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Britin: A Day in the Life

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January 1 – 17 weeks

Justin hugged the toilet bowl, his forehead pressed against the cool porcelain as his stomach rumbled and rolled; he held his breath, desperately trying to push back the waves of nausea as he honestly didn’t think he had anything left in his system to purge. And he was so not a fan of dry heaving.

Fuck, he thought he was over this part of the pregnancy; he’d just been getting his appetite back around Christmas and now this.

Rubbing his face against his arm, he took a deep breath, hoping the neutral air was working its magic against the foul scent coming from downstairs. And when all he could detect was the faint smell of herbs, he sighed with relief and slowly lifted his head. He was so going to kill whoever was down in the kitchen.

Licking his lips, he stood, his legs still shaky due to his earlier vomiting, and walked slowly over to the sink. He quickly rinsed his mouth out and brushed his teeth before taking a long drink of water. Setting the glass aside, he walked out of the bathroom, stumbled over to his bed and flopped onto it, inadvertently disturbing a still snoring Brian.

Asshole; he would sleep through that.

Feeling a bit peevish due to his husband’s lack of support while he spent the morning puking his guts out, Justin jabbed him in the side and then shoved him over onto his stomach. He briefly considered pushing him out of the bed as well, but realized he didn’t have the strength and he’d just have to deal with irritated Brian on top of the rest of it, and he didn’t want to deal with it.

Brian snorted and stirred, and then groaned as he rubbed his face in the sheets.

“Oh God, why?” he lamented, his voice taking on a Michael-esque whine that raised Justin’s hackles further as he knew just why his husband was bitching and he felt no sympathy for him.

Justin just snorted, glaring when Brian managed to pry one eye open and stare hazily in his direction.

“Don’t tell me you’re sick too,” he muttered, wincing and closing his eye when someone opened the curtains to let the sunlight in.

A someone that, judging by the soft, floral scent, was his mother. Oh, goody.

“At least I have a reason to be sick,” Justin groused, burying his face in the pillow as another wave of nausea washed over him. Seriously, who the fuck was cooking that vile stuff in his kitchen. “Unlike someone else who thought it would be a bright idea to challenge Drew to a drinking contest. Tell me, how did that turn out for you?”

Brian just groaned in answer.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Justin said a bit petulantly. Yeah, he was acting a bit immature and vindictive; but since he was the one carrying their kid, he was justified in being a bit put out that his idiot husband was too hungover to help.

“How are you feeling honey?” His mother asked as she set a mug on the bedside table, then ran her free hand over his hair. Justin’s nose twitched as the scent of peppermint filled the air.

“I thought this was supposed to be over by now,” Justin grumbled, thoroughly put out that he was still having bouts of morning sickness.

“Sorry to tell you, sweetheart,” his mother chuckled, skirting the bed to set a set a second mug on the bedside table near Brian; likely his first dose of coffee. “But there are no hard and fast rules to this. Some people may never have morning sickness, while others have it for the entire time they are pregnant.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” Justin whined, (yes, whined; deal with it), slowly sitting up in bed so he could grab his tea. “You’ve likely jinxed me.”

“Drama princess,” Brian muttered, grunting when Justin shoved him with his foot.

“Fuck you,” he sniped, pausing only to take a sip of tea and sighing with pleasure as the peppermint worked its magic. “At least I didn’t do this to myself; it’s not my fault that Sunbeam hates the smell of bacon. I wasn’t the one to drink himself into a stupor unlike some idiots who can’t seem to say no to something anyone with half a brain would’ve realized was a stupid move. I hope you enjoyed it because you’ll get no sympathy from me.”

“None of that; fucking you is what got you into this predicament in the first place,” Brian snickered, sitting up against the headboard as he sipped his coffee.

“Really?” Justin arched a brow, scowling when Brian smirked unrepentantly. “Out of everything I just said; that’s what you chose to focus on?”

“I can’t help it, Sunshine,” Brian sniggered, just barely dodging Justin’s hand as he reached to swat him on the arm. “You say the world fuck and my brain tends to short out.”

“And on that note, I’m leaving,” his mother snorted, and Justin flushed, realizing that he’d forgotten she was there. Whoops.

Justin settled in, sipping his tea and hoping for a few peaceful minutes to himself before trying to get out of bed to track down whoever was cooking bacon in his house. He didn’t even think they had bacon, as Brian didn’t eat it, and Justin had stopped buying it once the morning sickness set in.

But as his mother exited, Emmett bounced in, far too chipper for anyone’s good considering it was the first of the year and they’d all been at the party to end parties. What the fuck? When had his bedroom become Grand Fucking Central?

“Good morning everyone,” Em chirped, still wearing the ‘Eat My Meat’ apron that someone, likely the person in question actually, had gifted Justin years ago. “I see that we’re doing much better than Drew.”

“Fuck off, Honeycutt,” Brian glowered at Em over his coffee. “I don’t want that name mentioned to me for the rest of the day.”

“Don’t call me Honeycutt!” Em scowled, picking at some non-existent bit of fluff only he could see. “Grouch; you’re just as much of a bear as he is this morning.” And then Em smiled and walked over to Justin, fluffing his pillows and coddling him until Brian growled in annoyance. “How are you feeling today, Baby?”

“Like ass,” Justin muttered, still sipping on his tea. “And ready to kill whoever made bacon this morning.”

“What’s wrong with bacon, sweetie?” Em asked, looking a bit concerned

“Sunbeam doesn’t like it,” Brian explained, chuckling when Justin whimpered; he glared at his husband’s lack of sympathy, (yeah, yeah, double standards, but at least he was pregnant, not hungover), and pouted.

“Oh…uh, be right back,” Em squeaked and then headed swiftly out the bedroom door; Justin watched him leave, a suspicious glare on his face. He had a feeling he’d just found his culprit. Lucky for Em, he happened to like him far too much to kill him. Yet.

“Ten bucks on Aunty Em was the culprit,” Brian said, watching a disgruntled Justin with an amused smirk.

“Sucker bet,” Justin muttered; he swallowed down the rest of his tea as hurried footsteps made there way back to their bedroom.

“So, just out of curiosity,” Em said as he popped his head back in. “How does Sunbeam feel about eggs?”

Justin just groaned and buried his face into his hands; Brian laughed and batted away a pillow that went flying his way.

“Right,” Em nodded slowly; he chewed on his lower lip as he considered something and then heaved a sigh. “What does Sunbeam like?”

“If it has enough sugar to give an elephant hypoglycemia, you can guarantee it will be a hit.” Brian snickered, dodging yet another pillow.

“That’s not true,” Justin hissed, lying through his teeth; he did not need that information to get back to his mother and Deb. They’d get all worried about his eating habits again and he’d never get them to leave.

“Twinkies, Sunshine,” Brian said, a bland look on his face. “Need I remind you of the Twinkies smeared in raspberry preserves, drizzled in chocolate sauce and smothered in whipped cream? And don’t even get me started on the marshmallow fluff…for breakfast no less.”

“Fuck you,” Justin hissed, pouting when Brian flashed him an unrepentant grin.

“I told you, none of that,” Brian said, shaking a mocking finger in his face. “That’s what got you into this predicament in the first place.”

“Please,” Justin snorted, leaning back against the headboard. “If I denied you access to my ass, you’d shrivel up and die of sexual frustration in the matter of days, if not hours.”

“Right,” Em drawled again, looking between the two of them hesitantly before pasting on a stiff smile. “How about a batch of hot, sticky buns?”

“Already had those last night,” Brian quipped, tongue in cheek, laughing when Justin squawked, and then tackled him, knocking him flat on his back and began pummeling him with his pillow.

“That sounds wonderful, Em,” Justin huffed out between hits. “Now, if you don’t mind, I suggest leaving while I smother my husband; plausible deniability.”

Em just laughed, and spun on his heel, knowing he wasn’t needed for what would happen next; and it wasn’t violence much to Justin’s chagrin. He quirked a grin and shot back over his shoulder, “I’ll just give you two a moment. Although, try not to do too much damage, Baby; we all know you’d miss the sex.”

Chapter Text

January 2

Staring at the computer in front of him, Brian sighed and rubbed a hand over his face as he flipped through the digital pictures his Sonny Boy had sent him. Or, really, it was one in particular that had caught his attention. He didn’t even think Gus realized what he’d caught on camera, as the person Brian was staring at wasn’t the focus of the photo, but in the background.

At the center was Justin, laughing, and being nearly squeezed to death by both Debbie and Jen after their announcement. Emmett was leaning forward in his chair trying to put his hands on Justin’s still flat stomach, while Drew tried to keep him from falling out of said chair. Ted, who had known before everyone due to Justin blurting it out during a pitch, just smiled, his arm wrapped around an equally happy, and very pregnant, Blake.

And hadn’t that been a blessing in disguise? He didn’t know how they would have made it through the first weeks of morning sickness without Blake. He’d likely be dead, having been murdered in his sleep by his very sick and emotionally wrought husband for knocking him up in the first place. It didn’t matter that theirs was a planned pregnancy when Justin was hugging the toilet bowl.

Next to them was an excited Jenny, beaming and clapping her hands in glee at the thought of being a big sister. And of course, Justin; he always went back to Justin in the end because… God, he was beautiful, glowing with health and happiness as everyone congratulated them on the baby.

The lone sour note of the entire composition was standing in an out of the way corner, arms crossed over his chest, pouting like a five-year-old instead of the forty-two-year-old man that he was supposed to be. Mikey stared at Justin malevolently; with a scowl on his face that sent a chill down Brian’s spine. He’d noticed that Mikey had been silent for the rest of the night, claiming tiredness, but hadn’t noticed his initial reaction as he’d been too caught up watching his husband.

But seeing it now, he’d wished he had, so he could’ve pulled Michael away from the rest of group and reamed his ass for his attitude; telling him to either get the fuck over it, or don’t bother coming back into the house.

How he’d missed this that night, he didn’t know; but he wasn’t going to put up with it if Mikey even thought of causing issues.

Hearing humming coming down the hall, Brian quickly tapped the arrow to switch to the next picture. He’d prefer to keep it from Justin if at all possible. His husband did not need the added stress.

He studied the next photo. This one had Justin as the centerpiece again, but also included Brian this time as well. He smiled as he recalled being reluctantly tugged into the middle of the Jen, Justin and Deb sandwich by Deb. He’d laughed, and tried to fight them off, even as he wrapped his arms around his husband and pressed his lips into Justin’s hair. And Justin holding his stomach and laughing as he whispered ridiculous things in his ear.

“What are you looking at?” Justin asked as he came up behind him.

“Some pictures that Gus took on Christmas Day,” Brian said, tipping his head back to kiss him. Justin smiled against his mouth and then pulled away, rubbing his nose against Brian’s before they both turned back to the photo. “Or, more specifically, pictures from when we made our announcement.”

“Oh, that,” Justin said in somewhat flat tone; Brian turned to his husband a bit sharply, wondering if Sonny Boy had sent the file to Justin as well. But then he recalled that Gus had told him to make sure Justin saw them, and relaxed. Still, he didn’t like whatever put that look on Justin’s face.

“Yeah, that,” Brian said, watching his husband closely for any clues to what might be bothering him. Justin just shrugged and waved him off.

“Honestly, I’m not sure what was worse,” Justin said, as he walked toward the mini fridge Brian kept in his study and pulled out a bottle of water.

Justin held the bottle up in question, but Brian shook his head and held up his tumbler of Beam in answer. Closing the door, Justin opened the bottle and took a sip as he made himself comfortable on the leather couch.

“You were saying?” Brian prompted, wanting to know what exactly had put that frown on Justin’s face.

“Right,” Justin continued with a sigh. “I don’t know what was worse – Michael’s complete and utter denial that we’re a couple.”

Ah that.

Brian’s grimaced, vaguely recalling an overheard snippet of conversation between Michael and Justin soon after the announcement. Something about how Justin must be proud of himself to have finally found a way to tie Brian to him for life. Yet another thing he would be addressing with Michael. And soon.

He’d thought Michael had gotten over this shit years ago. But it seemed like, every time something big happened in Brian’s life – especially when he didn’t know about it in advance – he freaked out and pulled the, ‘you aren’t really a couple’ bullshit. It was getting a bit old.

But that was a topic for later; he’d have to find some time to set Mikey straight and preferably when Justin wasn’t around.

In the meantime, he needed to tune back in.

“This is in spite of the fact that we’ve been together about two years longer than he and Ben have,” Justin said, his brow pinched with irritation.

And wasn’t that the truth? True, he and Justin hadn’t had what could be called a conventional relationship in the beginning, but it had still been a relationship.

“Or was it Lindsay’s Earth Mother with all the answers routine,” Justin finished with a huff.

Brian snorted, because the idea of Lindsay being an expert at anything related to relationships or raising children amused him. Frankly, when it came to parenting advice, he’d stick with Mother Taylor. She'd raised both Justin and Molly,  and they'd both turned out well in spite of that asshole Craig. Both were bright, successful and most importantly, happy.

“We’ll just say that they were both annoying and leave it there,” Brian said, pensively sipping on his Beam.

“I’m still trying to figure out why they thought any of it was their business,” Justin sighed, rubbing his hand over his stomach; he’d been doing that a lot lately. “How the fuck are we still dealing with this shit all these years later?”

“I have no fucking idea,” Brian sighed, his mind going back the picture and the look Michael gave Justin. “But if they start trying to interfere, I’m not putting up with their shit; and neither should you.

“Please,” Justin snorted, getting up off the couch. “I’ve never put up with Michael’s shit. Ignored it? Yes, as I have far better things to do with my time than feed Michael’s inner drama queen. But simply lie down and take it up the ass to keep the peace? Absolutely not; like I’d want his dick anywhere near me.”

“Tell me how you really feel, Sunshine,” Brian smirked as Justin came over, leaned down and pressed a lingering kiss on his lips.

“I’m going to start dinner,” he said as he pulled away. “Any requests?”

“Whatever you want,” Brian said, not really caring what they ate; and then he paused, and added. “Just leave the weird shit off of mine.”

“You have no sense of adventure,” Justin mock complained, his eyes sparkling with humor as he likely recalled some of the weird food combinations he’d eaten over the past few weeks.

“Not what you said last night,” Brian teased, leaning up to steal another kiss.

“Perv,” Justin accused, smiling against his mouth.

“You love it,” Brian said as he pulled away with a soft smile.

“I love you,” Justin corrected with an equally soft smile, and then turned on his heel, saying as he walked out of the room. “The rest I merely tolerate.”

Brian stared at the, now, empty space where Justin had just been standing for a several long moments, his heart warmed by his husband’s words. And then he exhaled explosively and turned back to the computer. He clicked the back arrow, and studied the first picture again, vowing to keep an eye on Michael.

Nothing, but nothing was going to ruin this time for Justin.

Even if that meant kicking his best friend to the curb.

Chapter Text

January 3

Justin sat back in the Diner booth with a sigh, already exhausted, and it was barely noon. Why he thought it would be a good idea to go window shopping with Brian after their appointment, he had no idea. But he blames himself for forgetting that with Brian, it never sticks to window shopping. It always means, “I need to go in for just this one thing.” Which ends up being ten things and by the time they were done, all the greedy…he means good little shop keepers were personally thanking them for their visit.

He should have learned by now, but it was difficult to say no to Brian when he was that happy.

Rubbing his hand over his stomach, Justin could almost imagine he felt a swell, despite knowing due to Brian’s ‘daily examinations,’ as he called them, that it was still as flat as the day they’d met. Closing his eyes, he smiled to himself and couldn’t wait to find evidence of their child; he couldn’t wait to see Brian’s face when that first swell of life became evident.

To see Brian’s eyes light up with excitement and joy, just as they did when Justin had first told him they were going to have a baby. And what a day that had been. Justin had been feeling sick for a couple of weeks, throwing up and feeling generally nauseous during the mornings, and had finally caved in and went to the doctor’s after his mother threatened to drag him herself.

One examination, and a couple of tests later, the doctor was giving him the good news and congratulating him. Excited by the news, he'd immediately drove over to Kinnetik, and burst into the conference room that he knew Brian would be using for the day and blurted out the news to all assembled.

Of course, he hadn’t planned on Brian being in the middle of a presentation when it happened; he’d thought it would be over by then. Luckily, the clients, caught up in the good news themselves, had all smiled and wished them well, and Brian had managed to snag the account despite the interruption.

“So, how did you do it?” A familiar snide voice demanded, bringing Justin back to the present. Justin sighed internally and opened his eyes to Michael's sneering face. Well, the day had started out well at least.

“Do what?” Justin asked in a bored tone, one brow arched.He wasn't going to give the little weasel the satisfaction of seeing his confusion.

“How did you trick Brian into having a kid?” Michael spat, spittle flying out of his mouth and hitting the table between them.

“Excuse me?” Justin asked incredulously, wondering if he heard the asshole correctly. What business was it of his?

“You heard me; how did you trick him? Did you poke a hole in the condom? Did it break? Did you inseminate yourself with his…” Michael babbled on, his eyes spitting fire.

“I heard you the first time,” Justin cut in scornfully, his own cheeks heating with anger. “I’m just trying to figure out how you think it’s any of your business?”

“Brian is my best friend,” Michael said, beginning his infamous litany, and growing angrier when Justin blatantly rolled his eyes at the statement. “And it is my job to make sure that not taken advantage of by gold diggers…”

Justin opened his mouth to retort, but then quickly shut it as he noticed an enraged Brian standing just behind Michael. Not that anyone but he could tell just how pissed off Brian really was; he’d always been skilled at hiding his emotions. Michael, of course, was oblivious.

“Please tell me I did not just hear you refer to my husband of five years as a gold digger, Michael,” Brian said in a cold, steely voice that sent a chill down Justin’s spine; and Brian’s ire wasn’t even directed his way. Michael frozeand his eyes widened, a hint of fear filling them as he slowly turned to face Brian. But Brian didn’t care, continuing in chilly tone. “My very successful artist husband, I might add, who makes five to ten grand, if not more, per painting; and sells out at nearly every show he’s taken part in.”

“Nearly?” Justin asked, trying to defuse the scene with a bit of levity; it wouldn’t do to have Brian murder the dickhead; even if he deserved it. At least, not with so many witnesses present.

“Well, you can’t really be held accountable for L.A.,” Brian smirked, knowing full well what Justin was trying to do, and playing along for the moment. “It’s not your fault that Californians have no taste.”

“Nice,” Justin said, a sardonic grin on his face; what Brian forgot to mention was that L.A. had been cancelled. Not because the gallery didn’t wanted him to show, but because some idiot had tried to have him show with Sam Auerbach not realizing there was bad blood between the two artists.

He’d heard that same idiot had been fired quickly after that.

“Brian, I didn’t know you were…” Michael said faintly, his face pulling into an all too familiar hang-dog face, complete with puppy eyes.

But the act didn’t fool Brian, whose eyes grew flinty as they settled on Michael; fuck, he so wouldn’t want to be in Michael’s shoes right now. Brian had become obsessively overprotective since their announcement for some reason and Justin didn’t envy the other man at all.

“Here?” Brian asked, that cold, steely tone returning to his voice; accompanied by a look that would have surely bludgeoned Michael across the floor if it were at all possible. “I noticed; and I’m still waiting for an answer.”

“Well, something must have happened.” Michael insisted petulantly, obviously not sensing the danger he was in.

“Yeah, it did,” Brian agreed; and Justin had to roll his eyes at the smug smile that spread across Michael’s face; one that died an ignominious death as Brian continued in sarcastic tone. “It’s this crazy thing called planned pregnancy. Imagine that! Who knew that when you stopped using condoms, and your husband goes off his birth control, you get pregnant. It’s quite wild and I can’t believe it happened. It’s a miracle!”

“What?” Michael stared at Brian, utterly stunned.

“Yeah, who knew, right?” Brian said again, pretending he didn’t know just exactly what had thrown Michael.

“You’re doing it raw?” Michael spat, garnering the attention of everyone in the diner; well, it wasn’t like they hadn’t already been discreetly listening in, but now they’d all stopped the pretense of minding their own business and simply stared at them in fascination.

Fucking Michael.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but yes, we are fucking raw,” Brian stated, arching a brow as if asking ‘and what exactly does this have to do with you?’ It always amazed Justin just how much Brian could express with a single gesture or expression. “Have been for four years; the only difference now is that Justin isn’t on birth control.”

“Four years?” Michael asked in a hushed tone, paling dramatically at the implications; for some reason, Michael had thought that Brian was still tricking. Brian hadn’t seen the need to correct his assumptions.

“Yup, when I finally got him to say ‘I do’,” Brian said, smirking at a rapidly flushing Justin. “I tied his ass down with monogamy, waited a year to make sure there were no issues and tossed all our condoms away.”

“Brian,” Justin chided, watching as Michael went from white to purple in the matter of seconds; as amusing as it was to toy with idiot, he didn’t want him to drop dead from an aneurism.

“Okay, no, I didn’t,” Brian snickered; Michael looked relieved, obviously misunderstanding what he was saying until Brian continued. “I gave them to Hunter. Your kid is gifted by the way. Not that I’ve seen it, but you hear things.”

Justin face-palmed, shaking his head in utter despair as Michael turned red once more. Brian was enjoying this far too much.

“Raw?” Michael asked again, as if still not quite believing it. “But you said…”

“Things change, Mikey,” Brian said, growing serious for the first time. “I figured I broke every other rule for my blond boy ass…” Brian laughed and ducked as Justin squawked and threw a carrot stick at his head. “…what was one more. You got a problem with it?”

“I…” Michael opened and closed his mouth several times, clearly at a loss of what to say.

“Yes?” Brian prompted as he walked around Michael and sat down in the booth, opposite to Justin.

“I gotta go,” Michael hastily said, spinning on his heel and heading for the door, stiffening as Brian called over his shoulder.

“You do that.”

Brian turned back to Justin and shrugged, utterly unconcerned of his ‘best friend’s’ plight.

“You’re evil,” Justin said, shaking his head at his husband’s antics.

“Amazingly enough, you like me that way,” Brian grinned and picked up the menu; although, why he did when he ordered the same damned thing every time, Justin didn’t know. “Now what did you want to eat? Or do I want to know? You aren’t going to dip your apples in teriyaki sauce again, are you? Because I don’t think I can handle that today.”

Justin just rolled his eyes and studied the menu, determined to find the weirdest food combination he could, no matter how gross, and force himself to eat it for that comment alone.

Chapter Text

January 4 (Part One) 

Emmett stared in horrified awe as Justin took yet another big bite of his ‘breakfast’ and fought desperately not to lose his own.

“God, this is the best thing ever,” Justin said as he licked his fingers, sucking each into his mouth, one by one, and then releasing them with an audible pop.

“Isn’t it?” Blake said, equally as enthusiastic; although, he, at least, was being much neater about it, preferring to use a knife and fork to cut said breakfast into manageable pieces.

Emmett on the other hand just shuddered and remained silent; and then finally turned away, unable to watch them devour that utter travesty to the taste buds.  Really, how could they do that to one of his favorite foods? But, like his Great Aunt Lula said, ‘if you ain’t got nothing nice to say, boy; you best done hold your tongue, else you might just live to regret it. There be enough fools about spouting off their ignorance without you adding to it.’

It was a motto that he tried to live by; even when faced with such a blatant faux pas on his friends’ part.

Emmett smiled fondly at the thought of his auntie, his eyes misting over just a bit; he missed that daft, old woman. How she would have loved his friends had she lived long enough to meet them. He could just see her sitting there, chewing her tobacco and watching Justin and Blake with unholy glee. How she’d then spit it out in her spittoon, cackle with delight and spout off something wise all wrapped up in a sarcastic observation, not caring what the world thought of her.

She’d definitely been the black sheep of the family; much like him. He supposed that was why they got along so well – like recognized like.

But he digressed.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Emmett turned back in time to see Justin finish his…delicacy of choice… in one huge gulp, his cheeks puffing out like an adorable, little chipmunk. Not that he’d ever say so, as Justin, the smallest of their group, was a bit sensitive about his height.

Why, he didn’t know; if he’d had Justin’s angelic looks, height and cute, little bubble butt, he’d totally work it to his advantage. Although, come to think of it, Justin did seem to get away with more than his fair share.  So, maybe he did take advantage of all that bounty. The boy was a genius after all.

“I’d never get away with eating this with Brian,” Justin heartily agreed, breaking through Emmett’s thoughts once more as he reached for another, smearing his and Blake’s chosen condiments on with a heavy hand. He rolled his eyes as he continued. “He gets nauseous at the oddest things.”

Emmett just stared, not quite certain how to take that. After all, it was true that Brian tended to be a bit, well, fussy, when it came to what he put in his body; but, really, he had to agree with him on this. If there was anyone in their group that knew, and embraced, over the top, it was him; and if even he was having issues with the menu, well he wouldn’t be surprised if la God Kinney went running the other way.

And then, just because he could, he snapped a picture of Justin’s ‘breakfast,’ and sent it to Brian. Because like hell was he going to suffer alone.

“You don’t think that donuts topped with cheddar popcorn and mustard isn’t a bit odd?” Emmett said, casting a dubious glance at said donuts. “I mean, I’m usually not one to judge, honey; but I sort of see his point on this one.”

Justin studied Emmett for several long moments, his expression slightly incredulous as if Emmett was talking complete and utter nonsense. To which Emmett just raised his brows, because he was so not the crazy one in this group. And then Justin looked down at his plate and laughed, shrugging ruefully in concession.

“Well, okay, yeah,” Justin agreed, still sniggering at Emmett’s doubtful expression. “I see your point on this. But that’s not what I was talking about.”

“Oh, so what has him in up in arms this time,” Blake asked, pushing his plate away, obviously done massacring his poor donuts.

“It’s still the Twinkie thing,” Justin rolled his eyes, and Emmett had to laugh because he’d heard about the ongoing struggle between Brian and Justin over his latest food obsession. “The other day, I wanted Twinkies for breakfast and he nearly threw fit; he went on and on about how Twinkies were a snack not a breakfast food. I mean, it wasn’t like I was having the Twinkies by themselves.”

“Do I even want to know what else you were planning to eat with them?” Emmett asked hesitantly, and then decided that was an unwise move on his part judging by Justin’s shifty expression. Luckily, Justin didn’t elaborate.

“Probably not,” Justin said with a wry grin.

“I am never going to eat like this if Drew and I decide to have a baby,” Emmett vowed; shuddering as Justin kept right on eating without pause.

“That’s what we all say,” Justin snickered, pointing at Emmett with his doctored, pink-frosted, rainbow sprinkle donut. “And then, the next thing you know, you’re dipping your apple slices in teriyaki sauce and it’s the best thing ever.”

“Seriously,” Blake nodded, sipping on his orange juice. “Although, for me, it was pickles and caramel sauce.”

“You are joking, right,” Emmett said, his stomach turning at the mere thought.

“Nope,” Justin chirped; and really, he was far too damn cheerful about ruining all of Emmett’s dreams. “Get used to it; because the sprog will turn your culinary palate upside down. And suddenly you hate things you once loved and you love things you swore you’d never eat. It’s a bitch.”

Emmett shot his friend a dirty look and pushed his favorite banana, caramel and pecan stuffed French toast away, having suddenly lost his appetite. Justin eyed it hungrily and then looked up at Emmett.

“You going to eat that?” he asked, even as he dragged the plate towards him.

Emmett threw up his hands in mock surrender and watched in fascination as Justin attacked it as if he hadn’t just eaten three donuts and a bowl of fruit. Emmett shook his head, wondering where the hell he put it. His appetite had been voracious before, but now that he was pregnant, it was awe inspiring. Especially given there was not a stray ounce of fat clinging to his compact body, except for maybe a slight thickening around his waist.

He sighed in envy; he just knew he wouldn’t be so lucky.

“I miss bacon,” Justin said, mournfully staring across the restaurant at a patron happily chowing down on a plate of bacon.

“I miss chocolate,” Blake countered in an equally mournful tone. “Why Peanut decided to hate chocolate of all things, I have no idea.”

“Chocolate?” Justin stared at Blake incredulously.  “Really?”

Blake nodded, looking utterly miserable as he stared at a passing tray with a chocolate shake on it. Emmett couldn’t blame him at all; if he couldn’t eat his weight in chocolate if he felt like it while pregnant, there was really no point to life.

“I am so sorry,” Justin said, patting him on the back. “I don’t know how I’d survive without chocolate; Brian would have likely been dead by now.”

“Trust me,” Blake muttered, rubbing his stomach. “It was close a few times. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I would have to deal with all of the 2 a.m. feedings alone; and that was so not happening.”

“You know,” Emmett said, eyeing his two friends with mild panic; because, there were a lot of things Emmett was willing to give up for his child, but chocolate was not one of them. “You two really do not make it sound all that appealing.”

“Well, the first few months do kind of suck,” Blake laughed, sharing a commiserating look with Justin; and then his face softened and he rubbed his belly again. “But then, you hear your child’s heartbeat or feel them move for the first time, and suddenly, it’s all worth it. “

“I can’t wait for that,” Justin said, flashing Blake a shy smile as he too rested his hand on his stomach. “There have been a couple of times where I thought I might have felt something, but it could have been gas bubbles.”

“That’s so amazing,” Emmett cooed, clapping his bands with excitement; he really couldn’t wait until his Baby was at that stage.

“Yeah, but then you get to the end and…” Blake said before trailing off into a sharp gasp. He clutched at his stomach and sunk his teeth into his lower lip as he tried to bite back a moan. “Ow; fuck that one hurt.”

“What?” Emmett asked, watching Blake with concern. “Is something the matter with the baby, sweetie?”

“Contraction,” Blake gasped, his knuckles blanching as he pressed his hand against his stomach. “They’re starting to get stronger and come closer together.”

“Are you telling me that you’ve been in labor this entire time?” Emmett demanded, his panic ratcheting up another notch as he stared at his friend incredulously. He was so not ready for this.

“Well, sure,” Blake shrugged; and seriously, how the fuck could he be so blasé when Emmett could feel his heart trying to pound it’s way out his chest at the mere thought of labor. “What did you expect me to do? Run to the hospital at the first sign of pain? I don’t think so; this is going to take hours yet and the last thing I need is Ted freaking out and hovering.”

Emmett gaped and then shook his head.

“Oh, hell, no,” he said, pulling out his wallet and throwing some bills on the table – more than enough to cover their bill and leave a substantial tip – and then stood.  “I love you, sweetie; but I did not sign up for this. Let’s go.”

Blake just laughed and help up his hands in surrender; he stood and allowed Emmett to take his arm and hasten him out the door, and hopefully, to a hospital that could deal with this a lot better than he; pausing only momentarily to stare at Justin incredulously as he flagged down a waiter and said.

“Can I get this to go?”

Chapter Text

January 4 (Part Two)

“And don’t even get me started on his Twinkie obsession,” Brian groused, grimacing as he sipped his coffee. Christ; why the fuck couldn’t he get a decent fucking cup of coffee in this place? “I’ve literally found boxes of the damned things in the weirdest fucking places.”

Setting his cup down, he reached over and grabbed the sugar container, pouring in a generous amount in the hopes of curbing some of the burnt flavor. He didn’t hold out much hope, however; no one could ruin coffee like the Diner. He had no idea why he even ordered it when he knew it was for shit.

“Pickles,” Ted offered up for their ‘weird shit my pregnant spouse does’ rant. “As clichéd as it is, Blake is obsessed with pickles. He has to have pickles on everything. The last straw for me was when he topped his blueberry cheesecake with them. I had to leave.”

“You can’t be serious,” Drew said, his nose scrunched with disgust.

“Oh, he is,” Brian answered in place of Ted. “Eating with Justin these days in an adventure not meant for the faint of heart. Or stomach.”

Brian shuddered, thankful that Justin wasn’t there terrorizing them with his latest culinary creation. If he had to watch his husband doctor a perfectly good dish with something ‘extra,’ it might just put him off eating on a permanent basis.

“Blake wasn’t too bad,” Ted conceded, having been privy to Justin’s ‘creativity’ in the kitchen. “It was just the pickles or pickle juice, on fucking everything that got to me. I mean, who sprinkles pickle juice on popcorn?”

Brian stared incredulously at Ted, who just shrugged in a ‘what can you do’ manner and went back to his breakfast.

“I’ve since banned Twinkies from the house,” Brian added, scowling when Ted threw back his head and laughed at him.

“Good luck with that,” Ted snickered. “You can ban them all you want; they just get sneakier. I finally gave up. I figured, so long as he wasn’t eating something detrimental to the baby, I wasn’t going to worry about it. Besides, I’m quite fond of my dick remaining attached to my body, which his last threat featured if I didn’t ‘back the fuck off.’ His words not mine.”

Brian winced and reflexively squeezed his legs together; that was harsh and he hoped like hell that he’d never hear those words fall past Justin’s lips. Although, the little twat was as fond of his dick as he was, so he didn’t ever see that being in the picture. That didn’t mean that the little shit wouldn’t get creative. His husband was devious and knew how to hold a grudge.

“Justin has threatened me so often, it’s lost its luster these days,” Brian said with false bravado, blatantly ignoring the knowing looks between his friends. “Besides it just adds a bit of spice to the bedroom. Trust me, you don’t know what you’re missing – leads to the best sex ever.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Ted snorted as he wiped his mouth with a napkin. “Unlike you,” I don’t enjoy winding my partner up until they finally break and attack me. Forgive me for wanting to live through the experience.”

“Ha ha,” Brian snorted; he stared at his empty cup for a moment or two, grimaced and then flagged down the waiter for yet more coffee.

