|xie_xie_xie (xie_xie_xie) wrote in qaf_challenges,|
@ 2007-11-17 00:28:00
“Turn here.” Justin’s voice is sharp and quick, an unexpected interruption. Brian frowns, but catches the seriousness of the request and manages the exit at the last minute. He drives for a while as the headlights illuminate the rain-slick highway, barely cutting into the darkness outside the car.
“Mind telling me where we’re going? Or did you just want me to keep driving until tomorrow?”
Justin’s answer is quiet within the close confines of the car. “I’d just like to see it again. Do you mind?” He’s looking at Brian’s profile as he asks, and catches a glimpse of reaction as his words register.
Brian doesn’t say anything but keeps driving.
They get there eventually, and Justin notices that the outside lights are on. They’re configured to light up the front façade, and show off the regal bearing of the house. They also emphasize its size. He knows they’re on for security reasons, but he can’t shake the feeling that the house is waiting for something.
Brian shuts off the engine but doesn’t move to get out of the car. He’s staring straight ahead, not looking at the house at all. Justin’s the first to get out, and he makes his way to the front door, ducking his head and hurrying against the rain. It takes a minute for Brian to join him, and when he does, he silently unlocks the front door and pushes it open. He gives a barely perceptible indication with his chin, and Justin moves inside.
It’s warmer than outside, but only slightly, and Justin shivers as he wraps his arms around himself and rubs his hands up and down. He turns around as Brian keys in the last digits of the alarm code and flicks on the overhead lights.
Directly across the entryway, Justin sees what he’ll always think of as “the fireplace room.” It’s where Brian proposed, and he hasn’t seen it or the house since that day. He takes a tentative step towards it but then changes his mind and heads down the hall instead.
He enters the first room he comes to. The dining room. It’s spacious and formal. Justin tries to imagine a large gathering of family and friends, but it keeps getting mixed up in his mind and morphing into Debbie’s house.
Brian’s footsteps echo behind him as he enters the room. Justin turns and looks at him, smiling as he says, “Great place for take-out.” Brian snorts at that, but otherwise doesn’t reply.
Justin moves back out to the hall and crosses quickly into the kitchen. He’s fumbling for the switch, but Brian’s behind him, reaching for the panel and bathing the room in light.
“Shit,” says Justin. “I’d forgotten how huge it is.”
“Imagine that. Justin Taylor forgetting about size. What is the world coming to?”
Justin laughs as he takes in the double freezer, six-burner stove and multiple prep areas. There’s enough counter space to land a small plane. “Kinda puts my apartment kitchen to shame.”
“A hot plate and a dorm fridge would put your apartment kitchen to shame.”
Justin rolls his eyes, but has long since given up trying to explain his apartment’s appeal. He moves around the kitchen, running his hands across the surface of the marble countertops and peeking into several of the cabinets, their numbers almost too many to count.
“Lots of space for peanut butter and Oreos,” Brian says as he leans against one of the counters and crosses his arms over his chest. He watches as Justin continues to open cabinet doors.
“Yeah. We could probably store enough food here to feed a small army. It’s a good thing we both cook so much.”
Brian laughs at the sarcasm, but his smile fades as he watches Justin standing in front of the stove.
Eventually they make their way out of the kitchen, moving through rooms whose purposes are less clearly defined. A library perhaps and another one that could be a home office. There’s one with a built-in wet bar and lighting that suggests a pool table and friendly, informal gatherings.
Finally, at the very end of the hall, they enter a room with floor-to-ceiling windows. Justin can’t be sure, but he thinks they face north. Brian finds the light switch easily, and the space is washed in warmth and brightness. Justin feels Brian as he moves up behind him, circling his arms around his shoulders. He leans back and sighs. It takes a minute before he can speak.
“Prefect space for a studio,” he says, trying to imagine an art table, his computer and the mess of paints, brushes and other supplies that make him feel at home.
Brian nuzzles his nose into Justin’s hair and tightens his arms slightly. Another moment passes before Justin speaks again.
“Do you ever come out here?”
He feels Brian take a deep breath, but he doesn’t answer. Justin doesn’t need him to.
They stand there quietly for another few minutes, letting their thoughts wander and feeling the atmosphere of the house; empty, cold and that same sense of waiting that Justin felt when they arrived.
Justin is only slightly surprised when Brian finally speaks. “You’re not coming back.” It’s a statement, not even a hint of a question in his tone.
Justin answers anyway. “No, I’m not.”
Brian pulls away, putting distance between them as he makes his way over to the windows. The rain has stopped, but the darkness persists like a wall just beyond the arc of the outside lighting.
The silence stretches until eventually Justin breaks it. “Brian? Aren’t you going to say anything?”
Brian doesn’t bother to turn around as he speaks, “What’s there to say? You’ve decided. And it’s not like I didn’t already know.”
“Did you? I’ve been gone for over a year. And yet, we’re standing in this house, that you bought for me, that you still own.”
“We still own.”
Justin doesn’t know what to say to that, so he says nothing. Instead, he moves to stand next to Brian, bodies almost touching. He reaches up and lightly traces the shoulder seam of Brian’s jacket. And waits. It doesn’t take long.
“I’ll sell it.”
Justin runs his hand through Brian’s hair before answering. “OK.”
Then Justin lets the quiet of the house linger around them, and watches Brian as he continues to look out the window, eyes unfocused and expression blank.
“I thought it was what you wanted.” Brian’s voice is so low that Justin might have missed it if he wasn’t standing as close as he is.
His answer is hushed, in keeping with Brian’s tone. “I know. And it was, in a way.”
Brian is suddenly looking at him, eyes hard and intense. “And now? What is it that you want now, Justin?” There’s anger below the surface of his words, and Justin is almost surprised. Almost. He pulls back and stares up at Brian fixedly.
“You,” he says clearly. “Us, together, in New York.”
Brian stares down at Justin for a moment before responding. “And what about what I want? Don’t I have a say in this?”
Justin answers, a smile mixing with the seriousness of his words. “Tell me it’s not what you want, too.”
Brian looks away, resuming his silent appraisal of the darkened yard. Finally, he turns back to Justin, rests their foreheads together and takes a deep breath. “So, I’m selling the house and moving to New York. Did you happen to have a timeframe in mind? I kind of have a business or two to run and that information could be helpful.”
Justin smiles as he looks up at Brian. “Whenever you’re ready.”
Brian huffs out an almost laugh. “Well, since you seem to have everything else figured out, I suppose you’ll know when that is as well?”
“I don’t have it calculated down to the exact time of your flight, but,” Justin pauses as he lets his fingers play through the hair at the back of Brian’s neck. “There’s nothing holding you back now.” And then he leans in and lets their lips touch.
Much later, when they’re back at the loft, in bed and warm, they move against each other, face-to-face and in their own rhythm. They’re done talking, but their conversation continues in silence, both of them finally understanding what it means to come home.