Second Chances Part XI
Justin lay awake, his cell phone within a seconds reach on the nightstand. As he stared
into the darkness, broken only by the flashes of neon light from his window, he willed
himself to ‘not’ grab his phone and call Brian. If his lover needed him it would be up to
him to make the effort.
As the minutes clicked by, Justin replayed what he’d heard earlier at the loft. It was
almost impossible for him to fathom such hurtful words could be spoken by a mother. In
‘his’ mind mothers simply didn’t have the capability for that kind of cruelty. Yet he had
heard her words clearly from where he stood in the bedroom. He knew his own mother
could never be so harsh, and as angry as he had been at her for telling Brian to stay away,
he knew her motive was to protect him.
“You don’t know how lucky you are to have a mother like that.” Brian’s voice and words
came back to him from the past. That one sentence had spoken volumes about Brian’s
relationship with his mother, and he’d been too caught up in his own childish arrogance
to listen. No wonder Brian always went to Michael. How could he blame him? Maybe
Michael could help? If he asked in such a way, that he thought it was to help his best
friend. Yes, a plan. Feeling a little better now Justin was suddenly struck by the need for
sleep. He turned over on his side to get comfortable, took one last glance at the bright
red numbers on his clock radio, it had just turned three. Like magic his cell phone rang.
“You should be asleep.”
“Right. Are you okay?”
“I’m always okay. Were the girls pissed?”
“I said your mom called and needed help with something.”
“They bought it?”
“Yeah, no questions asked. Where are you?”
“Home. And Gus?”
“He’s fine Brian. Kids are pretty resilient. He was worried though, so you’d better talk
to him soon.”
“I’m just trying to help! Next time I’ll...”
“Hold on Sunshine. I meant it, really, you make a better father than I do.”
“That’s not true and deep down you know it too, or you wouldn’t have gone through all
the bull shit to get the girls to agree to visitation.”
“That may have been a big mistake.”
“I thought self-pity made your dick soft?”
“It does.” Brian snickered.
“Where’d you go?”
“The roof. I’m fucking freezing.”
“You want me to come over and warm you up?”
“That sounds great, but we’ve both have to go to work in a few hours.”
“I don’t mind. I’m young, I don’t need as much sleep.”
“BS. Go to sleep. I’ll see you at breakfast in four hours.”
“Kay. Oh Gus says he wuvs you and he thinks your mom is a mean wady.”
“Smart little fucker.”
“He’s definitely your son. ..... I wuv you too Brian.” Justin giggled.
The line became silent for a few moments until Justin got worried.
Justin could hear Brian sniff and he remained silent until his lover could find his voice
“Yeah. Love you too sweetheart, later.”
Brian’s voice sounded strained. As he ended the call Justin reminded himself to talk to
Michael as soon as possible.
Michael’s apartment the next evening, he answers the knock at his door.
“You just can’t follow any rules can you?” Michael sighed loudly and began to close the
door in Justin’s face.
Justin quickly stuck his foot in the door. “Michael, this is important, and besides I didn’t
think you were really serious about that stupid rule. Emmett lives here too and he’s my
friend as much as yours. You can’t just say ‘I’m not allowed in your apartment.’”
“Oh yes I can. If talking to Emmett is so important call him on the phone, meet him at
the diner, meet him at the gym, but I meant when I said I didn’t want you in my
“Geez, you are such a child! I’m not here to talk to Em. I need to talk to you about
Michael’s mood switched instantaneously at the mention of Brian’s name and he pulled
Justin in by his arm. “What did you do to him now?”
“Nothing...nothing. It was his mom. She....”
“Is the ultimate ice queen. I know, but I thought after she found out about him being gay,
she’s kept her distance?”
“Yeah, until some bug got in her butt to run and tell him about Claire getting married.”
Justin nodded. “And get this, she wanted Brian to give Claire away at a big wedding
“The old bat must be off her rocker to even think....”
“That’s not the worst part. Michael, let’s sit down. I need some advice.”
“Advice? You’re joking?”
Justin went to the couch and plopped down. Michael followed.
