Promises are for shit, Justin knows that, but he makes them with every strangled breath, elbows braced on the bed, eyes wide and staring blindly into the wall. He makes them all the time, looped together in his head on repeat, since the day he walked out of Ethan's apartment, since he looked into the relief on Daphne's face before her arms slid around him that was so much like coming home he could have cried. This is who I am and what I am and I'll never stop being that for anyone or anything again.
Brian's taking it slow, deliberate drawing of all that power into long, silky strokes, hard enough to make Justin's teeth ache and cock twitch. Mouth slick and wet on his throat, incidental graze of sharp teeth, tongue licking away the sting. Justin's not sure he can take this long, a lengthening tease of his senses, burning out memory by inches, trapped in this moment so close to pain he barely knows the difference anymore. Just wants. Wants, wants, wants, Christ, Brian, he chokes something filthy out between his teeth, tasting the blood on his lip. Brian's hand strokes down his side soothingly, like you'd calm an animal.
It's a horrible angle for a kiss, fingers twisting in his hair and arching his neck, but Justin takes it any way he can get it. Silky dark hair against his cheek, and Justin wants to touch so badly he aches with it, but his balance is shot anyway and he can't take the risk of losing it now. Nips that way Brian loves at the corner of his mouth, sucking Brian's tongue into his mouth and pushing back hard, because it's so slow that Justin might die before he comes. "Please. Come *on*."
A stroke of his thigh from knee to hip, and then Brian pulls away, leaving his back cool from air drying salt-slicked skin, making him shiver. A rough hand on his shoulder, and Justin groans as Brian pulls almost out, like he just might get bored and go have a shower, and Justin thinks hazily he just might kill him if he even tries that shit.
Then the thrust back inside rattles his teeth and he loses breath and even the illusion of thought. Grits his teeth and almost laughs, because his body's alight and Brian's fucking everything out of him that's not here, that's not now, and that's everything he wants.
"Justin," breathed against his neck, like a benediction and a promise all wound into one, and Justin comes at the first stroke of the hand on his cock, the breathless, drunken sound of Brian's voice in his ear. A roar of white noise and the room goes blank, but he can still hear it, feel it drawled along every too-tight nerve, written into his skin for anyone to see. Christ, Brian, don't ever stop, don't ever stop, don't ever let me go again. "*Justin*."
The couch is spread neatly with a blanket and pillow, thanks to his considerate host, and Ethan pauses to touch. New, too. Most of it is, his eye tells him. Never used.
Ted's not in the room, and there's a relief in that, mixed with a curious sense of shame. Everything's too close to the surface of his skin, now, seeing Justin, hearing him, close enough to touch but untouchable.
And somehow, he'd been so sure everything would go differently ,and God, what *had* he thought?
He doesn't mean to jump so fast, jerk at the sound of the calm, low voice, but he does, spinning on a heel, wet hair flopping against his forehead. Ted is awkward at the doorway, playing casual with pitiful transparence, like this is nothing new, like they know each other, like there's anything here that makes any sense at all.
"Sorry." Ethan takes a slow breath, trying to slow his racing heart, knowing he's flushing and he can't do a damn thing about it. "Um. Thanks. For letting me crash on your couch."
Ted shrugs uncomfortably. Ethan doesn't think he's used to being thanked for anything. "No problem. Do you need anything else?"
"Oh, no... no, I'm - fine," he says. He's not quite sure what to do with his hands, or the rest of him, and he knows he must look ridiculous - half naked, wet, wearing only a towel and crossing his arms over his chest. But it seems like Ted is embarrassed and apologetic enough for both of them. "You -- you didn't have to do this. I probably would have been fine walking home."
Ted quirks an odd, strained smile at him. "Guess you didn't hear about dumpster boy."
"What?" Ethan frowns.
"Nothing," Ted relents. "Just... if you're on Liberty Avenue and don't have any way of getting home on your own from now on, call me. It's safer." Ethan is confused, both by the cryptic warning and Ted's sober insistence, but nods anyway.
"Okay," he says. He feels the exhaustion pressing down on his shoulders like sandbags, each second another bag added on to the pile. "I... I'm so trashed. I should probably get some sleep."
