In September, Brian has an opportunity to do business with a small chain of New York style pizzerias wishing to branch out down the coast, making it necessary for him to spend a couple days in the city.
“I’m thinking about going to a taping of Jon Stewart’s show while I’m there,” Brian tells Justin, a vain attempt to get him to rush home from California immediately.
“Really!?” is his excited reaction and for a few seconds Brian’s heart rate increases with ridiculous false hope. “You should totally try to fuck him,” he suggests with a laugh.
“Well, at least try at get me an autograph.”
“Why don’t you meet me up there and you can ask him yourself,” Brian poses, careful to make his tone sound neither too sarcastic, nor too serious.
“Yeah,” Justin laughs and tells him to be careful.
A week after Brian returns from his trip, Justin calls Brian. "What the hell did you tell Jon Stewart?"
"Just that you're a big fan."
"Yeah, but...did you tell him something perverted? Why does he think I'm a brave little boy?"
Brian has to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. "Well you are, aren't you?"
"Did you really meet him...?"
"Yes, I really did."
"Well, what did he say? Was he funny in person? I mean, how did you get to meet him?"
"I just waited outside the studio door later on after the show. He just came right out. Had his dog with him."
"Oh my god, Really!?" His excitement jacks up a thousand notches and Brian can almost envision Justin's cock bursting out of his jeans. "What was he wearing? Did you pet his dog?"
"He's really short," is Brian's random response.
"I know! That's what everybody always says. He doesn't seem like it on TV at all. I guess TV makes people bigger or something. God, I'm so fucking jealous."
Justin's excitement both pleases and frustrates him. The entire truth was that he had to wait more like three hours. And that was after a security guard told him that Jon had left a long time ago. But he stayed, because he knew that Justin would think he'd never dare do such a thing, the fucking dorkiest thing he’s probably ever done in his life. It also alleviated the slightly guilty feeling he had for doing something without him that Justin had wanted to do forever.
Brian falls silent for a moment while he pours himself a glass of whiskey. He pictures Justin examining the PR photo (with the very personalized autograph) with a big smile plastered on his face, and smiles himself.
"Maybe next time I go, you uh, you can come with me," he says, pushing away an almost angry feeling that he wasn't here to go with him.
"That would be so cool. Let's totally do that when I get home."
Brian gulps down his drink all at once. "Yeah. When you get home."
They're quiet again, but not uncomfortably so. Half the phone conversations they have now are spent listening to one another, breathe, drink, pee, or snore.
"Thanks for getting this for me," Justin says finally and Brian pictures him putting the photo on his fridge. "I know you hate doing stuff like that."
"Well," he says, pouring himself some more to drink, "It's really the least I can do for a boy dying of leukemia."
Brian says nothing, and takes another drink to keep from laughing.
"Oh my god, please tell me you didn't tell him I was dying of leukemia…"
"I may have also mentioned that you were my son." That line makes Brian crack finally and the both of them laugh uncontrollably.
"Brian! That's terrible! You're like, so fucking twisted." Once they come down Justin says, "Hang on a minute. M'gonna brush my teeth."
He hears him set the phone down on the sink, and decides to take the opportunity to undress, though without setting his own phone down. He listens to Justin and envisions him being in his own bathroom.
"So, did you do anything else there?"
Brian eases himself into bed with a slow groan. "Just...meetings. Maybe a little shopping, maybe."
"Uh-huh, a little I'm sure," Justin chuckles
"Oh, and I think I may have seen Rufus Wainwright. Walking down the street."
"Really? What street? In New York? Are you serious?”
It was only a half truth. He may or may not have been Justin's other huge crush, Brian really didn't know what he looked like, exactly.
"Yeah. His hair was dark, anyway. Had headphones on and this beret, shirt was unbuttoned to mid chest. Had on these tight, white, low-rise jeans-"
"Oh my god, you should've tried to fuck him!"
"He's your fantasy, not mine." Brian wants to tell Justin how he would have had a chance if he hadn't left. But he doesn’t say it because it would be fucking pathetic.
"You're my fantasy," Justin tells him.
Brian happens to look to Justin's side of the bed at that moment and curses the fact that the street lights never let this apartment ever really get dark. He closes his eyes, not expecting this night to be different than any other: sleepless. He hasn’t been capable of real sleep since Justin left. "So can we start a countdown yet?"
Justin sighs. "Well, I'll be able to come home for Christmas, at the very least."
Christmas. "But...not for good."
"Not for good."
Brian opens his eyes and crawls over to the other side of the bed to grab the cigarettes. "I thought this fucking thing was supposed to be released for Christmas," he says in annoyance and lights one up.
"Next Christmas. Not this one."
Brian spends the next several moments sucking on the cigarette, willing his body to have no physical reaction to that knowledge. Next fucking Christmas.
Justin seems to have sensed his non-reaction reaction, however. "But I won't be here for all that, it'll be like, March at the latest.
March. "Uh-huh. Well I guess we'll see."
