QAF FanFic by Morpheus


Intermission-10:  Six Months

Part 6:  Cat and Mouse 




Justin

After picking up my car at Lawrence's place Sunday night, my first stop on the way home is Brian's loft.  I call him on my cell to be sure it’s okay to drop by and he curtly tells me he’s busy but that he can spare five or ten minutes, if necessary.  I tell him it’s necessary and he says okay and we hang up.

As soon as Brian lets me into the loft he walks over and sits down at his computer.  I stand next to him pulling off my jacket.  “Did you have a nice trip?” he asks conversationally.

“Brian, tell me what you meant when you called me in New York.”

He stretches out his legs under the desk, his beautiful feet naked as always.  Now he’s jerking the mouse around and staring at the screen.  Then he turns to look at me and says, “Are you sure I called you?  Maybe it was a wrong number.”

“Brian, don’t fuck with me.  I mean it.”  I take the mouse out of his hand and hold it tight in front of me.

He reaches for the mouse but I hold it up in the air, as far as the cord will stretch.  Then he leans back in the chair and regards me with his almost-serious look, the one that makes the corners of his mouth twitch.  “What did I say?” he asks.  “When I allegedly called you in New York.”  He’s playing with me and he’s enjoying it.

“You said, ’don’t fall in love with the teacher.’”  I’m squeezing the mouse in my hands so hard it’s going to explode into a million pieces.  Unless I hit him over the head with it first.

“That sounds like good advice,” he nods solemnly, his mouth still twitching.  “So,” he adds, “Did you take it?”

I just stand there staring, wanting to smack him or yell at him or push him out of his chair.  Instead I lay the mouse on the desktop and turn for the door.  Then Brian swings his chair sideways, pulls my arm and whirls me around to face him.  He grabs me around the waist and pulls me forward, capturing me between his long legs.  Holding me prisoner between his thighs. 

Despite my annoyance I discover that I’m a willing prisoner, making no move to escape.

“So,” he repeats, “Are you going to take my advice?  The advice that I allegedly gave you when I allegedly called you in New York?”

“I don’t know yet,” I hedge. 

“Was it romantic enough for you?  Being in New York?”  He smiles but his voice has an edge to it.  

“It was slightly romantic,” I answer honestly.

“You had a nice dinner.”

“Yes.”

“You didn’t embarrass him with your table manners, did you?”

“Brian, I don’t think I should tell things about him to you.  It’s not right.”

Not very surprisingly, Brian agrees.  “No, you shouldn’t.  So just tell me this:  Are you seeing him again?”  His face is serious now and he’s waiting for my answer.

“I don’t know.  He wants to.”

“Do you?”

And that’s the question, isn’t it?  Do I want to see Lawrence again?  “Yes and no.”

“Tell me the ‘yes’ reason first.”

“He’s nice,” I say and Brian nods.  “He’s – “  I was going to say, ‘good in bed’ but I decide not to.  “It’s fun to be with him.”

When I stop, Brian nods again.  “Uh-huh.  Now tell me the ‘no’ reason.”

Brian’s the ‘no’ reason.  He knows he’s the ‘no’ reason.  I refuse to tell him that. 

His grip on me has loosened, so quickly I back away, out of reach.  “Do you have any snacks?  I didn’t eat much dinner.”  I don’t wait for an answer but move into the kitchen and open the fridge.  It’s almost empty.

Brian has joined me, peering over my shoulder into the refrigerator.  “If I’d known you were coming by I’d have had a few dozen cases of groceries delivered.  That milk should still be good – Gus was here a couple days ago.  And there’s some of his cookies in the drawer – he likes Oreos as much as you do.”

“Mmm,” I say, pulling out the milk carton and getting a glass from the cupboard.  “How’s Gus, I haven’t seen him for a while.”

“He’s big,” Brian answers, leaning against the counter and folding his arms.  “And he’s bad.”

