Love Or Something Like It


Rating: NC-17
Summary: Brian/Justin. Things could be Different, Brian thinks.
Disclaimer: Cowlip.

Thanks: Cait, who let me run with her bunny and waved pom-poms.

For mintwitch, because there is squealing and chasing.

In the haziness between coming down from drunk and making his way toward sober, when things are still glittery and vague but a rational thought sneaks its way in, Brian muses about how things could be Different.

He has to do it when he’s still drunk or high or stoned or tripping because Brian Kinney just doesn’t muse, and if he does he certainly doesn’t regret the things he’s said or decisions he’s made. But when his brain is overrun by a controlled substance, it’s much easier to pass it off as the liquor or drugs talking. Brian doesn’t say I love you, or even anything resembling I love you, and he likes it just fine that way, fuck you very much.

Sometimes, though … sometimes Brian muses. Mostly when he’s tired. Scenarios flicker before him and his brain takes them out of context, down avenues of Maybe and What Could Have Happened and If Only.

He plays out certain scenarios more than others. The Rage party is a prominent one in the Brian Memory Bank.

Babylon is dark; a sea of Rage masks making it sexual and anonymous, and Brian watches Justin as the stage models mime the bashing. Justin’s brow furrows, a small wrinkle appearing between his eyes, and when he looks at the ground or the ceiling or his watch or the drink in his hand, Brian sees, and curses himself for picking that scene when there were a thousand others to choose from. It’s easy for Brian to make cruel, casual statements – the “victim of a love-bashing” one was on a level Brian doesn’t want to think about any more – but he isn’t quite sure why any other kind of affirmation gets stuck in his throat.

Justin feels him looking; he always does, no matter what, and Brian holds his gaze. He registers Michael stomping off, but since Michael frequently stomps off, Brian isn’t overly concerned. “What’s his problem?”

Justin mutters something about friends and telling people things and a bunch of other shit Brian already knows, and Brian gets annoyed all over again. “Don’t piss on your achievement,” he snaps, and goes to get blown.

When he’s done fucking the actor who played Rage, he emerges back out onto the dance floor and finds Justin surrounded by well-wishers and hangers-on who all want a piece, literally and figuratively. Justin looks slightly overwhelmed and Brian shoves his way into the middle, flipping off the assholes that dare to protest. He takes Justin by the arm and yanks him to a relatively quiet corner near the bar.

“Hey,” Justin whines, trying to peel Brian’s fingers from his bicep. “Fuck off.”

“I have,” Brian says calmly. “And I’m about to, again. But first.”

“First what,” Justin grumbles, jumping up to see over Brian’s shoulder. “People are looking for me. Do you mind?”

“Yes,” Brian barks, drawing Justin’s attention immediately. Brian never barks.

Justin looks up at him, his bangs in his eyes and glitter on his cheeks, and Brian knows that he needs to say it now and principles be fucked and rules be damned because Justin is his and he needs to keep it that way.

“I’m proud of you. For Rage. And, uh. Being a big boy.” The sarcasm is second nature, he doesn’t even hear himself say it but Justin narrows in on it immediately.

“I didn’t need Rage to make me a big boy,” he says tiredly.

“No,” Brian says softly. “But it helped. And. I’m. I.” Deep breath, spit it out: “I, uh. Really love that.”

The look on Justin’s face is not describable in any way except Brian thinks he sort of … melts. His eyes show the change first, shifting from suspicious and hard to clear and guileless, and Brian thinks if Justin starts to laugh, he’ll shoot him.

To his credit, he doesn’t laugh. A corner of his mouth tugs up and he blushes prettily, threading his fingers through Brian’s and bringing Brian’s hand to his mouth. He kisses a knuckle and rubs it along his cheek, leaving a trail of glitter stuck in the small hairs on the back of Brian’s hand. “Um. Wanna dance?” he asks hesitantly. “’Rage?’”

“How about we find somewhere for me to fuck you instead?” And now he’s found his footing again, back on solid ground, and Justin smirks.

“Fuck me later. Dance with me now.”

So Brian does, and when the violin player makes his appearance, Justin goes and stands with him quietly in the corner and whispers in his ear. The violin player – Brian won’t say his name, even in his head – nods twice. Justin puts a hand on his shoulder and is shrugged off, and Brian smiles.

