The Little Prince


Timeline: Post 5.13
Rating: R (For language mostly…lame, I know, but I can’t write porn. Sorry.)
Summary: Justin has angst. Brian makes lame innuendos. Craziness ensues.
Author Notes: It helps to have a general knowledge of the original The Little Prince to appreciate this, but it’s not really necessary. Go check out Wikipedia, ‘tis your friend!


At nine o’clock in the morning, precisely six months after Justin moves to New York, Brian locks himself in his office. An hour passes, then another. Five hours and one staff meeting (for which Brian is AWOL) later, everyone pretty much assumes that he’s not coming back out.

The chaos that ensues is subdued. The interns and temps shuffle around Kinnetik confusedly, not really knowing what to make of the whole thing. A few gather in the break room, taking full advantage of the boss’ non-absence. Cynthia shoos the group of them away from the water cooler after half an hour, reminding them, “I wouldn’t be caught dicking around if I were you. Unless, of course, you want to be fired.”

There are whispers in the art department, where words like “nervous breakdown” come up frequently and anxious eyes peer over the tops of cubicles. The junior execs run around like chickens with their heads cut off while trying to run damage control on a botched Brown meeting. Ted calls Michael.

“What do you mean, ‘he won’t come out’? Of course he’ll come out.” Michael doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation.

Ted sighs into the phone and keeps his eyes on the still-closed door. “I wish I could believe you, Michael. He won’t open the door, refuses to take anyone’s calls, and I doubt he’s eaten anything all day. You’re not worried?”

Michael starts to answer, but Ted is distracted by the sight of a purple-haired art department intern crouching in front of Brian’s office door. “Hold on, Michael. Hey, what are you doing?”

The intern looks up as if she’s been caught red-handed. “Um…” She makes a move to hide whatever she’s holding, but Ted sees a yellow-orange object flash by as she moves her arm behind her back.

“Is that a slice of cheese?”

The intern bites at her lower lip, twisting it back and forth before speaking. “Maybe?”

Ted rolls his eyes. “Do I want to know?”

Still crouched on the floor, the intern sighs dramatically. “Everyone wants to find out what’s going on in there, and since Mr. Kinney won’t come out I thought that maybe I could ply him with food. However, since he won’t open the door—hence the mystery appeal—I figured that the only foods I could use would be flat ones that would fit under said door.” She holds up the item in her hand. “Enter the cheese. The other interns dared me to do it,” she says quickly. She hands Ted the plastic-covered square and walks away, her ponytail bouncing with each step.

Just then, the door opens, revealing an apparently still-alive Brian Kinney. The rest of the Kinnetik staff suddenly appears to be extremely busy. Brian beckons Ted with a wave of his hand. “Theodore. In my office. Now.”

Ted follows him into the office and Brian closes the door behind them. “I need your financial wisdom to help make some things happen,” he says.

It turns out that Brian has spent the entire morning in the final stages of courting a prominent international software company, playing phone tag with various executives in various time zones and sending out the proposal that he’s apparently been painstakingly assembling on his own for quite some time. This is Brian’s pet project, and it’s all about to come to fruition. Brian produces a stack of what appears to be fairly standard-fare financial and legal paperwork, but tells Ted to triple-check that Kinnetik will be making as much money as humanly possible off the deal.

Ted sorts through the paperwork as he begins to fully process the implications of landing the software account. “Brian, this will put Kinnetik on the map! Companies from all over the world will want to work with this agency!” Though Brown Athletics is still a solid name with which Kinnetik is associated, the agency had taken a bit of a hit professionally after Brian told the Remson people to fuck off.

Brian smirks. “I know. I’ve already told Cynthia to start looking for office space in New York.”

There really isn’t anything wrong with New York, Justin thinks. The art scene is like no other, the people are generally friendlier than the movies would have you believe, and it’s probably one of the more gay-friendly places on the planet, provided you stay in the rights parts of the right boroughs.

The thing about New York is that it’s not for everyone, not by a long shot. This is the part that makes those ubiquitous “I Heart NY” t-shirts so misleading. You may very well love New York City, but it doesn’t have to give half a shit about you.

Of course, the people that give half a shit about Justin are hundreds of miles away, far off in a land of sprites, fairies, and seemingly endless winter. That might have something to do with his feeling of general discontent, just a little bit.

A man comes up from behind Justin and clears his throat, catching Justin’s attention and drawing him out of his reverie.

