1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14
He was there, suddenly, beside me, as I unlocked the door of the jeep. Must have been waiting for me; I didn’t see him before he spoke.
As soon as I heard his voice, I realized I’d been waiting for this for months. Waiting, and bracing myself. I steeled myself again now, made sure my expression was blank, and turned toward him coolly. “What?”
“Please, may I talk to you for just a minute?”
I finished unlocking the door and opened it. He moved out of the way and we were in the position I wanted – me on one side of the open door, him on the other. “What for?” I said in the same detached tone.
“Brian, please. There’s some things I need to tell you.”
I looked at him sardonically, leaned my arm on top of the jeep door and waited pointedly.
He took a breath. For the first time, I sort of focused on what he looked like. Same smooth skin, delicate features, pale blue eyes … but something different in his expression – he looked leaner, tougher, more weathered, like he’d been around the block a few times in the months since I last saw him. But the calm, level look he was giving me was the same patented Justin stare.
He said, “Most of all, I want to tell you how sorry I am.”
I grimaced sarcastically, looking away with my contemptuous smile. “Yeah, I heard it didn’t work out with the fiddler.” Then I stopped. I felt the familiar rush of revulsion run through me, and I knew it wasn’t directed at Justin. I’d learned, over the last few months, that nothing was worse than riding that wave of self-loathing. These days, I was doing whatever it took to make it stop before it started. I let my instincts take over, and heard my voice grow softer before I felt it. “Look, Justin, I didn’t mean to say that. It’s too bad things didn’t work out for you. If there’s anything I can do to help out, you know you just need to tell me. I’m still your friend.” It didn’t mean anything, really, other than that I didn’t want to spend another night lying in bed thinking about what a complete asshole I am. Lately I’ve been finding that the main motivation for much of what I do.
Justin met my gaze evenly and seemed to think about what I said for a second, then shook his head. “That’s not what I want.”
I stared at him, my expression blanking over again.
“Thank you for your offer. But I don’t want your help right now. Or even your friendship. And I know I don’t deserve it.”
I rolled my eyes. “Bit late for the guilt routine now, Sunshine. Give it a rest.”
“You’re right, I don’t need to tell you that. It’s not what I mean to say.”
I looked at him again, wondering how long I had to wait this out before I could get the hell out of there. And still get a good night’s sleep.
“I said I want to tell you how sorry I am, but I can’t … I don’t have the words for it. I know what I did to you, Brian.”
I looked away impatiently. “Can we drop this shit, Justin? I’m tired of it. I’m fine, I’m well, you can see for yourself. So can we just get over it?”
“I didn’t mean to suggest that I caused you pain, though I know I did. I meant, that I realize how I repaid you for all the kind things you’ve done for me.”
I sighed. “OK. Fine. You weren’t very nice. Can I go now?”
“There’s just a couple more things I need to tell you. Please put up with me a little longer.”
I waited grimly.
I swear, he hadn’t looked away from me once. He must have had this little speech rehearsed. Now he was even giving me a helpful recap. “One, I’m more sorry than I know how to tell you. Two, I was wrong. I thought I’d be happier with him, even if I didn’t love him, than I was with you, the way things were then. I was wrong. There’s no one else I can be happy with, at all, ever. There’s only you. Now I know it.”
If he thought that was going to produce a flock of doves flying in to shower us with rose petals as I took him in my arms and said the magic words he had wanted so much to hear, he was wrong again. I just kept waiting for it to be over.
But he kept going. “Three: I realize now what I did when I left you. What I lost. I had so much, you gave me so much, and I walked away from it. I thought it wasn’t enough, when it was more than I could have ever hoped for. And when I left I told you everything you’d done for me, everything you’d given me, counted for nothing.” He stopped and we looked at each other evenly. I wasn’t arguing with him now. He was right. He dropped his eyes, briefly, then raised them again to meet mine unflinchingly. “And I know I’ll never have that again.”
Right again. But I didn’t buy that he knew it. Justin never believed he couldn’t have what he wanted.
I didn’t mean to change my expression, but I guess he saw the cynicism in my eyes. “I do know that," he said. "I want more than anything to go back to where we were before, but I realize I’ll never have that chance again. Believe me, Brian, I know.”
I think I looked at him for a long time, before I finally turned my gaze away and looked out over the dusky, deserted parking lot. “Then why are you standing here talking to me?”