“Two year olds are supposed to be terrible.  That’s what Mom says anyway.”  I find the cookies and inhale a couple immediately, I’m really hungry.  I thought there’d be snacks on the plane but there weren’t. 

“Lindsay says the same thing.  He’s terrible all right.  He pulled all the CDs off the shelf, he got sticky handprints on the curtains, and he managed to get a sip of my drink before I could stop him.”   Brian shakes his head.  “He liked it too – another Kinney alcoholic in the making.”

“You’re not an alcoholic.”

“Like Gus, I’m still ‘in the making.’”

I glance at him quickly, he’s joking but not completely.  “You haven’t been drinking much since the accident.”

“Out of practice.  And don’t start one of your Carrie Nation speeches.”  Brian turns away, goes back to sit at his computer once more.  I follow him, carrying my glass and bringing along the Oreos.  “Besides,” he adds, glancing up at me, “You’re not around very much – you don’t know if I’m wasted all the time or not.”

“Cynthia says – “   Oops.

“What?”  Brian’s frowning.  “Why the fuck are you talking to Cynthia?”

“Why can’t I talk to Cynthia?  She had a curry recipe to share with me, she said call any time.  She likes to cook too.”

“Uh-huh.  And while you two girls were exchanging recipes, what precisely did Cynthia say about me?  That you were just about to quote?”

I swallow a lump of cookie before answering.  “She just said that you’re working harder than ever and that you’ve never been better at your game.  She likes you a lot.”

“Mmm-hmm.  What else?”

I shake my head.  “That’s all – but I just figured, you know, if you’re doing so great at work, you must not be getting wasted every night.”  When he just stares at me, his face unreadable, I offer the bag of Oreos.  “Want a cookie?”

“That’s my line,” Brian smiles, turning  toward me, relaxing back in his chair and stretching out his legs.  “’Hey little boy, want a cookie?’  Then I lure you into my bed and fuck your brains out.”

“Maybe I want to fuck YOUR brains out.  I’m the one offering the cookies.”

Brian really laughs at that, throwing back his head and bellowing.  God, his throat is so beautiful.  Putting down my glass and the Oreo package, I move toward him, move between his outstretched legs again.  He stops laughing and sits up, takes my hands in his.

“No,” he says, holding me back gently.  “Not tonight.”

“Why not?”

Brian pauses, then says lightly, “I don’t do sloppy seconds.”

"Yeah, you do," I remind him.  

Serious now, Brian says, "You should have told me.  If you didn't like it."

"I know."

Brian pulls me down to sit on his good leg and wraps his arm around my waist.  "So why didn't you?  Tell me, I mean."

Part of me wants to lie, to say, 'I don't know,' or make some other excuse.  I reach out and straighten the collar of his shirt, at first I can't look at him.  Then I do, I look into his eyes.  This time I'll tell him.  "I wanted to be with you, Brian.  That was the only way I could."

"No."  He shakes his head.  "No, that’s not true."

“It seemed true.”  There's nothing else I can say.

Brian grabs my wrist and turns it, looking at my watch.  “You should go,” he says, “You have school tomorrow, and I’ve got an eight o’clock meeting.”

I’m not giving up that easily.  “Tell me something first.”

Expecting a sarcastic throw-away joke, I’m surprised that Brian sits quietly waiting for my question, without even a smirk on his face.

“Brian, tell me why you said, don’t fall in love with the teacher.”  His face is unreadable so I force myself to repeat, “Tell me why.”

He opens his mouth and I interrupt quickly, “And tell me the real reason.  Don’t say because I’m too young or inexperienced.  Or that I should be dating young guys.  Or any bullshit like that.”

“Do you want my answer, or are you going to keep answering for me?”  Brian frowns, raising his eyebrows in that supercilious way of his.  I keep my mouth shut and wait, not knowing what to expect.

“I said, ‘don’t  fall in love with him’ because. . .”  There’s a pause, then Brian says, “Because I don’t want you to.”

“Why not?”

