|xie_xie_xie (xie_xie_xie) wrote in qaf_challenges,|
@ 2011-03-13 13:06:00
The cancer returned the fourth winter after Justin left Pittsburgh to become a big, fat fucking success as an artist in New York City.
It wasn’t the first time my six month blood test had come back abnormal, so my level of concern when the doctor’s office called to tell me to get the test repeated as soon as possible was fairly low-key.
I decided not to mention it to Justin, or anyone else for that matter, since the last time it happened I’d let it slip to Michael in passing, stupidly not advising him to zip his lip, causing a wide variety of shit to hit the proverbial fan needlessly when the second tests wound up being completely normal.
Justin was pissed that he heard the news from his mother, who’d heard it from Deb, who’d dragged the news from her baby boy, who had been moping in the diner over his orange juice and eggs. And people accuse me of being a huge, fucking drama queen?
I managed to soothe Sunshine’s ruffled feathers the next time I paid him a visit in the Big Apple, by fucking him senseless for two days, and promising on my remaining ball that I would never let him get information like that from anyone other than me in the future.
So this time, I began to make excuses to myself from the very start. Justin was working on a few commissions and was feeling the pressure of some self-imposed deadlines. Why distract him with a simple lab fuck-up? I dealt with the fuck-ups in my own company on a daily basis, and knew first-hand what a creativity-crushing exercise in useless stress it could be.
Then, just as I was patting myself on the back for handling another meaningless crisis on my own, Michael called, convincing me it was time for another one of Mikey and Brian’s BFF nights at the loft.
The sheer fact that Michael and I actually scheduled these occasional get-togethers should have been enough to send me on a mission to drink, drug, and whore my way through Gay Pittsburgh just on principle alone. But, as I ruefully acknowledged, time changes everything, even my need to prove a point, no matter how ludicrous it might make me appear, and in a moment of lesbionic weakness, I agreed to some one-on-one time with him the night before my re-test.
Michael showed up, six pack of soda and bag of miscellaneous junk-food in hand, causing me to roll my eyes and declare him a truly pathetic faggot. But I kissed him soundly, tossed the soda in the fridge and the snacks on the kitchen island, and indulged his super geek taste in movies by agreeing to a Batman marathon, as long as we started with The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger was hot, even as a psychopathic clown in dire need of a fag to update his purple wardrobe.
About an hour into the rise of chaos in Gotham City, Michael’s curiosity about something obviously got the best of him. He looked up from his comfortable spot in my arms, and cleared his throat, waiting for me to glance down at him.
“What, Mikey?” I asked with a long-suffering sigh. “Do you need some marital advice for you and the Professor? Maybe a kinky new toy to try out on your next Freaky Friday?”
“No,” Michael laughed as he sat up and took a good look around the living room where we were sprawled, a puzzled expression on his face when it appeared he didn’t find what he was searching for. “Like I would willingly walk through the mine field of a serious talk about relationships with you. And we have our own kinky shit, thank you very much.”
I snorted at that, but didn’t answer, my thoughts turning instead, to my own, sadly absent, kinky partner for one fleeting moment. Eventually Michael glanced back at me expectantly, and I rubbed my hands over my face wearily. “Mikey, what the fuck are you looking for?”
“Your stash, of course,” Michael answered, as though it should have been obvious. “Ben knows not to expect me home after one of our nights of drunken and drugged debauchery, so I was just wondering when we would be beginning the actual drugging and drinking portion of tonight’s festivities.”
I reached over and grabbed my pack of cigarettes, tossing it into Michael’s lap. “Sorry to disappoint you, reefer boy, but I’m afraid there are only legal tobacco products and non-alcoholic beverages on the menu tonight.”
Michael stared at me open-mouthed for an annoying moment before narrowing his eyes suspiciously.
“Bullshit!” he finally exclaimed, nudging against me. “Stop messing with me, Brian.”
I leveled an impassive look in his direction, eyebrows raised in challenge. He had been starting to grin, certain that I was simply teasing him, but something in my expression wiped the smile right off his face.
“Relax,” I spoke quickly, the kicked puppy look he was sporting making me clench my jaw tightly. I made a conscious effort to follow my own advice, but I could feel the tension coiling up in the pit of my stomach. “My blood work was fucked up again, so I have to play human pincushion tomorrow. As much as I’d love to get wasted tonight, I need to have some credibility when I tell them I’m a social drinker who only uses recreational drugs sparingly.”
He wasn’t happy about it, but I finally convinced him to go home to the Stepford Zone, with a promise to call him as soon as I got the new results.
I picked up my cell phone as soon as I slid the loft door shut. It was after midnight, but Justin and I didn’t give a fuck what time it was when we needed to talk. We’d learned something about communication in the four years he’d been living in New York.
“Hey.” His voice was soft and relaxed, which meant he had either just finished painting something brilliant or jerking off. It didn’t matter to me, I was simply happy to hear his voice.
