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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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qafwip: how it's gonna be, the story that never ends, 14
snail power
seperis
There are so many really *cool* ways to spend your birthday, but I chose laying in bed with a romance novel and cinnamon schnapps and coffee up until a few minutes ago. And frozen Patio enchiladas. Horrifyingly addictive badfood.

Also, I added more to How It's Gonna Be.

In all fairness, I actually have written a lot on it, but unfortunately, I went non-linear, which was a bad idea and I knew it, even though it seemed like a good idea at the time. I write straight through. Skipping a scene assures that scene will not be written, and so forth. I kept thinking I'd write *up* to that scene, then be comfortable posting, but that didn't happen. Oh well.

Anyway. The melodramatic adventure continues apace. For those who have completely forgotten....



Justin finds pictures of Michael and guy. Guy is James, in town. Brian doesn't like him. The feeling is mutual. Justin becomes a comic geek. Brian goes out of town. Justin commits a couple of felonies for the greater good. Daphne is useful. Emmett likes James. Brian comes back. Lots of drugs are involved. And....



Caught up?

Right. Onward, then.



The JB wears off way too fast, and maybe the Percocet reacts to stress or something, but Justin aches by the time they arrive at the loft.

Justin doesn't think Brian's sulking is going to last long after they get through the door.

"In."

"Yes, Master. Anything else?"

Brian gives him a narrow look as he shuts the loft door. "Blowjob."

Justin smiles sweetly as he strips his coat, throwing it on the old couch. "Monogamy a little stressful?"

Yes, so he's not at his smartest, and just maybe, the JB is still hanging in his system, driving him toward relationship-icidal heights of annoying, but Jesus, he hurts. Ignoring Brian, Justin unbuttons the top of his jeans, peeling them down to look at the fresh darkening marks covering his hip. James has a good grip. He's going to bruise. More.

"Fuck," he murmurs, fingering the skin. It's going to be so fucking obvious what it is, too--Justin can see the outline of fingers and the pressure-points of fingertips pressing in. It'll be days before this fades. Weeks.

"Let me see." Justin almost protests, but Brian's not asking, turning him with a hand on his shoulder, and Justin closes his eyes, feeling Brian go still. "Son of a bitch."

"It's not that bad." That's a lie, it *is* that bad, and the skim of Brian's fingers stings. "Why are you--"

"What the hell did you think you were doing?"

Justin frowns, trying to draw up his pants again, but Brian's blocking the attempt, and frankly, it's easy to argue when naked and easy to argue when fully clothed, but there's something about being half dressed that just sucks away any hope of dignity. And if anyone knows psychological edge, it *would* be Brian. "Trying to help, asshole."

"That's what you call it these days?" And like that, his shirt's pulled over his head, tossed somewhere distant, and Brian's taking in the vast assortment of injuries with experienced eyes. And yeah, Brian knows all about Justin-injuries, since he's so very prone to having to be around to nurse him through them.

"He says he knows where Michael is."

The flicker is so brief that anyone else wouldn't even have seen it. "Bullshit." Turning away, Brian goes to the refrigerator, jerking absently at the buttons of his shirt. The refrigerator light spills over the floor, and Brian is standing in a circle of golden light, and if there's any sort of symbolism in this moment, Justin's really not thinking it's at all cute. "Leave it alone."

Uh huh. Pulling up his jeans but leaving the button undone--it's not like he'll be leaving them on long anyway--Justin crosses to the counter, leaning his elbows on it to watch Brian pick between a grand total of three identical water bottles.

"Does Ben know where Michael is?"

Brian shrugs, ceremoniously removing a bottle that gets the honor of being used, and turns around. "If he knows, he's not telling."

Justin frowns, running his fingers over the countertop. "Why would James want to know?"

Brian smiles and twists the bottle open. Maybe monogamy is wearing on him, too, because Justin could swear that Brian's jerking that bottle off. Lucky bottle. "I don't give a shit."

"Emmett likes him."

Brian's eyebrows go up. "Emmett likes Ted, too."

Belatedly, Justin reaches for his jeans, zipping them quickly and walking to the couch, dropping gingerly onto the edge. He's been feeling his way through Brian's moods for too long to not know something's up. "Did you get the job?"

Hesitation again, though Brian hides it with a drink of water, taking extra time to turn around, being his dramatic I-Am-Brian-Kinney-and-Worth-the-Wait, which right, he is, but right now? So not endearing. "Don't know yet."

Are you lying to me, Brian? "Why is James stalking me?"

Brian's eyes snap up. "What?"

Got it. "You think that thing at Babylon is it?" Back aching, Justin slumps down, wincing at the pull of unhappy muscles. "Brian, come on. Tell me what the hell is going on. Why the hell is he *here*?"

It's very Brian, to decide this is the second that the cupboards--depressingly bare--just desperately need to be cleaned out and reorganized, and Justin almost sighs, but Brian doesn't start the Great Winter Cleaning Spree after all, just drags down a dusty bottle and comes over to the couch, coiling up like a big, tired cat on the other side. It's kind of unfair that he's exhausted, rumpled, bratty and not a little pissed, but he still looks like sex. Well-dressed sex, classy sex, expensive hotel and high dollar hustler sex, but sex none the less.

"I don't know." There's something in Brian's voice that Justin's never heard before, can't even figure out what it *is*, but if he were drunk and prone to making huge, impossible leaps in logic (which he is), he's say Brian's uncertain.

