Summary of Part Fifteen: Pee Trumps Drool: Brian goes against Justin’s advice and takes Gus with them to Boston without notifying Mel and Lindsay in advance. Other than Gus peeing on Brian’s shoes, the flight is uneventful. However, Boston is more eventful than planned: Gus takes a bad tumble and is rushed to the emergency room with a cut in his head that requires stitches. The injury isn’t serious but Gus is inconsolable and wants to speak to his Mommies, which means Brian not only has to come clean about Gus being in Boston, he also has to admit that his son was injured on his watch. While Brian tries to comfort a crying Gus inside the guest cottage at Shaughn and Barbara’s house, Justin walks outside to call Lindsay in Florida, where she and Melanie are attending the funeral of Mel’s aunt.
Part Sixteen - FINALE: The Journey Home
I’m relieved when Linds doesn’t answer her cell phone, it goes right into voicemail. So I take a deep breath and say, very casually, “Hi, it’s Justin. Hey, how’s it going? Umm, Brian asked me to call and tell you that, umm, Gus and everybody are all, you know, fine and everything, but he’d like to talk to you anyway. So please call back right away, or when you get a chance.” I hesitate and add, “But soon. If you can.”
With an enormous sigh, I click off the phone. I didn’t realize how nervous I was about talking to Lindsay and Mel; but now Brian can deal with them when they call back. I’ve just flipped the phone closed and turned back toward the cottage when the phone rings in my hand; I’m so startled I almost drop it. Damn.
Flipping the phone open again, I hold it to my ear. As I say hello, I see that Shaughn has come out the door and nods at me.
“Hey,” I answer the phone, keeping my voice very ordinary.
“What’s wrong?” It’s Linds. Without waiting for my answer, she demands, “Tell me what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I immediately deny, “Nothing’s wrong.”
“Tell me, God damn it!”
I can hear her voice go up an octave and it makes me feel slightly panicky. Forcing myself to stay calm, quickly I say, “Everything’s fine, only, we – we wanted you to know that we’re in Boston. We brought Gus with us to Boston.”
“What the hell are you doing in Boston? And how’d you get there? Did you fly?”
“Well, yeah.” Driving would take forever. “Of course we flew.” Then I add, “Gus loved it, Lindsay. He really enjoyed the plane - “
“How dare you take Gus so far away without asking first!”
Before I can answer, I hear Mel growl, “Give me that phone.” Then she’s yelling, “Brian Kinney, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
“It’s Justin,” I correct her. “Brian’s in, um, the other room." Seeing me obviously flustered, Shaughn moves closer.
“Put Brian on the phone,” Mel insists. “Right now.”
“Okay,” I agree reluctantly, “Only I need to tell you first that Gus had a little accident, he fell down, he’s okay, he’s fine really, but - “
“Gus fell down?” Mel raises her voice and I can hear Lindsay shriek in the background.
“Wait, wait, he’s okay, honestly, only - “
They’re babbling at each other and not listening to me. “Mel, Lindsay, I promise you he is okay!” I try to get their attention.
“Put Brian on the phone, right this fucking second!” Mel screams so loud, I have to pull the phone away from my ear.
“Okay,” I agree, “Only let me explain first that - “
“Put him on the fucking phone, right fucking NOW!”
Suddenly Shaughn reaches out and takes the phone from my hand. “May I?” he whispers, then before I can answer, he holds the phone to his ear and says smoothly, “Hello, this is Dr. Gerald Shaughnessy. Your son is in my care, and I can assure you that he is doing just fine.”
There’s a pause, then Shaughn nods and says, “Yes, I’m a medical doctor. Gus fell and bumped his head this afternoon, he sustained a small cut on his forehead. Just to be safe, the hospital took x-rays and did a CAT-scan, and I can assure you that there was no serious injury.”
There’s another pause as Shaughn listens to the women. I can’t hear their conversation but I can’t help feeling very shaken up and worried about their reaction. Shaughn smiles at me, he puts a hand on my shoulder and squeezes. “It’s okay,” he whispers, and I feel myself relaxing slightly.
“Yes,” Shaughn’s saying now, “It was advisable to put three tiny stitches on the cut, to be sure of proper healing, but there should be no scarring. And right now,” he adds, “Gus’ major problem is that he wants the comfort of hearing his mother’s voice. Voices,” he quickly corrects himself. After another pause he adds, “Can you speak to him without making him more upset?”
Suddenly Shaughn chuckles, but silently. He winks at me and adds agreeably, “Yes, of course you can speak any way you like to the father, but please be temperate when speaking to Gus. He’s naturally upset and could use some motherly comfort.” He nods at me and says, “Certainly, here’s Justin,” and hands me the phone.
“Hi again. I’ll take the phone to Gus now. Okay?”
“Yes,” Mel agrees, “But tell Brian he will talk to us right afterwards or he’s dead meat. Got it?”
“Got it.” I move toward the cottage and Shaughn precedes me, holds open the door. Brian glances up from the edge of the bed where he’s sitting with Gus, who has stopped crying but is hiccupping and taking shuddering breaths.
“Gus,” I move toward the bed. “Gus, your Mama and Mommy are on the phone for you!”
Gus struggles to sit up, Brian keeps an arm around him and reaches for the phone. “Here’s Gus,” he murmurs gruffly into the phone before holding it to Gus’ ear. “Say hi, Sonnyboy.”
