A/N: For the scrooged secret Santa exchange. Schmoopalicious. Enjoy!
Justin arrives at the airport in Pittsburgh with a large red bow stuck to his coat right over his heart, and a grin that stretches his cheeks.
"How festive," Brian smirks, as he leans down to peck Justin on the lips, but he lingers longer than he had intended.
A pinch-faced, middle-aged woman in a loud green dress that barely covers her ample bottom brushes past them muttering, "Fags," under her breath, but Justin is home for three weeks, and nothing can dampen their spirits.
"And proud of it," Brian loudly declares to her retreating back, drawing the curious stares of those standing and walking nearby. She glares venom over her shoulder at them, but they don’t notice because they're kissing again, and Justin is laughing against Brian's lips.
They've each climaxed once before they ever slide the loft door open. The Vette isn't the perfect vehicle for fucking, but it'll do in a pinch for a hasty blow job or two, and they've learned to take advantage of every opportunity afforded them. Absence and distance definitely make the dick grow harder, and Justin's bow lays forgotten in the floor, hours later, as the sun slides across the hardwood and on into night.
There are things to remember, and they take their time doing them. Breaths to mingle, and fingers to tangle, and flesh to taste, and if the increasing moans and panting are any indication, it's going to be a very merry Christmas, indeed. There are things to be forgotten, as well, like undressing, eating, and the passage of minutes ticking off the clock, and when midnight finds them drifting to sleep, wrapped around each other in the middle of the huge bed, they repeat words they will never again fail to say. Miss. Need. And the granddaddy of them all, Love, and it's so easy now, it takes no effort whatsoever to recognize gratitude when it settles over them like a blanket.
The next morning starts late for them because it's so very nearly impossible to tear themselves away, to leave the bed and make their way to showers and hot cups of coffee. Eight A.M. brings wet, soapy handjobs and 9 A.M. begins a lengthy chase around the loft because Justin snatches Brian's favorite soft t-shirt right out from under Brian's fingers as he's reaching for it, and slips it over his own head, instead. Nine-twenty A.M., and the loft fills with the sounds of laughter and Brian's hand coming down repeatedly in punishment on Justin's tender bottom. By 9:30, Brian's favorite t-shirt has been tugged off Justin's still-damp body, and lays discarded on the floor next to the bright, red bow.
Later there'll be dinner with the family and time spent in Deb's living room playing with Gus and his new toys, and Brian will fill an hour cursing as he tries to put together the Lionel train set he foolishly bought unassembled for his son. But for now, there are kisses to get lost in, and nothing seems more important than that.
Lunch is a noisy affair of diner food, welcome home hugs for Justin, and Michael scolding Deb for taking a shift on Christmas Eve and then rushing home to cook dinner for everyone. Ben offers to bring his newest culinary achievement, some microbiotic mess that scares everyone into volunteering to show up early at Deb's place and lend a hand.
Brian is whispering dirty things into Justin's ear even as Justin is promising to bring a big batch of his mother's best stuffing, and everyone but Brian pretends not to notice the flush that creeps from his collar to his cheeks. Justin assures Deb that it's no trouble, really, and suffers a pinch to his cheek that's followed by a love slap and his nickname said with affection. When they're back out on the street, he tries to admonish Brian for not being able to keep his hands to himself throughout the whole meal, but can't seem to find the words because Brian's tongue won't stay out of his mouth long enough for him to formulate any.
Justin makes Brian drive him to the grocery store, laughing at Brian's pouty insistence that he needs to be balls deep in Justin's ass within the half hour, and despite reassurances that Brian can stay in the car and wait for Justin, Brian follows him in, anyway. They both know it's because Brian can't bear to be separated from Justin so soon after he has arrived from New York, but they don't talk about it as Justin fills the cart with ingredients to make chestnut sausage stuffing. Justin fusses because he'd really rather cut and toast the bread himself, but there'll be no time, and Brian purrs in his ear that he intends to make sure Justin spends as little time in the kitchen, and as much time in the bed with his legs in the air, as possible. Justin's insistent erection agrees, and once home, he's barely able to get the eggs he means to make them for Christmas morning breakfast onto the kitchen counter and out of harm's way before Brian has him writhing and gasping on the floor.
