As far as Brian was concerned, this was all Justin's fucking fault.
He shifted on the cold bench that pressed into his back, hand thrown to cover his eyes and muttered as much. "This is all Justin's fucking fault."
"Technically, it's actually not. You can't blame a plan gone awry on the person that has no idea their even was a plan." Ted pointed out, uncrossing his legs and stretching them out over Blake's, giving his boyfriend a grateful smile when hands started rubbing circles on thighs. He swatted at one that was getting a little too comfortably close to his cock, sending Blake a warning glare.
Blake just grinned, shrugged, and moved his hand back down.
"I don't give a shit about semantics, Theodore. If that little asshole had listened to me in the first place, we wouldn't be here, would we?"
Across the room, Emmett jumped into the conversation, leaning back against Drew's chest, as he patted the hands folded across his stomach. "Well, maybe if you hadn't been such a fucking scrooge about everything, he wouldn't have had to be an asshole, and you could have been back at your precious Britin celebrating Christmas the way he wanted."
"Fucking and sucking." Drew and Teddy echoed together and Blake snorted, flicking a glance at Brian just in case something was hurled in their direction. He wanted enough time to duck.
He really hated when Emmett was right.
It wasn't as if he hadn't wanted to spend the holiday with Justin. If Brian was honest, which he almost always was - at least to himself - he would have admitted that he was looking forward to it. He had even made plans, buying tickets to fly to Spain for the two weeks that Justin had said he would have free. It would be their first Christmas since he'd left that they would spend together. He had planned to make a quick stop in Canada to see Gus, fly down to New York, kidnap Justin and be in Madrid before the first carol had faded away.
That had been the plan.
"So, I was thinking that we could start decorating the night I get there. I want it all up and ready for Christmas."
Brian blinked a few times trying to catch up in the conversation. "When you get where?"
"Home. To the house. Mom and Molly said they'd come by later in the afternoon to help but I haven't had a chance to invite anyone else. Do you think that, like, formal invitations would be too much? It is a party."
"Sunshine, back the fuck up. What are you talking about?"
"Christmas. At. The. House." He had said slowly, as if Brian was the one that hadn't been making any sense. There was a long silence and then Justin asked quietly. "Unless...did you not want me to come?"
"I always want you to come."
He needed some sort of way to divert Justin's plans so his wouldn't get screwed up. Brian rarely planned anything but when he did, he liked to see it through. And this had been special, damn it. When the fuck did he do anything special?
"I don't want to have people at the house."
"I fucking hate Christmas. Or any sentimental, ridiculous holiday that is basically only there for the market value."
"Says the man who owns the top advertising agency on the East Coast."
"I never said I wouldn't take full use of consumers need to rid themselves of guilt or sadness by gorging on material substance. I still hate the holiday."
"It's not a made up holiday, though. Religiously -"
There was another sigh. "Right."
Brian felt a twinge of something in his chest - what could be called guilt by others but to him was merely indigestion - and he reached for the Tums he kept in his desk. Fucking Thai.
"So, you won't let me celebrate it." Justin sounded angry now. "You won't do that for me."
"Not in my house."
As soon as the words came out, Brian realized how they sounded, and he started to open his mouth to say something else but it was just a second too late.
"I see. Fine."
Then, there was dial tone.
When he got home, the blinker on the answering machine was going crazy.
The first call had been from Emmett, chewing him out for being a jackass, and telling him he didn't deserve Justin. Not a newsflash to Brian, so he deleted the message. He didn't even bother listening to the next three. As soon as he heard Debbie's shrill, pissed off voice, he erased them. Ted's was calmer, less berating, more concerned with just a twinge of hope in it. Brian pressed a hand to his head, fighting off the ache there.
This was what he got for trying to do something out of character.
When he called Michael to explain, all he could do was say "I don't have a fucking clue how that all went wrong."
"Well, did you tell him about your plans?"
Brian sighed, knocking back another shot of his Beam before answering, "It's supposed to be a fucking surprise Michael. That was the point."