"Bullshit."

The bottle's cap spins to the floor and Justin watches it rotate in place for a few long seconds. He couldn't do that if he tried. "Last I heard of the fucker, he was never coming back to Pittsburgh."

Turning slowly, Justin settles into the corner--good support for his back, not so much with the rubbing on bruises. "You're telling me he's around just to find Michael? From the goodness of his heart?"

Brian glances up from beneath dark bangs, and damned if he doesn't look amused. "He'd bury Mikey if he could."

"Over a break up?"

"Not everyone is as generous as I am after unfortunate changes in the status quo." Justin almost snarls something, but he doesn't, mostly because he doesn't have anything really good to use. Like he's supposed to thank Brian for being so completely oblivious to the fact that Justin left him for someone else? He can remember those first weeks away, wondering a little uncertainly if Brian had even *noticed* that he'd moved out, or if he just came to the realization after noting less towels were being used than formerly. It's totally not *true*, but that's never changed how it felt *then*.

It's never comfortable to remember, though, and Justin settles back down rebelliously, trying to look like he has any clue what's going on. "So why does he hate you?"

"Doesn't everyone?"

Bitch. "Work with me here."

"Now that would be a novel concept." Brian straightens, shrugging off exhaustion like it's an old suit and fixing Justin with a smile that just borders on being smarmy. "Mikey walked out, James acted like a drama queen and left, swearing never to return. Boring. End of story."

"Why?"

Brian shrugs. "Mikey could do better."

"What did you do?"

Justin watches Brian's face, letting the silence of the loft stretch around them. Beside him, Brian lights a cigarette, blowing out a slow, thoughtful line of smoke, eyes unfocused. The smile fades like it was never there at all. "Like I said, I was in college. I met him at Deb's during break. Mikey thought he was in love."

"Was he?"

Brian shrugs. "Hell if I know. He thought he was. Deb carried on like he was her long lost son."

"And you?"

Brian pauses, and though he's right on the couch in the loft, he may as well be a thousand miles away for all Justin can tell. "He seemed okay."

Justin waits. Brian wouldn't have started if he didn't intend to finish it, and interrupting won't help anything at all.

"Mikey got weird after. Didn't call, didn't visit, acted like he was sneaking out when I got back for summer. Deb noticed, but she just put it up to him being involved with someone. She didn't worry. I did." Brian draws in another drag, shifting on the couch. "He started getting really clumsy at work. Stupid shit, like climbing on ladders and falling off them all the time. Stumbling over boxes. Ran into a door once." Brian's voice is so even it takes a few seconds for Justin to even begin to wonder because, Mikey having bizarre accidents? So not unusual.

Then.

Oh.

"A door?"

Brian makes a bitterly amused sound. "Like that shit would fly with me. It worked on Deb. She didn't know what she was looking at."

Justin feels a strange sense of lightheadedness, like the first time Brian got him drunk, like he was floating miles above where he should be. Brian doesn't seem to have so much as changed expression, but that's all Brian, who just might up and die if he let something show that he didn't want seen. "James--hurt him?"

"Mikey just said they played rough."

Justin swallows hard, staring at Brian's glass. "Did you threaten him? Or--what?"

Brian looks at him like he just mentioned a penchant for women's breasts. "No."

Christ. "Then *what*?"

Brian shrugs, like it's not that huge a deal. "James wanted monogamy. He thought Mikey was sleeping around while he was gone. Mikey denied it, James didn't believe him, and after a little argument, James left. You want a play by play or is that enough?"

Justin lets out a slow breath, fixing on Brian's face. It's almost a challenge. "Did he think it was you?"

Brian almost smiles. Almost. "Smart boy. Now blow me."

Justin thinks of James hands on him, the way James looked at him. Brian doesn't give a shit about monogamy. James has to know that. Justin kicks at Brian's thigh absently, aware of the warmth of the loft seeping into him, making him sleepy and comfortable, and Brian is a little dangerous when he thinks Justin feels like that. Brian is not soothing. Brian likes to jerk people *out* of soothing in scary ways.

"Here?" Smiling a little, Justin shifts up, getting his knees under him, and leaning--oh fuck. Oh *fuck*.

Brain just pushes him back before he can find air to breathe. "You're a mess, Sunshine." Standing up, he pulls Justin uncomfortably to his feet, herding him toward the bed, and Justin doesn't bother fighting something that is pretty much the pinnacle of his current ambitions. Prone on a bed that he left only a few hours before, comfortable and warm and clean sheets, too, and--

"Brian?" Justin closes his eyes when his shoes are pulled off, jeans skimmed like an afterthought.

"Get some fucking sleep." The grumbly undertones hide the worry. Justin feels the hesitation when Brian sees his back like a ten foot neon sign of worry. "You'd be a lousy lay tonight."

Justin opens his eyes. He'd be a lot more stung if his bones weren't melting. "I'm never a lousy lay."

"Go to sleep." Maybe he imagines the trace of fingers on the back of his neck, a whisper as faint as air down his spine.

Right. That's the plan. "Brian--"

"Christ, Justin, what?"

Justin grins and closes his eyes. "Emmett slept in your bed last night."


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HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

*hugs* Thank you very much!

EE! JENN-FIC!

Also, happy birthday.

It's your birthday, and yet we get the present. *loves*

Happy Birthday! Your present will be late, but it will involve the St. James uniform and couchsex. I hope that's suitable.

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