|testdog65 (testdog65) wrote in qaf_challenges,|
@ 2006-12-31 18:46:00
Original poster: _alicesprings
Title: The Most Boring New Year's Eve Party Ever
Written By: sonofabiscuit77
Summary: Gus is forced to attend Brian & Justin's New Year's Eve Party, meanwhile B&J have resolutions of their own...
Author's Notes: This is a sequel to a previous fic of mine: "The Lamest Most Half-Assed Plan in the Universe" which I wrote for the icon challenge. You don't have to have read that to read this (but it helps!). Anyway, you should know that that took place about 20 years after 513, Justin had left Brian for a few weeks to live in LA and a 19-year-old Gus flew out there to help fix their relationship. This fic takes place about two months later. Many thanks and kudos once again to a great beta in singlewoman0604 for your comments and corrections.
When I'd first moved to New York with Mom during the Summer between third and fourth grade, I hated Justin. The way I saw it back then, he was the one who was standing between the then crappy situation and my beautiful lame dreams of a perfect family with Mom, Dad, kid (i.e. me), dog, house, etc… My campaign to get rid of him had been launched on the exact same day I'd arrived in New York. I remember clambering out of the minivan Dad had rented to drive Mom and me down from Canada, and watching him greet Justin after a three day absence by groping him and sticking his tongue down his throat. I can still recall the sinking feeling of resentment and almost hatred that had curled up at the back of my throat when Justin had finally managed to pull himself away from Dad with one of his enormous grins to hug me hello. After saying goodbye to Mel for what was kinda like a version of forever and being transplanted into a whole new very different life, the only thing that was making me feel remotely good about the situation was the assumption that I would have my Dad to myself. I'd conveniently forgotten about Justin...
Watching the two of them together was like a stab to the gut. I'd truly believed that if Justin hadn't been around then Dad would be mine - mine and Mom's and my life would be beautiful and rosy and easy and everything else family life was supposed to be, but never really was. I think Dad had been the one to eventually deliver me from my illusions, with one of his characteristic tough-love pep talks that went something like: "I'm gay Sonnyboy, you know that. Even though I love your mom and I love you, I'm never going to marry her and the three of us are never going to be a perfect family unit. So quit with whatever shit you have against Justin because he loves you a lot and when I'm around, he's around. Okay?"
Back in the here and now, I shivered and pulled my coat tighter around my body. It was weird to think of a time when I'd wanted Justin out of our lives; and it was kinda ironic to think about it in light of the fact I'd gone all the way out to fucking LA recently with the sole purpose of fixing his and Dad's relationship when they'd last broken up. Whatever, none of it mattered now. Evidently the whole New Year's Eve reminiscing mystique crap had gone to my head, or maybe it was the couple of glasses of champagne that was making me nostalgic or something? Downstairs, Dad and Justin's shitty party was still going. But up here, I could be alone. I looked around, not many of the guests knew about the existence of this roof terrace, or more probably, most of them preferred to stay inside rather than come out here to freeze their asses off. I could only make out one other person, slumped over the iron railings at the opposite end of the terrace, seeming completely oblivious to my presence. I squinted, and with a jolt of surprise, I realised it was Justin. What the fuck was he doing here? Hiding from his own party? That was such a Justin thing to do. I grinned evilly to myself and began to sneak up on him quietly, touching his shoulder suddenly with a cheery:
"Jesus! Fuck!" He jumped, his head colliding with my shoulder, "Don't fucking do that! I could've gone over the edge and dashed my brains out on the sidewalk!"
Dashed his brains out on the sidewalk? Sometimes I forget what a drama queen he could be.
"Sorry," I grinned at him in that crooked way I copied from Dad that always got him back on side.
His expression of anger shifted slightly, (crooked grin, never fails), "What are you doing out here?"
"Hiding from your party. It seriously blows."
"Not my party, Brian's party. Wasn't my fucking idea. If it was up to me we'd spend New Year's Eve -"
"..fucking your brains out. Yeah I know," I interrupted him. "You told me that last year."
"Uh-huh. Can I have a cigarette, I left mine at home?"
He turned and thrust the pack into my hands, "Take the lot. I'm quitting."
"Oh, thanks," I took them happily, "why?" It was still kinda weird to see Justin smoking, especially now that Dad had quit. Justin called it fallout from their recent breakup. He said that he'd only started again because he'd been so bored and lonely away from Dad - which made it Dad's fault. (Gotta love the Justin logic).
"Too much grief from His Royal Highness." He shook his head despondently, "He's driving me crazy. He's acting as if he's the only person ever in the history of the universe who has ever quit smoking or drinking and he has to be congratulated on his brave sacrifice every minute of the day."
I nodded in agreement. It was true. Dad was such a whore for compliments and he totally loved the masses of compliments people were being stupid enough to lay on him now, giving him major props for his sudden zealous commitment to clean living. Mom was one of the worst. The last time he and Justin came for dinner she couldn't stop congratulating him for being so brave and strong-willed, which of course, he fucking lapped up like the massive ego-monster he was. Justin just looked like he was in pain the whole time and I rolled my eyes so much I gave myself eye strain.
