|happier_bunny (happier_bunny) wrote in qaf_scavenger,|
@ 2009-10-30 18:57:00
|Entry tags:||2009 fall contest|
Post # 32
Title: Unfamiliar Territory
Beta: Thanks to testdog65!
Even though it was barely October, it had been freezing every day Justin had been in Pittsburgh. He couldn’t decide whether to try to thaw out his frozen body by running up the stairs to the loft, or to let the building’s heat do it while he waited for the elevator. He’d just decided to wait when someone else pushed through the door, blowing in a freezing fall wind that felt a lot more like winter.
In far northern Alaska.
When he got into the loft, Brian was sitting at his computer, frowning. Justin shed his jacket on a kitchen stool before walking over to the desk.
“Hey.” He dropped a kiss on Brian’s forehead.
Brian swatted him away. “Jesus, Justin, you’re fucking ice.”
“Yeah, well, that’s because it was fucking freezing out there. Or didn’t you notice?” He glanced down at Brian’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“Have you checked your email recently?”
Justin shook his head. “Not since this morning. Why?”
Brian wordlessly gestured at the monitor, and Justin let his hands rest lightly on Brian's shoulders while he read the contents of an email from Lindsay.
“Huh.” He kept reading. “I didn’t know Canada had its own Thanksgiving.”
Brian nodded. “Apparently, along with universal health coverage and gay marriage, they have their own special set of holidays.”
Justin went back to the kitchen and started hunting for food. “Don’t you want to go? We haven’t seen them in a while.”
Brian shrugged. “They’ll be here for real Thanksgiving. I can wait.”
His voice sounded strange, and Justin abandoned the kitchen and slowly walked back towards the desk. “Okay, has Canada done something to offend you that I don’t know about?”
Brian’s eyes were glued to the computer. “They’ve turned my son into a Canadian.”
“Well,” Justin said, slowly, “Mel and Lindsay moved there. They wanted to raise their children there. So yeah, I guess they did.”
He knelt down next to Brian, and put his hand on his knee, even though Brian still didn’t look at him. “And you know, somewhere that gay people are equal under the law and no one dies because they don’t have any money is not a bad place to grow up.”
Brian abruptly shoved back his chair and stood up. “Why don’t you move there, then?” He went to the liquor cart and grabbed a bottle of scotch.
Justin stood up. “I grew up a long time ago, Brian. And I don’t have a kid.” He paused. “Unlike you.”
Brian was sitting on the sofa, staring morosely at the opposite wall. Justin slid down next to him, and wordlessly took the scotch bottle out of his hand and set it on the coffee table.
“Gus will always be your kid, no matter where he lives.” He was speaking softly, close to Brian’s ear. “And you’ll always be his dad, even if you’re too stubborn to get on a plane and go celebrate their ersatz Thanksgiving.”
Brian didn’t really laugh, but his mouth did something that might have been the twisted beginnings of a smile. “Me? Us. They invited us both.”
Justin grinned, and let his arm drop across Brian’s shoulder. “Let’s go. It’ll be fun.” He kissed Brian’s cheek before getting up and heading back to the kitchen.
“Don’t forget to check the expiration date on your passport when you get back to New York,” Brian called after him, picking up the bottle again. “I’m not sure you’re aware of this, but Canada is a foreign land.”
Justin was looking at a takeout menu next to the phone. “I may be a college drop-out, but I did go to high school, and I believe I remember something about that.”
Brian grunted as he took a long swallow from the bottle. "Can you get time off work?"
Justin considered the menu and the question at the same time. "I think so. My boss is Canadian." He grinned at Brian. "Pad Thai, as usual? Or did you want to live life on the edge and get the Gai Yang?"
"You're late." Justin slammed the door of the Corvette, and just rolled his eyes when Brian winced. "Don't even think you can blame this on traffic. It's Sunday."
"It's great to see you, too, darling." Brian pulled out into the street, leaving a chorus of horns and curses in his wake. "I got held up at work."
"Brian. Like I said: It's Sunday."
"I had to work to make up for the two days I'll miss this week. For some incomprehensible reason, none of my employees or clients are aware that Monday is a holiday."
Justin patted Brian's knee. "The stressful life of a corporate executive."
Brian glanced at him. "The huge paycheck of a corporate executive."
Justin laughed. "Two things I know nothing about."
Brian turned left, and headed for the Holland Tunnel. "We cannot all live your carefree Bohemian existence." He was quiet for a minute.
"I wish it was a little more carefree." Justin's fingers were drumming on his knee.
Brian looked at him, surprised. "Trouble at work, dear?"
