Out From Inside

Keira


NC-17
Have been working on this story for a while now, and wanted to get it done for susanderavish's birthday. There are a couple of little things in there for you, darling. Hope you are having most fab day! :x



Title comes from Counting Crows' Colorblind, which always made me think of Brian.


*************


The heat in the subway station is stifling after his air-conditioned journey and although the air is hot and muggy outside, Justin still breathes it in with a gulp of relief as he emerges from underground.

Saturday night, and the Village is bustling. He walks by countless restaurants with tiny patios that crowd the sidewalk, just feet from the bags of garbage that pile up endlessly in the city. Sweat drips down the small of his back and he wipes his forehead, at the grime that has settled on his skin.

The funky lamps that light Washington Square Park buzz with insects as he passes. Justin always cuts through the park on his way home and tonight is no different. NYU students and every kind of person you could imagine lounge about. A trio of men with a guitar sing Spanish melodies that he can’t understand, but likes the sound of anyway.

He stops by the chess tables, which sit underneath signs advising against any sort of betting. The signs are routinely ignored, as you would expect.

Justin finds an empty side of a bench and pulls out his little sketchbook from his messenger bag. He’s subtle when he draws, doesn’t make a big production of it. People act differently when they know they’re being watched. Their posture will change immediately, and there’s no point in continuing.

He settles in and time floats by, the noise of the park like a cocoon.

It could be hours later when his cell phone rings. He sees the number and smiles — it’s late, and Gus is probably giving Brian a hard time about going to bed. He flips the phone open and says, “Mel and Lindz have only been in Mexico for like, three hours. Don’t tell me you already need help.”

The only response is the wheeze of Brian’s breathing, which sounds off kilter. “Brian? What’s wrong?” There is another ragged breath, but nothing else. “Brian, say something, you’re freaking me out.”

“They’re dead.”

And just like that, the world is new.

*

The plane crash killed everyone aboard instantly, but Justin can’t help but wonder if they were awake as it dove towards the ground. He hopes not, and can’t stop the tears from sliding down his cheeks yet again.

His mother picks him up from the bus station as dawn breaks, the heat already making their skin sticky when they touch. She hugs him tightly and he clings to her in a way he hasn’t in many years.

She takes him to Michael and Ben’s house, where the family has gathered. Carl opens the door and hugs Justin gruffly before moving on to Jennifer. Justin inches his way into the living room.

Jenny Rebecca squalls in Michael’s arms, and he bounces her almost frantically. Debbie and Ben hover nearby and everyone watches intently, as if making this two-year-old stop crying is the key to something important.

Michael notices him, and all eyes turn to Justin before automatically swiveling around to Brian. Brian sits in an armchair in the corner, Gus curled up in his lap, still awake. Gus sits up straighter and takes his thumb from his mouth as he calls Justin’s name.

“Hey, little man.” Justin kneels down and kisses Gus, pulling him into a hug. He looks up at Brian over Gus’s shoulder, but Brian is focused on the bookshelf lining the wall. Before he gets up, Justin squeezes Brian’s hand.

Then Deb is there with a rib-cracking hug and there are more hugs and tears and murmurs with Emmett and Ted and Ben. J.R. finally stops crying, and Justin kisses Michael and whispers words of comfort that he knows don’t mean anything, but needs to say anyway.

At the foot of the stairs, Justin looks around the room at all the people he loves. Brian remains in the corner, face impassive and turned away as he holds Gus to him.

When Brian carries Gus upstairs a few minutes later, Justin follows. He waits outside the guest room, squinting as the sun floods the hallway with light. Brian comes out, closing the door softly behind him.

Their eyes meet, and Justin holds firm as Brian gives way around him.

*

Justin lingers at the top of the bedroom steps as Brian helps Gus change out of his suit. It is black and exquisitely tailored, and of course the son of Brian Kinney wears nothing but the best.