“No and I need you to put aside your hatred of me for ten minutes, and tell me how to
help Brian without him knowing I’m doing it.”
“Brian doesn’t need any help dealing with his mother. He’ll brood for a while and then
get over it, just like always.”
“Not this time. She really nailed him to her cross. Told him he was no longer her son.”
“And before she told him he was going to hell. Brian doesn’t let that stuff shake him.”
“What she said was the worst possible thing for Brian to hear right now. He walked out
right after she left and this morning, at breakfast, it was like he was there, but not really,
“Okay Boy Wonder, it’s time to stop being so cryptic. Start by telling me exactly what
happened and then ‘I’ll’ decide the best way to help Brian.”
“I knew it! You can’t get past yourself can you?”
“Well, I am the one who’s known him for 17 years.”
“And it’s time to let someone else know him too. As long as he always has old Mikey in
the wings, he will never let anyone else be there for him. It’s not fair Michael.”
“Like you were fair when you cheated on him!”
Justin jumped to his feet. “Get over it Mikey! Brian has, why can’t you just let it go?”
Michael stood to face off with Justin. “Because I was the one who was there when you
walked out! You will never understand what we have, and you’re jealous because you
know that you will never have that. Maybe...maybe you had a chance before you lied to
him, but now you never will. Brian will never trust you that way, so just tell me what
happened so ‘I’ can take care of my best friend!”
Justin seethed as he pushed Michael down onto the couch. “And ‘you’ will never have
what I have and that’s what makes you such a monumental jerk!”
“And what is it that you have besides a pretty little vase and sex?”
“His heart Michael. He said those three little words you’ve been waiting for since you
were a pimply faced, 14 year-old geek. Oh wait, you’re still a geek!”
Michael marched to the door, opened it and pointed to the hallway. “Get out!”
“Fine! I don’t need your help.” Justin stopped at the door and turned to face Michael.
“And everyone thinks Brian’s the selfish one.”
“And everyone thinks you shit rainbows!” Michael pushed Justin into the hallway and
slammed the door behind him.
Justin stormed down the hallway and ran straight into Ben as he emerged from the
Justin grunted a ‘hey’ then pushed past Ben, exiting the building as quick as his feet
would carry him.
“Are you two ever going to stop fighting over Brian?”
“We’re not fighting ‘over’ Brian. I’m protecting my friend.”
“From what? Love? Some friend.”
“Thanks a lot! You know I really don’t need this. I’m not that bad guy here. Everyone
thinks that it was ‘all’ Brian’s fault, like he deserved what that ‘kid’ did to him.”
“Michael, Brian’s a big boy. It’s time you cut the apron strings.” Ben chuckled trying to
lighten the mood.
“Ha ha. I have to go find Brian. Saint Justin said his mom did something to him.”
“Michael we made plans. I know I said I understood about your relationship with Brian,
but it’s starting to feel like he’s more of a priority in your life than I am.”
“That’s not true. The thing is if Brian’s mom really got to him, he’ll be on a binge…”
“That’s the way he handles his emotional problems. You have to stop picking him up all
the time Michael. Let him ride this one out alone, or better yet, let Justin deal with it.
They are together again and I know this time it’s different between them.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because this time Brian went to Justin. They’ll work it out and we have reservations at
Michael reluctantly gave in, grabbed his jacket and followed Ben out the door.
Jennifer Taylor’s condo.
“Dinner was great mom, but you really don’t have to do this every Tuesday. Why don’t
you and Molly have dinner at my place next week.” Justin talked as he helped his mother
clear the table and prepare the dishes for the dishwasher.
“Oh Honey that’s nice of you to offer, but it’s easier for me to make dinner here,
especially, with Molly having so much trouble with homework.”
“I didn’t mean for you to cook dinner at my place. I’ll cook, and help Molly with her
“We’ll see. Okay?”
“Mom, that is your polite way of saying no.” Justin laughed at his mother’s astonished
look. “You’ve said that since I can remember and it always means no. Ask Molly.”
“You know I’ve never like to say ‘no’ to you two. Go sit down and I’ll get you a nice big
piece of chocolate fudge cake.”