Justin ground his own cigarette out viciously with the heel of his boot and looking up glared at me, "And don't you dare say anything about this being what I wanted - because yeah I get the dramatic irony about being careful what you wish for! And yeah, course I'm pleased he's doing so well, it's just that - ugh!" He sighed again in frustration and looked away. I looked away too, watching the dazzling lights of the city spread out below us; I angled my head and tried again to perfect my smoke-ring blowing technique, watching the wonky grey rings float up into the dark cold air in front of us.
"You suck at that."
I shrugged, "Better than you."
"Yeah," he agreed.
I watched him out of the corner of my eye, he was gazing forward, staring at the view, probably thinking about some way of drawing it or something, I never knew what Justin was thinking, he could be so distant when he wanted to be.
"Is Linds with you?" he broke into my thoughts suddenly.
"Yeah," I nodded, "that guy she's been seeing isn't though. Cancelled on her at the last minute. Said he had to survey something urgently."
Justin looked confused, "Survey something urgently? On New Year's Eve?"
"Yeah, but, he's like a surveyor or something. They survey stuff, right?"
"I have no fucking idea. Sounds like bullshit to me."
"Yeah, but I didn't tell Mom that. She was really upset."
He shook his head, "Your Mom can really pick them huh?"
"Oh yeah," I nodded feelingly.
He glanced at me with a sort of affectionate smile, "You're a good kid Gus, and I know you like to pretend you're this big tough person who doesn't give a shit but I know you do. I know how much Linds depends on you."
I shrugged, feeling really fucking uncomfortable. God, I hated it when Justin got all maudlin like this and there was something in the way he'd spoken that grated on me - how much Linds depends on you - I was her fucking son, she should… well, it was pointless thinking about that now.
"I just wanted to -" he sighed and broke off, "we haven't really talked properly have we, since I've been back I mean?"
"Do we have to?"
He laughed, "No, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you coming and fixing me and your father like you did. Fuck knows when the two of us would've gotten our act together? I'd probably still be in LA now, seeing the New Year in alone and feeling miserable."
"I knew you'd figure it out once you saw each other again," I told him.
He smiled at me in this wry sort of way, "Are we that predictable?"
"Yeah," I nodded and he laughed, reaching out with one arm to encircle my neck which for Justin who was about a foot shorter than me (okay I exaggerate, but I'm tall and he's… not) was no mean feat.
"I love you, you know, and so does Brian."
Oh God, I was cringing in his embrace, it was better downstairs, even with Dad's Stare of Death and Mom's I'm-a-single-sexually-confused-Mom-whose-b
I garbled something under my breath that could've been interpreted as, "Thanks," and pulled away. He smiled and moved away from the railings, falling into one of the heavy wooden benches. I debated whether or not this was a good moment to make my escape but I hadn't finished my cigarette so I decided to not take the coward's route and sank down next to him. I stared upwards into the sky, it was dark - a mixture of grey and black, this high up you could have seen the stars if the light pollution hadn't made them invisible. I chanced a sideways glance towards Justin, he was regarding me with a deep thoughtful expression that was slightly unnerving. Fuck, what now?
"What?" I asked.
He seemed to break off from his serious thoughts and shook his head, "Nothing. Just..." he paused and shifted uncomfortably in his seat, "look, I want to tell you something, but you've not got to say anything to anyone, okay?"
Oooh, this could be interesting so I nodded eagerly, but then again it could just be more of that embarrassing love shit, so I prepared myself, just in case.
"Well, your Dad proposed."
"Brian. Your father. He fucking proposed." He was glaring at me as if I'd somehow enticed Dad to do this bizarre very out-of-character thing and wait a minute, shouldn't that be like a good thing? And why was he pissed at me when he'd just been heaping me with praise and thanks?
"So?" I queried, slightly lost now.
"So? Don't you get it? He's gone crazy. He's lost it. The lack of alcohol and nicotine in his bloodstream have turned him fucking nuts."
"Maybe he's serious?" I hazarded carefully, "Maybe he does want to marry you. You know, with this new thing he's on, this health thing and you being back now and everything, maybe he just wants the um... ultimate commitment?"
Justin was looking at me as if I'd just announced I'd become one of those freaks who abstain from sex before marriage, "Gus. We did this before. Years ago, just before you went to live in Canada. Brian proposed, I said yes of course like the stupid naive kid I was and then we broke up. I went off to New York, he stayed in Pittsburgh and it sucked."
"Yeah, but that was years ago."
"Doesn't seem like years ago," he muttered to himself. "I know this is a bad thing."
"So, er, what did you say?"
"I told him I'd think about it."
Hmm, yeah, I could just see that going down well. I pulled a face, "What did he say to that?"