“Mommy!” Gus warbles, grabbing onto the phone with both hands, “Mama!” Then he starts crying again, but quietly. He listens to what I assume is soothing mother-love chatter. In a few moments his tears stop but his bottom lip is quivering and Brian tightens his arm around Gus and kisses the top of his head.
“Yes,” Gus says into the phone, “I fell down, Mommy! I got a boo-boo! My head got lots of blood on it! It hurt really bad!” He listens to Lindsay and then he adds, “Daddy took me to a big hoppital and took pictures of my head in a box. And Daddy says I am a very brave big boy.”
Gus listens a moment more, then he sits up straighter and says eagerly, pain apparently forgotten, “Mama - Daddy took me on a air-pane! And Jussin. On top of clouds almost where Jesus lives. And I had to pee and Daddy took me to the baffroom!” He giggles then and adds, “I peed on our shoes, but Daddy din’t get mad. And I had two apple juices. And I can have ice cream pretty soon if I eat my dinner.”
He’s quiet for a minute, listening and nodding. “Yes, Mommy. I’ll be good. Bye-bye Mommy, Bye-bye Mama.”
Gus drops the phone on the bed and Brian grabs it and stands up. He ruffles Gus’ hair. “Lie down for a few minutes, Sonnyboy,” he says, “I’m going to talk to your mothers outside but I’ll be right back. Okay?” When Gus nods sleepily and lies down, Brian heads for the door.
Without looking at Justin or Shaughn, I move outside the cottage and brace myself for the onslaught. Holding the phone in a vise-grip, I say tersely, “Okay, we’re out of earshot. Go ahead and scream fucking hell.”
Mel’s got the phone and she doesn’t hesitate to comply. “You motherfucking son-of-a-bitch asshole! How dare you take Gus out of Pittsburgh without our permission!”
“I don’t need your permission, I’m his father,” I shoot right back at her.
“Bullshit you don’t need permission – you don’t have custody of Gus, you signed over your parental rights a long time ago, remember? You have no rights at all, you fucker!”
I knew I’d be sorry I signed those papers.
Well, actually I’m not sorry. Despite everything, Linds and Mel are good parents to Gus, he has a stable home life once again, since the munchers licked-and-made-up a few months ago.
When I don’t respond, there’s a pause. I glance at the cottage and see that Shaughn has come out the door and he hovers nearby. I should be annoyed that he’s eavesdropping and yet somehow I'm not. Feeling his presence here is. . .almost comforting, in a strange way.
Lindsay comes on the line again. In her gentle way she also chides me. “Brian, you should have asked us first. Don’t you remember that I’m afraid of flying, that’s why I’ve never taken Gus on a plane before.”
“Gus is not afraid of flying. He loves it. And anyway, you’ve flown before – and you just flew to Florida.”
“Driving was not an option,” she points out. “This was an emergency. And anyway, that’s not the point. You had no right to remove Gus from Pittsburgh without asking us.”
“Okay,” I huff an exasperated sigh. “But he’s here now and he’s having a good time.”
Mel must be pressing her ear next to Lindsay’s, she rudely barks, “Yeah, he’s having such a good time, he’s got stitches in his head! You let him get hurt, you son of a bitch, what kind of father are you, huh?”
That remark stabs me in the chest. And I realize that I’m being defensive when I demand, “Are you telling me that Gus has never fallen down before?”
Lindsay must’ve wrestled the phone back from Mel. “Brian,” she gentles her voice again, “Just tell us how it happened.”
“He was running,” I answer tersely. “He tripped and fell and hit his head.” I can hear Linds make a sympathetic-mommy oohing sound, then I sigh and add regretfully, “Probably I should have stopped him from running.”
“You can’t stop Gus from running,” she admits. “He’s four, he’s going to run.”
“But now he’s hurt,” Mel chimes in again. “And there’s no one there to take care of him.”
“I am taking care of him,” I growl.
“Brian, hold on a second." I think Lindsay has put her hand over the phone but I can still hear her. "Mel," she murmurs, "We should fly to Boston and pick up Gus."
"Don't be ridiculous." I'm getting louder, I can feel my face turning red with the effort not to shout. "I'm taking care of Gus now and I'll take him back to Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon. Our flight leaves here at three."
"No," she contradicts me, "I told you, I don't want Gus on a plane. Listen to me, Brian. Mel or I, or both of us, will fly to Boston after the funeral tomorrow morning. We'll pick up Gus and bring him home on the train."
"For fuck sake!" I'm grinding my teeth, I'm reaching the end of my patience with this bullshit. "Flying is a hell of a lot safer than the fucking train, Linds. And you don't need to come here, either of you. We're flying back to Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon and that's the end of it."
Peripherally I notice that Shaughn has moved to the other side of the yard and has pulled out his cell phone. Probably he got a page. I'm momentarily distracted and then Mel must have grabbed Lindsay's phone again. "Listen to me, you bastard," she shrieks, "Linds says no plane so it's no plane. If you drag Gus onto that plane tomorrow, I'll have you arrested for kidnapping."
"Kidnapping? Are you fucking insane?"
“There you go, defending the bastard, as usual," Mel hisses. Then she takes a deep breath and blows it out. "Listen to me, Brian," she says more calmly, "Are you listening? Either you bring Gus home on the train tomorrow, or you'll never see him again. Understand?"
