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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, 1
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
I'm playing with an idea. A glimmer of an idea, if you will. A glimmery-glimmer that's--never mind. Love to Jaymalea and MHC and Bethy, per contractional obligation. Usual and continuity critique much appreciated.


How It's Gonna Be
by jenn

He pulls it out because it's there. Just behind the sketch he's been looking for since he moved out over a year ago, and when his scrabbling fingers had brushed cool cardboard, he'd been surprised. There'd been nothing under this bed before.

Stupid thought--he's been gone a year, but still, it feels like his room, like no place since has. Michael's been edged out by hard-won inches, though Justin doesn't like to think of it like that. On the wall there's still a sketch of Brian, and the closet has a box of things his mother sent to make him feel more at home. Never unpacked, the tape as fresh as the day she sealed it shut.

He thinks maybe that he'll open it one day and look at the baseball he and Dad caught on his sixth birthday at the ballpark and pictures of their family at the beach. Just not today.

It's heavy--that's the first thing he notices, fingers sliding on the smooth cardboard, but short nails get purchase and he braces himself on both knees, jerking it out far enough for the top to be visible.

Not new. Another pull lets the dust ruffle slide off the top, and he feels kind of silly, sweating and straining for a box that looks older than he is. The tape's the brown-grey of too long storage and comes off with the first experimental poke.

Privacy's an outdated concept--he fucked in public before he passed his eighteenth birthday and half the city knew as much about his sexual proclivities than he did before he'd even graduated high school. There are few in his world that don't know him on sight--even fewer who don't know the details even he doesn't know, stupid fucking memory.

Still, though.

There's no permanent marker-etchings, explaining contents--just this old, worn box that maybe was in the attic before Debbie moved it in here for some reason. Water marks on the bottom. Okay. That's a reason. Turning it, he sits back on his heels and lets one hand trace the top, and if the tape comes off, it's a total accident and he'll swear it to anyone who asks.

Soft, old tissue paper, used--looks like part of someone's birthday present wrapping, silvery white and powder blue and pale yellow, edges brittle and browned with age. He pushes it aside, knowing he's off the map for being innocent, but it's been that way too long, and anyway, Deb's off with Vic doing some shopping and told him to entertain himself until she got home. Something about being too thin and needing feeding.

Not that he's ever turned down a meal in his life, so really, not a struggle.

The tissue's around his knees without a clear idea how it got there, but that's just fine. He's a little too caught up in the boxes beneath--relics of Michael's childhood, a football that makes him grin and try to imagine Mikey looking at it blankly while Brian made cracks about the shower rooms. Some silky material like a scarf, and Justin's fingers stop and linger for a minute, smooth as silk and for a time-stuttered second, he thinks he feels rough spots, old and scaled and crusting with time, but it's only a second, and the deep blue makes him smile and fold it back up, setting it aside.

Little folded papers from things like high school plays and an invitation to graduation. Flipping it open, he looks for Brian's name on instinct, Michael's on an afterthought. This image of Brian at eighteen in graduation robes that won't go away. Folding it up, he puts it aside and looks down, surprised to see the bottom is nothing but pictures.

Pictures. A treasure trove to Brian's number one, most determined stalker ever. Even in his head, he has to laugh. Brian really has no idea.

It's a heavy box, but he gets it up and tilts it enough to dump it on the bed. Water damage on the stuff at the bottom, sticking to the sides, and he patiently pries them loose one by one, letting them fall like wet leaves to land on the top. A glance at the door, then he sets the box aside and considers the lock. It won't stop anyone for any appreciable amount of time, but at least he'll have time to come up with a good story before they come in and ask what the hell he thinks he's doing.

Which would be kind of obvious, and so embarrassing, and he's not stopping why?

The ruined ones are a waste--smeared, blurry, choppy, with bits of cardboard and he throws those back into the box, settling on the bed once he's made enough space for himself. A few of Debbie, years younger, thirty pounds lighter, but the same bright hair and brilliant smile, and he flips one over and looks at the back. Early nineties. Wow. Another flip over to observe very blue eyeshadow and the way she winks the camera.

She's wearing spandex. Okay. Moving on.