He shrugged and looked away, sighing to himself. I was completely lost now. Dad had proposed to Justin? What the fuck was with him? Oh shit, no, it couldn't be…
"There's nothing wrong with him is there?"
"Brian," he practically snorted, "where do I start?"
"No, I mean, his health, he isn't going to um… die or anything? That's not why he proposed to you?"
He looked at me, his expression serious again, "He's fine, Gus. Funny, you know that's the first thing I thought too. After he asked me, I thought, fuck, he's got three months to live or something, but he's okay. It's not that. He's just gone insane." He paused again and leant back in his seat, sighing once more. "D'you know, when I was your age - I'd already been with Brian over two years?"
Did I know? Course I fucking knew, I knew all of their fucked-up history just like I knew about my Mom's intricate love life - didn't mean that I liked knowing about it. It was weird to think that at my age Justin had already been with the same person for over two years, there was no way I could ever have done that, the longest relationship I've ever had was Jenna Dixon.
Ahhh, Jenna Dixon. Now, there was someone worth reminiscing about. She was hot - dark hair, dark eyes, really good skin, a really fucking hot body. She was smart too, I can't stand that bimbo airhead type of woman. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm looking for someone to have deep meaningful conversations with or to debate politics or literature or something equally boring, but I do prefer a girl who knows that Europe is a continent, not a country. Jenna and I dated for about three months, I was really into her so I introduced her to my family. Major fucking mistake. And it wasn't because they embarrassed me or anything, fuck no, they were weirdly well behaved, even Dad.
What I hadn't known before that fateful meeting was that Jenna Dixon was an Art groupie. I knew Art was her major of course and I'd seen some of her stuff which looked pretty hot to me, (not that I know shit about art), but what I didn't realise was that she had this massive fangirl thing for Justin. If I had known that… well, anyway, doesn't matter now. So, I introduced her to my family (which included Justin of course) and she started hyperventilating and squealing like a big freak about this being The Most Important Moment of Her Life. Made me look at her in a totally different way and I decided then and there to dump her. Which was a pity because otherwise she was cool, and yeah as I said hot, oh and she gave fucking amazing blowjobs.
"…I loved him so fucking much you know, d'you know what I thought when I first met him, the face of God…"
Oh, Justin was talking again. I pushed back my memories of Jenna Dixon's amazing blowjobs and tried to concentrate on what he was saying.
"….and now, it's sixteen years on and we're still together. It's fucking crazy."
Oh, so he was still rambling on about him and Dad. Major surprise. "But good crazy right?"
He lifted his head slightly and looked at me with a ironic twist of his face, "Yeah. My twenty year old self is deliriously happy."
I didn't quite understand what he was complaining about, so I nodded in a vague cool sort of way and mumbled something about feeling cold and slipped away. The party was seriously fucking boring but it had to be better than being the recipient of Justin's Dad related issues. Again.
After Gus left I felt slightly guilty. What the fuck was I doing burdening a teenager with all mine and Brian's shit? Hadn't we all put the kid through enough of this bullshit over the past few years?
I turned and looked out over the sky, I could see a lot of the city from here, the lights of the traffic below and occasionally the roar of something echoed up from someplace nearby. It was fucking freezing but the thought of facing everyone downstairs, of faking all the party spirit and all that crap was not appealing. If I was going to be honest with myself I knew that I was waiting for Brian to come up and finish the conversation that'd started three days ago and if this was TV or a movie then he'd appear right about now, but this was real life and Brian was never that obliging.
The last time Brian had asked me to marry him, he'd done it with a huge-ass mansion, stables, a pool and tennis courts. This time, he did it with a throw-away comment over dinner.
"We should get married."
Cue me half-choking on a leaf of rocket from the salad I'd prepared (literally choking - not a fucking metaphor), more choking from me, Brian's concerned expression, desperate gulps of water and glory be! I manage to retrieve the guilty rocket leaf from my throat, cue Brian's inevitable crack about gag reflexes - except… no inevitable crack about gag reflexes, just:
"What d'you think?"
"Uh - wha?"
"About getting married Justin."
"Hmmm-uh, I don't know. Are you serious?"
"Yeah. Why would I ask if I wasn't?"
"I don't know."
A shrug, "So? What d'you say?"
A long pause, "I don't know." Was I really not capable of saying anything else?
"Well think about it. We're both not getting any younger Sunshine." And he left the table, leaving me with a still cough-reddened, watery-eyed, highly-bemused expression, wondering if I'd just hallucinated the last five minutes.
So, a few hours later when we started getting ready to go to bed, I walked into the bathroom and watched him standing at the mirror rubbing cream into his face and neck.
"Brian, correct me if I'm going crazy, but did you propose to me during dinner?"
His reflected eyes met mine in the glass and he smiled smugly, "Yes. I did."
"What's your answer?"
He was avoiding the question. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach, I swallowed and spoke quickly, "Tell me why you did it first. I need to know that it's not because you're sick or something -" I felt my voice trail off then as I stared into his reflected face.
