WAFFLES Title: Waffles Written By:darla_isabelle Timeline: 408 AU Theme: Hurt/Comfort Author's Notes: This was supposed to be a gapfiller for 408 exploring Justin’s reaction to overhearing the phone message, but it got away from me and turned AU from there. Hope you like it anyway. Many thanks to my beta for making this fic what it is and for coming up with the title!
Hello, Mr. Kinney. This is Dr. Rabinowitz from the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center. I’d like to discuss your post-surgery options, so please give me a call at 410-555-4832.
Justin turned to call out to Brian, but stopped mid-word. He couldn’t think, unconnected words swirling through the white noise in his head without making any sense. Post-surgery… oncology… Johns Hopkins… Brian… post-surgery… what?
Justin closed his eyes and tried to breathe. Right, concentrate on breathing… inhale… exhale… ok. Now find out what’s going on.
He finally managed to make his limbs work enough to take the last step to the phone. His hand shook when he took it and pressed call-back. It seemed to take a million years until there was an answer, but finally a much too cheery voice greeted him.
“Johns Hopkins, Dr. Rabinowitz’s office, good evening. How can I help you?”
“Can you tell me what Dr. Rabinowitz’s specialty is?”
“Of course, that’s testicular cancer. Dr. Rabinowitz is the leading expert in the…”
Justin stopped listening and hung up with a toneless “Thanks.” The white noise was louder again, his thoughts and feelings an incoherent jumble as he tried to process what he’d just heard.
It explained so much about Brian’s behavior in the past couple of weeks, but he still couldn’t fathom it. Brian sick? Brian having major surgery? Without telling him?
He tried to hold on to that thought, welcoming the anger to fight back the shock and fear. His mind cleared slowly, and by the time Brian emerged from the bathroom he was ready to pounce.
Whirling around to face him, Justin opened his mouth. And then he shut it again. He’d never seen Brian look so tired. Exhausted. And… beaten. The anger left him and all he wanted to do was wrap his arms around Brian and never let go.
“What?” Brian asked. Even his voice sounded small and defeated under the roughness.
“Nothing,” Justin got out. “Let’s get some sleep. You look like shit.” There. That sounded almost normal. He watched helplessly as Brian turned to the bedroom trying to hide his relief, before taking a deep breath and following him. Now he had a whole night to figure out how to deal with this.
Oh, God! A whole night of wondering how bad it was, what would happen next, if Brian would… no. He shoved the thought aside violently and helped Brian lie down, not sure whether he should be worried or relieved that Brian was too tired to notice.
Then he quickly shed his own clothes and climbed into bed next to Brian, putting his arms around him and snuggling close.
“Tell me about Ibiza,” he whispered after a moment, trying to maintain a connection, even if it was through a fantasy.
Brian let out a sigh. "It was like I died and went to homo heaven," he said slowly, his eyes closed, already half asleep. "Beautiful guys, all dressed in white. And everywhere you went, it smelled like... lemon-scented air freshener."
Justin kept tracing his lips, not quite touching him, and answered quietly, “That sounds great.”
“I even fucked a matador.”
After Brian had fallen asleep, Justin kept on holding him, watching him, listening to his breathing, trying to match it with his own as he felt his fear trying to overwhelm him.
No. Brian had said that he’d rather drop dead dancing than wasting away, so his chances must be good, right? He knew he was grasping at straws, but it was all he had to get through this night and— Oh my God, had Brian known when he’d said that? Thinking back on the rest of that day, he must have. When had he found out? And when was he planning to tell someone? Had he told anyone? How did this crazy idiot think he could hide something like this, did he really think he could go through it all by himself? Why would he even want to try? And how would he react to finding out that Justin knew?
Well, at least trying to figure all this out and coming up with a way to get through to him would hopefully keep Justin’s mind occupied and away from worst-case scenarios until morning.
He buried his head in Brian’s chest and held him tight, trying hard not to cry. It almost worked.
It must have been in the early morning hours when Brian started to get restless, throwing his head from side to side and muttering in distress. Justin held him tighter and put his face into his neck, kissing him softly and whispering nonsensical words in his ear. After a while Brian calmed down and fell back into a deep sleep, while Justin lay awake for a long time, watching over him in the dark.
Brian woke up to the smell of coffee and waffles. The non-sweet ones that were almost like pastry dough but not quite, the ones Jen had made for brunch that one morning Justin had dragged him there during the not-so-long ago time when they didn’t have anything better to do. They were one of the few foods Justin liked that Brian didn’t have any trouble admitting were really good.
He smiled lazily and stretched, feeling a sudden pain that instantly awakened him fully. He felt a slight panic when he heard Justin’s light footsteps approaching the bedroom. And then he was there, wearing a pair of old sweats and carrying a tray with two cups and a plate of waffles and looking pleased to find him awake.