"Yeah." Ted looks almost regretful, as though this has been the best conversation he's had with anyone in weeks, and all they talked about was... nothing. "Well. Night." He backs away into the shadows of another short hallway, turns, and disappears into a dimly lit room at the end of it.
Belatedly, Ethan remembers his boxers, still in the bathroom, and slips down the hall, grabbing them off the floor of the darkened room. He briefly glances at Ted's closed door, the soft light sprawled underneath. He's not sleeping yet. Ethan thinks that maybe Ted hasn't slept well for a long time.
Leaving the towel in the hamper, Ethan pulls on the shorts absently, using the moonlight from the living room window to guide him to the couch. Hard, but comfortable enough, nothing like the hotel beds he's tossed and turned in for hours, and his eyes automatically flicker to the shelves, fixing on where Justin's picture would be.
He can't lie to himself, not now, not alone in the dark. He wants Justin back.
And he knew that that's why he'd gone to that club, tonight. To get a lay of the land, scope things out... see if Justin was with him or if he was alone. If he had been, Ethan thinks, even for a second, he could have taken that second to whisk Justin way. Out of the club and somewhere they could talk. Okay, maybe not 'they could talk' so much as he could apologize so that Justin could call him a cheating, lying bastard. Which he knew he deserved, despite what Ted had said to him.
He shifts onto his side and stares at the picture, now. He won't even bother to pretend to be disinterested in it. In that young, clean face with those clear eyes.
Justin looked debauched, tonight. That's the only word he can think of that fits. Then again, why shouldn't Justin look that way? He was back in his element, back with the guy he loved. It was as it should be.
Eyes closing, Ethan blots the image of Justin tonight from his mind. Tonight was a mistake, but he doesn't make the same mistakes twice. Pulling the blanket closer, Ethan folds his arms across his chest, imagining the space there is filled with a warm, smooth-skinned body, with blond hair tickling his nose as he surrenders himself to sleep.
Justin doesn't appreciate early mornings.
Maybe it's the headache.
Rolling over, he grabs for a pillow, jerking it over his head, wondering what kind of masochist left the lights on. Blindly, he gropes for blankets, pulling them like a tent over the whole, and if Brian even tries to move him, he'll kill him, and it'll be perfectly justifiable homicide.
"Rise and shine, Sunshine."
It's indecent that the one morning--the *first* morning he's gotten a hangover in months--Brian wouldn't have one. It's not just unfair, but plain ridiculous. Brian drinks twice as much as he does. Three times, even.
A heavy weight lands on his calves--that would be Brian, and it's weird enough for Justin to almost sit up, but his head reminds him that all moving would just suck beyond words to adequately describe, and then the covers are being pulled up, dragged off of his skin by inches. "Up, Sonny Boy. We have things to do. Well, you do, anyway."
"I do?" His mouth tastes like cotton and cheap rum, the salty aftertaste of a middle of the night blowjob that he just couldn't resist. He wants to brush his teeth. But he really wants to just lie here a lot more. "I don't."
"Sure you do." The blanket peels back from his head, and Justin slits his eyes open enough to watch the unwelcome light of day creeping toward his head, just beyond the edge of the pillow. It's Saturday and he doesn't have a shift in the diner. He doesn't have homework, which is still disturbing as hell. He doesn't have a damn thing to do.
"I thought you wanted to go pick up your transcripts from IFA."
Oh, that. Justin wonders if he was drunk when he made that decision last night. Groping for the blanket, Justin tries to tug it back, but Brian's the Antichrist and callously pulls it out of reach, taking the pillow as an afterthought in pure evil. "Maybe they won't release them." Maybe he has no desire to step foot on campus. Just the thought of it brings up nausea sweet and sour in the back of his mouth, and suddenly, his hangover is taking on epic proportions.
"Maybe you should find out." All protection gone, Justin squirms in full sunlight, shivering a little at the brush of cool air. Brian lets him roll over, one hand braced on either side of his shoulders, before a lazy kiss. Justin shivers, catching his breath, reaching up, but Brian's gone, bastard, disappearing into the kitchen, and Justin's--God, he's hard *again*.
"Son of a bitch." A glance at the clock shows pre seven, which is just indecent, and it's like Brian's inhuman and doesn't need sleep at all. "Brian, I--"
Justin sits up, too surprised to remember how much his head hurts. "What does Ted want?"