Another picture--Vic, also different, dark hair and sunglasses, tanned from summer sun, and there's the vaguest feel of Brian around the hard mouth and too-thin body, but Brian's never been shy of cameras, and the man in the picture most definitely is, slipping off the edge like he wants to get away. Setting that one on the pillow beside Deb's, Justin sorts through the top layer. It's like watching time in motion--back and forth, with a shot of Michael in loose flannel and jeans sliding off his hips (he had a Kurt Cobain phase?) and flickers of Brian in the corners--lounging on the couch downstairs like it's a privilege to be allowed to look at him, spread on the floor with some insanely thick book and surrounded by paper, a pencil in one hand, more at home than Justin's ever seen him anywhere, anytime. Justin stops for that one, like he does for the one of Michael grinning from the side of an unknown swimming pool, pale skin already reddening from the sun, too-long dark hair falling in his eyes and all hunched shoulders and embarrassment while an unknown guy rests his head on his thigh from the lapping water.

A flicker of his wrist and it's the same year as Debbie's eyeshadow and Vic's sunglasses and Brian stretched on that floor Sophomore, junior in college? Maybe. Makes sense, grouped together, and Justin sits that one with the rest, flicking over picture after picture, setting them by year. Nineteen ninety, ninety-one, ninety-two, ninety-three, with Brian sharp and familiar in a suit, Debbie's arm around his shoulders, Michael tucked under his chin on an unfamiliar, carpet-smooth lawn, Vic nowhere in sight. College graduation?

A family portrait, the way that he's never seen one of Brian's parents and him. He puts that one on the pillow, continues through.

Amazing. He can't help focusing on Brian--short hair then long, sunstreaked on some beach, and Michael, who went through so many changes that Justin starts giggling, can't help it. An earring in one, and who would have thought *that*? Back again, wrapped up on the couch with Brian watching TV, and Justin can almost see Debbie sneaking into a corner to take that picture, Mikey sleeping like a kid one arm wound around Brian's waist, and Brian's chin in his hair, eyes almost-closed, lazy and satisfied as cat sleeping in the sun. Intimate.

It goes on the pillow, too, though Justin's not sure why.

More. Michael and his earring and different hair, and that guy from the pool, and it's a better picture. A different picture, couple-y, though they're not even really touching, just Michael on a lounge chair in the backyard and the guy reading beside him. So. Hmm. Tall, light brown hair, great body--God knows, no one can say Michael doesn't have a type. Flickers of Deb and Michael and then Lindsay, and God, she's like something out of a movie, golden blonde in pure summer sunlight, light dress in pale blue and green, and she and Brian look great together, like a magazine cover. Tracing it with his fingers, Justin thinks of every time he's ever sketched her. He's never got anything close to this kind of radiance.

Wonders if Debbie had her tongue firmly in her cheek when she took this one. The time period says right around the time Brian and she were doing whatever they considered dating, and Justin has to wonder what Debbie had been thinking, and then wonders if he could ever find a way to ask her.

Lindsay and a slim redhead in too much denim soon after, sharing a lawn chair and airspace, and Justin snickers and puts that one aside, too. Another of everyone in the living room around a Christmas tree, with Brian doing his best impression of bored nonchalance and Lindsay and a brunette kissing beneath the mistletoe behind him, with Michael holding some robotic thing with a remote control, and Debbie, several pounds heavier than the earlier picture had suggested she'd become, laughing at Michael's enchanted smile. Vic, pounds lighter and oddly pale, is watching the wrapping paper spread over the floor. Justin wonders who took the picture.

"Justin."

It figures, right when he's starting to spin stories in his head, that he'd be interrupted, but the time it takes to recognize the voice is just enough to start shoving everything into the box. Because Deb finding him and bitching would be bad, but Brian--well. No.

A rattle of the door. "What the fuck are you doing?"

Justin shoves the stuff on the floor into the top, wondering if the sound of crinkling paper will penetrate the door. "Jerking off."

"And I can't watch?"

Slam the top down. Start pushing. Stand up while Brian studies the door and considers his options.

And remember that the lock isn't really that good, and Justin really, really doesn't put it past Brian to push through, just because he can.

Struggling to his feet, he kicks at the box, and shit, it's heavy, but at least it moves, and Justin keeps pushing while the door knob moves ominously. He's five seconds from being busted. Four. Three. Two.

"Coming!" Up, over the bed. Almost to the door.

"I suppose at your age, you can't help yourself."

Oh fuck you, Brian.

Pulling it open, Justin tries his best smile. Not that it'll work or anything. "Why are you here?"

As usual, Brian pushes past him, and Justin sighs, leaning against the door to shut it tight. "Looking for Deb."

Liar. "Looking for me."

So he pushes. He's known for it.