Brian gently pushes me off his lap and stands up, puts his arm around my shoulders and walks me over to the sofa, picks up my jacket where I dropped it and hands it to me, then walks me over to the door.  He says nothing till we get to the door and he’s pulled it open, one-handed, still hanging on to me.

Then Brian leans down and kisses my mouth, a quick kiss but a good one.  When he pulls away he says quietly, “Because.”

Just ‘because.’

Then he gently pushes me out the door and says,  “Bye, Justin.”  And he closes the door quickly.

It wasn’t a very good answer, but somehow I’m not unhappy.  Somehow I’m feeling almost light-hearted as I start down the stairs.  By the time I reach the foyer I’m singing my favorite song:  “Be-bomp, be-bomp, be-bomp, be-bompity-bompity-bomp.”



Debbie

“Of course you knew I had ulterior motives in getting you over here.”  I’ve got Brian cornered in the kitchen – Vic’s visiting a friend in New York for a couple days and Michael’s tied up at the store, so I called Brian and asked him to stop by and help me drag a heavy box up from the basement.  Of course he wanted to pay somebody to do it, Brian’s never been crazy about physical labor.

Now he shakes his head.  “No I didn’t,” he denies it, “Would I have showed up otherwise?  Just so you could get on my case about things?”

“Not about ‘things.’  About Justin.”  Wiping my hands on a dishcloth, I sit down at the table across from where Brian has dropped into a chair.  He’s picked up the salt shaker and is fiddling with it, he can’t ever be still for a moment.

Looking up at me through his lashes, he says carefully, “Justin is none of your business.”

“Oh, yes he – “

“I mean,” Brian screws the top back on the salt shaker and picks up the pepper instead.  “Justin is none of your business in context with me.”

“Oh, yes he is.” 

Brian looks away again, unscrews the pepper.  “I’m none of your business.”

“Brian.  Honey,” I say quietly, “You’ve been my business since you were fourteen years old.”  He’s not looking at me so I add, “Since the night I found you hiding out in the backyard, after your dad whipped you and you were scared to go home.”

Leaning back in his chair, Brian regards me intently.  “I’m not a kid any more, Debbie, haven’t been for years.  I don’t need you looking out for me any more.”

“Justin’s still a kid.” 

“Okay.”  He gives in, sets down the pepper shaker and folds his hands on the table.  “Say what you’ve got to say and get it over with.”

I nod, then ask him, “Just tell me what game you’re playing with him now?  First you played Keep Away, then you played Boyfriends, then you played Scorned Lover.  Then you let him move back to your place and take care of you.”

“I didn’t LET him, I didn’t have a choice,” he mutters bitterly.

“Bullshit.  Brian Kinney always has a choice.  You wanted him there or he’d have been out the door in ten seconds.”

Brian has the grace to look away, he doesn’t deny the truth. 

“So.  What’s the angle now?”

“Debbie – there is no angle.  There is no game, no matter what you’re imagining.”

“Uh-huh.  I was there at the diner, remember?  I saw your face when you met the competition.”

“He’s not – “

“Yeah, he is.  You think you’re this great stone-face, don’t you?  Well, not to me you’re not.  Never have been.”  There’s a long pause, then I lean forward across the table and put a hand on Brian’s arm.  “How come everyone around you knows you’re in love with Sunshine except you?”  He opens his mouth to answer and I know what’s coming so I shut him up quick.  “Don’t give me your famous I-don’t-believe-in-love line, okay?  I’ve got it embroidered on a pillow upstairs.”

“I’m surprised nobody’s ever smothered you with it.”  Brian stands up abruptly and pulls his jacket from the back of the sofa.  “And I’m sorry to disappoint you, but nothing’s going on.  Justin’s dating a bunch of different guys, that’s the way it should be.”

“Aha!” I exclaim, shaking my finger at Brian.  “So that’s why Sunshine said he ‘had to’ date a bunch of guys.  You told him to!”   I stand up too and hurry around the table to grab Brian’s arm before he slips out the door.  “Brian, that’s a dangerous game.  What if he falls in love with someone else?”