"Come the hell out here so I don't have to fucking yell."
The aroma of fresh coffee is floating through the bedroom and that, more than Brian's bitchiness, drags Justin from the dwindling warmth of the bed, grabbing his boxers along the way and pulling them on. Brian's staring at the coffeemaker like it has the answer to the ultimate orgasm inside and it's his sworn duty to get it out. Justin takes a slow breath, walking up to the counter, ignoring the pounding in his head, and boosts himself up, kicking the back of Brian's knees to get his attention. It's a morning just like any morning, with Justin wanting attention and Brian turning around, like it's a complete surprise that he's not alone in the loft.
It's also indecent that Brian gets out of bed looking like crap and still makes Justin want to blow him. Fucking ass. "Ted?"
"Who?" Leaning back, Brian surveys him with blank incomprehension, but Justin knows better.
"Ted. Called. They say the mind's the first to go." Kicking his foot again, Justin jerks as Brian catches it and starts pulling. "Stop it, I'll fall."
"Ted wants to talk to you."
Why the hell would Ted want to talk to him? They've exchanged maybe five words since Ted reappeared post-rehab, and Justin's not even sure they were direct. "What does he want?" His ass is getting closer to the edge of the counter. Justin eyes the floor warily. It's going to hurt. But it might distract him from his headache.
"Do I look like your social secretary?" The coffee finishes, and Brian loses all interest in Justin, like Gus with a new toy.
"He must have said something." Justin rubs his forehead. The blinds are all down, and Justin notices the lights are low. Maybe Brian does have a heart. Maybe. "Coffee?"
The cup magically appears in his hand, and Justin's instantly suspicious. There's even sugar and cream, and that's just creepy. And Brian knows that's creepy, and that's why he does it. Kindness Justin's ass. Brian has method to his madness. Not understandable method, but it's there. "He's just worried about his new friend is all."
Taking a sip, Justin winces. It's perfect. Fuck. This could mean anything. "He picked up someone."
"Ted?" That's--weird. Very, very weird. "How would I--"
"He had a sleepover with the fiddler."
Brian's already moved out of range, so the coffee runs down the cabinet after Justin spits it out. Forget headache. He's working on active nausea now. "*Ethan*?"
Brian studies the dripping coffee with vague interest, like it's abstract art or like he's tripping and it's talking to him. It's about as likely as what he just said. Taking a drink from his own cup, Brian nods to himself and glances around for a towel. Without a cleaning service, Brian's learning the art of cleaning up after himself. Or Justin, as the case might be.
"Ethan wouldn't--" Justin stops short, but Brian's discovered where his towels are kept and looks completely surprised that they're there. He wonders about Brian, sometimes. "He said Ethan?"
"Wandered off this morning without a word. Ted said he was pretty trashed last night. Wanted to know if you could check up on him." A few quick flicks, and the cabinets are as dry as they are bare.
"How the hell would I know where he is?" Of course, he's the only one that would know. He never invited any of them over to Ethan's apartment. "Jesus. I--" Ethan was a little drunk last night, if memory serves, and in this case, Justin's memory isn't doing any blanking at all. He had to be drunk if he was going to go home with--with Ted. Christ, *Ted*.
Brian nods absently and wanders toward the shower, and Justin won't read significance into the fact that he doesn't ask Justin to join him. Not that he ever has to ask. Justin just follows, like a puppy on a leash, because it's *Brian*. And a shower. And there's nothing on earth sexier than that.
"Fuck," he murmurs as the door closes, and it's this huge temptation to throw the coffee cup at the wall. "Fucking *hell*. It's unfair and it's annoying and it's even worse than that, because he's off the counter and going to the phone, unreasonably angry to see Ted's new number written in Brian's crisp handwriting on a pad. Like Brian expected it, and that draws up all kinds of uncomfortable thoughts that Justin's really not sure he's willing to follow.
He picks up the phone anyway, dialing the number, fingers fumbling across the pads like they've never touched a phone, like it's almost two years ago and he's still learning to use his hand again. The ringing is short and sweet, then Ted's voice. "Hello?"
"It's Justin." He doesn't want to do this. He really, really doesn't want to do this. He could have been happy for the rest of his life not having to do anything like this, or ever hear Ethan's name again. "What's the problem?"