He moves out the next morning.
Debbie's out of the question, and he can't go to Mom's, stomach twisting at the thought of running home like a kicked puppy, like a kid, like some betrayed little twink who had no fucking clue. That leaves few options, and Ethan isn't one of them.
She's sitting in the living room the entire time, and Justin's not sure what to tell her, because he ran out of words the same time she did. She's not crying anymore, and that's good, because he's sure he'd break down if she did.
He's sure he should say something, but really, *incredibly* stupid things keep coming to mind, and he can't even explain to himself why he wants to tell her that they ran out of Windex last night when he worked out some Ethan-angst by cleaning all the windows. That seems so distant, like it happened years ago and wasn't that big a deal when it did.
Daphne doesn't look up from staring at her knees. "Don't--leave like this."
He pushes the easel out the door and turns around. Her eyes are red and she looks like she wants to throw up, but she's looked like that for days and that's not a surprise now. This is how I always leave, Justin wants to tell her, because she knows him that well, knows that there's never been a problem in his life that he couldn't run out on. This is what I always do, and you can ask me anything else and it'll be okay, I can do it, but this isn't it.
"I'll crash with a friend for a few days," he lies, because he doesn't have a lot of friends, but she'll be worried if he doesn't say it. "It'll be okay."
The rest of his stuff's split between Ethan's and Mom's--he'll have to do something about that tomorrow, tonight, today, sometime that isn't right now and someplace that won't ever be here.
"I'll call," he lies again, because he knows he won't. He's not sure if he can think yet, but small talk is like breathing, maybe easier, maybe more natural, because breathing's hard right now and something he keeps having to think about. If he doesn't, he just might stop. "I'll call. Okay?"
She nods and gets up, coming to stop only inches away, arms loose at her sides as if she doesn't know what to do with them. The hug's brief and awkward, because he can't make himself touch too much, and it's like she can't remember how.
He hears her voice, just before he closes the door, and she's like a stranger he's known all his life. "Goodbye."
He doesn't have the right to be angry, he *knows* that, but then again, he wasn't looking for Brian, and it was just an accident, the stupidest kind, when he stops at Lindsay's. Door's unlocked and he walks in because it's a late Saturday afternoon. And Brian's there, old jeans and t-shirt, stretched out on the floor, playing with Gus.
It's just so weird--Brian's never belonged in a scene like this. Bizarrely, disturbingly domestic with Lindsay with one leg crossed beneath her and leaning into a chair, sketching idly, pretty and casual in jeans and an old pullover, she must have had a meeting today. Bare feet kicking Brian's hip ever so often just because she can. Gus between them, little colored blocks scattered on the floor while he carries on a conversation with the one in his hand.
All these short looks and sudden smiles and Gus' mumbling, and it's just *wrong*, it's Norman Rockwell on a hit of acid, it's--
"She told me."
Lindsay looks up, mouth half caught between a welcoming smile and surprise, but Brian just moves another block into Gus' line of sight.
Two steps in, and Justin's almost *shaking*, and he can't even explain why. It's not just Daphne, it's not just Ethan, it's not just seeing this, this--this proof that Brian's not anything like what everyone thinks, not anything like the image that Justin's been using in his head to justify everything he's done. The fucker will just do shit like this, just when you think you can give up, and there's a sickly-sweet, nauseating second of wondering what would have happened that day of the Rage party if he'd seen this moment.
It hurts. Brian never gave him moments like this.
"Why the fuck--"
Lindsay shifts the sketch book to the floor, pushing herself up off the floor. "Justin--"
"Did he--did he tell you--" This isn't his secret. Jesus, it's not even his place to question, but the slow nod of Lindsay's head tells him, yes. Yes, she knows. Yes, she knows everything. Every. Dirty. Little. Thing.
Her hands are warm and gentle, like a mother's, shifting him toward the couch, and he's not even sure why he goes along with it, doesn't know how the mug of tea materializes in his hands. Liquid heat splashes over his wrist and he lifts it to his mouth, sucking on reddened, ginger-flavored skin. Stares at the floor because he can't look up.
Gus mumbles something from the floor, and Justin jerks his gaze up, staring at small waving hands and the image of Brian's face that looks back at him with his mother's bright hair and his mother's smile. The magical mix and match of two different people to create another.