The funeral was joint, despite the Petersons’ protests. They had shared angry words with Brian, and Justin hasn’t had a chance to ask Brian what it was about, although he’s sure he knows.

Brian tells Gus to get into his pajamas. Gus doesn’t argue, and looks tiny in Brian’s bed, his eyes already closing as Brian pulls the shutters.

It has been a long day.

Brian heads right to the bar, and passes Justin a scotch without comment. They both still wear their funeral attire, and Justin unknots his tie. He’s fumbling with it when Brian presses up behind him, his hands making quick work of Justin’s pants.

They’re quiet, only soft moans and harsh breathing cutting the silence as Brian bends Justin over the counter. Brian kisses his neck, his fingers gripping Justin’s hand on the cold steel as he pushes inside him.

Justin rocks back, turning his head to find Brian’s lips. It’s been a month since their last visit, and Justin wonders why they ever stayed apart for so long, what could have been so important. They come quickly, and Brian is heavy on Justin’s back as he shudders his release.

They stay like that for a long time, Brian pressing small kisses to Justin’s shoulder where he has pulled back the material of his shirt.

“I miss you,” Brian murmurs.

Justin turns and they kiss slowly, lips soft. “I love you, too,” he whispers.

A loud knock at the door makes them jump apart like teenagers and they quickly clean up and straighten their clothes. The door is pounded on again, and Brian opens it to find Lindsay’s parents, their faces pinched and red.

“Where is our grandson? He’s not staying here with you.” Mrs. Peterson’s voice is practically a shriek and she takes a step into the loft.

The bedroom door creaks open and with a squeeze of Brian’s hand, Justin hurries up to Gus, ushers him into the bathroom.

“What’s going on?” Gus’s eyes are wide.

“Nothing, everything’s okay. Come on, let’s play paddy cake again.” Justin sits down on the bathroom floor cross-legged and Gus follows suit. Gus obediently raises his palms, and they begin the game.

Justin can hear that they’re shouting outside, but the words are indistinct, like the sound of a TV through a neighbour’s wall. He claps hands with Gus and they both sing the song quietly. After a few rounds, Gus stops and looks at Justin solemnly.

“When are my mommies coming back from heaven?”

Justin somehow manages to swallow the lump in his throat. “They’re not. But it’s okay, everything will be okay.”

“But first they were just going to Mexico, and they were going to come back. Why did they go to heaven instead?”

“We don’t get to choose when we go. Sometimes it just happens.”

“But I want them to stay here. I want to go home. Are you sure they’re not there?” Tears slide down Gus’s cheeks.

“I’m sure, Gus. But they loved you very much, just remember that, okay?”

“Then why did they go?” Gus sobs and Justin pulls him into his arms, unable to answer. He’s not sure how much later it is when Brian finds them like that, the loft silent once more.

Brian puts Gus back into bed, and he and Justin join him after they change. Gus sleeps between them, and as Justin drifts away, the exhaustion of the last few days catching up, he knows that Brian lies awake.

*

Deb has clearly been up all night cooking, and breakfast is a feast. Justin tries to get away with a couple of pieces of toast, but ends up with pancakes and lasagna. He’s not sure when lasagna became a breakfast item, but it makes Deb happy, so he eats it. Brian stands by the kitchen door, blowing smoke outside.

Emmett’s new boyfriend Adam hovers near him awkwardly, and Justin feels a stab of pity for him.

“So, you’ll take Jenny Rebecca?” Adam asks Michael and Ben.

“Yeah, I talked to Mel’s parents yesterday. We’re setting a schedule so they can have her a few nights a month. And they can come and visit whenever they want.” Michael is pale and worn out and Ben smiles at him encouragingly. The smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes, and for a second, Justin wonders if it will be possible to ever be truly happy again. It doesn’t feel like it.

Adam nods and politely asks, “And Gus?”

Gus sits in front of the TV, blankly watching a cartoon, and doesn’t seem to be listening to their conversation. Everyone but Justin seems to shift uncomfortably in their seats, and Ted clears his throat.