“Because I have to tell you -- even knowing that, knowing that you’ll never give me anything again -- I still can’t live without you. Brian, I’ll do anything, agree to anything, if I can just be with you again. On any terms you want.”
He stopped. His words hung in the air. I felt – shocked ... not so much at his words, but that he would say them, after everything that had passed between us. Of all the things I never expected Justin Taylor to say, I guess that one had to rank right up there.
He must have been waiting for me to catch up with him, because he didn’t say anything for a while. When he spoke again, his voice was still calm, sure, forthright. But now it was slower and a little more gentle.
“I told you I don’t want to be friends with you. I don’t deserve it, and I know the last thing you want is to be my friend right now. But I believe, I’ll always believe, that you might still have some lingering desire to fuck me.”
He looked at me, and I don’t know what he saw in my expression -- I had no idea what I was thinking myself -- but he must have found something there that he wanted because he gave a tiny laugh and glanced briefly away from me before looking back with a hint of a smile. “If I was a religious person, I’d thank god every morning and every night that he gave me a body Brian Kinney is attracted to.”*
I closed my eyes and looked away, not pleased.
The smile was gone by the time I opened my eyes again. “I’m serious, Brian. I want you, I want to be with you, it’s all I have to hope for now, and I know I’ll never set the conditions for it again. So I’m yours on whatever terms you want. I don’t care when or how. You want to fuck me in the back room at Babylon, go right ahead. Want me to blow you in the alley outside, I’m there. Wake up in the morning with a hard on you want to get rid of, just call. You don’t have to talk to me afterwards, you don’t have to let me stay, you don’t have to do anything at all. I’ll always be around, and I’ll never ask for anything. There’s no payback. You just tell me what you want and when you want it, and it’s yours. Day or night, anywhere, anytime, any terms. I’m yours.”
Jesus Christ. I felt shivers running down my spine, and a sudden fear that someone would overhear what he was saying. What was this, my personal, engraved invitation straight to hell? Exploit this kid’s overwrought guilt and seal my fate, never sleep again, was that it?
And what exactly was this bullshit about not asking for anything back? No one wants nothing back. Maybe he believed what he was saying himself, at this moment, but there’s always a price to pay. I’d been willing to pay it once, for Justin, and back then I’d almost decided it was worth it. But I wasn’t going down that road again. Never again.
No matter what he says right now, I thought, sometime, somewhere, he’s going to want payback. And he’s not going to get it, not from me.
I looked at his set, determined face, and thought again about how he looked like he’d been around the block a few times. But now I suddenly had the feeling that with each trip around that block he’d found himself right back where he started, and the more trips he made, the more sure he’d become of what he’d suspected in the first place.
And the more I looked at him, the more I knew he was right about one other thing. God did give him a body I’m attracted to. There was never going to be a day when I didn’t want to fuck Justin Taylor. Maybe I didn’t have those strange feelings now – the ones I’d felt a lifetime ago, it felt like now, that made me want to hold him, protect him, keep him safe and sound with me – but I did want to fuck him.
And I wanted to be able to sleep afterwards.
“What do you mean, you won’t ask me for anything?”
He held my gaze. “I mean I’ll expect nothing from you, I’ll ask for nothing.”
I paused, and when I spoke again my voice was so harsh I barely recognized it. “And that’s what you’ll get. Do you understand that? I’m not playing games here, I’m telling you the truth. Whatever you do, you’ll get nothing from me.”
He nodded, grim but undeterred. “I understand.” And waited.
I thought about it one more time. It seemed to me I had two choices.
One: I could lean forward, change my tone, and tell Justin honestly, “Look, you don’t need to do this. There’s plenty of guys out there you can love, and who will love you back. You’ll get over me, it’s just a question of time. Do yourself a favour and move on with your life. I’ll still be around, and one day we’ll want to be friends again.”
Or two: I could throw him over the front seat of the jeep and fuck him.
I compromised. “All right,” I said, with another brief glance around the empty parking lot and a voice almost as even as his. “You can get down behind the jeep and blow me.”
* With much appreciation to Hephaistion-Lo, from whom I stole this line, for allowing me to leave it here. Read the original, much better, version in "Enough is Enough", the prequel to her ~Justin~ series (available at the Across the Pond archive).