"Let me get this right," my voice matches Mel’s enforced calm. "You're going to deprive me of my son forever because I took him with me on a weekend trip to Boston and he got a bump on the head?"
"You bet your ass, motherfucker."
There's dead silence for a moment and I raise a hand that is shaking and rub it over my face. Suddenly Shaughn is beside me, he puts a hand on my shoulder and squeezes. Normally I would shrug it off, I don't need anybody's fucking comfort. But I'm not shrugging it off. I can't look at him, but I'm not pulling away either.
"Son," he whispers, "How about if I drive you home?"
"What?" I blink at him, uncomprehending.
"I've just cleared my schedule for Monday, so I've got plenty of time to drive you and Justin and Gus home."
"No." I shake my head.
"What?" Mel demands, and I tell her to hold on a minute, then turn back to Shaughn.
"I'd like to, I really would," Shaughn insists, and as I look at him, I can tell that he means it. "We can have a nice drive to Pittsburgh, it'll be good to spend more time together. I don't have to be back until Tuesday afternoon."
"I . . ."
Mel is tired of waiting. "Well, Brian?" she demands. "Are you going to do the train, or are we going to come there and have you arrested?"
Shaughn smiles at me then and squeezes my shoulder again. "Say yes."
Almost against my will I realize that I'm smiling back at him. "Okay," I tell him, then into the phone I say, "Okay, Mel, how about this: We'll drive home. Gus would be more comfortable in a car anyway than on a train."
"You're going to rent a car?" Mel asks.
"I'll make arrangements," I answer vaguely. When she doesn't respond right away, I go on, "Mel, I promise not to take Gus on the plane. We'll drive home. We’ll be there tomorrow night when Lindsay gets back."
"Wait, let me ask her." I hear Mel tell Lindsay, "Brian says he'll drive home instead. Rent a car. Is that all right with you?"
There’s a mumbled confab in the background and then Lindsay’s on the phone again. I’m getting seasick from them passing the fucking phone back and forth. “All right, Brian,” she agrees, “But that’s an awfully long trip. You’ll need to put a booster seat in the back, and stop often to let Gus walk around, it’s hard on him being confined.”
If they’d let us take the fucking plane, we’d be home in a couple hours, but I don’t waste my breath pointing that out. “Fine,” I’m abrupt, I’ve had it. “See you tomorrow night.” I’m ready to hang up but then I think to ask, “What time does your flight get in? Want me to pick you up?”
“No, thanks, Brian, I’d rather you stay with Gus. Besides, my car’s in long-term parking at the airport. My flight gets in about four, I‘ll be at your place by five.”
“We can go out for dinner when you get here. Or we can order take-out.”
“Let’s worry about that tomorrow. Promise to drive carefully? And make a lot of stops?”
“Yes, yes.” If we don’t hang up soon I’m going to throw my cell phone into the swimming pool. “Good-bye.”
“Bye. Thanks, Brian, for being reasonable.”
I hear Melanie begin to squeal in the background, she hates when Linds is nice to me, so I click off quickly and flip the phone closed, then turn to look at Shaughn.
“Do you know what you’re in for?” I ask him, “Driving six hundred miles with a four-year-old?”
“It’ll be fun,” Shaughn assures me heartily.
I roll my eyes and move across the grass toward the cottage. “You won’t think it’s such fun,” I throw over my shoulder, “When Gus pisses on your shoes.”
When Brian stomps into the cottage, I hold a finger to my lips and nod at Gus, who’s fallen asleep in the middle of the big bed. I’ve managed to pull the coverlet over him without waking him up, and when Brian sees Gus sleeping, he gestures for me to come outside. Brian and Shaughn and I move over by the pool and sit down at the umbrella table, where we’re joined by Barbara. She’s carrying a cup of soup for Gus but she says it’s more important for him to sleep, he can eat later.
Brian nods agreement, then he looks at Shaughn and asks, “Are you sure you want to do this? It’s a hell of an imposition.”
Shaughn just smiles and insists, “It’s no imposition – we’ll have a great time.” Then he explains to me and Barbara that he’s offered to drive us “boys” home to Pittsburgh.
“But we have plane tickets!” I object.
Brian grimaces. “If I take Gus on the plane, Mel’s threatened to have me arrested.”
“Arrested!” Barbara asks. “What for?”
“Kidnapping.” Brian grins lopsidedly but the muscle in his cheek is jumping.
When both Barbara and I exclaim “What?” Brian shakes his head.
“Never mind. Shaughn has offered to drive us home and I’ve accepted. We can leave first thing in the morning.”
“Better yet,” Shaughn leans forward, resting his elbows on the table, “We could make a start later this afternoon, drive a couple hundred miles and spend the night in a hotel. That would make the journey much easier on Gus.”
“Good idea,” Barbara agrees. “Gus isn’t the only one who’s going to get tired on such a long drive.”
“What about Caroline’s concert?” Brian raises his eyebrows. “Bad enough for us to miss it, but if her father’s not there - “
“I’ll call her,” Shaughn interrupts. “She’ll understand. Would you mind going alone, Barbara?”
“Of course not,” she answers immediately. “And don’t worry, Brian, Shaughn’s sometimes called away for patient problems, we’re accustomed to schedule-juggling in this family.” Then she changes the subject. “Let’s let Gus sleep for an hour or so, then we’ll have an early dinner so you can get on the road.”