It might be for shit, but he had a feeling he was going to need it based on the pictures Emmett had sent of Justin’s sugar-laden ‘breakfast’. Pictures that he could have happily lived without; but, apparently, if Emmett had to suffer, then he was going to drag Brian along with him.

“You’re just so hilarious, Theodore,” Brian drawled, deleting yet another text from Emmett without opening it. If it were anything important, Emmett would call him; so, this was just pure spite on his part. “Laugh while you can because in a week or so, you won’t even be able to remember your own name.”

“God, I hope it’s soon,” Ted whispered fervently, scrubbing a hand over his head. “He’s already a week overdue; and while he may be all sunshine and light around all of you, he’s not so composed at home.”

Brian snorted and arched a brow, but didn’t comment; he didn’t need to. Ted had been full of horror stories during their weekly meetings. It had almost been enough for him to reconsider the whole pregnancy thing.

“This morning was the worst,” he continued tiredly. “One minute he was all happy and bubbly about going to brunch with Em and Justin; and then I made an offhand remark about being out of something; you know, so that we could put it on the shopping list; and the next thing you know he’s raging at me for expecting too much of him.”

Brian chuckled and shook his head; rookie mistake. He should have just put it on the list and not said a damned thing.

“And then, when I explained I was just making a mental note to put on the shopping list,” Ted ranted, rubbing a hand over his brow. “He burst into tears and started apologizing for ‘thinking the worst of me.’ So, then, I tried to console him and tell him it wasn’t a problem; but that was all wrong too; as, apparently, by saying that, it implied that it could have been a problem.”

By this time Brian was laughing outright; he knew he should be more sympathetic to his friend’s plight given the fact he’d soon be in his shoes, but this was funny as shit.

Meanwhile, Drew just gaped and seemed to have a hard time grasping it. If he only knew that this was only the tip of the iceberg. Brian actually felt sorry for the boy if what he heard was true, and he and Emmett were talking babies. Because, if Blake was bad, and Justin a drama princess, he so didn’t want to see what the Queen of all Queens would be like while pregnant.

“So, he pouted the entire ride over to the café,” Ted finished with a heavy dose of exasperation. “Wouldn’t say a word to me; but as soon as he saw the two of them, he perked right back up and was his happy, cheerful self again.”

“I’m dreading when Justin hits that stage,” Brian admitted ruefully; Justin’s minor breakdown when he realized he couldn’t have three cups of his precious coffee every morning had been bad enough. “Personally, I’m just planning to keep chocolate in my brief case, so that when I run across one of these moods, I have a way to defuse them.”

Ted stared at Brian with no little amount of awe. “That is brilliant; why didn’t I think of that?”

“Because, while you are a brilliant numbers man, Theodore,” Brian smirked, chewing on his toothpick. “I am the best ad man in the state, if not on the entire East Coast. It’s my job to think of these things.”

“Isn’t that a bit manipulative?” Drew asked skeptically.

“Yes,” Brian said without a shred of remorse. “But you do what you have to do because you aren’t the one carrying the baby. And if you’re at all attached to your dick, you will remember that.”

“Amen to that,” Ted fervently said, smirking at Drew’s doubtful expression.

Ah, to be so inexperienced; when you thought that there was no way you would ever employ such underhanded tactics on the one you loved, because they were reasonable human beings. But what Drew hadn’t yet realized, was that pregnant people were very rarely reasonable. He’d learn that lesson eventually.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Brian asked, arching an amused brow.

“I deal with Emmett’s crazy on a daily basis; it couldn’t be any worse than that.” Drew said with an unconcerned shrug.

Brian laughed at his naiveté and exchanged a knowing look with Ted.

“Ohhhh,” Ted said, shaking his head. “You did not just say that.”

“He did,” Brian snorted; heartily amused by Drew’s confused look. “But as with all that follow in our wake, we must allow our young padiwan to make his own mistakes. Good luck with that. If you think Justin is a drama princess, wait until you’ve seen a true Emmett queen out.”

Ted chuckled, and then opened his mouth to respond, but was halted when his phone lit up and started blaring Dancing Queen. Frowning, he quickly answered it, as there was only one person that could have that tone, and he was currently brunching with his very pregnant husband.

“Emmett?” Ted greeted, his brow pinching as he listened to whatever had Auntie Em in a tizzy now. “What do you mean he’s been in labor the entire time you’ve been eating breakfast? Why didn’t you take him to…” Ted paused, and then rolled his eyes skyward. “Of course, he didn’t tell you. So, where are you now?” There was another pause. “Ah, good, take him to West Penn. I’ll be there soon.”

Ted ended the call and hurriedly pulled out his wallet. Grabbing a stack of bills, he tossed them on the table before stuffing it back into his pocket.

“So,” Brian prompted impatiently as he grabbed his jacket.

“As you could have probably guessed, Blake is in labor,” Ted said, stating the obvious; Brian gave him a ‘well, duh’ look. Ted rolled his eyes and climbed out of the booth. “What he didn’t tell me, was that he has been in labor since about six this morning.”

“Well, that will do it,” Brian snorted as they headed for the door.

“Do what?” Ted asked, trying to find his keys.

“It’s likely why he was in such a mood this morning,” Brian said, rolling his eyes when Ted fumbled said keys and dropped them. “I can’t imagine that being very pleasant.”

“Well, he could have said something to me,” Ted griped as he stooped to pick up the keys and only to fumble them again.

“Christ, Schmidt; give me the fucking keys,” Brian groused, yanking them out of his hands and shoving him towards Drew, who ushered Ted into the passenger seat once Brian released the locks. “There is no way in hell I’m going to let you drive. I’d like to live to see my child born.”

Ted rolled his eyes, but remained silent for the entirety of the ride, too busy texting with Emmett to engage in any conversation; which suited Brian just fine. He knew the madness was just beginning and he wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet while he could. God knew he wouldn’t get that at the hospital.

In no time at all, they were pulling up to the hospital, and Brian dropped Ted off in front of the East Tower before parking the car near Justin’s SUV. Locking up the car, Brian swiftly made his up to the fifth floor waiting room, and where he assumed that Justin would be waiting.

Stepping out of the elevator, Brian swiftly strode down the hall and paused, rolling his eyes at the scene before him. Justin was huddled in a corner with a tray containing French toast, country potatoes, milk, orange juice, a fruit cup and a pudding cup in front of him. On top of that, a nurse hovered nearby, asking if he needed anything else while she was up.

Justin flashed a bright smile and thanked her, before saying he was fine for now. The nurse smiled brightly, fluttering her lashes a bit, and then walked away, while Justin just kept eating as if his life depended on it.

“Why am I not surprised?” Brian asked as he strode over and threw himself into the chair next to him, shaking his head in amusement.

“What?” Justin said, just a bit defensively. He scowled and hovered over his food as if he expected Brian to take it away from him; which he wasn’t. He’d learned a long time ago not to get between the twat and his food. “Blake said this will take hours and I’m still hungry!”

Chapter Text

January 4 (Part Three)

Justin happily made his way down the hall, practically skipping as he sucked on the very delicious frozen fruit bar that the lovely nurse at the desk had given him. He’d originally gone to the bathroom and then stopped by the nurses’ station to see if there was any news on Blake, when Sherri, being pregnant herself, asked when he was due. It lead to a full-on conversation about their various cravings and he’d admitted to have been craving strawberries, but hadn’t gotten any as they were out of season and didn’t taste right.

She had grinned, remembering her own strawberry craving about a mouth before and shared her secret with him – Whole Fruit frozen fruit bars in strawberry. It was perfect, with chunks of real strawberries and had the perfect sweetness to tartness ratio that Justin had been looking for.

He so had to go out and buy a couple of boxes to stash at home; and given they were only seventy calories each, Brian couldn’t complain. Too much.

Rounding the corner, Justin was about to enter the waiting room, when a conversation between Brian and Em stopped him short.

“Where’s Baby?” Em asked, fiddling with a bag by his feet. “I have a present for him, but we got interrupted before I could give it to him earlier.”

Justin smiled; that was sweet of Em. And come to think of it; he did remember Em bringing a gift bag with him to the café.

“He said something about going to the bathroom,” Brian muttered, scrolling through his phone with a frown.

“And you’re not hovering over him?” Em asked, an arch smile on his face.

“What do you expect me to do? Hold it for him?” Brian drawled sarcastically, obviously still put out that Justin had told him not to follow him unless he wanted to sleep in the den that night. “He’s a big boy; he can do it himself.”

“Hasn’t stopped you before,” Em snorted, and then paused before casting a knowing glance Brian’s way. “Unless…”

Em trailed off and looked thoughtful.

“Unless what, Honeycutt?” Brian bit out impatiently.

“Don’t call me Honeycutt!” Em said with no little exasperation; he huffed and then teased with a sly smile. “My guess is that you tried to follow him and he quickly put his foot down and told you in no uncertain terms to back the fuck off.”

Brian just scowled and didn’t deem that worth a response.

“I thought so,” Em said, a smug smile curling on his lips; which only made Brian’s face darken with irritation.

“Shut up, Honeycutt,” Brian muttered, huffing when Em just chuckled.

Em didn’t respond. Instead, he picked up a magazine and started flipping through it, a smirk on his face. He had just settled on an article, and Justin was just about to join them, when Em's words caught up with Brian.

“Wait, you said you had a present for Justin?” his husband said, casting a sharp, suspicious glance at Em.

“Yup, I found the most adorable outfits when I went shopping the other day and I just had to pick them up for my Baby,” Em gushed, prattling on about the new store on Liberty Avenue that sold the most ingenious things for a few minutes before he'd noticed Brian’s stare and quieted.

“Let me see them,” Brian demanded implacably, holding his hand out for the bag. And Justin could tell by both of their expressions that this would not end well.

“I’d rather wait until Justin is here,” Em said a bit stiffly, holding said bag to his chest in a protective manner; which was a bad move if he was trying to assuage Brian’s suspicions.

“Which means you know I’ll disapprove,” Brian said, arching an imperious brow. “Hand them over, Honeycutt.”

Em just stared at the outstretched hand, a disgruntled moue on his face, before he sighed explosively and handed the bag over with ill grace.

“Fine,” Em huffed, crossing his arms over his chest as Brian snatched the bag out of his hand. “But you better not do anything to them, or so help me God, Kinney, I will tell Justin about the Twinkie thing.”

Justin barely bit back a chortle as Brian gave Em a dirty look, and made a mental note to ask about the Twinkie thing. Because if Brian thought he was actually going to prevent him from eating his favorite treat, he had another serious think coming to him. He will find a way.

After leveling Em with the full weight of a patented Kinney Glare of Doom, Brian turned back to the bag and started pulling the outfits out one by one, for four in total. Justin did snigger then as, while he thought they were kind of cute, Brian looked completely horrified by the rainbow spectacle.

The first was a one-piece, short-sleeved, bodysuit that said, After every storm there is a rainbow of hope. Here I am! The second was an entire outfit with bodysuit that said, Love Made Me and came with white leggings that had rainbow stripes on them, with matching head wrap and a little hat.

The third was an outfit of a similar vein, but with an added hair ribbon, and the bodysuit said, Rainbow Baby. And Justin thought for sure that Brian was going to have an aneurism when he pulled that one out. He could just see the cogs in his head whirring as he wondered how he could dispose of it with Em being none the wiser.

And the final one was a blue sleeper that had rainbows and raining clouds all over it.  Again, Justin thought it was cute, but could see by Brian’s aghast look; Justin needed to get his ass in there to defuse the situation before Brian strangled Em with a pair of the leggings.

“Oh, Em, these are so cute,” Justin cooed, cementing Brian’s sour expression, as he knew damned well, there was no way in hell he could get rid of them now.

Huffing, Brian stuffed the outfits none to gently into the bag and set it aside, while Em beamed in pleasure. And then he homed in on the ice cream in Justin’s hand, his exasperation visibly growing as Justin licked it and then popped it back into his mouth and took a small bite, humming in pleasure as the taste of strawberries exploded over his tongue.

“What the fuck are you eating now?” Brian demanded.

“A fruit bar?” Justin said, his voice lilting into a question at the end, as he thought it was pretty damned obvious what it he was eating.

“Where the hell did you get that?” Brian asked as he rolled his eyes. “I thought you were going to the bathroom?”

"I did,” Justin nodded and crossed the room to sit next to his husband. “And then I stopped by the nurses’ station to ask about Blake and Sherri gave it to me.”

“Who the hell is Sherri?” Brian groused, huffing when Justin offered him a bit of his very delicious treat, but he did take a small bite nonetheless. Really, he should be happy that Justin was sharing. He could have kept the strawberry goodness all to himself.

“The charge nurse,” Justin chirped, happily going back to his fruit bar and blatantly ignoring Brian’s incredulous look.

"It's the smile," Em chimed in, snickering when Brian just scowled. "All he did was smile at them, and they've been fawning over him ever since."

“I thought I told you to only use your twink powers against the forces of evil?” Brian said, his tongue firmly pressed in his cheek.

"I can't help that I'm adorable and pregnant at the same time” Justin preened, again, ignoring Brian’s snort. He really did need to buy more of these. “It makes everyone want to coddle me."

Chapter Text

January 4 (Part Four)

“Oh, Blake,” Justin whispered, his eyes misting over as he stared down at the little blue bundle with a full head of dark hair. Brian would have rolled his eyes at his sentimental twat, but even he was feeling a bit choked up. “He’s perfect.”

“He better be after nearly fifteen hours of labor,” Blake muttered, making the rest of the room laugh; and then he smiled tiredly as Ted took the new arrival from his arms and then promptly place him into Justin’s.

“I’m sure it was worth it in the end,” Justin said, cooing when two blurry baby-blue eyes opened and stared at him for a moment before closing once again.

“I don’t know about that,” Ted muttered, obviously not meaning to be overheard, and then yelped when Blake reached out and pinched him

“Are you saying our child is less than perfect?” Blake demanded, a mock frown on his face.

“Not at all, honey,” Ted said, watching his husband nervously. “I would’ve just preferred that you had left some feeling in my hand.”

Several people snorted, including Blake.

“That’s why you’re supposed to send some other sap in your place for the hard parts, Theodore,” Brian said, coming up behind Justin to study the baby in his arms; he smiled and couldn’t wait to see their own little Sunbeam in Justin’s arms. “And conveniently show up for the end.”

“Oh hell no,” Justin retorted, pinning Brian in place with the evil eye; Brian just grinned, showing he wasn’t serious. “If you aren’t there with me from the very beginning, I will hunt you down like the dog that you are and drag your ass back to the hospital with me. And if I have to do that, you will not like me at the end of it all.”

“You go, Baby,” Emmett snorted as he went through the stack of cards and gifts piled on a table by the bed and entering them into some book. “You tell him who's the boss.”

“Shut up, Honeycutt,” Brian said without heat, still too busy watching Justin, who, in turn, was watching and cooing over the baby.

“Besides, it’s not like he’d ever do that anyways,” Ted said as he claimed his son once more.

“Thank you, Ted,” Brian said, wrapping his arms around Justin’s waist and pressing a kiss to his temple when he leaned into Brian. “It’s nice that someone has faith in me.”

“Justin would only have to threaten to deny him sex once and that would immediately pull him back into line,” Ted smirked, taking the baby over to the table to change him.

“Ha ha,” Brian laughed mockingly, while flipping off the room in general; his jackass friends just laughed. “I’m surrounded by fucking comedians.”

“So, have you decided on a name?” Justin asked, looking at Blake.

“Well, after much consideration…” Ted said as he tossed the diaper into the trash, but was quickly cut off by a snort.

“Consideration, my ass,” Blake griped, casting an exasperated look at his husband. “Do you know what he wanted for a name?”

“I’m afraid to ask,” Emmett said, looking between the two of them.

“Bill S. Preston, Esquire,” Blake said, rolling his eyes. Brian guffawed and pressed his face into Justin’s shoulder to hold back another laugh, while the rest of the room looked confused. Fuck, he’d forgotten how young some of them were. “What the S stood for, I have no idea, but I put a stop to that real fast.”

“Were you trying to get your kid beat up?” Justin asked, watching Brian’s reaction with utter bewilderment.

“What? Bill is a good, solid name,” Ted defended; he swaddled up the baby once more and reached for the bottle a nurse had brought in a few minutes before.

“Yeah, it’s everything that follows that says, ‘please stuff me into a locker because I’m a mommy’s boy,’” Brian snickered; he rolled his eyes at Ted’s complete and utter nerdiness factor.

“Don’t you mean daddy?” Emmett asked with a wry smile.

“Nope, I meant exactly what I said; I mean with Ted…” Brian yelped and trailed off as Justin jabbed him in the gut with one of his pointy, little elbows. Twat. He’d deal with him later. “And really, Theodore? Bill S. Preston, Esquire? I can’t believe I’m even acquainted with you, let alone friends.”

“Hey, it was a cool movie!” Ted exclaimed, his chin jutting out defiantly. “My friend William and I went and saw that movie like nine times.”

“You are such a geek,” Brian mocked, laughing when Ted moved his hand just enough to flip him off. “I don’t even have words.”

“Well who was the only one that recognized it, huh?” Ted said, arching a brow.

“One word - Mikey,” Brian smirked, remembering when Mikey dragged him to see the movie, claiming as best friends it was something they just had to see. “Like I said…geek.”

“What movie?” Justin asked, still looking perplexed.

“Nothing you’d care to see, sonny boy,” Brian whispered, skillfully dodging another pointy elbow. “It came out when you were but a wee sprite. I doubt your mommy would have let you see it.”

Justin didn’t even bother to answer; he just flipped him off much to the entire room’s amusement.

“Later,” Brian promised, tucking his tongue in his cheek.

“I think we’ve gotten a bit off track,” Emmett said, looking back at Ted, who was rubbing the baby’s back, and Blake. “So, what is his name, honey?”

“Luciano Andrea Schmidt,” Ted stated with a proud smile; and all Brian could think was, ’that poor, fucking kid.

“That’s a hell of a name to live up to,” Justin said slowly, ever the diplomat. He and his WASP manners were going to be the death of Brian. “But suiting I think.”

“But we’ll merely call him Luc for now,” Blake assured them, exchanging a knowledgeable look with Brian, who managed to hold his tongue this time.

“Well, I think he is just too precious,” Emmett cooed, looking down into little Luc’s face as Ted wiped his mouth.

“Want to hold him Mr. Godfather,” Ted asked, smirking when Emmett just stared at him, utterly speechless for once.

“Oh, what; me?”  Emmett squeaked, fluttering his hand in front of his chest. “Really?”

“If you’ll accept it,” Ted nodded, handing the baby over to Emmett.

“Oh, I’d be delighted, honey; you know that.” Emmett whispered, his voice choked with tears as he smoothed a finger over Luc’s cheek.

“So, who gets the honor of Godmother?” Justin asked; and then smiled when Brian shifted him into a much more comfortable position and slid his hand under his shirt to splay over his tummy.

“Mel,” Ted said as he watched Emmett coo over his son.  “I asked her a few days ago.” He paused and looked around with a frown. “Speaking of, where are the girls?”

“Who the fuck knows,” Brian groused, bringing all eyes to him in surprise; he grimaced and explained. “They were standing in the corner over there whispering to each other furiously while Blake was snoozing. I told them if they wanted to snipe at each other to take it into the fucking hallway so they didn’t wake him up.”

“I swear to God, those two,” Emmett sighed, rolling his eyes in exasperation. “If I weren’t such a well brought up lady, I would have smacked them both for their attitudes lately.”

“So, what’s their problem now?” Blake asked grimly, well versed in the ups and downs of their favorite munchers; or currently, Brian’s least favorite, but he planned to keep that little tidbit of knowledge to himself.

“Me,” Justin admitted softly; almost too low for the others to hear.

“Justin…” Brian started, but trailed off when Justin just shook his head.

“You know it’s true,” Justin said, fixing him with his patented ‘I’m on to you,’ looks. “Lindsay has been a complete pain in the ass to everyone since our announcement.”

Brian scoffed, and pulled Justin tighter to him, wanting to protect him from his friend’s selfish and idiotic behavior. “Well she can go be a pain in Mel’s ass, because I’m not putting up with it anymore; and if she gives you any shit, you tell her to butt the fuck out. If she wants to play mommy, she can go to find some idiot to provide her sperm, grab the turkey baster and shoot it up her twat. This is our turn and she can fuck right off.”

“Oh, fuck, Brian; TMI,“ Ted grimaced and looked a bit green around the edges; actually, everyone looked a little green. Go him. “Must you? I really didn’t need that visual.”

“Tell us how you really feel, honey,” Emmett said, eyeing him a wry smirk; and then back to Ted with a much more genuine smile. “Anywho, I accept. Of course, I do; like you even had to ask.”

“Well, since that’s settled,” Justin said, a bright smile on his face; and then displaying his WASPy manners again, said. “I think it’s time we give the family have a bit of time alone. Besides I don’t know about any of you, but I am in desperate need of a snack."

Chapter Text

January 7

Gus waved to his Auntie Em and quickly ran over to the Liberty Diner, happy to escape the tension that had enveloped his house since his Dad and Jus had announced the new baby. He wasn’t quite sure why this would affect either of his mothers; his Mama especially, but she’d had her nose out of joint ever since, as Grandmom Deb would say, and he could tell his Eema was getting fed up with it.

It had led to many a hushed argument behind closed doors; or, well, what he supposed they'd called hushed, but usually meant that he and Jenny had to put their earphones in to stand any chance of concentrating on their homework. Even through that, he’d heard the words ‘first pregnancy,’ and ‘who better to give advice than someone who’s been through it,’ and ‘need to mind your own business,’ and rolled his eyes.

As if Jus hadn’t already done all the research that he needed before getting pregnant; and if he hadn’t, then his Dad surely had.

Pausing at the door, Gus quickly scanned the dining room for his Grandmom Deb, and sighed with relief when he didn’t see her. It wasn’t that he didn’t love her to death, but he was getting kind of old to be coddled and she couldn’t help squeezing him like she hadn’t seen him in years instead of days each and every time he came in. It was kind of embarrassing, especially when Kiki and the others joined in and started cooing over how handsome he was and how he was going to be a heartbreaker just like his Dad.

And then the patrons would take bets on when, and if, he was going to be joining the Avenue. And really, he had just started realizing his dick was for more than peeing; he had no idea who he even liked yet.

It was beyond mortifying, and he would tell each, and every, one of them to fuck off if he wasn’t well aware than his Grandmom Deb would drag him to the bathroom to wash his mouth out with soap. Plus, Jus would set them all straight with nothing more than a glare and a well-placed word.

They all seemed rather intimidated by him for some reason, calling him the ‘little twink that tamed the big bad.’ He supposed that they meant his Dad when the said that, and Gus wanted to yell, ‘Well, duh!’ Have you seen my Jus? Dad never stood a chance.

But, thankfully, Grandmom Deb was busy, and if he timed it just right, he could make it to the booth before she came out of the office.

Opening the door, Gus quietly slipped in and made his way to the back booth, where his Dad was already sitting, grimacing and drinking a cup of coffee. He hurried over to him, keeping a close eye on the office and then froze when a familiar voice called out behind him.

“Gussy!” Grandmom Deb exclaimed as she came out of the bathroom area; Gus groaned, glaring at his Dad when he snickered, and turned around with a smile pasted onto this face.

“Hi, Grandmom Deb,” he managed to get out before he was being engulfed in a breath-stealing hug; and really, boa constrictors could learn a thing or two from Grandmom Deb’s hugs.

“Jesus, Deb,” his Dad called out much to Gus’ relief. “Give the kid a chance to breathe. He isn’t much good to me if he’s dead.”

“Oh, hush, you,” Grandmom Deb said, leaving off the customary ‘asshole’ that usually followed that statement; as, for some reason, she was hesitant to call him such in front of Gus.

Now if only she would stop it completely; Jus absolutely hated that she still referred to him as such and having been present for a couple of his pregnancy queen outs, (the coffee one the most notable of those), he didn’t think Jus would be very understanding of Grandmom Deb’s little nickname.

“There is nothing wrong with wanting to hug my grandchild,” she continued, but did loosen her death grip, so cheers for that. “He loves it, don’t you sweetheart.”

His Dad just snorted, but Gus just nodded as expected. He really wanted to say no, but he didn’t want to hurt her feelings either. Dad was always bitching to Jus about how Grandmom Deb could hold a grudge worse than he did, and since Gus was well aware of how bad his Jus was about forgiving those he’d felt slighted him or Dad in some way, he didn’t even want to go there.

“Right,” Dad drawled, looking up and smiling when the newest server, Jason, set a couple of plates down on the table. “Release the kid, so I can feed his bottomless pit of a stomach, Deb. If you weren’t the spitting image of me, Sonny Boy; I would swear you were Justin’s kid with that appetite.”

“I’ll put in for your usual, kiddo,” Grandmom Deb said as she let go, ruffling his hair much to his annoyance.

“We just enjoy our food,” Gus retorted as he finally managed to get away from his grandmother. He walked over and slid into the booth across from his Dad. “Not everyone is as picky as you.”

“And some of us want to live to see their next birthday,” his Dad snickered, reaching over to ruffle his hair again. And seriously, what was it with people and his hair?  “By the way, nice try there, Sonny Boy; you should know by now that Grandmom Deb has a sixth sense for these things.”

“One of these days it will work,” Gus insisted, ignoring his Dad’s amused glance. He looked around. “Where’s Jus?”

“The bathroom; where else?” Dad said as he rolled his eyes. “I swear he spends nearly as much time in there as he does eating these days.”

“Ah,” Gus nodded; quite used to it by now.

“So, you managed to escape,” his Dad said, fixing him with a questioning look. “And asked to meet me on a night that I don’t usually have you; everything going okay at home?”

“Just the usual,” Gus grimaced, toying with the hem of his sweater. His Dad arched a brow, telling him that explanation wouldn’t cut it. “The moms…are arguing again. But not the usual stuff. They seem to be arguing about Jus and his pregnancy, but I don’t know why it’s any of their business.”

“Ah,” his Dad said, a grim smile on his face. “I couldn’t tell you, Sonny Boy. It really isn’t anyone’s business except for me, Jus and you. And maybe Jenny.”

“I just needed to leave for awhile,” Gus said with a shrug. “It was getting a bit much. I just wish I could have brought Jenny; but Eema has plans to take her shopping for a project tonight. If they ever stop arguing.”

“Well, after dinner, we’ll give your moms a call,” his Dad said, a pensive frown on his face. “And if they are still arguing, we’ll pick up Jenny and take her shopping for what she needs; and then we’ll have dessert somewhere, and get you back home just before bedtime.  You have done your homework, right?”

“Yeah, I did it after school before the moms picked us up,” Gus said with a smile. “I made sure that Jenny did hers too.”

“Good man,” his Dad said, and then fell silent as he sipped his coffee.

Gus shifted in his seat, his eyes falling on the massive plate of food that had just been delivered. Judging by the heaps of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and the mound of green beans, Gus figured that it was for Jus. His Dad would never eat anything remotely like it at this time of night. Licking his lips, he bit the lower one when his stomach growled and reached for the plate. He figured Jus wouldn’t care if he had a bite or two to tide him over until his burger came.

“I wouldn’t if I were you,” His Dad said, watching him with an amused look.

“Why not? I’m starving and Jus won’t mind if I take a bite,” Gus justified, even as he took a healthy scoop of the mashed potatoes and gravy. There was so much food there, it wasn’t like Jus would notice.

“Because it is Jus’ and by now you should realize that isn’t…” his Dad said, and then trailed off and smacked his hand against his forehead as Gus shoved the spoon into his mouth.

Gus chewed a bit, and then his eyes bulged as he realized that what he’d mistaken for gravy definitely was not. Grimacing he hurriedly finished chewing and forced himself to swallow. He frantically grabbed the glass of water in front of his Dad, and quickly gulped the entire thing down in an effort to purge the horrific taste in his mouth, glaring when his Dad broke down into laughter.

“Isn’t gravy,” his Dad finished between guffaws. “I tried to warn you.”

“OH my God, that’s so gross!” Gus exclaimed, looking at the plate of food as if had betrayed him, because fuck, who on Earth would put that on potatoes?

“I guess next time, you’ll listen to your father,” his Dad said, still snickering at his pain.

Gus just continued to make faces as he tried to wash the taste out of his mouth, and his Dad kept laughing at him, until Jus finally came back to the table.

“What’s wrong?” Jus asked, looking between the two of them as he slid into the booth next to Gus.

“Sonny boy here was starving and couldn’t wait for his burger to arrive,” his Dad smirked, laughing when Gus just made another disgusted face. “So he decided to steal a bite of your potatoes.”

“Oh,” Jus said, still confused by why that would matter; he leaned back to let Jason place Gus’ order in front of him. “So, what’s wrong with that? He’s been doing it since he was two. Hell, he learned it from you.”

“I think it was more that he didn’t appreciate your choice of condiment,” his Dad explained, laughing when instead saying anything, Gus just took a huge bite of his cheeseburger and groaned, savoring the beautiful taste of meat and cheese and ketchup washing away that nastiness.

“What’s wrong with milk chocolate syrup?” Jus asked, his eyes sparkling with mischief as he tucked his tongue in his cheek.

His Dad just looked at Jus incredulously, but refrained from saying anything as he was well aware that Jus was yanking his chain.

“Ugh…” Gus said once his mouth wasn’t full of burger. “I’m not touching your food until you’re over this pregnancy nonsense.”

“Wise choice, Sonny Boy,” his Dad smirked, and then shuddered when Jus took a huge bit of his potatoes and made a happy sound.

Gus just crinkled his nose and vowed he was never going to get pregnant if that’s what one could expect. It turned normally cool people into weirdos.

Chapter Text

January 9 – 18 weeks

Justin lay back on the table and got comfortable before rolling up his shirt and pushing his pants down until they were low on his hips. He smiled at Brian, his own excitement shining back at him as the tech got everything ready for their ultrasound. They were supposed to have done this during their last visit, but something on the machine had malfunctioned; and by the time it was up and running once more, Justin had to leave because he was meeting his agent.

And, given the fact that he’d already cancelled on her once due to morning sickness, he really wasn’t up to incurring her wrath by doing it again so soon; thus they made another appointment for the ultrasound. Luckily, his doctor had managed to squeeze them in today, and he couldn’t wait. They’d already been through this once before early in his first trimester; but today, if Sunbeam allowed it, they would be able to determine the sex.

Something that been a debate and a half the moment that Justin had brought it up; he and Brian had been torn on whether or not they wanted the tech to reveal the gender.

Justin had been firmly on the side of being surprised; he’d already planned out a gender-neutral nursery with a forest mural for the walls, filled with baby animals, and a morning sky for the ceiling. So, it wasn’t like the gender was necessary for his plans. Brian, on the other hand, was on the side of knowing, so they could plan properly and supplement whatever clothing and toys they got from the gang with more gender-based items.

It had been a long, heated debate, until finally; Justin had given in and agreed that he could see the sense of being prepared. But he had gotten Brian to agree that they would leave the family in the dark. He just thought it would be much more fun for everyone if they made a game of it. Plus, there was a pool going on at the diner for what the gender, day of birth and hour of birth would be, and the pot was growing daily.

“Alright, Justin,” Amy, the tech said, grabbing a bottle of gel. “I think we’re just about ready here. Shall we get you lubed up?”

Brian snickered at the wording, his tongue firmly planted into his cheek as he smirked at Justin. For his part, Justin just rolled his eyes and huffed at his husband’s one-track mind. Amy giggled, quite used to their banter by now, and squirted a large dollop of gel onto the middle of his stomach, making Justin hiss.

“Fuck that’s cold,” he said, shivering at the coolness of the gel.

“It will warm up,” Amy reassured him with a smile, making Brian snort.

“Don’t say it,” Justin said, pointing a warning finger at his husband.

“I have no idea what you mean,” Brian said, all faux innocence.

“Please,“ Justin snorted, resting his hand back on his shirt. “You aren’t fooling anyone with that smile, buster.”

Brian held his hands out in supplication and then turned his attention to Amy, who was pointing out the two screens where the images could be seen – one directly across from where Brian was sitting and the other on the wall in front of Justin.

“Shall we get started?” Amy asked, and then laughed when Justin nearly gave himself whiplash when he nodded in agreement. She put the wand on his stomach and moved it around a bit, lubing his stomach up and making Justin flinch as it was still a bit cool.

And then the monitor lit up and Justin didn’t care as his baby flickered to life on the screen. Choked up, his hand flew to Brian’s and grabbed it, needing something to anchor him as he stared at the tiny life they’d created. Flicking a glance over at his husband, he smiled shakily when he saw that, he too, was just as moved, his eyes bright with unshed tears as he stared at the screen.

Justin turned back to the screen, and couldn’t help but laugh with delight as the baby squirmed in his belly, and he could almost imagine he felt that. A tiny little hand appeared, splayed open, almost as if greeting its observers.

“Wow, someone sure is active today,” Amy said with a grin as the baby shifted again.

“Just like his papa,” Brian smirked, casting a mischievous glance Justin’s way; emphasizing the gender as it had been an ongoing debate between the two of them. Brian thought Sunbeam was a boy; Justin, on the other hand, was certain Sunbeam was a girl. “Can’t stay still to save his life.”

“Ha ha,” Justin mock laughed and rolled his eyes. “You’re as hilarious as ever, darling.”

Amy laughed and then pointed at the screen. “I see we have a little hand here. Awww…it looks like he’s waving to his daddies. And there are his four little fingers and... oh, looks like he’s closing them.”

“Is Sunbeam giving us a thumbs up?” Justin asked, squinting at the screen.