"Sometimes, the two of you are enough to drive anyone to fucking drugs and liquor."
Brian stared down at his glass, smiling just a bit at that. "Right you are, Mikey."
"Fine. Listen, when he gets here, what you do is just tell him about the whole Spain thing and it'll be fine."
Except Justin sent him an email the next day informing Brian that he had decided not to return to the Pitts. His plan could still work had been Brian's first thought. Until he read the last part of the email and flinched a little at it. Justin had decided that since Brian didn't want to spend time with family, he would. Mel and Linds had invited Justin to come up for the holidays. He had gotten a few extra days off and would be leaving early to spend some time with Gus. Just in case he missed his real father at least he'd have Justin.
That had been harsh and Brian fumed because what the fuck. He had thought of his kid.
If Justin wanted to be a little shit there was nothing Brian could do to stop him.
Ibiza here he came.
He was pissed and wanted to kick Justin's ass.
Then he wanted to fuck it for good measure.
He sighed, knowing what he had to do and hating it.
Goddamn motherfucking Sunshine.
Christmas Eve arrived and he was sleeping peacefully, drained from everything, when hands grabbed at him and pulled until he was standing. He was barely awake when his coat and scarf were thrown at him. Someone grabbed him and pushed him to the door, and when Brian was lucid enough to realize what was happening, they were already driving down I-74 headed toward...Brian had no clue.
When he asked what the fuck was going on, Emmett grinned at him from the front seat. "We're going on a road trip."
Drew threatened to strap him to the top of the car after Brian's third thwarted attempt at escape. Okay, it was true that if he really wanted to go, he would. No one could have stopped him. He didn't need to question why he didn’t really try to leave. He already knew the answer.
He glared out of the window as they pulled into a roadside diner somewhere between the Pitts and Toronto. Something was bothering him but he couldn't put his finger on it. Aside from having been kidnapped and all. He watched Ted climb out of the back, followed by Blake and Hunter.
Emmett waved at him to get out and Brian brought his middle finger up to the window and smirked back. There was no way he would eat with those traitors.
He would go to see his son. He would deal with the rest there. It was the only reason he hadn't simply called for a car to take him back to Pittsburgh. But there was no fucking way he was going to make the next few hours easy for them.
He heard the sound of tires rolling to a stop and when he glanced in the rearview mirror, Michael was climbing out of his rented van. Ben laughed at a comment that Michael made and then Debbie appeared, talking a mile a minute. Brian let out a snort at Ben's utterly exhausted expression.
Driving with Debbie was punishment enough so when Ben waved at Brian to join them, he opened his door and headed in their direction without any argument.
When Debbie opened her mouth, Brian glared at her, effectively cutting off whatever she was going to say. "Not in the mood, Debbie."
For once, she seemed to believe him, and said nothing.
Apparently, there really were Christmas miracles.
The plan had been simple enough according to what they told him. They were going to take him to Canada to make up with Justin. Brian rolled his eyes at that, because even if he was willing to do that, which he wasn't sure he was at the moment, Justin was a little bitch when he got angry. He wouldn't take well to the plan at all. It was that thought that made him feel warm inside.
No one pushed Sunshine around. He knew that well.
If he wanted to admit, the trip hadn't been a complete waste of time. Ted had managed to bring some of Brian's files form work, knowing his boss well enough to know what he needed to keep from killing them all.
Nine hours didn't seem like a long time but in a van full of the moodiest bunch of queens ever assembled, it was tantamount to an eternity. So, when they pulled into the border station, Brian was relieved. The closer they got to their destination, the faster this would all be over.
It was when the border officer asked for their passports that Brian realized exactly what had been nagging at him. He glanced down at the red suitcase that Emmett had thrown at him when he'd first gotten in the car. Since then he hadn't bothered to look at it because he figured the least Emmett knew how to do was pick accessories. He hadn't bothered to note the color until that moment, either.
"Emmett, did you pack my stuff?"
Emmett turned to him as he handed his passport out of the window and smiled. "Of course I did, honey. Don't worry. Nothing in there is mismatched."
