after.midnight // v.naked
Drabbles and Ficlets

for the sex toy challenge at qaf_drabbles

The family thinks they know Justin. Debbie thinks the sun shines out of his ass. Emmett adores him, Ben admires him. Ted secretly lusts after him, Hunter thinks he’s cool, and Lindsay and Melanie are convinced he can do no wrong. Even Michael can’t seem to stop liking him, almost despite himself.

Justin reels them in and they fall at his feet thinking he’s sweet and innocent, an angel.

But when Brian comes home early one afternoon to find Justin, dildo in hand, giving teenage girls blowjob tips, he thinks to himself that most people don’t know shit about Justin.

There was a time when I had nothing to explain (Ben Folds Five -- Mess)

He's two hours late and stuck in traffic, cursing the accident victims a half a mile ahead. He flips open his cell phone, tosses it aside in anger when it displays No Service Available. Of all the days to reschedule a presentation on, his newest client had to choose this one.

Justin's big night, four years in the making.

Twenty minutes later, he's off the interstate and has miraculously recovered cell phone reception. He hits one on the speed dial, doesn't give a damn if he's interrupting some pompous, long-winded professor in the middle of a speech, all that matters is that Justin knows he'll be there.

Justin answers on the first ring. "You're late."

"Accident on the interstate."

There's a pause. "What the hell are you doing on the interstate?"

He stops at a red light and sighs. "Those damn cat people moved the meeting up."

There's another pause and he can hear someone whispering in the background. "They've just started the M's. You've got thirty minutes before you miss me get my diploma, something I've worked four long, hard years to achieve, despite the many and varied obstacles placed in my path."

He shakes his head and doesn't even bother to fight the smile. "I'll be there in ten minutes, tops."

Justin hangs up without saying goodbye, even though it annoys the hell out of him. But, true to his word, he's sliding into the seat next to Jennifer just as they call Elizabeth Tanner up to the stage.

Four hours later, he's lying in bed with Justin's diploma in his hands as Justin strips out of his clothes. It's been a long day and the only thing he wants more than sleep is to fuck the college graduate he lives with.

Justin has other plans.

"Explain to me again why you were late."

He sets the diploma aside and sighs. "You know, I never had to do this much explaining when I first met you. If I was late, I was late. If I didn't show up, then I wasn't going to be there."

Justin slips into bed beside him and smiles. "Why were you late again?"

Knowing there's no point fighting it, he opens his mouth and explains.

Your heart is not open so I must go, the spell has been broken, I loved you so. (The Power of Goodbye, Madonna)

He's walking down the street, cell phone attached to his ear as Brett goes on and on about Rage. It's his first day off in two months and he'd planned to spend them seeing the LA sights, and he will, as soon as Brett stops gushing like a school girl in his ear.

He's just about to blow off Brett with the ever effective lost signal excuse, when he spots his father sitting outside a coffee shop, newspaper in hand, large cup of black decaf sitting on the table in front of him. He briefly debates walking past without speaking then realizes he hasn't seen his father in almost two years, figures it would be rude to walk by without at least saying hello.

So he walks over to the table and says, "Hi, Dad."

His father's eyes light up for just the briefest of seconds before shock is replaced with confusion and then idle curiosity. "Justin. What are you doing here?"

He shrugs. "Working," he replies vaguely.

His father cocks an eyebrow. "I thought you were in school."

"Working on a movie," he answers. "I get class credit."

His father frowns. "They give credit for movie making in art school?"

He shrugs, tries to look nonchalant. "They do if they make a movie based on the comic book you co-created."

Despite everything he knows about the man sitting in front of him, he wants his father to be proud of him. To look at him with something other than disappointment. Knows as soon as he sees his father's eyes dim with that familiar look that you can't always have what you want.

They talk a few minutes more, avoiding all topics of comic books, movies, and what he's been doing with his life for the past two years. He's saved from making more flagging small talk when his phone rings. Brett, again, in major crisis mode. He stifles a smile at the drama queen nature of his boss and excuses himself, leaves without another word.

There really isn't much else to say.

When he spies his father, three years later, having dinner at some upscale restaurant in Pittsburgh he doesn't bother going over to say hello. He's learned now that certain things just aren't meant to be.

The whole world's come undone from looking straight at the sun. (Aerosmith, "Janie's got a gun")

Justin comes into the diner, flashes a smile, bats his pretty blue eyes, and Debbie gives him three days off so he can go to Florida with Daphne for spring break.