Brian’s having second thoughts. “Gus has had a really long and exhausting day, he’s going to be awfully tired tonight.”
“Yes,” Barbara agrees, “But he can sleep in the car for a while, and have a good night’s sleep in a hotel tonight. I’ll bet by tomorrow morning, Gus will be back to normal.”
“Oh no,” Brian jokes and everybody laughs.
After a light dinner of soup and sandwiches, we’re packing up the car. With Dr. Shaughn’s blessing, I gave Gus some children’s Tylenol after he finished his soup. He says he feels okay but he probably has a residual headache from the bruise on his forehead and the Tylenol will help him sleep in the car. Gus is already yawning as I settle him into his booster seat; at his request I’m going to sit in back with him. I’ve offered to trade off driving with Shaughn but he said we can take turns tomorrow morning.
As we thank Barbara and make our farewells, promising a longer visit soon, I notice that she and Shaughn exchange what can only be described as a married-couple look – a message shared between them without words. Christ, I wonder if that’s what Justin and I do sometimes? That’s a semi-scary thought.
I don’t have long to wonder about the meaning of that glance as Barbara hurries inside the house and comes back out carrying a long white envelope. She hands it to Shaughn, he shoves it inside the breast pocket of his jacket, then they share a smile and a kiss. Next we’re hustled into the car, Shaughn takes the driver’s seat, and with a final wave at Barbara in the driveway, we’re off.
Shaughn maneuvers the Mercedes through thick traffic leading outside the city. As I suspected he would, Gus falls asleep before we’ve even pulled onto the highway heading west. His booster seat is close beside me, and when his head droops sideways onto my arm, I lower my face so that I can breathe in a whiff of his clean soft hair, as fine as corn silk against my cheek. Justin turns in his seat to glance back at us, we smile and I realize that we are exchanging one of those wordless married-couple looks.
Maybe it’s not so very scary, after all.
Barbara calls Shaughn on his cell to tell him that she’s made a reservation for us at some Courtyard by Marriot in Newburgh, New York, which is about 200 miles from Shaughn’s house. We’re there by eight-thirty and settled in our adjoining rooms by nine. Gus revives for a while as we check-in and he runs around exploring our suite.
We relax around a table in Shaughn’s room watching Gus enjoy a glass of milk and some Oreos when Brian amazes me by saying casually, “Shaughn, would you mind watching Gus for a few minutes while we go take a shower?”
Shaughn has his arm around the back of Gus’ chair and he looks up, obviously surprised, before quickly covering it up with an equally casual, “Why, sure. Of course. Go right ahead.”
I feel my cheeks turning red even though I know it’s dopey to feel embarrassed that Brian’s dad knows we’re going into the other room to fuck. A surreptitious glance at Brian confirms that he’s not the least bit embarrassed but he’s not smirking either.
“Gus,” Brian crouches next to his son and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be back in a few minutes and then we’ll all go to bed. Stay here with your Grandpa and eat your cookies. Remember that three Oreos is your limit, okay?”
Gus nods as he struggles to twist open the cookie; he likes to eat the white part first.
Brian stands and leads the way into our adjoining room. I glance back at Gus to see if he’s okay and he’s happily licking the creamy filling inside his cookie.
When Brian closes the door behind us, I protest mildly, “We could’ve waited till tomorrow night.”
Brian mutters, “Maybe you could, but I can’t,” as he grasps the hem of my tee shirt and pulls it off over my head in a single movement. “Mmm,” he murmurs then, pressing his lips to my neck as his hands fumble at the buttons of my jeans. “Let me twist off your clothes so I can taste your sweet creamy filling.”
I laugh at his silliness but it’s really just a catch of my breath as Brian backs me slowly through the bathroom door.
Shaughn lets me drive the last leg of our journey; I park on the street outside my building, we get out and carry our baggage into the elevator and up to the fourth floor. I’m pleased that Shaughn expresses admiration for my place. Naturally Justin jumps right in to take over as official Loft Tour Guide. Gus and I busy ourselves in the kitchen, checking food reserves in the fridge. They’re minimal but a sniff at the milk carton confirms its viability and there are Oreos in the cupboard. The essentials of life are on hand for Gus; the rest of us can wait to eat dinner until Lindsay arrives.
Justin takes over again as official luggage-unpacker and laundry-sorter. He’s a handy guy to have around sometimes. When I tell him so, he laughs and punches me, but he also stretches up on tiptoe to give me a quick smacking kiss. While he’s busy in the bedroom, I offer Shaughn a drink and we each pull a beer from the fridge, then Shaughn clinks his bottle against mine and heads for the living room and sits on the sofa.
“Barbara’s arranged a room for me tonight at the Pittsburgh Hilton,” he informs me. “I’ll head home tomorrow morning.”
“Stay for a while tomorrow, why don’t you?” I suggest, sitting in a chair across from him. “You said you’ve cancelled your Monday appointments, why not spend Monday morning in Pittsburgh?”
“Hmm,” he considers, relaxing against the sofa cushion and stretching out an arm across the back. “You have to work though, don’t you?”
“You could come see my office.” I keep my voice casual but I’m surprised at how strongly I want Shaughn to see Kinnetik. “And my assistant can probably shift my schedule around. I think there’s only one urgent meeting tomorrow, and it’s not till three.”
