Small Servings

Jo Esther

My first QAF ficlet. Be kind, please. Thanks go to bigboobedcanuck and quinn222 for the betas. You girls are amazing.

Warning: For those who might not know, I am a schmoopaholic and I make no apologies to that fact.



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


Justin realizes that Brian is changing, that the small things are adding up to huge differences in the man he loves. The tricking is practically over. Babylon is finished: they haven’t been there in months. He can’t remember the last time Brian has snorted, smoked, or swallowed an illegal substance. Has cancer really made him an adult, finally? Or is it really a culmination of things that have happened in his life over the past years – since Justin has known him, really?

The bashing. The Kip incident. Michael moving into a long-term family relationship. His father’s death. Gus’ birth. Coming out to his mother. So many things have happened in their lives in the four years since he’s known Brian. Stockwell. The Pink Posse. Starting up Kinnetik. Cancer.

The sound of the heavy metal door to the loft sliding open distracts Justin from his drawing of himself and Brian of three years ago, and he turns his head to see today's Brian step through the door, looking tired.

“Hey,” he smiles as he stands up and walks towards Brian. It's amazing to Justin how much the man has changed in what feels like so short a time. And yet it's been years.

“Hey.”

“How’d it go?”

Brian just shrugs and Justin places a hand on his shoulder, leaning up to kiss him hello as Brian bends his head towards him.

“Didn’t she say anything?”

“You know Lindsay,” Brian shrugs again.

“Yeah. Did she cry?”

Brian nods. “Yeah.”

“And Mel?”

Brian huffs. “Lesbians. You can’t leave them alone for a minute. Even the butch ones get all mushy when you start in about diseases and shit.”

Justin rubs his shoulder before letting go. “You want some water?” he asks as he heads over to the refrigerator, knowing that Brian will say yes before he even replies.

Brian nods and heads over to the sofa. Justin pulls two bottles of water from the fridge and goes to sit by him, handing one over as he rests his head on Brian’s shoulder and intertwines Brian’s fingers in his.

“So... what’s the count at now?”

“Ted...”

“Yeah.”

“Debbie. Lindsay. Mel. Michael. I bet Michael told Ben. Cynthia. My mom.”

Justin remembers when they decided that they were going to tell the people in their lives about Brian's cancer. One by one, they had agreed. Or couple by couple, as in Lindsay and Melanie's case. In small servings, to quote Brian. Brian didn't want to tell them all at once because he didn't want to have to deal with a mass of hysterical people bawling their eyes out. Justin had quickly realized he was right. Just Emmett alone would have been enough to drive Brian insane within a matter of minutes with his drama-queen antics.

“What about Emmett?” Justin asks.

“I figure Ted’s told him by now, even though I threatened him with his job. Theodore can’t keep a secret like this to save his life,” Brian smirks.

Justin nods and rolls his eyes. “Probably not.”

Brian releases a deep breath, heavily tinged with relief, and says, “I think I was the most nervous about the munchers.”

Justin blinks because Brian’s never admitted to being nervous. About anything.

“You were?”

“Yeah. ‘Cause what if it’s genetic? And what if Gus... I mean...” Brian trails off.

“Brian.”

And suddenly the air in the loft is stifling. And they can’t breathe, can’t move, and there aren’t words.

Brian’s dad had cancer: he died of it. And now Brian has it. Had it. And he might be cured, but he might not be. And they don’t know, won’t know, not for a long time. And even if he is, it might come back. It could be back tomorrow. Justin’s looked this up on the internet and at the library, and he’s talked to people, and he knows. How does he know that it’s not related, that they’re not connected through some cosmic chain in the universe. How can he tell Brian that no, Gus won’t get it? That it’s not his responsibility? Even though it really isn’t.

He can’t.

So he holds him tightly with one hand and runs the other over Brian’s face. Across the beautiful, high cheekbones, the elegant brows; and down, around to the strong jawline. Where his fingers run, his lips follow. Staccato, sweet kisses, and before he knows it, before he’s really aware of it, Justin’s leg has moved across Brian’s lap and he’s straddling him.

