corny.”  Brian spun him around again. “But what ridiculously romantic song isn’t?”
 
“Ridiculously romantic . . . that’d be a good name for a band.” Justin rested his head between the exec’s chin and collarbone and they finished out the song and their dance, smiling up at each other. Brian rested a hand on one of Justin’s cheeks, gazed into the depthless blue eyes and felt the gaze go through him, deep, to the bone, and for a moment, he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything except meet that bold look with one of his own and reflect on the notion that a boy who wasn’t even of legal drinking age could know the heart of a man who, to hear others tell it, wasn’t even supposed to have one. Without thinking about it, Brian pressed his mouth to Justin’s in a kiss that blended the passion of the one they’d shared on the dance floor with the gentleness of their lip lock by the Jeep and encompassed everything that had been special and wonderful about that night, and the nights they’d shared before and since.
 
When they pulled away, Justin kissed the exec’s bottom lip, staring up at him with the little half-smile of a person who’d just gotten the punch line of an obscure joke.  “Thank you for this. The best night of my life . . . and I got it twice.”
 
“Good to know,” was all Brian could trust himself to say, wondering if the phrase had just popped into Justin’s head or if he was remembering . . . No. If it were a memory, Justin would have said something, Brian decided. The exec distracted himself from wanting to say something irrevocably mushy by burying his nose and mouth in Justin’s hair.
 
“And thanks for not dying. I would have fucking killed you if you had.” Justin sounded cautiously amused as he pulled away. “But there’s still one thing I don’t know: How it was gonna end? Let’s say nothing bad happened that night, and we ended up back here. Then . . .?” He raised his eyebrows, his look questioning.
 
“I don’t know,” Brian admitted after a brief silence. Their laters had been promises, that much he’d known, but promises for what, Brian was not sure. He only knew that at that moment, there would be a “later” for them – there always would be. “I didn’t think that far ahead, but I’m sure we would have thought of something.” He palmed Justin’s ass in emphasis.
 
“Sooo . . . does that mean we get to make the next part up?”
 
Justin seemed very enthusiastic about that prospect, and Brian wondered what the blond had in mind. “Within limits. No candlelight . . . no rose petals . . . no Shelley sonnets . . .”
 
“No scarves, no toys . . .” Justin waltzed him back to where they’d started, his movements quick and sure. “No weirdness . . . just you and me . . .”
 
“Just us, Sunshine? Only the two of us? Now that’s kinky . . .”
 
“Just us, Bri.” Justin smiled gently. “One thing, though – all that stuff about later? Wanting to touch me later? Wanting to fuck me later? Kiss me later? Blow me later?”
 
“Yeah . . .?” Brian’s cock pulsed with each word, and he spread his legs a little to create a little more room in his pants.
 
The smile became predatory, and Justin ground his crotch against Brian’s. “I think we’ve come to the later part . . .”
 
“No shit,” Brian said with as much seriousness as he could muster with his dick about to burst the seams of his jeans. They spun around drunkenly, laughing into each other’s shoulders, and stumbled up the steps leading into the bedroom.
 
They entered the blue-lit room together, and stopped at the foot of the bed for a gentle kiss. Clutching one another, they gave into the urges they’d been fighting all day and let their tongues explore and their hands wander. Brian had a moment of alarm when Justin pushed him down onto the bed and fused their mouths together, roughly pulled off his own sweats and underwear and began rubbing himself against Brian as if their cocks were pieces of kindling and he was trying to start a fire.
 
“Hey . . . slow down.” Brian’s cock responded to the heat of Justin’s dick, which even felt through his jeans, seemed hot enough to scald. “This isn’t a speed trial.”
 
“Don’t want slow.” Justin nibbled his way across Brian collarbone, fumbling with the zip of the exec’s pants at the same time. “Want you.” His smile was triumphant as he tugged Brian’s jeans and briefs down, and gripped his rapidly sitffening prize. “Now.”
 
