Written By: negativeerin
Timeline: Post Season Five
Nothing As Good
His voice sounded like feathers falling, “See you soon.” And then he was gone.
A sliver of light slips in the port-hole size window and travels down his forehead to his nose, illuminating the black behind his eyelids. He’s not sure why he bothers to close them. Well, yes he does. Because sometimes, just as dawn breaks, he forgets he’s alone. And the forgetting feels good…or not good, but not bad. Like this isn’t going to be another day that ends in a blur of dissatisfaction. In this moment of first light, things are as they used to be. And they used to be alright, good even.
Justin calls twice a week, he doesn’t know Brian picked up on this pattern months ago.
“Did you know I used to dream about you?”
“No shit, Sunshine.” Brian lights a cigarette and closes the file he needs to approve. It’s after 8 on Friday night and he likes that Justin doesn’t comment.
“No,” Justin lets out a shy laugh that makes Brian pay attention. “I used to dream you were a celebrity and we’d meet somewhere, sort of accidentally, like a coffee shop, but really I was sort of stalking you. Anyway, I’d flash the smile…you know the smile…”
Brian chuckles, thoroughly amused, “I know the smile.”
Justin continues, “Then you’d take me to your hotel room and fuck me senseless. Your security guards standing outside the door and your phone ringing off the fucking hook because you were supposed to be on the set. You were keeping some A-list actress waiting while you rimmed me.”
“Pretty hot dream,” Brian clears his throat, can’t figure out why it feels tight.
“Yeah, it was.” Justin’s voice is wistful.
“Don’t have it anymore?” Brian wills that dream back into Justin’s sleep.
“Nah, not for a long time,” Justin sighs.
Brian never needed much sleep. He’s always prided himself on his ability to have a full, productive day on three half-assed hours that were a black hole at the end of a night overflowing with self indulgence. He likes that his body runs on empty better than most people’s runs all filled up with all the good things you’re supposed to put in it.
Justin’s been gone six months and it takes that long of Brian not sleeping for anyone to notice. Six months of no sleep would kill most people, but it’s barely put circles under Brian Kinney’s eyes.
Deb read a book about super foods and tried to get Brian to eat an orange every morning for a week. She finally gave up and served his coffee black, same as always, with just a hint more disdain than usual.
“You not sleepin’ well, baby?” Deb pours the coffee and it smells burnt from three feet.
“You could say that,” Brian winces.
“Yeah, well, that’s God punishing you for bad decisions.” She pops her gum as she walks away. By bad decisions she means making Justin get a life.
His jaw tightens and throat warms as the caffeine races through his veins like a rat searching for cheese in a scientist’s maze. He wonders how long he can run on caffeine and sheer will. He guesses forever.
Justin stops calling Brian his boyfriend the first Christmas he stays in New York (which was 14 months after he moved there) – Brian doesn’t call him, not on Christmas or even New Year’s. Still, he doesn’t believe it’s true until Brian is a no-show at his first opening (four months later). Then that reality does finally sink in, painful and burning like lemon juice in a paper cut.
As the last wannabe art collector stumbles out of the gallery, the manager corners Justin, calling him ‘fucking brilliant’ in his fake British accent as he gropes Justin’s ass and presses him to the wall. Justin pushes him away and shakes his head. Then he locks himself in the bathroom and stares in the mirror a long time. Just as he pats himself on the back for managing not to cry, he hunches over the toilet and pukes.
Justin thinks heartbreak tastes like sawdust.
He walks along Avenue B and queues past “Seasons of Love” when it comes on his iPod, because walking past The Life Café while listening to that song makes him feel something other than authentic. And Justin feels that after nearly five years in New York (and six apartments and four roommates and a million subway rides), he’s anything but.
He stops and looks up at the way twilight is illuminating the side of a church he’s noticed a few times before. The setting sun colors the beige stone a burnt orange that he’d like to capture and use in a painting later. He looks around and wonders if anyone else has stopped to look at how beautiful the light is. It doesn’t appear anyone else notices. Brian would.
Brian very obviously appreciates the beauty of a smooth chest, a firm thigh, a flawless ass. But, he also enjoys beauty in every other forms, beauty like this. Once Brian said to Justin, “Without beauty, what else is there?” and though Brian was high and it was 4am, Justin nodded in agreement and realized that maybe they really did have a lot in common.