His hands are in his dark, soft hair. Brian’s hands are on Justin’s back, pulling him closer, closer, closer until there is no light between their bodies, and they are breathing the same air, and their heartbeats are one and they are kissing and touching and holding and they can’t get enough of each other.

Suddenly Justin pulls back, panting, his chest heaving. Brian’s face is flushed; his lips swollen and redder than usual; his pupils dilated. He looks incredibly sexy. Sexier, even, than usual, and that’s saying a lot, Justin thinks.

“What are you doing?” Brian asks, his voice deep and husky.

“Just looking...” Justin says, a smile lighting up his face as he stands up and takes Brian’s hand. “Let’s go to the bedroom.”

Brian follows him and they make love on the dark blue duvet. They’re not fucking anymore: they’re making love. Justin doesn’t know when they stopped fucking and started making love as a matter of rote, but he knows the difference. It might have to do with the continuous kissing, and it might have to do with the gentleness, and it might have to do with the fact that Brian hasn’t tricked in months (Brian hasn’t said a word, and neither has Justin, but Justin knows), but Justin can tell the difference. This isn’t fucking.

And when Brian enters him from underneath, and Justin begins to ride him, he feels as though it’s his first time again: it has that same level of intensity, that same heat, passion, lust. Only this time, it’s tempered with love and respect, and something else. This time, they’re both one hundred percent there, and they’re both aware, and there's no fear, and they’re both completely in the moment. And when they come and Justin collapses on Brian’s chest, and Brian starts running his fingers through Justin’s hair, murmuring to him, Justin is reminded again that Brian loves him, even if he never says the words.

**

When he smells the coffee in the morning, Justin opens one eye to see Brian kneeling in front of him with a tray and a muffin, as well as two steaming mugs of coffee. He pushes himself up and leans against the wall behind the bed and rubs his eyes.

“G’mornin’,” he mumbles.

“Hey,” Brian replies, kissing him on the nose as he sets the tray down on the nightstand. “You slept like a log.”

Justin grins. “I did all the work last night.”

Brian hands him his mug. “I know,” and grins back at him.

Justin can’t recall seeing that grin on Brian’s face recently and he loves it, and tries to memorize it for a sketch he wants to do later that day. That crooked tooth, those twinkling eyes. That’s the Brian he fell in love with, the Brian no one else knows, the Brian only Justin sees. The Brian he’ll always love, no matter what.

Brian joins him in bed and together they sip the coffee and share the muffin, spreading crumbs all over the duvet. But Brian doesn’t seem to mind. Later, Justin pulls out the mini-vacuum cleaner and sucks up all the crumbs so they don’t wake up with bits of muffin all over them the following day.

**

When the phone rings later that afternoon, Justin looks up from his sketchpad and holds his breath for a second. The phone has only brought bad news lately and Justin wonders if he's becoming paranoid. Brian speaks quietly into the receiver and hangs up after only a minute, turning to Justin when he does.

“That was Lindsay,” he says, answering Justin’s unasked question.

Justin nods. He had a feeling it wasn’t over.

“She wants to bring Gus over.”

“When?” He sighs in relief.

“Now?”

“Are you asking me?” He isn’t sure.

“Yeah. Is now okay for you?”

Justin’s surprised. Brian hadn’t ever asked him if Gus could come over, or indeed if anyone could come over, before.

“Uh... sure... now’s fine,” Justin assures him. “Do you want to take him somewhere, or should we just... uh... hang out here?”

“I was thinking,” Brian says. “I was thinking we could take him to the diner. For dinner. Just me and you and him.”

Justin nods. “I better go shower and put something on, then,” he says. He’s still in his t-shirt and underwear.

“I’ll call Lindsay back,” Brian says.

Justin starts for the bathroom but before he’s halfway there, Brian’s voice stops him.

“Justin?”

He stops and turns, a questioning look on his face.

“You’re okay with this?”

“’Course I am, Brian. You know I love Gus.”