It could have been that way, he muses, looking at a sleeping Justin beside him. Brian watches him breathe.

* * *

He takes a shot or three of Beam and thinks about the time at the ballet.

Brian takes Justin to the theater, because whatthefuck, it’s Christmas and the ABT is doing the Nutcracker, and despite the implications of the painful name, Brian sort of likes it. That, and a client gave him two tickets.

Justin successfully manages to amuse Brian through most of the evening with his eagerness. “It’s so beautiful, Brian, so light and airy and it’s like drawing. They’re drawing with their movements, do you see? Can you see it?”

Brian remembers laughing at him and then ignoring the flash of Justin’s wounded expression in favor of cupping Justin’s crotch through his tuxedo pants. “I can see something, all right.”

“God, Brian, you’re like Joey Tribbiani. You can make anything sound dirty.” He sounds vaguely disapproving.

“Your cock isn’t disagreeing.” Brian strokes the blossoming erection under his hand.

Justin pushes him away. “Shh. Look. The Mouse King.”

The drive home is in companionable silence; Justin slouches in the front seat, contemplating the roof of the car with a dreamy expression on his face. He breaks the quiet when they’re almost to the loft.

“That was cool,” he says softly to the ceiling of the car. “Really cool. Thanks, Brian. I loved it.”

Brian pulls into his parking space and glances at Justin out of the corner of his eye. This is the spot when Brian’s thoughts take that path less traveled, thank you Robert Frost, and instead of remembering how he actually said “thank me with some fantastic head tonight” and then went upstairs, this is the spot where Brian’s memories sort of depart from what really happened, and he starts musing on what could have happened. The Beam is sneaky that way.

“So,” Brian begins, one hand casually on the steering wheel, “you liked it.”

Justin glosses over the fact that Brian is gently poking fun and sits up straight. “Oh, God, yes! I want to see more, I want to watch Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty and Petrushka and –“

“Whoa. You’ll have to call on someone more ballet-inclined, Sunshine. Emmett comes to mind.”

“But – no. No, Brian, it’s. No.”


“I.” Justin stops and looks imploringly at Brian, annoyed at himself that he can’t get the words out.

Brian could pretend not to get it. He could make a joke or a remark or a face and Justin would roll his eyes and get out of the car and Brian would be comfortable with that.

Sometimes, maybe comfort isn’t that comfortable.

“I get it, Justin.” He plays with the keys still in the ignition.

Justin smiles softly at him. “Yeah? I don’t wanna go with Emmett or anyone. I want to go with you. It’d be cool, just us at the ballet.”

Big breath in, lets it out slowly through puffed cheeks. “Yeah,” he says slowly, reaching out a hand to pick something invisible from Justin’s collar. “It’d be cool. I’d love to.”

Brian’s musing continues to the bedroom, where of course Justin is on his grateful knees the whole fucking night.

* * *

He comes close in actuality, one time.

Justin draws Brian a lot, and doesn’t care whether Brian is posing or eating or showering or reading the fucking Gazette. He draws him when the urge strikes, and sometimes Justin will show it to Brian and sometimes he won’t. Brian never asks to see the sketches.

Brian is stretched out on the couch, half-watching CSI: Miami and wondering why they don’t film in South Beach where the people are prettier, when he hears the familiar scritching of the pencil on paper. He lets the soothing sound fill his ears, not consciously realizing that there was a time he thought he might never hear it again.

Twenty minutes later, Justin shows him the picture. “Here,” he says, blocking the tv.

Brian studies it carefully. Justin has drawn him with a sleepy expression, one hand curled under his chin, the light from the tv throwing a faint glow over his chest. Sometimes Justin will ignore the clothes Brian is actually wearing and draw him in some different outfit completely if he doesn’t think it goes with the picture’s “mood”, whatever that means, but not here. Brian observes his plain white tank top and black track pants.

“You couldn’t have spruced me up a little? Drawn me in that new blue Armani?”

Justin grins. “It wouldn’t have gone with the title.”

Brian glances at the corner of the page.

Whore at Rest.

