Ok, not my fault!!! Squidge crashed. It's up now, so here it is. Thanks to the team, for their usual professionalism and talent.Squidge willing, I am going to post a little stand alone Mother's Day gift in the morning entitled "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby".
Cynthia met Brian for lunch after his appointment with Lydia. They dined in a small bistro near Central Park, choosing to eat outside since the weather was mild and clear. After initial pleasantries and ordering beverages, she withdrew an envelope from her purse. Brian took it from her with an inquisitive look.
"What is it?"
"A print out of Kimbrough's electronic calendar for the last month."
"How did you get it?"
"Sam in tech support got it. He was doing routine maintenance on Kimbrough's computer, and thought you may want a print out of this. You know Sam?"
Brian pictured the young guy with a ponytail and hornrims, classic computer nerd. He suspected Sam had a little crush on him. Brian hadn't done anything to urge him on, but neither had he discouraged it, because he appreciated the instant service he always got from Sam while others waited forever to get their systems back online. "I know Sam."
"He has a crush on you."
"Naw, he just wants to blow me."
"There's a difference?"
"Subtle," Brian said with a smirk. He opened the envelope and withdrew the print-out of a monthly electronic calendar. He read over a full slate of meetings, many superficially social since a large part of Kimbrough's responsibility was the care and feeding of major clients. Brian recognized many names of clients as well as companies, but not all of them. Some were cryptic initials or no initials, just a location and time. He looked up the day he returned to work after his vacation and saw this chilling reference: BK, 9am, term.
Brian felt an unexpected stab of pain while reading that entry. Cynthia tapped a manicured nail on another box on the calendar. The Friday before the Monday he fired Brian. Kimbrough had written: Lunch w/ J, Edmund's, 12 pm, re BK(?)
"Tell Sam thanks. It's funny, we seem to have a gay mafia at the agency."
"I guess we do and you're their hero."
"Not the hero type," Brian said with a wince.
"Of course you are."
"Can you find out who J is?"
"I can try."
"Cyn," he covered her hand with his, a gesture that surprised her since Brian wasn't known for being touchy/feely. "Be careful. Don't get yourself fired trying to help me. I know you need the job."
"I'll be fine," she reassured him.
"I'm going to beat them down, Cyn," he told her. "I don't want you to bleed for me along the way."
She blushed and nodded, becoming suddenly fascinated by the menu as Brian thought of other alternatives available to him to discover the identity of the luncheon companion of Felix Kimbrough.
Justin came home from work to find Brian tying his tie, looking resplendent in Dolce and Gabbana. Justin kissed him, then flopped back on the bed, kicking off his shoes. "Why are you all dressed up?"
"Same reason you will be soon as you take your lazy ass in there and shower. I'll get your clothes out. We don't have much time."
"Time before what?"
"Before we leave. Go shower." Brian turned away from him, selecting Justin's best suit and a shirt and tie as his lover reluctantly stripped and went into the bathroom. While Justin stood under the hot spray, Brian leaned in the doorway to talk to him. He struggled not to let the sight of his lover's naked body through the foggy glass entice him to action. There was no time. He explained they were going to dinner at Edmund's, listed as one of the best restaurants in the world, not just in New York City. They would be accompanied by the software manufacturer who gave Brian a business card at the gallery opening.
"He's bringing his partner so I'm bringing mine. It's my invitation."
"But can we afford Edmund's?" Justin asked, drying off briskly and then walking into the bedroom to dress, followed by Brian. Brian reached out to smooth his hand over Justin's bare ass, unable to resist the lure of that finely rounded rump. Justin laughed as he eluded him.
"You start that, we'll be late. Can we afford it?" He repeated the question.
"No, but it's client development. A write off."
"How did you get a reservation? Isn't it a month ahead or more to book there?"
"It's a weeknight, that helps. I know someone."
"Of course," Justin smirked. "How are you going to pitch an ad agency that doesn't exist?" He asked as Brian helped him with his tie.
"It does exist. It's in here," Brian tapped his temple. "It's all about ideas. I can hire the execution. Just go with the flow tonight, don't challenge me."
"Why would I?"
"Because you're my little bulldog," Brian said with a smile, kissing him deeply as he released his perfectly knotted tie.
They cabbed to the East Sixites, their destination, an elegant refurbished mansion close to the park. The restaurant was subtly identified by a brass plaque at the ebony door. A huge marble foyer led way to a reception area and bar. Marble columns and floors gleamed beneath enormous crystal chandeliers that resembled intricate upside down wedding cakes crafted from glass. Justin was awed by the priceless tapestries and graceful sculptures. Brian playfully pushed a finger under his chin as if to close his gaping mouth. They sat on velvet ottomans and ordered cocktails while they waited for their dinner companions. A tuxedoed waiter delivered their drinks along with a bowl of olives and an assortment of fancy roasted nuts.