“Well,” Deb says, “I think his grandparents want—”

“He’s staying with me.” Brian’s voice is firm, brooks no argument.

Deb is the first one to speak. “But, honey…raising a child…do you really think—”

“Yes, I really think. Gus is going to want for nothing.”

Ben puts on his reasonable tone and says, “Of course not. And we all know you love Gus. But it’s not just about money—”

“You don’t think he knows that?” Justin’s voice rises, and Brian puts a hand on his arm. This is the first time Brian has said it out loud, that he’s going to take Gus.

Justin never doubted it.

“I’m going to take care of my son. The Petersons are hiring a lawyer, and I’ve informed them that I’ll fight them until the day Gus is eighteen if I have to.”

“Everything will have to change,” Deb says. She looks at Brian speculatively, a challenge in her eyes.

“It already has,” Brian replies. “And I’m going to take care of my son.”

After a few moments of silence, Michael smiles. “Then you know we’re all behind you.”

There is a chorus of agreement and Deb hugs Brian tightly as everyone pledges support. Brian shrugs them off and goes to join Gus in front of the TV. Ted asks Justin when he has to go back to New York, but Justin pretends he doesn’t hear, and goes to watch SpongeBob.

*

Brian looks through the papers again and leans back on the couch. “I still can’t fucking believe it.”

Justin glances over from the kitchen, where he removes the skin from a chicken leg with medical precision. “Shh, you’ll wake Gus.”

Brian leans over, peers into the bedroom. “Sonny Boy needed his nap, I don’t think a tank could wake him.” But his voice is softer anyway.

Justin finishes up and joins Brian on the couch, his feet curled beneath him. “It’s going to make their case pretty hard to win.”

“I just can’t believe she did it.”

“What’s so hard to believe? You’re his father.”

“You do remember Melanie, right?” As soon as the words leave his mouth, regret paints Brian’s face, and they sit in silence as seconds tick by slowly. “I mean…we didn’t always get along.”

Justin inches closer, his arm snaking around Brian’s shoulders. “I know. But she knew you loved him. And that you’ll do the right thing. It should definitely help with the judge, right?”

“Well, lucky for me, biology still counts for a hell of a lot in this country. But considering I gave up my parental rights to her, and she pretty much gave them back in her will, it definitely won’t hurt.”

Brian looks at the paper in his hands. “And isn’t it just typical, the bitch isn’t even around to thank.” His voice cracks, and he shakes his head, trying to stop the tears.

Justin holds him close, failing to stop his own tears from falling. “It’s okay, it’s okay.” Brian hasn’t been able to talk about Lindsay, hasn’t once said her name. Justin knows that will have to wait.

Brian’s lips move against Justin’s hair. “How is this real?”

Justin wishes he had an answer.

*

The house is as Justin remembers it, still empty and beautiful, the sun shining in the huge windows and making the wooden floors gleam. He had stopped asking about it six months after he went to New York, when Brian told him again he hadn’t gotten the right offer yet.

Justin traces his fingers over the carved wood of the banister and closes his eyes for a moment, hearing Brian’s proposal again in his mind, like it was yesterday. A pang of longing stretches through him, pulls him tight.

Brian leads Gus by the hand and shows him the different rooms. Gus is quiet, and Justin knows he is thinking of the house in Toronto, the house Justin never could squeeze in a visit to. The regret hits him like a truck now, and he has to sit on the stairs, needs to catch his breath.

When he catches up to Gus and Brian, they're picking out a bedroom for Gus. There are many to choose from. As they look around a small room with lots of light, Justin says, “This would be an awesome studio.”

Brian laughs uneasily. “Don’t you think you’ll get enough of that in New York?”

“New York?”

“The Big Apple? The Naked City? The place you live?”

“The place I used to live.”

