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I'm feeling blue tonight, so I thought I would give you guys a little surprise. I'll let you decide if it's a "treat" or not. It's the prologue to my new series. Let me know what you think. Thanks to Alan for the beta. Roz and Pfyre were given no warning of this post, so it goes up when it goes up. Love, Randall

Reconstructing Brian - A novel by Randall Morgan

PROLOGUE: New York City

Brian and Justin sat at opposite ends of the bench seat in the limo, staring at the city through opposing windows while lost in their separate thoughts. They were both tanned from their journey. Justin's hair was bleached almost white in places from exposure to the sun. Even Brian's auburn locks were shot through with strands of gold. Back in New York, they watched as the city fell victim to a sudden rainstorm. The skies went from blue to gray so fast it was as if someone had lowered a metal security shade. They shared a communal sigh, and Brian stretched his long arm across the distance between them, wiggling his fingers at Justin.

Justin smiled and threaded his fingers among Brian's, gripping his hand tightly. That one gesture made the weight of their return much easier to bear. Their vacation had been idyllic. More than a honeymoon, it established between them of what they each hoped their relationship would become. Returning to their real lives, fraught with traps and challenges, felt suddenly threatening. They were soaking wet by the time they got all their luggage out of the limo and into the loft building. The loft itself had the slightly stale scent of a place left unused for too long. Brian's cleaning team had ensured it was gleaming, but it felt empty and lifeless, as if impatiently awaiting their return.

Justin put on music and started a fire in the hearth while Brian retrieved a bottle of water and replaced his wet clothes with a robe. They left their luggage dripping on the slate floor just inside the doorway.

"Are you hungry?" Justin changed into sweats and came into the kitchen where Brian was listening to messages on the machine.

"Yeah, let me troll through these and we'll order something in. Too jet lagged to go out." There was no food in the refrigerator since they'd emptied it of all perishables before they'd left.

Justin retrieved a tote bag and began unwrapping the items contained in it, each piece carefully protected in bubble wrap. He sat the unwrapped examples of sunny Tuscan pottery on the coffee table, and the rainy day suddenly seemed less dark. He had chosen this pattern from among the many at the factory. It was the traditional cobalt and white with touches of golden rod and terra cotta, all in designs of flowers and leaves and stylized graphics. There were dinner plates, salad plates, bowls and mugs. The platter and pitcher were being shipped. He envisioned displaying them above the cabinets to add some color to the kitchen.

Watching Justin carefully unwrap these souvenirs of their trip caused Brian to smile. He had incurred way too much expense during the month they'd spent in Italy. He'd charged up his credit cards, a personal pet peeve, and dipped into his financial cushion. He'd wanted the trip to be something they would always remember and part of that equation was to give Justin anything that made him happy. He could replenish the money, but they could never recapture their first trip together. It had to be perfect, so it was.

"Brian, this is Felix Kimbrough," a deep and commanding voice leapt out at him from the machine. Kimbrough was the managing partner of the advertising agency and Brian's ultimate boss. Brian seldom had direct dealings with Kimbrough, working more with the layer of senior partners directly under him. Kimbrough had left the creative end of the business to become a rainmaker, seeking out new accounts to add to the agency's coffers. It was very unusual for him to call Brian, especially at home. "I know you're just returning from your vacation today, but I need to see you first thing when you come in tomorrow morning. Be in my office by nine."

Brian frowned and turned off the machine, sitting beside Justin on the sofa, watching him admire the pottery. "Why is your big boss calling?" Justin asked casually.

He never missed a thing, Brian thought as he shrugged, "Must be some mondo project they want me to do. Jump right back in it, I guess," he leaned over and kissed Justin's lightly freckled cheek. Exposure to the sun had temporarily dappled his porcelain skin. Blonds, Brian thought with an internal smile. "You want Chinese? Thai? What?"

"I really want a big juicy hamburger. I've missed big juicy hamburgers."

"Okay, then let's order from Bubba's. That'll satisfy our grease quotient for the week. Did you hear that message from Leo Chang? It was for you?"

"Yeah, he wants me to call. Cool. Maybe he made some headway getting me into the Art Institute here."