The man pantomimes sweeping the floor, and looks at Justin expectantly. “What is Stephen doing?” he asks, continuing the motion.

Justin smiles tightly. “Besides referring to himself in the third person?” he mutters, grabbing the nearest broom and sweeping the area around the front counter in order to placate his supervisor. Justin can’t wait to hit it big and quit his shitty restaurant job. He thinks that this is probably what every waiter in New York City thinks, every day, and the starkness of that realization depresses him a bit.

“Pick up the pace, Taylor,” Stephen says as he walks off to badger one of the other waiters. Justin rolls his eyes and thinks of the Zimbardo prison study, where college students were randomly chosen to be either “guards” or “inmates” in a simulated prison environment. After a matter of hours the “guards” were completely drunk on power and began developing decidedly sadistic tendencies that led them to torture the “inmates” without mercy. Justin glances wearily across the restaurant at Stephen and decides that he might be overreacting. A little bit. It’s been a long day.

During his much-anticipated dinner break, Justin sits in Bryant Park and eats his food in relative peace. On his way there from the restaurant he was accosted by no less than five canvassers for no less than five different organizations. But sitting at his small wrought iron table on the side of the park from which he can watch harried commuters rush to catch their trains, it’s nice. It makes him feel more like a detached observer than an active part of the mess that is life in New York City.

The honeymoon period is definitely over, Justin thinks, and then he takes note of how unfortunate that term really is. He can’t even describe his culture shock—something so uniquely his—without alluding to Brian. Justin flips open his cell phone and stares at the keypad for a few moments before shutting it again.

Brian knows that he should probably call Justin. After all, launching a New York office is big news, and it’s even bigger news if one’s unconventionally significant counterpart happens to reside there.

He decides he’ll call later, when Babylon’s ever-present thumpa-thumpa isn’t ringing in his ears and he can actually devote the majority of his attention to the call. Besides, no one knows about the New York office other than Ted and Cynthia, so there’s really no point in trying to beat one of the other Liberty Avenue gossips to the punch by telling him before all the details have been finalized.

Justin shares a studio apartment that sits on top of a Wendy’s in SoHo. The apartment is smaller than his childhood bedroom and it always smells vaguely of French fries, but these are things he doesn’t really notice after a while. It’s just as much his home as anywhere else.

He tries to be quiet opening the door as his roommate, Brittany, is most likely asleep. She works as a research assistant for some museum curator uptown, so she and Justin inconveniently manage to have schedules that rarely allow for them to be both awake and in the apartment at the same time.

In the sliver of light created by the door opening, Justin sees at least five huge roaches in the center of the room. It’s as if they called a quorum between the two beds while he was out.

Justin lets out a noise that is definitely not a scream and scrambles to find the roach spray before the little bastards disappear back into the cracked walls. He isn’t successful, and the thought of going to bed while those things are still around freaks him out.

“Oh, hey,” Brittany murmurs sleepily from under her comforter. “How was work?”

“I’m going out.”

For a city that never sleeps, certain parts of New York have an odd calmness to them at night; that is, if one discounts the occasional schizophrenic bag lady screaming on a street corner. Justin strolls down Broadway on auto-pilot, not really paying attention to the signage in Chinese as he crosses Canal Street on his way to the southern part of Manhattan.

As he approaches the Brooklyn Bridge, he can already see the zen-inducing view that extends over the water. He finds a bench near the middle of the bridge and watches the zooming cars below, the breeze from which makes the humidity of the summer heat wave nearly bearable. Justin calls Brian.


“Hey. What’re you up to?”

“Hmm,” Justin hears the sound of the loft door sliding open and then sliding shut. “Just got home from Babylon. You?”

“I’m out and about.”

“You partying it up in New York’s hottest clubs? I don’t hear any music.”

Justin shakes his head, and then remembers that Brian isn’t actually on the bridge with him. “Hm, no. I worked the late shift at the restaurant and then I couldn’t sleep, so I went for a walk.”

“Are you on the Brooklyn Bridge again? I thought you promised me that you wouldn’t do that alone at night anymore.”

“Oops. Sorry, Mom.”

“Ugh, don’t compare me to your mother.” Brian shudders. “Besides, mommy-dom is more Michael’s thing.” Justin hears papers being shuffled. “He even pulled me over in the diner the other day to say that he and Ben were,” Brian’s voice hops into a falsetto, “concerned about me.”

Justin chuckles. “What does he think is wrong with you?”