Justin flails his arm out to the side, abandoning any responsibility for his own pleasure to the talents of Brian's tongue as it dances inside him, and he knocks the red bow under the coffee table. Brian will find it days later and lay cradling it in his hands as he and Justin watch an old black and white movie. His head will be in Justin's lap and Justin's fingers will stroke his hair, and when he dozes off to the sound of Brando screaming in a downpour, he will dream of the Christmas when he was 6 and all he wanted from Santa was for someone to love him.
They spend more time in bed than Justin is happy with, if such a thing can be reasonably quantified considering that any amount of time worshipping Brian's body is happy time, and he finally leaps up, admonishing Brian not to follow him. He begins preparing the dish they need to take to Deb's in less than two hours, quietly humming silly Christmas songs under his breath, and Brian lies in bed listening, smoking a cigarette, and smiling when Justin sings the chorus out loud. He's off-key, but Brian barely notices.
Comforting aromas drift into the bedroom, making Brian's stomach growl, and eventually he wanders towards them and the happy man dancing naked in the kitchen, shaking his round bottom to what Brian believes must be Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Brian remembers a time when he would have snarked at Justin and told him with an ugly sneer that he preferred a 'Silent Night', but he shrugs it off, knowing how very different he is today from that hardened and afraid young man he'd once been.
"Let your heart be gay…" Justin sings under his breath, and Brian, sliding up behind him and pressing against his bare back, reminds him that if Justin's heart was any more gay, he'd be a drag queen. Justin laughs and elbows him in the ribs, dumping chopped chestnuts into the mixing bowl in front of him. He doesn't complain when Brian's hand snakes up and engulfs his, both of them now holding the wooden spoon Justin is trying to stir with, even though they clumsily slosh bread crumbs and cooked sausage onto the counter.
Brian takes a nibble out of Justin's neck, scoops up the spilled stuffing, and pops it into his mouth, delivering a swat to Justin's ass as he moves towards the fridge in search of a beer.
"Needs salt," he advises, and admires the lean muscles in Justin's arm as he reaches into a cabinet above him to pull out the blue cardboard container. Justin seasons the dish, stirs again and then offers Brian another taste, which Brian sucks off his fingers, their eyes dark, warm and locked on one another.
Brian smiles and nods his approval, and has the equanimity to wait for Justin to slap several layers of Saran wrap over the top of the bowl before dragging him into the bathroom and turning the water on hot and strong. His patience in the kitchen is rewarded with a blow job in the shower, and it occurs to him that this is one Christmas Eve tradition they need to begin. He starts to tell Justin this, but the words die on his lips as an orgasm slams into him. He tries to fathom, while his fingers still clutch hanks of Justin's wet hair, how it got to be this good between them, but fails. Ultimately, he knows that the how doesn't really matter, but he finds the wondering to be a pleasant intellectual exercise.
Later, getting out the door with presents, food and coats is a juggling act, and there's almost no chance at all to make out in the elevator on the way down, but they manage it, anyway.
Justin doesn't ask where his gift is, he knows how Brian is about Christmas and has stopped expecting, or even hoping for, anything that comes wrapped in colorful paper tied with ribbons. Justin finds his gifts in so many other things, these days. In the rent that suddenly gets paid one month after he mentions that ramen noodles weren't such a bad way to starve. In the IMs that pop up late at night when Justin knows Brian is working at the club, that detail the filthy, sexy things Brian wishes he was doing to Justin right then. In the new, warm winter coat Justin finds hanging in the loft closet in just his size; in the fresh butter and white bread, neither of which Brian would ever dream of touching, himself, left in the kitchen for Justin to stumble on in the middle of the night when he has the munchies; in an updated version of Justin's most-used graphics program, the really expensive 800.00 one, waiting for him when he boots up his loft work station. These are only a few of the gifts Brian gives him every day, things he never wants or expects a thank you for, things he does because he knows what will make Justin smile and then fall on his knees to suck Brian off.