Brian stared at him. "Did you move the clothes I already had packed into this one and just finish?"
Emmett furrowed his brow. "No. I didn't know you were packed yet. Why were you packed? I just, you know, found whatever I could in your closet and made sure it wasn't anything you'd hate."
"So the black suitcase at the foot of my bed went unnoticed?" He glanced around the car, one eyebrow raised and when all heads nodded yes, he rubbed his face with his hands. "We have to go back."
"What? Why?" Ted squeaked out.
"Because my fucking passport was in that suitcase, that's why."
"You don't have to go back, Brian." Michael said, patting Brian on the shoulder, and smiling at the group. "It's all taken care of."
Brian sighed in relief. At least one of his friends wasn't a complete moron. “You have my passport."
Michael blinked, and then grimaced just a little. "Not exactly."
Brian was going to kill him.
"But I know where I can get it!"
Brian was going to kill them all.
"Yeah. Back in my loft."
Michael shook his head, smacking at Brian's hand. "No, asshole. Remember when the girls' first moved up here. They made us get an extra passport to keep at their house in case we ever lost one of ours on a visit. That way we wouldn't be stuck there for three months waiting for a new one or whatever."
"Who thinks of that?"
"Mel, of course."
Brian might actually have to thank the evil bloodsucker.
"Fine. Then, someone go get it."
Ben nodded, and looked around the huddle. "Who stays here with Brian?" There was a muttering as excuses tumbled out but no one made a move to actually take up the assignment.
Brian shook his head. "Don't worry about it, Professor. I'll wait here."
"Alone? On Christmas Eve?"
Brian shrugged, and shook his head, again. "That was my plan at home, wasn‘t it? No different." He bit back what he wanted to say because it wasn’t really their fault this had all gone to shit.
It was Ben's turn to protest. "No. I'm sorry but that's not fair. Look, I only went along with this insane plan because I figured at the end, Brian would at least get to spend Christmas with his son and his partner. Now, he's going to be stuck at some border outpost by himself." He glared at the faces around him. "Someone is staying with him."
Hunter and Ted spoke up at the same time. "I'll stay." They looked at each other and grinned. Blake smiled softly and held onto Ted's hand. It was his silent offer to stay.
Drew raised his hand, and glanced at Emmett as he said. "We will, too." He put one hand over Emmett's mouth to stop the loud squeal that came out. "Baby. You forgot his passport."
Emmett stopped moving, hanging his head for a moment, and then nodding.
Brian sighed, and waved at them all. "Really, guys. It's Christmas Eve. Fucking go to the girls' house. It won't be more than a few hours."
They shook their heads and Brian threw his hands up in the air. "Fine, but out of all of you who volunteered, Hunter's the one who didn't even know about the plan, so you know what, he doesn't need to stay."
Hunter pumped one arm in the air and headed for the van, grabbing the keys from Emmett as he went. "I'll make sure to drive safe." Hunter grabbed Debbie on the way, sending a smile to Ben.
He was a good boy.
Emmett's protest was drowned out by the roar of the engine. Ben and Michael promised they would be back in a few hours with the passport and Brian watched them go.
"You know, Honeycutt, you don't really have much room to talk. Who forgot my passport?"
Emmett closed his mouth when Drew nodded in agreement, glaring at his boyfriend, who only shrugged and said, "It's true, though."
Brian stood up, pacing around the small waiting room, which they had been sitting in for almost six hours. "All I'm saying is that listening to me would have resulted in a good time. But nope. Let's celebrate this fucking miserable holiday. Cause wow. Yeah. This is a fucking thrill a minute."
"Excuse me for thinking that being with family might give you a little pleasure. My fucking bad."
Brian closed his eyes and turned to face Justin. He wasn't angry or even sad. He looked tired. Which made Brian feel even more exhausted then he was. The times when he and Justin were mad at each other showed him, always, how much he depended on Justin's energy. It was a scary thought.
Justin waited and Brian wasn't sure for what. He hadn't done anything wrong. Not this time. As always everyone, even Brian himself, had thrown the blame his way but now looking at Justin, it hit him.