He turned and dropped the tube of moisturizer into the sink, "No, I promise I'm fine, I would've told you if I wasn't."
I nodded slightly to myself, "Okay."
"Did you think this was like Love Story or something - I only propose because I have cancer?" He raised a mocking eyebrow to me.
"You only proposed last time because I nearly got blown up," I countered.
"I didn't propose because of that," he moved away abruptly, reaching into the cabinet for the floss. "You know there was more to it than that."
"Okay, so what about now?"
He wound some floss around his fingers and sighed deeply, "Justin, do you not want to get married, is that it?"
"I - I don't know, but I need to know why you're doing it."
"Well it's not because I'm fucking dying!"
I gritted my teeth and moved away, it really took a man of talent to make a marriage proposal that fucking infuriating.
I took the exit from the roof terrace that led into the kitchen, assuming that it would be the safest way of avoiding my parents and at the same time being able to help myself to some of the hot fork buffet that I hadn't even seen yet. I was in the act of carefully closing the door behind me when:
"Is he still up there sulking?"
Shit. Unfortunately one of the people I was trying avoid - my father - was leaning against one of the kitchen cabinets and looking really amused at some lame-ass story Uncle Ted was currently in the process of recounting.
"Who?" I asked all wide-eyed.
Dad rolled his eyes and shook his head, "You should give up on the acting, you can't lie for shit."
I was pretty fucking annoyed at that, I'd gotten rave reviews for my performance in Streetcar. It wasn't my fault he and Justin had had yet another fight.
"What's going on now Bri?" Uncle Ted asked him.
"I proposed to the little twat and now he's having some sort of a breakdown," shrugged Dad, looking completely unperturbed by this turn of events.
"You proposed!" He was that close to a spit-take, I watched him choke on the mouthful of spring water as he eyed Dad with mad crazy wide eyes. Sometimes Uncle Ted creeps me out.
"Yeah. Thought it was what he wanted. Course I was fucking wrong. As usual. But, whatever, he'll get over it."
I paused with a smoked salmon blini in my hand and turned to look at Dad's face, which was showing its usual cool expression, "Don't you want to marry Justin then?"
He looked at me as if I was retarded, "If I didn't want to marry him Gus, why would I have fucking asked him?"
Okay then. I shrugged back at him, "Senility?"
His face was majorly unimpressed by my witty reply, but I could hear Uncle Ted snort with amusement, "I swear Brian, it's like hearing you in stereo sometimes."
Dad turned a sour face on him, "Yeah, lucky me to have a son who's such a fucking comedian. Pity his grades are just as amusing."
I stuck my tongue out at him, "Well, I think you need to talk to him, he thinks you've gone crazy."
"Has he been talking to you about it?" snapped Dad, his eyes narrowing on me.
"Yeah," I shrugged, I twisted my first two fingers and raised them, "you know me and Justin are like that."
"He needs some friends of his own age," muttered Dad under his breath.
Yeah, I wasn't going to argue with that. I picked up another tasty looking spinach and ricotta mini-quiche, "Mmm, these are great," I murmured, holding one out to Dad, "you should try one." He shook his head at me and looked away.
"Brian, are you serious about this?" Uncle Ted was interjecting again, "You and Justin are gonna get married? What happened to the sham breeder, Stepford fag -"
"Theodore, that was years ago," Dad spoke over him in that dismissive tone he always with Uncle Ted. "And Gus, save some fucking food for the rest of our guests."
"Blah-blah-blah whatever, there's, like, loads left," I rolled my eyes and left the kitchen.
I was waylaid; standing directly in my path out of the kitchen was Grandma Jen, holding a glass of champagne and with reddened cheeks.
"Hey Grandma Jen."
I let her plant perfumey kisses on my cheek and barrage me with questions for a while. I guess she was okay considering she was Justin's mother. She was also married to this dude, Tucker, who was like twenty years younger than her who Justin totally hated (though he tried to make like he didn't). I was with Justin on this one, the guy was a prick and he'd made me feel like a complete fuckwit this one time. It had all been Justin's fault really as Justin had this thing about how it would be like the funniest fucking thing ever if I was to "accidentally" call Tucker Grandpa considering Tucker was, like, only a few years older than Justin was (Justin's sense of humour is kinda lame). So yeah, I'd gone ahead and done it and called him Grandpa but he totally didn't rise to it and instead just smiled in this sort of superior way like he could totally tell it was Justin who'd put me up to it, so I'd ended up feeling like a total fucking idiot and he and Justin still hated each other.
Meanwhile Grandma Jen was still asking me loads of questions and I was answering her automatically and checking out the crowd at the same time. I had held out some scant hope that by now some of the younger hotter sort of person Dad employed at Kinnetik or his clubs might have turned up, but all the guests I could see were at least thirty and either family or the old crud-infested rich crowd they hung out with. Except… Oh God, heading right this way…
"Hey Mom. Gus."