“That’s a great idea,” Justin adds his own encouragement, coming down the steps and perching his bubble butt on the side of my chair. My arm goes around his waist unselfconsciously; he fits so nicely inside the curve of my arm.
“Maybe I will then,” Shaughn agrees.
“Daddy!” Gus interrupts, deserting his pile of toy trucks in front of the window. “Come play with me!”
I let him take my hand and pull me out of the chair, then I sit cross-legged on the carpet and join in some kind of game where all the little cars have names and they take turns crashing into each other. From time to time I glance over at the sofa, glad to see that Justin is sitting next to Shaughn and they seem to be having an engrossing conversation.
Shaughn asks me about school and about my career plans, and when I tell him about Rage, he asks to see a copy. There’s one in the pile of magazines on the coffee table so I pull it out and hand it to him and he flips through. “It’s about a gay superhero,” I explain a bit unnecessarily; the drawings make that fact pretty obvious. Shaughn doesn’t seem fazed by the graphic sex scenes, and almost immediately he notices Rage’s resemblance to Brian.
“So, if Rage is Brian, are you JT?” he asks, glancing at me over the top edge of the comic.
“They’re just sort of based on us,” I clarify, “And Zephyr is based on Brian’s best friend Michael. Michael comes up with most of the stories, which are usually made-up but sometimes are about real things that happen in our lives.”
“For example?” he asks.
I look closely at him for a moment to be sure he’s really interested, then I explain, “The first issue was a story about Rage saving JT from bashers. That was sort of true.”
Taking a deep breath and blowing it out, I turn sideways on the sofa and quietly tell Shaughn about the bashing, how Brian came to my prom and when I got hit by the baseball bat, he saved my life by not letting Chris Hobbes finish me off. I can tell that Shaughn’s shocked, and I wonder if maybe Brian would rather his father not know about that.
“Are you all right?” Shaughn demands, leaning forward and touching my knee. “You made a full recovery?”
“Yeah,” I agree, then shrug and add, “Mostly.” When he raises his eyebrows in uncanny Brianesque query, I explain, “There’s still some motor-skill deficiency but it’s minor now. Brian helped me recover and he even bought me a special computer for artists. I’m fine now. Mostly.”
“Besides the physical injury, it must have been terribly hard to get past the psychological trauma of being attacked?”
“Brian helped me with that too. But,” I glance over my shoulder at the two playing cars by the window, then whisper, “He doesn’t like to talk about it. So maybe don’t say anything to him?”
“I’ll be discreet,” Shaughn promises, then he smiles at me and adds, “Brian seems to be a very private person.”
“Yeah, he - “
The intercom buzzes, then buzzes again; that’s Lindsay’s signal. I jump up and run for the door, with Brian right behind me. He buzzes her in while I pull back the sliding door with its customary loud screech.
"Mommy!" Gus squeals, running toward us as Brian moves into the hall and lifts the elevator door for Lindsay. She drops to her knees and gathers Gus into a big hug, he throws his arms around her neck. As she stands up, lifting Gus in her arms, she tilts her head backwards to study the small bandage on his forehead.
"I want to see it," she glances at Brian, "Can you take the bandage off?"
"It's perfectly fine," he insists, "But of course you can see it. Come in and sit down, why don't you?" Without waiting for an answer, he moves past her into the loft and we follow behind him.
"Oh, you have company!" Lindsay exclaims, as Shaughn rises to his feet and moves forward to greet her.
"Linds, this is - this is Dr. Gerald Shaughnessy," Brian makes the introduction. "You spoke to him on the phone."
"Hello," Lindsay shifts Gus' weight onto one arm so she can shake hands. "You were in Boston with Brian and Justin?"
"Hello," Shaughn echoes her. "I'm very pleased to meet Gus' mother, one of his mothers. And I live in Boston."
"Shaughn drove us home, since you refused to let us fly back to Pittsburgh," Brian explains.
"Oh!" Lindsay's surprised. "That was - nice of you. You're the doctor who treated Gus' injury?"
Shaughn shakes his head no but before he can answer, I urge, "Let's sit down," and we all arrange ourselves on the sofa and chairs.
Then Shaughn clarifies, "No, we took Gus to Mount Auburn emergency and since I'm known there, we got preferential treatment. As I told you on the phone, it's a very small cut but the attending physician decided to put in a couple stitches, to be sure it heals properly and won't leave a scar. Gus had a headache yesterday which we treated with children's Tylenol, but I don't believe he's experiencing any pain now."
Then Shaughn leans forward and taps Gus on the foot to get his attention. "Hey buddy," he says, "Does your boo-boo hurt today?"
"No," Gus answers, shaking his head emphatically, "It's all better now, Grandpa."
There's a stunned silence and then Lindsay echoes softly, "Grandpa?"
Brian clears his throat. "It's a long story, Linds, I'll explain some other time. But the short version is, I just discovered recently that Shaughn, Dr. Shaughnessy, is my real father. Justin and I already had plans to visit him and his wife in Boston this weekend, so we took Gus along with us."
"Good lord," Lindsay's in shock. "I - I'm flabbergasted. You never said a word! You mean Jack wasn’t - "
Brian shrugs it off. "We'll talk about it another time."
"Well," Lindsay concludes, as Gus grows restless on her lap, "Well, I'm happy to meet you, Dr. - "
"Please call me Shaughn," he insists with a smile. "Since we're related." Then he scoots forward and says to Gus, "Your mom wants to look at your boo-boo, so let's take that bandage off, shall we?"