Naturally, Brian never lets on that there is, indeed, a gift for Justin this year, which he's been stashing under the bed, but being Brian, he will wait until they're alone again before giving it to him.
Deb is nothing if not consistent, and her home, when they arrive there, is just as raucous, bustling and tastelessly decorated as the diner had been during lunch. Carl greets them at the door, taking Justin's light hug with a blush and a deprecating grin common to his face, and relieves them of their various packages and outerwear. Brian quells the impulse to ask how many elves have hosed the place down with Christmas cheer, but he thinks it, anyway, and then laughs loudly when Justin leans in and, out of the corner of his mouth, asks the same question in a low, amused voice.
Jennifer descends on her son as soon as his hands are free, showering him with kisses, tears shimmering in her eyes, and for several noisy minutes, there are more greetings, not the least kinetic of which is the one Gus reserves for his two daddies. At six, he's already beginning to question the existence of Santa, much to his parent's dismay, and Brian has found it hard to lie to the kid about it, but black looks and threats from the munchers help him keep his piece.
When he scoops Gus into the air, quipping the ubiquitous, "you're getting so heavy!", Gus squeals, right on cue. He kicks his long legs against Brian's stomach and reaches to wrap his arms around Justin's neck. For a moment, as Justin steps close and hugs him, the three of them unconsciously make the perfect picture of a loving family at the holidays. Linds, watching on from the kitchen, finds it impossible not to wonder for the millionth time how such a scene could be so abhorrent to the unwashed masses that she had to move her loved ones to a whole other country just to live free. She shakes her head, vowing not to fall into anger tonight, and swoops in with hugs and kisses of her own.
Trying to fit everyone into Deb's kitchen to help prepare the meal is an impossibility and when Justin asks Brian to come and join them, Brian nudges his shoulder, kisses his lips lightly and tells him, "You're the wife, you go do it." Justin pokes him in the ribs, making him flinch and laugh, but goes anyway. Brian watches from the couch as Justin steps in behind Deb, giving her another kiss on the cheek and a rub to her shoulders. He's a good son, and Brian would find it hard to tear his eyes away, except that his own son is still squirming in his arms, looking beautiful and young and heartbreakingly like Brian did, as a boy.
Gus wants Brian to sing along with him to the Christmas carols Deb is playing on the old hi-fi in the corner, some Bing Crosby number he remembers from his childhood, and Brian, nose-to-nose with Gus, makes up words to the song that he knows will make Gus laugh.
When the table is set and so loaded with food that it threatens to collapse under the weight, everyone is called to eat. Squeezing in together means that both Justin and Gus are nearly in Brian's lap, but the part of him that gave itself over to love enjoys it, even as the part of him that gave itself over to Prada wonders how wrinkled his new Boss sweater will be in the morning. There are toasts offered as the food wafts delicious aromas through the house, and Brian lets Justin speak for their branch of the family. Brian watches him with shining eyes, Gus' little hand patting his on the table, and then kisses him after everyone raises their glasses and he sits down again.
Later, around the 8 foot plastic tree heavy with ornaments and garland, presents are opened and ooh'd and ahh'd over. Justin laughs and claps with everyone, his enjoyment oozing out of every pore, and when Deb opens the portrait he did for her of Vic, they both cry a little as they come together in a bone-crushing embrace. Michael's eyes glisten as he watches, bouncing his sleepy Jenny and whispering in her ear.
Brian is getting antsy to have Justin alone again and makes lewd suggestions about slipping upstairs for a quick Christmas Eve fuck in Mikey's old room, but Justin isn't a kid anymore, so he just grins at Brian, licking his lips for emphasis, and tells him he has to wait. When the munchers start making noises about getting their babies home and into bed because Santa won't come as long as they're awake, Brian takes that as his cue and hustles Justin out the door right behind them.
