Wow! I finally wrote the first chapter! So I know in Boys Keep Swinging I said that Brian and Justin barely saw each other in 3 years. I'm changing that statement, because Justin comes to visit quite a lot in this prequel. Oh, and updates will probably be pretty slow, because college has taken over my life. Also, this entire prequel will be posted, and then the sequel to BKS. This chapter is mostly Brian. Enjoy!
Here's Boys Keep Swinging if you need a refresh or whatever: Boys Keep Swinging Memories
Summary/Teaser: It's been less than a day and Brian already misses Justin, but he doesn't want to keep Sunshine from his dream. Brian and Jennifer talk and connect with one another. Ted and Blake decide to start anew. Michael wants Brian to rebuild the club. Justin thinks about how to stop Brian from pushing him off another Kinney cliff.
When Brian left the ruined skeleton of Babylon the day after Justin left, he should have felt rejuvenated, should have felt a renewed sense of hope and rush of power and a wave of anticipation at the chances he had to rebuild and refresh. Instead, he just felt obligated. Obligated to rebuild the club, to stay friends with Mikey ("since we were fourteen"), to uphold the club stud reputation he held so dear yet found less and less satisfaction from.
Michael's 'some things aren't meant to change' speech back in the club had saddened him. Though his friend had been talking about the club, about how the beat shouldn't change, shouldn't stop, he couldn't help but feel that Michael was talking about him, too. But he didn't believe that. Because he felt like he had changed. He had changed a lot. And he wondered if Michael could see it.
He wondered if Michael could see the weariness in his eyes when he had hugged him and thanked him for bringing him to the blown-out club. He already felt the emptiness of Justin's presence like a suffocating cloud. He plodded back to the 'Vette and got in, but did not drive to the loft. Instead, he drove in circles around Pittsburgh, aimlessly roaming through the streets, a strange feeling in his belly making him restless. He was torn; he didn't know whether he wanted to run and never stop, or curl up into a ball and never move from his bed. He drove back home when he realized that his mind was absolutely not on the road, and he'd probably kill himself or someone else driving like this.
Justin called him an hour later, and he rolled over onto the phone twice in his half-awake state before he answered properly.
"'Lo?" he winced as his voice cracked a little. From sleep, obviously.
"Brian." Justin's voice was soft, full of something like sympathy.
"Hey Sunshine, did you get to New York okay?"
"Yeah, I did. New York is totally different than I remember it."
"You were there for a day, Justin. And you spent it in a hotel room on my money."
"Yeah, yeah. Daph's friend is really nice. Her name's Laura." Brian was absurdly glad that Daphne's friend wasn't a guy. "She's totally cool. She's not an artist, she's a philosophy major; she wants to be an English teacher. You should come up here, I told her about you and now she really wants to meet you. She's also heard quite a lot about us from Daphne. She wants to see the legendary Brian Kinney." His voice grew quieter suddenly. "I miss you already, Brian."
Brian's heart clenched. "I know. But you're going to have so much fun in New York, you're gonna be so busy, you're not even going to think about missing me."
He heard Justin's dry chuckle over the phone. "Uh huh. Sure."
Brian sighed a little. "I should get going. Let you get settled." He didn't want to keep Justin from his new adventures.
"Take care of yourself, Sunshine." He closed his phone and dropped it back on his pillow.
"Hey!" Ben leaned over from the table to kiss Michael as he passed. "Where'd you go?"
"I went to see Brian. I thought he'd like some company."
"Mm. How's he doing?"
"He's sad, but he's doing better than I expected."
Ben resisted the urge to shake his head. He knew Brian was a very stoic man, that he bounced back from things quickly, but he knew for a fact that this was hurting Brian greatly, and he was trying his best to keep his emotions from his friends.
"Babylon looks awful. I wonder how Brian's going to fix it all up."
"You went to Babylon?"
"Yeah. I wanted to talk to Brian about something. That seemed like the best place. It looks like shit, though. It's gonna cost a fortune to clean it up and get it running again."
"Are you sure Brian's going to do that?" Ben wondered if it was even a good idea to rebuild a place where so many lives had been lost or shattered, where memories of fear had overtaken memories of conversation and dancing and drinking and fun.
Michael was nodding vigorously. "We grew up in there, Ben. It's his life, his history. He'll rebuild it. I know he will."
Brian woke up the next morning at eight o'clock. He groaned and picked up his phone, infinitely grateful that he was the boss. He called Cynthia and told her that he wouldn't be in today, then he flipped over to lie on his right side and went back to sleep.
He dreamed of a night just after he had lost (almost) everything in his battle against Stockwell. He and Justin were hungry, but Brian had wanted to stay in and Justin wanted to go out. They compromised, with Justin going out to the store to get whatever he wanted, Brian having made him promise that he was going to make food for both of them. Justin had rolled his eyes and pretended like cooking dinner was something he didn't want to do.