“You could give Mrs. Cleaver a run for her money. Work all day, take care of Molly,
and make a great dinner.”
Justin sat down at the table. “What about Molly?”
Jennifer served her son an oversized piece of his favorite cake and then sat next to him.
“She’s not allowed dessert until homework is finished. You remember that rule, don’t
“Yeah. It used to make me really mad. It’s kind of weird getting older and looking back
at all the things your parents made you do or not do. I know you made all those rules
because you love me, and cared about what was right for me, even when I thought you
and dad were just being mean.”
“You are growing up.” She reached out and squeezed his arm gently.
“Mom, can we talk?.”
“It’s about Brian. And before you roll your eyes, I need to tell you something. But first, I
need you to talk to me like an adult. Not like your son, who you’re afraid will get his
Jennifer sighed deeply. “I’ll try.”
“Brian and I are back together.”
“I knew that.”
“What you don’t know is that he really loves me. He told me, and Brian would never say
those words unless he meant them. Anyway, things are going good between us, great
really. He’s taking Gus for regular visiting weekends now. Sometimes he lets me do
things with them. It feels like a real family.”
Jennifer gasped loudly and put her hand to her mouth.
“Mom we’re not getting married, so don’t fret about that yet.”
“Just listen. Sunday I was at the loft with Brian and Gus. Brian’s mom showed up to tell
him about his sister getting married. Long story short, she met Gus. Mrs. Kinney is
fanatically religious, and she said some harsh things to Brian about how unfair he was
being to Gus, by raising him because he’s gay and has me around. Then she told him he
was no longer her son.”
“What a horrible thing for a mother to say.”
“She sure made me appreciate you a hell of a lot more.”
“Justin, are you asking me for advice?”
“I just don’t know what to say to him. He’s acting like nothing happen, but I know
better. It’s making him doubt his ability as a father.”
“Why don’t you ask him how he feels…”
“Mom, Brian’s not like most people. He doesn’t like to talk about ‘feelings’, especially
“Have you ever tried?”
“Than my motherly advise is to ‘ask’ him how he feels.”
“I wish it were that easy.”
“It is sweetheart. I have faith in you.” Jennifer smiled sweetly at her son, then bent down
and kissed his head.
“What is wrong with you? Wait...don’t answer that.” Brian held up his palm to stop
Michael just as his mouth began to open. “I don’t have that much time this morning.”
Brian nudged Michael under the table.
Michael sneered sarcastically, then lowered his gaze once again staring into his bowl of
Cherrios. A moment later Deb approached, sighed loudly, and promptly hit her son in
the back of the head, which caused him to take a nose dive into his cereal.
Brian burst out laughing as he tossed his friend a napkin to wipe the milk dripping from
“What have I always told you about pouting?” Deb stood with her hands on her ample
hips waiting for her son to answer.
“That it doesn’t solve anything.” Michael admitted tersely.
“I’ve been drillin’ that into your head for 30 years. Why do I always have to remind
Deb shoved Michael over with her hip and slid next to him. She put her arms around
him drawing him into a big hug.
“Ma, not here.” Michael tried to push away.
“Tell me what’s wrong.” She looked up at Brian. “Tell me what you did now?”
“Hey, don’t drag me into it. I’ve been out of the loop for a week. Deb is it possible that
‘maybe’ his boyfriend did something to put him in a pout?”
“Is that true Michael? Did Ben…”
“No! Ben is fine…we’re fine. I don’t want to talk about it. At least not with my mother
The bell on the front door rang signaling the entrance of another patron. Brian had been
keeping an eye on the door. The slight smile that formed on Brian’s lips was like a neon
sign to Michael. Perfect Justin had just entered the arena and his friend’s attention would
now be in tuned only to the frequency of the blond brats voice. Michael’s anger boiled
just barely under the surface as he watched the kid approach Brian. They kissed hello
and Brian slid over keeping his arm around the back of the booth, then resting it across
Justin’s slight shoulders as he settled in next to his boyfriend. Justin purposefully ignored
Michael’s reaction to the new arrival didn’t get past her mom radar. Having not yet let
go of Michael she leaned into his ear.