“What’s that?” he asked, to fill the silence.
“My mom’s waffles with fresh cheese, lettuce and turkey.” Sitting down on the bed Justin handed him his coffee and placed the tray between them, then leaned over for a kiss.
“Morning.” He sat back, his smile turning into a frown as he studied Brian’s face. “You still look like shit. Are you feeling any better at all?”
Brian felt the panic rising again as he tried to come up with a believable answer. He hadn’t imagined it being this hard, and the worst hadn’t even started. He took a sip of his coffee.
Suddenly Justin gave him a grin. “I know you value Cynthia’s advice, but you really shouldn’t have listened to her when she told you to eat fresh fruit and drink tap water.”
He let out a humorless chuckle at that. If Justin only knew….
It seemed safer to change the subject. “So, how are things in glorious Pittsburgh?” he asked, taking a waffle and leaning back into the pillow. He relaxed as Justin settled in comfortably next to him and started on his own waffle before answering.
“Not all that different from a week ago. Deb’s still devastated over how she left things with Vic. Michael’s trying to hold it together for Hunter. Ted says Kinnetik’s doing well. Daph has a new boyfriend.”
Brian listened to Justin’s quiet voice more then his words and didn’t comment, and they finished their meal in companionable silence. Justin put the tray on the floor beside the bed and slipped under the covers, stretching out next to Brian and resting his head on his chest, one hand finding Brian’s and the other making its way into Brian’s hair, playing gently with the strands.
Brian closed his eyes, breathing him in, feeling safe and comforted in the cocoon of Justin’s warmth. He distractedly noticed that his free arm had found its way around Justin’s back, his fingers drawing lazy circles on the warm skin of his hip. He didn’t know how long they stayed like that. After a while he opened his eyes and looked down at the blond head on his chest. The hair was beginning to grow out again, and he once more felt relieved that that chapter of their lives was over. He didn’t want to think about the one that had just started.
“So… how’s school?”
“Ok, I guess. It’s too late in the term to get any regular credits, but I’m working on my non-class bound projects, and most of the professors let me sit in on their classes, so I’m checking out some of the stuff I'm not sure I have use of, see if it’s worth taking for real. And I’m reading up on stuff I know I’ll need, so maybe I can take more classes next term. Make up for the time I’ve lost.”
“I need to do another internship as well.”
This time his chuckle was definitely amused. “Maybe you should go for something in your actual ‘field of choice’ this time.”
They fell silent again, just holding each other, until he could feel Justin’s body slowly tense against his. He tried to ignore it, to hold on and savor the peace and contentment of the moment a little while longer, but then Justin was pressing a kiss to his chest and taking a deep breath, and he felt it slip away, leaving a sense of dread in its wake.
The hold on his hand tightened and Justin placed another kiss on his chest before finally looking up.
“Brian?” The tone of his voice confirmed his worst fears and he felt his chest constrict painfully.
He felt Justin brace himself again before he started to speak, and could barely take in what he was saying.
“Last night when you were in shower, a Dr. Rabinowitz called and left a message on the machine. He said something about Johns Hopkins and oncology and post-surgery treatment. I called his office to find out who he is. Will you be ok?”
No no no, please, anything but—
“Brian! Will you be ok?”
Justin’s scared voice made it into his consciousness and he forced himself to look at him. Justin looked panicked and close to tears, and his words finally penetrated. He drew Justin close and spoke into his hair.
“Yes. I’ll be ok. Most likely. They caught it early, think they got everything.”
He heard Justin’s relieved sob and suddenly felt guilty. And then the fear came back. He pushed Justin away slightly and tried to find the right words, not sure for a moment if those were the ones that would make Justin go or the ones that would beg him to stay.
“Justin,” he started, but Justin must have read something in his face and cut him off.
“I’m here. We’re partners, and we’ll overcome this like we did everything else.”
“I made a commitment, and I didn’t make it lightly. I’m planning to stand by it.”
And then his lips were on Brian’s and he was kissing him with all the desperation and love he had and Brian stopped fighting. He opened his mouth and kissed back, surrendering to the wave of gratitude and something else that was washing over him. When he slowed down, Justin whispered, “I love you, you asshole,” against his mouth and rested his forehead on his. Keeping their eyes closed they shared each other’s breath, until Brian finally asked, “So what happens now?”
Justin kissed him softly and sat up. He looked calm and confident when he started to speak.
“First you call Dr. Rabinowitz back. Then you tell me everything. And then we’ll probably do some research of our own and work out what we need to do and not do until you’re ok again. And then we’re most likely ripe for a nap. We’ll figure out the rest.”
He smiled and gave him another kiss before standing up and handing the phone to Brian. It sounded so simple when Justin said it. He pressed the button and listened to the dial tone without taking his eyes off Justin as he collected their dishes, took them to the kitchen and started cleaning up. Maybe they would get through this after all.