“Yeah, that definitely looks like a thumbs up to me,” Amy said with a giggle.

“See, even Sunbeam agrees with me, Sunshine,” Brian snickered, quickly dodging the slap Justin sent his way.

“Asshole,” Justin grumbled, but then went back to watching Sunbeam.

“You see that round thing right here; that is the baby’s head,” Amy said, tracing her finger over the indicated area.  “And here is Sunbeam’s tummy.”

“Wow, that’s kind of a big head, isn’t it?” Brian cut in, sounding a bit concerned.

“Takes after her daddy,” Justin drawled, paying his husband back in kind; and then yelped when Brian pinched him on the arm. “Ow! Spousal abuse!”

“I’ll show you spousal abuse later, twat,” Brian whispered in his ear, sending a shiver of anticipation tripping down his spine.

Amy laughed as she swished the wand a bit. “It’s perfectly normal at this stage, I assure you. Continuing on, see this fluttering thing right here – that is your baby’s heart. Shall we give it a listen?”

“Yes, please,” Justin nodded his hand squeezing Brian’s in his excitement; Brian’s squeezed back just as tightly as the sound of Sunbeam’s heartbeat surrounded them.

Justin closed his eyes, his throat constricting as that precious sound filled the room; he couldn’t hold back the tears any longer and one slid down his cheek. Sniffling, he startled when he felt a light touch on his face and opened his eyes to meet misty hazel as Brian desperately fought back tears of his own. Brian brushed the tear away and mouthed, ’I love you,’ before turning back to the screen.

Accepting a tissue from Amy, Justin dabbed at his eyes and returned his attention back to the monitor, where Sunbeam was once again moving around. He heard a click as Amy took  several screenshots for them to have later, along with the video.

“Hmmm…I was hoping that hearing the heartbeat would settle Sunbeam down,” Amy said as she flicked the sound off. “Often times the sound will soothe them and they’ll calm down; but it looks like Sunbeam is being a bit stubborn.”

“Like I said, just like his Papa,” Brian said, tongue in cheek.

“Oh, like you’re one to talk, Mr. Taylor-Kinney,” Justin retorted, pinching him in the side. “I’m pretty sure you invented the phase ‘stubborn as a mule.’”

“And that’s a nice, strong heartbeat, fluctuating between 145-150 beats per minute,” Amy said, cutting off their banter before they could get started again. A wise move, otherwise they’d never get done. “Which is right where we want it to be. So, were you hoping to find out the sex today?”

“Yes,” Justin said, a bit grudgingly; he still thought it would be fun to be surprised, but he had agreed and he’d stick to his word. Amy looked between the two of them questioningly and Justin smiled and nodded, waving off her concern. “We do want to find out if Sunbeam will let us.

“Okay,” Amy nodded; moving the wand around, trying to get a better view, but Sunbeam just kept shifting. “Such stubborn little tyke today. “

Justin shot Brian a warning glance and Brian just grinned and mimed a zipping motion over his lips.

“Can you shift to the other side, Justin,” Amy asked, pulling the wand away so that Justin could move on to his left side. “Maybe if we come at it this way, we’ll have better luck.”

Justin watched the screen from his new position, laughing as Amy tried and failed to get a clear vision of the baby’s genitals, until finally, she pressed the wand a bit firmer into Justin’s side and suddenly Sunbeam shifted.

“Ah, there we go!” Amy cried gleefully. “I thought that might do it; alright, are you boys ready to know what you’re having?”

… … … … …

Justin and Brian walked out of the doctor’s office, Justin tucked under Brian’s arm so that his husband could steer him as he beamed down at the stack of pictures in his hands. God, Sunbeam was already so beautiful to him and he couldn’t believe that this was really happening. It still seemed a bit surreal to him.

Only, now that they knew what they were having, he was feeling a bit guilty about not telling the others. He wanted to shout the news from the rooftop, but at the same time, he also wanted to tease his family just a little for all the hovering. Chewing on his bottom lip, he turned to Brian.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, and then paused, making Brian turn to him in concern. “Should we tell everyone the gender? I mean, part of me really wants them to suffer because of all this hovering nonsense; but the other part of me wants to stand on top of Babylon and shout it to the world.”

Brian laughed and kissed his cheek.

“Nah,” Brian snickered, pulling him tighter into his body. “Let them suffer. Besides, I hear that the pot has reached over five thousand recently; why spoil their fun? It will give someone a nice chunk of change if they can nail the sex, date and hour of birth.”

Justin chewed on his bottom lip some more and then nodded.

“You realize Deb is going to kill us,” Justin said with a grimace.

“Are you kidding?” Brian snorted as they came up to Justin’s SUV. “Who do you think started the pool? She’s set to make a mint off of this the longer it goes.” He paused to open the car door for Justin; and then continued as Justin got in. “Mother Taylor on the other hand; that is all on you, Sunshine.”

Chapter Text

January 10

Brian stamped his feet on doormat to get any loose snow of his shoes and cursed under his breath once more for having forgotten the garage remote this morning. Something he fully blamed on Justin as he’d been the one who’d stolen it out of brian’s car in the first place. And then, to make matters worse, had distracted him by being all warm and cute and cuddly under his mound of blankets, so that Brian hadn’t even been thinking of work or the very early staff meeting he’d scheduled; and subsequently had to rush to when Cynthia had called to remind him to bring the financial printouts with him.

So, he’d run around, getting dressed to the track of his giggling, oh-so-sympathetic husband, who just buried himself back under the blankets after Brian’s mad dash out of bed. It then led to him leaving the opener by the front door, since he grabbed his secondary set of keys from the den instead to save time when he picked up the necessary financials.

See, all Justin’s fault.

He opened the door and walked into the house, setting his briefcase down on the table by it as he nudged the door closed with his foot. Pulling of his jacket, he hung it on the coat rack and followed his nose toward the kitchen, his mouth watering when he saw Justin plating up some roasted veggies and grilled salmon.

“Hey, honey, I’m home!” Brian chirped, tongue in cheek, smirking when Justin rolled his eyes and walked over to place their plates on the table.

“Fuck off,” he snorted, and then squirmed when Brian came up behind him, wrapped his arms around his waist and pressed a kiss to his neck.

“What no kiss from the little….” Brian snickered, and then grunted when Justin dug his elbow into his ribs.

“If you want to keep your remaining ball,” Justin said, giving him the evil eye. “I’d suggest you not finish that sentence.”

Brian laughed, but wisely remained silent; Justin was still sore over some comment he’d overheard while they were shopping the other day, (and boy had that idiot run like the hounds of hell were after him once Justin got through with him); and Brian was quite fond of his dick and balls being right where they should be. There was no way in hell he was going to test his husband’s resolve on this matter.

Pressing soft kisses along Justin’s neck, Brian smiled against his skin when Justin sighed in contentment and leaned back into his body for a moment, before turning around to give Brian a thorough welcome home kiss. Sighing, Brian pulled back as air became necessary and rested his brow to Justin’s and allowed the tension from the day to slip away.

Justin tightened his arms around Brian’s waist, stood on tiptoe to press his lips to Brian’s forehead and then wiggled out of brian’s arms. Reluctantly, Brian let his husband go and sat down at the table, while Justin grabbed a salad and the shallot vinaigrette from the refrigerator. He tossed the salad with the vinaigrette, set it on the table and sat down next to Brian.

He’d been doing that a lot lately; rather than sitting across or kitty corner to him, Justin would snuggle up to Brian, his hand somewhere on his body, saying that he just wanted to be as close as possible to him. Personally, Brian thought the little tease was just trying to drive him mad with desire as his hormones had kicked up another notch recently.

“So, I saw Ted today,” Brian said, cutting into his salmon with his fork, and then popped it in his mouth, groaning when the taste of chile, lime, cumin and cilantro burst across his tongue. God, Justin was the best cook.

“Oh?” Justin asked, a pleased smile sliding across his face as Brian continued to verbalize his appreciation. “Where at? I thought he and Blake were planning to stick around home until Luc’s one month check up before venturing out.”

“At the office,” Brian said a bit absentmindedly, far too caught up in his meal to notice Justin’s frown at those words. “He showed up for the weekly staff meeting at the last minute looking like death warmed over.”

“Brian!” Justin chided, startling Brian until he thought back on what he said. “Please tell me you didn’t drag that poor man…”

“Hey, not my fault,” Brian cut in with a frown. “I told him to stay at home.” Justin flushed and sent him a sheepish smile. “What we didn’t count on was Ted being a helicopter parent and Blake, fed up with his constant hovering, kicked him out and told him not to come back for a few hours.”

Justin snickered and went back to his meal. “I can see that; he’s definitely worse than you when it comes to fretting.”

“Fretting?” Brian huffed, casting a mock offended look at his husband; Justin just sniggered in response. “I do not fret, fuck you very much. Fuck, you make me sound like someone’s maiden great aunt. With you, it’s a legitimate concern I’ll have you know; considering how well aware I am of your penchant for getting yourself into trouble.

“Don’t listen to Daddy, Sunbeam,” Justin said, patting his stomach as he addressed Sunbeam. “He totally frets even if he calls it by another name.”

“Lies, Sunbeam, all lies,” Brian snorted, and then turned in his chair and leaned down to kiss Justin’s stomach. Justin giggled and squirmed. Brian smirked; he turned back to his plate and continued eating, rolling his eyes as he remembered the meeting. “So, he decided to come to the meeting instead; not that it did any good in the end.”

 

”Fuck, Schmidt, you look like shit,” Brian said as the zombie that was his friend and CFO lurched through the door and slumped into a chair, completely ignoring the curious looks shot his way. “What the hell are you doing here? I know for a fact that you have nearly a month and a half left of paternity leave as I signed the paperwork myself.”

“Blake kicked me out,” Ted muttered, his eyes a mere slit as he rested his chin on his hand; and, frankly, looked like he’d fall over at any minute.

 

“Ah, you were hovering were you?” Brian snickered, and then laughed outright when Ted shot him a dirty look and flipped him off.

 

“Like you’re one to talk,” Ted snapped, and then rubbed a hand over his face and smiled sheepishly. “I do happen to know that you aren’t exactly hands off yourself.”

 

Brian arched a brow.

 

“Justin and Blake talk,” Ted smirked tiredly. “Every single day apparently. I swear, between Justin and Emmett, the phone is always fucking ringing.” He paused to look at Brian, whose confusion must have shown on his face. “I’m guessing you didn’t know about that. The three of them are thick as thieves and talk to each other about everything. It’s been even worse lately as Emmett has been making noises about starting to plan for yours and Justin’s baby shower.”

 

“Baby shower?” Brian asked; dread coating each word as a chill tripped its way down his spine. “What do you mean baby shower?”

 

“Ah, you didn’t actually think you were going to get out of an Emmett special, did you” Ted teased, sniggering at Brian’s more than horrified look. “Yeah, not happening. They have been talking themes and colors and games and favors and food to fit said theme. Emmett has been salivating for this day; there is no way in hell he’s going to give up planning the baby shower of the year.”

 

“That’s enough,” Brian said, holding up a hand; he so didn’t want to think about this right now. He had a meeting to run in about ten minutes, and didn’t need the added stress. He’d deal with it when he got home. “So why did Blake send you packing?”

 

“Blake said that my going in to constantly check on Luc was waking him up before his time,” Ted muttered, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck. “And he said, if Luc doesn’t sleep then he doesn’t get to sleep. And if he doesn’t sleep, you can bet my sweet ass that I wouldn’t be sleeping. And thus, he kicked me out of the house in order to salvage his sanity and my well-being; because if I didn’t leave, he wasn’t going to be held responsible for what he did.”

 

Brian threw his head back and laughed; a deep belly laugh that startled the employees that had already gathered in the conference room.

 

“Yeah, you laugh now,” Ted said with a smirk. “But in about five months, you’re going to be in my shoes and it won’t seem so funny then.”

 

“Theodore, I’m already there,” Brian snickered, a wicked grin on his face. “Justin has reached the point where sex is a thing that must happen at least twice a day, if not more. Sleep is not a thing that happens right now.”

 

“Twice a day?” Ted asked incredulously.

 

“Sometimes three or four depending on his mood.” Brian shrugged and smirked when Ted’s jaw dropped. “Close your mouth, Theodore; we don’t need you collecting flies.”

 

“Lucky bastard,” Ted grumbled, sinking back in his chair with a huff. “I was lucky if Blake wanted to have sex a few times a week; especially at the end. He complained that his skin was far too sensitive and he didn’t want to be touched.”

 

“Justin’s sensitive too,” Brian hummed, flipping the folder in front of him open when he saw Cynthia walk into the room and nod, letting him know the were ready. “But luckily, for me, he likes that thin edge between pleasure and pain; so, it’s been a lot of fun.”

 

“Asshole,” Ted muttered, opening his own folder.

 

“Watch it, Schmidt,” Brian snickered, and turned to his gathered staff so he could start the meeting. “I can still fire you, you know.”

 

Ted snorted, but didn’t say anything as Brian brought the meeting to order. He spent the next hour going over the new accounts that had been brought in that week and got updates on the current campaigns in progress, finding out where they stood and where they needed to focus in order to bring them up to date. They had just finished going over staffing needs and issues, when Brian flipped to the financials, which he was going to take care of; but since Ted was here, he’d have the man do it himself.

 

“And so, I’ll turn it over to Ted, and he can fill us in on the details,” Brian said, sitting back in his chair and waiting for Ted to take over the discussion. But when a few seconds had passed without any noise from that direction, Brian turned and prompted him again. “Ted?”

 

But the only thing that came out of Ted’s mouth was a loud snore, followed by a grunt and snuffle, much to the rest of the staff’s amusement. Brian pinched the bridge of his nose and mentally rolled his eyes skyward, begging for patience as everyone else around him chuckled when Ted kept right on snoozing without a care in the world.

 

“Ted!” Brian shouted, startling the other man out of his slumber; Ted snorted and jumped, looking around blurrily as if trying to figure out where exactly he was. He turned to Brian and quelled at his exasperated glare. “Go sleep in your fucking office so I can finish the meeting in peace.”

 

Ted flushed and quickly gathered his things before heading towards the door, only pausing as Brian admonished.

“And for fucks sake, Ted; the next time Blake kicks you out, go bug Justin or Emmett; some of us are trying to work here.”

 

Justin laughed at the retelling of the meeting, even if he did glare and swat Brian on the arm when he was recounting his conversation on their sex lives. Brian wasn’t sure why he was surprised by that; it’s not as if their very active sex life wasn’t known far and wide on Liberty Avenue. They’d never bothered to hide it.

“So, baby shower?” Brian asked, arching a brow as this had been the first he’d heard of it. He should have expected it though; he’d seen the fervent gleam in Emmett’s eye right after he and Justin announced their pregnancy.

“Nothing you have to worry your pretty, little head about, darling,” Justin simpered and batted his lashes; Brian just scowled. “I’ll just tell you the date once it’s been decided, and you only have to show up.”

“But…” Brian trailed off with a grimace when Justin leveled a gimlet stare in his direction.

“And you will show up if you know what’s good for you,” he stated firmly, his tone brooking no argument. Brian frowned, but knew better than to say anything. “I don’t expect you to play the games or do any of the silly rituals, as I know you’ll probably break out in hives if you had to, but you will be here. I’ll leave you to entertain Gus and Hunter.”

“Yes, dear,” Brian sniggered, making Justin roll his eyes.

“Besides, it’s not like I’m doing much myself, as Emmett has taken complete control...” Justin trailed off with a funny look on his face.

Brian furrowed his brow and watched Justin’s look of utter concentration, wondering what the fuck was going on with his husband now.

“Oh,” Justin exclaimed softly, his hand flying to his belly, which had started to develop some curvature to it lately. “Oh, wow that is…”

“Justin…” Brian looked at the hand clenched against Justin’s stomach, and then took in Justin’s stunned face with no little amount of alarm; made all the worse as Justin paled, sending a frisson of fear rippling down his spine. “Is everything okay? Is there something wrong with the baby?”

“Oh, Brian,” Justin said, his eyes tearing over; and that did nothing to reassure Brian. “It’s…it’s… I’m fine. I’m fine.” Brian looked at him skeptically. “No, really, I’m fine. I promise. It’s just that…I just felt the baby move.”

Brian’s eyes flew to Justin’s stomach and in an instant he was on the floor his hands on Justin’s stomach. But try as he might, he couldn’t feel anything, much to his disappointment.

“Do, you feel it?” Justin asked hoarsely, his eyes shining with joy as he took Brian’s hands and moved them to a bit lower on his stomach. “Right there.” But Brian couldn’t and shook his head in negation; Justin made a disappointed noise. “Well, they did warn us that it might take longer before you could feel it. But still...”

“What’s it like?” Brian asked, his hands caressing Justin’s stomach with wonder.

“It’s kind of like this fluttery feeling?” Justin said with a frown. “Only not? Maybe more like popcorn popping. You know like these quick, little, bubbling jabs. I don’t know how to explain it.” Justin paused, a small giggle of wonder bubbling out as his hand tightened over his stomach. “I thought I felt something yesterday, when were watching the ultrasound; but then I thought, I had to be imagining it just because I could see the baby squirming around on the monitor.”

“I wish I could feel it,” Brian said, pulling his hands away with some disappointment. He rested his hands on Justin’s hips and pressed a kiss to his stomach, and whispered.

“Soon, Sunbeam; soon.”

Chapter Text

January 11

Justin put a dab of yellow paint in the middle of the white daisy he’d painted on the wall and stood back to admire his handiwork. He was quite pleased with the way the forest mural was taking shape and couldn’t wait for the full thing to finally come together. Hopefully, that would be sooner rather than later; however, with the snail’s pace he'd had to work at, he had a feeling this project would take him much of his pregnancy.

Due to the potential toxicity of the paints and other chemicals he worked with, he'd promised to take this slowly and to work on it no more than four hours a day, broken up into one hour segments. A promise that Brian had extracted from him during one of their drawn-out lovemaking sessions, when Justin was far too weak and incoherent to do anything other than agree with him.

Sneaky bastard.

Not that he hadn’t agreed with the need to be careful, (even if he had ordered natural paints from BioShield and Valspar for this very reason). He just would have negotiated a couple of more hours of painting time per day if he’d been thinking straight. But once he’d promised, Brian wouldn’t budge on it and even told their housekeeper, Anna, the rules so she could pry Justin out of the room at the right time.

His husband could be an overbearing bastard sometimes.

The other conditions he’d been expected to meet, were that each time he painted, he had to wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, gloves and a filtered, face mask so that he didn’t breathe too many fumes; that combined with the room being well ventilated. As, while they hadn’t found any studies that showed that paint fumes were detrimental to the baby, neither of them were willing to take any chances with Sunbeam. All of which he complied to in order keep Brian from hovering over his shoulder.

But he had to admit, he really hated being swaddled up like a mummy. It was really annoying when he couldn't so much as push up his sleeves while he was painting without incurring his husband's wrath, but he did it to keep the peace.

He supposed that he could've saved himself the hassle and just hired out someone else to bring the mural to life like his mother suggested, but there was no way in hell that Justin would allow it. It was his baby, and his nursery, and his fucking vision. And oo one, but no one, other than him would be creating this particular wonderland. Even if it fucking took him right up until the day Sunbeam was born.

Setting the brush aside, Justin glanced at the clock and grimaced to see his time was nearly up. Something made evident by the heavy tread of footsteps on the stairs. Rolling his eyes, Justin took his brushes into the bathroom to wash, ignoring said footsteps as they got closer and closer to the door. Really, Brian was beyond predictable at times.

“Justin?” Brian called as soon as he stepped over the threshold of the nursery, and then went silent as he admired the new touches to the mural. Or so Justin guessed.

“In here,” Justin called, swishing his brushes through solvent, careful not to spill any on him. “I’m just cleaning my brushes.”

And then he mentally counted to three in his head and forced back of huff of irritation when Brian heaved the expected exasperated sigh. Honestly, you'd think that Justin wasn't able to take care of himself by the way he acted.

“I told you to let me take care of that,” Brian huffed as he stalked across the room and entered the bathroom with a frown.

“I can take care of it myself,” Justin griped, swatting Brian’s hands away. “Honestly, I’m pregnant; not a fucking invalid. I can manage to drag a paint brush back and forth through liquid on my own without any interference.”

“Yes, Justin,” Brian groused, grabbing at his paintbrush again. “You are pregnant, which is why it would be better that I deal with the potentially toxic chemicals.”

Fed up, Justin dropped the brush and whirled around, his hands on his hips.

“What toxic chemicals?” he demanded in a highly irritated voice; because as if he’d endanger himself and Sunbeam. “Everything I have been using is non-toxic from the natural-based paints to the cleaners; which, by the way, is a mixture of water and fabric softener. And still, I have been adhering to your rules of taking breaks often and bundling myself up like a fucking mummy just so you won’t bitch too much. You know I’d never do anything to harm Sunbeam.”

Brian just glared for a moment longer, and then huffed, his face softening as he walked over and leaned his brow against the top of Justin's head.

“I know,” Brian said with a sheepish smile on his face. He pressed a kiss to Justin’s temple as he whispered. “I just worry about you and Sunbeam. You are my life and I don’t want anything to happen to either of you.”

And really, that was just so unfair. How the hell was he supposed to stay angry when his husband said shit like that?

“Not fair,” he muttered for good measure; Brian just grinned like the unrepentant bastard that he was. “So, now that you know the helpless, little waif is perfectly capable of taking care of himself – go away so I clean my damned brushes."

Brian snorted, but backed away with his hands held up in supplication.

“I’ll meet you down in the kitchen for lunch, Sunshine,” Brian said, a tongue in cheek smirk on his face. “I want to make sure that I get my fill before you and your bottomless pit of a stomach ravage it leaving me to waste away to nothing.”

Justin scowled; had he mentioned his husband can be an irritating asshole at times?

Justin flipped him off, muttering under his breath as Brian just laughed and walked out of the room, presumably to go get said lunch. Like it was Justin’s fault that Sunbeam had made his already healthy appetite nearly voracious.

He finished cleaning his brushes and set them into a container to dry, and then dumped the ‘solvent’ into a slop bucket for later disposal. He quickly stripped off his gloves and mask and set them to the side and all but galloped down the back stairs leading directly into the kitchen, his stomach growling. He strode through the door and over the sink, pushed up his sleeves and washed his hands.

“So, what’s on the menu today?” Justin asked, looking over at Brian, who was spooning up something up into a bowl.

“Anna made butternut squash soup yesterday,” Brian said as he set the bowl aside and filled another with the fragrant soup. “I know it’s one of your favorites. So, I heated that up, made a quick salad and grilled some chicken for sandwiches. You’ll have to have to make your own sandwich, however, as I have no idea what you want on it.”

Justin snorted as he saw Brian cringe a little as he said that last part. While most of his strange cravings were due to Sunbeam, he did admit that sometimes he just couldn’t help messing with Brian a bit when it came to his food combinations. Luckily for him, today, Justin just wanted his normal chicken sandwich. Walking over to the cupboard, he pulled the honey wheat bread down and quickly assembled a sandwich with cranberry aioli, chicken, pepper jack, spinach and tomatoes.

He set his sandwich next to the bowl of soup and then walked over to pull out plates for their salad. He handed them off to Brian and grabbed a couple of tangerines and a banana to add to the growing pile next to his plate before grabbing the milk and pouring himself a large glass. He set it down by his plate and looked around, just knowing he was missing something, but he couldn’t figure out what.

Justin shrugged and sat down, and helped himself to the salad, while Brian just watched in amusement. He took a few bites of his meal, listening as Brian started filling him in on one of their new accounts, and then he frowned as he tasted the soup. Taking another bite, he swirled it over his palate, his frown deepening. It was good; really good actually, but there was just something missing.

“Is something wrong?” Brian asked, halting his commentary with a wary look.

“This needs something,” Justin said as he got up from the table and walked over to the refrigerator and began to dig through it.

“Of course it does,” Brian said in resignation; and Justin would have found the dread written all over his face amusing if he hadn’t been far too busy looking for that elusive thing that the soup needed.

“Ah ha!” He exclaimed and pulled out a little pot of crème fraîche. And then he spied the apple pie from the night before and pulled that out too.

Justin happily made his way back to the table with his finds, snickering when Brian sighed with relief at his newest additions. He spooned a large dollop of the crème fraîche into his soup and swirled it around and then took another bite, humming happily when the soup was now perfect. He quickly demolished the sandwich, salad, fruit and the soup and was just reaching for the pie when Brian huffed.

“You know, Sunshine,” Brian said, his voice dry as the Sahara. “When the doctor said that you should consume an extra three hundred calories, I’m pretty sure that she meant three hundred a day, not per meal.”

Justin scowled and flipped Brian off for the second time that day; because, really? He was just asking to get his ass kicked at this point if was implying that - in any way, shape or form - that Justin was getting fat. He was barely showing as it was and thought he was doing pretty well for four months pregnant.

“My, we are tetchy today,” Brian snickered as he finished his salad; he stood and came up behind Justin to grab his plate, crowding him as he leaned down to whisper hotly against his ear. “It’s a good thing that I know exactly how to deal with tetchy little boys; don’t I, Sunshine?” Justin paused mid bite, his dick going zero to sixty in less than a second. Fuck his hormones; especially when Brian licked the shell of his ear and said. “And I have the perfect way to work off those excess calories.”

Justin looked down at his plate for a second and then, dropping his fork, quickly stood and grabbed Brian by his shirt and dragged him out of the room.

The pie could definitely wait.

Chapter Text

January 12

He had been walking through the park when he saw them – the man of his dreams and the bastard that stole him away from him. They were walking hand in hand with their son and their son’s sister, a merry little band chattering away as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Like they hadn’t ripped his heart out and stomped on it.

He fought to take a deep breath, but couldn’t, his lungs constricting as he watched the bastard kiss his beautiful love softly on the lips, lingering for several seconds even as the boy gagged and made faces and the girl smiled dreamily at the two. The bastard pulled away and smiled softly, his hand caressing the stomach as they continued on their way.

His love laughed, and just shook his head at something, completely oblivious to anything but the bastard; and he seethed, his blood boiling as he realized the implications of the caress. The baby that was the bane of his existence. The little parasite that kept his love trapped and bound to the bastard and away from his side where he belonged. If there was only a way to get rid of the little interloper, he was certain that whatever spell the bastard had his love under would break and he could be there to pick up the pieces and mend his love’s broken heart.

Sliding out of the shadows, he followed his love and the others at a safe distance, making sure to keep to the trees or behind the bushes, as he knew if the bastard saw him, he would whisk his beauty away and then he wouldn’t see him again for some time. It seemed like he could never get close to his love anymore; at least not alone as that bastard was constantly attached to his side.

He halted as the little group stopped by a bench and his love and the bastard sat down, each ever so solicitous to the other that it made him sick. His stomach churned and he nearly frothed at the mouth as he watched the bastard’s hands soothe his love and the way his love reciprocated, ever drawn into the web the bastard spun to keep him there. It made him physically ill as those caresses took a more intimate turn in his mind, and suddenly he was watching them in the backroom at Babylon, their hands sliding over naked skin and their lips everywhere as the bastard brought his love to orgasm.

The only good thing about those times was how beautiful his love looked in the throes of pleasure; the way he just lost himself to moment, his head tipped back, soft lips parted, his hands clenched in the bastard’s hair as he stiffened and came. He could easily imagine himself in the bastard’s place. That it was his lips on his love’s and his hands sliding over his love’s creamy skin; that it was his mouth swallowing his love whole and his hair his love gripped as he came down his throat.

He knew that if he'd only had the chance, he could make his love forget about the bastard. He’d had the chance once, but he squandered it, pulling away and his love shrugged him off without even batting an eye. But this time, when he got his chance, when he got his love alone, he wouldn’t waste the opportunity. He’d bind his love to him forever and he would never let his beauty go.

Taking a deep breath, he carefully walked into the shrubbery behind them, curious as to what they were talking about. Given the way the girl was waving her arms in excitement and gesturing, it had to do something with the parasite. He scowled, his stomach souring at the reminder; he had to do something about that and soon. Like hell was he going to lose his love to this interloper.

Stepping carefully, he halted about six feet away and listened in, scowling when the girl called the blonde papa and the brunet just smiled and did nothing.

… … … … …

“It was really cool, Papa J,” Jenny said, her excitement obvious by the way she waved and fluttered her hands. “The couple took a small video of the mother’s stomach each day as the mother started showing and then they edited it all together and ran it at two or four times the speed or something like that so it looked like the stomach was expanding at a fast pace. And I thought it would make a cool end of the year project for Gus’ mass media class, but he’s too shy to ask.”

“Shut up, Jenny,” Gus huffed, glaring at his sister. “I wasn’t too shy; I just couldn’t find the right time to ask.”

“Well, you need to,” Jenny huffed, casting a glare at her brother. “Papa J is just starting to show, and if they don’t start the recordings now, you won’t be able to capture most of the pregnancy before you have to edit the clips for your class.”

“I know,” Gus huffed and then pulled his lip between his teeth. “I just…”

“Okay, enough bickering you two,” Justin said, holding a hand out in front of him in a hushing motion; he turned to Brian and arched a brow. “What do you say, Bri; think you’re up to filming my stomach for what…” Justin trailed off and looked at Gus, “thirty seconds a day? Would that be enough footage to work with?”

“That would be perfect, Jus,” Gus said, smiling shyly. “If you don’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t mind, Gus,” Justin smiled and reached over to ruffle the boy’s hair much to Gus’ annoyance. Justin turned back to Brian. “Well, honey. Think you can stand filming me a few seconds every day?”

“Oh, I suppose I can take a few seconds out of my busy schedule and force myself to do it,” Brian said, a tongue in cheek smirk pasted on his face; and then he leaned in to whisper in Justin’s ear. “It’s not like it’s a hardship to ogle your body.”

“Dad!” Gus exclaimed, and then groaned and covered his face with his hands as Justin flushed. Jenny just looked between the three puzzled as she hadn’t heard what had been said between her Papa J and Uncle Brian. “Must you?”

“Yes,” Brian smirked, dodging when Justin went to smack him on the back of the head.

“But you have to wear the same thing every day for it to work, Papa J,” Jenny said, shrugging it off as one of those things she’d understand when she was older. “So, maybe you can wear like a pair of black track pants and a plain white or plain black t-shirt?”

“We’ll figure it out, Jenny girl,” Brian reassured her, rubbing his hand over Justin’s stomach. “Don’t you worry about it. You know what an artistic perfectionist your Papa J is. He’ll make sure everything is exact before we shoot the film each day.”

“Wicked!” Gus grinned, his face lighting up with excitement. “Thanks Jus, Dad; I can’t wait to work on this project. It’s going to turn out so cool. And maybe you can help me with it, Jus. You know when I start piecing things together.”

“Of course, Sonny Boy,” Justin nodded, a content smile on his face. “You know that I’d be happy to help.”

“Well, you ready to continue our walk, Sunshine?” Brian said, getting to his feet. “You know what the doc said; you need to make it a habit to get some exercise every day.” Brian paused, then leaned down to whisper, "And not just between the sheets."

Justin flushed and pinched Brian in the side, snickering when he yelped.

“Yup,” Justin said with a sigh, massaging his stomach with his hand as he stood. “I just needed to sit for a moment; my stomach’s been sore lately."

“You okay, Sunshine?” Brian asked, wrapping his arm around the slight blonde, a concerned look on his face.

“I’m fine,” Justin said, waving the concern off. “The doc told me that it was perfectly normal right now as my ligaments are stretching as the pregnancy progresses. Let’s get going. Sunbeam is hungry.”

“Sunbeam is always hungry, Papa J,” Jenny giggled as they set off down the park path once more. Gus nodded emphatically, and then shuddered as he recalled the last time he’d seen his Jus eat, making Brian laugh and squeeze his shoulder in sympathy.

Justin rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, since Sunbeam is steering this ship, there is not much I can do at the moment. Shall we go to the diner? I could go for a double bacon cheeseburger and some onion rings right now.”

“I’m sure you could,” Brian snorted, leading his little family down the park path and towards Liberty Diner. “But when you get heartburn from it later tonight, don’t bitch to me. I will feel no sympathy for your food choices.”

… … … … …

Hate, thick and black as tar, bubbled inside him as he watched his love walk away in the arms of the bastard, both wrapped up in the other and with not a care in the world. He clenched his hands into fists, and watched as his love looked back over his shoulder, a weird expression on his face, and he could only hope that he was feeling the pull between them too. But soon enough, he turned away, back to that asshole, and continued down the path.

Soon. Soon he would have his beauty all to himself, and there was nothing that the bastard could do to stop him.

Chapter Text

January 13 (Part One)

Brian closed the file on his desk and sat back in his chair; he rubbed the back of his neck and tried to decide what needed his attention most when a commotion arose outside his door. Sighing, he pinched the bridge of his nose just knowing that whatever was headed his way was going to piss him off and give him a headache.

Sinking further into his chair, Brian steepled his fingers and watched the door, a bland expression on his face. And just in time too as the door went flying open to reveal his mother and his very harassed looking personal assistant, Yasmeen. Sighing internally, he wondered what the fuck his mother wanted now. It couldn’t be money seeing as he'd given her a sizeable sum not even ten days before.

Or at least, it better not be money, because like hell was he going to continue funding her benders.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Kinney,” Yasmeen said, glowering at the woman in his office as if she were ready to drop kick the bitch out the door at the slightest indication from Brian. “I tried to stop her, but you know what she’s like. Some people just don’t know how to take ‘get the hell out’ in the light in which it was meant.”