"Considering you were bitching how we never go anywhere anymore, I thought you'd be interested in dinner. But don't let me stop you from a night of self-entertainment." Justin watches Brian glancing around the room briefly--maybe remembering things Justin doesn't, or hell, things he does. The mirror, at the pictures of Brian and Michael in high school. Michael's bed, where Justin fucked Brian once and Michael never finished a handjob. That bed. Where the pillow still has those pictures.

Fuck.

Brian's eyebrows raise when Justin casually throws himself onto the comforter, leaning into the pillow. "What's up with you?"

Oh nothing. Just paranoid. "You said something about dinner?"

There's a second where Justin's pretty sure Brian's going to snap something out--he's been like that since he got fired. Not at Justin, specifically--they're still in that tentative relationship stage where they tend to try and avoid argument by repression--but Justin figures that Brian's going to get over it eventually. Especially when Brian figures out it *is* a relationship thing. But at other people? Oh yeah. A guy that bumped into them at Babylon the other night, and here Justin thought Brian *liked* it when hot guys wearing only a jock strap and a smile rubbed up against him. The new waiter at the diner who didn't bring the coffee fast enough. Emmett--but then again, Brian stopped doing that, and Justin doesn't think it's sympathy, even if Brian so lost his mind as to try out the emotion for size. Emmett's sheer lack of reaction's just deflating. No Ted to harass, no Mikey to tease.

Jesus, no wonder Brian's looking for him. There's no one else to annoy.

At least, that's what Brian would say.

Justin takes a second to stop panicking and appreciate what he's seeing. Jeans. The ones that have been around forever, so soft that Justin would sleep on them if he could--has, in fact, since the day he moved out of the loft, they went with him, completely by accident in a variety of ways that include passive aggressive denial. They came back when he did, not a minute before, though Brian's never commented except to start wearing them again, which makes him kind of want to ask and then again, maybe not. White shirt, hastily buttoned. Looks vaguely like he just finished having a really good orgasm, but Brian can look like that while eating toast, so that doesn't prove anything. Automatically, Justin compares and contrasts the eighteen-nineteen-twenty year old to the one before him.

There's something--a flash of Brian and Michael on that couch, the softness of Brian's mouth in Michael's hair--but it vanishes with the jolt of knees at the foot of the bed, making the old mattress creak. Not the just-fucked look, then, but the wanting to fuck look. They're easy to mistake, so interchangeable.

"You missed me."

Brian snickers but doesn't deny it, covering the distance up the bed slow and easy, a deliberate drag along Justin's body. Fingers pushing his shirt up when Brian straddles his hips and looks down at him like he's studying him for a layout; like he's a client who he wants to get; like he's a fuck that he's been tracking all night.

Justin will never admit that he likes that, missed it once. Tricks get this look--all-new, different, Brian evaluating and considering and wanting, and he got it the first night, and if there's one thing he really envies every man Brian fucks, it's that. Before he left, he never saw it. After, now, it flicks up at random moments, like this, and he's still not sure what it means. He's not a trick, hasn't ever been, not that first night, not that first fuck, no matter what Brian says, but--yeah, he gets why people fall over themselves to fuck Brian, always has. Brian makes you feel like you're the only person in the universe he's ever wanted, even if it's only for the time it takes to come.

Sometimes, Justin even lets himself believe it. Like now, when Brian kisses him, light and friendly, like he's not riding his body and making him so hard his thighs ache from holding still. "Maybe."

Justin breathes out and thinks of the fact he's hiding pictures under his shoulders and can't really start anything. His cock disagrees, and in a contest, it's going to win without some serious counteraction *right now*.

"You said dinner."

Brian looks at him like he's speaking a foreign language. Justin can't be sure he's not--his mind's going offline at an alarming rate. Lazy grinding--really, just Brian being Brian, he does this in public in front of Debbie, against a wall in Babylon, when they're standing not three feet away from the family, carrying on conversation and laughing at Mikey's blush. It's still fucking hot.

It's just sex, except sex is pretty much the universe, here and now, and there's a really good reason he needs to stop this. He thinks.

"Dinner." In English. He hopes. "I--Debbie--" Coming home. Shopping? Later. Much later.

"Isn't here." Another kiss, more focused. Playing. With intent. Never good. Too good. He has to think in complete sentences at least. Another slow grind, and Jesus, Brian, who knows his body better than anyone ever has or ever will, but then, who the hell could be surprised by that? Brian had installed half the buttons himself, learned the rest the old fashioned way, knows how to play them all.

