Identity Crisis

Suz


Disclaimer - Showtime/CowLip own them, etc etc. I don't.

A post-513 AU. Brian/Justin, humour, rated R for language. This was written for prompt .027 of au100, Parents.

Thanks, as always, to my wonderful nel, and to the wonderful people on LJ for their help :) Feedback would be great :)

A post-513 AU where everyone is still in Pittsburgh.

********

Michael started hating Justin again right around the same time JR started calling Justin 'Dada'.

The first time it happened he laughed it off. "No, JR, I'm your daddy. That's Justin. Jus. Tin."

The second time he'd laughed again, pointing between him and Justin. "No, no, JR. I'm Daddy. That's Justin. Daddy. Justin. Brunet, blond."

The third time it happened, he complained afterwards to Ben. Michael expected some well thought-out explanation, some psychological reason about babies learning and developing and that he shouldn't take it seriously.

Ben said, "Think of it this way - at least she's not calling him Mommy."

Yeah, Ben was a lot of help.

The tenth time he started to get seriously pissed. It happened in the middle of the diner, and somehow it didn't help matters when Justin leaned down and grinned at her.

"I'm not your dad, JR. Your dad's holding you."

When Justin disappeared into the bathroom, Michael glared at his best friend. "She keeps doing that lately," he muttered.

Brian unscrewed the salt shaker he'd been playing with and put it back next to the pepper. "She does?" He paused, then shrugged. "At least she's not calling him 'Mommy'." He tipped his head from side to side as he said the word. "Shit, the kid probably has enough gender issues as it is."

Michael managed a small smile. "Ben said the same thing."

Brian looked up. "He did?"

"Yeah."

"Shit, I need new material."

Justin came back then, slid into the booth next to Brian, and Michael got to watch them make out until their food arrived (they may have called the wedding off, but Michael figured by now that they were practically married anyway).

It wasn't like Justin spent all that much time with JR; especially not in comparison with the amount of time Michael spent with her. JR was Michael's, no one else's.

Besides Mel and Linds.

And Ben.

And Justin already *had* pretty much everything. Okay, yeah, Michael wasn't about to say Justin had had it easy, but his art was seriously starting to get recognised around Pennsylvania. His career as an artist was taking off, and he had Brian fucking Kinney. *Nobody* had Brian Kinney, and yet somehow this kid did.

Grumbling as his lunch arrived, Michael threw them a dirty look as they *still* made out, and when Brian's hand disappeared under the table Michael wasn't sure JR should be seeing this.

Picking up the salt, he held it over his fries and-

*THUNK*

Fuck.

Oh, yeah.

The noise, at least, brought them out of their prelude to a fuck, as they stared at the large pile of salt now residing on Michael's plate.

Brian's eye was twitching.

"Shit," Justin sympathised, "I hate when people do that."

Michael just wanted to lob the empty salt shaker at his head.

When he dropped JR off at Mel and Linds' the next day, he brought the subject up.

Linds was immediately sympathetic. "I'm sure it must be very frustrating, Michael, but I...well, I think I know why it's happening."

"You do?"

"Yes, but it's probably easier if you see it for yourself. Everyone's coming over here on Saturday for dinner, right?"

"Sure," he nodded.

Linds smiled. "Just make sure you get here first."

********

So Michael was there first, dragging Ben and Hunter with him. He got to see Ted and Blake arrive, Ma, Carl and Emmett swoop into the house carrying God knew how many dishes. And, peering out the window, he got to see Brian's new car - another Jeep - pull up, and then he got to see no one get out as the Jeep started rocking.

Jesus.

When the two of them actually made it into the house, Justin had a hickey on his neck the size of Texas, and Brian made a bee-line for Gus.

"Hey, sonny boy," he greeted, well, lovingly.

"Dad!" he said, turning and running towards him, and Michael's frustrations faded a little as he watched Brian bending down to hug his son.

And then Gus saw Justin.

"DAD!" he yelled, startling almost everyone, pulling away from Brian to get to Justin.

JR, sitting on Ma's lap, laughed and bounced up and down. "Dada!"

And Michael got it. JR didn't actually think Justin was her father - she was just copying her big brother.

"Hey, squirt," Justin greeted, giving Gus a hug of his own. He was obviously used to it.

Brian smirked. "I don't think you should be making jokes about *anyone's* height."

Rolling his eyes, Justin stood up straight. "Come on, Gus. Let's find out which one's your Dad's plate and do horrible things to it."

Once conversation started up again, Michael sidled up to Brian - who was doing a pretty good job of avoiding the looks everyone kept giving him. "So...how long's that been happening?"

"What?" Brian asked, staring at the contents of a drink he'd just picked up as if he couldn't quite figure out what it was supposed to be.