Brian snorted in amusement and thanked God each and every day that Cynthia had managed to hire this woman for his assistant. Life was never dull around here since she’d started manning the desk outside his office, and she was surprisingly tolerable for a breeder. He’d even go as far as to say that he liked her and considered her a friend; not that he’d ever admit it aloud as Justin would never let him live it down.

“Brian, are you going to let this…woman…talk to me that way?” his mother demanded, looking down her nose at Yasmeen.

Yasmeen just stared her down, not in the least intimidated.

“Yes,” he replied, eyeing his mother blandly, and letting her draw her own conclusions as to what he meant by that; he then turned back to Yasmeen with a thin smile. “I do indeed know what she’s like. Thank you, Yasmeen; I’ll take it from here. Keep security on alert would you? If she isn’t gone in fifteen minutes, feel free to have them…escort her out.”

“As you wish, Mr. Kinney,” Yasmeen smirked, and then threw a vicious smile his mother’s way and walked out, shutting the door behind her. Yes, he quite liked her.

Heaving a tired sigh, he turned back to his mother and arched a brow, internally snickering at the sour expression on her face. Hey, act like a bitch, and you get treated like the bitch that you are.

“So, Mother; what has you slithering out from underneath your rock today?” Brian drawled sarcastically, a bored expression on his face.

“How dare you let that…,” Joanie spluttered indignantly, her back poker stiff. “I am your mother, and I will not have you or any of your staff speaking to me that way.”

“Like I give two fucks what you want, Joanie,” Brian sneered, rolling his eyes at her dramatics; honestly, you would have thought she’d learned by now that he didn’t give one flying fuck what she thought. “Now tell me why you’re here or get the hell out of my office. And before you begin, if the words ‘I need more money,’ are any where in your explanation, you can turn right around and get the fuck out. I will not support your sherry habit any more than I already have.”

“As if I would turn to you in my time of need,” Joan sniffed, turning her nose up at him. Brian just rolled his eyes at her attitude.

“So, I’m guessing you’ll be handing back that $2500 you requested earlier this month?” he asked, arching a brow; and then sniggered when she looked startled by the implications of that question. Of course, Claire hadn’t said anything.

“What are you talking about?” Joan asked stiffly, a pensive frown on her face. “Claire gave me that money.”

“Where the fuck do you think she got it from?” Brian snorted, shaking his head at his mother’s blindness when it came to her favored child. “Do you honestly think that Claire has $2500 to pull out of her ass when she’s living on alimony, child support and a low-paying temp job? Please. She was up at my place whining about my duty and I gave it to her the money just so she would shut the hell up and get out of my house.”

“She said…” Joan retorted, her arms crossed over her chest

“Whatever,” Brian cut in wearily, holding his hand up to cut off anything that she might have added to that statement; he really didn’t want to hear it. “Don’t care what lies she’s been feeding you. Now, what do you want?”

His mother pressed her lips together, obviously irritated at being cut off and simply stared at him in disapproval. But she was wasting her time. He’d gotten over her dismissal of him and his life a long time ago. So he just stared right back at her, and impatiently gestured for her to get on with it. She huffed.

“I heard that you and that…that boy…” she began, her mouth pursing as if she’d just sucked on a box of lemons.

“You mean my husband?” Brian interrupted, smirking when she glared at him; she still hadn’t gotten over the fact that he and Justin had ‘sullied the institution of marriage’ by getting hitched; her words, not his. And he just loved to rub her nose in it.

“That you and that boy were having a child,” Joan spat, still refusing to acknowledge Justin’s place in his life. Whatever. He just wanted this over with.

“Yeah,” Brian asked, arching a brow as if to say, ‘and your point is?’

“How could you?” Joan spat, her body trembling as she stared at Brian in betrayal.

“It was really quite easy,” Brian said with a sardonic smile. “I tossed out the condoms, he went off his birth control and then I fucked his brains out until I finally knocked him up. Had lots of fun doing it to. You should know the basic mechanics as you must have done it a time or two yourself.” Brian paused in contemplation. “Well, jury is still out on Claire. She might have just slithered out from whatever rock you like to hide under; which would make sense when you think about it as like recognizes like.”

“It’s a sin and an abomination before the eyes of God. Men were not meant to be together and they certainly weren’t meant to have babies. It is the role of a woman and the Bible says…” Joan blustered, her face screwed up in disgust.

“Like I give a shit what your 2000-plus-year-old rules have to say about the proper roles of a man and a woman,” Brian sneered. “They have nothing to do with me, or my life. Life changes and evolves every day. And if we were to believe that God is the puppetmaster in charge of all of creation; then obviously he doesn’t have a problem with it as he would have been responsible for the change in the male physiology as well.”

His mother blanched, her lips compressing so tightly at his words that they disappeared.

“The only true abomination here is you, Joanie,” he continued in a cold tone, thoroughly fed up with his mother’s presence. “And your complete inability to be a decent human being. And frankly, I don’t have time for this bullshit. If the only reason you’ve come to see me is to tell me yet again that we are going to hell, you’re wasting yours and my valuable time because I couldn’t care less. But be sure to take it up with the big guy once you do me the favor of croaking and leaving me the fuck alone.”

His mother gave an affronted gasp, her hand flying to her throat.

“If you even get there,” Brian smirked, an amused glint in his eyes. “After all, how many passages mention the supposed sin of homosexuality and how many mention leaving judgment in the hands of your God and treating people with kindness and dignity? I wouldn’t be gilding your cloud just yet, as I doubt you’ve lived a good enough life to warrant it. My guess is you’re headed straight to purgatory; if you’re lucky. I doubt you even warrant that. After all, purgatory is for repenting sinners and you’re far too sanctimonious to ever truly repent for your sins against me and the world in general.”

Brian snickered as his mother glowered at his words. Brian looked down, and noticed a red light on, his snickers turning into hearty chuckles as he realized that Yasmeen was likely listening to the whole thing. And if he knew her well at all, she was recording it to send to strategic people around the office, friends, family and people within Joanie’s church group. You’d think his mother would have learned not to piss her off the first time around.

“You’re going straight to hell…” Joan spat, practically frothing at the mouth.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Brian interrupted, dismissing her with a careless wave o his hand. “Been there, done that, heard it all; do get a new line as that one is getting a bit worn out and is losing its power.” Brian paused and watched as his mother opened and closed her mouth like a landed fish; but he just pointed towards the door. “I’m sure you can find your way out. I’d hurry if I were you; Yasmeen isn’t known for her patience when it comes to sanctimonious bitches.”

His mother stared at him, her lips quivering, but whether it was in rage or sorrow or humiliation, he didn’t know and didn’t care. He’d written her off the day she'd stood in Claire’s house and accused him of molesting the little shit that tried to steal from him. He raised a disinterested brow and made a ‘well, get on with it’ gesture, and silently watched as his mother turned stiffly on her heel and headed toward the door.

However, before she left there was one more thing.

“Just one question before you leave,” Brian said, halting Joanie’s progress; his mother turned to look at him. “How did you find out? I know I haven’t told Claire; or anyone that you would socialize with for that matter.”

“I ran into that Novotny boy at the store,” his mother sniffed, making Brian’s hackles instantly rise. “What was his name?”

“Michael?” Brian said between clenched teeth, ignoring the small gasp on the other side of the intercom; one that his mother didn’t hear thankfully.

“Yes, that’s it,” Joanie said in a huffy voice. “He told me since my own flesh and blood couldn’t be bothered.”

“I see,” Brian said tightly, his hands clenching into fists as he tried to make sense of this new betrayal on Michael’s part. Because he damned well knew Michael hadn’t told Joan out of any excitement or joy for the occasion.

He’d deal with that later.

“Well, mother, we shouldn’t keep you,” He smiled tightly and shooed her out the door. “I’m sure there is some poor soul out there that needs praying for; and I certainly wouldn’t want to interfere with your ongoing and passionate love affair with the bottle. Do take care of yourself and feel free to never darken my door again.”

Joan huffed again and the stormed off, the door slamming in her wake.

“And to the nosy assholes in the other room,” Brian said, finally addressing his audience; rolling his eyes when his words were met with several chortles, proving that it wasn’t just Yasmeen out there. “I’ll be taking the rest of the day off; now get back to work!”

Brian watched as the light flickered off; he shut down his computer, packed his remaining files into his briefcase, gathered his things and headed for the door.

… … … … …

Brian walked through the door, thankful to be home, and hoping for peace and quiet; but was quickly dispelled of that notion when he was met with the loud, strident voice of Deb, the smooth, cultured tones of Mother Taylor, and the irritated voice of a certain blonde bombshell, who sounded like he was seconds from exploding. He sighed and slammed the door to announce his presence, grateful when the voices halted and he was attacked by a blonde whirlwind at the end of his last thread.

“Thank God, you’re home,” Justin huffed as he pressed his nose into Brian’s neck and nearly squeezed the life out of him. “If I had to deal with them for one more second, I would not have been held responsible for what happened. Do something! Before I lose it and kill both of our very well-intentioned, but annoying mothers.”

Brian chuckled and pressed his lips to Justin’s temple and just breathed him in for a minute, allowing some of the tension of the day to slide away. “What is it with fucking mothers today? All I need now is to have Lindsay call and my day would be complete.”

“What?” Justin asked, pulling back to look at him in the face, a concerned frown on his face. “What happened? Why are you home so early?”

“Later,” Brian promised, kissing his husband softly on the lips. “For now, let me go slay your dragon, my fair damsel.”

“Fuck you,” Justin hissed as he pulled away, his annoyance reasserting itself. “It’s not me you have to save, but them; because if I hear one more word about how I should handle my own fucking pregnancy, I might just kill them both.”

“Easy there, tiger,” Brian laughed and wrapped his arms around his husband once more, happy to be home and with the man that he loved. “Let’s go send our mommies packing and then I will show you just how much I appreciate you.”

Chapter Text

January 13 (Part Two)

Justin sat back with smile, taking in the newest details he’d added to the mural. It had been a good day so far and he’d accomplished a lot. Especially given the fact that Anna had taken the day off to visit her daughter and newest grandson, (something he’d failed to mention to Brian), and Brian was at work, leaving him to his own devices. And he’d spent the last two hours painting without interruption.

He supposed that he should feel bad about not taking a break between the two hours as he promised, but the restrictions had been chafing lately; and as long as he didn’t overdo it, he didn’t see any reason why he couldn’t work a bit longer if he was feeling up to it.

Plus it was just nice having the house to himself, surrounded by peace and quiet rather than all too helpful people hovering over his every move. No one there making sure that he was eating right. No one there questioning if he needed to rest for just a minute or two. (Honestly, if he wanted a nap, he would take a fucking nap.) No one there telling him that a certain activity is inadvisable for his condition.

He knew they only did this out of love and concern, but Justin had always been an independent person. Even as a child, he’d preferred to do things his own way and in his own time. It had been the bane of his mother’s existence as she'd never known how to deal with an assertive Justin, with very clear opinions about the things in his world; a son that didn’t really need her guidance.

It was part of the reason why she'd had such a difficult time when he came out; Justin was once again embarking on a journey she had no say in and was going places where she couldn’t follow him, no matter how much she wanted to smooth the path for him.

Sighing, Justin set his paintbrush aside and swiped a hand over his face. This was probably as good a stopping point as any. Plus, he was getting hungry since it was just after one in the afternoon and he hadn’t eaten lunch yet. Standing up, he quickly cleaned his brushes and had just set them in a jar to dry when the doorbell rang.

Frowning, Justin took off his mask and gloves, and laid them on a table as he walked past. He couldn’t fathom who could be at the door as he wasn’t expecting anyone; and Brian sure as hell would have told him if he was expecting a delivery today. Trotting down the stairs, Justin huffed in exasperation as the doorbell impatiently peeled again.

“I’m coming,” he called, doubting whoever was at the door would hear him, but saying it nonetheless just in case they could.

Striding into the foyer, he quickly ran a hand through his hair and then scrubbed his hands on his jeans to make sure there was no paint on them. God forbid he get paint on the handle and it dried; or worse, gets on one of Brian’s suits. That was a queen out he wanted no part of if he could at all help it. Grasping the handle, he opened the door and then stared at the people standing on his doorstep with a small frown.

“Mom, Deb,” Justin greeted hesitantly, wondering why they’d driven all the way out to West Virginia and why Deb was carrying a box with her. “What are you doing here?”

“Sunshine!” Deb greeted, kissing the air next to his cheek as she pushed her way into the house. Not that he’d tell her no, but it would have been nice if she’d waited until he’d extended an invitation. “We heard that Anna was visiting with her newest grandbaby today and figured that now would be a good time to visit since you were up here all by your lonesome.”

“Oh, really?” Justin said, desperately trying to hold onto that thread of calm that had enveloped him since Brian went to work, but now had shattered with the appearance of more well-meaning minders. “And where did you hear this?”

“Hello, sweetheart,” his mother said as she walked past, kissing him on the cheek before she followed Deb into the kitchen. Justin rolled his eyes and closed the door, knowing he had no other choice than to follow them. “A friend of mine at work is a cousin or an aunt or something, and she mentioned in passing that Laurell had her baby this weekend; why didn’t you say anything? I would have loved to have gone to the hospital and brought them a gift.

“Laurell said she didn’t want any visitors for the first couple of weeks,” Justin said as he entered the kitchen, watching Deb with a wary look. “She'd been inundated with family as it was the last couple of weeks and didn’t want any more people underfoot while trying to deal with a new baby.

“Well, it’s a good thing we heard about through Linda then,” Deb cackled as she began unpacking her box, taking out tray after tray of frozen food. “Otherwise you might have starved up here all by yourself.”

Justin tried not to take offense at the implication that he wasn’t able to care for himself; but given he’d just gotten rid of two mother hens just hours before, he was having a tough time not snapping at the woman he considered a second mother. He took a deep breath and then let it out slowly, releasing the tension in his shoulders as he did so.

“What is all of this?” he asked, still puzzled as too why Deb was filling his freezer with food when anyone could see that he had a full fridge.

“I thought that would be pretty obvious, Sunshine,” Deb huffed, setting aside one of the trays on the counter by the oven. She walked over and turned the oven on and then turned back to Justin with her hands on her hips and a hearty laugh on her lips. “You know, you cannot exist on sex alone! You guys have to eat to keep up your strength.”

Justin bristled at that comment, knowing full well that somehow Deb was blaming Brian for some made up offense in her head. It was as if she was implying that Brian couldn’t take care of him; and considering how he couldn’t seem to get Brian to stop hovering to save his life, that was a false assumption. He opened his mouth to set her straight, but was cut off by his mother, as always, playing the peace keeper.

“We just thought we would bring something over so you didn’t have to make something for yourself,” his mother said, shooting him a chiding look.

Justin’s mouth snapped closed, but he was hardly appeased. God, he hated when his mother infantilized him. She did this same damned thing after he’d been bashed. He hated it then, at a mere 18, and he definitely hated it now as a 30-year-old man. He did not need to be scolded like a child that didn’t know his own mind.

“You know, I have plenty of food here and am quite capable of putting together some soup and a sandwich on my own,” Justin said, trying to keep his tone even.

“Oh, I know that, sweetheart,” his mother said with placating smile, patting him on the cheek as if he was fucking ten. “But, we were in the neighborhood and thought why not stop by and keep you company this afternoon.”

Justin snorted skeptically and arched a brow, but otherwise ignored the blatant lie. He and Brian lived thirty minutes outside of Pittsburgh. His mom, he could potentially see as being in the neighborhood if she’d just shown a house nearby. His mom and Debbie, who just happened to show up with with a box full of food; not very likely.

“Besides, there is nothing like a hot meal that will stick to your ribs,” Deb said and she pulled a piece of foil off of the tray she’d set aside. “You’ve always been much too thin, Sunshine; and you’re eating for two now.”

Justin pinched the bridge of his nose, but decided not to say anything as he knew it wouldn’t do any good anyways.

“Now, you just sit your cute, little tush right there, Sunshine," Deb said, pointing to one of the stools by the counter. “While I put this batch of lasagna in and then get started on some garlic bread, and your Mom makes up a salad for the three of us.”

Justin turned around and rolled his eyes, but did indeed sit down at the indicated stool. He propped his chin on his hand and wearily watched his mom and Deb work with an ease that alluded to the number of family dinners he and Brian had held over the years. They knew their way around his kitchen, having taken it over at least once a month since they'd moved out here. They chattered amongst themselves until finally his mother turned around and eyed his clothing with a funny expression on her face.

“So, is it laundry day?” she asked, slicing the mushrooms she’d just cleaned.

“No,” Justin said, a wary frown on his face as he tried to figure out just where she was going with that question. “Why would you think that?”

“Oh, well,” his mother said, and the paused thoughtfully; she studied his appearance with a pensive frown that had Justin’s hackles rising once more. “It’s just that you’re wearing your painting clothes. I thought maybe it was because you were doing laundry.”

“Yes,” Justin said, drawing out the vowel; he had a bad feeling he knew where this was going. “What else would I wear while painting?”

“What do you mean ‘what else would you wear while painting’? Deb exclaimed, turning around to pin Justin with an incredulous look.

“Well, I can’t very well wear my Armani,” Justin joked, trying to lighten the atmosphere; because like hell was he going to have them interfering with this. “I’m pretty sure that if I were to do so, Brian would have a queen out of epic proportions.”

“You’re still painting?” his mother asked, nonplussed as she halted her slicing.

“Yes,” Justin said almost as if he were talking to a small child; he knew he would get his ass chewed for it likely, but really where the fuck was this going? So he decided to voice that thought and hope like fuck it wasn’t leading where he thought it was. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I just thought…” Jen paused, shooting him a disapproving look; but whether it was for his earlier snark or his answer, he didn’t know. “What are you working on?”

“The mural for the nursery, of course,” Justin said, his head already beginning to ache; he just knew this wasn’t going to end well.

“I thought you were going to hire someone to do that,” his mother said with a frown, but continued slicing vegetables for the salad.

“No,” Justin said, his patience beginning to thin once again. “I want to do it myself; I designed it, and I want to paint it.”

“You should listen to your mother, kiddo,” Deb broke in at that moment, interrupting their little staring contest. “You need to be careful of what you do in your delicate condition.”

A frisson of irritation shot down Justin’s spine and he was this close to telling his two very well-intentioned, but absolutely annoying mothers to fuck off and leave him alone.

“It’s just that,” his mother said in that placating tone that always irritated him as a teenager; the one she used when she thought she knew better, but really didn’t know shit about what was best for him. “When you’re pregnant, sweetheart; you’ll find that you get tired much more easily and it might be better if you had someone to help you.”

“I think I’m perfectly capable of knowing just how far I...,” Justin began through clenched teeth, but then halted when he heard the front door slam.

He glanced at the wall clock over the table and frowned; it was far too early for Brian to be home, but he couldn’t think of anyone else it could be. The only other people that had keys to the house were his mom, who was there; Ted, who was at home with Blake; and Cynthia, who was on a trip. Turning on his heel, he hurried out of the kitchen and sighed with relief when he caught sight of his husband in the foyer.

“Thank God, you’re home,” Justin said as he threw himself into Brian’s arms and buried his nose into his husband’s neck, instantly grounding himself in the man that he loved. “If I had to deal with them for one more second, I would not have been held responsible for what happened. Do something! Before I lose it and kill both of our very well-intentioned, but annoying mothers.”

Brian chuckled, wrapped his arms around him and pressed a kiss to his temple as he muttered, “What is it with fucking mothers today? All I need now is to have Lindsay call and my day would be complete.”

“What?” Justin asked, frowning at the words; he studied Brian’s face and noted the lines of stress gathered on his brow and at the corners of his eyes. He turned what he said over in his head and wondered what the fuck Joan Kinney wanted this time. “What happened? Why are you home so early?”

“Later,” Brian promised, a small smile of gratitude on his lips as he pressed them softly to Justin’s. “For now, let me go slay your dragon, my fair damsel.”

“Fuck you,” Justin spat, his hackles instantly rising as he scowled at his husband. “It’s not me you have to save, but them; because if I hear one more word about how I should handle my own fucking pregnancy, I might just kill them both.”

“Easy there, tiger,” Brian laughed, catching him back in his arms and keeping him from doing just that. He pressed his lips to Justin’s ear, and murmured against them, sending a shiver down Justin’s spine. “Let’s go send our mommies packing and then I will show you just how much I appreciate you.”

Which of course is when the mother hens decided they couldn't leave well enough alone.

“Jesus fuck, Brian,” Deb exclaimed as she walked in the room, Justin’s mother on her heels. “Can’t you go a fucking day without get your dick sucked or fucking an ass? Think of Sunbeam! You can’t be expecting Justin to take care of your needs in his condition. He’ll be showing before you know it and then where will you be? Right, Sunshine?”

It was at that point that Justin, fed up with all the fucking minders in his life, simply snapped.

“Sure,” he said, his voice dripping in sarcasm as he turned and bared his teeth at the women he usually loved, but seemed determined to tread on every last nerve he had today. “You first.” Deb and his mother frowned at his words, not understanding what he meant, but it quickly turned into a gasp when he continued. “After all, you should probably slow down due to your age. I can’t imagine that you’re all that flex…”

Justin’s voice cut off as Brian quickly covered his mouth with his hand. Hissing, he glared at his husband, but subsided when Brian just arched a brow.

"That's enough of that,” Brian said, looking between the three of them with no little exasperation. “I'm thinking it's Sunshine's nap time; so, if you ladies don't mind showing yourselves out, I'm going to go tuck him in."

“Whatever,” Justin muttered after Brian released him; and then he stormed off to his studio without uttering another word, leaving Brian to smooth things over.

Chapter Text

January 15 – 19 Weeks

Brian looked up from his computer, startled when a flushed and frantic Justin stormed into the room, slamming and locking the door behind him. Alarmed, Brian sat up straight in his chair and opened his mouth to ask his husband what was wrong, but never got the opportunity as he was hit with a lapful of blond hurricane intent on devouring him as if he were his last meal.

Gripping Justin's hips as he straddled him, Brian groaned when the blond took immediate possession of his mouth, licking his tongue into his mouth and tangling it with his. Sliding his hands up into Justin's hair, he tangled his fingers into the strands and tugged, twisting Justin's head into a better position. Justin's hands slid into his suit jacket and pushed it off his shoulders as they battled for dominance of the kiss; a battle that Justin won this time as he lured Brian's tongue into his mouth and sucked on it. He sucked, nipped and teased the inside of Brian's mouth until finally they had to come up for air or black out.

"Christ, Sunshine," Brian panted, yelping when nimble fingers found his nipples through his shirt and pinched. Justin snickered and licked a hot, wet stripe up his neck, ending at the hollow behind his ear. "What the hell brought this on?"

"God, I need you to fuck me, like right the fuck now," Justin whimpered, his breath hot on Brian's ear as he ground his dick into Brian's, shooting sparks down his spine. Fuck, he loved it when Justin got this way. "I woke up with the biggest, fucking hard on, and nothing would make it go away. I even tried thinking about parent sex, which is usually my fail safe boner killer and I couldn't even conjure up one scene because my brain was far too entrenched in Brianland."

Brian groaned as teeth sunk into the lobe of his ear; he cinched his arms around Justin's waist and back, crushing his husband into his chest and holding him captive as he arched up and reciprocated, grinding his dick into Justin's. The need to have his husband right the fuck now vibrated through him, but he also knew that he had an appointment with one of his major accounts. His desire warred with his sense of responsibility, until finally he reluctantly pulled back.

"As enjoyable as that sounds," Brian said between gasps as Justin kissed and nipped his way down his jaw line. Christ, why did Justin have to visit on the one day he had to deal with one of his most temperamental clients? "I have a lunch meeting with a representative from Eyeconics in about ten minutes."

"No you don't," Justin murmured confidently against his neck and then sucked on the skin just above his pulse; Brian tilted his head to give his husband better access, even as he knew he should be hitting the brakes like right the fuck now.

"Uh, pretty sure I know my own schedule, Sunshine," Brian said, tugging on Justin's hair and yanking those enticing lips back to his. He drank Justin down; unable to resist their pull despite the need for prudence. He lost himself in the hot press of lips, and tongues and teeth and bodies for several more moments before his resolve reasserted itself. "I should know as I made that appointment myself last week."

"Nope, it was cancelled," Justin quipped, a wicked smile overtaking his face as he pulled back and began to swiftly unbutton Brian's shirt, tugging the ends of it out of his pants as he did so. His fingers and nails ran over Brian's chest, leaving lines of fire in their wake.

"Oh and how do you know that?" Brian asked as this was the first he'd heard of it. He slipped his hands up Justin's knit shirt and ran them over smooth, warm skin, relishing how Justin shivered, his skin pebbling with anticipation under them.

"Yasmeen and I talk," Justin muttered, and then gasped as Brian's hands raked down his back to cup his glorious ass, molding and squeezing it between his hands.

Justin retaliated by dipping his head and sucking a nipple into his hot, little mouth, suckling on it with all the enthusiasm of a newborn. Brian yelped and bucked up into Justin as sharp teeth sunk into it and then tugged, sending a sharp jolt of pain mixed with pleasure skittering over his nerves. Brian frowned and looked down at Justin, huffing when the twat just smirked and flicked his tongue over the bruised skin to soothe it

"Don't worry; I gave her the rest of the day off as well," his bratty husband assured as he scattered butterfly kisses across Brian's chest.

"Did you seriously have Yasmeen reschedule my lunch meeting and give her the rest of the day off just so we could have sex?" Brian asked, more amused than anything else as he pushed Justin away so he could look into his eyes.

"Are you seriously complaining about this?" Justin asked, arching a skeptical brow.

"No, I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page," Brian chuckled and then hissed when Justin pushed his hands away and went back to his ministrations, his teeth and tongue marking fine work of his chest. "I'm so proud; I taught you well."

"Good," Justin rasped, dragging his tongue up over his chest and neck until his mouth hovered over Brian's mouth, fire in his lust-drun ask eyes as he impatiently demanded. "Then fucking get on with it."

"Such a bossy bottom," Brian purred, half-mast eyes tracing over the flushed face above his. "It's a good thing I like it when you turn into a raving, sex monster."

"Learned from the master," Justin smirked, drawing another groan from Brian as he ground his hips down into Brian's lap. "So, what the fuck are you going to do about it?"

Brian growled, grabbed Justin by the back of his neck and yanked his husband bodily against him, groaning as Justin's mouth immediately fell open under his assault. He delved into the heat of Justin's mouth, his tongue licking and plundering it, seeking a response that came in an instant. Justin wrapped his arms around Brian's neck and crushed their bodies further together, rocking his hips sinuously against Brian.

He raked his hands down over Justin's back and then slid them up, taking Justin's shirt with them, relinquishing Justin's lips only long enough to rip the shirt from his body and toss it to the floor. Wrapping his arms around Justin once more, Brian reclaimed his husband's lips, one hand wrapping tightly around the back of his neck and the other sliding down his back, and plunging into his pants to palm his delectable ass.

Teasing his fingers along the crack of Justin's ass, he circled the tight ring of furled skin until Justin hissed his impatience and rocked his ass back into Brian's hand. Smirking against Justin's lips, Brian slid just the tip of his finger past the first ring of muscle, growling when his finger came away already wet. Fucking little tease.

"Get undressed, now!" he commanded, smirking when Justin didn't even hesitate; he stood in one smooth motion and hastily dragged off the rest of his clothing.

Brian tore off his suit jacket and undid his cuff links, tossing them to the desk before he tore off his dress shirt as well. He reached down and quickly unbuckled his belt and pants, and had just managed to shove them down to his ankles when his lap was once more filled with hot, sweat-kissed blond, a leaking erection pressed firmly against his stomach. Justin purposefully wiggled around in Brian's lap, likely to both get comfortable as well as drive Brian mad with desire.

"I want to ride you, right here, right now, in this chair," Justin purred as he rocked against Brian, his sweat and pre-come slicked cock sliding against Brian's, making his eyes roll back into his head.

Fuck that felt good.

"And then I want you to pull out and fuck me over the desk," Justin continued, his hands and lips everywhere, teasing, stroking, pinching, sucking until Brian was nearly ready to come and he hadn't even gotten inside the twat yet. "And then, after you've rimmed me for what feels like an hour, I want you to fuck me against the wall."

"Shit, Sunshine," Brian gasped, stilling his husband's wandering hands so that things didn't end before they'd even really begun; and told the squirming brat so. "Keep talking like that and I won't last long enough for you to get that ride."

"The fucking fuck me already," Justin demanded, gasping when two of Brian's fingers slid along the crack of his ass and then slid home, the tips scraping along his prostate.

"Someone came prepared," Brian murmured, plunging his fingers in as far as they would go, his dick painfully hard as he imagined Justin opening himself up at home in preparation for their impromptu assignation.

"Didn't want to wait," Justin muttered and then moaned as he pumped his hips and ground his ass into Brian's hand, small, desperate noises spilling from his lips as he rode Brian's fingers. Brian scissored his fingers, checking to make Justin was ready before sliding them out and palming his ass.

"Then pony up," He joked, snickering when Justin looked at him in disbelief. "It's your rodeo, Sunshine."

"I can't believe you just said that," Justin groused as he rose up onto his knees; he clasped Brian's dick in his hand, and, breath catching in his throat, he positioned himself above Brian and slid down onto his cock in one slow, smooth stroke. "You're lucky I'm too fucking horny right now smack you for that comment."

Brian just chuckled and rubbed Justin's back as he adjusted; which didn't take long. And then he groaned as Justin set a hard, fast pace, sliding up and down his shaft like a man possessed; fuck that was hot. Justin's kittenish mewls bledinto loud cries as he shifted in Brian's lap and changed the angle so that each thrust scraped against his prostate. Gripping Justin's hips, he met Justin thrust for thrust; grinding his dick in as far as it would go with every pass, his heart thundering in his ears as heat and mind-numbing pleasure washed through his body.

He grabbed the back of Justin's neck and plunged his tongue into his mouth, devouring his husband as Justin rode him for all he was worth; their skin slapped rhythmically together, and he had to clench his teeth against the heat building in his gut, as Justin bounced in his lap, his hot, slick walls gripping Brian until they finally clenched around him as tight as vise. Justin cried out, his head thrown back, and mouth parted, as he came without being touched, spilling hotly between the two of them.

Brian growled and cinched his arms around Justin's waist, holding him to his chest as his husband rode out the rest of his orgasm, and thrust one, two, three more times before he found his own release. Groaning, Brian clutched at Justin's back as his vision grayed a bit around the edges, and he saw little specks of light that almost looked like stars, before he slumped back in his chair with an armful of sated blond.

"Fuck," Brian panted and tried to get his breath out, still trying to figure out what brought that on; and then figured that he didn't really care as he pressed butterfly kisses over Justin's face and neck as he came back to himself. Justin giggled almost drunkenly and squirmed away from the soft, tickling caresses, but stilled, his dick twitching in interest when Brian pressed his lips to his and whispered. "Give me a few minutes and round two is a go."

Chapter Text

January 16

Cynthia smirked and barely held back an amused chuckle as Brian rolled his eyes and nodded for the dozenth time. He had his office phone pressed against his ear, impatiently listening as Kellie from Eyeconics blathered on and on about the reason for yesterday's rescheduled lunch meeting, her syrupy sweet voice likely grating his nerves. Justin had been one of Kellie's favorites since his Vanguard days; and she was usually on the phone, cooing over him, at even the whiff of a rumor that he was unwell.

His pregnancy had only made the situation worse.

Brian cast an exasperated look over at Justin, who blatantly ignored it and continued sketching out the pitch idea that they'd just been discussing. When Yasmeen came into the room to announce that Kellie was on the phone, and was not taking no for an answer, the two of them had had a brief squabble over who was going to answer the call. A fight that Justin won by pointing out that if he were to get on the phone, they would never get Kellie off of it and they needed to focus on this pitch since the meeting was scheduled for the next week.

Brian had huffed, but conceded to the argument, as it was well known that Kellie merely tolerated Brian because he was the best in the business and made her lot of money.

"Yes, Kellie," Brian said, his voice striving for bland and failing as his exasperation for the woman and his husband started to bleed through. "I appreciate the call and I'm sorry that we had to cancel with such late notice, but these things can't be helped."

Brian paused and pinched the bridge of his nose before averting his eyes to the ceiling as if he were praying for patience. And then he looked sharply at Justin, a frown on his face and his brow furrowed with confusion. Justin just looked up with an innocent smile that fooled no one; evident by the way that Brian glowered at him.

"Yeah, I have to admit it was a bit scary at first, but luckily it turned out to be nothing," Brian continued, still glaring at Justin. "I'll admit that I may have overreacted a bit when he told me he wasn't feeling well, but better safe than sorry."

Justin snickered to himself, but remained silent. Cynthia arched an eyebrow, trying to will him to tell her what was going on, as she sensed there was a story there, but he just shook his head and mouthed, 'Later.' Cynthia huffed and turned her attention back to Brian, knowing she'd get more information out of him just by his reactions.

Although, she had heard the rumors swirling around the office and had a pretty good idea of what happened yesterday. While Justin may have had the sense to give Yasmeen the rest of the day off, the office had been full of people and the walls, while not paper thin, weren't all soundproofed much to her annoyance.

Thankfully, she had been out of the office, meeting with the CEO and his entourage of their newest account and hadn't been here for her boys' latest 'performance.' But, if the way Murph blushed and averted his eyes every time he passed Brian's door was any indication, it had been quite an afternoon for the staff.