"Ow?" Gus suggests, cowering back against Lindsay, but Shaughn shakes his head.
"No ow, buddy," he promises. "We'll just pull this bandage off and put a little Band-Aid on instead. Okay?"
"Okay," Gus agrees, sliding down off Lindsay's lap and moving willingly forward to lean on Shaughn's knees. Gently and slowly Shaughn peels off the small bandage, revealing the cut - which is already healing and looks like a mere scratch with three barely visible tiny black stitches in it.
"It looks good," Shaughn tells Gus. "Does it hurt at all?" When Gus shakes his head no, Shaughn glances at me. "Justin, would you bring me the small bag I brought upstairs? There's some Band-Aids and Neosporin ointment."
As I move toward Brian's desk where Shaughn left the bag, he explains to the others, "I planned to change the bandage later today anyway. It's healing very well, though you'll want to have your own doctor look at it in a day or two, the stitches should be ready to come out by then."
“You’re very good with Gus,” Lindsay says, “Are you a pediatrician?”
“Oncologist,” Shaughn explains.
“And you’re married?”
“Linds,” Brian complains, but Shaughn interrupts.
“That’s okay, son,” he says, “Lindsay’s just getting acquainted.”
“Who wants a drink?” Brian stands and moves toward the liquor cart.
“Not for me, thanks,” Lindsay says. “I just want to get Gus home and unpack.”
”We’re going out to dinner,” I chime in, “We wanted you and Gus to join us.”
Lindsay shakes her head as she stands up. “Thanks, but I’m exhausted from the flight, it’s been a difficult weekend.”
Brian comes over to put an arm around her shoulders. “Was it awful, in Florida?”
“Yes of course, those kind of things always are. But Melanie’s holding up well and she’ll be coming home in a day or two.”
We all walk Lindsay to the door; Brian hoists Gus one more time for a good-bye kiss and I quickly gather up Gus’ toys and shove them into his little bag.
At the door Linds turns toward Shaughn, smiles and holds out her hand. “It was wonderful to meet you,” she says sincerely and raising her eyebrows she asks, “Will we be seeing more of you in Pittsburgh?”
“Absolutely,” Shaughn agrees. “I want to make up for lost time with my son. And his kith and kin too,” he adds quickly, winking at me. “And I know that Barbara, my wife, would love to meet you. Maybe you can bring Gus for a visit sometime soon.”
We see them into the elevator and as it’s descending, the phone rings. I’m closer so I hurry inside to pick up and say hello. It’s Michael. “Hey,” he greets me, “I’m calling to see if you and Brian are free for dinner tonight?”
“Just a sec.” I hand the phone to Brian and tell him, “It’s Michael.”
Shaughn and I return to the sofa as Brian takes the call. “Hey Mikey!”
“Hey Brian! You guys busy tonight?”
“Emmett just got back from his pilgrimage to Mississippi so Ben and I invited him to dinner at our place tonight. Ted’s coming too. Can you and Justin join us?”
“Who else will be there?” I’m wary of Michael’s dinner parties.
“Nobody – just us guys. It’ll be like old times.”
I’m stalling for time. Do I want to spring Shaughn on my friends like this? Do I want to spring my friends on Shaughn right now? Or like, ever?
Yeah, I guess I do.
“Mikey, that’d be great,” I say, “But I want to bring along – a friend.”
“Instead of Justin?” His voice gets squeaky.
“Of course not.” I’m annoyed but I have to smile to myself when I realize that “of course not” is a fairly recent development.
I lose my smile quickly when Mikey tactlessly asks, “But you don’t have any other friends, do you?”
“Who is he?”
“Just yes or no, Mikey.”
“Well okay, sure. I guess that’ll be okay. Above seven? See you then.”
When I join the guys in the living room and announce that we’re having dinner with Michael and Ben, Justin beams his sunshine smile at me.
“I’m glad,” he says.
That’s all. But I know what he means. He wants me to share Shaughn with the world. Until this weekend, I wasn’t too sure about doing that, but now it feels right.
After a quick detour to buy wine, I direct Shaughn to Michael’s place. We’re the last to arrive. Mikey opens the door and we move right into the living room where everyone’s lounging on sofas. They were chatting but when we walk in, the talking ceases. Everyone’s staring at Shaughn and looking at me, waiting for an introduction. Or an explanation. I give them both.
“This is Gerald Shaughnessy. From Boston.”
I hesitate for a moment, then I feel the tension unaccountably seeping out of my muscles and I’m completely relaxed as I slide my arm around Shaughn’s shoulders. Proudly I announce, “He’s my real father.”
In the sudden silence, I tighten my grip on Shaughn. And I realize that I’m grinning like an idiot. “Dad,” I tell him just as proudly, “These are my friends.”
Dinner was great - well the food was not fabulous or anything, it's hard to get excited about tofu burgers and kale-and-three-bean salad; but it’s fun sitting around the table hearing about Emmett's adventures in Hazelhurst, Mississippi. Brian brought four bottles of French wine which he whispered to me would help us wash down the health food. The wine also helps everyone relax and share a lot of laughs. After dinner we migrate to the living room again.