He'd come back with a bunch of food from the gourmet store, sourdough French bread and cheese and wine and asparagus and a whole slew of other things. He cooked it as Brian flopped on a floor pillow and flipped through magazines to get ideas for the business he was planning to start up. There was no dining room table, so they ate on the floor.
He was munching on a piece of asparagus when Justin started to smile, then giggle around the mass of bread in his mouth.
"What?" He'd asked.
Justin smiled wider. "We're having a picnic on the floor."
Brian raised an eyebrow. "Seriously?"
"You're eating something I cooked in a picnic on the floor." Justin sing-songed, grinning.
Brian rolled his eyes dramatically, but realized that he could say nothing about this. He was willingly eating on the floor because there was no table, and he was grateful for Justin's presence, to say the least. Instead, he flicked Justin's chin, muttering "Twat."
They ate in pleasant silence, and when they were done, Brian pushed the food away and tugged Justin close, and they made out like teenagers for a long time before retiring to the bed to fuck.
Brian woke to gentle knocking on his front door. He groaned, stretched, then sat up and pulled on a pair of sweatpants and shuffled over to the door. Jennifer greeted him on the other side, her face a little more haggard, a little sadder than usual. She held up a paper bag.
"I brought muffins. How are you?"
He stepped aside and let her in. "Probably the same as you."
"I feel like shit."
She pulled out a zucchini muffin for herself and began to spread cream cheese on it from the plastic container. Brian snagged a blueberry muffin and chewed as they both silently regarded the tabletop.
"I underestimated how much I'd miss him." Jennifer said with a small sigh. "I mean, I barely saw him these past few years, and already I miss him like crazy. I can't even begin to imagine how you feel."
"It sucks. But sometimes you have to let go of something you love."
"I never could understand some of the things between you two. I'm going to miss hearing Justin try to explain your relationship to me. The only thing I ever really understood was that you loved him. A lot."
"Everyone seemed to realize that before I did."
Brian sighed, and wandered away from the kitchen to the sofa, which he flopped down on, closing his eyes. He sensed Jenn come over and perch on the Barcelona chair. Brian sighed.
"It hurts like a sonofabitch. I remember when he was with the fiddler. All I could think about was him. I fucked every guy I could find and they all turned into him. It was ridiculous. I was fucking desperate and it killed me. There was this dark je ne sais quoi that just left me hanging. It's like that, but fifty times worse."
"I know I'm his mother, Brian, but I know what it's like. You can talk to me."
"I am talking to you." They both huffed small laughs, breathy and sad in the heavy air. He sat up, shifting, and she joined him on the couch.
"I miss him. I hate having to let him go. I hate waking up and not having him near, not hearing his voice every day. I wish he'd stay but…." Jennifer cocked an eyebrow at him. She knew there was something there.
"Listen, Mother Taylor. It's like this. Everything I do backfires. I'm a kind and…loving person. It's hard to believe, but I am. I just….every time I try to do something…I fuck it up. Or it backfires on me and I get blamed for shit I didn't really do. I don't want this to backfire for him. But I already feel like it's fucked me over."
She patted his shoulder. "He loves you, Brian. Know that. He misses you, too."
"I know. And I let him leave. It's just…"
"I feel like such a motherfucking hypocrite. I'm always a hypocrite."
"I told him I didn't want to live with someone who sacrificed his life and called it love, but…"
"But you sacrificed your life to let him go to New York and build his dream." She finished for him. He nodded morosely.
"It feels really fucking weird to be alone after five years."
"You're not alone."
"I am, more than I was before he came into my life." He paused, remembering that fateful night, remembering nights and days before it, meaningless and menial. "Before I met him, I wasn't really happy." Brian chuckled a little. "You know, I didn't actually realize that until he started living with me after that fucker kicked him out?" 'That fucker' was Craig. "Anyway, I never really liked living alone. I mean, was never here by myself. I was always at work or with the boys or with a trick or at Babylon or something. I was only here alone to sleep or work on something. I was fucking sad and pathetic and lonely and I didn't even know it. I can't believe I'm saying this to you."
"I know. It's all right. You know I won't tell anyone."
"And then Justin came along and changed everything. He named Gus. He was the first guy I fucked more than once in a long time. He was so persistent. Much as I pretended to hate him, I think I really liked him a lot that first night. He was adorably innocent. It was almost funny if I hadn't been high out of my head." He rubbed his forehead. "And then he stuck around and I fucking fell in love. And I didn't know it, but what the hell, we all know it was already true. I loved him practically from the start. And I mean, hell, I'm a completely different person than I was back then. And I think I realize that if I hadn't noticed him under that streetlamp, I'd be the same guy I was five years ago, sad and lonely without even knowing it."