“Shit . . .” Brian squirmed against the fingers gently stroking his dick. Even if the ad exec didn’t know what their night together after the prom would have been, he did know that it would not have been over in five minutes, which was in danger of happening if he didn’t do something soon. He managed somehow to get away from those teasing fingers and maneuvered Justin onto his back. Straddling the teen’s thighs, he ran his fingers across the pale chest, tenderly plucking at nipples the same dusky rose color as Justin’s lips, paying close and careful attention to the blond's ringed nipple. “Justin, relax.” Brian touched his lips briefly to the artist’s. “I don’t want to rush this.”
 
“Mmmm . . .” Opening his eyes, Justin raised his head a little. “I  . . . haven’t heard that in a while.”
 
“What?” Brian began kissing down the blond’s neck, his tongue painting a path from Justin’s clavicle down through the silk that swirled from below his navel down to his balls. “That I don’t want to rush?”
 
“No . . . Justin.” The blond sat up on his elbows, eyes tracking Brian’s movements down his body. “I’m so used to you calling me Sunshine or Sonnyboy . . . it’s  . . . such a turn on to hear you say my name . . .” The blond seemed to have a hard time getting his breath. “Anytime you say it, it’s like you want to fuck the hell out of me. It’s so fucking sexy . . .”
 
“Oh is that right . . . Justin?” Brian whispered into the teen’s belly button, dragging his lips lower, down into soft, golden pubes. “Justiiinnn,” he sing-songed into the thatch of crinkly hair. He lightly nuzzled the smooth skin of his balls, and smiled at the odd noises Justin was making in the back of his throat, something between a gasp and a giggle. “Justin,” he rasped against the low-hanging orbs, just before he took them into his mouth, rolling his tongue gently over them. Brian looked up at the teen as he sucked his balls, watching the blond hair spill over his forehead. Justin pursed his lips at him then grinned, grabbing his dick and rubbing it over the exec’s face, precome coating Brian’s face and mouth. They held each other’s gaze as Brian’s tongue flicked out to tap the tip of the leaking cock. The brunette lapped at the salty, spicy liquid drenching the cockhead, his own dick twitching with every swipe of his tongue. “Justin.” Another lick, this time swirling around the underside of the flared head. “Jus . . .” Brian nuzzled his way down one side of the shaft, then kissed up the other. “. . . tin.”
 
Urgent fingers laced through his hair and pulled him forward, and Brian opened his mouth, letting Justin guide his dick past his lips. Justin . . . Justin . . . Justin . . . His mind crooned the name as he slid his lips up and down the throbbing shaft. His tongue glided over the veins tracing the shaft, and soon his internal voice was joined by Justin’s moans of  “Brian,” and other less defined words and phrases. The teen was pushing his hips forward, sliding his dick in and out of Brian’s mouth with short, quick thrusts.  Brian kept his hands off his own cock, knowing that touching it would be like hitting speed-dial, giving him an instant and total connection to his orgasm. Instead, he caressed Justin’s body, hands smoothing over the blond’s lean torso and racing down again to squeeze the teen’s ass, which clenched and released with each thrust of the blond’s hips.
 
“Shit, Brian . . . Brian . . . I . . . uhnnhhhhhh . . . mmmmm . . .” Justin was breathing heavily, his fingers tapping a warning on Brian’s shoulder. The blond was flexing his hips harder and faster, his hands clutching fistfuls of the bedcovers. Brian cradled his lover’s swollen balls in hands, felt them tightening, and he opened his mouth wide to let Justin gradually pull his dick out, knowing that even a just few more gentle licks would push Justin over the edge. While Justin struggled to get his breath, Brian laid his head on one of the boy’s thighs, an idle finger tracing designs in the sweat that glistened there. When the blond’s gasping had subsided to a soft panting, the exec raised himself on his hands and knees, throwing one leg between Justin’s spread knees. “Okay?”
 