"Hey sweetheart, you having a good time?"
She was standing right next to Grandma Jen, moving so she could stare directly at me from above the rim of her champagne glass. Now this was totally fucking embarrassing. The last time I'd seen her, God, about a year ago or something, I'd gotten so fucking wasted I'd told her all these excruciatingly personal details about the girl I was fucking at the time and then promised her that was she ever up for it - then I could promise her a night she wouldn't forget. She had just laughed at me and said something in this superior but majorly hot way about horny younger men being hot in a young innocent way to which I'd babbled something about being at my sexual peak and age gaps not meaning anything. Shit! It was so fucking mortifying thinking about that now. I should never drink tequila.
I grabbed my own glass of champagne from a handily nearby server and took a long sip, trying to make my voice sound cool and not like a strangled cat, "Oh hey, didn't know you were here."
"I wasn't going to come, but then Mom pulled a guilt trip on me and forced me."
"I did no such thing!" Grandma Jen was protesting with a smile.
Molly rolled her eyes and gave me another long look, "Sure you did," she answered. "Anyway, the evening's looking up now."
"That's good," Grandma Jen was looking over her shoulder at someone, "oh, there's your Mom Gus, I haven't said hi yet, excuse me you two will you?" Shit, she was moving away, leaving me to Molly's mercy and my own embarrassing memories.
"God, this party's so fucking boring," Molly moaned, grabbing another glass of champagne. Her face was flushed and as she darted another look at me with a wide smile, I could see that she was pretty fucking drunk and I decided with a firm resolution that there was no way I would ever fuck her. Besides, when she smiled, her mouth did this thing that was eerily similar to when Justin smiled and that was just… too fucking weird. "So why hasn't your Dad and my brother invited any decent-looking men tonight? It used to be the case that you could always count on at least Brian to have a few hot ones lying around the place."
"Yeah, but they were all gay."
"True. But didn't stop me from looking. And appreciating." She raised an eyebrow to me and I felt myself redden again. Oh God, I never got fucking embarrassed. What the fuck was with me? I watched her lift her champagne glass and drain the rest of the drink, her neck was long and pale and her lips were sort of luscious… Just great. I was definitely feeling some sort of firm resolution in a very familiar part of my body. I should so have ignored my Mom and gone to that party in Chalmers Hall, I could be fucking AnnaLee Finch right now instead of feeling weirdly aroused by my hot eight years my senior almost-Aunt. Speaking of Mom, maybe this would be a perfect time to go and check that….
"Hey, don't leave me, you're about the only other person under thirty here!" she protested, grabbing onto my arm.
"Um, okay?" I muttered. She led me across the crowded room and into one of the alcove areas where there were a couple of loveseats. We sank onto one of them, Molly swaying slightly as we did. I was discreetly arranging my jacket over my crotch area when she leant over me and took my glass from my hands, taking a long sip of champagne.
"You don't mind do you?"
"No, be my fucking guest," I murmured under my breath.
She smiled at me, "Sometimes you sound so much like Brian, it's weird. And you look loads like him too, you know."
"Yeah, people tell me that all the time."
"You should be pleased."
"Well, Brian's only like the hottest man I know," she shrugged.
I felt like choking, I hated my family. "He's old and he's gay and he's like your fucking brother-in-law," I pointed out, oh and he could very well be her proper fucking brother-in-law if he gets his own way.
"Yeah, but he's still hot. It's not like we're related," she said the last bit with a significant eyebrow raise at me and I felt her hand begin snaking up my thigh. Ohhh, my God. I felt my dick twitch again. Should I go for it? Well, it wasn't like there was anyone else around here that was remotely fuckable… but then Molly? Justin's sister Molly? But, she was obviously wanting it, wanting me… and some. And if she wasn't seeing anything weird here - hell, who was I to protest? But, maybe this wasn't such a good idea, it was kinda close to home. Meanwhile, oblivious to my inner debate, her hand was still running up and down my thigh, brushing my groin area. Oh shit. "You have really strong thighs Gus," she was whispering to me. I felt my mouth go dry. This was fucking ridiculous, normally with girls it's just, like, so easy for me, I barely have to try. But this -
"What're you two doing?"
Shit. Fucking Dad. I practically jumped out of my skin. Molly's hand dropped immediately off my thigh and once again, I cursed my father.
"Nothing," I shrugged, attempting nonchalance, "talking."
"Yeah?" Dad sank into the seat opposite, looking between us with a blatant knowing look. "Talking?"
"That's right," I nodded, "have you - uh - spoken to Justin then?" Quick change of subject best thing.
"None of your fucking business."
"Have you and Justin had another fight?" Molly broke in. "He's so annoying isn't he? Personally, I think you should dump him. You're way too good for him."
Dad turned an amused look on her, "The number of times I've tried - you wouldn't believe it - but he's like a fucking boomerang."