Brian handed him a business card when he left their drink order and asked that it be delivered to Edmund. Justin smiled at him. "What are you up to?"
"Why so suspicious?"
"I know how your devious brain works. You're up to something."
Edmund Rozi, the owner of the restaurant and chef, came from the back. He was a handsome man in his early forties, fit and trim. He greeted Brian with a delicate kiss on the lips, and then beamed at Justin. "Who is this divine child?"
"He's older than he looks. Edmund, Justin, Justin, Edmund. Justin is my partner. Edmund is the cook here."
Justin laughed at his "cook" quip and shook Edmund's hand. He still loved it when Brian introduced him as his partner. "Edmund and I go to the same trainer," Brian continued. "Thank you for getting me a table at such short notice, Eddie."
"Nonsense, you never ask for favors. I knew it must be important, and your advertising campaign, as well as my skill with a whisk, put this place on the map. What does this card mean? ‘BACK IN? CEO'? What happened to Vanguard?"
"We split the sheets."
"Good for you! I always told you that you should go out on your own. Well, I guess I'll have a new ad agency. I go where you go. What prompted you to leave?" He sat down with them and ordered a glass of chardonnay, naming the bottle he wanted poured.
"They fired me," Brian said bluntly. Justin smiled. He appreciated the way Brian never sugar-coated even the worst news about himself.
"They're a bunch of homophobes," Justin complained, and Brian rolled his eyes.
"Let's not get into all that. I'm suing them, Ed."
"You go, girl!" Edmund said with a laugh. "So, how long have you two been a couple? You're such a keeper of secrets, Brian."
"Since I was a senior in high school," Justin said with a grin, watching Brian wince from the corner of his eye.
"It's not as bad as it sounds," Brian defended. "I was a very immature twenty-nine year old and this one hopped me. Anyway, it's been a tortured path, we've only been living together here for a few months. But it's good, it's lifelong."
Justin blushed and leaned over to kiss Brian gently as Edmund beamed at them. "Well, big changes in your life, you gorgeous, elusive bastard. I'm glad someone finally tethered you. He never even let me suck his dick," he said with a laugh and Justin smiled at him.
"Really? That doesn't sound like Brian. You missed a good one. But hey, don't try it now, because now I won't let you suck his dick."
"Cross my heart, blondie."
"Moving right along," Brian interjected. "I need another favor, Ed," Brian said. "This is a big one."
"No dick AND another favor? Balls the size of Texas," Edmund joked. "Go ahead darling, I'll let the squab burn." They all knew his kitchen was staffed with the best sous-chefs in the business.
"You know my old boss, Felix?" Brian asked.
"Of course, he's a regular."
"Apparently he met someone for lunch here on this date," Brian slipped him a note. "I really need to know who he met."
Edmund leaned back with a sigh. "Brian, Brian, Brian. Discretion is key in my business. I have all kinds of people who would love to know who dines with whom, but I can't do that and stay in business. Wives, mistresses, lovers, not my concern. They eat my snails and pay a premium for it, so their privacy is assured. Deals are cut here, CEOs are seduced away from companies, I just can't divulge."
"I need to know who he had lunch with. I swear I will protect you, Eddie. But I understand if you can't."
"I'm not sure I could even figure out who it is if I wanted to, Brian. If Felix made the reservation, he probably didn't say who his lunch partner was, so we wouldn't have anything on the books. And if the other person made it, we have no way to link it to Felix."
"I know you aren't that limited in resources, Eddie. Amazing what a smart waitstaff can retain. Just a question here or there. Your first ad mockup will be on me."
Edmund brightened slightly. "Oh well, a question here or there, perhaps. For you, gorgeous. Just for you."
Brian's dinner guests arrived and were impressed to be introduced to the restaurant's owner and master chef. Justin eyed the software manufacturer's partner, noticing he was much younger than the entrepreneur and he was also model handsome. He couldn't help but wonder how he looked to this guy. Did he see him as a young blond bimbo being kept by Brian? He scowled to himself. He didn't agree. He had plans of his own, for his own life, beyond being Brian's lover. And that's the way Brian wanted it.