"Yes, he's doing much better today," Brian said, turning away from a remorseless Justin with another roll of his eyes.

Cynthia could have told him that it wouldn't work. It never did. If Brian had really expected to shame his husband for his actions, he'd forgotten who he was dealing with; Justin had learned from the best after all, and he never felt shamed by his sexuality. If there was anything Brian had done right in the beginning of their 'relationship,' it had been instilling a sense of confidence and acceptance in Justin. As a result, Justin never apologized or made excuses for who he was.

Much like another person she knew.

"I'll be sure to pass that on the next time I see him, Kellie, " Brian said, his infamous tongue in cheek smirk on his face as he glanced over at Justin. "Thank you for calling and I'm looking forward to our meeting next week."

Brian hung up the phone and swiveled his chair around to stare at Justin, who, for his part stared right back at Brian blandly. The staring lasted for several moments until the door opened and Yasmeen walked in with a tray filled with the sandwiches, fruit and salad that Cynthia had ordered for this meeting. Nodding her thanks, Cynthia grabbed a plate and began filling it as Brian looked at Yasmeen with a sly smile.

"So, you told them that I had a family emergency in regards to the pregnancy?" Brian asked with one brow arched.

"I was merely relaying the information given to me by Mr. Taylor-Kinney, Sir," Yasmeen said with a smirk, making Cynthia snort with amusement. She smiled proudly at her protégé; she'd trained her well. Not that she needed much to begin with; best hire ever.

"Yeah, I just bet you were," Brian drawled, casting an amused glance at Justin as Yasmeen took her leave. "You and I need to have a conversation about your definition of emergency, Sunshine."

"I desperately needed to get laid yesterday." Justin stated baldly, completely unrepentant in his actions. "To me, it was an emergency."

Brian snorted. "Getting back to the subject at hand," he said as he stood and walked back over to the sitting area, a file in his hands. "Are you certain that they wanted to go with…" Brian trailed off as Justin stood at that moment, paled considerably and staggered on his feet. Cynthia stood, her heart in her throat as he threw his hands out as if to catch his balance, and then sagged as if he were about to pass out. She was just about to go to him when Brian beat her to it.

"Justin!" Brian cried, fear flashing in his eyes as he dropped the file in his and ran over to Justin; he captured Justin around the waist and pulled him into his chest, pressing his lips against his temple. "Are you okay, Sunshine? Is anything the matter? Is the baby…"

"Yes, yes; I'm fine," Justin interrupted, waving Brian off, although he still sounded a bit winded. He tried to pry himself out of Brian's arms, but Cynthia could have told him that it was fruitless; which he discovered on his own when Brian just tightened his grip. Justin huffed. "Really, I just stood up too fast."

But Brian wasn't having any of it. Pale as milk, he kept a tight grip on Justin and led him over to the couch. "Here, Sunshine; lay down here for a few minutes."

"Brian, I'm fine," Justin groused, trying to fight Brian off, and failing again when Brian just took matters into his own hands, scooped Justin up and plopped him on the couch. "Will you cut it out? There is nothing…"

"Don't," Brian said, his tone implacable, and Cynthia could see a fine tremor run through his hands as he smoothed Justin's hair back. "Just don't."

"Fine," Justin huffed impatiently, laying back on the couch. "If it will make you feel better…"

"Thank you," Brian said, pressing his brow to Justin's for a moment, breathing him in, before he lifted it and looked over his shoulder. "Cynthia, would you mind going to the break room and grabbing me a wet washcloth?"

"Brian, I really don't need…" Just began again, only to trail off as Brian turned and glared at him.

"Justin." Brian said, his tone brooking no arguments; Justin sighed and rolled his eyes, but remained otherwise silent. "Cynthia, please."

"Of course, Brian," Cynthia said and swiftly walked down the hall toward the break room.

She walked through the door, ignoring the curious glances shot her way; it was rare for Cynthia to go to the break room as she had her own little kitchenette in her office. But the staff break room was closer than her office. She pulled down one of the generic mugs from the cupboard, filled it with hot filtered water from the water dispenser and then measured out some of the peppermint and lavender tea blend into a tea infuser.

She dropped it into the water to steep and opened one of the drawers near the sink and pulled out a dishcloth. Wetting it thoroughly, she rung out the excess water and then grabbed the mug of tea and swiftly headed back to Brian's office, mentally rolling her eyes as a familiar, strident voice echoed down the hall.

"So, what's wrong with the little princess now?" Michael sneered; and Cynthia could just see the ugly expression on his face. "Does he have a tummy ache? I bet he's just faking to get more atten…ow!"

Cynthia smirked as the idiot yelped; one that deepened as she watched Brian drag him out of his office, dumbass' arm firmly clutched in his hand. Brian shoved him towards the entrance way, his lips compressed into a thin white line and his eyes blazing. Michael ripped his arm away and rubbed it, unwisely opening his mouth to complain. But Brian put a halt to it with one raised hand.

"What the fuck is your problem, Michael?" Brian asked between clenched teeth, staring Captain Asshat down. "First, you barge into my office after being told I was in a meeting and therefore unavailable." Michael opened his mouth again, but Brian hissed and made a cutting motion with his hand. "Shut up. I was in a meeting until five minutes ago, when Justin, who is here because he is the requested artist for the campaign I'm working on, had a dizzy spell. Not that I need to explain myself to you in any way, shape or form. And then you dare to accuse him of faking it?"

"Well how was I supposed to know…" Michael groused, acting like a petulant child.

"I told you to shut up," Brian snapped, cutting off his explanation.

And wow, Cynthia had never expected this, but good for him. She'd been waiting for this day for years and wanted to dance a jig in celebration, but held back because it would be undignified. But tonight, drinks were so on her. Moron just gaped at him, stunned that Brian wasn't going to let him talk his way out of his poor behavior.

"You are walking on thin ice with me, Michael," Brian continued. "I warned you just days ago that I would not tolerate your bullshit. Don't. Test me."

Michael spluttered, obviously trying to come up with a good explanation for his antics, but finally fell silent when Brian just glared him into submission.

"By the way," Brian drawled, a sardonic grin on his face and a hard glint in his eyes. "Thanks ever so much for sharing the pregnancy with my mother; couldn't wait to mention the good news, could you?"

Michael flushed a bright, fire engine red and shifted nervously on his feet. Cynthia gasped softly; and suddenly something she'd heard made sense. Pursing her lips, she narrowed her eyes at the little insect she'd desperately wanted to crush under her beloved Louboutin's the first day she'd met him. Oh, that little asshole was so not getting away with this if she had any say in it.

"Yeah, that's what I thought," Brian snorted, obviously reading the non-answer correctly. "Get the fuck out of my office, Mikey; I don't have time to deal with this bullshit. I have someone important to take care of; and newsflash, it's not you." Turning his back on the asshole, Brian smiled tightly and nodded as he took the cloth and mug from her hands. "Thank you, Cynthia. Please take care of that, if you would?"

"It would be my pleasure," Cynthia said, casting the peon an evil smile as Brian walked back into his office. "Shall we, Mr. Novotny?"

The little worm actually looked as if he were going to argue with her, but quieted when she stepped forward with a menacing smile.

"Oh, please do put up a fight, Mr. Novotny," she smirked, watching him swallow harshly with cold eyes. "I would so love to call security and have them throw you out on your flat, rapacious, ungrateful ass."

Dipshit snorted and rolled his eyes, but turned on his heel and stomped towards the door. Cynthia followed at a good distance behind him, smiling at Yasmeen as she paused in the entrance hall to glare at dickhead. Cynthia halted next to her and waited until the jackass was at the door before she called out.

"One more thing, Mr. Novotny," she said, waiting until the imbecile turned around. "If you show up to Kinnetik one more time without an appointment, I will have you permanently banned from the premises. This is an office building, not a kindergarten playground."

"You can't do that," Michael huffed, puffing up like the self-important popinjay that he was; Cynthia was unimpressed. "I'm Brian's…

"Noose around his neck?" Cynthia finished for him, barely quelling a disdainful snort when he sputtered. "Yes, I know. You'll also find that as a fully vested partner in Kinnetik, Mr. Novotny, I can damn well do as I please without even running it by Brian first. And he will support me. Don't test my patience."

Michael sneered, but remained silent as he stormed out of the building; which suited her just fine. But he was in her crosshairs and she'd deal with him when the time was right.

"Please make certain to call security and relay my orders, Yasmeen," Cynthia said to the woman at her side, smiling warmly when she nodded. "Like hell am I going to let that little weasel get near either of my boys while they are here."

Cynthia strode back to Brian's office, Yasmeen at her side, intending to finish the meeting that had been interrupted, but halted as she caught the sound of low voices filtering out of the room.

"Will you stop hovering?" Justin huffed, obviously irritated by Brian's continued mother henning. Not that she'd ever call it that to his face. "Fuck, if it's not you, then it's Em. If it's not Em, then it's Mom. If it's not Mom, then it's Deb. All hovering like people don't have babies every fucking day. Did you hover over Lindsay this way?"

"No," Brian conceded, but continued after a small pause. "But I never loved Lindsay the way I love you."

Cynthia gasped, her eyes misting a little at Brian's words. Of course, she knew that Brian loved Justin. Hell, she'd known that for a long time before even he acknowledged his love for Justin. But he rarely expressed himself so freely and it touched her heart to hear him say the words without hesitation.

"Not fair," Justin muttered petulantly.

"Life's not fair, Sunshine," Brian countered, his tone grave and Cynthia could only imagine the dozen or so things that could be running through Brian's mind. "We learned that a long ago. And if saying that will get you to pause long enough to think things through, then I will use whatever it takes to get you to listen to me."

There was another pause, and some light shuffling as they moved around in the office, before Brian confessed in a low voice.

"I want you safe; I want you around for a long time. You and Sunbeam are my life, and if anything were to happen to you… I can't live without you, Justin. God knows I tried multiple times in the beginning; and each time I failed miserably. My life is nothing without you in it. So, please; if only for my sake, take it easy, okay?"

Cynthia smiled and turned on her heel; she had a feeling that the rest of the meeting was cancelled for the day. Not that she minded; she had plenty to do in her office. She started to walk down the hall, but had to laugh at their final exchange.

"You know, this does bring to light an interesting point about faking illness; given that blatant lie you made to that poor woman who dotes on you yesterday," Brian drawled, and Cynthia could just see his tongue in cheek smirk. "For shame, Sunshine. Now what did we learn about this situation?"

"To always make sure that you're not around when I have my dizzy spells," Justin quipped, his infectious laughter carrying throughout the office.

"Twat," Brian huffed affectionately.

Cynthia grinned, shook her head and vowed that anyone intending her boys harm would have to come through her first.

Chapter Text

January 17

Justin cracked one eye and looked at his husband, reassuring himself that he was good and solidly asleep. Sighing when the soft, rhythmic breathing reassured him that Brian was indeed out like a light, Justin carefully slid out of bed, trying to make as little movement as possible. Brian had been a frustratingly light sleeper the past month or so, and it made his escape all the more difficult.

But this just couldn't wait any longer.

Slowly easing his way out of his bed, one eye on Brian the entire time, Justin shuddered as his feet hit the cold floor. Fuck it was cold, even through his wool socks. Silently crossing the room, Justin grabbed his thick robe and threw it on, tightly cinching the belt around his waist. So close to escape, just a few more feet.

He walked swiftly over to the door and opened it, wincing when it creaked, the whine of the hinges blaring through the room at a seemingly deafening level. Gritting his teeth, Justin cast a wary glance over at Brian, and then huffed a silent breath of relief when he saw that his husband hadn't so much as shifted in the bed despite the noise.

Slowly swinging the door open, Justin slipped out and then, twisting the knob so that the latch wouldn't catch in the grove when he closed it and, subsequently, announce his desertion to his slumbering husband, he just as slowly closed the door. Releasing the knob with another slow slide, he breathed a sigh of a relief as the door latch slide into the grove without a hiss or click.

He wanted to beat his head against the door for his sneaky actions; he really shouldn't be lying to Brian this way as it would come back to haunt him in the end. But did it any way, consoling himself with the thought that, if Brian hadn't been acting less than reasonable on this subject, Justin wouldn't have to sneak around his own damned house. And since he was being a controlling bastard, Justin was led to live a life of subterfuge; and, well, desperate times called for desperate measures as they say.

Tiptoeing down the stairs, Justin swiftly, and confidently, made his way through their maze of a house, thankful that he knew the floor plan like the back of the hand. Turning on lights would have potentially drawn attention to his flight and then he'd have to deal with his Supreme Overlord and his ridiculous demands.

It was sad when one couldn't enjoy the fruit of one's labor in their own damned house.

Walking silently into the kitchen, he cast one final glance over his shoulder, just to be certain that he hadn't been followed by his husband; and then smirked and closed the kitchen door when he realized that he was still alone. Striding over to the cupboard, Justin pulled down a large glass and set it on the counter. And then he walked over to the fridge and pulled out a gallon jug of milk before walking back to his glass. He filled it to the top with rich, frothy liquid and then set the container aside.

Just in case he needed more later on.

He then walked over to the cupboard that held all of his and Brian's small appliances; or, at least, the ones they didn't frequently use. Stooping down, he opened the cupboard doors and began shifting them around until he found the crock pot hidden in the back. Pulling it out, he set it on the counter and opened the top to reveal his prize.

Pulling several packets out of the box, Justin grabbed them, and his glass of milk, and then sat down at the island with his little treasure trove. Unwrapping one of the succulent, golden treats, Justin bit down into spongy goodness, and groaned with delight as the cake all but melted on his tongue. God, these were the best.

Taking a long drink of his milk, Justin hummed happily and then took another bite of the snack cake, making little, happy noises in the back of his throat as sugary cream filled his mouth. Really, he didn't understand Brian's objections to his favorite treat. It's not like he was running around, downing endless cans of tuna or trying to sneak sushi. Although, he did have to admit that he missed the latter.

Finishing off his cake, Justin grabbed a napkin out of the dispenser and wiped his hands before taking another long swallow of milk. He looked at the glass and realized that he was going to need more if he went through this amount with just one cake; and he still had three more to go. Standing, Justin walked over to the counter and grabbed the container of milk and brought it back to his seat.

Sitting down on the stool, Justin unwrapped a second snack cake and took a large bite, moaning as more golden sponge cake and white creamy goodness filled his mouth. He squirmed happily, feeling much like a naughty child having gotten away with some egregious transgression; and well, he kind of had, but needs must.

Swallowing the cake, he took a drink of his milk and had just set the glass down onto the counter when a voice broke the silence, scaring the shit out of him.

"Well, well, well," Brian drawled near his ear, sending Justin's heart racing double time as he almost knocked his glass over. Brian swiftly righted it before it tipped and continued on without pause. "What do we have here, Sunshine?"

"Jesus, fuck, Brian!" Justin hissed, scowling at his husband as he pressed a trembling hand to his wildly thrumming heart. "You scared the shit out of me."

"Did I?" Brian hummed crowding up against Justin's back, making Justin's breath hitch as his husband's body heat permeated his robe. Brian wrapped his arms around Justin's waist and yanked him back into the hard plains of his body as he purred. "I would hope that those moans were because you were thinking of me." Brian paused as he tilted Justin's head and swiped a small dab of cream from the corner of his mouth and held it to the dim light filtering through the window. "But somehow I don't think that's the case."

Brian held Justin's rapt gaze and sucked his thumb into his mouth, his tongue slowly flicking out and over the tip of it to remove the cream. Justin inhaled sharply as he watched that talented tongue slide back into Brian's mouth and lost all interest in his forbidden treat as his cock hardened, imaging that tongue elsewhere.

"Brian…" Justin whispered, and then shook his head, trying to dispel the enchantment Brian had cast over him with one simple gesture. "What are you doing here?"

"You know, I could ask you the same thing of you, Sunshine; but I have a feeling I already know," Brian said dryly as he released Justin and sauntered over to the counter and peered into the open crock pot with a smirk. "As for me, I felt it the moment you left the bed; because, in case you hadn't noticed, it's cold as fuck out. And I felt the chill as soon as you lifted the blankets. I watched you through my lashes as you tried so hard not to wake me; a foolish attempt by the way. You were acting so sneaky though, that I knew you had to be up to something; so, I waited for a couple of minutes and then followed you. And it's a good thing I did…"

Brian snickered and arched a brow as he reached into the crock pot and pulled out a box of Twinkies. Justin scowled, flew out of his chair and raced over to Brian, trying to swipe them out of his hand before he could do anything to them. Brian just snorted, a smug smile on his face and held them just out of reach, chuckling as Justin grappled with him and stood on his tiptoes in an effort to reach his treasured treats. But of course he failed as Brian had a good five inches on him in height.

Huffing, Justin gave up and stomped back over to the center island, throwing himself onto the stool in a high dudgeon; sneering at his smug husband, he quickly scooped up the remaining two Twinkies and shoved them into his robe pockets. Because like hell was he relinquish them any time soon. Brian just tipped the box into the light to get a better look at it and shook his head before tossing the box onto the counter.

"I should have known the only thing that could get you to make that particular sound - you know, besides me - is your forbidden Twinkies," he drawled, crossing his arms over his chest. "I thought we agreed that Twinkies were on the do not eat list."

"No, you agreed," Justin groused, stabbing an irritated finger in his husband's direction before jerking back with his thumb. "Me? I blatantly ignored you because it's my body and I will damn well eat what I want so long as it's not detrimental to me or Sunbeam."

"Justin…" Brian sighed, rubbing his hand wearily over his face when Justin cut him off.

"Nope, not going to happen, buster," Justin said, jutting out his chin. "The day you get pregnant, we can discuss what will and will not be consumed in this house. Until then, I will eat my damned Twinkies, and you can't stop me."

"We'll see about that," Brian muttered almost inaudibly as he strode back towards Justin.

"Yes, we will," Justin hissed defiantly, backing away from his husband, as he remembered all too well what had happened the last time Brian had discovered his secret stash of Twinkies. While it had initially been fun, his ass had been sore for days due to post glow and he could barely sit much to everyone's amusement.

"That sounded like a challenge, Sunshine," Brian purred, still walking towards him in an unhurried gait. "And you do know how much I love a challenge."

"Do your worst?" Justin spat, trying to sound confident in his stance, but the faint question at the end betrayed his uncertainty. And the asshole knew it.

"Oh, you're going to regret that, little boy," Brian chuckled, in full on predator mode by now; and fuck, Justin didn't think he could get any harder if he tried. "In the meantime, I have a better way to occupy your time rather than having you sneak around in the middle of the night, eating those disgusting snack cakes that you insist on buying. And mark my words; we will be discussing that, Sunshine."

"You'd have to catch me first," Justin stated boldly, a challenging grin on his face as he spun around and hurried out of the kitchen.

"Run while you can, little boy," Brian called, swiftly following on his heels. "Just remember that for every additional minute I spend chasing you, is one more smack on your pretty ass."

Chapter Text

January 18

Brian rubbed the back of his neck and looked up from the computer, finally satisfied with the new boards for the new Eyeconics campaign. And it only took him three days of brow beating his art staff and then finally dragging Justin away from his studio to get it done. If he could only find a way to clone Justin, his work would be so much easier as he wouldn't have to repeat himself over and over again.

Then again, more than one Justin, while fun for a while, would likely end up being the death of him given the way he attracted trouble.

Sighing, he took a sip of his now lukewarm coffee and grimaced; ugh, that was for shit. Standing, he smiled as Gus lifted his head for a brief moment, before going back to his books and note taking. It was always nice to spend time with his, Sonny Boy; even if they weren't saying anything. Walking over to his wet bar, Brian dumped the cup down the sink and refilled it. Dumping an unhealthy amount of sugar into his cup, Brian swirled it with a coffee stick and walked back to his desk to finish up the work he'd brought home.

It had been a quiet Saturday morning, with Justin sleeping late due to his late night Twinkie adventure and subsequent 'punishment.' (Although, it wasn't much of a punishment when the twat enjoyed it so much.) Brian, on the other hand, had been up well before dawn as the munchers planned to drop off his Sonny Boy before they went on their latest adult-only weekend retreat.

Why they couldn't leave late last night, and save them all the early morning drop off, he didn't know; but, at least, it worked out to his advantage. He'd been able to get several hours of work done this morning without having to listen to Justin bitch about his working on the weekends. As if he were one to talk with his working on the nursery mural and sudden bursts of artistic inspiration. But, apparently, it was somehow different, as Justin said that he found painting or sketching to be relaxing, while Brian just turned into a 'big ball of stress.' his words.

But unfortunately, having your own business wasn't a nine-to-five, five-days-a-week-only job. It was a 'you will work whenever the hell you are needed because your staff can't seem to even shit without you' job, built up around the 'I am the customer and it will be my way or the highway' mentality. In other words, he didn't get a fucking break, and completely work-free weekends were a thing of the past; especially if he wanted to have everything in order for when he took paternity leave.

So, he and his Sonny Boy had retreated to his study, where Gus had flopped down on the couch and went back to sleep, while Brian started on his e-mail. He'd worked for about four hours straight, his only company being that of his Sonny Boy's snores; until, finally, Gus had awoken and shuffled off for a quick bowl of cereal before joining him in the study once more to work on his weekend homework.

Rubbing his hand over his eyes, Brian went back to the figures on his computer, and smiled when he heard familiar tread of footsteps making their way past the door towards the kitchen. He glanced at the clock and was surprised to note that it read eleven o'clock in the morning; and then snickered, he must have worn the twat out last night.

Smirking to himself, Brian took a long drink of his refreshed coffee, absently listening to the normal sounds of Justin puttering around in the kitchen while his coffee brewed. And that had been a bit of a contentious point between them. He was of the firm belief that Justin shouldn't be drinking it at all, but he'd been firmly overruled.

Although, hopefully, if things go right...

Brian had just taking another sip of his coffee when he heard a loud clatter in the kitchen, followed by a string of expletives that had him near blushing and Gus snickering at the other desk. Concerned, Brian was just about to get up and check on Justin when heavy footsteps stomped in his direction.

His husband stormed into the room in a high dudgeon, hair still sticking up in every direction as if he'd just rolled out of bed, which he likely had; clad in light-grey sweats and a long-sleeved blue shirt with a baby peeking through a zippered slit on his belly. And where he'd gotten that shirt, he didn't know, but he needed to fire the person bought it for or sold it to him because like Justin needed any more ratty t-shirts.

Justin stormed over to his desk and slammed a coffee mug down on the desk in front of him, a snarl on his face. The sugared and creamed brown liquid sloshed dangerously in the mug, but luckily didn't spill out onto his very expensive, antique, mahogany desk. Otherwise he'd have to pull him over his lap for a firm spanking.

"What is this shit?" Justin sneered, pointing to the liquid in the mug.

Brian glanced down at the mug and then looked back up at Justin with an arched brow and a bland smile on his face. "Coffee?"

"No, this is not coffee!" Justin snarled, stabbing his finger at the mug in question. "This is some decaffeinated shit that you tried to substitute for my coffee and failed miserably! Which would have been obvious had you'd actually tasted it before trying to be sneaky and pouring the beans into my regular container."

Fuck; he probably should have tasted it. But he'd taken Ted's word for it when he said he'd used the brand and Blake hadn't even noticed the difference. Then again, Blake used to drink the Diner's coffee without flinching, and Justin had become a true connoisseur of the stuff due to Brian's influence. So, he really should have done more research on that before making the switch. However, in his defense, he'd been a bit sleep deprived lately.

Brian met his husband's glare head on and quickly tried to come up with a plausible explanation for the switch, but couldn't. He was busted and he knew it; so he went with the only defense he had left.

"The book said…" Brian said, cringing internally at his almost pious tone; Christ, this pregnancy really was screwing with his head. He needed to do a ball check after this conversation just to make sure they were still there.

"I don't care what the book said," Justin cut in with a near fanatical gleam in his eyes. "My doctor said I can have one cup of coffee per day. And I will damn well have my one cup of coffee per day."

Yeah, that would be the asshole that overrode him and reassured Justin that, 'of course, you can drink coffee every day. In fact, you can safely consume up to 200 mg, which is the equivalent of twelve ounces of coffee, per day. Although, I would prefer you stick one cup. No need to tempt fate.' He wasn't sure what Justin had wanted to do more in that moment – cry in relief or dance a jig.

"Be reasonable, Sunshine," Brian tried again, but wisely shut up when Justin hissed and bared his teeth.

"There is no reasonable about this shit," Justin said in a low, controlled voice that sent a chill down Brian's spine. "I am allotted up one cup of coffee per day and I will get it." Justin held out one hand, palm up. "Give me my damn coffee, now! Or Sunbeam will only have one father to deal with!"

"Okay, okay," Brian huffed and got out of his chair; he walked over to the wet bar and grabbed the container of coffee he'd stored under the sink, because like hell was he going to throw it out. Those were premium grounds. He walked back over and handed it to Justin. "Fuck, here's your coffee."

"Thank you," Justin said, hugging the can to his chest as he gave Brian the evil eye. "I will be putting this back in the cupboard where it belongs and you will leave it there or else. No touchies!"

With that messaged imparted, Justin stormed back out of the study and headed toward the kitchen; likely to brew a new cup of coffee. Sitting down heavily in his chair, Brian sighed and rubbed his temples, trying to fight off the headache that was suddenly blooming behind his eyes. And to think, he had the utmost pleasure of dealing with this shit for the next four months. Joy.

"I told you to leave his coffee alone," Gus piped up, snickering as he looked over at Brian, a very familiar tongue in cheek smirk on his face.

Brian huffed again, and mock glared at his Sonny Boy; he wished that he could refute that claim, but he couldn't. When he'd first discussed it with Ted, Gus happened to be in the room. His Sonny Boy had laughed until he was crying and said he couldn't wait for the fireworks to start when his Jus figured out that they'd been messing with his coffee.

"Thanks for the support, Sonny Boy," Brian said dryly, rolling his eyes as Gus just snickered once more.

"Christ, Dad," Gus said, turning back to his books. "Even I know better than to come between Jus and his coffee. You really must have a death wish."

And so spake his darling progeny; so much for having each other's backs.

Turning back to his computer, Brian pulled up the internet, typed a few words into Google and began his research on decaf coffees because like hell was he giving up on this venture yet. He will find a way to limit Justin's caffeine intake  if it was the last thing he did.

Chapter Text

January 19

Justin bit his tongue for the…well, he couldn't recall what number of times that night, but judging by the soreness of it, it had to be far more than was healthy. He did, however, give in and mentally rolled his eyes and prayed to hold onto the patience that he felt rapidly slipping away. Just one more hour, and he could pull the tired card and they could get the fuck away from here before he ended up killing Lindsay.

This was a surprise to him, as he fully expected that it would be Michael that tried his last nerve and made him snap tonight. But Michael had been silently sulking on the other side of the table, safely tucked between Ben and Hunter; the both of whom had the presence of mind to cut him off before he could say anything that would've had Justin skewering him to the table like the rodent that he was.

Justin hadn't even wanted to be there that night. After the stunt Michael had pulled a couple of days ago when he barged past Yasmeen, (and he really must have a death wish to have done that; she doesn't forgive stupidity easily), and immediately started in on Justin for reasons only known to him, well Justin was a bit on edge still. The last thing he wanted to do was make nice at the family dinner.

But, as usual, he didn't get a choice in the matter as; first, they needed to drop Gus off since the munchers had come home earlier than expected. (And he wasn't touching that with a ten-foot pole.) And second, when Deb made a summons, one did not ignore if they wanted to keep their hearing for the next week.

Besides, she and his mother were still a bit put out with him for his comments when they'd oh-so-graciously decided to gift him with their presence at lunch on Monday; and he didn't need to add not attending dinner on his list of supposed transgressions. But it also meant that he'd had to deal with Earth Mother Lindsay dropping her little gems wisdom onto his head as if she had any clue what she was talking about.

While male pregnancy wasn't exactly rare these days, it was still a new enough phenomenon that even the experts weren't clear on just how close it mirrored female pregnancy. And that she thought her experience with one birth could in any way, shape or form make her an expert on what he was going through was laughable at best and totally preposterous at worst.

Sighing, Justin added a few more greens to his plate and was reaching for another slice of garlic bread when another piece of chicken mysteriously appeared on his plate. Dropping the bread on his plate, he looked at Brian with no little amount of irritation, only to find him deep in conversation with Carl and the chicken nowhere near him.

And as his mother and Deb were too far down the table to do it, that could only mean one thing. The wannabe Earth Mother had struck again.

"What is this?" Justin asked in a bland tone, instantly garnering Brian's attention; his husband's back stiffened as he turned to see what Justin was talking about; but Justin just ignored him as he stared at his plate nonplussed.

"Well, this is about the time that you should start adding more protein to your diet," Lindsay breezily informed him, making Justin grit his teeth. "It's good for the baby."

Brian groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose as Justin's grip tightened on his utensils. His husband sighed as Justin carefully laid his knife and fork down and reached for his glass of milk, as Brian knew exactly where this was headed. Justin took a long, deliberate drink of his milk, set the glass back down on the table, wiped his mouth with his napkin and then faced Mel, a polite smile on his face.

"So, Mel," Justin started conversationally, trying very hard to hold onto the remains of his temper; which he wholeheartedly admitted had been very short lately. Brian tensed beside him in anticipation of what he presumed was going to be a headache in the making. But tough cookies. "When were you going to tell us that Lindsay grew a dick? That must suck for your love life."

Conversation around the table came to an abrupt halt as Mel snorted into her drink and Carl choked on his beer. The silence reigned for several drawn-out moments before Debbie cackled in delight and Brian let out a loud bark of laughter; Em pressed his face into Drew's shoulder, trying to fight back his own laughter, an unsuccessful venture, evident by his silently, shaking shoulders. Drew just took in the entire scene with a bemused smile.

Ben ducked his head and smirked, his hands firmly covering Jenny's ears, while Gus looked between his mother and Justin with horrified disgust and then grumbled as he went back to his meal. Michael looked as if he was torn between laughing and scowling, leaving him with a weird amalgamation of both. And as for Lindsay; she sat there spluttering with an offended look on her face.

"Last I looked she hadn't," Mel said, laughter in her voice, and willing to play along if for no other reason to find out why Justin said it. "Why do you ask, Baby?"

"Well, I just thought that since she has suddenly become an expert on male pregnancy," Justin continued lightly, as if he hadn't just dropped the biggest shit bomb on the entire table. "She must be speaking from personal experience."

"I beg your pardon?" Lindsay gasped, finally having found her voice.

"As you should," Justin said sternly, deliberately misunderstanding her words as Brian just shook his head in resignation. "You've spent the entire evening trying to force me to eat shit I don't need or want to eat, trying to take away shit I do want to eat, trying to advise me of the best way to handle my pregnancy, trying to control my actions, including trying to tell me what kind of sex I can or can't have with my husband, and in general just being a nosy, meddling pain in my ass."

Brian chuckled and toasted Justin with his glass; Justin smiled at his husband and kissed him on his cheek for his show of support.

"Well, I just thought that you might like some advice from someone who's gone through it," Lindsay said huffily, her back ramrod straight.

"Hence my question," Justin said slowly, as if talking to a small child, an irritated frown on his face. "Because the only way you can know anything about male pregnancy is if you'd suddenly sprouted a dick while you were carrying Gus. Just because something did or did not happen during your pregnancy Linds, doesn't mean I'm going to experience any of the same issues. Who are you to judge…" Justin paused and held up a hand when Lindsay opened her mouth to respond. "No, really, who are you to judge what my needs are?"

Lindsay gaped at him, as if she'd honestly hadn't expected him to call her out on her bullshit. Brian snorted softly, but continued eating as if to say he was not getting involved in their little showdown; a wise move on his part. The rest of the table watched the two of them with a mixture of emotions, ranging between amusement to surprise to anger. No guesses needed on who fell into the latter.

Like Justin gave one fuck what the spoiled brat thought.

"The fact is," Justin continued before she could regain her senses and say something that would just end up pissing him off further. "You know nothing about my pregnancy as you have no part in it. Case in point – you were just trying to serve me a, completely unnecessary, extra helping of chicken right now; which, granted, was well-intentioned, but misguided. I don't need the extra iron. I am not anemic; and I have already made certain to eat all the required protein I need for the day. And even if I hadn't, it is not up to you to correct my behavior."

"Well, how was I to know…" Lindsay huffed, her lips pursing when Justin snorted.

"That is exactly my point, Lindsay," Justin said with a smug smile. "You can't know, so don't assume."

Lindsay bristled and narrowed her eyes, and Justin could see her gearing up for one of her snide little remarks that usually had the others feeling as they were failures; but had never affected Justin much to her annoyance. He had been born WASP from a family of WASPs too and knew how to beat her at her game.

"Well, I just felt that due to a showing unwise behavior by working through your pregnancy that a little advice might be needed," Lindsay snapped, her little stinger out and buzzing away; but she'd miscalculated greatly and the words fell short of their mark. "After all some of those paints can be quite toxic and…"

She trailed of when Justin laughed at her attempt to upbraid him and imply that he was an unfit parent because he was using potentially harmful substances while pregnant. Oh, Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindsay; you are beyond predictable.

"And that would lead me to my second point," Justin said with a smirk, getting a bit of a perverse thrill when Lindsay's cheeks flushed a dark shade of red. "Again with the assumptions," Justin shot her a pitying look that had her back stiffening further. "First of all, I do not need you to tell me what I can and cannot do in my own damned studio; it is, quite frankly, none of your damned business."

Lindsay huffed, but didn't back down; not yet anyway. Foolish of her, as she should have remembered that Justin was well-versed in this game and he wouldn't have said something if he couldn't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was talking out of her ass. Well, one day she'd learn. Maybe.