Time stretches. Softly.
He's an artist, and he draws with his mind, he can't help it. Darker skin, like how Daphne takes her coffee. Brian's eyes and long fingers. Daphne's soft mouth and the way she scrunches her forehead when she's concentrating. It takes his breath. Two brilliant, beautiful people who created a child. It's unreal. It's Brian, who did this, did *that*, did it, Jesus Christ, with a girl, with *Daphne*.
"Why?" It's the stupidest thing he can think to say, and he feels Lindsay sitting down beside him, arm circling his shoulders. "Who else knows--"
Lindsay brushes the hair from his face and he looks up to see her steady gaze at Brian. He only shrugs. "Whoever Daphne chooses to tell."
There's nothing to say to that. Horrible, nasty words are sticking to the tip of his tongue, God, the things he could say, the things that would be true and would hurt, because he knows every place that Brian's vulnerable and knows how to hit them all. What kind of man fucks a nineteen year old girl, you're a fucking lousy father now, how will you handle another kid, what are you going to do, how could you do this, how could you *do* this to her, to *me*, you're gay for Christ's sake....
They all stay stuck. *To me*. Justin stares at Gus and swallows every word.
Brian says something to Lindsay that Justin can't hear, doesn't even want to, and two sets of feet cross the room, a longer conversation at the doorway that ends with a hug. The door shuts and Lindsay comes back, dropping on the floor to push blocks with the toes of one foot. Gus grabs for one blindly, grinning wide and huge, and Justin blinks away the vision of a child that hasn't even been born.
He can't handle this. He just can't.
"Justin." Her hand on his shoulder's an intrusion, but he doesn't shrug it away. Looks up to see her watching him, eyes wide and serious.
"You're not even pissed."
One shoulder shrugs negligently. "I've been around."
Right. He's talking to the only *other* woman to fuck Brian Kinney. Other. Woman. Oh God. His mind won't wrap around it. "I don't--this--he's--"
"Don't worry. I really don't think this has--straightened him out." Her mouth quirks up at the bad pun, and Justin's almost angry. She's acting like it's nothing, just another Brian Kinney fuck-up, and it's not. It's--beyond that.
"Does Mel know?"
Justin watches Lindsay watch him, and he's not liking anything he sees. "What--what are they--what's he going to do?"
Lindsay's face doesn't change. "You'd have to ask them."
Them. They. A magical word, a mindbending concept, this way that two people who barely know each other, have nothing in common, became a 'they', because now, oh hell, they have something in common. Justin's never been a 'they' with Brian.
"This is fucked up."
"So's life." Her hand draws lines on her thigh, and when she looks up, he sees a glimmering of sympathy. "Brian told me a few days ago. Daphne doesn't have many close friends. He thought she might need someone to talk to."
Justin doesn't wince. Not many close friends. A few days ago. After Justin walked out on her. After he didn't call. After he didn't come by. After he stopped staring at the phone and thinking that if she called, he wouldn't answer.
After he realized she wasn't going to call.
"Did she talk to you?"
Lindsay pauses, obviously debating what to say, how to say it. Balancing confidences against their friendship. "Yes."
He wants to *move*. He wants to not think. He wants to go back a few days and just be miserable. He wants to be angry at Ethan, but it's vanished like smoke, like something that was never there in the first place, and he remembers the pleading message on his answering machine and how long it took to connect the voice to someone he knew. He used to know. He used to think he'd never forget Ethan. And never turned into simple days.
All that was before. And it doesn't seem real or important or interesting, and he deleted it without even a pause.
"I broke up with Ethan." Lindsay shifts to her knees, reaching out, but he pulls away this time, shifting to his feet. Movement, concentration, something to distract his mind. Anything. "I don't even care."
"I--I can't talk to her." He hates himself for it. He does, he hates it, but it doesn't change that simple truth. He's lied to himself for so damned long, and he lied about the lies, and that has to stop. He can't live like that. Ethan taught him that. "She's my best friend and I can't--"
"You need time."
She's not just talking about Daphne. Justin swallows, looking away. When he takes a drink of the tea, it burns his tongue, and he doesn't even care.