I have *boring* things to say. Like--icons! Whoo! And God, that's a lot of spaces, how are you people *filling* them?
Oh right. Like this.
misskatherine made me a *gorgeous* one after I begged prettily. Because I am shameless.
It moves and stuff! *bouncy*
That could actually be the sum total of my news right now.
Because this is unique.
Busy Week on the Fridge by julad, written for the Grocery Store challenge. Just seriously *cool*. And fun to read.
Another in the QaF snippet collection. For the beautiful, wonderful, amazing gem225. She deserves stories in her fandoms of choice. Until I can write them for her, I give her this.
Thanks to jaymalea for the pre-read.
The window's open.
It's midnight, rain pouring down like a reminder of covenant, the promise that never-flood-everything doesn't mean don't-flood-most-things. Justin doesn't remember opening it before he left and doesn't close it when he comes in, unwinding his scarf with eyes fixing on lightning reflected in the growing silver puddle, bright enough to burn his eyes before he turns away, leaving black negatives tattooed into everything he sees.
It's midnight and he's not alone, even when he is, an almost-empty loft that's never lonely, because no where Brian's ever been can ever be empty, not when memory supplies images from other days in every glance. He misses couches and dining room tables and not eating on the floor, but he misses Brian more with every look.
Misses stupid things, like expensive suits that he musses with uncaring hands, leaving dirty fingerprints on Brian's collar, licking away the frown and coaxing smiles with his teeth. Misses eating chicken curry on the counter when Brian worked on campaigns and the maid who he liked to scandalize with the number of sheets they go through every week. Even misses Michael, who watches when he wraps himself around Brian and doesn't understand, but then again, he doesn't have to. Sometimes, it's just enough to see, enough to know.
Dropping his coat on the counter, he takes two slow steps toward the bedroom, but the bed's this immaculate line of perfectly aligned sheets and creaseless duvet, like something out of a picture from Architectural Digest. Like no one's slept there or fucked there, no one's screamed themselves hoarse and shocky, stupid with satiated need. He's sweated through more shirts than he can count, these quiet moments in class that flash on Brian's hands on his wrists, voice in his ear, his cock teasing his ass. Silk under his back rough compared to Brian's skin rubbing on his.
Another step, and thunder shakes the water on the floor, dissolving lightning into fragments, too bright, Justin blinks, turning his head away. It's raining hard, because it's spring, and it's change, and how one thing becomes another is always hard.
"Brian?" Justin can't feel him here except in residuals--trace-touches that he can follow like a path. A rinsed glass in the sink, droplets clinging to the surface. A tie forgotten on the floor beside the bed. Impression of expensively shoed feet on the rug. A damp towel drying in the bathroom.
It went well or it didn't go at all. Justin stops short, remembering panic and low-grade fear and anger, Jesus, the anger Brian projected everywhere, swallowing up rationality and peace, this insanely complicated man stripped to bare nerves everywhere Justin touched.
He hates Vance, *hates* him like he hates everyone who helped strip that skin away. Hates Debbie and Michael and Ben, Emmett and Ted and Hunter, but most of all, he hates himself, late at night when Brian's not sleeping and not fucking and thinking so loudly the walls echo with every unspoken word.
He's had all these thoughts that he doesn't, can't say, that he knew what everything meant, but that Brian didn't. These stupid things he should have known, that Brian's like a kid sometimes, and he's not used to knowing how far is too far, because nothing's ever been enough and he wouldn't know normal boundaries if he was being fucked by them. Justin should have known that Brian listens when he shouldn't, thinks when other people dismiss, and if watching him the day Gardner fired him from Vanguard was rebellion, the day Stockwell lost was freedom, the kind that Brian's never wanted.
He once tried to tell Debbie that, but she'd only said Brian was growing up, thank God, and Justin shut his teeth over more words, because she's not like Brian. She's like other people. She doesn't listen.
Not-Babylon, not-Woody's, not-Baths, not-anywhere, because Justin's been everywhere that Brian's not, and he thought maybe he'd end up somewhere he was. Brian left ten hours ago, and Justin had expected a call until he stopped expecting anything at all, even hope.
He shivers when he looks at the closet, follows his own feet down the stairs, grabbing his coat in mindless afterthought, closing and locking the door, setting the alarm from memory, leaving the puddle to grow on the floor unattended, reflecting all the color of the night.
The closet hadn't been empty, but that's not proof of anything at all.
It's raining in the city.
No one should be out on nights like this, where lightning is twisting across every inch of space, aftertrails his eyes cling to when he watches. So bright that he can see for miles, the people coming and the people going, clubs and rooms, alleys that no one sane would fuck in like this, but no one's ever said the Liberty crowd was entirely sane.
He loves nights like this, always has--a ten year old with a pencil used to sit in the window of his room and try to capture the feeling of it. Restless and endless and unpredictable. Smooth grey-black broken with lines of white. The haze of falling rain when it's like this, solid and thick and weight all on its own.
Pittsburgh is small in a way Justin didn't appreciate until he came back from New York years ago; it's big again through the armed neutrality created post-Stockwell. Police recognize him and look, nothing else, but the looking's enough to remind. His skin crawls beneath his coat, shivering with rain that seeps in the collar and sticks his shirt to his back, soaking the waist of his jeans. The world's washed to black and white, and Justin thinks if Brian had it all to do over again, he would have never picked him up that night. Never danced with him at the prom. Never taken him in and pushed him out and taken him back again. And he thinks, sometimes, that Brian would be happy.
He thinks too much, too.
The diner's full of bright, happy fags, alive and well, late pre-club crowd ready to fuck themselves into oblivion after a late dinner, a little slap and tickle with the waiters. He winces away from looking inside too long, avoiding the spills of yellow light from wide windows, head ducking in case Debbie looks outside.
The streets are quiet, and he avoids puddles from habit more than anything else, because his shoes are soaked through and his socks squelch with every step. Scents of wet concrete, damp city rise up in the rain, almost nauseating if he hadn't learned to fuck in alleys beside dumpsters, in Babylon soaked in the smells of sweat and come of other men.
Too cold to be out, even post-snow, but Justin hasn't been able to settle to anything--half a sketch abandoned on Daphne's bed, dinner forgotten after a bite, and dancing hadn't freed him any more than fucking. The silence of the phone had drowned out music and orgasm both.
Lindsay had just smiled, glancing at Mel over her shoulder. "Give him time, Justin."
He'd wanted to shake her, make her understand what he's saying, what he means. Time is what he's afraid of.
Change, he thinks, staring up into the sky, blinking away water with every breath. That second where you're one thing, then you're another thing entirely, and you're never sure how or why. Even to yourself.
Brian had left him with a smile that hadn't reached his eyes, miles and miles away before stepping out the door, and Justin remembers smiling back, holding the counter with one steady hand until the loft door shut. Remembers that the coffee was hot and he hadn't noticed it burn his tongue.
And he remembers how Brian's kiss had tasted like goodbye.