Suddenly the mood has changed. “Gus, go ask Pete and Maria to show you the stables, okay?” Brian had hired the couple as caretakers while he looked for the buyer he never seemed to be able to find. Gus nods and leaves without a word.

“Justin.”

“Brian.” Justin squares his shoulders, ready for the fight.

“You can’t give up your life.”

“I’m not.”

Brian sighs. “It’s barely been over a year, you need to give yourself more time there.”

“More time to be away from the people I love?”

“More time to launch your career, to be the best artist you can be, to—”

“Miss out on what really matters?”

“So your art doesn’t matter anymore? Bullshit.”

“It matters,” Justin says. “But so do you. So does Gus.”

“And we’ll be here. But you can’t give up your life. I won’t let you.”

“Oh, really?” Anger begins to thrum through Justin’s veins. “You won’t let me? Who the fuck do you think you are?”

Brian remains cool and collected, much to Justin’s irritation. “You’re upset. This is no time to make decisions. Go back to New York, and I’m sure things will go back to normal.”

“Oh, so I’ll just go back there and what, Mel and Lindz won’t be dead? You won’t be raising your son alone?”

Brian looks down, doesn’t answer.

“Things are never going to be normal again, Brian. At least…not the same kind of normal.”

“You can’t give up your career.”

“You’re giving up Babylon, aren’t you? And the loft?”

“That’s different.”

“Oh, and why’s that?”

“Because it is.”

“Oh, thanks for clearing that up.”

Brian’s eyes blaze. “Because if I’m going to raise Gus, I’m going to be the best fucking father I can be. And if that means early nights and helping with his homework and making fucking sandwiches for the PTA, then that’s what I’m going to do. I owe him that.” He takes a deep breath and Justin barely hears his next words. “I owe her that.”

“And I have no part in any of this?” Brian doesn’t answer, and Justin swallows hard. “Don’t you want me here anymore?”

Brian makes a noise in his throat and turns away. “I can’t ask you to sacrifice everything you’ve worked for.”

Justin wraps his arms around Brian from behind. “Love is sacrifice. I thought you finally understood that.”

Brian turns and kisses him, his hands tight in Justin’s hair. “You know I love you. And I want you.” He leans their foreheads together, his next words a whisper. “I need you.”

“See, was that so hard?” Justin smiles, really smiles for the first time in a week. “We’ll make the best fucking sandwiches the PTA has ever tasted.”

*

The next morning, Brian tugs Justin into the shower while Gus is still sleeping. They lock the door behind them and the water is barely running before Brian is on his knees, sucking Justin into his mouth, his finger sliding into Justin’s ass.

Justin gasps and Brian grins up at him, his tongue gliding along the underside of Justin’s cock. “You like that, Sunshine?” He puts another finger into Justin’s hole.

“Yes, god, yes.” Justin’s head lolls back against the glass.

After a final flick of his tongue, Brian is up and rolling a condom on his dick, kissing Justin before turning him around.

“No, I want to see your face,” Justin says, turning back and kissing Brian hungrily.

“Always so demanding.” Brian slaps Justin’s ass before opening the shower door. He quickly grabs a couple of the thick red towels, spreading them haphazardly on the floor before pressing Justin down.

Justin throws his legs over Brian’s shoulders and bites his lip to stop a loud moan from escaping when Brian thrusts into him. Brian angles in deeper and Justin yanks his head down for a kiss so he won’t start yelling loud enough to wake not only Gus, but possibly the whole building.

The shower still runs and Justin can feel drops of water falling on his skin, knows that they’ll probably have a hell of a mess to clean up. But as Brian’s hand starts stroking his cock in tandem with the push of his hips, Justin can’t seem to care.

He comes hard over Brian’s hand, his ass clenching down and making Brian groan loudly as he shudders to completion. Brian rolls off him and they lie on the floor, catching their breath.

Brian lifts his hand and sucks his fingers into his mouth, one by one. He smirks when Justin’s cock twitches.

