after.midnight // v.naked
Title: Too Long Gone
Summary: Justin's in LA. Brian misses him.
Disclaimer: The boys and girls of QAF belong to Cowlip. All I own is this crappy fic.


==========


Justin had been gone exactly two weeks, six days, and four and a half hours when Brian officially started to miss him.

It happened when he was sitting at his desk, working on an idea for a vaguely popular line of cleaning products. He was trying to figure out how the hell he was supposed to market lemon fresh mold and mildew remover to a bunch of straight males between the ages of 18 and 35 (the only thing he could come up with is a bunch of women with big tits doing something that resembled cleaning in a steamy shower, but the very thought of having to be there for that shoot made him want to vomit), when Daphne sauntered into his office and plopped herself down on the chair on the other side of his desk, looking for all the world as if something had taken her best friend away.

It hit him then, although he'd never really forgotten, that something had taken her best friend away. That same something had taken his lover away. And at that moment, as he stared into Daphne's sad brown eyes, he missed Justin so much it hurt, missed him so much he wasn't sure how he was going to make it through the next seven months without him.

It was a miserable thought, one he wanted to wallow in for a while. He didnít bother to hide it, Daphne had seen him at his best and his worst, all in the span of a few hours. She hadnít spilled his secrets yet, so he figured she was safe with at least one more. So, he told Cynthia he was taking the rest of the day off, grabbed Daphne's hand, and just left.

"What are we doing?" Daphne asked, after they made a stop at the diner, the video store, and the Chinese place down the block from the loft they always ordered from because Justin was adamant that they were the only place in Pittsburgh that made his shrimp lo mien with the proper shrimp to vegetable ratio. Brian knew it was really because they only took fifteen minutes to deliver.

Brian flashed her a slight smile. "You miss Justin," he said matter-of-factly. "I miss Justin. Might as well miss him together.Ē

And so they did. They sat on the floor in front of the television, watching Justin's favorite movies, eating Justin's favorite foods. They drank massive amounts of alcohol, smoked insane amounts of pot, and told extremely embarrassing stories about the time Justin fell out of a tree when he was six because he was trying to save a cat and started sneezing when his allergies went out of control and the time Justin almost drowned in the shower giving Brian head directly under the spray from the shower head. And when they fell asleep, they both missed Justin a little bit less.

It all came back when Brian woke up the next morning, though, because the hair on the pillow next to his wasn't blond and the eyes that blinked up at him in sleepy confusion weren't blue. And suddenly, being with Daphne only made him miss Justin more.


==

Justin had been gone one month, three weeks, and five days when Brian sought out Justin's mother.

Taking Jennifer Taylor out to lunch wasn't how he'd planned to spend his hour; he hadn't really known where he was going until he pulled in the parking lot next to her car. But he'd woken up that morning to cold sheets and a half-empty bed and the thought of going through one more day without laying eyes on at least one Taylor, even if it wasn't his Taylor, was unbearable.

So, he'd gone to see Jennifer. Made up some story about checking up on her for Justin. Took her somewhere cozy and expensive, where the food was excellent and the wait staff knew when to just disappear. He listened to her talk about her day, told her about his latest clients. She talked about the man she was seeing, he jokingly offered to check him out for her, just to be sure. He told her how much better he was feeling, she gave him a lecture on the stupidity of riding bikes with no hands. She complimented his taste in restaurants, he told her it was Justin's favorite.

She looked at him from across the table then, her eyes soft and sympathetic, and she said, "I miss him, too."


==

It wasn't until Justin had been gone two months, one week, and six days that Brian got desperate. That was the only reason he could explain Molly Taylor's presence in his car. On a Saturday afternoon. With Gus in the backseat. On the way to the zoo.

He's not even sure how it happened. All he knows is that when Justin called him the night before, at two in the morning, sounding wistful and nostalgic and so very lonely, he spent twenty minutes of their forty minute conversation talking about Molly. Brian learned more in that time about Justinís relationship with his sister than heíd learned in four years of sporadic observation.