He had wanted to be with Justin. He had tried to be with him. It might not have been the traditional way but he had tried. That should count.
Blue eyes stared back and Brian's mind raced with things to say. Insults he could hurl, callous hurtful words he could use, even apologies he could say but wouldn't necessarily mean. And if he had been the Brian from years ago, before Justin and his son and cancer and love had changed him, he would have done one of those.
But this person he was today did the only thing that he could.
Justin blinked for a moment and the warmest of lights lit his eyes as he pulled out Brian's passport and handed it to him. "Merry Christmas, Brian."
Brian took the book quickly, fingers brushing against Justin's for a second before pulling away. "Thanks." He didn't look back at him. Having him here made those words Justin had said and the complete lack of faith in him even more solid. He wasn't going to expect an apology. They didn't really work that way.
But he wasn't going to pretend that it was alright, either.
Emmett hugged Justin, taking him aside to the corner and whispering into his ear. Justin looked at Brian and then back to Emmett before speaking again. "We should get going."
"What happened to Ben and Michael?" Blake helped Ted to stand, heading to the door and squeezing one of Brian's shoulder as he passed him. He winked quickly, looking back at Justin as he answered. Blake had an uncanny ability to be a consoler to all of them at times.
"J.R. took one look at Michael and wouldn't let him leave again so I volunteered to come get you." His eyes lingered on Brian just a moment longer than the others. "I figured it was the least I could do since I'm the guest that pushed themselves in uninvited and won't leave."
Brian threw him a small smile. "It's part of your charm, Sunshine."
Justin forgot his anger for one moment, and grinned his namesake smile before sobering up and heading out the door.
The rest of the trip to the house was uneventful and they arrived in due time to celebrate midnight ringing in. The moment that Gus saw Brian, he ran across the room and into his arms. "Daddy, you made it!"
Justin turned around, confused expression on his face but Brian chose to ignore it.
"Of course I did, Sonnyboy."
They were too late for dinner. Brian's stomach growled as the weary travelers stared at what was leftover.
"Sorry, but the kids were hungry."
"And so were we." Linds came tottering out of the kitchen, huge stomach leading the way and Brian couldn't help but grin at her cheery smile. Pregnancy was good for her. She hugged him, and Brian was careful not to hold too tight. He missed her a lot these days.
"You look -"
"If you insult my wife, Brian, you're going to sleep on the fuc-freaking porch."
Brian ignored Mel, and brushed Lindsey's hair out of her face. "I was going to say good."
"Good." She pointed to the kitchen, pushing Brian in that direction as she did. "There's plates in there for all of you guys."
"And the wine is in the top right cabinet." Mel called after them as they trudged to get their Christmas feast.
"Bless you." Emmett replied as he reached inside the cabinet and pulled out some wine. Ted and Blake forged in the fridge, finding it stocked with colas and juices. Grabbing a plate, Brian sat in the corner, quietly watching everyone settle. His eyes kept sneaking glances at Justin, catching him looking his way and turning away every time.
When Emmett handed him a glass of wine, Brian drank it down completely, reaching to refill.
He knew better than to expect hard liquor here so the wine would just have to do.
Somewhere between eating and regaling the girls with their adventures, Brian fell asleep. He'd been tired for days, having at first been working overtime to facilitate his vacation and later just needing the distraction. The trip had exacerbated his exhaustion so when his head hit the soft cushions of Mel and Linds couch, he crashed.
He woke when Gus' body flung itself on him, cheerfully wishing him a Merry Christmas, and begging him to look at what Santa had left. Brian rubbed the sleep from his eyes, quietly telling Gus that everyone else was still asleep and that they needed to wait a little longer. He pulled his son into his arms and walked to the kitchen.
Gus' foot was shaking in anticipation, but he pointed at a cabinet and Brian busied both himself and his son by making breakfast. Gus helped break the eggs and stir the batter while Brian asked about school. He listened as Gus shared stories about kids and confided in Brian about a bully that was making fun of him because he had two mommies.