Deb has a heart attack and hits the ground in mid-stride, a tuna melt in one hand and a Pink Plate special in the other. Mikey cries for days and Brian never does, though he feels hollow in a way he never has.
Horvath makes the funeral beautiful and the gathering at the house afterwards is ‘family only’. They sit on couches that feel different than all the years before and tell their favorite Deb stories.
Justin goes last and he laughs through his tears when he talks about the first time he met Deb. He was seventeen and full of shit. “She knew how to love me the right way,” he sighs.
Brian’s voice is so quiet half the room doesn’t hear when he says, “Yeah, she loved me the right way too, and she taught me how to love you.”
Justin goes out on the porch and drinks red wine. Brian doesn’t make a sound, but Justin knows he’s there all the same.
“I hate myself for not spending more time with her.” Justin knows Brian won’t have anything to say to that.
The sun is dying in the western sky, turning the air pinkish and making it glow. Justin always liked watching the sunset from Deb’s porch, he did a million little pastels of this scene that he thinks have long since been thrown out. Actually they’re in a box in a storage unit that Justin doesn’t even know exists.
“I love you, too,” Justin says abruptly, his voice cracking halfway through ‘love’.
Brian’s jaw clenches so tight he hears a tooth crack, “Yeah.”
The timing is all wrong, but Justin feels the winds change all the same.
Daphne is so beautiful and when she wears pigtails and a pink Care Bears t-shirt at 26 she reminds Justin of innocence. He’s in love with the idea that maybe a little of it remains in the world.
“So, you’re telling me he said he loved you in front of everyone?” She picks up a scarf off a street vendor’s table and comments on how far reaching inflation is.
Justin scoffs, “Well, not really. And it was Deb’s funeral Daph, hello inappropriate.”
Daphne rolls her eyes, “Please, you don’t know from appropriate.” She picks up a pink thing and throws it around her neck. “I can’t believe Deb’s gone,” she says suddenly and looks terribly sad. Daphne was doing Doctors Without Borders in some ridiculous place when it happened last year. By the time the elephant would have gotten her to the bus depot the funeral was long over.
Justin shakes his head, “I think he just missed Deb, he wanted something to hold on to.”
Daphne turns and puts a hand on Justin’s shoulder, “Maybe it’s time.”
Justin shrugs, but his gut feels tingly and his mind races, “I don’t know.”
Daphne raises her eyebrows, “Bullshit.”
She’s always fucking right. Justin called her four years ago and cried for hours about how Brian had pushed him away again. And though Justin moved on, they both knew that he’d simply been waiting for Brian Kinney to come around one last time.
“Talk to Justin lately?” Ted’s question makes Brian choke.
“Why would I?”
Ted gives a knowing smile, “Come on, I saw you both go outside at Deb’s.”
Brian looks up from his salad and shrugs, “So we both went outside.”
Ted makes at attempt at wiggling his eyebrows, “Aaaaand?”
Brian throws a cucumber slice at him, “And nothing.”
Ted shakes his head, “You’re an idiot.”
Brian nods, “Yes, well, this idiot still signs your paycheck. Shut up and eat your tuna.”
Ted doesn’t say anymore, but he stares at Brian extra second and then averts his eyes. Brian will always be Brian.
Brian’s stomach clenches each time he touches down in New York City. Justin lives on the Lower East Side now. Brian almost tells the cab to stop six times on the way downtown.
Brian knocks on the door loudly, it’s after 2am (he had to lubricate his courage a bit at the corner bar). Justin answers with bleary eyes and nothing on but underwear. Brian’s heart beats hard and fast like the bass line of the songs in the club are running through his veins.
“Hey,” he tries to smile.
“Hey,” Justin pushes the door open and turns into the kitchen.
Justin makes coffee because it seems like the right thing to do. Neither of them drink the little black pools sitting in front of them.
Justin’s put on a t-shirt and taken a piss and brushed his teeth.
“Why are you here?” It’s so hard to be nonchalant with Brian Kinney on his sofa. Justin marvels at the familiarity, as if no time has gone by at all.
Brian shakes his head and rubs his eyes; the alcohol is wearing off so very quickly (his bravado’s going right with it). “I don’t fucking know.” He sounds weary. “I just…,” Brian looks in Justin’s direction, but not at him.