A low sigh was his answer, and Brian hesitated only a moment before making his way up the supine form once more, lips traversing skin the color and texture of pale honey. He rained kisses over the hollow of the teen’s throat, up the sharp line of jaw to his chin, his forehead. Justin pulled him close and kissed him deeply, his tongue finding its way into Brian’s mouth like a fox to a burrow. Their hard-ons crossing each other like fencing foils, Brian began shifting over to lessen the amount of contact their dicks had and to allow Justin to reposition himself beside him. He miscalculated his momentum, however, and with a sudden, vicious push, Brian found their earlier positions reversed, but Justin had a tight grip on his arms, pinning them to his sides, and was leaning over him with a carnivorous grin that made his eyes shimmer in the blue lights. The teen lowered his head, lips moving soundlessly against the tender spot below Brian’s ear, and Brian felt his cock leap and strain like a dog on a leash.
 
“You sneaky . . . little . . . ahhh fuck . . .” he groaned as Justin’s soft lips and wet tongue skidded down his neck and across each nipple, tweaking the tender flesh between his lips before licking each one to stiffness. Releasing his hands, Justin landed a series of feather-light kisses down the exec’s stomach and Brian angled up in time to see his cock slowly disappear between scarlet lips. “Fuck . . .  Ju –” He breathed in sharply, and tried again. “Jus –” His breath left him in a low hiss as Justin licked the ridge of his dick. Brian gave up all attempts at intelligibility then and closed his eyes, figuring the writhing of his body against the silk sheets and the fluttering of his cock expressed his feelings more accurately than any words could. He wanted nothing more than to bury his dick to the hilt in the sweet, wet warmth of Justin’s mouth and erupt there, but Brian held back, knowing a much more satisfying payoff was at hand.
 
Feeling Justin’s mouth swoop up and down his shaft, his tongue circling around it and teeth gently nibbling at the head, Brian strained up to watch the blond head bob between his thighs, and he was reminded of one of their final conversations before Justin had left him for the music man. Justin had talked about romance, about flowers and candlelight and sweet words, and Brian had taunted the teen about his love for dick any way he could get it: in his hand, in his ass, down his throat. Justin’s movements now reminded Brian that he hadn’t been exaggerating about Justin’s hearty appetite for cock. Brian could taste his pulse as Justin fed greedily on his dick, slurping sounds and his own groans and sighs drowning out the buzz of the lights behind them. Dimly aware that he was closing in on the boundaries of his control, Brian moved to leave the lush warmth of Justin’s mouth. Giving the cock a farewell lick as it left his lips, Justin skimmed his hands over Brian’s belly, and with a little fortunate timing, Brian was able to capture the flitting hands and haul Justin upward, holding him tight against his body for another kiss.
 
“Brian . . .” Justin moaned against the soft lips, kneading the cheeks of Brian’s ass. “I . . . I . . .” Exploring fingers delved into the crack of his ass, and Brian jerked against the fingers that pressed against his asshole. “Need . . . you . . . want . . . inside . . . you . . .”
 
Brian didn’t speak, but kept his eyes on the blond, seeing his own longing reflecting back at him from the deep blue eyes. Justin, sensing defeat, shrugged slightly and smiled, beginning to roll over onto his side. Brian stopped him with a hand to his shoulder as he reached out toward his nightstand, fumbling open the top drawer and removing a small tube and foil packets. Pressing the tube of lube and condoms into Justin’s hand, their fingers intertwined, and he nodded at the blond’s delighted expression. “Told you it was your night.”
 
The tearing of the foil, the removing of the condom and the unrolling of it down the blond’s waiting dick took less than an instant. So, too, did the liberal application of lube, spread against the sheathed cock and the puckered opening with gentle fingers, one or two wiggling inside to prepare the ring of muscle for something larger. So Justin was going to be kind to him . . . would do his best to prepare him for what was ahead . . . get him comfortable . . . reward him for exhibiting the trust it took to let Justin inside him after so long an absence. But the artist’s kindness was shown best, Brian thought, in his not wasting any time in satisfying him, in not making Brian beg for it. And the exec knew he would have begged, too, if it had come down to it. He would have shocked them both and pleaded with Justin not to tease him, to just stick it in and fuck him and complete what they hadn’t even had a chance to start – what had been put on abrupt hold without their even realizing it – more than two years before.
 