“Grow up Michael. He’s happy. Their happy and they f------ deserve it.” With that said
Deb stood and removed her order pad from her apron.
“Morning Sunshine. What’s for breakfast?”
“Just coffee. I can’t stay long I’ve got a class in an hour.”
“Justin that’s plenty of time to eat.” Brian piped up.
“Not and catch the bus to school.”
“Eat. I’ll drive you.”
“I thought you said you didn’t have… Ouch!” Michael rubbed his shin where Brian had
just kicked him.
“It’s okay Brian. Nice gesture though, but I can grab something at school.”
“It wasn’t a gesture. If you don’t eat your creativity will suffer, and you won’t get
anything done in class because you’ll be staring at a blank canvas.”
Michael, Deb and Justin’s mouths all dropped in unison.
“How do you know we’re starting a new project?”
“You told me this weekend remember? You’re worried about it because the assignment
is to be an abstract done in oil. Deb, bring him the ‘big’ breakfast.”
Deb jotted it down and walked away shaking her head in astonishment. Michael
continued to seethe. He glared at the brat wanting nothing more than to punch him.
Justin’s full attention was on Brian, and Brian to him.
“You remember that? I thought you were half asleep.”
“I was, but I still heard you whining about how you only see things in real forms and
images, and abstract stuff doesn’t make sense to you.”
“I wasn’t whining. It’s a legitimate concern. The professor is making it 30% of our
“Don’t underestimate yourself sunshine.” Brian made sure the statement sounded like an
order. It earned him a beaming smile and quite a nice kiss.
Michael shoved his bowl of cereal away from him with such intensity that Brian had to
stop it before it landed in his lap. Their eyes met and Brian instantly knew what
Michael’s pouting was all about. He narrowed his gaze as if to bore a hole with his eyes
right through he friend’s thick skull. He mouthed the words “Stop it.” Michael’s reaction
was as he suspected, he got up threw a few dollars on the table and left in a huff.
“What’s up with you two? I thought you’d worked things out.” Brian fixed his gaze on
“We had a fight.”
“About?” Brian asked when Justin was not forthcoming with more information.
“I really don’t want to talk about it.”
Deb set Justin’s breakfast in front of him. He began shoveling it in to avoid continuing
“Fine, I’ll leave it for now.” Brian waved his hand for a coffee refill, then leaned back to
wait the five minutes it would take Justin to inhale his breakfast.
The loft. Brian opens the door. Justin stands juggling three large grocery bags, Brian
grabs two of them just as they fall out of Justin’s over stuffed arms. They walk into the
“What is he doing here? I thought ‘we’ were spending the evening together?” Michael
crumbled from his place on the couch.
“Brian this isn’t funny. I’ll make dinner for you and me, but not whinyboy.” Justin
turned back toward the door. Brian caught his arm.
“Brian you lied.” Michael whined. “If I’d have known…”
“Shut up and sit down Mikey. Justin go sit in the chair next to Michael.”
“And if I say no?”
“No dates for a month…that includes sex.”
“That is so unfair.”
“And so is playing middle man between you and my best friend.”
Justin stomped to the chair, glared at Michael then plopped down, arms crossed.
“Sycophant.” Justin mumbled.
“Sicko what? Did you hear that Brian? You’re little twink just called me….”
Brian took a stand in front of them.
“It means admirer. Now both of you listen.”
Justin sinks into the chair pouting. Brian kicks his foot hard and he sits up again.
“Justin. Michael’s been my best friend for 17 years and I don’t want to give that up.”
Michael takes the opportunity to flash a righteous smirk at Justin.
“Michael. I love Justin and I am ‘not’ giving that up.”
Michael is taken aback by the heaviness of Brian’s declaration. Justin takes the
opportunity to flash a smile of victory towards Michael.
“Now since you both claim to ‘love’ me then you’ll work things out.” Brian reached
behind Justin and grabbed his coat. “I’m going out for awhile. I’ll give you two an hour
to patch things up. And remember a lot more is at stake here then you think. ‘Rage’ is a
hit and you both would be fools to ruin it over a petty fight.”
Brian leaves. Michael and Justin stare at each other in silence.