Justin shrugged. "Other than the low pay, hellish hours and terrible working conditions?"
He gestured acquiescence. "Naturally."
"Nothing you didn't warn me about. That to do the art you want to do, you need money." He looked at Brian, and shrugged again. "So, I work at a soul-sucking shit hole. Me and every other 'emerging artist' in New York."
Brian's lips folded in, but he didn't say anything.
Justin huffed a short laugh. "Are you trying to bite back your pity, or not let me know you're laughing at me?"
Brian ignored him, and roared onto the Turnpike.
Justin offered to drive several times, especially when they crossed back into eastern Pennsylvania. Brian just shook his head. But when he insisted they push past the halfway mark and drive to Toronto that night, Justin frowned at him. "What the fuck is the hurry? And if you were in one, why didn't we fly?"
"Fuck if I know," Brian said, shoving his hand through his hair. "Why didn't we fly?" But he finally turned off in Syracuse, and handed his car keys to the valet at a downtown hotel.
After they checked in, Justin showered while Brian looked at email. He could hear him cursing at Ted through the bathroom door, although whether he was talking to him on the phone or just yelling at the computer screen, he couldn't tell.
A little while later, Justin was sitting cross-legged on the bed, reading the room guide. "Did you know Syracuse gets the most snowfall of any city in the continental United States?"
Brian came out of the steamy bathroom, a towel loosely wrapped around his waist. "Did you know that I have never gotten my dick sucked in Syracuse?"
Justin tossed the guide away and lounged back on his elbows, grinning. "I'm assuming, then, that you've never been to Syracuse before."
Brian dropped the towel, and knelt between Justin's legs on the edge of the bed.
When Brian woke up the next morning, it took him a few seconds to remember where he was. Generic boutique hotel. Generic downtown view. Generic expensive, but still inadequately high thread count, sheets.
He heard a small snuffling noise next to him, and smiled. Decidedly non-generic Justin sleeping in the bed next to him. So he lay there a while, thinking about coffee and the next few hours driving, and a little bit about Gus. Eventually the need for coffee drove all the other thoughts out, so he tried using his powers of mind control to wake Justin up.
When that didn't work, he poked him with his foot. "Get up."
"Mrrrgrghuyh." Justin yawned, then opened his eyes. "Coffee."
Brian got out of bed, shaking his head. "Downstairs. We don't have time for room service. It's supposed to snow later."
Justin was still sitting on the bed, periodically shoving his hand through his hair and yawning, when Brian came out of the bathroom. Half an hour later, they were back on the road, Starbucks cups in their hands, a few half-hearted snowflakes melting across the windshield as they drove.
They pulled into Lindsay and Melanie's driveway just around 1 in the afternoon. Justin had just unsnapped his seat belt when the front door opened, and Gus came scrambling down the porch steps.
Brian got out of the car and stood there for a minute. Gus paused, and Justin watched the two of them, Brian with his back to the car, Gus hesitating at the head of the path.
Justin couldn't see Brian's face, but he saw Gus' light up. Brian walked down the path, and Gus raced over and threw his arms around his legs.
When Brian scooped Gus into his arms, he turned around for a second, his face buried in the little boy's hair.
Lindsay was standing in the doorway smiling. Her eyes never left Brian and Gus, even when she hugged Justin and laughingly wished him a Happy Thanksgiving. Melanie grabbed him after Lindsay let him go, and he was still oohing and aahing over how much Jenny had grown by the time he realized Brian and Gus had vanished.
"Gus took him upstairs to see the new train set Brian sent him for his birthday," Lindsay said. "It's bigger than his bed."
He followed Mel and Linds into the kitchen. "So, what's the traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal?"
"Turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pumpkin pie," said Melanie.
Justin sat down at the table and took the cup of coffee Lindsay offered him. "That sounds familiar."
Linds sat down with him while Melanie slid a covered pan into the oven. "They claim they're two completely separate holidays, but the menus are somewhat…"
"Identical?" Melanie sat across from Lindsay. "It's great to finally see you here, Justin."
Justin blew across the surface of his coffee. "The place is beautiful."
Lindsay's face lit up. "Let me show you the yard."
The thought of going back out into the cold didn't appeal to Justin, but he followed her through the french doors onto the deck. "Wow."
She smiled. "The kids love it."
"I'll bet." It was long and full of trees, spangled in fall colors and melting frost. There was a swing set and a slide at the far end, and a barren vegetable garden behind an old, mostly-fallen picket fence.
Melanie had followed them out. "It looked better a month ago."
"I don't know," Lindsay said, a soft smile on her face. "I like it now, too."