“Who knows? He probably only asked because I failed to make an appearance at their lame-ass cookout last week. I do have a life, not to mention a social reputation I intend to keep in tact.”

Michael’s nagging has gotten worse since Justin moved to New York, but Justin suspects that it also has to do with Michael generalizing his new-father worrying on everyone else. “Yeah, well, that’s Michael and Ben. It’s how they are. We can’t hold it against them.”

“I suppose not.”

There are a few beats of pause, during which Justin kicks at a paper cup that’s been crunched on the ground in front of him. “I want to come to Pittsburgh this weekend,” he says, finally.


“I need to get away from all this for a while.”

“You don’t need to explain yourself to me.”


“Have you found studio space yet?”

“Nothing in my price range.”

“You know, if you want me to help—“

“Brian,” Justin interjects, his tone warning.

“—you get studio space, all you have to do is ask.”

Justin smiles a little, and sighs into the phone. “Really, every time it sounds like I might be having a rough time out here, you don’t need to prove your undying love with real estate. You know that, right?”

“You are such an ungrateful shit. You know that, right?”

Justin imagines Brian making mocking faces at him, and he laughs. “I love you, too, Brian,” he says softly. He looks out over the water one last time and gets up from his bench. “Look, I’m gonna get off the phone now, but I’ll call you in the morning when I’m on my way to the airport.”

“Okay. And for Christ’s sake, take a cab home. I don’t want to turn on CNN tomorrow morning and find out that you were killed by an axe murderer who happens to like hot blond boys.”

Twelve hours later, Brian picks Justin up from the airport. He is unscathed.

When they arrive at the loft, Justin spreads his arms and spins in the middle of the living room, grinning like an idiot. This amuses Brian, and a smirk pulls at his lips. “What was that for?”

“Central air. It’s amazing. It’s really one of the best modern inventions.”

“Well,” Brian says—and Justin knows that the lame innuendo and/or bad sexual pun is coming, he knows—as he puts his fingers through Justin’s hair, pulling him in for a kiss, “it’s about to get a lot hotter.”

Justin decides that Brian’s lameness is surpassed only by his ability to provide a mind-blowing orgasmic experience, and that’s fine by him.

After a few particularly intense rounds of reunion sex, Justin squeezes his eyes shut, praying for sleep. It doesn’t happen, and after an hour of counting Teds, he gets up and puts on a pot of coffee. If Justin can’t fall asleep, he might as well be fully awake.

Justin sits at Brian’s desk and fiddles with the paperweights and various writing implements, trying to understand why he still has the distinct feeling that something’s not quite right. He thought that coming to Pittsburgh for the weekend would take care of things, but here he is, awake and unsatisfied (well, except sexually, of course).

Opening the desk’s drawers, he finds an old sketchpad of his that still has a few blank pages in it. He kind of knew there would be at least one lying about—for such a compulsive neat freak, Brian definitely has problems throwing some things away.

Justin opens the sketchpad to a blank page and swipes at it lightly with one of Brian’s pens, making one black swoop of a line. He focuses on the mark, and his mind tries to make it work and go all Gestalt on it. After several minutes ghost lines appear on the page, forming something more, and Justin chases after the images with his pen with a sense of fervor normally reserved for people carrying “The End Is Near” signs.

Jagged, angry strokes tear across the paper. His preferred medium of the moment is charcoal, but unfortunately most of his art supplies are still back in the New York apartment. Brian’s ridiculously expensive pens would have to do.

An indeterminate amount of time later (Justin assumes it’s been a few hours, since the morning light has already crept across nearly the entire span of the loft’s hardwood floors), he stares at the sketchpad, not sure what to think or feel next. It seemed so urgent to get his thoughts down on paper, to have them documented. Looking down at the only physical evidence of his catharsis, Justin finds himself at a loss, and that bothers him immensely.

Feeling frustrated, he flings the pen across the room; however, Brian steps in Justin’s line of fire and catches the offending object before it gets too far. “Using vandalism to get our rocks off tonight, are we?” Brian motions to his pristine white leather sofa. “I don’t know that you can afford your kind of kink.”

Justin looks sheepish. “Sorry about that. Did I wake you?”

Brian shrugs and makes his way to the kitchen to retrieve the forgotten coffee, his blue silk robe flowing behind him regally. Leave it to Brian Kinney to look dignified with even the most fantastic case of bed head. “No, I was already awake, but your little flurry of activity didn’t exactly help in my attempts to get back to sleep. Some of us do have to go to work in the morning.”