ďThere was this time, when Molly was six, we went to the zoo,Ē Justin said softly, lost in the memory. ďWe were at the petting zoo and Molly spent forever with this tiny little lamb. We couldnít get her to leave. Mom had to promise her double scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone with chocolate sprinkles just to get her to walk away without causing a scene. We ended up going to the zoo once a week for the entire summer so Molly could be with her lamb.Ē

Brian hates the zoo. Itís filled with tired parents, screaming children, and worst of all, animals. The smell of zebra shit is everywhere, competing with the scent of elephant shit for dominance. And you canít get anything from the concession stand that isnít fried, made from questionable meat sources, or filled with carbs and fat and sugar.

But despite his derision for all things zoo-like, when he picked up Gus for the day, he found himself driving fifteen minutes out of his way to pick up Molly, with whom, in four and a half years, heís spent approximately twelve cumulative hours. And when Molly asked what they were doing, after hugging the hell out of him and hopping in the car like they spent time together on a regular basis, he found himself saying, ďHow about the zoo?Ē

By the time the day was over, Gus and Molly had managed to get him to eat a bag of cotton candy, a waffle cone with chocolate sprinkles, a hot dog, a hamburger, an order of fries, and two strawberry-peach smoothies. He spent an hour in the petting zoo, completely ruining his favorite (and very expensive) pair of jeans. And he got hit on by not one, not two, but ten desperate single mothers, one who even went so far as to corner him in the reptile house and pinch his ass.

When he calls Justin later that night, after Gus and Molly have gone home and the lights in the loft are low, and he listens to the sound of Justinís laughter as he recounts his day in zoo hell, Brian knows that it was all worth it.

But worth it or not, he vows to make Justin pay the very second he brings his ass home.


===

When Brian woke up for the third morning in a row, cock hard, fingers gripping the sheets, Justinís name on his lips, he decided enough was enough. Justin had been gone three months and seventeen days and the lack of live-in sex was driving him crazy. He was tired of waking up every morning to a half empty bed, tired of sleeping alone every night. He missed Justinís sketchbooks lying around and Justinís pencils littering the desk and Justinís toothbrush sitting beside his in the bathroom.

He missed Justin.

Brian reached for the phone, called Cynthia, and had her book him on the next flight to LA. While he packed he called Theodore and threatened him with castration if he ran Kinnetik into the ground while he was gone. On the way to the airport he left messages for Mikey and Linds. And before he boarded the plane he made sure Daphne understood that he hadnít had sex with Justin in three months, seventeen days, and twelve hours and there was no way in hell he was taking her to LA with him. He didnít care if sheíd known him longer or even if Justin liked her better. Boyfriend trumped best friend every single time. He was positive Justin would agree.

When Justin got home from work later that evening, he found Brian sprawled out on the couch, beer in one hand, remote in the other. Brian let him stare for two minutes before he announced, ďGet naked or Iím on the first plane back to Pittsburgh.Ē

Justin, still mute with shock, obeyed without question.

Seven days later, he and Justin had fucked in every room, on every available surface, and against every wall in Justinís apartment. Theyíd fucked in four clubs, six restaurants, and two movie theaters. Theyíd even fucked in Brettís guest room and the houses of three A-list Hollywood actors. Brian couldnít remember much of what they did when they werenít fucking, canít really remember a moment when they werenít kissing or touching, frantic and eager and desperate.

The night before Brian leaves, they lie on the couch and watch old movies on AMC. The apartment is dark and quiet and peaceful, the first time itís been that way since he arrived. He notices things now he hadnít taken the time to notice before. Justinís bag sitting beside the door and Justinís shoes lying on the floor where heíd kicked them off when they got home earlier that evening. Sketches for Rage are scattered all over the coffee table, notes scribbled in the margins in bright red ink. In the corner closest to the window, thereís an easel, some brushes, and a roll of canvas. The kitchen is huge, the closets practically non-existent, and Justinís artwork hangs on the walls, some in simple, but expensive, frames, others stuck up haphazardly with tape. Itís all comfortable and cozy and familiar and Brian misses it so much he buries his face in Justin's neck and vows to remember exactly how he felt at this exact moment.

He's pretty sure it'll be that thought that gets him through the next three and a half months.

When he gets back to Pittsburgh, Brian schedules lunch with Jennifer, arranges a play date with Molly and Gus at the Childrenís Museum, and makes Daphne kick her loser boyfriend out so they can hang out together at Babylon. Itís not the same as having Justin with him, and he still misses him like crazy, but, for now, itíll do.