"Gus calling Justin Dad. I mean...that's pretty big."

Brian shrugged a little too easily. "Few weeks."

"And it doesn't bother you?" Michael continued. "Gus having two dads? Kind of implies some kind of relationship between you and Justin, you know." He was grinning *way* too much.

Now Brian rolled his eyes. "We almost got married, Mikey. The R word isn't gonna make me break down and cry."

Michael wasn't so sure about that, but he was going to leave it alone for now. Kind of. "I think it's so cuuuuute."

"Jesus," Brian said. Shooting Michael a look of disgust, he stomped off - probably to find another drink.

Life was good.

********

Dinner was good, too.

By the time it was over, Michael was feeling pretty bad about being annoyed at Justin. He'd never *really* hated the guy (apart from that entire first year when Justin wouldn't leave Brian alone and Brian just kept fucking him) and hell, sometimes he got on better with Justin than he did with Brian.

After everyone helped clean off the table, Michael needed some air and stepped out onto the porch. Surprised to realise Brian and Gus were sitting on the stairs, talking to each other, he smiled. Gus had never been a talkative kid, but it seemed to Michael that Gus talked more to his Dad than anyone else.

But then he heard what Brian was saying.

"You're a good kid, Gus. You definitely make Justin happy when you greet him like that."

"And you, Daddy?"

"Of course you make me happy, sonny boy. Always have."

Michael cleared his throat, and they both turned their heads to look at him. "Hey. What's going on?"

Gus smiled. "Dad's saying how Justin likes it when I call him Dad."

Yeah, Michael had caught that much. "You think of Justin as your other Dad then, huh?"

"Sure!" Gus said, turning back to look at Brian. "Dad said he was."

Freezing, Brian then lowered his head onto his right hand. "Traitor. Gus, do you not understand the meaning of the word 'secret'?"

Gus frowned. "Momma said secrets are bad."

"Of course she did," Brian sighed. "Look, uh, go find your moms, okay? I need to talk with Uncle Mikey."

"Okay!" Jumping to his feet, Gus clambered loudly up the stairs and into the house. Watching him go for a few seconds, Michael turned back to find Brian lighting up already.

Moving down the stairs himself, Michael dropped down next to Brian, taking Gus' place. "So...Justin a father. I guess he's not so young anymore..." He grinned, knowing he'd get material out of this for *years*.

Brian took a drag. "Look, we..." He paused, taking another drag, staring at the garden. "I'm not cut out to be a full-time dad - some people just aren't. I don't think I could handle any more kids, even ones like Gus." Another drag. "And Justin's young; some day he might want..." He exhaled heavily, still not looking at Michael. "It's just something I can give him, you know?"

That was actually kind of...nice. Even if it *was* kind of manipulative.

"Michael?"

Wait, that was a new voice.

Justin's voice.

Turning, Michael saw Justin standing at the top of the stairs, arms folded across his chest.

Oh, Brian was in *so* much trouble.

"Suddenly I need to do something in the house," he blurted out, getting to his feet and running inside.

"Chickenshit!" Brian yelled after him.

Of course, Michael *had* to know what was going on outside, so as soon as he figured it was safe enough he stood by the barely open front door, trying to see everything. He actually had a pretty good view.

"There's this word," he heard Justin say as he walked down the stairs, "I know you've heard of it. It's called 'communication'."

"You sure it's not rimjob?"

"Well, that may be *your* way of communicating," Justin huffed out a breath and stopped walking, prodding Brian with his foot. "This is a big deal. Maybe something we should've talked about. Maybe even should've discussed it with Mel and Linds. You're not Gus' only parent, you know."

Brian flicked his cigarette away, clearing his throat. "I thought that was the point."

"On the other hand," Justin sighed, "it's also pretty much the most romantic thing you've ever done for me."

"Oh, fuck," Brian said melodramatically, "stop *torturing* me."

Justin grinned, nudging Brian with his foot again. "You so care about me."

"Shut up."

"You love me *so* much."

Michael didn't get to hear anything after that, because Ma came up to him.

"Whatcha up to, sweetie?"

Michael turned, smiling as he saw JR in her arms. "Just spying on Brian and Justin."

"They're not fucking, are they?"

"Nah." Grinning, he took JR from her, kissing his daughter on the side of the head. "Hey, beautiful." Ma got that emotional 'I'm about to smack you or kiss you' expression on her face, and this time it turned out to be a kiss.

When she was gone - leaving only her lipstick behind - Michael turned back towards the door. Pulling it open a little more, he made sure JR could see the two men who now had their tongues down each other's throats.

"See them, JR?" he asked quietly, as she suddenly decided that her fingers tasted good. "That's Uncle Justin. And that," he said, pointing to his oldest and closest friend, "is Grandpa Brian."

~FINIS