While waiting for dessert, which for Brian was a brandy and for Justin was a gooey pastry concoction, Justin got up to go to the bathroom. He was surprised when the "partner" of the other man went with him. He noted Brian's wry expression with a little scowl. "Let me get this straight," the man said as they crossed the elegant main floor of the dining room, which glowed under pink-tinted lighting. "He's keeping you, right?"
Justin glared at him. "He's my partner."
"But he's paying the freight, right? Do you know how lucky you are to have someone that young and that handsome paying your bills?"
Justin stepped up to the urinals, and so did the other man. Justin didn't even bother to look. He didn't really care. "Look, I work. I have a job. And in the fall I'm going back to college to finish my degree. I have plans for a career of my own. It's not about living off of Brian." He wouldn't share with this creep that Brian was out of work and that the "agency" he was promoting to the creep's boyfriend really existed only in Brian's fertile brain. It was none of his business that he was in love with Brian, and that he would share a tenement existence with him, if necessary. Let this idiot think what he wanted.
"Honey, we all work at something or go to some classes. Otherwise we'd be totally boring to them. There's a group of us who get together every week. We lunch, we shop, we diss. Sometimes we go out at night and club. We're all young, we're all beautiful, we're all kept boys. Why don't you call me? We have room for one more gorgeous young blond."
Justin zipped up and then washed his hands at the gold-plated basin, handed a warm towel by an attendant. He put a tip in the crystal bowl, then walked out, trailed by the other. "Thanks, but I work, I don't have time to lunch and shop and diss. And Brian wouldn't like me to go out clubbing at night with a bunch of fairies."
"Whatever Daddy wants..."
Justin glared at him. "I doubt if he's any older than you."
The other man bristled at that, and the rest of the walk was in silence. When he returned to the table, Brian read his lover's strained expression and raised an inquisitive brow. Justin shook his head almost imperceptibly and dug into his dessert. On the cab ride home, Brian said, "So? What did that guy say to piss you off?"
"He assumed I was your kept boy."
"Did you explain I couldn't afford to keep a pet right now, let alone a blond?"
Justin laughed. "That didn't seem like the smart thing to do since you're pitching his daddy. I told him we were partners. We are partners, aren't we, Brian? I mean, I know you pay for everything, but..."
"Hey," Brian took his hand between his. "We each bring different things to the table. Until recently, I brought the ability to make money, now I'm not sure what I bring. But I'm sure about what you bring. You're a talented, loving, forgiving, compassionate, smart, beautiful guy, Justin. You make me laugh, you make me horny, you make me like being myself when I'm with you. You bring me peace and comfort. You can't put a dollar value on that shit."
Justin sighed, choking back sentimental tears as he responded, "Don't you see, Brian, you do all of that for me, too. That's why it's not about the lifestyle, it's about the life we share. I'd sleep with you under a bridge."
Brian glanced at him in the dark. "We did sleep together under a bridge, remember? Sleep being a euphemism for fucking, of course. Remember that evening in Central Park? No one was around, so we..."
Justin laughed and punched his arm. "Will you let me be romantic for once? You know what I mean."
Brian leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Yeah, I know. I love you too, kid."
The rest of the ride was spent in comfortable silence, with Justin's head resting on Brian's shoulder.
In the elevator to their loft, Brian began kissing Justin with increasing intensity, beginning the prelude to more. Justin pressed tightly to his body, sucking in his tongue and stroking the front of his Italian-made trousers, feeling for the bulge. Brian moaned when he contacted the hard roll of flesh and Justin manipulated it with deft knowledge of what Brian liked. He unzipped the fly, reaching inside to withdraw the object of his attention.
"Yeah," Brian said, loosely resting his forearm across his eyes, his back against the wall as Justin dropped down and began fellating him. The elevator stopped on their floor and Justin reached over to push the full stop button to prevent it from being called. Neither of them made a move to open the grate and exit. They both wanted to finish it right where they were. But then...
Someone from the outside opened the grate, looked in at them, muttered a disgusted curse and turned away. Justin looked up at Brian, questioning. Brian glanced at Melanie's back and reached over to slam the grate shut. He then filtered his fingers through Justin's golden hair, urging him to finish. Justin offered him a wicked smile before continuing with his fellatio. After Brian came, he pulled Justin to his feet, kissed him hard, tasting his own semen, then backed him to the wall. He kept kissing him as he reached down and masturbated him to completion.
Mutually satisfied, their clothes back in order, only then did they open the grate and step into the hall, holding hands. Melanie turned to glare at them, focusing her anger on Brian. "You are a fucking animal!"
"Hello to you, too, Mel," he let go of Justin to fish for his key.
"Thank you for noticing."
"Do you know how many hours I've been waiting for you? Open the door, I have to pee!"