A screeching sound made them all jump, but it was just Brian hanging out Gus' bedroom window. "What the fu… what are you doing out there?"
Melanie rolled her eyes. "Like Gus hasn't heard the word 'fuck' a hundred times."
"Every day before breakfast. From you." Lindsay's voice was dry.
Melanie shrugged. "It's just a word."
Lindsay pushed the door to the house open, and they all went in. "So are 'dyke' and 'fag' and 'homo.'"
"That's not the same." Melanie and Justin said it in stereo.
"What's not the same?" It was Brian, Gus trailing behind him back into the kitchen.
"'Dyke' and 'fuck,'" Justin said.
Brian looked pained. "Do dykes fuck?"
Lindsay shut her eyes. "Brian! Language!"
"Christ." But he just went past them and out the back door to have a cigarette.
The oven timer went off, and Lindsay grabbed two potholders and pulled the turkey out.
Justin helped Melanie bring the rest of the food into the dining room, and Brian strolled in just in time to take a seat in front of the mashed potatoes.
"So," Brian said, "Where's JR's deadbeat daddy?"
Lindsay reached over and patted his hand. "This visit is just for you."
"Besides," said Melanie, "Michael comes up every few weeks. You haven't been here in more than a year."
"Mel." Lindsay's voice was strained.
"Well," Brian said in a hearty voice, "Let's eat." He grabbed a huge spoonful of mashed potatoes and let it plop onto his plate.
Gus giggled, and Justin let Melanie pour him a glass of wine. A large glass.
After dinner, Brian went outside to smoke again while Mel and Linds whipped cream for the pie. Justin followed him out. "Have you really not been here in more than a year?"
Brian lit a cigarette and offered it to Justin, who shook his head. Then he shrugged. "That's because the lesbians keep bringing the little tykes down to Pittsburgh to visit their daddies."
Justin nodded, and slid his arm around Brian's waist. They stood there for a long time. Justin's side, pressed against Brian, was warm, but the rest of him was freezing. "I can't believe how cold it's been this year."
Brian blew out a long stream of smoke. "By all means, Justin, let's talk about the weather instead of what a shitty father I am."
"Oh, Christ," Justin said. "We're having one of those moments." He dropped his arm and went back inside.
Lindsay had made a fire in the living room fireplace, and served dessert and coffee in there. Justin was tired of being polite, so he just ate his pie and drank his coffee in silence. Brian had come back in, and dropped onto the sofa next to Gus. He swiped his finger through the whipped cream on Gus' pie, as Gus yelped and batted his father's hand away. Brian just grinned at him and ate the cream off his finger.
Justin followed Melanie into the kitchen and offered to help with the dishes. They loaded the dishwasher together in a comfortable silence for a while, but Melanie finally spoke.
"I'm sorry for the dig at Brian."
Justin shrugged. "It's true, so…"
"Linds keeps telling me not to say things like that in front of Gus. And she's right." Melanie grinned. "It's kind of like saying 'fuck,' though."
Justin laughed. "I don't know why Brian doesn't come more often. I know he loves Gus…"
"Because he resents us taking him here," she said. "He never wanted us to."
"I don't know," Justin said slowly. "I really don't think that's it."
Melanie slammed the dishwasher door closed. "Then what? Because, seriously… Gus is getting to the age where he's asking about his father. Which is exactly why I…."
Her voice trailed off. Justin sighed, and just shook his head. "Brian's… complicated."
"Brian's fucked up," Melanie said firmly.
Justin grinned. "Language!"
"WASPs," Melanie said. "God, you people drive me crazy."
Justin nodded sympathetically. "You can take the queer out of the country club…"
She frowned. "Don't I know it."
Justin carried the wine bottle back into the living room, and re-filled everyone's glasses. JR was sound asleep on the floor in front of the fire, and Gus was sitting in the circle of Brian's legs, fighting to keep his eyes open.
"How's the gallery going?" Justin asked Lindsay.
She smiled brightly. "I love it, Justin. It's not New York, but it's a universe ahead of Pittsburgh up here. You should come back up after the New Year; there are some pieces in our next show I think you'd love."
"I will," Justin said. "That sounds great."
Melanie took a sip of her wine. "How about you, Justin? What's going on with your painting?"
Justin shrugged. "You know how it is… I've shown a few pieces here and there, sold some, gotten to know a few gallery owners and some other artists. But it's pretty rough going most of the time."
"The slides you sent me are extraordinary," Lindsay said. "From the Brooklyn show."
He nodded. "Thanks. Those are the ones that sold."
Brian's chin was resting on Gus' head, and the little boy was finally asleep. "Justin's a genius. I always said so."