He continues on into the shower and somehow isn’t surprised when Brian joins him a minute later, first soaping his back, then washing his hair tenderly, then kneeling and licking his cock as Justin leans against the shower wall. Justin moans as his cock is sucked into Brian’s throat, holding on to the soap dish with one hand and Brian’s hand with the other, his legs trembling as he comes. He sinks down on to the floor, smiling a goofy grin as he catches his breath.

After a minute, Justin asks, “What was that for?”

Brian licks his lips. “I was hungry,” he smirks.

Justin laughs. “I thought we were taking Gus to the diner.”

Brian raises an eyebrow. “Are you complaining, Sunshine?”

“Never!” He replies, reaching over and leaning in for a kiss. “Did you call Lindsay back?”

Brian nods. “They’re on their way, so you better hurry up.”

**

When Lindsay arrives, Justin can see she’s been crying. Her eyes are red and puffy and her nose is runny. He lets Gus run to Brian amidst a cry of “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” and quietly sidles up to her. He hands her a stack of papers he’d surreptitiously printed out a few weeks before, to read while Brian was out.

All of the statistics are there; the recovery odds and data. Somehow, reading those numbers and seeing the very left-hand column makes him feel better, as though knowing that Brian is on the very left-hand side of the bell curve means that he’ll be fine. After all, he’s young. Although testicular cancer in men his age is quite common, a full recovery is expected. Justin knows he’s not just reassuring himself. And he knows that he’s not just reassuring Lindsay. This is fact. Medical fact.

Lindsay blows her nose on the tissue she’s brought with her, and Justin holds her tightly, rubbing her back. He knows she loves Brian, has loved him for longer than he has. It’s a different love than he has for him, but it’s love nevertheless – the kind of love, he thinks, that he has for Daphne, and how would he be feeling if it were Daphne that were going through this?

The thought makes him want to pick up the phone and call her: he hasn’t seen her for weeks and he misses her, but his life is so full now and he hasn’t had the time. He feels guilty and sorry and sad, but he’ll do what he can to make it up to her, he says to himself.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Brian on the floor, playing toy trains with Gus and he smiles. He nudges Lindsay and gestures, and they make their way over to the two. Before they know it, they’re all on the floor and the trains are making noises and the tracks are set up and Brian is on one team with Gus, while Justin and Lindsay are on the other, and isn’t that appropriate – blonds versus brunettes. They race all over the living room before they collapse in a fit of laughter on the soft rug that lays between the two sofas, with Gus on Brian’s tummy and Justin at his feet. Justin notices that Lindsay, intelligent woman that she is, has chosen the sofa to rest upon.

“Didn’t we say something about dinner?” Justin asks. It’s been a long time since that muffin.

“Dinner?” Gus pipes up. “Hungry!”

Justin laughs. It’s clear that Gus did not get his appetite from his father. “We were going to take him to the diner, if that’s okay with you?” he says, turning to Lindsay, who is still on the sofa.

She nods. “Mel and I were thinking of going out tonight, actually.”

“Cool. We can keep him as late as you want,” Justin says, looking at Brian, who smiles as him.

“As late as you want,” Brian repeats.

**

They take Gus to the diner and Debbie fawns over him as usual. He’s too old for the booster seat now, so they seat him in the regular booth and order him a hamburger and french fries. Brian steals half the fries, which makes Justin smile because Brian really does need to put on weight, and he’s noticed that the less he bugs him about it, the more Brian eats. Both Justin and Gus order milkshakes and although Justin only drinks half of his, the whole thing is gone by the time they leave, and he knows that Gus only drank his own.

As they walk home, Justin wants to stop at the grocery store so they go in for a minute and buy vegetables and cheese and bread and milk, and Brian doesn’t say a word when Justin puts the fattier cheeses or the whole milk in their cart. As they walk along the meat counter, Justin notices Brian eyeing an expensive NY strip steak.

“I could do that for you on the indoor grill, with maybe some mushrooms and red wine.”

“In small servings, though, right?”

“Yes, Brian. In small servings.” Justin smiles.

-end-