In less than no time, the entrance was breached, twin moans breaking the stillness of the air in the bedroom. Brian wrapped his legs around his Justin’s waist, his eyes focused on the glittering blue above him as Justin slowly entered him. Brian reflected that it had been awhile since he’d been fucked – he hadn’t done it in the two months since Justin had gone, at the very least – and his ass reminded him of this fact as Justin’s wide cock made its way inside him.
 
The teen watched him with hazy eyes, halting each at each grimace, and then pressing on. He was motionless once he was completely inside his lover, giving Brian time to stretch and adjust, and then, with a slight all-body tremble, Justin began pumping his hips, beginning their fucking with short, tentative jabs. Brian inhaled with each thrust, arching and pushing up to receive each plunge of Justin’s cock. The blond kept up a steady rhythm, pulling out slowly until the head of his dick was barely inside Brian’s asshole, and the sudden thrust that followed, Justin burying his dick deep inside his lover in one stroke, made Brian give a shout loud enough to shatter steel. He pulled Justin’s head down, kissing him fiercely, biting the teen’s lips, spurring Justin to pick up the pace. The blond moved his body like a dancer’s, grinding his hips in measured, circular motions, his torso swaying rhythmically. The artist’s leisurely movements a counterpart to the frenzied panting and moans and the frantic jacking Brian was giving his own dick as Justin plowed into him, the blond’s arms straining with effort of supporting his weight. Noting this, and wanting to gain some semblance of control, Brian contrived to roll the two of them until Justin was flat on his back, Brian straddling him from above. There was a moment when things ground to a halt, Justin blinking up in confusion at their position shift. It was an adjustment for Brian, too, and it took a little maneuvering to get his long legs to cooperate while he slowly eased himself onto Justin’s cock.
 
“It’s okay,” Brian whispered as he steadied himself on the balls of his feet, gently massaging the blond’s forearms. “Let me do some of the work now. Relax, and concentrate on how . . . this  . . . feels . . .” He slowly began to move, sliding up and down Justin’s dick, slowly, stretching and restretching himself on his lover with careful attention.
 
“Ahmm . . . ohhh, god . . . Brian . . .” Justin licked his lips and angled his hips upward, slipping deeper inside his lover. “So . . . fucking amazing . . . you’re so . . . ahnn . . . tight . . .”
 
“And you thought . . . you  . . . were the only . . . one?” Brian sighed as he worked himself on Justin’s dick, body trembling in ecstasy as he sank and rose on the column of throbbing flesh that was jabbing into him, matching him thrust for thrust. “Fuck me . . . ahhh . . .  fuck me, Justin . . . Justin . . . yeah . . . ahh yeah . . . like that . . . like . . .  that . . .” Where the hell did he learn to fuck like this?  Breathless, the exec stared down at his lover, seeing the intense look of concentration on the young face and the perspiration that dotted the bridge of his nose. The music man was one lucky twat . . . not anymore, though . . . not . . . anymore . . . 
 
Brian felt his balls begin to climb, and he jacked his dick faster, the stroking of his hand and that of Justin’s dick pulling him closer to point of release. He gazed at Justin, whose eyes had lost their clouded-over cast and now burned feverishly in the flushed face. The little whimpers and moans Justin had given off with each thrust of his hips were getting longer, increasing in pitch. Brian squeezed his ass muscles tightly around Justin cock with each plunge the blond made, eliciting a series of trailing moans from his thrusting lover. A beat went by, and Justin plunged full in again, churning his hips, and jabbing Brian’s sensitive spot in quick, successive strokes. Brian reached for Justin’s ringed nipple, pulling it lightly, and Justin cried out with each tug.
 
“Oh, fuck . . . fuck . . . Brian . . . gonna . . . Brian . . . Bri-aann!” Justin’s body flailed violently, and Brian pressed his thighs together, holding on while Justin’s dick pulsed inside him. He felt the blond’s body tremble beneath him, and each throb of Justin’s dick nudged Brian’s prostate, bringing him closer to the edge.
 