Justin's hand is on the front of Brian's pants nearly the whole way home, rubbing and pinching and driving Brian a little out of his mind, but when it begins to sleet 5 minutes from home, he reluctantly stops and waits quietly as Brian navigates the suddenly treacherous streets. Once inside the freight elevator, however, he foregoes the teasing and unzips Brian's pants to dive his hand inside. Brian is just too easy, he's only moments away from coming when the elevator shudders to a stop on the top floor, and Justin has to drag him out of it and into the loft, shedding coats and gloves and scarves and leaving them like a pornographic trail of bread crumbs into the bedroom.
They fuck hard and noisily the first time, as the windows fog and the sleet turns to snow, outside. The second time is slower, more like making love, except for the constant stream of obscene words Brian murmurs into Justin's ear, making him come explosively.
It's well past midnight, and officially Christmas day, when Brian rolls over and fishes a large, flat box out from under the bed. It's wrapped in gold foil and he's proud of the fact that it only took him half a roll of tape to get it sealed. The simple, elegant ribbon was tied by Linds, who seems to know how to do all kinds of sappy, romantic things like that.
Justin's reaction alone makes it worth the trouble, and Brian finds himself glad that they don't fuck like breeders- in the dark- because otherwise, he might have missed Justin's wide-eyed, dropped-jaw expression when he presses the package into Justin's hands.
It only takes a moment for Justin to recover, though, and with a huge grin, he bounds out of bed and begins pawing through his suitcase, tucked away in the closet. He emerges with a large square box, which he handles gingerly and places in Brian's lap.
Brian blushes for the first time in many years and would never admit to how excited he is, deep down where remnants of a little kid still knock around inside him, but he tilts his head back for a soft kiss he doesn't want to pull away from.
Justin bounces back into bed, sitting cross-legged in front of Brian, naked and gorgeous, picking up the gold-covered box once again. His eyes never leave Brian's as he tells him to go first. Brian ducks his head and nods, and because Justin knows him so well, he recognizes the small smile playing across Brian's lips for what it is- shyness. Justin's heart breaks and then just as quickly fills up again until it overflows, and he leans in and places one warm palm on Brian's knee.
Brian takes a deep breath and blows it out, and then carefully removes the wrapping from the gift. Justin gripes impatiently, urging Brian to rip the paper, but there's no way he'd do that- Justin hand-drew this wrapping on brown butcher's paper, and for all Brian knows, it will be shown in museums one day in the dim future as the perfect example of a modern master's work.
The box itself is nondescript, and Brian opens it carefully, mindful of the weight of the package. He pushes aside several layers of protective tissue and gazes curiously in at the leather-bound box inside. It only takes a moment to register the rareness of this gift and he gasps in shock as he gently tugs it free of its outer container.
"Justin," his voice holds awe, "where did you find this?"
"On the web." Justin grins happily, certain now that he got the right thing. He explains that he found it on a collector's web site and then went to see the real piece in a shop in Brooklyn. He worries aloud about whether it's is authentic or not, until Brian confirms that it certainly seems to be.
"Justin, this is a Blair Folding Hawkeye No. 1. Do you know how old this thing is?"
Justin tells him that the dealer assured him it was from the late 1800's, and by the look of the outer casing, which is scratched and a little pitted, the way old leather becomes, he wasn't lying. Brian gently opens the clasp of the antique camera and unfolds the bellows with extreme care. He smiles at the telltale company stamp on the focusing scale that reads, "Blair Camera Co." He already knows that he will have it encased in museum glass and put it on display in his office, and that every time a client asks about it, he'll tell them with pride who gave it to him.
He takes a moment to fuss at Justin about the cost of such a gift, but Justin brushes him off and reminds him of the success of his last show. Brian knows perfectly well that he's holding hours worth of Justin's work, probably from several canvases, but he also knows that the camera, while he will never sell it, is a tremendous investment- it will only appreciate in value.