“It’s Saturday.” Justin turns his attention to the computer and logs on to his e-mail account.

“I’m the boss.”

Justin doesn’t look up from the computer, but waves in Brian’s general direction. “Hi, Tony Danza. Nice to meet you.”

“Shut the fuck up.” As Brian approaches Justin with a mug of coffee, he uses his free hand to throw several packets of Splenda in Justin’s direction.

Justin instinctively scrunches up his face and bats away the sugar packets. He looks about twelve years old when he does this. “And you’re the one lecturing about throwing things? Ha.” Taking the coffee, he looks up at Brian’s eyes and adopts a more serious tone. “It’s just,” he says, making a face, “you do realize I’m only here until Tuesday, right? Because I am. Then I go back.”

Brian joins him behind the desk and snakes his arms around Justin’s waist, pulling Justin to him while he’s still sitting in the chair. Their foreheads touch and they both take a moment to breathe each other in, the smells of fresh coffee and sex relaxing their postures, at least for a moment.

“We’ll have plenty of time,” Brian murmurs, placing soft kisses along Justin’s jawline. Brian stands up and taps on the still-open sketchpad. “Besides, it looks like you have your own things to finish.”

At lunchtime, on the other side of town, Daphne comes home from running errands to see Justin lying on her couch, chain smoking. He has circles under his eyes—they’re not too dark, but they’re there. “You never did give your key back when you moved out, did you?” she asks. “Does this mean I get to keep charging you rent?”

Justin stares at the ceiling. “I needed to find someplace to get my head straight.”

“What’s wrong?” Daphne asks. “Existential angst?”

Justin doesn’t answer—well, except for a glare, because that probably counts for something—so Daphne nudges him over and sits with him on the ratty sofa.

“You’re an asshole for not telling me you were coming home this weekend, by the way,” she says, poking Justin in the arm. “So…why aren’t you with Brian?”

“He’s at work.”

“It’s Saturday.”

Justin shoves his face into a pillow. “I know.”

“Hey, remember the last time you chain-smoked on my couch? When you were tying to find a way to win Brian back?” She suddenly gets very serious. “You guys didn’t break up again, did you?”

Justin chuckles softly at the memory, but he also remembers how shit-scared he was around that same time. He’d felt like he forgot how to love Brian properly back then. Thankfully, those times had ended. “No, no, we’re fine.”

“Well, you can’t blame me for making sure, right? I mean, geeze—it seems like one or both of you manages to lose his mind every few months, thus resulting in a breakup…or an engagement.” Justin throws a pillow at Daphne for that. “So, what—specifically—is making you lose your mind right now?”

“I don’t know! I…” Justin throws his hands in the air, at a loss.

“I think you’re having a mid-life crisis.”

“I’m only twenty-three.”

Daphne laughs. “Fine then, quarter-life crisis. See? You made me reference John Mayer. Now everyone feels bad.”

Justin rolls his eyes. “I just…I feel like I kind of fucked things up, Daph.”

Daphne looks shocked. “Justin. You have a fantastic boyfriend, you’re living out your dreams in New York, and you’re the most gifted artist I know. What the fuck is wrong with your life?”

Justin fiddles with the loose threads on the arm of the couch and ignores the nagging feeling in his stomach reminding him that New York hasn’t exactly been all it’s cracked up to be, especially without the people that matter. That’s its own thing. “Yeah, I have all of that, and it’s great. Brian’s been better than great, especially lately. I couldn’t peg it at first. But…I realized I can’t go home. Like, my real home.”

“What do you mean?”

“First of all, I literally can’t go home to the house, since it was sold years ago,” Justin says. “But that’s not so much it as the fact that my family doesn’t exist anymore—not the way it was. I mean, is it really worth traveling and getting all the accolades in the world if I can’t share it with my family? My mom, yeah, but…” he trails off.

After a long pause, Daphne asks, “So, does this mean you want to contact your dad or something?”

“Actually, I wanted your opinion on how to—”

Daphne waves her hands in front of her face. “Nuh-uh, no. Wait. I’m not going to try and dare you to do something you aren’t sure about.”

“Did I ask you to?”

She rolls her eyes. “The request was implicit. I don’t want this to be like that one time when we were eight and you asked if I thought it would be a good idea to rollerblade backwards down the big hill near my house.” Daphne makes a face. “He had you arrested. I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“I know. But I think this is something I need to do. I have to know it’s not too late.”