Brian continued stroking his own dick as he absorbed the fading tremors of Justin’s orgasm, and he lifted himself up to allow Justin’s softening dick to slip from his ass. Gratefully welcoming Justin’s hand joining his on his cock, their overlapped fingers raced up and down smooth, heated flesh that was as hard as rebar. Justin’s free hand, still slick with lube, cupped and gently squeezed Brian’s heavy balls. That, along with their combined stroking and the keen bolts of sensation still radiating from his asshole, triggered Brian’s release. Brian ground out a garbled sound faintly recognizable as the name of his lover, and his mind exploded as his body convulsed, cum arcing out in a creamy, continual stream that splashed onto Justin’s tummy before trickling to the bedcovers below.
 
In moments, Brian was completely spent, and he collapsed beside a softly moaning Justin. More aware of the delicious, raw burn in his ass than of the sweaty stickiness on his thighs, Brian slid his arm under the blond and pulled him close. Justin turned his face into Brian’s chest, and they twined their arms around each other, laying in silence until their breathing evened out. Brian breathed in deep the scent of sweat lingering on Justin’s body and felt the heat of the teen’s skin flow into him.
 
“Damn . . . that was unbelievable.” Justin kissed the top of Brian’s ear, his tongue tracing the outward curve. “Thank you for letting me . . . I don’t think I would have lasted two seconds with you fucking me.”
 
“Yeah?” Brian brought him closer, and tried not to think about how sore he’d be in the morning. “What made you so sure I’d last any longer?”
 
“Well . . . you do have the benefit of years of experience. Many, many, many years –”
 
“Fuck you.”
 
“Later. Definitely.” Justin nuzzled his neck. “Besides . . . how could I doubt the staying power of a guy who went sixteen days without sex? Sixteen. I hope someone called Guinness.”
 
“No. But I drank a few of them, plus some Beam, plus took a few bumps of E during that shit.” A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “I needed something to occupy my time . . . wanted to be numb . . .”
 
“You could have had Em and Ted tuck you in instead of Michael . . . help keep you company.”
 
“I wanted to be numb, Sunshine. Not homicidal.”
 
 Justin’s laugh was muffled by the skin of Brian’s neck. “I wish I’d known you then. I would have killed to have seen you turning down all those studs.”
 
Brian was sure the center’s directors would be thankful that Justin hadn’t been around for the Celibathon, because their take would likely have been significantly lowered. He tightened his arms around the teen and they fell into silence, their soft breathing now and then breaking the stillness in the room. They remained in that position for many minutes – more than ten, Brian was sure, and then that ten stretched to fifteen, then twenty, and then he stopped counting and started drifting, lost to everything except the warmth in his arms, the smoothness of the blankets beneath his body, the gentle roughness of the towel Justin later used to clean them both up, and the aftershocks of orgasm that now and then wracked him from head to foot.
 
“Bri?”
 
“Mmm?” Brian had been on the edge of sleep, and he inhaled deeply, blond hairs tickling his nose.
 
He felt the teen’s hesitation, heard him swallow. “Tell me now if you don’t want this. If you don’t think we’re ready. I’ll understand. ”
 
“Hmm . . . a little late to ask now, isn’t it Sunshine?” Brian inched both of them away from the wet spot on the bed. “I already let you fuck me.”
 
“No . . . I mean about us. If we . . . if we get back together, I really want it to be different. I want to make it work this time.”
 
Brian thought a minute. “You say that like you think it can’t be done.”
 
Justin disentangled himself from Brian’s arms and looked at up him. “No . . . I know it can . . . but . . . maybe what I meant to ask is, do you want it to be different? And what if my idea of different and your idea of different are –”
 
“Different?”
 
“I’m serious, Brian.” Justin said in a low voice. “Now that I know that you can be romantic when you want – I want you to be. Not all the time, and not in ways that make you uncomfortable . . . ways I tried to force before. In your way. But I want it. Now that I know we can talk to each other, I want us to do it more, and not as a last resort when things are about to go to shit.”
 