*

“So, I talked to Annika today,” Justin says as he puts the groceries away in the cupboard. They’re only in the loft another week, but Gus can’t live on Thai take-out alone.

Brian peers back from the fridge where he rearranges some oranges to fit in Gus’s full-cream milk. “And what did she have to say for herself?”

Justin takes a deep breath. “She said I can stay with her for a week or so every month. I was thinking I can still go to the right parties, see and be seen. Shake my cute ass for the people who pull the strings. I mean, it’s not like we can’t afford the airfare.” Justin frowns. “Well, you can. I mean, if that’s okay with you.”

“I suppose I might be able to spare a few hundred dollars every month for you to pursue your dream.” He grins devilishly. “As long as you keep putting out, of course.”

Justin glances over at Gus, engrossed in a video game. He kisses Brian and squeezes his ass. “I’ll think about it.”

Brian is suddenly serious. “Justin, are you sure? About this? All of it?”

“I’ve never been so sure of anything.” He kisses him again, traces his fingers over the faint lines beside Brian’s mouth. “I can paint here, and go there when I need to. I’m not giving up my life. Just…making some adjustments.”

Brian smiles and kisses him back, but Justin thinks the shadow in his eyes still lingers.

*

The first night in the new house, Gus sleeps with Brian and Justin, too afraid to stay alone in his room down the hall. Brian tries to get him to sleep in his own bed, but each night, Gus begs and pleads and falls asleep between them, his breathing hitched by the tears he has shed. After two weeks, Brian stands firm, and Gus’s cries echo down the hallway. Brian and Justin lie on top of the sheets, bodies tense, eyes on the ceiling.

“We can’t give in,” Justin reassures. “He’ll get used to it. It’ll be fine.”

Brian sighs. “I know.” Later, when there is only silence, Brian and Justin tiptoe down the hall. Gus has finally cried himself to sleep, his teddy bear clutched in his arms. They watch him for a few minutes, Justin’s arms wrapped around Brian, his lips soft on the back of Brian’s neck. They creep back to bed and Brian closes the door behind them. His eyes gleam with hunger and need in the moonlight, and Justin spreads himself wantonly on the bed, ready and waiting.

Everything is taste and touch, tongues and lips, fingers and hands. On his hands and knees, Justin gasps and moans as Brian’s tongue flicks in and out, his breath hot, teeth teasing. When Brian slides his cock all the way inside, he whispers in Justin’s ear that he’ll have to buy him a gag. Justin comes, head thrown back, eyes closed.

*

After school one day, Gus asks if his friend can come and play. It’s only been a few weeks, and Justin’s happy Gus is making friends. He seems to like the structure of school, then coming home to rattle around the house with Justin. Justin drives him and picks him up every day in a new Volkswagen, which Justin had insisted on, even though Brian wanted to buy a Lexus. Justin and Gus spend a lot of time making art in the studio, and sometimes he looks at something Gus has painted and gets more ideas that he ever thought possible.

When Brian comes home from work, Gus and his new friend Susan are watching a movie while Justin makes dinner. When Brian takes a long time to come into the kitchen to kiss him, Justin goes to him. Brian’s stopped in the doorway of the den, eyes on the TV, a tight expression on his face.

“Hey,” Justin breathes, sliding his arm around Brian’s waist. He follows Brian’s gaze to the TV, where Peter Pan battles Captain Hook. “What is it?”

Brian shakes himself out of his reverie, paints a smile on his face. “Nothing. What’s for dinner?”

Justin pulls him to the kitchen, kisses him until the smile is real. “Steak. Gus is a growing boy.”

Brian chuckles, slides his hand over Justin’s crotch. “He’s not the only one.”

“Yeah, well, if we ever want Gus to have another friend over, we’d better cut it out.”

They disentangle and Brian goes to change. Justin has to talk himself out of nipping upstairs to give him a hand.

