Small Victories


Justin was silent as he got into the jeep because sometimes the most innocuous sentences seemed to piss Brian off and he wasn't going to ruin his sudden change of fortune.

Brian was silent, too. He swung himself into the jeep, put his sunglasses on and pulled into traffic. The engine seemed to shake the thoughts out of Justin’s head until he was empty. He felt limp--all the fight he'd built up, ready to stand up to his father, wasn’t needed any more. Brian had given him a better option.

“It’s not forever, you know,” said Brian. “Just until I can think of something better.”

“I know,” said Justin, but he felt his heart dive downward. He didn’t want to think about the fact that he didn't really have a home any more, just a temporary place to sleep, with a guy who sometimes didn't even seem to like him much.

They were silent again. Another few blocks and Brian said, “Were those fucks at school messing with you?”

“I can take care of myself,” said Justin.

“I wasn’t saying you couldn’t,” Brian returned, speaking painfully slowly, as if to a small child. “Just how did you plan to ‘take care’ of them?”

“They can’t do anything to me on school grounds. Getting into a fight gets you warned, then suspended. It almost happened to me when I punched Chris Hobbs.”

“You punched someone?” There was disbelief, but Justin thought maybe, just maybe, Brian sounded a little impressed.

“He threw me against a locker.”

"He probably wanted to fuck you."

"Yeah," Justin agreed, mostly to end the conversation, not because he actually thought it was true. He wasn't going to tell Brian about the hand-job. It seemed like bragging in a completely creepy way. Plus, he wasn't sure he was proud of it, now that Chris had turned out to be such a homophobic fucker.

He looked out the window and Brian watched the traffic. When they turned onto Tremont, Justin felt the beginnings of elation, blooming up from his stomach. Brian's loft made him think of freedom and fantastic sex with Brian, of which there would no doubt be exponentially more now that he was staying there. Temporary. "What are we doing tonight?"

"We are not doing anything," Brian replied. "I am going to Babylon. And you're going to do your homework and then go to bed like a good little school boy."

"What if I don't have any?"

Brian gave him a skeptical look. "It hasn't been that long since I was a high school senior, genius. How many essays do you have due in the next week?"

"Three," said Justin. It didn't really matter what Brian said, anyway. He couldn't stop Justin from going out any more than Justin's parents had been able to.

"So what will you be doing tonight?"

"Homework," said Justin, holding back a smile. He wasn't giving in. He was simply biding his time. The best way around Brian was to let him think he'd won, and then turn the tables when it was too late. It was getting to be almost easy. He turned his face toward the street and let the smile break over his face. He'd be done with his essays by ten, and dancing at Babylon by ten-thirty.