"Well maybe you should, you know," she raised her hands miming breaking a stick in two - "like snap him in half - the boomerang, I mean, then he won't come back," she dropped her hands into her lap with a fait-accompli gesture. Dad turned a curious look on me, his expression reading "how fucking drunk is she?" I just shrugged and tried to look innocent.
"So Molly, how is - what's his fucking name - Gavin?"
Shit, I'd totally forgotten she was supposed to have a boyfriend.
"Gavin's dead," she declared, raising her glass.
Back up a moment… he's what? I turned a surprised open-mouthed face to her. So, that was why she was so drunk and coming onto me, probably drowning her sorrows.
"No!" she snorted, "not technically dead, dead. But dead to me, dead. Like, you know, he's ovah! Fucking asshole!"
"So you're a single girl again?" Dad asked.
"Yeah, I'm just thinking of using men for sex. Not getting fucking involved. One night, quick in and out and wham-bam-thank-you-man!" I felt myself perk up (in more ways than one) at that declaration. Maybe, perhaps, it might -
Once again Dad interrupted my thoughts, "Ahh, I remember those days."
I turned to him pointedly, "Haven't you got somewhere else to be?"
"Yeah. Like up on the roof, talking to your partner."
Dad sighed and got to his feet, "Molly, stick to that plan. It'll make your life so much easier. Believe me."
"You can come down now."
I didn't bother turning around, I could feel him move closer.
"I can, but maybe I don't want to. Maybe there are some assholes I want to avoid."
I heard him laugh and then two arms came snaking out and pulled me back against a familiar body, I could feel his warm breath against my neck, moistening the skin and I smiled to myself. I felt myself relax for the first time that evening, "Come downstairs Justin."
"Why should I?"
"Well for a start I think Gus is about to fuck your sister."
"What? Gus and Molly?" I twisted in his embrace, "No way! She's like his aunt or something isn't she?"
I thought about it for a moment, then shrugged, "Fuck it. They're old enough to make their own decisions. Let them fuck it up if they want to." I turned my face and felt his kiss on the corner of my mouth.
"Such a cynical boy," I felt him murmur into my ear. "Everybody has to fuck someone on New Year's Eve." He was grinding himself against me from behind, I smiled to myself, I knew exactly what to say to freak him out.
"Do you realise this is the twentieth New Year's Eve we've spent together?"
He pulled back from me but didn't relinquish his hold. "Now you know that's not true. You're conveniently forgetting all our little hiatuses Sunshine. What about the one you spent with Ian?"
Ian? Who the? Oh… him. I laughed to myself, I barely remembered him. I was surprised that Brian even remembered, but then knowing Brian, not entirely unsurprised. "Oh God, that sucked so much ass, we went to this unbelievably pretentious party, drank mulled ale and talked about Kant and Nietzsche!" I pulled a face, "Can you see me drinking mulled ale?"
"Doesn't sound much like the Justin Taylor I know."
"No, that's because I wasn't the Justin Taylor you know then, I was what I can only describe as this weird half-a-person person."
"Yeah. I think it was because I wasn't with you. It's like that Greek philosopher said in that famous play - you know the one, Emmett dragged us to see it the last time we were in Pittsburgh because that guy he was with at the time was in it - you know the one?"
"Yeah, you do. That guy comes on and says that line about how the Gods split each person into two to make them less powerful and then they spend their lives trying to find their other half in order to become whole again -"
"Yeah. That's the one. Don't you think that's like us?"
"Sounds like bullshit to me. You're more of a whole person than any other fucker I know. You always were."
I turned in his embrace and gave him a beaming smile, "But...that's because I have you, oh one true love of mine!"
He snorted and shook his head, "I thought you'd grown out of that cheesy sentimental crap."
"Yeah, but sometimes, it isn't cheesy sentimental crap, sometimes it's true."
He snorted again but said nothing. I smiled softly to myself, thinking for awhile. It was nice to just stand here, watching the city spread out in front us, feeling alone but also together, me and him against the world. God, I was feeling cheesy and sentimental tonight. But - what the fuck, it was New Year's Eve. When else can you have these kinds of thoughts? Make all those shitty, well-meaning resolutions? And I had a resolution.
"Brian, I don't want any more of what happened this year to happen again. I don't want to have to leave you again."
"It's not exactly high on my list of favourite things to do next year either."
"No," I answered thoughtfully. "I'm sorry about it. I'm sorry I went to LA."
"No you're not."
"No, I mean, yes, fuck, I don't know. We couldn't have gone on as we were."
His voice sounded sober as he answered, "No, we couldn't."
"And I'm really, I'm so happy that you're taking this healthy thing seriously, even though, yeah, it is driving me crazy, but it does mean something to me that you're trying so hard."
"If it makes you happy -"
"It does. And I love that about you. That you'd do anything to make me happy."
He didn't say anything but tightened his grip on me, pulling me closer in that way that always made me feel as if he was trying to swallow me up, absorb me into every pore.