Brian looks through the view finder at Justin's happy face and longs for the camera to work, just for 15 seconds, so he could snap that picture. For one libidinous moment, he imagines a photograph of Justin, naked, sitting in the glass case next to the camera, and the expressions on his client's faces when they'd see it. He doesn't even know how to thank Justin, so he just leans in and accepts another soft kiss.
When he pulls away, Justin is looking at him expectantly, a child's enthusiasm lighting his face, and Brian tells him to go ahead and open his present. Justin is not shy about ripping paper, and he praises Brian's taping skills, despite getting most of it stuck to his fingers. Inside, he finds a box roughly the size and shape of a legal pad, and when Justin pops the tape on the sides that are keeping it closed, Brian realizes he's been holding his breath. He lets it out slowly, watching Justin's face. He's never done anything like this before, not for anyone, and he isn't completely sure how Justin will take it.
Justin brushes aside a layer of concealing tissue paper and frowns in confusion at the stack of paperwork he finds underneath. It is clearly documents drawn up by lawyers, and there are red sticky arrows pointing to several places where his signature is required, but rather than spend the time reading through all of it, he looks back up at Brian, his eyebrows raised in question.
"It's a studio," Brian clarifies. "Well, studio space, anyway. The rest of the building belongs to Kinnetic."
Justin's eyes go round and he looks back down at the documents in his lap.
"It's only a few blocks from your apartment. You could walk there in good weather, or maybe… well, I thought we could, you know…" Justin is watching him again, barely breathing. "Well, renovate one of the floors and turn it into loft space." Brian swallows hard. "So we could live there."
A gasp escapes Justin's lips and as much as he'd like to play this moment coolly so Brian doesn't get too freaked out, he finds he's utterly incapable of masking his shock.
"If you wanted to, that is" Brian's voice trails off, small and almost frightened. When Justin doesn't answer, when all he does is stare at Brian for long moments, Brian finally asks, "Is it ok?"
Suddenly, Justin is laughing and crying at the same time. Brian is stunned and gingerly moves the camera from his lap, placing it safely on the nightstand, before scooting closer to Justin. He reaches out for Justin, meaning only to touch his face, make sure he's okay, wipe away his tears, but then Justin is sitting in his lap, wrapped so tightly around Brian that Brian nearly can't breath, and miraculously, he's whispering frantic thank you's into Brian's ear and kissing his face all over. The constriction in Brian's chest vanishes, only to be replaced by a constriction in his throat, and if he was anyone else, it might seem as if he was trying hard not to cry, himself.
"Merry Christmas," is all he can manage to say.
It's another twelve hours before Brian, seated with Justin at the dinning table, even begins explaining the paperwork and what it all means, and several more minutes before he passes Justin a pen and watches quietly as he signs his name repeatedly. Brian knows, and he knows that Justin knows, that this makes them full partners, as surely as any rings and vows could, and he's not even very afraid by it. A little afraid. But not very. Mostly, he's just relieved that the long months of separation are almost over.
Justin finishes his last signature with a flourish and neatly stacks the paperwork. Smiling, he tackles Brian and knocks him out of his chair to the floor, where he spends an excruciating amount of time teasing Brian with his tongue and fingers. Brian figures it's only fitting that the boy show his gratitude.
When the new offices of Kinnetic Global open nearly a year later, long after the champagne-drenched christening party has died down and the guests have gone home, Brian wanders to his new desk, a little tipsy, and rolls the center drawer open. Justin grins at him from the couch where he lays, stretched out naked and sated, after a long, hard celebratory fuck. He watches curiously as Brian reaches into the drawer and pulls out a crumpled red bow. Brian moves to the backlit, thick glass case that holds the Blair, and presses the bow onto the top of it.
He fluffs it a little and then turns to Justin with a smile.
"What should we do for Christmas this year?" he wonders aloud.