"The telephone is a fine invention, try it some time," he opened the door, and she stepped inside, taking in the splendor of the huge living space with a single glance.
"I did call, asshole. No one answered."
"Well, there was your first clue that no one is home. Bathroom's straight down that hallway."
She dropped a leather duffel in the entry and went in the direction he motioned to, as he said to Justin, "I must have been very bad in a prior life. Take your cell and go outside and call Linds. Warn her that Melanie is here and that I'm sending her over there. I'm not getting caught in the middle of a dyke fight. This is something the girls will have to battle out together. It's her problem, not mine."
"You can't just send her over to Mick's."
"No? Watch me. Go call," he handed him the wireless phone and patted his rump. Justin left the loft as Melanie rejoined them. Brian poured himself a Scotch and offered her one. She refused, standing there with her arms tightly crossed at her chest.
"Where is she, you fucking pervert?"
Brian suppressed a smile. "When you talk to me like that, I just melt, Morticia."
"I'm serious, Brian."
"As I told you before, she's not here."
"She's out? At this hour? With Gus?"
"Why don't you sit down?" Brian invited, stretching out on the leather chaise, on his side, propped up on one elbow. "You look like a cruise missile in launch position."
She refused, still staring daggers at him. Brian sighed, and went on. "I came down with a bad case of stomach flu and I didn't want Linds or Gus to get it. So I sent them to stay with a friend. Justin got it after me, so the visit stretched out."
"You look pretty healthy now. So did he, what I could see of him with your dick shoved down his throat. Why isn't she back? Or has she fallen in love with this gay boy friend of yours?"
"I never said it was a gay boy."
"You sent her off with a straight guy?"
"No, with a woman, Mel. A dyke. That make you feel better?"
Melanie's lips drew into a thin line and Brian realized this was as mad as he had ever seen her. Justin re-entered the loft, and joined Brian by sitting on the edge of the chaise, looking from one to the other. "What's going on?"
"I'll tell you what's going on," Melanie said in voice that was carefully controlled. "Your boyfriend has played his trump card to try and break up Lindsay and me. He can't, or won't, seduce her himself, so he sends her to someone he thinks will do the job for him."
"You mean Mick?" Justin wrinkled his nose in confusion. "That's not Brian's fault. He was just trying to protect Lindsay and Gus from the flu."
"It won't work, Kinney," Melanie said, ignoring Justin's corroboration. She retrieved her purse and removed a PDA from it, flipping it open. "Give me an address and a phone number now or I swear to God, I'll charge you with kidnapping my son."
"Christ, Mel, quit being such a DQ!"
"Lindsay is on her way over. I called her," Justin said and Brian winced.
"I didn't mean for her to come over here."
"She didn't want a scene in front of Gus and Mick."
Brian stood up, bringing Justin with him. "That's our cue to go to bed. Make yourself at home in my home, Melanie. And whatever you and Linds break in your catfight, you buy. I'm locking the door to our bedroom. I'm not refereeing this event. You guys are on your own."
Justin waved goodnight to her as he followed Brian into the bedroom and locked the door behind him. Three hours later, wearing sweats he'd pulled on backwards in the dark, Brian staggered into the main room of the loft, squinting at the light as he faced the two angry women.
"Shut the FUCK up!" He insisted with an angry glare from one to the other. "I've listened to you cows shriek at each other for hours, and I'm exhausted. Either go somewhere else to fight, preferably Pittsburgh, or lower the fucking volume! Christ!"
Both had been crying, as evidenced by balls of Kleenex left around, and both were still blotched with anger.
"Fuck off, Kinney!" Melanie shot at him and Lindsay added,
"Brian, please leave us alone."
"See, this is MY home, not yours. Don't tell me to fuck off in my own home."
Lindsay gathered her purse and walked to the door, pausing to say, "I can make this easy. I'm out of here."
"You leave now, don't bother trying to come home," Melanie insisted and Lindsay gave her one of her patented glacial stares.
"Now why would I want to do that?"
"Don't leave her here with me..." Brian appealed, but Lindsay left and slammed the door closed while Brian sighed. Melanie was silent for a moment and then she burst into tears, dropping down to the sofa as her small body was wracked with sobs. Brian groaned and went into the kitchen, filling a glass with Scotch. He brought it to her and she took it from him but didn't drink, still crying too hard to swallow. He stood there in awkward silence, unsure of what to say or do. He had never seen anyone cry that hard. Women were really good at the crying thing.
