|QAF FanFic by Morpheus
When It Sizzles
A Post-Season 5 Story in Three Parts
I love Paris in the springtime,
I love Paris in the fall,
I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles,
I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles.
I love Paris every moment, every moment of the year.
I love Paris - why, oh why, do I love Paris?
Because my love is near.
-- Words and music by Cole Porter
PART THREE – August 2008
“I know about Max,” Justin declares, staring hard at my face, watching closely for my reaction.
“Max who?” I ask, shrugging my shoulders.
“Brian,” he says, “I figured out a long time ago why you stick so close to your mantra of ‘honesty.’ It’s because you’re a fucking terrible liar. You’re just no good at it. Honesty’s the only thing you can handle.”
“Is that so?”
“And I know you’re not going to lie to me now. Just please, don’t make me ask a lot of questions. Just tell me quick, like pulling off a Band-aid. It will hurt less that way.”
“Me, of course,” he answers quickly. “Why should it hurt you?”
I swing my head around again and stare out over the water, thinking about Max. I take a deep breath and blow it out. “I met him in San Francisco, on a business trip. He was a trick. He was just supposed to be a trick.”
When I pause, Justin asks, “Is he young? Blond?”
I could almost laugh but I don’t. “No, neither. He’s just an ordinary guy. Though of course,” I correct myself, “He’s a looker.”
“I picked him up one night, in a bar in the Castro. We came back to my hotel. For some reason I let him sleep over. I never do that.” I turn to look at Justin and he nods, he knows that’s the truth.
“The next day, I flew home. End of story.” That should have been an end to the story.
When Justin says nothing, I go on. “I had to fly back to SF the next week, and I called him. I never ask for numbers, but he wrote his phone number on a piece of paper at the hotel, and even though I threw it away, I remembered it. I didn’t feel like doing a pub crawl that night, I just wanted a good fuck, so I called him.”
I stop then, I’m not sure how much Justin really wants to know. He nods again so I continue.
“We – talked. He stayed over. We went to breakfast. It meant nothing.”
I stop and wait, but Justin still says nothing, he just keeps staring at my face. Finally I swing my head away and stare out over the ocean again. “Will it be enough just to tell you that it’s over?”
There’s a long pause. I can’t look at him. Then I have to look at him, I have to let him see the truth in my eyes. “It’s over.”
Justin stares at my face for a moment, then he nods. “Brian, I know this is ridiculous, considering all the shit I’ve put you through, with Ethan and everything else. You shouldn’t ever have to explain anything to me, I have no right to - ”
“You do, though.”
“No,” he denies it, “We never took vows or made promises. You’ve always emphasized that we were both free agents, free to fuck around or fall in love, or - ”
“It wasn’t love. With Max.” When he opens his mouth to say something, I quickly add, “And you do have a right, whether you know it or not. Because no, we never said the words, you and I, we never made promises, but I’ve only ever loved you. In my whole life, Justin, it’s only ever been you, even when I was too proud or stupid to say the words. There could never be anyone else for me.”
Justin doesn’t speak for a moment, only stares at my face. “Brian,” he breathes my name at last, “You never said that to me before.”
“I’m saying it now.”
We lean forward at the same time and kiss. Justin’s arms slide around my neck and he leans hard against me as we kiss again.
“Were you lonely, Brian?”
The little fucker’s going to make excuses for me.
I just shake my head, neither yes nor no.
“Brian – I understand. I do,” he insists. I imagine I hear his voice cracking, I imagine he’s still upset. I’m glad that we’re sitting in near-darkness, so he can pretend he’s okay. “I just – never thought it would happen. I guess I just took it for granted that you’d always belong to me.”
“Oh, I know we don’t really belong to each other!” he hastens to assure me.
We do, though. “Yes, we do,” I contradict him. “We agreed, before you went to New York, that we didn’t need vows to know that we loved each other.”
“But I mean, you’ve always insisted that we’re both free agents. So I had no right to expect that you’d, that you’d. . . .”
He’s crying now. He’s hiding it, he doesn’t want me to know, so I ignore his silent tears, but I know this boy, this man.
Sorry’s bullshit. It’s fucking meaningless bullshit. But I have to say it anyway. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”
I see him shake his head, probably he still can’t speak. “Justin,” I lean toward him and say earnestly, “It’s over. It was never really anything anyway, just kind of a fling. Just kind of a fling, for a little while. It was a long-distance thing, he’s never even been to Pittsburgh.”
Justin is silent and I think he’s going to let it go. For a moment I think that I’m home free, but I should have known better.
“It was more than a fling,” he says at last. “Wasn’t it?”
I have to look away again, I don’t know what he’ll read on my face. But I owe him the truth. And in a twisted kind of way, I owe Max the truth too.
Because he was more than a fling.