"But since you brought it up," Justin continued with a snide smile. "Outside of the mural in Sunbeam's room, I'm not painting right now. Ah, yes, surprised you with that didn't I? It just proves you don't have any idea what you're talking about; as usual."

Justin paused to take a drink of his milk, pinning the annoying woman to her chair with only his eyes, a feat he'd learned at the feet of his mother; and had succeeded too if Lindsay's silence was any indication. Well, he had learned from the best. No one could out WASP his mother; she had the ability to make you fee about two-inches tall with nothing more than a quick flick of her eyes. Setting aside his glass, he continued.

"My upcoming show is primarily made up of soft pastels, which are not an issue. Not to mention that my agent and I have had this show planned months before I got pregnant; so, most of my pieces were completed before I even found out about Sunbeam. I only have a couple of pieces to work on, which I do in between work on the mural."

Lindsay opened her mouth once more, but Justin cut her off, knowing damned well where she was going.

"And before you say anything about my painting in Sunbeam's room, I am using zero-VOC, all-natural paints by Valspar and BioShield. I am also using non-toxic solutions for cleaning my brushes. So, whatever half-baked argument you're forming needs to die right now. I'm well aware of the potential issues with painting in my condition and have taken multiple precautions against said problems."

Lindsay's mouth snapped shut and she turned away, obviously irritated that he ripped all of her arguments to shreds and merrily tapped danced all over them.

"Not that it's any of your business. I can take care of myself just fine without yours, or for that matter, anyone else's meddling," Justin said, casting a knowing look at other members of their family, who had recently been on the same kick. To their credit, they did have the grace to send him apologetic looks.

"I don't have to put up with this," Lindsay said in a haughty tone, her lips pursed into a prissy, little bow.

"Then I suggest you just sit there and look pretty," Justin said sotto voce, drawing another snort from Brian. "It's what you do best anyways."

Hey, if she was going to be bitchy, so was he.

Lindsay huffed and then, since she wasn't going to get more of a reaction from Justin, turned to a surprisingly quiet Mel and demanded, Well, aren't you going to say anything!?"

"Nope," Mel snorted, eating her dinner as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. "I told you to mind your own business days ago. You didn't want listen to me, thinking you knew better; so, you deal with the consequences on your own."

And that was exactly opposite of what Lindsay had been expecting; growling, she took a deep breath and put on her best beseeching look and turned to Brian.

"Brian?" Lindsay pleaded, thinking she was going to find sympathy with 'her Peter.' Little did she know that Peter left Never Land the moment Wendy used that art review to her advantage, nearly breaking them up; and then took his son away from him in the same month.

Peter had no sympathy for Wendy's refusal to grow up; which was all too apparent when Brian turned to Justin and kissed him on the temple, his voice dripping honey as he said, "Well said, honey." And then he paused, a moue of disgust on his face as he chided. "Only next time, I could do with out the visual of Linds with a dick; I think I threw up a little in my mouth at the thought."

Chapter Text

January 20

Justin let out a sigh and clicked on yet another thing to add to his ever growing list. He ran a frustrated hand through his hair and bit his lower lip as he scanned the seemingly endless offerings with more than a jaded eye. God, this was taking fucking forever, even with all the research he'd done prior to his undertaking.

Exhaling explosively, Justin read through yet another review of some recommended item that someone, (although, he couldn't remember who at the moment), had told him that he just needed this particular item to make his life easier. Sometimes, he felt more like he was planning a war campaign than planning for a baby. Who knew that something so small needed all this shit?

Thank God that, between his art career, Babylon and Kinnetik, Brian and he didn't really have to worry about the financial burden of having and supporting a child. He couldn't imagine how anyone could afford to have a child these days on an average salary. But then again, he guessed that was partially why registries were invented.

Justin wearily rubbed his eyes and added the…whatever the hell this thing was, to his list because at this point, he just didn't care. After building a list at two other stores, he was beyond done with anything baby related and wanted nothing more than to go curl up on the chaise lounge and take a nap. Closing his eyes, Justin shut out the world around him and gave himself a bit of a pep talk. He only needed to add a few more things and then he could shut the computer down and forget about it.

"Why are you on that site?" said an irritated voice by his ear, startling a strangled yelp out of Justin. He turned around, his hand clutching at his chest as he glared at his, now, snickering husband.

"Jesus Christ, Brian!" Justin groused, his heart still hammering in his chest as he turned around and faced the computer screen once more, all hints of fatigue gone. "Will you make some fucking noise when you come up behind me? You scared the shit out of me and I don't need the added stress."

"Hey, not my fault," Brian said, pressing a kiss to the side of his neck. "I did make plenty of noise as I came in; but you were so intent on what you were doing, a marching band could have paraded by and you wouldn't have noticed. And you didn't answer my question; why are you on that site?"

"I'm setting up a baby registry," Justin sighed, his heart finally settling back into its natural rhythm. "I told you that."

"But Target?" Brian sneered, his disdain for the store all too apparent, but tough cookies. He wasn't going to set up a registry with Baby Prada or Saks Fifth no matter how much of a label queen his husband was; if Brian was intent on outfitting the kid in designer clothing, he could buy them himself.

"Not all of us are label queens, Brian," Justin rolled his eyes and added a baby bottle warmer to the list; actually, he put two on there as, this time, it was definitely something he found to be useful. Plus he did not want to be trekking all the way to the kitchen in the middle of the night for a bottle. "Be glad I didn't set one up at the Big Q."

"Over my dead body," Brian hissed indignantly, a scowl on his face. "I will burn anything that comes from that store."

"And just how would you know if there are no tags on the items," Justin snickered as he placed a travel bottle and food warmer on the list; it hadn't been something he'd originally considered, but it definitely sounded like a handy item to have for those times he was out and about.

"I'll know," Brian said in a snooty tone, making Justin roll his eyes again. "Anything that comes from that store is covered in layers of desperation and reeks of despair."

"You are such a snob," Justin huffed, clicking on the tab for his last item – diaper bags – and prayed that he found something that Brian would immediately toss in the trash. So far, every single one he'd seen had flowers or bright geometric designs or cutesy baby animals and there is no way in hell that Brian would ever carry one of those around. "I don't even know how I've put up with you all these years."

"You love me." Brian said with a certainty born of years of reassurances and quiet moments filled with love; and Justin couldn't help but smile that Brian could say that without any hesitance or question in his voice.

It had taken years for them to kill the very real demons in both of their lives and to feel this at ease with each other; to feel comfortable enough in their own skins to freely express their feelings without worrying if the other person would use them to further an agenda or throw them back in the other's face. And he would happily go through it all again if it meant that they ended up in this place here and now.

"I just don't see why we need a registry," Brian huffed, throwing himself on the couch. "It's not like we can't afford to get anything and everything we want or need. We're not exactly hurting for money, Sunshine."

"Because our family and friends will want to celebrate with us," Justin said, and then gave a triumphant cry when he found exactly what he was looking for in a nice, understated, solid charcoal black color. Now this Brian wouldn't heave all over the moment he saw it. Justin added it to the list and sat back with a sigh, feeling very accomplished with his day. "Besides, do you know what the lack of a registry says?"

Brian arched a brow in inquiry.

"It says, 'feel free to buy anything you want since we don't care what we get,'" Justin said, crossing his arms over his chest with a knowing smile. "Do you really want to give some of our friends and family that kind of freedom? If you're fine with that, I'll happily delete the list and do something else."

And he wouldn't really; but Brian didn't need to know that. He didn't spend three fucking hours on these lists just to delete them immediately; and if his husband even thought he would, he was crazy. Brian just grimaced at his words, but still looked reluctant to admit that Justin was right; so, Justin added more fuel to the fire with a perfect, recent event.

"I have a three-page to do list to get through; I have plenty to do to get us ready that doesn't include going through page after page of shit for a registry," he said, his hand hovering over the keyboard as if he were getting ready to delete the list. "However, if we don't make a registry or two and send them to everyone, I don't want to hear you bitching when Em buys more Rainbow Baby clothing."

"Okay, okay; you've made your point," Brian sighed, holding his hands up in surrender, and then frowned and sent Justin a sharp look. "And what do you mean you have a three-page to do list? Where is mine?"

Whoops; shit, he didn't mean to mention that.

"Brian," Justin said, and then quickly snapped his mouth shut when Brian's frown deepened and he sat up straight on the couch. Shit. This was going to be a fun conversation. "Look it's not a big deal; I'm home most of the day. You have a company to run. So, me taking on the bulk of the baby planning makes sense."

"Except that it sounds like you're doing everything, while I'm not doing a damned thing," Brian huffed with exasperation and then held out a hand. "I'm not okay with this, Sunshine. Let me see that list and I will divide it between us."

"And have you hand the list off to Yasmeen?" Justin huffed contentiously; and that was exactly the wrong thing to say judging by Brian's look. He knew that look. It was the same one he got when he'd told Brian that he was going to work for the Sap. It was his 'you are a complete idiot and I have no idea why I love you' look. "I know how busy you get, Brian. I'd rather just do it myself."

"I thought you liked and trusted Yasmeen," Brian said in a bland tone; Justin winced internally knowing there was no way that Brian was going to drop this now. "You said she was your favorite after Cynthia."

"I do," Justin said, trying to smooth the waters; the last thing he needed was Brian getting pissy, or worse, overprotective once again. "I just think that as it's our baby, it's our responsibility and we should be doing all of it ourselves."

Brian sighed and ran his hand through his hair, averting his eyes to the ceiling as if praying for strength. And Justin felt kind of bad for his continued fight over his need for independence, but he just couldn't help himself. He'd struggled and fought for it for so many years that he couldn't seem to put down his sword, even if it were for the best.

"You don't have to do it all by yourself, Sunshine," Brian said quietly, a wry smile on his face. And Brian would know that well considering he'd struggled with the same ghosts as Justin for many years. "It doesn't make you weak or helpless to ask for assistance; stop being a stubborn twat."

Justin looked away, a mulish expression on his face; he knew his husband was right. In fact, he would've probably drawn the same conclusions himself sooner rather than later. He just hated being cornered or pushed into something no matter how good it might be for him. And every time it happened, it made him want to dig his heels in.

"Look, I get it, okay," Brian said, standing and walking over to Justin; he pressed a small kiss to his temple as he wrapped his arms around his shoulders. "I really do. But, as much as our family is made up by mostly nosy, interfering Queens who can't keep a secret to save their lives, they love us and they want to be there. They are your family and they want to help you. You just have to ask."

Justin chewed on his bottom lip, but didn't say anything, still having trouble giving up his control over all things baby. It went against everything in him to let the reigns go to anyone other than Brian; and even then, they tended to butt heads and battled for dominance at times.

"You don't have to get them all involved," Brian continued, resting his chin on the top of Justin's hair. "Because God knows, it would drive me mad if they were all underfoot all the damned time."

Justin huffed out a laugh at that understatement of the year.

"But, you trust Emmett, though God only knows why, with the baby shower; surely he could be of some help."

Brian looked at him knowingly; Justin chewed on the tip of his thumb and remained silent, but did tilt his head to the side to show that he was listening to Brian's words.

"And there is your partner in crime, Blake; who has already been through all of this madness," Brian continued enumerating his potential allies, and Justin couldn't deny that what he said made sense. "And you know damned well that Mother Taylor could whip everyone into shape with a mere flick of her wrist."

Justin smiled as an image of his mother standing over Blake, Emmett and Brian, cracking a whip and demanding they get on with the show filled his head.

"So, utilize them," Brian finished, pressing a kiss to the top of his head.

"Okay," Justin sighed and then nodded, knowing damned well when he was beat.

"Good," Brian said, pulling back to give him one last severe look. "And you will give that list so I can take some of these items off you; and you won't ask me about them again. You know that I will get them done and I don't need you stressing yourself out and making yourself sick."

"Brian…" Justin said, but snapped his mouth shut when the severe look turned into a full on glare.

"Justin." Brian said implacably, holding out his hand.

Justin sighed and reluctantly handed over his prized list; Brian took it and started reading through it, a frown on his face. He sighed, shook his head and sent an exasperated look Justin's way before he walked over to his laptop and booted it up. He spent several minutes looking through the list and typing things into the computer, his fingers flying over the keyboard so fast they were almost a blur.

He then sat up, and clicked something on the screen a couple of times before the printer went on and spat out four sheets of paper. He walked over and pulled them off of the printer and looked them over for a moment. He folded two and put them into his pocket before walking over to Justin and handing him the remaining two.

"Thank you," Brian whispered, pressing his lips to the top of Justin's hair; Justin swallowed thickly, and fought back the tears that sprung up behind his eyes. God, these fucking hormones would be the death of him. Brian wrapped his arms around Justin and murmured quietly. "This is supposed to be one of the happiest times in our lives. I want you well enough to enjoy it."

Chapter Text

January 21

Brian shuffled into the diner, half dead to the world and completely uncaring to the way his hair stuck out in every direction, as if he'd just gotten out of bed; which he had. Scrubbing a hand over his face, he grimaced and scratched at the scruff on his neck and cheeks, wishing he'd had the time to shave before coming; but he also knew that the insatiable beast he lived with would have flounced his merry ass over here himself if Brian hadn't gone right that very fucking second.

Yawning, Brian cast an irritated eye over the patrons who sat there staring at him and raised an eyebrow, smirking when they quickly looked away and resumed their conversations. Fuck him over with an eighteen-inch dildo; this was going to be the talk of the Avenue for days. Luckily, he was going out of town for the next few days and he wouldn't have to hear people lamenting the downfall of the Stud.

Like he fucking cared these days.

All he cared about at the moment was getting his little, blond twat's fucking lemon bars, so he could go the fuck home and get some more sleep. Walking up to the counter, he sat down heavily and stared blankly at the wall as he waited for someone to serve him. He closed his eyes and rested his chin on his clasped hands, and wondered how the fuck this was his life. Being sent out at fucking two in the morning to buy lemon squares of all things; and not just any lemon squares; oh, no, they had to be from the fucking diner as 'it just wasn't the same otherwise.'

The things he did for the brat.

Brian sighed and opened his eyes as he heard someone walk up to him; and then he stared in blurry confusion at a familiar mop of bright red hair and a loud vest filled with buttons thrown over a t-shirt that said, 'If you can't handle the Sass, then you can't handle the Ass.' Brian snorted and made a mental not to tell Justin to stop encouraging the woman and her God-awful t-shirts, as he recognized that one.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Brian asked, blinking slowly at the woman who had been more of a mother to him than his own.

"I could ask you the same," Debbie chuckled as she leaned against the counter, a wide smile on her face. "But I can probably guess. You look like shit, kiddo."

Brian, not in the mood for guessing games, just stared blandly at Deb, one brow raised. Deb huffed and rolled her eyes, but answered the question nonetheless.

"I'm here because Kiki twisted her ankle last night and needed a last minute substitute so she could keep her foot elevated…" Deb said, stopping when Brian sat and frowned at her.

"You know, the whole reason I bought this diner and made you manager was so you would have to pull anymore of these shifts," Brian said, decidedly not happy with this turn of events. He had specifically told Deb that as manager she was required to work days for the most part in order to keep her from working herself into an early grave.

"I'm well aware of that, asshole," Deb said with an exasperated huff, placing her hands on her hips and frowning at Brian in kind. "You didn't let me finish. And this was the only night I couldn't find a replacement."

"I stand corrected," Brian nodded and rolled his lips between his teeth in an effort not to laugh at the indignant expression on pseudo-mother's face.

"As you should," Deb said, staring at Brian with a gimlet eye; Brian held up his hands in a placating gesture and mimed a zipping motion over his lips. "And as for you, Mr. High and Mighty; you're here because a certain blue-eyed blond has you wrapped around his finger and was craving lemon squares."

"Two and oh," Brian conceded, an arch smile on his face.

"I do know my Sunshine," Deb cackled, chomping on her gum as if it were going out of style. "Never could resist these things. Although, please tell me he didn't make drive all the way from Britin to get them."

"No, thankfully we're staying at the loft tonight," Brian sighed; Deb's brow pinched in confusion. "I have to fly out in the morning for a client meeting and it was easier to stay in town. And Justin doesn't like sleeping at Britin by himself if he can help it."

Deb's face cleared as she nodded, her earlier confusion quickly replaced by a knowing smirk. "And even if you weren't at the loft, you still would have driven all the way here for his lemon squares, wouldn't ya?"

Brian folded his lips under once more, but this time in an effort to remain silent rather than quell his laughter; not that it mattered as he knew Deb would draw the right conclusion anyways. She knew him far too well for him to ever fool her.

"I told ya," Deb laughed long and hearty, and then, much to Brian's annoyance, pinched him on the cheek like he was fucking five-years-old. "Wrapped you around his finger."

"Can you just get me the fucking lemon squares so I can back and feed my bottomless pit before he decides to walk over himself?" Brian groused, shifting uncomfortably when every eye had turned towards them again. Plus, he knew that if he didn't get these back to Justin soon, the twat would do just that, and then he'd never hear the end of it.

"Sure, sweetheart," Deb said with an indulgent smile, patting him on the cheek; Brian rolled his eyes and huffed in exasperation. "Give me a couple of minutes, and I'll have these things wrapped in no time."

Brian groaned and dropped his head in his hands, blatantly ignoring the curious looks that continued to be shot his way; Justin was so paying for this indignity. Not that he had much of a reputation left to take a beating; people had long stop believing the careless, selfish asshole image that he'd cultivated when he was younger.

"Here you go," Deb said as she walked up with a white, to-go box and set it in front of Brian. "A box of sunshine for our Sunshine."

"Thanks Deb," Brian said and pulled out his wallet to pay; only to put it back when Deb frowned at him since she'd told him long ago that owners shouldn't have to pay for the items twice. "You've saved my life once again."

Brian got up and picked up the box of lemon squares, hoping that his twat would be satisfied with them for now because like hell was he going to hare off and find whatever new craving had struck his fancy in Brian's absence.

"Hey, Brian," Deb said hesitantly; Brian looked up, surprised to see her chewing on her bottom lip, an uncertain look on her face. "About the other day, when Jen and I showed up at your house, we didn't mean to upset…"

Brian sighed; he'd told Justin just to fucking talk to them already. Why the fuck was he the one that was always getting stuck with dealing with all this emotional bullshit?

"Deb, it's fine," Brian smiled reassuringly, and then squeezed her on the shoulder. "You know as well as I do that Justin has already forgotten it. Just, next time, maybe try not to be so heavy-handed with the advice. You know what Justin is like; he's a stubborn twat that needs to figure things out for himself, and will dig his heels in when pushed. Plus, we've had a recent discussion about asking for help. Don't worry about it."

"It just seemed he was still angry at dinner the other night," Deb said, her brow pinched with worry. "He barely said a word to me or Jen and then that argument with Lindsay…"

"First of all, he didn't speak to you or Mother Taylor because he was worried you were still mad at him for mouthing off," Brian snickered, remembering how worried Justin had been on the drive over to Deb's, certain they were both going to rip him a new asshole for his contentious words earlier that week.

"That little brat," Den laughed, relief filling her face and her eyes misting wistfully, as if thinking of some good memory. "We weren't mad; in fact, after the initial shock wore off, we laughed ourselves silly and Jen shared some of this she'd said to her own mother and mother-in-law; and then I shared what it was like to have Vic hovering over me all the time. There were no hard feelings; we remember what the hormones were like."

"Good to know," Brian smirked and made a mental note to tell Justin just to fucking breakdown and call them to work things out. "Maybe the twat will stop walking on eggshells then. As for Lindsay, that is confrontation that has been coming for a long time and stems from events long before the pregnancy. You know that Justin has never forgiven her for going behind his back and showing me that article."

"As well he shouldn't," Deb said with an indignant scowl, her hands pressed firmly against her hips. "It was none of her fucking business. She treated him like a child that didn't know his own mind."

Brian arched a brow at the irony of that statement.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Deb said with a huff, dismissing his unspoken words with a fond smile and a wave of her hand. "I know that Jen and I weren't much better. I'll call him up and invite him to lunch or dinner this week and make amends."

"I would let him stew a little longer actually," Brian snorted, playing with the keys in his jacket pocket. "But do as you must."

"Why would you say that?" Deb asked, surprise and confusion written all over her face. And Brian could very well understand that as he was usually the first one to champion Justin and get into anyone's face if they were causing him undue stress. But in this case, he had blatantly defied the rules they'd set for his continued health and brought the entire situation onto himself. And sometimes, the twat needed to sweat it out a bit.

"Because his bad mood was mostly own fault?" Brian said, and then explained further when Deb just continued to stare at him with bewilderment. "The only reason he was so cranky that day was because he'd overworked himself and hadn't eaten."

Deb's mouth rounded in surprise, and then her lips dropped into an exasperated frown as she shook her head and rolled her eyes.

"What?" Brian said with a smirk. "You honestly think I don't know my husband? I know him much better than he likes sometimes. I just didn't do anything to stop it because a) sometimes Justin needs to learn from his own mistakes and b) I knew you and Mother Taylor wouldn't be able to resist checking up on him when you heard that Anna was gone."

"How could you know…" Deb asked, eyeing him suspiciously.

"Who do you think told Jennifer's friend, Linda?" Brian asked rhetorically, his tongue firmly planted into his cheek.

"You little shit," Deb accused, pointing one of her blood-red fingernails in his face; but Brian just stared at her, defying her to tell him he was wrong. Deb just huffed again.

"As Justin says, 'I'm on to you,'" Brian said with a snicker as he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "All of you. "

"You do take real good care of that man," Deb said softly, a tremulous, but pleased smile on her face as she pressed her lips to Brian's cheek, whispering near his ear. "I'm proud of you, kiddo."

Brian closed his eyes for a brief second, his throat constricting with emotions he hated to, and wouldn't, acknowledge, but he didn't need to.

His Ma had always seen right through him.

"Yeah, well, I should get back," Brian said, blowing out a harsh breath and blinking back the moisture in his eyes as he held the box aloft. He turned on his heel and threw his parting words over his shoulder as he headed back to the twat that had wrought so many changes in his life. "Night, Ma."

Chapter Text

January 22 – 20 weeks

Justin stared down at his phone nonplussed, and then blinked to make sure he was reading the display correctly. But no matter how many times he blinked the screen read the same name as it had when it had first buzzed. It wasn’t that it was unusual for Brian to contact him several times a day while he was away; it was that, usually, he refused to use the text function of his phone, preferring to just have an actual conversation so that no one could mistake his meaning.

He hadn't even been to tempt Brian into sexting with him on the few times he’d tied. Brian would just call him up and it would lead to phone sex instead. Albeit, it was glorious phone sex, but phone sex nonetheless;and when asked why he wouldn't, Brian just muttered something about liking to hear the sounds that Justin made when he was close to coming and walked off.

It’s why seeing a text notice from Brian completely threw him; especially when he was supposed to be in the middle of his presentation. Justin looked at his clock, and hummed. Okay, so maybe they were just wrapping up said presentation; the meeting had started about two and a half hours ago. There was a chance they were done by now.

Punching a couple of buttons, Justin pulled up the message and stared at in bewilderment. Although, he did snicker a bit as he could clearly hear husband’s bewildered tone blaring through his head:

Brian: Who the fuck names their kid Adelbert?

Justin shook his head; because he really couldn’t answer that question. That name was a form of cruel and unusual punishment; and he could only hope that the poor kid changed it when he grew up or he was going toend up hating life. He hurriedly typed back:

Justin: Someone cruel, who doesn’t care that their child will become the playground punching bag?

Justin shrugged and started to set his phone aside, willing to write the entire incident off as an anomoly, but was surprised when his phone buzzed again almost immediately. He unlocked his phone and barked out a laugh; he could just imagine Brian’s eyes rolling and his eyebrow rising as he drolly said:

Brian: I could have told you that, Sunshine.

Justin laughed again, and walked over to the chaise lounge that sat next to the ceiling to floor windows in his studio. It looked like someone was feeling chatty today. He quickly tapped out a message to his husband.

Justin: Who the hell is Adelbert? And please tell me you aren’t texting during your meeting. Because I have to say that it does not bode well for said client’s merchandise if even YOU can’t pay attention during the presentation. And you’re giving it.

Justin sat back and sighed as he stared out the window; he really hated when Brian was away on business. The house always felt cold and empty and their bed far too big; which is why he hated sleeping here at Britin when Brian gone. At least with the loft, it was a single room and didn’t seem to echo with the same level of emptiness. Plus, he was closer to everyone, so if he couldn’t stand the quiet any longer, he could always go to the diner or Babylon or Deb’s and someone was sure to be there to keep him company.

Sadly, he had to be out at the house this evening and part of tomorrow morning because he was in the middle of crating his pastels and charcoal drawings for Sidney. And since Sidney was sending a truck over first thing, at nearly the crack of dawn for some ungodly reason, Justin thought it would be better if just caved in and slept at Britin no matter how much he hated it.

Scrubbing his hand over his eyes, Justin looked down at his phone and smiled at the waiting message:

Brian: Of course, not; I am, as ever, the consummate professional. We’re taking a break so that Adelbert can make changes to the contract. He’s their financial advisor.

Justin chuckled and shook his head, his husband’s indignant reprimand ringing in his ears; he couldn’t help wondering why he was texting and not just calling him. But, then he figured it likely had to do with his current company, and the fact that he could pretend that he was checking e-mail or working on the campaign, and not texting his husband out of sheer boredom.

His fingers flew over the keys as he Brian exchanged the next several tests in rapid succession:

Justin: That poor kid never stood a chance. It was either become a kick ass financial advisor or a lawyer or be mocked endlessly for the rest of his days.

Brian: I don’t think anything can salvage that name. Promise me that you will never even think of doing that to Sunbeam.

Justin: Considering I saved your son from being named Abraham the first night we met, I think I’ve done well with the name game.

Brian: OUR son. There was one too many letters in that, Sunshine. But you do make an excellent point.

Justin grinned at Brian’s words, a warm glow suffusing his heart as he read the words 'our son.’ He’d never doubted that Brian saw him as one of Gus’ parents; or that Gus himself saw him as a father figure, but sometimes it was nice to hear. Especially when good ‘ole Mikey started making his snide comments or Lindsay was in one of her persnickety moods. Both of which seemed to be happening more and more often since he and Brian had made their baby announcement at Christmas.

Justin honestly couldn’t figure out what the hell their problem was; it wasn’t like his and Brian’s relationship was new. It’d been thirteen fucking years since he and Brian had first met and they were still together. Yes, they’d had their ups and downs that first five years. But after the bombing, and Brian had told him that he loved him and asked Justin to marry him, they had been solid.

It was almost as if they’d expected that New York would put an end to all of Brian’s and Justin’s plans, (and well, it almost had, but that was a sore point that he still didn’t want to think about), and that Brian would return to being the Stud as if nothing had changed. And sometimes, he felt that was exactly what they wanted.

It was difficult to feel superior to someone when that person was so much more successful than you were in all walks of life, including personal relationships; especially when that same person once derided any form of romantic attachment for most of their lives. Frankly, he thought they were jealous, because, despite their so-called maturity, neither Lindsay nor Michael could hold a proper, steady job, could afford a proper home without relying on their significant others, or even maintain a healthy relationship with those same significant others.

But he digressed.

Turing back to his phone, Justin grinned and fired off a text:

Justin: Speaking of names, guess what I found today?

He only had a moment to wait before Brian hesitantly texted back:

Brian: I’m almost afraid to ask knowing the kind of mischief you get into.

Justin rolled his eyes, and could just imagine Brian’s tongue in cheek smirk as he typed the words. Seriously, you call to be bailed out once and they never let you forget about it. It hadn’t even been his and Blake’s fault. They’d just been in the wrong place at the wrong time and had gotten caught up in someone else’s mess. Thankfully, the charges had been dropped once he and Blake had proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had no fucking idea who the guy was, let alone what the guy had been up to.

 

Justin: Ha ha, you’re hilarious. This:

 

Justin smirked as he sent it, just imaging his husband’s scowl. They had been at the bookstore a few days ago and Justin had suggested picking up a baby name book then and Brian had looked at him like he was crazy. He had no idea what his husband had against it, but had led to a resounding no.

Brian immediately fired back:

Brian: I am well aware of my rapier wit. And I thought we agreed not to buy a baby name book?

Tapping his finger against his bottom lip, Justin briefly considered drawing this out a bit longer just to tease Brian; but in the end, went with the truth. He really didn’t want to annoy his husband while he was still working on his pitch.

Justin: I didn’t buy it. It mysteriously appeared on the kitchen counter while I was at Bloom Gallery, along with this:

 

Brian: Mother Taylor strikes again.

Justin: Yeah, my bet is on her; but it could be Anna as well. God knows they are thick as thieves lately; and while mom has a key, I can’t see her using it to drop this off.

Brian: Well, Anna is back and they both love to have lunch together when you’re not there, so I’d say it came from both of them; they are forever conspiring against us. Gotta go; Aldelbert is back and the meeting is about to start up again. I should be out of here in an hour, but then I have dinner with the CEO and his wife after, so I’ll call you before I go to bed tonight.

Justin laughed at that. He could very well see his mother and Anna going for an afternoon of lunch and shopping, stumbling on the books and purchasing them for Justin to be ‘helpful.’ Or really, to annoy Brian since he’d defintiely told his mother about Brian’s reaction to the baby name book the other day; and if, at the same time, it meant that Brian gave Justin a hard time afterdiscovering said books, all the better.

His mother’s actions often held layered intentions; he’d known she hadn’t quite forgiven him for mouthing off the other day no matter what Deb had told Brian.

Biting his lower lip, Justin smirked, a wicked gleam in his eye as he sent one last text to his husband, knowing he was just asking for trouble when Brian returned from his trip. But he also couldn’t help himself. A frustrated, horny Brian was a fun Brian and Justin couldn’t resist fanning the flames just a little.

Justin: I’ll be ready and waiting, my dick hard and wet and my ass stretched and filled with your favorite dildo – you know the blue, nine-inch, vibrating, flexible one... God, I am hard and leaking just thinking about it now. Maybe I’ll get an early start…

Justin snickered as the silence from the other side drew out. He bit his lower lip and palmed his cock; he wasn’t lying when he'd said he was instantly hard just from the thought of tonight’s phone sex session. He might just have to take care of this in truth, otherwise he’d never get anything done and he really needed to finish these last two pieces for the show.

Sighing, he was just about to set the phone aside, thinking that Brian must have turned his off before Justin's message could go through. Too bad; it would have been funny to imagine him sitting through the rest of the meeting, his legs strategically crossed to hide his growing erection. But then the phone buzzed in his hand and Justin unlocked it, his breath catching and dick hardening further as he read his husband’s answer.

Brian: Fucking tease. You are so paying for this, Sunshine. Your ass is mine, little boy. I expect you to be in bed, lubed up, ready and waiting for me because I am going to fuck you into the fucking mattress when I get home on Friday.

Licking his lips, Justin stiffly stood and hurried to his bedroom for a nice, long, hot shower; he definitely needed to take care of his not-so-little problem if he had any hope of finishing what he needed to today.

Chapter Text

January 23

Blake paced his living room, tiredly humming a bunch of notes that barely resembled a lullaby at this point, but sounded soothing enough to his own ears; and therefore, hopefully, was soothing to his son’s as well. They had just finished Luc’s mid-morning feeding and he was now in the process of rocking and singing him back to sleep in the hope that he too could get a little rest.

Pressing his mouth into his opposite shoulder, Blake yawned and fought back another wave of fatigue as Luc made a few little snuffling noises and then whimpered a bit. Oh, for God's sake, no; please no more crying baby. Daddy really needs some sleep. Blake resumed his absentminded, off-key humming and nearly sighed with relief when Luc settled back down to making little, sucking noises with his mouth.

Running a hand through his hair, he cast a longing look at his favorite deep, over-stuffed chair, but dared not sit down for two reasons. One, Luc would likely wake up and start crying yet again; and two, he’d likely fall asleep as soon as he did sit down. It was days like this that he was glad that he hadn't had any clue as to just how much work and attention a baby needed, as it was very likely that he would have said screw the whole thing.

Closing his eyes, he walked a now familiar circuit down to one end of the living room, around the chair, skirting the sofa that jutted out just a bit, and down to the other end of the living room and back around the sofa and another chair, to begin it all again. He was pretty sure he could do the circuit in his sleep by now.

A few dozen circuits later, Blake forced back another yawn and opened his eyes. He looked down at Luc and sighed with relief to see him sucking on his fist and soundly asleep. Walking over to the blue, white and green sleeper, Blake gently laid Luc down into it and held his breath for several seconds to see if he’d remain asleep. And when the all too familiar unhappy screeches from the night before didn’t pierce the air, he sighed in relief. As much as he loved his son, he was just as thankful for the peace.

Scrubbing his hand over his face, Blake glanced at the couch, briefly considering a quick lie down, but then looked at his watch and realized that he might as well wait. Ted would be up in an hour and then he’d have his nice, warm, snug bed all to himself. And that was far more appealing than their comfortable, but slightly too short sofa.

Instead, he began straightening out the living room, throwing used burping clothes and clothing into a laundry basket, taking empty bottles to the sink, and picking up random baby items like diaper wipes and diapers, powder, formula canisters, and other items. It often amazed him how quickly his typically neat house could resemble a disaster area in ab hour.

Adding the last few things to another basket, Blake stooped and picked it up and then carried it over and set it down on a table by the hallway.he could take that back when he went for his nap. He yawned for a third time and stretched and was once again considering that nap, when there was a light tapping on his front door. Frowning, Blake walked towards the door wondering who it could be as neither he nor Ted were expecting any visitors; and they were remote enough that door-to-door salesmen weren’t typically a problem.