“That’s . . . different. For us, anyway.” Brian shrugged lightly. “The talking thing . . . it’s not so bad. We can do that. The rest . . . I can’t guarantee.” Still want romantic, Sunshine? Brian stroked back the hair from Justin’s forehead, fingers stopping right above the fading line of white on the teen’s temple. You think you’ll get it out of me if it kills you . . . and it almost did. You must really think I’m worth it. “But we can give it a shot . . . see how it goes.”
 
“It won’t be easy, though, and that’s okay. I don’t mind having to work at it.” Justin looked thoughtful. “It’s just . . . what happened to us reminds me of this story my mom told me once. When she and my dad were first married, my mom’s big hobby was putting together jigsaw puzzles – the really hard ones that took, like, months to put together. This one time, my dad, as a joke, took a piece of a puzzle she was working on and kind of sand down a side of it – not so much, because he didn’t want it to look deformed or anything – but enough so that it wasn’t going to fit where it was supposed to. She didn’t realize it until she had almost the whole thing put together, there was that one place where the piece was supposed to go, but it didn’t . . . and she couldn’t understand it, because everything else had been right. She thought it was defective.” He looked at his lover. “And that reminds me of us. It’s like, somehow, the part of us that used to click and made us able to understand each other . . . read each other, I guess . . . got warped or something without either of us knowing . . . and we didn’t fit anymore . . . and it made us think – made me think – that all along, we’d been . . . not right. We kept doing things and saying things and thinking things that we wouldn’t have done, said or thought before . . .”
 
Brian was quiet a moment, lost in thought. “What’d your mom do about her broken puzzle?”
 
“Um . . . she kept trying to figure it out, went kind of crazy . . .” Justin answered. “Finally, my dad felt bad enough about what he’d done and he told her. She bitched him out, but he called the company, and got a replacement for the whole thing . . . she made him pick through every single part until he found the one he’d messed with.”
 
“So . . .  she didn’t throw out the one she already had?”
 
“No . . .” The blond shook his head. “She had it almost done. It just needed that one piece.”
 
“She didn’t say fuck it, and start a completely different puzzle, ‘cause she didn’t think she’d be able to work with the other one?”
 
“No, she –” Justin checked himself sharply, and Brian could see understanding dawn on the teen’s face. “No. She . . . didn’t get another one . . . and try to get over the one she thought she’d never figure out . . . but couldn’t forget it . . . couldn’t stop thinking about it . . . or wondering if there was anything she could have done to fix it.”
 
“And she didn’t,” Brian said softly, “start all over again with the replacement, either, discard all the work she’d put into it . . . all the good stuff that was there . . . she got the piece she was looking for . . . put it in . . . and life – or what passes for it for breeders – went on. I don’t see why it can’t be the same for us, if that’s what we want to do. We just have to make sure we don’t fuck up any of the pieces – or let anyone fuck them up for us.” Brian stroked his thumb over Justin’s lips. “And if nothing else, we’ll be able to take another important lesson from that story.”
 
“Yeah? What’s that?”
 
“Your father’s an asshole.”
 
Justin laughed and Brian found himself grinning like an idiot. He loved Justin’s laugh; it was guileless and easy, with a sense of adventure in it. “You know, I guess it could be worse . . . we still know how to fuck each other into the floorboards . . . we’re always gonna fit that way.”
 
“You sure about that, Justin?” Brian, feeling his cock show signs of a quick recovery, stretched up, pulling the blond to him. “You fucked me just now. How do you know I can still fuck your tight little ass and make you scream until your throat’s raw?”
 
“Well . . . I sort of took that for granted . . . but now that you mention it, maybe we should . . . try and just be sure that . . .  uhmm . . .” Justin bucked when Brian’s hand closed around his hardening dick. “. . . you still have that effect on me . . .”
 
Brian grinned and reached for the condoms and lube, intent on removing any and all doubt from the blond’s mind.

END.

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