For a long moment, neither of us speaks. Then I tell him, “I broke it off a couple months ago. I don’t even know how you found out about it.”
And it hits me. Nobody knows, not even Michael. “How DID you find out about it?”
“He called me.”
“Who called you?”
“Max. He called me, the first week of June. He said if I really loved you, I’d leave you alone, I’d give you a chance to be happy with him.”
“Jesus Christ! How could he call you? I never even told him your name!”
“Really?” Justin gulps. “I – I figured you must have told him all about me, about us. He seemed to know everything.”
I’m pulled up short, I have to think for a moment. What I said to Justin is the truth, I never told Max Justin’s name, only that I loved somebody else, always had and always would.
Taking Justin’s hands in mine, I squeeze them, look directly into his eyes. “I suppose it wouldn’t be hard to find out about us, would it? We haven’t exactly lived our lives in private. Everything since the prom has been played out in the public eye.”
The bashing trial, the success of Kinnetik, the fame of RAGE the comic and the almost-movie, the bombing of Babylon, all of our tragedies and successes have pretty much been public knowledge.
“You say he called you in June? That was right before I broke it off with him. Did he call you again after that?”
“No,” Justin answers, which relieves my mind, it must mean he gave it up, whatever it was Max thought he’d accomplish by exposing my – my what? Betrayal? to Justin.
Still holding Justin’s hands, I squeeze them now. “So you made yourself sick over this, since June? Christ, Justin, I’m sorry that he called and upset you. I never meant to hurt you.”
“I know, of course I know that. And I’ve been okay, recently. It’s just that I was upset about Ethan’s letter, and then Max called me the very next day. I didn’t deal with it very well. I’ve been pretty fucking lonely, myself.”
“Will you come home, then, when your fellowship is finished? Will you come home to Pittsburgh, or are you moving back to New York?”
“Brian, do you want me to come home? I mean,” Justin adds hastily, “I think I know that you want me to come home. But you really, really have to say it, this time. You have to ask me.”
As he’s done so many times before, Justin Taylor has pushed me up against the wall. He’s pinning me down, he’s forcing my hand and he’s making demands.
Thank God. Thank God, he still wants me that much.
“Come home to me,” I breathe quietly, even though I absolutely cannot bear to ask things for myself. Not important things. Not life and death things. But, “Come home,” I murmur, and then I hold my breath. Some ancient superstition warns me that the heavens will now erupt in thunder, will send a lightning bolt down to strike me dead where I sit cowering on this rock wall above the sea. I’m going to be struck dead, for daring to crave happiness.
When nothing happens, I repeat more strongly, “Come home to me, Justin. I don’t want to live without you any more. Or,” I stop then, squeeze his hands even harder. “If you need to paint in Paris, or New York, or fucking Timbuktu, say the word and I’ll come to live with you there.”
“Brian!” Even in the darkness I can see the gleam of Justin’s teeth as he grins at me.
“But,” I insert a quick caveat, “I hope you don’t choose Timbuktu, butt-fucking is illegal there.”
“Not Timbuktu,” Justin promises. “And I don’t need Paris or New York either. I only need to be close to the man that I love, then I can paint like a son of a bitch.”
He leans forward for a kiss but I stop him before our lips can meet. “You should finish your fellowship first, though.”
“Yes, of course,” he agrees. “Only promise you’ll stay away from California till I come home?”
“It’s a deal.
“And since I can’t get away from Paris, you have to visit me more often. At least once a month.”
“Okay. And I’m going to extend my visit this time, I need to supervise your diet for a while.”
“You’d do that for me?” Justin sighs and melts against my chest.
“It’s not for you,” I deny, giving him a little shake. “It’s purely selfish – it’s downright painful for me, fucking such a bony little ass.”
“That’s easy to fix,” Justin suggests. “We can switch positions for a while, till my ass gets soft and bouncy again.”
“You think you’re going to fuck me on a regular basis?” Before he can answer, I inquire seriously, “Did hell just freeze over?”
“Yes, I think so,” he agrees. “Now tell me that you love me, and we’ll know for sure.”
“I’ve said it before, you know,” I remind him.
“Yeah, a couple times,” he agrees, “But you always whisper, like you’re afraid someone will overhear. I want you to say it out loud.”
Throwing back my head, I bellow at the top of my lungs, “JUSTIN TAYLOR, I LOVE YOU!”
Then again I wait for lightning to strike me dead.
When nothing happens, when the summer weather remains warmly wrapped around our shoulders, we lean closer together on the high rock wall. My arms pull him tight against my chest, our foreheads touch and our mouths meet. Then all lips and teeth and devouring tongues, we lose ourselves in a passionate kiss that’s so burning hot, it sizzles.
11/3/05 Rev. 11/26/05