Opening the door, Blake was surprised to see Justin standing there, as he knew from their conversation yesterday that the blond had no intentions of leaving Britin today. Something about needing to work on the last two pieces for his February show. He opened his mouth to greet his friend, but quickly closed it when Justin just flounced inside with a pout and flung himself on the couch.

“I can’t fit into my pants,” he groused before slamming a cushion over his head.

“Hello to you too,” Blake said, fighting back a smile as he glanced over at Luc and was happy to note he was still sleeping.

“Can’t you see I’m having a crisis here?” Justin huffed, raising the cushion long enough to glare at Blake before slapping it back on his face.

“It was a bit difficult not to notice; what with you storming in here in a high dudgeon and throwing yourself onto my couch like the world was coming to an end,” Blake noted wryly, sitting down in his favorite chair right next to Luc, who just snuffled and slept on, oblivious to their visitor. “Thankfully it didn’t wake Luc up or I would have killed you and happily dealt with Brian’s wrath afterwards.”

“Sorry, hello,” Justin winced, and then cast a sheepish smile his and Luc’s way. “How are you and Luc today?

“Tired.” Blake dug his fingers into his eyes, trying to ease the ache behind them. “Luc had a rough night; and even with us sleeping in shifts, neither of us got much sleep. I can’t wait until Ted is up in an hour, so I can get a few more hours of sleep.”

“Do you want me to take over so you can go now?” Justin asked, sitting up with a concerned frown.

“Nah,” Blake said, fighting back another yawn and dismissing Justin’s concern with a wave of his hand. In all reality, it sounded marvelous, but he hadn’t seen his friend in days and it was nice to talk face to face with someone other than Ted. “I’ll be fine for another hour or so.” He cast a sly smirk in Justin’s direction. “Besides you mentioned a crisis and I can’t abandon you in your time of need.”

“Yeah, make fun of me now,” Justin groused, the scowl returning to his face as he flopped back down into the cushions. “But I seem to remember you coming over and crying on my shoulder when you couldn’t wear your favorite shirt any longer.”

“Fucking hormones,” Blake agreed, fist bumping Justin as he stuck his fist out.

He cringed internally as he remembered running to Justin and sobbing his heart out because none of his clothing fit anymore. It had been made all the worse by some bitchy queen telling him that he was looking a little pudgy, as if the bitch hadn’t been well aware that Blake was pregnant. Luckily, she learned very quickly not to fuck with him again. Although, he felt kind of bad that Justin had accidentally gotten caught in the backlash and didn’t realize it to this day. 

“I’m really not going to miss that part,” Blake muttered, hoping Justin never found out about his part in them getting arrested. “So, this crisis…”

“I can’t fit into my pants,” Justin whined, and then screwed up his face in disgust; Blake had to agree as that was a very Michael-like whine. Shaking his head he continued in aggrieved tone of voice. “It’s like I’ve suddenly grown overnight, and even my loosest pants don’t fit anymore.”

“That’s what you get for liking pants that plaster to your ass like a second skin,” Blake snorted, getting up and walking over to the kitchen to get them some water.

“Oh, but the results they give me,” Justin leered, snickering when Blake just rolled his eyes. He was all too aware of those results sadly, having walked in on them on more than one occasion. Shy Brian and Justin were not. “And not just because Brian loves them; but if someone so much as breathes on me while I'm wearing some of those pants, Brian’s primal side goes berserk and it leads to many a satisfying night.”

“You’re terrible,” Blake mock lamented, shaking his head at his friend as he pulled out two bottles of water. He walked over and handed one to Justin and then sat back down.

“Yes I am,” Justin said a touch smugly, and then deflated and sighed. “At least they did; not so much anymore if I can’t even zip the damned things up.”

“You knew that was going to happen, so I’m not sure why you’re surprised,” Blake pointed out, his head cocked as he studied the other man. His inner counselor kicked in, sensing there was more to it than Justin was saying. “So, what’s the real problem?”

“I hate shopping,” Justin spat vehemently, drawing an amused chuckle from Blake. “I just know that Brian is going to gleefully drag me from store to fucking store; and it’s going to be an all day process that’s going to leave me tired and cranky and wanting to kill him by the end of it. He’s been dying to go shopping for weeks.”

Blake snickered again; that made much more sense. He was quite aware that Justin hated clothing shopping with a passion and would happily wear his clothes down to rags if he could get away with it; much to Brian’s absolute horror. He had always been most comfortable in a pair of cargos and a knit shirt or sweater, and no amount of living with Brian ‘Fashion Queen’ Kinney had changed that.

“Ah, the true crisis comes out,” Blake nodded knowingly, smirking when Justin just flipped him off in response. He shook his head; he couldn’t believe his normally bright and resourceful friend hadn’t hit on the obvious solution yet. “So; go shopping before he comes home. He’s not back until tomorrow night, right? Aren’t you going to lunch with Daphne tomorrow? Make it a lunch with a shopping trip.”

“Brilliant!” Justin sat up looking far more chipper. “You are a brilliant, brilliant man; and I would kiss you if I didn’t think Ted might just end me. I knew coming to you was the right idea. Although, I thought it would more about us bitching about pregnancy and our changing bodies. But this could work.”

“Well, we can bitch about that too,” Blake conceded; and he was more than willing to do that as he was still dealing with baby tummy issues and he was not happy. “But first, I have a gift for you.” Blake got up and walked over to the hall closet, pulled out a bag and handed it to Justin. “Sorry, I didn’t wrap it; but that would have meant that I actually had the time to do anything other than eat, sleep, bathe and live for Luc.”

Justin just waved him off as he dug into the bag like a kid at Christmas.

“Ted saw those when he went shopping for formula and diapers one day,” Blake continued, nodding toward the bag. “He sent me a picture and I made him buy them.”

“I thought you had a diapering service?” Justin asked, his brow furrowed with confusion as he stopped going through the bag and looked up.

“We do, but we forgot to tell them that Peanut was born so that it would start up,” Blake said with a sheepish smile. “It was a communication failure; I thought Ted had called them and he thought I’d called them. So, we had to get some disposable diapers to get us through as I didn’t want to attempt washing the ones from the service and screw something up.”

“Ah,” Justin said, returning his attention to the bag. “We’re probably going to do the same thing. I really liked what I read about Green Cheeks and it will be one less thing for me and Brian to worry about.”

Justin pulled out the first outfit, making happy noises over the pair of black, fitted maternity cargo pants; just as Blake suspected he would. And the he laughed as he looked at the shirt that had been paired with them.

“Really?” he asked as he held up the short-sleeved, black knit shirt that had a thought bubble silk-screened on it with the words Feed Me leading away from where his baby bump would eventually be.

“Are you trying to tell me that’s not an accurate depiction lately?” Blake asked, snickering when Justin rolled his eyes and refused to answer.

Instead, he pulled out a second set of clothing, this time a pair of maternity jeans, paired with a blue shirt with the words Due in June printed on it in black.

“That should cover you until you can go shopping and wash your new clothing,” Blake said with a tired smile, happy that Justin seemed to love the gift.

“These are great,” Justin said with his wide Sunshine grin. “Where did you find them?”

“The Big Q,” Blake said with a laugh, knowing full well what Brian thought of the store. But what he didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt him.

“Oh, Brian’s going to hate that,” Justin laughed, and then stood, walked over and enveloped Blake in tight hug. “But I love them. I will definitely have to go there and take a look around. I refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that I'll only be wearing for four months.”

“Just do me a favor,” Blake smirked as Justin went to sit back down. “Don’t mention where you got the idea from when he finds out. Because you know that he will the minute he comes back and sees them. I’d like to live to see Peanut’s first birthday.”

Chapter Text

January 24

"Where's Brian?"

Justin sighed, closed his eyes and counted to ten as that familiar, grating whine washed over him. Taking a deep breath, he clenched his fists and counted to ten again; trying to settle his growing ire, but it still did nothing to ease his temper. He'd found that his normal patience for Michael's single-minded focus was dwindling day by day.

How the fuck had he managed to survive without a leash for this long?

He fervently prayed that Daphne got back from the bathroom soon; otherwise, she would be helping him scrape what was left of Michael up off the ground and helping him hide the body. He was fairly certain no one outside of Debbie would miss him much.

Setting the shirt he'd been looking at down he spun around, a thin smile on his face as he addressed the thirteen-year thorn in his side. "Well, hello, Michael; how are you doing today," he started off conversationally, although had Daphne been there, she would have instantly recognized it as his 'I am this close to eviscerating you' tone. "Me, I'm well, thank you for asking; the morning sickness seems to have abated and I have my appetite back, and I even felt Sunbeam move the other day, which was exciting."

"Real funny, Boy Wonder," Michael huffed and rolled his eyes.

It was all Justin could do not smack the vacant expression from his face. He'd been tempted many a time to do so; and, really, it would've been fully justifiable and years in the making if he'd finally given into the urge, but he chose not to. Because he knew if he did, Michael would end up whining even more than usual; and then Brian would get dragged into the fray because Michael can't solve his own fucking problems. This meant that Brian would end up annoyed with Justin, and could lead to all those lovely hours of delicious reunion sex being put on hold because Brian was too busy dealing with a whiny, little weasel.

Thus not hitting him was purely selfish on Justin's part.

"Where's Brian?" said weasel demanded again, getting more and more impatient the longer Justin ignored him.

Part of Justin was tempted to see just how far he could wind Michael up before he simply imploded form a lack of information on his drug of choice. But the other part of Justin, the one that had far more sense on this occasion, whispered the words 'reunion sex' and firmly brought the rebellious part to heel.

"Why do you need to know?" Justin asked, a placid smile on his face.

Okay, so maybe it hadn't been fully brought to heel, but it did try.

"I've been calling him for the past two days," Michael whined, droning on and on about all the perceived slights against him; and seriously, how did this man survive without a keeper? Where the fuck was Ben when you needed him? "He hasn't answered a single one of my calls. I've tried him at home, on his cell, at Kinnetik, but that bitch he employs always tells me that he's not available and that he'll get back to me when he has the time no matter what he's doing."

Justin snorted, thankfully bringing the diatribe to an immediate halt and Michael crossed his arms over his chest and pouted like the man-child that he was.

"He is busy most of the time, Michael," Justin sighed, knowing that his words would fall on deaf ears, but feeling the need to defend his husband nonetheless. For some reason, Michael still had no idea just how hard Brian had always worked to get to where he was now. "The business doesn't run itself."

"He couldn't possibly need to be working that hard," Michael grumbled, making Justin bristle, because who the fuck was he to question Brian's work ethic?

And you'd know this how? Because you own a dinky, little comic store that no one cares about and has definitely seen better days? Yes, apt comparison there.

"Besides he's not even in the state at the moment," Justin continued through grit teeth, blatantly ignoring the weasel's resumed pouting. "He's in Chicago. One of the breweries up there wanted a revamp and a national roll out, so he's there making a presentation. And then he's meeting up with a couple of our larger accounts since he's in the area and they asked to see him. He's in meetings pretty much back to back. He wouldn't have time to call you."

"What?" Michael squawked, drawing the attention of several customers nearby. "Why wasn't I informed of this?"

"Why would you be?" Justin asked, not seeing why it was any of the weasel's business in the first place; you'd think that Brian had married him, not Justin with the way he acted at times.

"Because I'm his…" Michael said, beginning a familiar phrase that had Justin wanting to bang his head against the nearest dense object. Sadly, that was Michael's head; and as appealing as the thought was, Justin knew that if he even tried, he'd just cause himself more brain damage rather than knocking some well-needed sense into the older man.

"Best friend," Justin finished tired, mentally rolling his own eyes. "Yes, we are all quite aware of the fact since you remind everyone as often as you can. But that is the point; you're his friend, not his husband. He doesn't report to you."

"Oh, and he reports to you?" Michael asked in a belligerent tone.

"Uh, yes," Justin said slowly, speaking as if he would to a small, particularly dense child; which actually described Michael's mentality to a T. "You know, it's all part of being his husband; also known as the one he fucks on a routine basis. Not to mention that I'm also part owner of Kinnetik and would need to be kept apprised of his comings and goings so that I can be in the office if needed."

"I wouldn't count on that lasting," Michael muttered, a snide smile on his face; and truly, Michael could be an ugly human being. How others didn't see it, he didn't know.

"What lasting?" Justin asked, already having a feeling he knew the direction this was going; because no one could beat a dead horse like Michael.

"Him fucking you," Michael sneered, an ugly smile on his face.

"Oh and why is that?" Justin couldn't help asking, amused that the idiot was really going to go here again. Seriously, he needed a new shtick because this one was decidedly old.

"Well, you're going to be getting bigger and bigger as time goes on," Michael sneered, raking a disgusted look over Justin's expanding belly. "And you know that Brian can't stand when someone lets themselves go. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this trip was just an excuse for him to go out and stick his dick in as many tricks as possible since he can't be satisfied with what he's getting at home…"

"He's pregnant, not letting himself go, moron," Daphne said as she walked out of the racks behind Michael, startling him. "There is a vast difference, as you well know."

Michael looked around wildly, an 'oh shit' expression on his face; guess the weasel hadn't realized that Justin had company. Justin grinned at his best friend and then just settled in to watch the show. Daphne had been dying to put Michael in his place for years and only held back because Michael wisely steered clear of her.

"Do I detect a note of jealousy, Mikey?" Daphne asked, her voice syrupy sweet as she walked over to where Michael was standing.

Michael's eyes widened until the whites could be seen and swallowed harshly, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. Daphne, shark that she was, scented blood in the water and closed in on him, her smile diamond sharp as she continued.

"You know, even if Brian wasn't satisfied with his sex life; which, trust me, he is given the stories I've heard. He still wouldn't be into you. And that's the real problem, isn't it?"

"Jealous? Jealous of what?" Michael spluttered, his face turning an unhealthy shade of mottled puce.

Daphne circled him like one of those piranhas you see in cartoons, taunting the prey and taking little nibbles out of the flesh before they devoured them whole. But in this instance, Daphne was whittling away at Michael's massive ego; a very happy and much needed happenstance in Justin's opinion.

"Jealous that Justin is everything thing you're not – beautiful inside and out, intelligent, creative, strong, resourceful, passionate, and brave – and he, at the mere age of seventeen, was far more of man than you could ever hope to be. He is the perfect foil to Brian; his strengths bolster Brian's weaknesses and vice versa."

"Please, Brian could do so much better…" Michael snorted, casting a vicious glare Justin's way.

Justin just blew him a kiss much to his annoyance and sniggered as he noticed someone recording the smack down onto their phone. Come to think of it, the kid looked familiar and Justin was pretty sure he'd seen him down on Liberty Avenue a time or two. Michael was about to become infamous once again.

"You know, you've been saying the same thing for thirteen years," Daphne snorted, casting a disdainful look Michael's way. "And it still hasn't changed anyone's perceptions. All it's done is made you sound like a broken record and it's gotten to the point that we've all learned to tune you out for our own sanity."

"You can say what you want, but eventually Brian will get tired of playing daddy, and then where will Justin be?" Michael said, trying a new tack when he realized that the other wasn't working.

"Like he did with Gus?" Daphne asked, a smirk firmly planted on her face. "I think you said the same thing then too. But let's cut the crap. We all know that's not what this is about. This goes back to a little, well-known fantasy you have that Brian will suddenly wake up and see that you've been the one all these years."

Michael flushed an even deeper red and scowled at Daphne, but didn't say a word more, as he was aware there was nothing he could say to combat her words. He was woefully unequipped when it came to taking on this FLOTUS in training, if she didn't become the actual President herself.

"I would say that I hate to inform you of this," Daphne continued with a saccharine smile. "But let's get real – I am so going to enjoy setting you straight. Newsflash Mikey – if he hasn't sucked your dick in the twenty-eight years that he's known you, he isn't going to. He's not interested and never really was. You keep holding onto an uncompleted hand job when he was a teenager and really just interested in someone else's hand on his dick; it had nothing to do with you and really it wouldn't have mattered who was in the bed with him that day so long as he got off. It's called experimenting."

"I can't believe you told her that," Michael spluttered, face paling to a ghostly white. And actually, Justin hadn't said a thing, but it wasn't like it was a secret. Everyone had heard about the infamous hand job that wasn't by now. "I am not holding onto…"

"Bitch please, sell it to someone who's buying," Daphne snapped getting tired of Michael's continuing denial. "Do you want to know the reason it wasn't, and never will be, you? It's because you need someone to take care of you, whereas Justin can take care of his own damned self. Poor little Mikey needs someone to hold his hand through his life and make all his decisions for him. Doesn't have a mind of his own; always conforming to what his partners think is best. Brian would die of boredom if he were ever to attempt a relationship with you because there is nothing there to challenge him. He needs a spitfire, not a drone."

"You better watch what you're saying…" Michael hissed, taking a step towards Daphne as if he expected it would make her cower. Justin just shook his head; Michael picked the wrong woman to mess with.

"And just what are you going to do about it, huh?" Daphne asked, getting right up into his face this time. "Run to mommy and complain that the mean girl is picking on you? Complain to Brian that Justin's little fag hag needs to be reminded of her place?" Michael flushed and didn't deny a thing. "Just as I thought; and then you wonder why it isn't you. You are nothing but a spineless, petty, jealous, sorry excuse for a man who hides behind his mommy and has yet to realize that he wore out his welcome a long ass time ago. Now go away little boy and leave the adults to shop."

Michael puffed himself up as if he were going to say something, but then, seeing the gleefully malevolent gleam in Daphne's eye, he spun on his heel and stormed off, his cheeks reddening further as people began to applaud. Barely holding back his own laughter, Justin turned to his friend and arched a brow.

"You are evil," He said mildly; he couldn't even be upset that this was going to cause him a headache at a much later date as it was the best entertainment he'd had in days. He walked over and kissed her on the cheek. "I'm so glad that you're my evil minion."

"Bitch please," Daphne snorted, linking her arm with his as she dragged him off to yet another store. "I am the Queen of my own domain. I am no one's minion."

Chapter Text

BONUS – My Husband's Back and There's Gonna Be Trouble

Brian quietly stalked down the hall, intent on one thing, and one thing only – finding the teasing, little twat that he called his husband.

When Brian had gotten off the phone with him after their little texting adventure, he had been hard as a rock, and had been forced to adjust his clothing so that his bulge wasn't quite so prominent. A task he failed at judging by poor Adelbert's dazed expression as he stared intently at Brian's crotch for the rest of the meeting. He thought he'd even saw the other man swipe away a dab of drool at one point as well, but Brian had been too intent on getting the contracts signed and getting the fuck out of the conference room to deal with his not-so-little problem.

Thankfully, the meeting wrapped up about thirty minutes later, and that Aldelbert had been far too bashful to make an unwise move on Brian; he would have hated having to crush the poor man's fantasies when he was already at a distinct disadvantage with that God awful name. Seriously, who the fuck does that to their kid? And he'd thought that Abraham was bad.

Popping his head into Sunbeam's room, Brian smiled to see that Justin had started putting in few of the baby animals and their 'homes,' and then frowned, wondering if his favorite twat had been overworking himself again. He was pretty sure that Justin was sneaking in extra hours somehow, but hadn't been able to catch him at it yet.

He looked around, listening for the familiar splash of water that would tell him that Justin was in the bathroom cleaning up, but found nothing but silence. Pulling his head out, Brian continued down the hall towards the only other place he could be since he'd checked the kitchen first thing when he came in – the studio.

Perfect; he'd been meaning to christen the studio once more anyways.

After he'd gotten out of his meeting, Brian had stalked down to his waiting car and taken himself off to his hotel room to prepare for dinner with Jason, the CEO of Hell's Half Acre Beer Company, his wife Caitlyn, and their partner, and apparently lover, Daniel. Yeah, that last bit had been a surprise to him as well; but each to their own. It's not like he was in any place to judge anyone's relationship when he and Justin's had remained open for eight years.

He'd had himself a nice, long, leisurely toss off in the shower before getting dressed and heading out for a long night with Jason and consorts, as he called them; they'd started with dinner at Next, then had after dinner drinks at The Aviary next door, and ended the night with dancing at The Mid. Although, he'd skipped out of the latter as soon as it was polite; dancing just wasn't much fun unless Justin was there.

But by the time he'd gotten back to the hotel and called Justin, they were both too tired to prolong their phone sex session; Justin more so than him. He'd then spent the next day trying to make nice with Leo Brown, especially as Drew was stepping down as Brown Athletics' spokesperson recently. That had been a headache and a half to deal with; and, again, didn't lend him much free time to call Justin for a bit of fun.

Luckily, the rep from Avalon Industries had cancelled at the last minute and Brian had been able to switch his flight to an earlier time. A fact that he'd neglected to tell Justin when they talked this morning, only long enough for Brian to figure out where he'd be that day.

Halting at the studio's doorway, Brian licked his lips at the vision before him; his eyes lustfully sliding over his husband's lithe form, and his dick instantly hardening as they rested on the firm, rounded bubble-butt that had attracted him so many years ago. Standing in front of his latest creation, Justin was clad in one of Brian's old, white wife-beaters that clung to him in all the right places and a pair of thin, navy-blue track pants that left very little to the imagination.

In his ears, were a set of ear buds, both blocking out the environment around him, while also providing musical inspiration; a bonus for Brian as Justin still hadn't become aware that he was no longer alone in the house. Just as he'd intended all along; Justin couldn't have played better into his hands than if they'd planned this scenario

A slow, carnal smile slid over his face as he watched his husband's hips dip and sway to music only he could hear; the seductive movements further inflaming Brian's need to possess the blond fully. Stalking across the floor, Brian plastered himself along Justin's back, enjoying the slight hitch in his breathing as Brian cinched an arm around his waist and hauled him back into his body. Popping one of the ear buds out, Brian pressed his lips to the hollow behind Justin's ear.

"Well, well, well, what have we here?" Brian murmured, further molding his husband's body to his, chest to back and the curve of Justin's ass snugly fitted against his crotch. He ground his dick against it, his blood heating further as a small, helpless moan spilled over Justin's lips. "All alone, little boy?"

"I'll have you know," Justin said, his breath catching again as Brian slid his hands over Justin's waist and firmly gripped his hips. "That my husband could be home at any time, mister; and then you'll really be in trouble."

"Ah, but he's not here now, is he?" Brian smirked, teasing his fingers along the edge of Justin's track pants, making Justin squirm oh-so-deliciously against him. His smile deepened and his body quickened as the faint strains of Closer by NIN played over the ear bud resting against Justin's shoulder. "And that's all that matters for now; I'll worry about him later, after I've thoroughly tasted you."

Justin shuddered, his eyes falling half-mast, and Brian could feel his heart fluttering as he pressed his lips to the thrumming pulse in his neck. He sucked the smooth, slightly salty skin into his mouth and bit down, drawing a hiss from the boy in his hands and bruising the tender skin above his pulse. Licking the bite to soothe the sting, Brian rocked his hips, enticing Justin to dance with him, and groaned when the little twat rolled his hips, grinding his ass back into his dick.

Brian slid his hands over Justin's body, touching anywhere and everywhere he could reach, as their bodies rocked and rolled together, the scent of clean sweat and the musk of Justin's arousal growing with every touch. His lips traced a hot path up from Justin's pulse, biting, licking and making a meal out of the soft skin. His hands slid over Justin's chest, his fingers tweaking Justin's nipples as his teeth sank into his ear lobe, and he whispered along with the song, "I want to fuck you like an animal."

Justin gasped, his body jolting at the dual sensations, and then drew taut as a wire as those whispered words penetrated through the fog that had enveloped him. Brian chuckled and slid his hands over Justin's chest and down to the waistband of his pants. He dipped his fingers just under the band and teased the fine hairs there, sucking in a sharp breath as he realized that the twat wasn't wearing anything underneath. He dipped his hand down further, intent on his prize, but never reached it as Justin squirmed out of his arms and pulled away.

"And who says I'll let you have your way with me?" he taunted, stepping a few feet out of the way, his eyes bright and cheeks flushed with lust. Justin licked his lips, his eyes trailing hotly over Brian's body, but he remained aloof, almost daring Brian to pursue him.

And pursue him Brian did; there was no way his prey was going to get away from him now.

"Do you honestly think you can stop me, little boy?" Brian asked in a low, rough voice and stalked after the boy, both delighted as the blond took a few stumbling steps backward, still trying to keep a small distance between them, and feeling somewhat outraged that he was being denied his due.

"Perhaps not," Justin sniffed haughtily, his arms crossing over his chest as he took another few steps away. "But if you're lucky, you might be able to entice m into giving in. It has been a while since my husband has fucked me."

"I'm not in the mood for talking you around to my view," Brian growled as he continued to stalk his prey, a triumphant smile flashing across his face as the boy backed himself up into a wall.

Justin cursed and looked around; and then, realizing he was caught, switched tactics. reverting to the teasingly little twat that Brian knew well, Justin leaned back against the flat surface and ran his tongue slowly over his lips, teasing Brian as he watched him approach through half-mast eyes.

"Then maybe you should just come and take what you want," he stated boldly, running his hands slowly over his body, pulling the material of his shirt and pants taut, and fully displaying his obvious arousal for all to see, further inflaming Brian's desire to possess him.

"Fucking tease," Brian hissed, swiftly eating the remaining distance between them; he wrapped an arm around Justin's waist and yanked him bodily against him. "You'll pay for your cheekiness, brat."

Palming his boy's ass, Brian lifted him off his feet, gratified when Justin immediately wrapped his legs around his waist, and walked over to the floor cushion he'd dragged in here after their last foray into floor sex. Tumbling them both down onto the pillow, Brian captured Justin's mouth, his tongue sweeping out and in to take immediate possession of it when Justin parted his lips.

The kiss wasn't sweet or soft, and it definitely wasn't one of homecoming, but instead, it was a struggle for dominance, hard and deep and hot, as they tangled their tongues together, stroking and teasing, each hoping to exert their control over the other.

A struggle that Brian had every intention of winning.

Sinking his hand into Justin's hair, he tightened his grip and twisted his head firmly to the right and back, as he deepened the kiss, a dark, possessive part of him all but gloating when Justin finally gave up the fight and began to respond instead. Brian grasped Justin's chin and held him in place as he feasted on his lips and tongue, gentling the kiss a degree, but displaying no less passion as he licked and nipped and teased him until Justin was squirming and straining beneath him.

Pulling away from Justin's mouth, Brian slid hot, wet kisses down his neck, his hands sliding over his clothed chest and finding the small rent he'd earlier in the material. Pushing two fingers into it, he first widened the tear and then, getting a good grip on the material, ripped in two from bottom to neck, exposing Justin's chest to his eyes.

Justin yelped, and then moaned as Brian attacked his chest, sliding hot, biting kisses over his collarbone, and down to his nipples, where he spent several minutes licking and sucking and driving Justin mad with desire. Justin keened as released his nipple with a pop and worked his way down over his ribs and stomach, down to his navel. He dipped his tongue into it, teasing the small indentation as his hands slid down over Justin's chest and ribs to rest on the waistband of his track pants.

Sitting up, Brian curled his fingers into waistband and tugged, yanking them down Justin's legs and off his body, tossing them carelessly over his shoulder. And then Brian paused and just sat there and stared for a moment, his eyes taking in the boy's beauty, in absolute awe that he belonged only to him. And then his hands were on all that smooth, alabaster skin again, touching him anywhere and everywhere while the blond writhed beneath him.

Sliding his hands up over Justin's legs, Brian teased his fingers along sensitive the inner thighs, and then the creases at the apex of his thighs, deliberately foregoing the one place Justin really wanted him to touch. He trailed them up Justin's chest, his mouth following in their wake until he was hovering over Justin's mouth once more.

"Beautiful," he murmured, capturing his husband's mouth once more, dipping his tongue past his lips to tease the tongue curled inside. They kissed for several minutes, their touches and kisses deep and languid and so sweet that Brian felt he was going to drown in the honey of Justin's mouth.

But the sweetness was short lived as once again Justin began to squirm beneath him, reigniting the embers in his gut. Sliding his hand down, he wrapped it around Justin's cock and gave it a slow, deliberate tug, making him gasp against his mouth. Circling his thumb around the head of his dick, Brian gathered up some pre-com and slid his hand back down the shaft. He set a deliberately slow pace, his fingers grazing lightly over the sensitive skin and then curling around it for a few firm strokes, only to go right back to teasing along the shaft until Justin growled low his throat. Tired of the teasing, Justin curled one hand into Brian's hair and forcefully tugged.

"Fuck me!" The little imp demanded against his lips, tugging his hair again for good measure and awakening his primitive side once more.

"As you wish," Brian smirked, abandoning Justin's mouth in favor of a much more delicious treat.

He slid down Justin's body and, shoving his legs apart, licked a long, wet strip up his cock, savoring the taste and texture of his skin. Justin keened and arched his back, his hands clenched into other side of the pillow. Chuckling Brian sucked on the head of Justin's cock, purposely teasing the underside of it with the tip of his tongue as he palmed and rolled Justin's balls in his hand.

Wetting his lips, Brian sucked the tip of Justin's dick into his mouth and then worked his way down slowly, bobbing his head down and then sucking back up until he'd taken Justin fully into his mouth. Justin wrapped his fingers into Brian's hair as he bobbed, licking and sucking and teasing until Justin was near to coming; and then pulled off, drawing a string of expletives from his husband's mouth.

Brian chuckled at his boy's frustration and quickly searched for the lube that always kept nearby. Grabbing it, he opened it and spread a little on his fingers before placing it in his back pocket. Sliding his fingers down over Justin's balls, he reached behind them and pressed against his perineum, relishing the way Justin's hips bucked into his hand.

"I do hope you're ready for me, little boy," Brian said, teasing the sensitive skin behind the boy's balls; he watched the boy that would soon belong to him with hot eyes, relishing the way he writhed and arched his body, trying to get Brian to slide his hand lower. "Because I am in no mood to be patient."

"Like I'd expect that of someone of your sensibilities," Justin spat, pushing at Brian ineffectually, still trying to get him to do what he wanted. "Besides, I thought I told you to fuck me! So far, I'm not seeing anything worth my...ahhh!"

Justin keened as Brian's hand slid over his perineum and down to the furled hole, and Brian was instantly gratified to find the butt plug inserted there. Grabbing the base, he twisted it and then pulled it out part way before shoving it back in sharply. Justin's body jolted and he cried out as Brian fucked him with the toy for several seconds before pulling it out and replacing them with two lubed fingers.

"Such a mouthy little twat," Brian murmured, pressing hard kiss against Justin's swollen and kiss-bruised mouth. "Someone really needs to to teach you not to taunt the person who has you at their mercy."

Brian chuckled at Justin's annoyed squawk, but cut off his reply by pulling out his fingers and thrusting them back in, pressing against his prostate as he did so; Justin gasped and wriggled as Brian quickly worked him open, stretching and scissoring his fingers until he could insert a third one. Sliding it in, Brian steadily worked Justin up, thrusting his fingers into the hot, tight channel, and rubbing up against his prostate on every couple of passes, until Justin was babbling and nearly begging for his cock.

But Brian also held back, giving him enough to drive Justin mad with desire, and have him writhing beneath him, but not enough to having him coming; he wanted to be inside his boy when that happened.

When Justin was able to take the third finger easily, Brian pulled them out, smirking when Justin whimpered at their loss. He sat up and didn't even bother to undress; he needed his boy too badly. He just slid his jeans down low enough to get his cock out, quickly lubed it up and slid into that hot, tight ass that he'd been craving for days.

Groaning, Brian pressed his head to Justin's stomach, his body feverish as Justin tightened around his dick. Biting his lip, he rubbed his boy's stomach and waited until he relaxed before sliding up his body. He grabbed Justin's hands and pinned them to the pillow above his head, and, with his legs wrapped around his waist, he began to fuck him with long, slow, hard thrusts.

Justin cried out, and arched up into each thrust, making delicious little sounds in the back of his throat meant to entice Brian to speed up; which he did, thrusting firmly, but still languidly into the only ass he'd wanted to fuck for the rest of his life. Justin moaned again, his head thrashing against the pillow as he continued to buck against him, shoving his ass into his dick in an attempt to quicken his pace. But Brian just pinned him down further and kept up his long, deep thrusts, pulling almost all the way out before slamming back in, until his boy was nearly screaming in frustration.

Brian held the pace, dragging his dick over the Justin's prostrate every few thrusts until he'd had finally had enough, and in an effort to 'get the fuck on with it' as he'd demanded more than once, he contracted his muscles, squeezing tightly around Brian's dick. Gasping, Brian arched his back and tightened his hold on Justin's wrists, muttering a string of expletives much to his captive's amusement.

Growling under his breath, Brian thrust harder, his thrusts growing shorter and faster, their skin slapping together as he pounded into his boy for all he was worth. Justin keened and met him, arching his body up into each of Brian's thrusts, grinding his ass upwards as he tried to draw Brian as deep as possible. Crying out, Brian sped up once more until they were a frenzy of need and want and desire and he had no idea where he began and Justin ended and he was completely lost in it.

Thrusting one last time, Brian felt, more than heard, Justin come, his body convulsing beneath him and his muscles clamping down, drawing his own orgasm from him. Throwing his head back, he thrust a few more times as the world whited-out and he came with an intensity that had him breathless and his eyesight graying around the edges.