"Uh, well, I'll just..." he hesitated. Just what? Leave her here to sob in private? What was he supposed to do now? Hell, he was gay, he wasn't supposed to have to deal with crying women, especially crying women he didn't even like. Okay, he had a grudging respect for Melanie's toughness, but he didn't like her. Not much, anyway. And she hated him, so what kind of comfort could he be? As he turned to go, she reached up and grabbed his wrist. Reflexively, he pulled free, shocked by that touch.
"Stay," she said between sobs and he rolled his eyes, trapped, and sat down a safe distance from her on the sofa, passing her the box of tissues. He sat there, wishing he was asleep and waiting for the tsunami of emotion to subside before he said anything. When she finally slowed down to heaving sniffles and silent tears, he tried to speak.
"Uh, there's an extra bedroom down the hall. You're welcome to..."
"Brian, how could she do this to me? Who is she? I don't even know her anymore!"
He sighed. "Were you cheating on her?"
"Who is this bitch she told me about?"
"If you really want to know, she is an expert in homeopathic medicine."
"Homo...what? We have our own doctors, now?"
"Please don't try to be funny. She practices herbology and acupuncture and acupressure to treat medical problems the conventional medical community can't repair."
"In a hotel room?"
"Yes, in a hotel suite."
"And she's hot? Lindsay said she's a ‘China doll'. I take that to mean she's hot."
"Well, it's a rather racist way of saying so, wouldn't you agree? Why am I asking you about sensitivity? Anyway, she's a very attractive woman. So what? And yes, we've become friends over the course of my treatment. We have a lot in common, strangely enough. But there's no sexual component to this."
"I guess that depends on what she's puncturing and what she's pressuring."
"Would you please can the sarcasm, Brian? This is serious."
He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Okay, so you meet this attractive woman in a hotel room for some herbal acupuncture or whatever the fuck she does. For what, if I may ask?"
"I want to have a baby."
He glanced at her. "I thought they told you...when you lost your baby with Michael...they said..."
"I know what they told me. I also know conventional medicine does not have all the answers. I want to have a baby, Brian. Sue thinks she can help me."
"Sue being the homo...whatever you said?"
"It's snake oil, voodoo, you're throwing your money down the shitter, Mel. I thought you were smarter than that. If its so important to you and Linds to have more kids, I told her I'd give her another round of goo."
"This isn't about Lindsay. This is about me. I want to have a baby that I carry myself."
"No offense, Mel, but your tight little body is all you have going for you. Why fuck it up?"
"I cannot believe even YOU would say that to me."
He shrugged. "I may be gay, but I'm still a guy. Okay, look...what's the problem, here? Why didn't you tell Lindsay about this doctor."
"Because she'd react the same way you did. That it's bullshit. I tried talking to her about it once, and she blew me off. The Chinese have been practicing alternative medicine for thousands of years, Brian. Who are we to say it's bullshit? We were still painting our asses blue when they had an advanced civilization."
"Actually, I painted my ass blue for a party just last year, but that's another story altogether. So you have now told her the truth, right?"
"And now she says I'm making it all up as a convenient excuse and even if it started out as a medical treatment, she believes it's become something more."
"And has it?"
She met his eyes. "Do you know how long it's been since Lindsay and I had sex?"
He winced. "No, for which I am eternally grateful. I take your non-answer to mean it HAS become something more."
She sighed. "Only recently. Just before Lindsay left town. I have needs too, Brian! If Lindsay doesn't want to have sex with me, I can find someone who does!"
Melanie met his question with a defiant stare. He sighed.
"So maybe Lindsay has found another outlet, too. Maybe it's just over, Melanie. Ever consider that possibility? Shit happens. Things end. Maybe yours ended. No mystery. Just over."
She shook her head. "You would think that, wouldn't you? Well some of us care enough to want to hold a relationship together even after an indiscretion. Some of us are more than an inch deep."
"Listen bitch," Brian suddenly flared. "I lived through the darkest point of my life when Justin left me for another man. I waited and I survived and I persevered and I got him back. So don't tell me about wanting to hold a relationship together. I can teach you those rules chapter and verse."
She met his expression and sighed. "You're right. You can. Well, I'm not giving up this easily, Brian. Tell me about this Mick person. I want to know."
He stood up. "If you want to know, find out yourself. I like Mick and I'm not getting in the middle of it. You're welcome to stay here tonight, what's left of it, but I wish you'd find a hotel tomorrow, Melanie. I don't see us sharing space. The sheets on the bed are fresh and there are towels out in the bathroom. Goodnight," he went back to his bedroom as Melanie began to cry again, this time shedding silent tears.
|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