"If you want it, if you're serious about it - then the answer's yes," I spoke quietly, watching the air from my words leave my mouth in a warm white cloud.
"Are you sure?" his voice was quiet too, muffled as he spoke into my hair.
"Yeah." I was staring down below at the streets. People were down there, other people, people celebrating the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. I'd turn thirty-seven in a few weeks, then a couple of months later Brian would be forty-nine. We were both middle-aged. The words I'd spoken to Gus earlier were coming back to me, I had been with him my entire adult life, I barely knew any different. What would my life have been like without him? I knew for sure that I wouldn't be this person, this version of Justin Taylor. So much of me, of the person I was, had been shaped by him, by my relationship with him; and remembering the Brian I had first met almost twenty years ago, I knew that the same was true for him. Remove Brian from my life and what was left was a fucking chasm, a half-a-person. I wouldn't want to live like that. I would never want to live like that. Fuck cheesy and sentimental, Plato had a point.
"But I want you to know that whether or not we're married - I don't care, I just want you. That's all. You don't have to propose to me to get me to stay with you."
He pulled away from me, turning his face so I could no longer see his expression, speaking slowly, "Every so often, something life altering," he grimaced over the words and I could almost hear the italics, "comes along and I make these resolutions. You know the ones - to not work so fucking hard, to spend more time with Gus, and to devote more time to us - to you and me," he paused for a moment, "but somewhere along the line it always gets fucked up..." he trailed off and shrugged, an uncomfortable expression that looked like something close to embarrassment on his face.
"…And I end up leaving again."
He looked up, flashing me a wry smile, "Yeah."
"But I always come back."
"Yeah," he nodded thoughtfully, "but wouldn't it be better if you didn't have to leave in the first place?"
I sighed, feeling something tighten inside me, "Yeah, it would. I hate being away from you, but that's the way we are, that's us. Whether or not we're married won't change that."
"Fuck no," I almost laughed. "You think I'll ever leave you for good? You're fucking crazy if you think that."
"Yeah," he laughed suddenly and wrapped his arms around me again, "but you already knew that."
I smiled into the stiff wool of his collar, "Fortunately for you." I turned and placed my hand against his cheek, "I'm not gonna leave again. This last time, in LA, that was it. Now that I know you mean it all. Never again."
His mouth twitched slightly in that crooked Brian smile - the one that Gus sometimes imitates and the one that makes something almost break inside me. He lowered his face, kissing the side of my mouth, "Promise?"
"Oh my God!" Molly's exclamations were really fucking loud. I jumped, almost spilling my fourth or was it fifth glass of champagne; and watched her spring to her feet and bombard her way through the group of people crowding the room. "Gavin? What the fuck are you doing here?"
I watched in disbelief as she threw herself into the arms of a tall bald guy with a drunken cackle of glee and proceeded to french the fuck out of him. So much for being "dead to her", so much for the "single life", and so much for my "sure thing".
I got to my feet. If I left right now then I'd be able to make it to Chalmers Hall before midnight and hopefully locate AnnaLee Finch along the way. I needed to find my Mom. She would surely see reason now. I weaved my way through the crowd until I heard her familiar voice coming from Dad's beloved media room.
She was perched on the arm of one of the leather sofas, my Grandma Jen and "Grandpa" Tucker sitting in the sofa beside her and they were all laughing uproariously at some obviously hilarious anecdote he was telling in his annoying superior way.
"Mom?" I interrupted loudly.
"Oh there you are honey!"
"Yeah. I wanna go, okay? To that party I was telling you about."
She frowned, darting a slightly embarrassed look from me to Grandma Jen and Tucker, "I don't know Gus."
"But you and Molly seemed to be having such a nice conversation," broke in Grandma Jen. "She'll be disappointed if you leave, she's been complaining at me non-stop all night about dragging her here and if you leave -"
Oh yeah? Would you like to know where our nice conversation was headed Grandma Jen? Would you like to know exactly what your daughter was planning on doing with her pseudo nephew until her ex-fuck-buddy what-fucking-ever turned up? I bit my tongue and bestowed her with one of my most charming smiles, "Oh she'll be fine Grandma Jen." I turned back to Mom, increasing the volume slightly, "Mom?"
"Okay, okay, if you want to. But you'd better let your father know. He'll be furious if he finds out you've left without saying goodbye."
Furious? Oh for fuck's sake. Like he would even notice.
"He's gone up on the roof with Justin. Can't you just, like, let him know for me when they come down?"
She sighed in that martyred way parents always perfect at some point, "Oh, alright then, but make sure you take a cab, you're not to wander the streets alone."
Yeah, because that was exactly what I was planning to do - wander the streets on my own. I bent down, still biting my tongue and planted a good-son-like kiss on her cheek, "Thanks Mom and Happy New Year."
She placed one arm around me and pulled me tight against her body, "Happy New Year to you as well darling. I love you."
"Yeah, me too," I pulled out of the embrace and smiled at her briefly, feeling that usual uneasy mixture of suffocation, protection and embarrassment her declarations of love always inspire in me.