Daphne shrugs. “Your call. What got you thinking about all of this, anyway?”

Justin hops off the couch. “Baobabs.”

That evening, when they’re sitting on the floor of the loft eating Thai take-out, Brian doesn’t mention Justin’s middle-of-the-night manic sketch-fest. It actually isn’t that terribly out of the ordinary for Justin to be inspired at odd times, to wake up from a deep sleep with the need to create; however, Justin tends to do this most often when he’s really worked up about something. This fact concerns Brian a bit, but he decides that Justin will come out with it in his own time. It’s not as if Brian doesn’t have his own things to worry about (however, since Justin often is one of the aforementioned “things”, Brian readily acknowledges the holes in his own logic). It just might not be the best time to bring up his impending move to New York.

Justin picks at his Pad Thai, moving it around on the plate more than eating it. He seems distracted, and stares at his food with unfocused eyes.

He still isn’t very good at talking Justin out of his funks, even after five and a half years, so Brian does what Brian does best: he doesn’t say anything at all. They sit in comfortable, practiced silence until Justin finally looks up at Brian’s face.

“We’re family, right?” he asks.

Brian stares. He wasn’t expecting that. “I suppose it’s as apt a label as anything else,” he replies after a beat of pause, cocking his head to the side.

“Don’t you ever feel cheated that you aren’t close with your real—your family?” Justin stabs at a bean sprout with his fork. The “—because I do” hangs in the air, unsaid.

“I’ve never felt any desire to be a part of the life they lead. They weren’t worth it.” The words come quickly, as if Brian has said those words to himself thousands of times before. Yeah, definitely not the time to mention the New York thing.

“That wasn’t the question.”

“I don’t really—”

“I mean, what if when you were a kid you were the person they wanted you to be—and they were the people you wanted them to be? You could’ve been happy, you know? You wouldn’t have had to go through all this bullshit.” Apparently having lost his appetite, Justin collects his cartons and begins to get up when Brian grabs his arm and looks him directly in the eye.

“I’m happy right now, right here. I wouldn’t want my life to have turned out any other way.” He shrugs. “The road I took to get here doesn’t matter.”

“But that’s bullshit,” Justin counters, shaking off Brian’s grip and making his way to the kitchen. “The road absolutely matters, and for every character-fucking-building trait you’ve earned, there are always going to be the memories of the pain and the sacrifice and the fucking hurt, Brian.” Justin’s voice jumps in pitch at the word hurt, but he keeps going. “It’s like, no matter what we do, we’ll always wake up in the morning with that inkling of doubt, like we’ll never be good enough, and why? Because we had people—people who, by the way, were supposed to love us unconditionally—screw us over and tell us we weren’t worth it.” He looks back to the living room to see Brian staring at him blankly.

“I’d say that your shift in pronouns is telling, but since this conversation just got way too lesbianic for me, I’m going to have to get high before we can continue.”

Justin meets Brian’s attempt to make light of the situation with a harsh glare, but he meets him at the couch for a joint anyway.

Through a light haze of pot smoke, Brian reaches for Justin’s sketchpad and flips lazily through its pages. He stops when he gets to Justin’s sketch from the night before.

“What’s this?” he asks as he traces with long, elegant fingers along the deliberately ragged lines. He hadn’t given the sketch much attention earlier, but he can see now how the details almost pop off the page, longing to be transferred to canvas. Brian makes a mental note to swing by that art supply boutique Justin likes to pick up some new brushes—the ones Justin keeps at the loft are not of the highest quality.

Justin blinks slowly, his glazed-over eyes having trouble focusing on the page. “Baobabs.”


Justin nods. “Baobabs. They start out really tiny and then they totally take over all the space,” he says, stretching his arms, “and then they ruin everything if you don’t watch ‘em.” He takes a long drag off the joint before handing it over to Brian, drawing his attention away from the sketchpad. He opens his mouth but makes no deliberate move to exhale, so smoke trickles from his mouth slowly. “I called my dad today,” he says, finally exhaling.

Brian raises an eyebrow, but says nothing.

“He didn’t pick up, so I left this message about how maybe we could meet for coffee sometime or something—I don’t know what I was expecting.” Justin pauses for a moment, slouching down on the couch. “I don’t know. Anyway, in the middle of my leaving the message he picked up the phone and told me to never call again. Then he hung up.” He cracks his jaw to the side.