Justin's jeans are unbuttoned while he's still trying to remember the concept of *bad idea*, and he gives up even that when they're pulled down, just barely enough, hands on his hips to hold him still, and Brian goes down without even a breath, Jesus, like there's nothing to it, and no one gives head like Brian Kinney, no one makes it look natural and classy and dirty at the same time, like they could be in the middle of a hotel or in an alley or even in the quiet spare bedroom of a quaint old house.

No one else, he wants to say, but Justin can't breathe and doesn't want to talk, can't imagine explaining what this does to him now. It's all about the feeling, the way Brian's hair slips between his fingers and the way that mouth feels. Brian, who pulls off and doesn't laugh when Justin moans in protest, jeans jerked down to his knees, trapping his legs so he can't even get enough purchase to push up, pushing his knees apart just that right amount, ducking beneath to suck his balls, tongue this vicious, careless thing that sends off light behind his eyes.

Sex, which isn't so important except when it is, and he'd *missed* this, hadn't even known it until he came back to Brian, what he'd lost somewhere along the way. There'd been so much regret for so many things, Jesus *Christ*, enough to last five lifetimes and counting, but when Brian fucked him in his office, against that desk, eyes open wide on the ceiling and chanting Brian's name like a prayer, this is what Justin knew he regretted missing most. Not just the sex, not just the feelings, but the way Brian made sex utterly real. Making love with Ethan had been entirely different, all soft light and music and dazement and almost-intoxication, but he never made Justin feel this raw, this exposed, this uninhibited. That they could do anything, *anything*, private and public, anywhere and everywhere, and it wouldn't matter, no one else mattered, nothing else mattered but what they did, what they could do to each other.

He's aching and sweating and almost shaking, twisting his fingers tighter in Brian's hair and murmuring something that may be words and Brian moves, thank God, but slow, so fucking slow, taking him this time by inches.

"Jesus Christ, don't you two ever *stop*?"

Justin thinks about shame and the open door and mother figures in a theoretical sort of way and then gives it up and closes his eyes. Brian sucks out even the memory of it and the world's not even close to being important when he can have this, when they can do this, when he can come and scream his voice out if he wants and not give a shit who hears him.

Which he does, and he doesn't even realize he hasn't let go until Brian kisses him, slow, open-mouthed and bringing him down. Back. Grounding. Because no matter how much it's all about sex, it's also about this. The fine difference between fucking the person you love and loving the person you fuck.

How Brian can be both at the same time.

Opening his eyes, Justin considers his current state. "Tell me I imagined Debbie."

"You should be worried if you thought you were imagining Debbie during sex." Brian's grinning at him, rolling off and onto the bed. Indecent sprawl of a long body, and Justin wonders of Brian's in the same general vicinity of awkward. "She shut the door," Brian adds helpfully. Thank you, Brian.

"Jesus Christ."

"That's what she said."

Fucking smug bastard.

Justin reaches for his jeans, then reconsiders. The door's closed, Debbie knows what they are doing, and delaying the inevitable is always a plus. Rolling on his side, he watches Brian watch him.

There's this part, too. Strangers, acquaintances, friends, lovers, they've run the gamut and back again, but this is always the one place Justin knows where he stand, always has. Emotional rollercoasters, mental fuckups by the score, but he knew, always knew, that Brian wanted him like he didn't, had never wanted anyone else.

The creaking sound of paper makes Justin pause, and he reaches up behind himself casually and picks up the pillow, dropping it on top of the pile before sitting up and pulling off his shirt.

He has a line he likes to use at these times, too. "Fuck me."

And it always works.

*****

cont in next LJ entry


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Whoa...how did I miss this?

Answering my own question...

Ah - I didn't miss this at all, very very nice.

Re: Answering my own question...

*Grins* Thanks. Glad you're enjoying.

This idea can go on glimmering all it likes, and I'll watch the shine. It's beautiful, wistful, and reflective, like the end of "Boys On The Side".

*laughs* Thanks, chica. It's the music. Country has a bizarre effect on me.

*hugs*

Loving this story. I'm with all the others, and think that your characterizations are dead on. How do you *do* that? The continuity reads fine to me, but I did pick out 2 spots, referenced here.

"half the city knew as much about his sexual proclivities than he did "

Would this read easier; "knew more about" or "as he did" ?

"Sophomore, junior in college?" capitalization


Thanks, hon.

Yes, the first thing was a change i made in the text but forgot to check the entire sentence. Gah. Second is a missing period.

Must fix. Stupid story. Grrr.

Double thanks, hon.

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