*

Justin wakes in the night, alone. He pokes his head in Gus’s room, where Gus sleeps deeply, the covers around his knees. Justin quietly goes downstairs and sees the blue glow from the den before he hears the low sounds of the television. Brian sits on the couch in his sweat pants, his fingers worrying the frayed end of his t-shirt. Peter Pan plays, and Brian seems riveted by it.

Justin watches from the doorway, is tempted to go get his sketchbook. In the end, he just sits down beside Brian, who doesn’t even glance over, eyes still locked on the TV. They watch in silence until Wendy returns to the real world, leaving Peter behind.

Brian’s sobs are quiet at first, before they shake his shoulders, bow his head into his hands. Justin leans close, wishes there was something to say, something to make it better. Something.

“I miss her so fucking much, Justin,” he grits out.

“I know,” Justin whispers, eyes wet, breath short.

“Why Lindsay?”

“I don't know.”

“It’s not fair.”

Justin agrees. Brian’s tears fall for a long time, his head finding Justin’s lap, legs curled up on the couch. Justin strokes Brian’s hair as the movie plays on, Peter and Tinkerbell returning to Neverland in a shower of pixie dust.

*

Michael, Ben and J.R. come to visit a lot. Brian and Michael go for long walks while Ben and Justin talk about nothing, everything. Brian always looks lighter afterwards, smiles with an ease that Justin loves to see. One night as Justin makes dinner for them all, Gus helps him in the kitchen.

“Justin?”

Justin doesn’t look up from the tomato he’s slicing. “Did you put all the potato peels in the composting bin?”

“Yes,” Gus replies.

“Good boy.”

“Justin?”

“Hmm?”

“Are you my daddy, too?”

Justin puts down the knife and turns to find Gus looking up at him, the open expression on his face constricting Justin’s heart. Brian gets up from the kitchen table as Ben and Michael look on, J.R. sleeping in Ben’s arms. Brian kneels down, takes hold of Gus’s shoulders.

“Do you want Justin to be your daddy?”

Gus nods and says, “I love Justin.”

“So do I,” Brian tells him.

Justin cuts the onions next, and wipes his eyes against the back of his hand.

*

One morning, Brian takes a gulp of coffee and says, “Shit. We’ve got to buy that little girl a birthday present for her party on Saturday.” He reaches for the pen on the counter and scratches some words on the notepad lying there before he takes another swig from his mug. “Gotta go, I’ve got a meeting first thing.” He kisses Justin and Justin can hear him saying goodbye to Gus in the hallway, Gus’s shrieks of laughter meaning that Brian is tickling him before he swings him up into his arms.

Justin looks at the words on the pad. Buy doll, it simply says. Justin’s breakfast turns cold as he contemplates these words. He holds the paper in his hand, its smooth surface tangible beneath his fingers. He eventually smiles to himself, and calls his mother.

*

Babylon is the same as ever, thumping music, flowing booze, men crushed together on the dance floor. The smell of sweat and sex permeates everything like cigarette smoke that soaks into your skin, gets on your clothes.

“Well, fancy meeting you here!” Emmett bounces towards them and claps gleefully. Ted and Blake make their way over and soon they’re all dancing. It’s not quite just like old times until Michael and Ben arrive, and then Justin thinks that maybe he can believe in magic. The songs are all new, but they haven’t changed, and he and Brian move together like they always have. They dance for hours and fuck in the backroom, all eyes on them. Justin bends over, his hands braced on the wall as Brian thrusts into him. A young trick crawls before Justin, sucks him off while Brian sets the rhythm from behind.

It’s just past one a.m. when Michael and Ben say their goodbyes, go home to relieve J.R.’s babysitter. Jennifer is staying the night out at the house, so Brian and Justin don’t need to worry, don’t need to rush. They look at each other in the pulsing, coloured light.

“I guess we’d better get home,” Brian says. Justin nods and presses their foreheads together, breathes him in before their lips meet.

Brian smiles and leads Justin out, glittery confetti drifting to the floor in their wake.

End

Sequel