Shaughn fits in really well. He doesn't say much but he laughs a lot and you can tell he's totally relaxed. He and Brian are sharing the small sofa and it's fun to watch them, they have lots of physical characteristics in common, the way they hold a wine glass, the way they grin lopsidedly sometimes; and Shaughn is almost as touchy-feely as Brian. Not that Brian would admit it of course, but he's always sort of unconsciously touching and poking and caressing people. Several times I've seen Shaughn reach over to pat Brian's shoulder or slap his leg when they're sharing a joke.
I've tried to keep out of the way, helping in the kitchen, refilling wine glasses and stuff, so I don't interfere with Brian's interaction with his dad. I thought he didn't notice but just now as I empty one of the wine bottles into his and Shaughn's glasses, Brian reaches up to grab my arm as I'm turning away. "C'mere," he murmurs, "Sit down for a minute." And he takes the bottle from my hand, sets it on the end table, and maneuvers me to sit on the floor at his feet. He keeps a hand on my shoulder, and from time to time he tickles the back of my neck with his long fingers. He always likes playing with my hair and he's said he's glad I'm letting it grow long.
After a few hours the evening's kind of winding down, Shaughn's grown a bit quiet and I realize about the same time as Brian, that probably Shaughn's tired after our long drive from Boston, and he's going to have to make that drive back home tomorrow. Brian taps my shoulder, I twist my head around and nod at him, it's like we can read each other's minds sometimes. Then I get to my feet as Brian says, "Shaughn - Dad - any time you're ready to go, just say the word."
Shaughn sighs. "I am a bit tired, I'm sorry to say. Another time I can stay longer, if I'm invited back again?"
Ben and Michael immediately say, "Of course, any time you're in Pittsburgh," and the others hastily agree. "We'll take you to Woody's," Emmett suggests, "Brian can beat you at pool - he beats all of us."
Everyone laughs and stands up to walk us to the door, where Shaughn suddenly stops and says, "Oh! I almost forgot." He reaches inside his jacket pocket and pulls out a long white envelope.
“I meant to give you this in Boston,” he tells Brian, “But under the circumstances, Barbara agreed that I should wait for a better time. This is for you, from both of us. For both of you,” Shaughn clarifies, looking at me as he hands the envelope to Brian.
“What is it?” Brian asks warily. He doesn’t like surprises.
“Open it and see, silly,” Emmett urges, clapping his hands. Em loves surprises.
With an uncertain glance at Shaughn, Brian runs a finger under the envelope flap and pulls out a sheaf of papers. There’s several folded sheets and what’s unmistakably an airline ticket envelope. He looks at his dad again and raises his eyebrows.
“We’re having a family vacation in Italy this summer – Barbara, Caroline and I. That’s the itinerary. We want you and Justin to join us, as our guests. Two weeks in Florence, Rome and Venice. The dates aren’t set in stone, there’s some flexibility, but we’ll need to firm up plans soon.”
“Oh my god.” That’s me.
Brian still says nothing. Then, “You can’t do this,” he says at last. “It’s – too much.”
“Not at all,” Shaughn waves a hand in the air to erase Brian’s doubt. “I want to make up for all the birthdays and holidays I’ve missed sharing with my son. And I want time to really get to know you.”
When Brian doesn’t respond, Shaughn glances at me again. “And Justin as well. Plus Justin can visit all those art museums he’s been talking about, do some painting. It’ll be great. Please say yes, Brian.”
Brian keeps his eyes on the papers in his hands but I can see that his forehead is furrowed and his Adam’s apple’s moving up and down. Finally he murmurs, “I don’t know.”
Shaughn puts a hand on Brian’s shoulder and shakes him gently. “You won’t say no to your new old dad, now will you?”
Brian looks up then; his forehead relaxes and he returns Shaughn’s smile. “Thanks,” he says, swallowing hard before repeating, “Thanks, Dad. I think - “ he glances at me and I nod, “I think we’d like that. Very much.”
“Yay!” I exclaim, Emmett adds, “Yippee!” and everyone else claps and cheers. There’s hugs all around and then finally we’re out of the house and piling into the car. Shaughn’s going to drop us at home before heading off to his hotel, and we make plans to meet up for breakfast in the morning.
“Let’s take your dad to the Diner!” I suggest. To Shaughn I explain, “The food isn’t great, but the waitress will make you feel welcome.”
“Will she ever,” Brian agrees, shaking his head. “Christ, will she ever!”
"Race you to the top!" Justin dares me as we enter the building and head for the stairs. "Unless," he throws over his shoulder with a naughty grin, "You need to conserve your strength?"
Without deigning to answer, I just nod for him to lead the way. In fact - not that I'd ever admit it - I actually was feeling a little weary after the past couple days; but watching that perfect ass moving quickly up the stairs ahead of me, I feel myself reviving. And when we reach the fourth-floor landing, I've got my key ready and I push back the door with a loud bang that reverberates in the echoing - and blessed - emptiness of the loft. I enjoy spending time with my son but at the end of the day, it's a relief to hand him back to the experts.
Justin moves past me and collects a couple bottles of water from the fridge and carries them up to the bedroom. I've kicked off my shoes and am unbuttoning my shirt when he comes around to my side of the bed and grabs hold of my jeans, bending his head to watch his fingers struggling to undo the buttons. I can smell his hair and briefly I bury my face in it, the softness tickling my nose. It's getting long and I love to twist my fingers in wispy strands of it, which I do now, pulling his head up and bringing his face close to mine.