“What if he does?” Brian raises his eyebrows at me.  “Maybe he needs to.”

“Oh Christ.”  With my hands on my hips I stare at him.  The lummox.  “So now you’re playing Martyr.  You’ll sacrifice your own happiness for Justin’s sake.”

“Deb.”  Brian hesitates, then sits down on the back of the sofa.  “Deb,” he says earnestly, looking up at me, the least sarcastic I’ve ever seen him.  “You’ve never thought I was good for Justin.  You’ve said it eight thousand different ways.”

“Maybe I’ve changed my mind.” 

There’s a long silence as we stare at each other, then finally Brian murmurs, “Why?”

“For one thing,” I hold out my hand and count on my fingers, “Justin’s not the fragile little boy he used to be.  Or that I thought he used to be.  Maybe he never was.”

Brian smiles slightly at that and I go on.

“Two, the way you took care of Justin after the hospital, well – nobody could have done it any better.  You were there for him every step of the way.”

“Jennifer asked me to.”

“Oh,” I exclaim, “And you wouldn’t have done it otherwise?  Be honest.”

“I’m always honest.  And okay, maybe I would have helped him.  Anybody would.”

“Maybe.”  I hold out my fingers again.  “Three, it’s general knowledge now that Justin was cheating on you, before he walked out.”

“No he wasn’t,” Brian denies it, but the pain in his eyes lets me know he’s just protecting Sunshine.

“Three,” I repeat, ignoring the interruption, “Even when he was cheating on you, you didn’t throw him out.  You didn’t hurt him.”

Brian turns his head away.  “Yes, I did.”

“And four,” I continue, “You’ve apparently forgiven him.  You boys were seeing each other again, before the car accident, so you must have forgiven him.  That takes a big man, Brian.  This is something I know about.”

“You’re wrong about almost everything,” Brian murmurs, but he’s still not looking at me.

“And five,” I point at my thumb, “Little Sunshine can hold his own with you.  He’s good for you.  You could be good for each other, if you both worked at it for a change.  Instead of sabotaging each other.”

Brian’s silent for a moment, then he looks at me again.  “Are you through?  Because I really need to get back to work.”

“Just think about it, Brian.  Will you do that?  Don’t throw away this chance to be happy.  You might never get another one.”

Brian doesn’t answer.  He stands up, shrugs on his jacket and turns toward the door.  Then he pauses for a moment and turns sideways, leans down and glares at me, nose to nose.

“You’re an interfering old bitch,” he snarls in my ear.  Then he kisses my cheek and moves abruptly away.  Without a backward glance he’s gone out the front door.



Brian

“What are you doing Friday night?”

There’s silence on the other end of the phone for a moment, then Justin asks, “You need me to do something?”

“Do something, like what?  Change the oil in my car?  Water my plants?”

“Well, I don’t know,” Justin answers.  “But I’m free, so I can give you a hand.  Not changing oil, though, I’m not good with cars.  You’re not either though, huh?”  He laughs.

I’m exasperated already and I haven’t even gotten to the hard part yet.  “Listen, smart-ass, just shut up and tell me if you’re available Friday night.”

“Yeah, I think so.  I don’t have any plans yet.”

“Good.”  I hesitate, shaking my head; why is this so difficult?  “Maybe you want to go to dinner.”

“At Deb’s?”

“No, damn it, at a fucking restaurant.”

“Brian. . .do you mean, like a date or something?”  His voice is incredulous, and I’m already sorry I called. 

Of course it’s not like a date, I just want to take him to dinner, that’s all.  We’ve gone to dinner a hundred times before.  Why should it be such an amazingly ridiculous big fucking deal?

When I don’t answer, Justin asks again, “Brian - do you mean, go to dinner, like a date?”  

Oh Christ.  Christ.  I suppose I do.  I close my eyes, hanging onto the phone with white knuckles.  How am I going to survive this shit?










11/10/02


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