“You little …” he jumps up unexpectedly and makes a grab for Justin, who shrieks like a girl and throws his pencil at Brian before tearing through the loft. He is laughing hysterically when Brian tackles him in the bedroom, saying “Please, don’t, I’m sorry, don’t tickle, Brian, please!”

So Brian of course tickles, finding the spot between his ribs that makes Justin screech and hit at him and try to squirm away, but when Brian replaces his fingers with his tongue on Justin’s bare chest, his squeals turn into soft breaths and little groans that make Brian hard as steel.

It’s these times, when the sex moves past something a little more than fucking, a little deeper than blowjobs in the back room, that Brian thinks it’s the right time to say something other than “harder, faster, tighter.” When Justin is warm and alive beneath him, watching him with heavy lidded eyes and a sheen of sweat on his forehead, Brian wants to lean his head down and whisper in Justin’s ear the things he thinks about in the dark.

He almost does. He pushes into Justin, closing his eyes to feel the warmth and tightness, hearing Justin’s answering hiss of breath between his teeth. Starts to stroke, thinks the words in his head with each thrust, wonders if the sky will fall or the mountains crumble if he actually says it.

Brian decides they probably will. He shouldn’t risk it.

Instead, he kisses Justin in the same way he’s fucking him, using his tongue to stroke, pull back, delve deep, until Justin is gasping for breath and clutching Brian’s hips to pull him in, spreading his legs as wide as he can and straining to rub his cock against Brian’s stomach.

“Say it,” Brian demands, his train of thought taking him somewhere totally irrational, figuring if Justin says it enough it will mean the same thing for both of them.

Justin doesn’t ask what. “Love you,” he murmurs against Brian’s neck, tracing a straining tendon with his tongue. “Love you.”

Brian hangs his head, puts his mouth next to Justin’s ear, whispers low and dirty and smooth until Justin arches his neck and comes.

The fact that Justin doesn’t get up and walk out sort of amazes Brian every time.

* * *

One night Brian comes home drunk from Woody’s after fucking two tricks who bore a startling resemblance to the twink in his kitchen. The similarity would have gone unnoticed except for Emmett’s astute observation of it. It puts him in a foul mood, compounded by the alcohol.

He finds Justin stoned and giggling. “Brian!” he says, all bright eyes and mussed hair. “Where’s the raisins? I’m making rum cake.”

“Rum cake.”

“Deb gave me a recipe. It’s got cinnamon and raisins and stuff. And rum.” This starts Justin on a laughing fit that lasts for two minutes.

“It’s two a.m.” Brian’s eyes are gritty.

“Old man,” Justin teases, and produces the raisins with a triumphant “Ha! Fuckin’ raisins. Thought they could evade me with their little raisin ways.” This, of course, produces more giggly laughing. Justin has to lean two hands on the counter.

“No self-respecting faggot makes cakes,” Brian spits, ignoring the total lack of logic in his statement, and goes to take two aspirin.

He tries to pick a fight when he comes out of the bathroom.

“What’d you do tonight? Play house?”

“Nope,” Justin replies, popping the ‘p’. “Worked for Deb. Brought home the bacon.” He shakes his ass in Brian’s direction. “See? Bacon.” This, of course, is more amusing than the raisins, so Brian has to wait till the giggles subside.

“Yeah, you’re a real breadwinner, all right. Wha’d you bring home, fifty bucks? Maybe I’ll buy a new fucking Corvette with that.”

“It was eighty,” Justin says, dumping raisins into a suspicious-looking cake batter. “And are you drunk? You’re being an asshole. Want some weed? The rest of the joint’s on your nightstand.”

Justin’s lack of willingness to fight makes Brian itch for it even more. He glares at Justin, who innocently licks his fingers free of sugar and smiles sunnily back.

“You think you love me?” Brian sneers, and wonders why he’s even asking. Brian watches as Justin’s brow furrows in answer. Justin can pull off "bewildered" better than anyone Brian's ever known, with the possible exception of Ted. Except since that's Ted's perpetual expression, Brian finds it much more effective here.

“Uh. Yeah?” Justin says, treading carefully.

“Bullshit,” Brian scoffs. “You’re full of crap. You don’t know love. No one knows love. They pretend they do, but they’re only borrowing ideas from idiotic poets.”