Out of the room, I exhaled, relieved, at long fucking last I could get out of here, away from this - The Most Boring New Year's Eve Party Ever. I opened the door to "my" bedroom, the room I occasionally used when I had to stay with Dad and Justin; I hadn't used it properly in years, not since I started Senior year. I'd put both Mom's and my coats in here when we'd arrived, and now it would be…
Oh my God.
My first thought was: "Thank fuck they're not naked". My second: "Why me? Why are my parents such freaks?"
Dad and Justin making out like fucking teenagers (and not like any teenagers I knew) on my fucking bed! What the fuck was wrong with their own fucking bedroom? And weren't they supposed to be on the fucking roof?
"What the fuck d'you think you're doing?"
Dad pulled away from Justin and regarded me with a half-amused and not at all ashamed expression, "If you need to ask that question then you are not the man I thought you were Sonnyboy."
"Dad! Jesus! This is my fucking room!"
"And this is my fucking house."
"Our fucking house," interjected Justin who at least looked slightly embarrassed.
"Correction - our fucking house," repeated Dad, giving him a quick smile. "Anyway, what are you doing?"
"Getting my coat," I snapped, pulling it off the bed and still glaring at him. "I'm going to another, much better party."
"Can we come?"
"No fucking way you can't. You're too old. And you haven't," I looked at my coat with distaste, "you haven't been, like, fucking on this have you?"
Dad rolled his eyes, "No. We haven't fucked on your coat. Though that's all it's good for. Where did you get that piece of shit?"
I sighed in exasperation. I so didn't want to spend my New Year's Eve discussing fashion with my father. I wanted out of here. And now. AnnaLee Finch was waiting. Or at least, I hoped so.
"Whatever. I'm going. I'll, like, see you whenever." I made to leave.
"Gus! No, wait a minute!" Justin was calling me.
"Come here!" Dad added, patting the bed beside him. "Sit down here and listen will you?"
I came back with a major show of reluctance that was fucking genuine, goddamit. "What now?"
Dad was looking at me with that weird look again, "We just want to say how much we appreciate what you've done for us." He looked at Justin for confirmation who nodded. "Not just in LA, but even little shit like coming here tonight, which I know you didn't want to do, but you did it for your Mom - well, it all makes me proud to call you my son."
Oh God. I looked at him suspiciously. He didn't look like he was being sarcastic. Weird. I didn't really know what to think about this. Dad wasn't really one for compliments… at least to me. Justin was looking at him with this totally sappy look as if he was majorly proud of Dad for saying all that. And, yeah, it would just be like Dad to say it to just get Justin to blow him or something equally gross, except, Dad never did shit just to get Justin to blow him - he didn't have to - so perhaps he meant it. In which case…. Shit. Proud to call you my son? This was kinda embarrassing and totally unexpected.
"Um, thanks," I muttered eventually.
Dad reached out with one hand and caressed my hair, muttering something in an amused voice like, "So fucking eloquent," and I ducked my head away from his hand and got to my feet. Now I'd have to fix my hair as well.
"Tell him about the resolutions," Justin reached out a hand to tug at my pants. "Sit down again Gus." I sat down, suppressing a sigh, when was I getting out of here?
"What? Oh yeah. We've made a resolution," Dad started in his dramatic voice, he paused for a moment and I wondered if I was supposed to make a comment at this point, something like: "oh wow, have you?" But he seemed to be carrying on without my prompting. "We've decided that in the future, the shit that happened, like this year, it's not gonna happen again," I glanced up for a moment, Justin was nodding seriously. "You shouldn't be getting involved in our fights; you've got your own life to deal with. So, we've made a resolution - no more stupid break ups, no more dramatic fights and moving out." He broke off and shrugged, "We're too fucking old for that."
Yeah, I had to agree with that. He was pausing again, was I supposed to say something now?
"Um, yeah, good," I nodded lamely.
Dad looked at me and snorted, shaking his head. Justin was smiling widely too and had turned his head to whisper something that was probably disgusting into Dad's ear. I got to my feet.
"Anyway, I'm, like, going now," I told them, "so, you know, Happy New Year and all that."
Justin turned his head and beamed at me in response and Dad laughed out loud again, "Happy New Year," they sort of said it together, which just showed what a fucking couple they were - so lame. I didn't bother turning around to look at them as I left the room as I could already hear that they'd gone back to making out like the big freaks they were.
It was only when I'd gotten outside that I remembered that I'd forgotten to ask them if they were now, like, engaged or something and what the fuck this new resolution of theirs actually meant. Did the fact that they were making out on my fucking bed mean that Justin had said yes - or that they'd realised that they were both crazy and decided that weddings were just meaningless freak-shows? Whatever. I tugged the zipper on my coat right up to my chin and pulled up the hood, it was fucking freezing out here and it was time to forget about my family. I had a decent New Year's Eve party to get to.