Lindsay smiled softly at them both. "It just takes time."
Brian snorted, but softly enough not to bother Gus. "And talent."
She nodded agreement. "He has that."
After a while Brian carried Gus up to bed. The four of them stood at the front door, cold air blowing through the living room and making the candles and fire flicker.
"We'll see you in November," Lindsay said, hugging Justin. "For American Thanksgiving."
"For the real Thanksgiving," Brian said.
They got into the car and headed for the hotel, neither of them talking. After a few minutes, Brian glanced at Justin. "Why so glum, Sunshine? Too much lesbian Canadian turkey?"
"I don't know," Justin said slowly, still looking out the window. "I was just thinking that here you are, sacrificing seeing Gus because you want him to grow up in a better place than we did. And we're sacrificing being together so I can be in New York and develop my art. I guess you can't actually get away from sacrificing some things for other things. Or people."
Brian's jaw twitched, but all he said was, "I guess you're right."
When they got to the hotel, Justin asked if Brian wanted to go to a club.
Brian gave him a smile, his eyes dark. "No." He pulled Justin against him, hard. "Not really." He bent his head and kissed him.
Justin could have sworn he was tired, but when Brian's fingers slid inside his jeans, he forgot all about sleeping. The bed was suddenly behind his legs, and he fell back onto it, Brian's mouth on his neck, his knee pressing Justin's legs apart.
Brian pulled Justin's jeans off while he gently rolled him onto his stomach. Justin gasped at the hard point of Brian's tongue on his asshole, Brian's hand slipping under him to curl around his cock.
Brian had to get condoms and lube out of Justin's duffel bag, and Justin shivered a little as the cool air brushed across his damp skin. Then Brian was back, curving around him, pressing inside him, heat and stretch and electricity building up inside Justin until they burst. Brian was still against his back, still fucking him. Even though it hurt, Justin tugged at his thigh and shoved himself back into Brian's thrusts.
Hot breath in his ear, the too-much of Brian's cock inside him, and then that moment of stillness and the harsh groan that sounded almost like his name. Brian's arm gave out and he fell heavily onto Justin, pushing him down onto the bed.
Justin felt Brian pull gently out of him, and he rolled over onto his back. "Wow," he said, pushing his hair out of his eyes. "I really like Canada."
Brian laughed, and tossed the condom onto the floor. "It's all right."
Justin wriggled his toes. "This is the first time we've fucked in a foreign country."
Brian propped himself on his elbow and looked down at him. "Huh. Hard to believe. And after all your promises of hot sex under the Canadian stars all those years ago…"
"I like four star hotels better." Justin was grinning at him.
"Oh, well," Brian said, lying down and pulling Justin against him. "Of course you do."
Brian was almost asleep. Justin moved a little. "Brian?"
Brian didn't answer; Justin didn't expect him to. But a little while later, he felt Brian kiss his hair softly. "I miss you."
Justin's eyes opened. He turned around and looked at Brian for a long time, then gently touched his arm. "I'm right here."
Brian shrugged. "I mean, when you're not."
"I know." He kissed him softly. "I wish…"
Brian snorted. "That Pittsburgh was the art center of the world? That Kinnetik wouldn't be chewed up, swallowed, shit out, and smeared all over the sidewalk in New York?"
Justin had to laugh. "Basically."
Brian raised an eyebrow. "Me, too, Sunshine. Now, let's get some sleep so we're fresh for our long drive back to the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Justin tugged a pillow against him and pulled the blanket over his shoulder. "It's weird, really."
"What is?" Brian had turned away from Justin, but he moved towards him until they were lying back to back.
"How many things you want to do that you never do."
"Move to New York. Visit Gus more often. Have him down to stay for the summer. Have us live together again. Fuck me in foreign countries." He turned around and wrapped his arms around Brian's waist. "Shall I go on?"
"Your point being?" Brian didn't sound angry, just curious. But his body was tense.
Justin just pressed closer against his back. "Sacrifice is bullshit. So are regrets. Or so this guy I know always says." He kissed Brian's shoulder, then rolled over and went to sleep.
They didn't leave as early the next morning as they'd planned. Brian fucked him twice before room service arrived with breakfast, and it was almost noon before they finally got on the road.
They were back on the US side of Niagara Falls when Justin laughed. "Funny, I don't feel any freer or braver."
Brian smiled and let his hand drop off the steering wheel and onto Justin's thigh. "I don't know," he said, giving the 'vette just a little more gas, "I do." He glanced at him, then back to the road. "For some reason."
Justin smiled a little, turned his head to look out the window, and smiled a little more. But he didn't say anything.