"It's true. You have changed."
"Everyone fucking knows it except Michael. He took me to Babylon last night and told me some things aren't meant to change. He doesn't know I haven't been that guy for at least five years. Sort of."
Brian sighed. "It's like I said. Every time I try to do something good, it backfires. Every time. I guess it's karma, cause I'm such a shit. I meet Justin, he names my kid and turns my life upside down, and then his father kicks the shit out of me and kicks him out of the house. I try to give him a happy prom, he gets fucking…smashed in the head." He took a deep breath and Jennifer was silent, giving him time to push the memories away. "I give him his space and he leaves me. He comes back and I try to love him the way he wants at least partially and he joins that motherfucking club and scares the shit out of me patrolling the streets. Then things start to get better and I get fucking cancer. I let him move to LA and he comes back when I thought…thought he was never gonna come back and then he leaves me anyway. I let him go and Babylon gets blown up. I ask him to marry me, and he leaves, to New York. To his dream. It's fucking karma, all this shit."
"That's not true."
"Right. Prove it."
"He would have never survived if it weren't for you. He wouldn't be who he was today. You wouldn't be who you are today without him. You love each other, in a way that is nearly impossible for most people to even dream of. You've each saved the other's life countless times. He adores you more than I can possibly say. And I know you love him, maybe more than anything, more than anyone. I can see it in your eyes." Brian ducked his head.
"Thanks, Mother Taylor."
Brian drummed his fingers on the arm of the couch, rubbed a hand across his mouth, pinched at the corners of his eyes.
"Fuck. I wanted him to stay." The miserable words were barely audible as they passed his lips, spoken to the arm of the couch.
Jennifer looked up with sympathetic eyes. "I miss him too, Brian. I love him too."
He sighed. "I know." Their fingers entwined and they stared out of Brian's large windows toward the horizon. "But it's different."
Emmett gave a bouncy little clap and a smile, nearly toppling his milkshake onto his friend's lap.
"So you two talked…well? Spill! What happened?"
Ted huffed an amused sigh. "We talked. We went back to his hotel room and we talked about getting back together. He and I agreed that ever since we split up, no one else really felt right, you know? So we're going to give it another try. We're actually going to try the whole dating thing."
"Oh, I hope this one works out, Teddy."
"I think it will."
They ate in comfortable silence, until Emmett sighed.
"Just thinking about Brian. He doesn't seem to be taking Justin and the girls' moves very well. I hope he'll be okay."
"Oh, he'll survive, like he always does." Ted reassured him, going back to his lunch. On the inside, though, he wasn't so sure. He and Brian had become pretty close—well as close as one can get to someone like Brian Kinney—in the last year or so. He knew now that Brian would be a bitch to work with, and that he and Cynthia would probably have to work extra hard to keep him calm and to prevent him from firing every employee. He knew Brian would be suffering, and would take it out on everyone around him.
He just hoped it wouldn't last too long.
"So, um, Laura? I don't know how to get anywhere…"
"Huh?" The redhead (dyed, of course) looked up from her books, shaking her head as if to clear it, and grinned up at Justin. "Oh, yeah! I should probably show you around. And introduce you to a few friends."
"Oh, no problem. Just lemme shower and we can get going when I'm done." She skipped off to the bathroom, which reminded Justin uncannily of Daphne.
He doodled a few tiny sketches of Brian's various body parts while he waited for Laura to be done. Justin hadn't stopped thinking about his lover since he'd called Brian the other night and Brian had essentially hung up on him. He knew Brian was trying to push him to follow his dream, but he didn't know how to stop Brian from pushing him away.
"So, what do you want to see?" Laura's voice jarred him from his thoughts. She stepped in front of him, tying her hair into a bun as she talked. "I can show you all the best spots to hang out. Or I can show you all the important places to know. Or…where a lot of the best art galleries are. I'm sure you'll want to know that. Or where there are good restaurants. Daphne said you like to eat a lot. Which is amazing considering how damn skinny you are. So what do you want to do?"
"Just-just show me everything. I want to see everything."
"Okay!" She yanked on a pair of beat up bohemian-looking sneakers and grabbed her backpack. "Let's go."
He followed her outside to her car and she began to show him around. Most of his brain was concentrating on learning the streets, where everything was, what was good and bad, where there might be some good places to go. But another part of his brain was fixated on Brian. He couldn't get the look on Brian's face, the agony in his expression as they made love for what Brian probably thought was the last time, out of his head. Justin's eyes had been closed, but he knew he'd felt Brian's tears fall on his cheeks, and he remembered the way his eyes begged him to stay even when his body and mouth said go. He knew Brian thought they were over. Well, Justin thought, I'll just prove to him that he is completely and utterly wrong.