"But hopefully it'll be sooner," he reassures. "I'm not staying any longer than that."
Brian puts out the cigarette, half-smoked. He takes in a deep breath, mimicking taking one more drag, and closes his eyes. He listens to Justin breathe for a few moments and when it sounds like he might be drifting off, Brian says his name.
"Myeah?" he yawns.
Brian's really not quite sure what it is he wants to ask him. He just knows that this situation is driving him just a little apeshit and he wishes he could both afford and justify having Justin under constant surveillance.
"How...how are you," he asks, and immediately regrets it.
"I'm okay. Tired..." he yawns.
"Maybe you should lay off those Hollywood parties..."
Justin laughs at that suggestion. "I haven't really had time for too many of those."
Brian's only half-sure that he's telling the whole truth. "You're not taking shit from people you don't know are you?"
"Of course not. No."
"Just don't. No matter how wasted you are, just...don't, please."
"I don’t, Brian, I never do. I promise."
Brian rolls over on to his side, the phone still pressed into his ear. He drifts off into sleep for a minute, images of Justin partying without him floating in his head. He watches Justin dance with one young, hot guy after another, and then, taking the hand of one of them, seems to turn toward Brian and smile mischievously. The room gives way into a bedroom and the two are undressed...
"Don' let anyone give it to you, are you? You...mmm" Brian jars himself awake with his sleep-talking and has to think a moment to remember exactly what he said, and what he was thinking about.
"Huh? It...? Brian? Are you awake?"
He forces his eyes open and sits up a minute. "Yeah, yeah. I'm awake."
"Okay, well your phone must be breaking up. Did you just ask me if I'm letting anyone fuck me?"
Brian doesn’t answer him. He can’t really, because he has a difficult time believing that he really asked him that. Instead he closes his eyes and flops back down on the pillow.
“The answer is no. I don’t really like doing that with anybody else, so…Brian? Are you hearing me?”
“What about you?”
The question jars Brian awake a little more. “Me?”
“No, I mean you. How are you doing? Well, and who, of course. And I want details.”
Brian laughs. “Oh you know me. New one every night.” And every one of them especially unexceptional.
“Of course. None of them particularly outstanding enough to mention, though.”
“They never seem to be anymore, do they?”
Brian smiles and laughs quietly. “So how much are you getting?” he asks.
“I dunno. Not a lot, really. Not a lot at all.”
“So....four, five times week?”
“Yeah, sure maybe a month,” he laughs. “I dunno, not even probably, I don’t have time, honestly. Whenever I’m not working all I wanna do is sleep.”
Brian smiles again, and closes his eyes. He had the answer he’d been fishing for. “'Cept when I call.”
“Yeah. Except then. Guess I’m not as sprightly as you anymore.”
Brian grunts a response and yawns. He’s slightly conscious of the fact he may be sounding a bit pathetic and vulnerable, but he’s far too relaxed at the moment to care. In fact, strangely more relaxed than he’s felt in weeks. “So how many days izzit to you…being…here.”
“Huh? ‘Till Christmas you mean?”
“I dunno. Lots of days.” Justin’s voice was getting softer and smaller, but Brian isn’t ready to let him go just yet.
“S'time for you to be home. In this bed. Also, no one is here to make me dinner.”
“Didn’t my mom bring over some stuff for you? She said she was gonna make you some food. I told her all your favorites.”
“Yeah. S’not the same. Have to put it in the microwave myself. An’ she doesn't come over and set the table. Doesn’ suck my cock, either.”
“That's good news,” Justin laughs. “Sounds like you're already taken care of in that area anyway.”
“Sorta.” Brian sees movies of himself in back rooms and baths trying to blur the faces touching his ass and sucking his dick and it makes his stomach turn a little. “Dunno if I’d say I’m getting’ taken care of.”
“Poor baby. I’ll be home soon.”
“'Times I wonder if you won't,” Brian whispers.
“Won't what? Won’t come home?”
“Next Christmas…s'long time from now. Maybe change your mind.”
“Why would I change my mind?”
“Opportunity strikes. New job… Career…”Can’no for sure you’ll…gonna come back.”
“Brian, my life is there. With you. I honestly don’t want this to be my life. It's really not that great…”
Brian hears him talking about being in it for the quick cash, and some drivel about artistic integrity of his work, but his brain just focuses on an image of him coming out of the bathroom, half damp from showering, and crawling in bed next to him.
“Want you home. For good.”
“Won't be too long. It'll go by fast. Promise.”
An electronic bird coaxes Brian awake. He remembers being in a conversation...was it his turn to respond?
He pushes himself upright and squints to let in unwelcome morning light and find the phone. “Justin?”
he says into the phone right before its battery gives up the ghost. He laughs when he realizes he’d spent the night with Justin.
Brian makes his morning coffee with his eyes completely open instead of the usual morning state of eyes glued shut. and then sits down at the computer to check airline fares.
The sequel: Sleepless by Rachel Anton