After a long silence, Brian hands Justin the joint. “Fuck him. He doesn’t deserve you,” Brian says quietly.

Justin flinches, visibly unsatisfied with that answer. “There’s more to it than that,” he says, crushing the last bit of the joint into an ashtray.

“Why does this bother you so much? Your father’s an asshole.”

Justin reaches for a bottle of water, twisting the cap on and off the top of the bottle. “There are so many things going on in my life right now, you know? Balancing work, my art, you—just trying to get by, and sometimes I think that while I’ve been attending to all these different things, I’ve failed to notice how other things have gotten completely out of hand to the point where I can’t fix them. I never wanted to destroy my relationship with my father, but it has been destroyed, and I can never have that back.” Justin pauses. “You don’t see how that’s important?”

Brian sighs and attempts to choose his words very carefully. “But you didn’t destroy it. He did, because he couldn’t accept that—look, it’s his character flaw, not yours, so stop worrying about it.”

They sit in silence for several minutes before Justin finally speaks again.

“I’ve been thinking about growing my hair out. You know, like the length it was back when I was working at Vanguard?”

Brian nods his head in approval, but resists the urge to say that his hair isn’t what makes Justin beautiful. He’s not that stoned.

The next afternoon, while Brian is at work (working on something important, apparently some very hush-hush account), Justin goes to the Diner. Debbie takes his order and listens to the much abbreviated version of the previous evening’s events.

“…And you know Brian, he shuts down the second anyone mentions family. He was good about it, more so than normal, but still. It’s difficult.”

Debbie smiles knowingly. “Yeah, I do know Brian, and he doesn’t shut down because he doesn’t care. He shuts down because he does.”

Justin sighs. “I know.”

Debbie smacks her gum and leans over the counter. Her gaudy blue earrings jangle when she moves. “Listen, Sunshine. You’ve got to stop using these,” she says, pointing at his eyes with her index and middle fingers, “Because they won’t lead you to anything but trouble. Focus on things that will really make you happy, and your heart will show you what you need to do.” She pats Justin on the cheek and leaves to give a table its check.

Justin thinks that Debbie might be on to something: every time he opens his eyes, Justin sees what he thinks he should have. His eyes look out on the world and they see conventional families, conventional lives—and it all looks so appealing. Not because those things are what’s best for him, but because they’re socially accepted and comfortable-looking, at least from his outsider’s perspective. He’s made a lot of decisions lately with eyes wide open.

Justin closes his eyes and tries to see what really matters.

Though Brian knows that the family issue hasn’t been dropped completely, the rest of the weekend actually goes pretty smoothly. And since Brian wants to avoid any further dramatics for as long as possible, it isn’t until the last night Justin is at the loft, when they’re on their way into the shower that he brings up the move.

“Kinnetik is opening a satellite office in New York,” Brian says quickly, and Justin freezes mid-step, shirt half-off.

Justin turns back to make sure he heard correctly. “Huh?”

Brian shrugs and half-smiles. “New York.”

Justin narrows his eyes. “I—do you really think now is the right time to expand the company? Please tell me that you’ve thought this out and—”

Brian nods, acknowledging Justin’s evident sense of panic. “It wasn’t the right time six months ago, but it is now.” He runs a hand through Justin’s hair. “Besides, we’re at a point where we can’t be afraid to take a chance. Kinnetik, that is.”

Justin leans into Brian’s touch and smiles. “Kinnetik.”

“Of course.”


“So you’re moving, too?”

Brian rolls his eyes. “No, I’ll stay completely out of the opening of what will probably become our most profitable office. Of course I’m moving to New York.” He pauses. “Are you okay with that?”

For the first time in a while, Justin knows exactly where he needs to be, and he knows how he’s going to get there. It’s all much less painful than he’d ever have thought. He nods, smiling brightly.

Several months later, Justin has a show at a swanky gallery uptown.

“So, what was your inspiration here?” a prospective buyer asks.

“Roses,” he responds politely. The painting clearly contains phallic imagery, but Justin chooses not to elaborate further, instead taking a sip of his wine. The buyer wanders off, only slightly confused.

Brian sidles up next to Justin and shoots him an amused glance, motioning at the painting. “If those are roses, I’m guessing you weren’t channeling Georgia O’Keeffe, because those sure as Hell don’t look like vaginas.”

Justin smiles wickedly. “I know.”

They fuck in the bathroom two minutes later.