Brian reminded himself that kids, save for his own and J.R. and Molly, were assholes, and that it was still child abuse if the kid you smacked wasn't yours.
He made a mental note to ask Mel about it later and make sure it was under control.
"Daddy?" Gus' fork scraped across the plate, setting Brian's teeth on edge. He ignored it because it was Gus and Christmas and goddamn it, he wasn't going to ruin it for his kid like his old man had for him.
"Do you still love Justin?"
Brian paused flipping the pancake in the pan and turned to look at his son. "What makes you ask that question?"
Gus shrugged. "He seemed sad and I thought maybe cause you weren't coming..." He let the sentence trail off and Brian sighed, turning back to the pan. He didn't notice the figure entering the room as he answered his son.
"Of course, I still love Justin. He's annoying and a queen for the most part but his mine. So, yeah, I do."
He barely had time to turn off the burner when two hands snaked around him and forced him to turn. He met very bright eyes and a mouth set in a combination of anger and annoyance. "Then why didn't you let me have my Christmas?"
Brian raised one eyebrow, staring at Justin for a long moment before quietly saying, "What about my Christmas? That one doesn't count?" Justin blinked up in surprise, his face going from annoyance to shock to guilt to love all in the space of a second.
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"Why didn't you let me?"
"Would you quit answering my question with a question?"
"Will you stop talking if I do?"
Gus giggled and they turned to look at him, stuffing the last of the pancake into his mouth. He chewed quickly, took a sip of milk and climbed out of his chair. He glanced at them as he went to the tree. "That's better. You sound like you now!" They heard the tearing of paper and Brian walked around Justin to get to Gus before he opened every present.
He'd deal with Justin later.
The later was sooner than Brian thought. Once everyone was up and busy opening gifts or eating from the feast that Debbie had whipped up, Mel took Brian aside and handed him a package. "Here. I meant to give it to you last night."
She patted his shoulder and moved back to where Linds was seating, rubbing her shoulder and smiling at the kids. Brian had come to respect Mel more since the move to Canada. And the distant had helped to ease her feelings about him and Linds. She wasn't exactly his friend but at least she wasn't his enemy anymore.
"What's in the package?"
Justin was next to him now, and Brian sighed, putting the package down, opening it quickly. He handed Justin two tickets and waited for him to read. His eyes widened and he bit his lip to keep whatever emotion was threatening to come out in check. "Shit."
"Brian - why the fuck didn't you say something?"
"Cause it was a surprise you moron."
Justin dropped the tickets, grabbing Brian's face in his, pulling it down to meet his lips. It was like stupid magic or something. At least that's the only way to describe that feeling Justin near him, under him, around him always sent the emptiness away. Brian's hands gripped the back of Justin's head and he opened his mouth, dueling tongues and breaths and hands. When Justin pulled away, he leaned in and kissed Brian's jaw. "I'm an asshole."
Justin laughed a little. "So are you."
Justin looked back at the tickets and then Brian, sighing as he did. “You sent these up after I told you I was going to be here, didn’t you?”
Brian shrugged. “Not right away. I was pissed. But you know -- I had a plan.”
Justin glanced behind him at the rest of the family gathered around the tree. “Wait, so you were planning to come up here anyway?”
“I would have gotten here yesterday morning if those brilliant friends of ours hadn’t decide to kidnap me instead.”
Justin chuckled and ducked the smack Brian gave his ass. “It’s funny.”
Justin looked at him, sincere and open, asking quietly. "Can you -"
"No apologizes, Sunshine."
He hugged Justin, feeling him against his hip and he glanced around to see that everyone was pretending not to notice their brand of drama in the corner. Justin leaned in, rubbing against Brian's leg and whispering, "Do you think they'll notice if we leave?"
Brian grinned down at him. "Let's find out."
Justin leaned up to press a soft kiss on Brian's lips. "Merry Christmas, Brian."
Brian rolled his eyes and sighed out a quiet, "Merry Christmas, Sunshine." as he pulled him up the stairs toward their own brand of celebration.