"Maybe you can start mid-term. That would be good, because then you wouldn't be far behind your class."

They ordered dinner, and Justin met Brian's eyes. "We have forty-five minutes. Can you think of anything to do?"

Brian smiled wryly. "Unpack?"

"The honeymoon is definitely over."

Brian laughed and leaned him back against the sofa and kissed him. Both of them flinched when the phone rang. Brian, always unable to ignore a ringing phone, picked it up. "Yeah?"

"Welcome home, world traveler" Michael said.

"Hi, Mikey. Look, I was just..."

"This will only take a minute of your busy time," Brian hated it when Michael turned pissy.

"No, I want to talk to you. It's just... can I call you back after our dinner arrives so we'll have time to talk uninterrupted?" he moaned softly as Justin reached inside his robe and squeezed his dick.

"I just wanted to tell you about Jeffrey."

"I really don't want to talk about Jeffrey," he said and Justin stopped fondling him, his expression suddenly tense.

"Did you know he left the United States? He wasn't supposed to leave, but he did. He was in Italy. I wanted to tell you while you were there but everyone made me promise not to. They said it would ruin your vacation. I argued that you should be told so you could be on the lookout."

Brian frowned and scrubbed his fingers through his hair. "I'd really rather have known that Jeffrey was in Italy, but since we're back, I guess we don't have to worry, right? Nothing bad happened to us over there."

"Because they arrested him and extradited him back to the United States. He's in jail now, awaiting trial. You'll probably have to testify."

"Shit," reality banged in on Brian like a collapsed roof. He had deliberately forgotten Jeffrey while they were in Italy. The way he drugged Brian, blackmailed him by using Molly's health as his weapon, toyed with his nerves until he was on the breaking point. He had never felt so helpless, used and miserable. As much as he hated the idea of testifying in open court about his own fallibility, he had no reservation about doing so if it meant Jeffrey would be locked up.

"So how was it?" Michael asked cheerfully as if he had not just delivered dreadful news.

"Later, Mikey."

Justin stared at his lover as he hung up. "It's so weird, Bri. I swear I saw Jeffrey when we were in Florence. You were shopping. I was taking in the art. I saw him in the crowd, and then he was gone."

Brian glared at him as he said, "You never..."

"I didn't want to worry you, and I thought it must be my imagination."

Brian reached out and spread his hand on Justin's cheek. If anyone suffered more than he did at Jeffrey Walker's hand, it was Justin. He pulled him into his arms and held him tightly. "It's over now. You heard that Lydia called me, right? I'm making an appointment with her and you need to get back into that regression therapy."

At the awards dinner, when their situation with Jeffrey hit a crescendo, Justin rescued Brian while the band played "Save the Last Dance". Brian believed his lover had finally recalled the magic of that moment they'd shared at the prom. Only when they were in Italy did Justin admit that his memory was still blocked by the bashing, and that he had only pretended to remember in order to reassure Brian.

By then, Brian was finally able to have confidence in their love for each other, even without the framework of the prom. Despite that confidence, he wanted Justin to work through this block, believing it was harmful to keep the attack bottled up in his subconscious.

"I know," Justin snuggled close to Brian's chest, listening to the soothing thump of his heart. "I promised you I would. I want to remember. I even want to remember the bashing and get rid of it once and for all."

"I'll be here with you, if you need me, Justin. You won't have to do it alone."

"I know you will be, Brian," he squeezed him tightly. "I trust you."

They held each other as the rain pounded against the glass casement windows. Rather than having sex, they simply enjoyed a quiet moment together before their food arrived. This peace was much more important to them than Jeffrey or the therapy or even the intrusion of their daily lives. The still moments between them exemplified a safety zone they had established, where they were free to love, to feel, to experience each other without any expectations or demands. This was perhaps the greatest souvenir they brought back from Italy with them; the simple comfort of being a couple.

Go to Chapter 1

Disclaimer: The television show Queer As Folk and its characters are the property of Showtime and CowLip Productions. No money is being made. Stories and discussion are intended purely for the entertainment of fans of Queer as Folk, the Brian and Justin characters, and Randall's writings.
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July 25, 2004