In his perfectly pressed suit and his thousand dollar shoes, Brian could go anywhere and do anything and have anyone, but he can’t find it in himself to tell the boy who used to dream about him that he’s finally ready not to fuck it up.
And what he doesn’t know, what he’s never understood, is that it’s really that simple.
”Come on,” Justin stands and pulls on Brian’s arm.
They stand facing each other in the dimness of Justin’s small room. “Touch me,” Justin whispers.
Brian feels real desire for the first time in as long as he can remember. His mind fills with white noise as he moves forward.
He puts his hands on Justin’s neck and presses their lips tight. Justin lets out a noise that breaks Brian’s heart. It sounds like relief.
They kiss light and slow until they find their footing. They both feel dizzy and want to revel in remembering how good they are at this. Brian starts to press a little more, backs Justin up against the door (nearly lifts him off his feet).
Brian pulls at Justin’s t-shirt suddenly, causing Justin to break the buttons on Brian’s dress shirt. They laugh as the little plastic discs scatter over the floor like marbles.
Brian scratches at Justin’s stomach. “Brian,” he moans. Brian opens his eyes, he’d do anything to make Justin keep saying his name.
Brian drops to his knees and pulls Justin’s boxers to the floor. He buries his face in hair that’s still blond and trimmed just like he likes, after all these years. Justin’s thighs tremble as Brian grips them, his brain screams breathe, breathe, breathe.
Justin fists Brian’s hair and arches against the door and thinks about how thin the walls are. He pulls Brian to his feet and pushes his coat and shirt to the ground, tasting himself on Brian’s lips as he goes.
“Sorry,” he traces his fingers over welts forming where he just scratched Brian’s stomach. Just Brian pushes him back on the bed.
Brian peels off his shoes and socks and steps out of his pants. He stands naked at the foot of the bed and looks at Justin. Justin’s gut clenches and he wonders how time’s changed him, but he stares back without flinching. He figures Brian Kinney will look eternally 29 and he guesses that’s the way the world wants it.
Brian smiles and climbs Justin’s body, he drags his tongue over all the places he remembers Justin liking.
“I have never needed anything so badly,” Brian’s horse and his voice breaks.
“Please,” is all Justin can muster. He rolls himself over and opens his legs and feels light headed thinking just two seconds into his own future.
Brian moves his tongue over vertebrae and across hips and into Justin’s hole. He makes him fist the sheets and hiss his name. He adds a finger, then a second and fucks Justin with one hand while he wrestles a condom from his pants with the other.
Justin braces himself and reaches for a headboard that isn’t there. “Fuck,” the air flies out of his lungs and his legs quiver. It’s funny how things are never as you remember.
Justin moves his lips to Brian’s ear and runs them gently around the firm edge before he whispers, “What’s this mean?”
Brian opens his mouth and nothing comes out. Justin keeps his lips pressed to his ear.
“I can move back,” Justin sounds like a little boy. Brian sighs and runs his hands over Justin’s back. Justin moves and settles against him, pushes his legs on either side of one of Brian’s.
Brian shakes his head but barely, “No.”
“New York’s not as good as you,” Justin rubs his lips over Brian’s collarbone. Brian always had the best collarbone.
Brian thinks to protest, but he doesn’t want to. “Marry me,” he says instead.
“I’m having déjà vu,” Justin gently chides.
“I’m being serious.”
“I know,” Justin finally moves his face so he can see Brian’s eyes. They stare a little while.
Justin runs his fingers through the front of Brian’s hair and down his forehead and through his eyebrows and eyelashes. Brian lets him. Justin lays his head down and listens to Brian’s heart beat. It’s strong and steady. “Okay.”
“I’ve been waiting.”
”I wanted it to finally be right,” Brian’s so quiet.
Justin breathes deep, “I know.”
“Timing is everything.”
Justin laughs at the way Brian says it, but he does understand, “I’m ready.”
”Me too,” Brian kisses Justin’s temple and remembers the day Deb made him realize he loved this kid. His eyes get wet and he doesn’t know if it’s because he misses her or he wishes she knew that in the end he didn’t fuck it up. Because really, this is the only fucking thing he has ever done right.
“She knows,” Justin pats his chest and yawns. Brian marvels at what the world has given him as Justin starts to snore.