“Hey.” I cleared my throat, playing nervously with the pack of cigarettes I had left on the kitchen island. “So….what are you wearing?”
He laughed, and I sat down on the sofa, closing my eyes to get an image of his face when he was smiling. “I see. It’s one of those midnight calls then.”
I huffed out a quietly amused grunt since every fucking one of our midnight calls ended up with both of us sweating, sticky, and completely sated.
“Alas, I have another reason for reaching out and virtually touching you tonight.” I heard the gentle clink of silverware and I figured he was in his pathetic excuse for a kitchen, getting ready to devour a pint of the most disgusting ice cream flavor ever imagined.
“Mmmm…what’s that?” He sounded so content, I almost decided to wait until after I had the results to tell him, but part of me was afraid he would go Pink Posse on me and try to kick my ass if I did that.
“Well….” I heard him breathing, and I suddenly wished he were here in Pittsburgh sitting next to me.
“Hang on a sec, Brian, someone else is calling me.” Fuck! I had figured Michael would at least wait until he’d gotten home to stick his nose where I didn’t think it belonged.
“Wait, Justin!” I cringed at the edge of panic in my tone, but it did the trick.
“I’m still here.” He sounded extremely suspicious now. “It was Michael’s number on the caller ID, but I’m guessing you already knew that. What’s going on?”
“I have to get another round of blood work tomorrow.” I heard a sharp intake of breath and pinched my nose in frustration. “I’m sure everything is fine, but you know fucking doctors, any excuse to mindfuck someone without a medical degree.”
He let out his breath in a loud whoosh, and I could see the wheels spinning in his blond head already. “Okay.” He was going to start rationalizing. “So Michael was calling me because he thought you weren’t going to tell me yourself, or because he thinks you’re freaking out over this? You weren’t going to try to hide this from me, were you?”
“Of course not,” I answered smoothly, but we both knew I was full of shit. “Besides, there’s hardly anything to tell, now is there, twat?” We also knew he was going to let me slide for now, at least until I got a clean bill of health.
Three days later, I’m staring at a post-it in Cynthia’s handwriting telling me Dr. Glenn called while I was in a meeting and to please return his call asap.
I jabbed the finger I wanted to jab into my eye onto my intercom.
“The call from Dr. Glenn? Was he calling personally, or was it his office?”
“It was the doctor himself on the line.”
“Thank you. Hold all my calls.”
“Fuck!” I jabbed two fingers into my eyes then, and put my head down onto my desk. If the doc was calling in person, it could only mean bad news. I took out my cell phone and resisted the urge to smash it against the furthest wall. Instead, I dialed Dr. Glenn’s office.
The next morning I found myself outside of Justin’s New York apartment barely able to remember exactly how I had managed to make it there, let alone why I had thought it would be a good idea to show up unannounced after our last conversation had ended with my promise to call him with the results. But that was before the results showed I would require more extensive tests that would confirm that lightning had indeed decided to strike twice.
I had a key, of course, but it seemed that the ability to use it was something else I was having a problem with suddenly. I raised my fist and gently knocked on the door.
A part of me approved when I heard several locks click open, and I wondered vaguely if he ever armed the alarm system I had insisted he have installed and monitored after a rash of robberies in his shabbily upscale neighborhood the year before. After his haphazard record of locking doors and arming security systems in Pittsburgh, I was grateful for the sound of those tumblers unlocking.
The door opened and he looked at me silently, no surprise in his expression, just a flash of fear that he quickly masked, replacing it with the stubborn determination my boy knew I needed to see from him.
He stepped forward and pulled me into a hug, his fingers stroking gently through my hair as he whispered into my ear, “Come inside.”
He led me across his small living room, directly into his bedroom. I stood there, silent and numb, as he undressed me and pushed me down onto his mattress. His fingers never stopped petting me, except for once, when I grabbed at one of his hands and entwined my fingers with his, grounding myself before I could shut down on him… on us. If I had learned one lesson in the past ten years, it was to never slam the door on a determined little shit like Justin, especially not after he knew I’d kept those fucking rings.
“We’ll be fine,” he murmured as he slid under the covers beside me, “You’ll be fine.” He covered my face with light kisses, before moving down to my chest where he rested his cheek, listening to my heartbeat, and trying to hide the solitary tear that fell from his eyes.
“Besides, it’s time that I came home, and finally mixed my drawers with your drawers in a permanent and eminently more convenient manner.”
I slid my fingers into his hair, tugging at it in gratitude when words were still impossible for me to find.
Winter had me in its grip, but not for long. Justin’s unique brand of sunshine would guide me through the coldest days ahead. He was my partner, and this time I wouldn’t hide anything or push him away.
I had gone to New York to ask him to come home to me, and he had understood what I needed without words, without grand dramatic gestures or a mansion in the country with stables and tennis courts.
Winter had me in her icy grip, but I don’t think the frigid bitch had ever had to contend with the likes of one Justin Taylor.