They're having dinner at Deb's, talking and laughing and being a family, when Justin turns to Emmett and smiles. Twenty minutes later, the two of them are pushing out the door, Emmett feeling all happy and proud to help Justin in his quest to become a famous artist.

Brian watches as the power of the smile works on everyone, from Lindsay to Michael to Ben. It works on Ted, who treats passing Justin the sugar as if he's just been summoned to service the queen. It even works on Daphne, who's known Justin long enough to know that the smile is just a clever trick he uses to make people do his bidding.

It's pathetic, watching every single one of them fall over themselves just because Justin happens to smile in their direction.

Brian refuses to be swayed by the smile.

And if he happens to get up at three in the morning to get Justin a glass of water it's only because he was going into the kitchen anyway.

I never thought you were the letter writing type. (If I Wrote You, Dar Williams)

He gets the letter in the mail on an otherwise normal Wednesday. It's seventy degrees outside, the sun is shining, and he's pretty sure that hell hasn't frozen over. But, sure enough, there is a letter addressed to Justin Taylor from Brian Kinneyin his hands. He places it on the desk, gives it one last look, and leaves it sitting there.

The damn thing freaks him out so much it takes him two days to muster up the courage to actually look at it again, another day and a half to open it. When he does, he reads the words written with a smile, puts the letter in his top desk drawer when he's done.

Then he grabs a sheet of paper and starts some letter writing of his own.

It's always been up to you/ It's turning around/ It's up to me ("Tomorrow" Avril Lavigne)

He’s always been given the choice to stay or go. He’s taken it a time or two, needing the out in order to make himself whole.

It’s always his choice, always, and he’s sick of being the one sitting in the dark deciding whether or not staying is worth all the hurting, if going will make him any happier.

So when Brian opens his mouth to give him his standard speech about how it’s all up to him, there are no locks on their doors, he’s always free to go, he holds up a hand, stops him mid-sentence.

Because he’s tired, so very tired or going through the same shit, hearing the same words, over and over and over.

This time, it's Brian's turn to choose.

yeah everybody cares about you, whether or not you want them to (elliott smith, everybody cares everybody understands)

First it’s Mikey, getting the night off from the ball and chain to take him out for pool at Woody’s. Then it’s Emmett dragging him out to Babylon, where he buys him drinks all night and makes sure he never leaves the dance floor. Next it’s Debbie inviting him over for dinner once a week and slipping him extra lemon bars with his to go orders at the diner.

Cynthia hasn’t scheduled a lunch meeting in weeks and Ted subtly threatens employees with pink slips if anyone so much as walks past his door between the hours of twelve and one. And when Lindsay has to dash off to Philly for the weekend for some extremely important gallery function, she drops Gus off with a list of perfect Father/Son activities.

By the time Jennifer shows up on his doorstep, weighted down with more groceries than he could possibly use in a month, he’s completely fed up.

“They act like I can’t do a fucking thing without you,” he tells Justin on his only free night that week. “Your mother bought me groceries, Justin. Groceries! What the fuck is up with that?”

He can hear the smile in Justin’s voice when he replies, “They love you, Brian.”

When Mikey, Emmett, and Ted show up at his door, five minutes after he and Justin say their goodbyes, all smiles and sympathy, he wishes they all loved him just a little bit less.

I’m about to see just how far I can fly, surely your gonna break my fall (Better Life by Three Doors Down)

He goes to New York, fully prepared to be a success. And he is. There are gallery openings and dinners in fancy restaurants, artists he’s admired and emulated and some he even hates telling him that he’s got talent, he’s got what it takes to be somebody.

But it doesn’t last as long as he thought it would, because two years later there’s another young, up and coming artist with talent (even though his stuff is shit) and everything it takes to make it (despite his crack addiction and astronomically huge ego).

And when he decides New York isn’t the place for him anymore, that he's learned all he's going to learn and done everything worth doing, he packs up his stuff and ships it to Pittsburgh.

He flies back home, lets himself into the loft. He strips off his clothes on the way to the bedroom, lies down next to Brian’s warm body and sighs.

“New York sucks,” he says grumpily, feeling a little sorry for himself.

Brian smiles, wraps himself around him. “Yeah. Shopping was good though.”

He ignores that, focuses on the important stuff instead. “We should go to Italy next.”

Brian runs his fingers through his hair, kisses him softly. “And if the Italians prove to be as lacking in good taste as the New Yorkers, we’ll visit Paris.”

He knows that wherever he goes, whatever he does, he’ll always, always have this, this bed and this loft and this man, to come back to.