Justin looks like he is concentrating very hard on Brian’s words. He nods slowly. “Okay.”

“Okay? What’s okay about this?” Brian gestures wildly around the loft. “Go ahead, Justin. Tell me what’s okay.”

“Um…” Justin bites his lip and Brian feels a tiny smidge of guilt for picking on the stoned kid. “It’s not okay?”

Brian rounds the bar and backs Justin up against the counter. “Make me say it,” he taunts. “Make me complete your little happy gay home fantasy.”

The pot is slowing Justin’s thought processes, and Brian watches him blink twice and try very hard to focus. “Make you say it,” he repeats, his eyes darting from Brian’s shirtfront to Brian’s face. “Um?”

“Tell me to say ‘I love you’,” Brian hisses in the dark kitchen.

“Why?” Suspicious and wary now, Justin tries to inch away.

“Because you want to hear it. Because it’s the right thing. Because that’s what keeps you going, isn’t it, Sunshine? The thought that someday I’ll say those words and the music will swell and flower petals will drop from the ceiling and happily ever after will finally be here.” Brian narrows his eyes at Justin and tries to will him to make him say it.

“You’re drunk,” Justin accuses, abandoning his cake and backing out of the kitchen.

“Honest,” Brian corrects. “It’s called honesty, Mr. Justin Taylor, and everyone should try it on for size.”

“Fuck you!” Justin screams suddenly, shattering the two a.m. quiet. “Fuck you, Brian, don’t act like loving you is such a character flaw! Don’t make me feel like I’m less of a person for saying those words to you! Just fuck you!”

He flees to the bathroom and slams the door, tantrum complete.

Brian looks at the wall for a long time.

* * *

He strips naked and climbs in between whisper-soft sheets. Brian watches the bathroom door until the alcohol catches up with him and he drowses.

He comes fully awake when Justin slides in behind him. “Bastard,” Justin murmurs against his shoulder, and Brian nods.

“Yeah,” he agrees. “Yeah.” And he sort of laughs at himself because it’s so true, and Justin starts laughing a little bit too.

And that’s why, Brian thinks, that he’ll always muse over how things could be a little Different, because even when he’s an asshole to end all assholes and Justin queens out and screams and slams doors and they bitch and fight and hate each other before they make up, they will always end up here.

Here, where Justin is warm and lean against his back, and is placing soft kisses along his spine. Here is where Brian sometimes tries to say what Justin wants him to, because Brian wants there to be just one fucking time that he doesn’t have to look back on and wonder how it could have been Different.

One time.

But he stays quiet even now, while opening his mouth to whisper Justin’s name, even while Justin tears the wrapper and puts the condom on him and rolls over willingly. Brian rubs his cheek over the smooth expanse of Justin’s back.

Even now.

Justin fists his hands in the bedsheets and presses his forehead into the pillow, arches like a cat when Brian lubes him and then spreads his legs as far as he can for Brian to push inside. He could say it, Brian thinks, he could lean down and nuzzle Justin’s hair aside and tell him.

But then Justin is bumping back against him, wriggling around in a frantic effort to get Brian's cock to brush his prostate, and the white seething flash of pleasure is too desperate for Brian’s attention. In a blind move, he slides a hand under Justin and fists his cock, stroking him firmly and reveling in the whimper he hears in return. Thrust and drive, reaching for release, Brian strains.

Justin grabs Brian’s hand and speeds him up, gasping and panting, the other hand tangled in the sheets. Two more strokes and Justin comes with a grunt, his ass clenching around Brian, making the sheath around Brian’s cock even tighter. It’s done, Brian’s too much of a sucker for Justin’s soft moans, and he squeezes Justin’s hips and comes, hard and with heat and it doesn’t stop.

* * *

He slides out and cleans up, rolling Justin over to mop his mess too. Justin is limp and pliant and agreeable, the joint he smoked earlier still leaving lingering effects. Brian straddles his hips, splaying hands over his lean stomach.

“Love you,” Justin says guilelessly, and Brian is sharp enough to recognize his own envy at the ease with which Justin says it.

“I know,” Brian says, and presses a kiss to his forehead.

It’s the best he can do.