Justin's mouth opens and we taste each others' lips, our tongues gently battling and probing, oh Christ, I love the taste of his mouth. He pulls away briefly to tug at my jeans and yank them down my legs and off my feet, then I grasp the hem of his tee shirt and pull it over his head. Together we get rid of his jeans and briefs (he still insists on wearing underwear, silly boy), and at last we're naked, our bodies pressing tight together as our lips find each other for more kissing.
We've fucked on every surface in the loft, from floor to sofa to dining room table, but – and I hope this doesn't mean I'm getting boring – I must admit that I like the bed best of all. I love to gently throw Justin backwards across the bed and slowly crawl up his body starting at his toes, kissing each little pink digit before slowly dragging my tongue up the length of his calf muscle, circling around to plant a hot kiss on the inside of his knee. He's ticklish there and he giggles before gasping as my tongue moves further upward, drawing a moist line up the inside curve of his perfectly shaped firm thigh.
Justin grabs my ears, using them like handles to bring my face in contact with his engorged and quivering cock, but I shake my head, smile and pull away, letting my tongue continue its journey northwards, pausing to flick his bellybutton, slide over his abs, and pause again to lick and suck his tiny right nipple.
"Brian," he moans softly, grabbing my head again, but again I pull away and move my tongue over his collarbone, my teeth softly nip the side of his neck. Finally my mouth locks onto his and its a happy reunion as our tongues slide together and we kiss and kiss and kiss. In a few minutes Justin maneuvers our bodies so that he's on top of me, and with a wicked grin, he lowers his head and begins his own tongue-exploration of my body, moving downward on an opposite trajectory, from my chin to my chest and points south.
As I ignored Justin's dick, he does the same disservice to my own, instead licking and sucking every other part of my body till we're both quivering with the need for our cocks to touch, and when he straddles my hips and our cocks finally rub together, the burn is instantaneous and almost unbearably hot.
Justin leans forward and I grasp his arms, our faces mash together as breathlessly our mouths connect again. Then it’s a maelstrom of flailing arms and legs, gasps and moans and sighs, sensual pleasure blotting out rational thought as we give ourselves up to the pure sensation of a rough and agonizingly unbearable and almost unbelievably perfect fuck.
At last we shudder and shout out loud, collapse side by side on the bed with our shoulders rubbing together. In a moment Justin musters enough energy to turn over, he slides close and presses his body tight against mine. Burying his face in the curve between my shoulder and neck, Justin murmurs, “Mmm, I love you, Brian.”
Reaching up a hand to caress his beautiful hair, I twist my fingers in the sweat-dampened mass and contentedly sigh, “Yeah.”
Then Justin raises his head, our faces are so close we’re staring cross-eyed. “Yeah, what?” he asks.
His eyes are demanding – the little fucker is always demanding things of me. Always has, and no doubt always will. Finally when he continues to stare, I shrug and answer, “Yeah, me too.”
“Better,” he nods, “But not good enough.” He sits up then and straddles my hips again. Pressing a hand on each arm, pinning me to the bed, he continues to stare. He’s waiting.
I feel my throat closing up, but I repeat, “I said, Yeah, me too.” He doesn’t blink, so carefully I clarify, “About the love thing.”
Justin’s staring at me and I know the time has come to say the words, even if it kills me.
But maybe it won’t kill me. I realize that I feel more secure lying here with Justin at this moment than I can ever remember feeling in my life. Maybe it has something to do with knowing that I have a father who cares about me. Maybe it’s partly because I’ve finally realized that I’m capable of being a good father to my own son. But mostly it’s due to this boy, this man who has committed himself to me, body and soul.
Justin wants to share his life with me and he trusts me to be here for him. For some strange reason Justin has always had faith in me, even when I thought he was stupid to waste his time on a man incapable of love. He’s even convinced me that he’s going to stick around this time, maybe forever. And I want him with me forever. For the first time in my life, I actually believe in forever.
Clearing my throat, unable to stop the slow smile spreading across my face, I mutter, “Okay, you win, you candy-ass little twat. You’ve worn me down. I give up.”
Justin returns my smile. “And?”
It’s only a whisper, but I guess it counts anyway. “I love you. Okay? Are you satisfied?”
“Yeah,” Justin agrees, then he laughs out loud. “Oh yeah,” he repeats, before lowering his head and kissing my lips. It’s a good kiss but before it can get away from us, Justin pulls back and raises his head to stare into my eyes again.
“You do realize,” he informs me, “That you’re not off the hook? That you’re going to have to say it to me again and again. You do realize that, don’t you, Brian?”
“I can probably handle that,” I mock him, adding with a smirk, “As long as it’s not at an altar in a church or something.”
“No altar, no church,” Justin agrees, his eyes twinkling. “At least – not yet.”
Alarm bells jangle in my brain but before I can respond, Justin drops down once more onto my chest and he captures my lips with his amazingly delicious mouth. I know there’s something I need to say and for a moment I struggle against succumbing to the pressure of his body pressed so close to mine.
Then I give up and give in; we can talk about it later. Whatever it was. Meanwhile, I need to flip Justin over and crawl on top of him. I need to run my fingers down the velvety soft skin of his back and press my tongue against the dimples just above his magnificent ass. I need to cover his body with my own, hold him tight in my arms. And I know, I really know, that from here on out I am never letting go.