Slumping, Brian panted and gathered Justin to him as rolled to the side, taking him with him, their bodies still merged as he wasn't quite down with his twat. Humming with contentment, he floated, basking in the aftermath as he ran his hands soothingly over Justin's back and arm and neck. He pressed soft kisses along Justin's neck, chuckling a bit when his husband shivered and squirmed away, still too sensitive for too much touch.

They laid there, just like that for several minutes, until finally Justin stirred and lifted his head to press a gentle kiss on Brian's mouth. They kissed languidly, the neither of them needing, or even wanting, to move any time soon. They were just content to bask in each other's presence and enjoy feeling the other pressed against them after the three-day separation.

"You're home early," Justin murmured, finally having gotten his breath back to voice the question that had likely been plaguing him since Brian's arrival.

"Avalon cancelled last minute," Brian murmured, still a bit annoyed that the rep waited until the last minute to tell him, but mostly just glad that it meant that he could come home earlier than he expected. "So I decided to come home and teach my husband that it doesn't pay to be a teasing, little twat."

"You failed miserably," Justin informed him with an indelicate snort.

"Well, there's always next time," Brian said agreeably, not really caring who won this round. There was still plenty of time left in the day to make the twat pay for his actions.

Chapter Text

January 25

Justin sat up with a yawn, dragging his hand lazily through his hair as he curled up further in the corner of his favorite overstuffed chair, a sketchpad sitting in his lap, open, but unused. He had been trying to focus on an idea for his last pastel for the last hour, but his mind kept wandering to the night before.

Squirming in his seat, Justin rubbed his ass, which was still a bit tender from the spanking Brian had administered after their very spectacular reunion in his studio; trying to inflict upon him the importance of not giving him a hard-on during meetings. Which was just laughable at best, because Justin was well aware that Brian often got turned on just by doing the pitch itself, and Justin didn't have to add any fuel to the flames so to speak.

Personally, Justin just thought Brian was traumatized by knowing that he'd be prominently featuring in Dilbert's or Albert's or whatever the hell his name was, spank bank for a long time to come. Justin couldn't even blame the man for looking at and fantasizing about Brian, as his husband was gorgeous and had a glorious cock that he knew how to use well. Justin knew that he'd certainly never been able to resist Brian's pull, and he was notoriously stubborn, so why would he expect anyone else to?

Stretching, Justin forced his attention back to the paper in front of him, determined to get at least a basic outline done today, so that he could begin this last piece tomorrow. Biting his lower lip, he'd just set his pencil to paper when an outraged cry echoing out of their walk-in closet had him jumping in his seat.

Justin cast a perplexed look towards the closet, where Brian had been going through his clothing from the trip and getting it ready to either be taken to the dry cleaners or the laundry service. Chewing on bottom lip, he wondered what on Earth had made Brian react that way, and then cringed when he envisioned one of his prized Armani shirts or suits being damaged on the way home; that was all they needed.

But he didn't have to wonder for long, as the dulcet tones of his husband's voice filled the room again.

"Justin!" Brian bellowed, the irritation evident in this tone. Sighing, Justin got up out of his comfortable nook and walked over to the closet door bracing himself for…well, anything.

"You bellowed?" Justin asked lightly, leaning against the doorjamb.

"What is this?" Brian asked, a sneer on his face as he held up several familiar items of clothing. And they should be familiar since he'd just bought them yesterday.

"Maternity clothes…" Justin said slowly, wondering where Brian was going with this as he thought it was pretty obvious what they were. Between the stretch bands on the jeans and chinos, and the larger than normal shirts, they really couldn't be anything else. Justin arched a brow. "I told you I was going shopping with Daphne yesterday."

"These are…" Brian sneered at the items in his hands, holding them away from his body by the tips of his fingers as if he feared they'd contaminate him if he held them any closer. "I don't know what they are, but I wouldn't call them clothes. Where did you get them?"

"The Big Q," Justin said, not about to lie to his husband. He supposed he could, and life would be much simpler for him; but he'd never backed down on a fight with Brian before and he certainly wasn't going to start over something as stupid as clothing. "They were having this big seasonal sale because they were starting to get the new spring lines in."

"You went where?" Brian looked at him as if he'd grown another head; and then dropped the clothing into a heap on the floor and stepped away from them. Justin rolled his eyes at his melodramatics.

"The Big…" Justin trailed off and huffed, crossing his arms over his chest and shaking his head as Brian stared at the pants and shirt as if they were going to bite him. "Oh get over it, Brian. They are perfectly acceptable for what I need. I spend most of my time in my studio or at home. It's not like anyone is going to know the difference and I refuse to spend a hundred dollars on a pair of pants I'll only wear for the next four or so months."

Brian turned to him slowly and opened and closed his moth several times as he tried to find the words for, well, whatever it was he wanted to say and just seemed to be a complete loss. He closed his mouth for a final time and stared at Justin in disbelief for a long time; but Justin wasn't budging on this.

He spent most of his time in a studio getting paint and pastels and charcoal and all matter of artsy shit on his clothing; there was no way in hell he was going to spend hundreds of dollars on clothing that he'd only wear for four months and would just end up getting destroyed due to his work.

Unfortunately, his fashion queen husband didn't understand that clothing was just another tool for him. It was something he was required to wear so that he didn't get cold or offend anyone's delicate sensibilities with his nudity. In fact, the only time he dressed up was when they went out, he had to be at Kinnetik for some reason, or he had a show. The rest of the time, he was quite happy in his chinos and a knit shirt.

"No," Brian said, garnering Justin's attention, and exasperation, once more. "Just no; I cannot believe that you brought this fashion faux pas into my house. You and I need to go shopping. Now. I will not have my husband walking around in these rags."

"Fuck you, Brian," Justin hissed, glaring at his husband with a mutinous moue on his face. "Shopping with Daphne was bad enough; there is no way in hell I am going clothes shopping with you."

Brian just stared at him with incomprehension; like he couldn't believe that Justin was refusing to go shopping with him. But fuck that; Justin had had enough of that shit yesterday when Daphne dragged him to five fucking stores, looking for this shirt he just had to buy. And then another additional ten so he could help her find the perfect outfit for her date this coming Friday. He was so done with shopping for a while.

"You won't, will you?" Brian asked, arching a brow; Justin defiantly jutted his chin out. "Easily solved." Brian picked up his cell phone and pressed a few buttons, placed it to his ear and waited. Justin stared at him with a suspicious frown. "Hey, Sonny Boy, how would you and your sister like to go shopping with me today? I need to get a few things for myself and Justin." Brian paused and then smiled triumphantly at Justin. "Sure, we can stop by the art store, and the music store as well. Not a problem. We'll even pick up Auntie Em on the way, get some lunch and make a day of it. See you in about thirty minutes."

Brian hung up the phone and stared pointedly at Justin.

"I cannot believe you did that," Justin hissed, his hands on his hips.

"Still don't want to go?" Brian asked, arching his brow again. Justin just crossed his arms over his chest; he was not going to be wrangled by his husband's machinations. "That's fine; as you heard, I'll have Sonny Boy, Jenny and Emmett with me. We'll get more done without you anyways."

"You better not take Emmett," Justin hissed, jabbing Brian in the chest with his finger. "I love him to death, but his idea of fashion does not match mine. Do you hear me Brian!?"

"What was that, Sunshine?" Brian sing-songed; he pushed Justin's hand away and stepping around him, heading toward the door. "I can't hear you over the mental bonfire I'm building using those travesties as kindling."

"Brian!" Justin yelled at his retreating back; but Brian ignored him and kept walking. He followed him out of the closet, and the bedroom, and marched over to the top the stairs; only to watch as Brian quickly made his way down them, humming a tune under his breath. "You get back here!"

"Gotta go, Sunshine," Brian waved, heading toward the garage. "The rug rats and Emmy Lou are waiting; and you know what they are like when they are kept waiting."

"Brian!" he yelled again; fruitlessly it seemed as Brian didn't reappear.

Instead, Justin stood there, alone, his mouth agape, as he heard the garage door slam closed and the mechanical garage door rise, and then shut again moments later as a car went down the drive.

"Fuck!" he growled; he marched back into his room and picked up his phone, hastily dialing a number that he knew by heart. "Drew! Hey, how are you? I'm good. Look, I was wondering if Em was there…he is great! Can I speak with him for a moment? I wanted to invite him over so we could go over some of the shower details." Justin paused as he listened to Drew talking to Em in the background. "He will? Excellent! Tell him I'll order out for lunch from that little bistro he loves. See you in about thirty minutes."

Justin hung up, growled again and threw his phone onto the bed. Well, he may not have stopped the entire show, but at least he forestalled one of the acts. Because as much as he loved Em, he really didn't trust Brian to rein him in right now if only to teach Justin a lesson. Scrubbing his hand over his face, he spun on his heel and stormed off to his studio.

At the very least, this gave him plenty of frustration to work out; he might as well channel it into something productive.

Chapter Text

January 26

Brian leaned his head back against the couch cushion, barely paying attention to the movie playing on the TV. He couldn't even remember what it was about; it was something Justin had been keen on watching, but given that he was laying against Brian's chest, sound asleep, it was little more than background noise. Even Gus had stopped watching it in favor of watching something on his iPad.

He supposed he could have turned it off, or even paused it; but he was feeling far too lazy to reach down for the remote at his feet. Plus, moving would have meant potentially jostling Justin and waking him up. And after spending two restless nights, tossing and turning, and generally being unable to sleep, Justin really needed the rest.

Neither of them slept very well without the other these days.

Running his hands through fine blond hair, Brian pressed his lips to his sleeping husband's brow and closed his eyes as he slumped down further into the couch. He couldn't remember the last time he felt this content and relaxed. It seemed that between Kinnetik, Justin's show and everything to do with Sunbeam, they were always on the go lately and had little time for these quiet moments.

He'd even risked the wrath of Deb and told her that they wouldn't be at the family dinner that night because Justin was worn out. Not exactly a lie either. And, of course, if it meant her Sunshine needed to stay home because he was taking care of himself and the baby, she was more than happy to overlook it this once.

Sliding his hand down, Brian rested it against Justin's stomach and smiled; it wasn't quite a bump yet, just a swelling of his stomach, but it was irrefutable proof, outside the sonogram, that Sunbeam was a reality. And Brian couldn't help loving it. He loved all the changes Justin's body, could deal with all the mood swings and the cravings and even deal with a queen out or two, because it meant that soon they would have a child of their own.

Hopefully, one with Justin's sunshine smile.

Pressing his face against Justin's hair he inhaled the soft scent of apples and drifted between sleep and wakefulness; as he hadn't gotten much sleep either. And long gone were the days where he could stay up all night and still function at full speed the next day. He'd just about fallen asleep himself when a loud laugh startled him into wakefulness.

Justin snuffled and stirred, murmuring incoherently as his lashes fluttered. Brian shushed him quietly, running his hand soothingly over his back until he drifted off once more and then looked over at Gus. His Sonny Boy smiled sheepishly and mouthed an apology before going back to what he was watching with a wide grin.

"What are you laughing at, Sonny Boy?" Brian asked, curious as to what had his son so entertained that he'd completely forgotten that he and Justin were there.

"Huh?" Gus asked reflexively, before flushing guiltily and looking away, a shifty expression on his face. "Oh, uh nothing."

Brian stared at his son with narrowed eyes, instantly suspicious by his reaction; he knew his Sonny Boy far too well, and that look didn't bode well for his peace of mind.

"Really?" Brian said, his disbelief evident as he arched a brow.

"It's just a just a video on YouTube," Gus said, trying to play it off once more, even as he squirmed uncomfortably under Brian's doubtful gaze.

"Oh," Brian said, all faux innocence as he held out his hand. "Well, hand it over then; your old man could use a laugh."

"I don't think that's a good idea," Gus said hesitantly, chewing on his lip in a very Justin-like manner; the very mannerism Justin employed when his little twat was trying to talk his way out of something that he knew would irritate Brian to no end.

"What?" Brian simply stared at Gus, an unreadable expression on his face; which only served to make Gus even more nervous. "Surely you don't think I'll be offended; I doubt there is anything in it that I haven't seen before or that could shock me.

"You'd be surprised," Gus muttered under his breath, and then shot a wide, worried look Brian's way, as if realizing he'd said that out loud rather than in his head as he intended.

"Well, now you've really got my curiosity up," Brian said with a frown, wondering why Gus was being so resistant to showing him.

There were very few things that angered him these days and he tried to be fair in allowing Gus to make his own decisions when it came to his entertainment choices. Within reason, of course; the obvious things weren't allowed.

"I suppose you wouldn't just believe me when I said you really don't want to see it?" Gus asked, making one last ditch attempt to thwart Brian.

Brian just raised an eyebrow and held out his hand.

"Didn't think so," Gus muttered and handed him the iPad before flopping dramatically on the floor, his face buried in his arm. "Jus is going to kill me."

"Why would…" Brian trailed off as he stared in bewilderment at what looked like a list of videos that featured some very familiar people. "Is that Michael, Daphne and Justin?"

"Yeah," Gus huffed, but didn't provide any more information.

Brian looked at his son, who blatantly ignored it, and the he huffed. Obviously it was going to take some more prodding to get the necessary information out his Sonny Boy.

"Why is there a YouTube video of Mikey, Daphne and Justin?" Brian asked point blank, so that there was no way Gus could mistake him and muddy the water with half answers. "And why haven't I heard about this until now?"

"Uh, Aunt Daphne got mad at Uncle Mikey and kind of told him off at the Big Q?" Gus said, before clamming up and looking at his hands.

As if Brian hadn't noticed his lack of forthcoming information on the why of it. Brian turned back to the iPad with raised eyebrows and a small frown on his face. Justin hadn't mentioned this last night; or today either for that matter. Brian sighed internally. But, then again, the twat wouldn't because he was used to Michael's temper tantrums and wouldn't want to cause issues between him and Mikey.

Running his hand through Justin's hair, he stared in exasperation at the sleeping man and vowed that he and a certain little twat would be having a conversation on keeping him informed of what was happening in his life. Even if meant telling him about Mikey's latest tantrum; especially if it dealt with Mikey's latest tantrum.

"And this is the video of it?" Brian asked, frowning when he noticed that earphones were missing; and then felt almost absurdly proud as he noticed them clutched in Gus' hand.

His Sonny Boy knew that he wouldn't play it without the earphones for fear of waking his Jus up; the clever little devil. Well, he wasn't going to win this time.

"Uh…there's actually a longer one," Gus said, sitting up and leaning over to touch the screen, pulling up the description area. "Apparently this is just the highlights reel."

"It has a highlights reel?" Brian asked incredulously, wondering how something that happened only two days ago, was so popular that there was a highlights reel. "And you never answered me; why haven't I heard about this until now?"

"It went viral, Dad," Gus huffed, his lips pursing mutinously. "I'm surprised you're just finding out about it because it's all the Avenue is talking about. Why did you think Michael hasn't been around?

"He told me he had the flu," Brian said, and then wanted to smack himself for believing the lie; because since when did Mikey ever go silent when he was sick? He was one of those people that believed that if he was suffering, then everyone around him had to suffer too.

"No," Gus snickered, a very Kinniesque smirk on his face. "More like he couldn't walk down the street without someone asking if he'd managed to scrape his balls off the floor after Daphne was done eviscerating them."

"Eviscerating them?" Brian asked, suddenly dreading what he was about to see. It was a well-known fact that Daphne didn't like Mikey; but she usually steered clear of him because she didn't think he was worth her time or verbal genius.

"You have to see it," Gus bubbled, a starry-eyed, awed look on his face; and Brian almost laughed at that. His Sonny Boy had long had a crush on Daphne and it looked as if it were still going strong. "She was brutal; but, of course, she would be because she was defending Jus and you know how Daphne is about Jus. She's nearly as vicious as you."

"What do you mean she was defending Justin?" Brian asked sharply; and Gus instantly clammed up once more, his eyes wide as he realized what he said.

"Uh, you know," Gus said, getting up and trying to leave, the earphones still in his hand. "There is this report I have to do and I should probably…"

"Gus," Brian said firmly, letting his Sonny Boy know he meant business; he didn't use that tone often as Gus was a good kid, but when it did happen Gus froze instantly in his tracks. His Sonny Boy turned around with an unhappy look; one that deepened when Brian held out his hand and commanded. "Hand them over."

"Fine," Gus said, his shoulders slumping as he walked back over to Brian. "But you didn't hear about it from me. Everyone has been hush-hush about it and I don't want to hear about it from Eema. The one on the screen is the highlights reel, but there is a link in the description that takes you to the original video."

Gus handed the earphones to Brian and then beat a hasty retreat, obviously not wanting to be around for the fallout of whatever Brian was about to see. Placing the ear buds into his ears, Brian tapped the replay button and his ears were immediately assaulted by a song he hadn't heard in years – Platypus (I Hate You) by Green Day. His eyebrows rose in surprise as he watched Daphne rip into Michael with a viciousness that left even him breathless, her little gems interspersed the lyrics.

 

You know, even if Brian wasn't satisfied with his sex life; which, trust me, he is given the stories I've heard. He still wouldn't be into you. And that's the real problem, isn't it?

He, at the mere age of seventeen, was far more of man than you could ever hope to be.

Newsflash Mikey – if he hasn't sucked your dick in the twenty-eight years that he's known you, he isn't going to.

He was a teenager and really just interested in someone else's hand on his dick.

Bitch please; sell it to someone who's buying.

Poor little Mikey needs someone to hold his hand through his life and make all his decisions for him. Doesn't have a mind of his own; always conforming to what his partners think is best.

And just what are you going to do about it, huh? Run to mommy and complain that the mean girl is picking on you?

You are nothing but a spineless, petty, jealous, sorry excuse for a man who hides behind his mommy and has yet to realize that he wore out his welcome a long ass time ago.

 

Brian frowned; while he had to admit that the video was amusing, and the song choice suiting, the fact that it existed at all disturbed him. Not because Daphne went off on Mikey; he was surprised that it had taken this long for it to happen. But that something had pushed her to the point that she'd felt the need to do it at all. Unfortunately, the video didn't tell him the why it happened.

Scrolling down a bit, he clicked on the link for the original video; and then scowled when Michael's face filled the screen, sneering at a placid Justin, and spouting off his usual venom, asking why Brian hadn't told him that he was leaving on a trip. And why it mattered to him, Brian didn't know as he'd thought they'd gotten over all this shit years ago when Brian told him point blank to butt the fuck out of his life.

He did smile faintly when Justin blandly pointed out the obvious and continued holding his own without even looking ruffled until Daphne came onto the scene and ripped Mikey a new one. And really, he didn't blame her one bit. Had he been the one to overhear that, Justin and he would be driving out to the woods to hide a body.

Setting the iPad on the ground, Brian frowned pensively and contemplated Mikey's recent tantrum, wondering just what the fuck had gotten into his friend of late. He thought Mikey had gotten over this bullshit when Justin and he'd gotten married. But ever since they'd announced Justin's pregnancy, it was like they'd slipped right back to the beginning and he was more than a little tired of constantly having to deal with this shit.

Something had to be done; and sooner, rather than later. Justin didn't need this stress.

"Brian?" a soft voice jolted him out of his reverie.

Brian looked down into the sleep-dazed, blue eyes studying him; he traced the soft pink lips that frowned pensively up at him and arched a brow.

"So, Sunshine, when were you going to tell me about the Mikey and Daphne smackdown YouTube video that went viral?"

Chapter Text

January 27

Justin took a sip of his chocolate-strawberry milkshake and opened the folder in front of him, nodding at the contents, quite pleased with what he'd seen so far.

When he'd given Emmett free rein on the baby shower, not wanting to deal with all the niggling details after the fiasco that was their wedding – and thank God that he never had to do that again; Sunbeam was completely on their own when they got married – he was worried that it would end up being an over the top event. One that he would have to veto in order to make sure Emmett survived the event.

Brian had been none to pleased at the thought of giving Emmett free rein, but Justin had had faith in their friend. And judging by the fun, but tasteful decorations he was seeing, he was absolutely justified in that trust.

"So, I was thinking; since you aren't planning to tell us the sex of the baby anytime soon," Em said, shooting Justin a disgruntled look. Justin just smile placidly in return; he had no intentions of caving on this anytime soon, so they all just had to deal. "That we should go with this cute yellow, grey and blue theme. But not baby blue, more of a sky blue like you see on this invitation."

"That is so cute," Justin gushed, taking in the details.

"I figured that with you and Brian calling the baby Sunbeam," Em continued with a smile, flipping the page to reveal various yellow and grey decorations. "That would go with a 'You are My Sunshine' theme. I found some of the most adorable ideas for it." He flipped the page again. "Like, I was thinking of this for the cake."

"Oh, I like that," Justin clapped his hands and stared at the two-tier cake; and then bit his lip, wondering if that would be enough to serve all of their guests. The party just seemed to keep growing no matter how hard Justin tried to rein it in. "But will that be enough for all of our guests? It looks a little small."

"Isn't it darling?" Em gushed, smiling down at the cake for a moment before growing serious. "We'd be cutting it pretty close as it is, but we plan to make a sheet cake as well just to be certain; plus there will be cupcakes and cake pops for the kids. And the best part is it utilizes the same colors and designs that are on the invitation. Darren is so excited to make it."

Justin nodded and took another sip of his drink. That actually was a really good idea to have the cake pops and cupcakes for the kids. It would certainly be much more manageable and they could choose a couple of different cake flavors.

"What about the food?" Justin asked, moving onto the next area that he wanted to focus on. "I know it starts at noon, but I was hoping to do a mix of breakfast and lunch foods. You don't think it would be too late for that, do you?"

"No, not at all," Em said, shaking his head and slipping ahead a few pages to a buffet layout." I was thinking that we'd do some sliders for sure; I know how much you loved those at the last party I gave." Justin nodded enthusiastically, practically salivating at the thought. "I was thinking we'd do the salmon cake sliders with mixed baby greens, thinly sliced tomato and garlic aioli. And the pulled short rib slider with the apple slaw. The lamb burger with thinly sliced cucumber and tomato, topped with feta and Tzatziki. And then a Portobello slider with baby Swiss, caramelized onions, mixed greens and tomato."

"Uh…on the feta," Justin said, chewing on his bottom lip, a worried expression on his face. He had gotten this huge list of do and don't eats from his doctor, but it was difficult to keep it all straight sometimes. "I thought I read something that said that I wasn't supposed to have soft cheeses? Feta being one of them."

"The feta is perfectly fine," Em said, waving off his concern; and then explained further when Justin remained skeptical. "Most cheeses are fine as long as they are made with pasteurized milk. The only ones you should avoid, even if they are made with pasteurized milk, are soft rind cheeses. And that is because of the way they are stored. They are stored in a damp environment which makes them ripe breeding grounds for Listeria." Justin nodded, relieved to hear that as he loved his cheese. Em patted him on the hand reassuringly. "Don't worry, Baby. I've made sure that almost all of the items on the menu are safe for you to eat."

"Almost?" Justin frowned, wondering what on the menu could potentially be harmful.

"Yes, well, as you know," Em said, flipping to the next page. "You wanted a smoked salmon platter for Brian, which is strictly on the no-no list. But you already knew that. The other item would be the Brie that we'll be using for one of the tea sandwiches and the cheese platter. That is also on the must be avoided list."

"Well I don't like it anyways," Justin wrinkled his nose, vividly recalling his first and last experience with the cheese at Dr. Dave and Mikey's slide show. He shuddered as he remembered the taste and texture. "So that is not a problem."

"Don't like what?" said a genial voice that Justin had come to dread

Sighing internally, he turned to the intruder with a thin smile, wishing the man had just ignored him for once. Brandon smiled down at him, licking his lips and his eyes raking over his body lustfully. Justin barely quelled a shudder of disgust. He didn't know what it was about this man, but the thought of him being anywhere near him made him ill.

This thing with Brandon had started several years back, and hadn't faded even after Justin and Brian had gotten married. After Brian had won that ill-thought out Top Ten competition, (and seriously, what the hell had his husband been thinking); and then had embarrassed the younger man by denying his winnings and tossing him out the door, Brandon's attention had swung from Brian and latched onto Justin for some reason.

He'd always thought it was because Brandon wanted to prove to Brian that he wasn't the only one who could have Justin at any time or any place he chose out of some misguided sense of revenge. As, he'd come onto Justin immediately there after when Justin had been out dancing at Babylon one night. Suspicious of his intentions, Justin instantly shot him down and walked away, ignoring the man for the rest of the night.

It had gotten ugly after that for about a week, with Brandon making pointed, snide comments that Justin ignored; he just didn't have the time for the other man's pettiness. And then another week later he and Brian were back on and it hadn't mattered.

He'd expected Brandon to drop it once he realized that nothing was going to happen; but every couple of months or so, the other man tracked Justin down and tried his luck once more.

"Brandon," Em said with a falsely bright smile, doing his best to draw the other man's attention from Justin. "How charming to see you out and about; I never realized that you actually made it out of the backroom like the rest of us mere mortals."

"A man has to eat sometime," Brandon said, tossing a fake smile of his own at Em; and then he turned to Justin, his smile morphing into something more genuine. "And when the scenery is so breathtaking, one can't help himself from basking in it. How are you today, Justin?"

"Brandon," Justin said blandly, keeping his features blank so that there was no way the other man could misread anything he did as encouragement. "Always a pleasure to see you." Not. "I've been doing well. And yourself?"

"Perfect now that I've seen you," Brandon said in a low voice, a leer on his face. Justin shuddered again internally, feeling very much in need of a shower after that look. And not due to any positive feelings on his part.

"Our Baby is quite radiant these days, isn't he?" Em said as he typed something into his phone and then set it aside and smiled at Justin. "I suspect it's that pregnancy glow that everyone talks about. Of course, being blissfully married to the man of his dreams plays a large part in that as well. I've never seen to people more in love. Well, except for maybe me and my Drewsie!"

"Kinney did luck out finding him before anyone else had a fair chance," Brandon said tightly, a muscle in his jaw ticking as he looked out the window. And Justin couldn't help but roll his eyes and share an exasperated smile with Em at that. Well, if that's they way it was going to be.

"I prefer to think I'm the lucky one," Justin smiled softly, as he always did when he thought of Brian. "He is as intelligent and talented is he is beautiful, inside and out, and so loving and supportive; I don't know how I got by without him. I couldn't ask for a better man in my life."

Yeah, he was laying it on thick; not that Brian wasn't all those things, but if the man in question could hear him right now, he would shudder, break out into hives and mutter something about lesbionic twats. Em pursed his lips, fighting back a smile as he stared at his phone; he tapped a couple of buttons and read whatever was there, his eyes clearing as started typing once more. Then he quickly set aside and smiled at Justin.

"That was just so sweet, Baby," Em gushed with a knowing glint in his eye. He was very well aware of what Justin was doing and more than happy to play along.

"Not to mention he has the most beautiful cock," Justin grinned lasciviously, internally snickering when Brandon stiffened at the mention. "God, I just can't get enough it."

"But the real question is," Em drawled confidentially, a sly smile on his face as he leaned over. "Is he as legendary in the sack as they all profess?"

"Like you need to ask," Justin smirked, well aware of the night the two had spent together before they were friends. "There is a reason that he still remains the uncontested Stud of Liberty Avenue; even if he is a retired stud these days." Justin turned and blinked as if surprised to see Brandon still standing there. Brandon, for his part, looked unhappy with the direction of their conversation. "Oh, sorry, Brandon; I do get carried away when it comes to my husband. Was there something you needed?"

"I just came over to…" Brandon said, leaning forward into Justin's space.

Justin moved away instantly, but didn't get very far away when Brandon was suddenly jostled out of the way by someone taking the seat next to him. Surprised, Justin met his husband's heated gaze for a brief second before Brian leaned down, prompting Justin to close his eyes and tilt his head up as Brian pressed lips to his. So, that's what Em had been up to. He really needed to buy something nice for his friend.

"Hey honey, I was able to make it after all," Brian said as he pulled away and picked up the folder that was sitting in front of Justin. "Got a last minute cancellation. Have you gone over the baby shower stuff already?"

"Kinney," Brandon said through clenched teeth, obviously irritated that he had been shunted aside yet again.

"Green," Brian said, wrapping a possessive arm around Justin, his eyes daring Brandon to do something so he had a reason to toss him out the door. Sadly, Brandon was far too smart for that and he just smiled thinly.

"See you around, Justin," Brandon said as he sauntered away.

"Not if I can help it," Justin muttered, scowling when Brian chuckled at his words.

"Now, now, now," Brian said, ruffling his hair and pressing a kiss to his cheek. "Let's not get testy. He can't help it if he has the good taste to admire your sweet, little ass."

"Yeah, well," Justin grimaced, shooting an irritated look at the departing Brandon. "I wish he'd admire it from as far away as possible. He gives me the creeps."

"Don't worry," Brian smirked, nuzzling against his cheek. "I'll protect you from the scary man, Sunshine."

Justin just shot him a dirty look; and then took a deep breath, and twisted his head in an effort to release some of the tension gathered in his neck. "So, did you really have a cancellation?"

"No, but Cynthia took over when she read Em's message," Brian admitted, casting a thankful look towards Em as he rubbed the back of Justin's neck. "She's well aware of how much you dislike these encounters with Brandon."

"Well, thank her for me when you get back," Justin said, relaxing into his husband's touch and shunting aside all thoughts of blonde's who couldn't take no for an answer.

Brian just hummed; he put in his order when the server came over and then turned to face Em with a tongue in cheek smirk. One that instantly raised Justin's hackles as it said he was up to no good.

"Hey, Emmy Lou," Brian said, casting a sly look Justin's way; one that had the hairs on the back of his neck standing further on end. "We missed you the other day."

Justin winced at those words and then shot Brian a 'don't you dare' look. One that Brian blatantly ignored as he focused all his attention on their friend. He wouldn't dare.

"The other day?" Em said, a bewildered look on his face. "Did we have plans that I wasn't aware of?"

"Nope," Brian said, still watching Justin from the corner of his eye. "I took Gus and Jenny shopping, and we were planning to stop by and see if you wanted go with us; but when I called, Drew said you'd already left to go talk to Justin about the baby shower. We were going maternity clothes shopping for Justin since he didn't want to go."

He did. Asshole. He would so pay for this later.

"Oh, what a shame!" Em frowned, looking disappointed to have missed it. "That would have been so much fun! Why on Earth wouldn't you want to go, Baby?"

"What my darling husband failed to mention," Justin said through clenched teeth, glaring at his smirking husband. Oh, yeah, he was going to pay; and pay dearly. "Was that I had gone shopping the day before with Daphne and had already picked up a bunch of maternity clothing."

"Yeah, at the Big Q," Brian sneered, his face twisted in disgust.

"Oh, say no more, honey," Em snorted, waving his hand in complete agreement. The traitor. Forget the nice gift. "I totally get how you needed to save our Baby from his bad fashion choices."

"Thanks," Brian snickered. "I knew you'd see it my way, Em. And actually, we can always go again; we didn't get a chance to get everything he'd need since I had to get the rug rats home."

"Oh, definitely," Em said, clapping his hands together with excitement, completely ignoring Justin's scowl. "Just let me know and I'll clear my schedule."

"I hate you," Justin muttered for Brian's ears only.

"Bet you'll want to come next time, won't you?" Brian replied with a smirk; and Justin just scowled and refused to answer, knowing when he was beat.

Chapter Text

January 28

Leo sat back with a groan of appreciation, sipping from his glass of wine; he really wished he could eat more of the fine meal that Justin had provided for them, but he was almost full and he wanted to save some room for whatever dessert that Justin and Anna had prepared this evening.

Setting his wine aside, Leo stared mournfully at his plate, the rich taste of duck still in his mouth and silently toasted the cooks. They'd started with a lovely mint and watercress soup topped with a goat's cheese crostini; and followed that with an arugula salad with a lemon-parmesan dressing. Then the main had been seared duck breast with cherries and a port wine reduction, wild mushroom risotto and asparagus.

The duck had been seared to a perfect medium-rare; although, he did notice that Justin's had been cooked all the way through, which made sense given his pregnancy. It had been the perfect end, to a lovely day with the boys.

It was funny; when he'd first met Brian, he had admired his bold, brash personality and his determination not to let anything get in the way of what he wanted. They were traits that were good in a business man, especially in the person that was selling your product. But he hadn't liked the man all that much. He'd heard the rumors; that Brian Kinney played as hard as he worked and never passed up a man that caught his eye. That he was a wild card, who got things done, but wasn't the most reliable sort unless it came to business and getting it done.

And then there was the whole gay thing, which he'd never really understood and had been uncomfortable with at first. His atrocious behavior when Drew Boyd had first come out a huge indicator as to his mentality at that point in time. Thankfully, his wife had kicked some sense into him when she'd heard about it.

That was why, when Brian had introduced Justin as his partner, when that bright, bold man, who had stolen Leo's company for Vanguard, then came back and stole it away from him, he just didn't get it. Justin seemed to be the exact opposite of Brian in every way - bright, sunny and cheerful, a true optimist and more than happy to set up home and hearth. More the kind of man that he'd want in a son-in-law than someone he saw as the Shark-Known-as-Brian-Kinney's life and business partner.

And then, he'd seen them together in the boardroom; and never had he watched a partnership jell the way theirs did. It was like they were reading each other's minds half of the time; and when it came to business, Justin was just as, if not more so, ruthless than Brian. It had been rather awe inspiring.

And then, when he'd found out that Justin was the lead artist on the boards, and not only that, but the Justin Taylor, whose painting Serendipity was hanging in his living room, well he'd just about been bowled over.

But more importantly, he saw a different side to Brian Kinney when he interacted with Justin; the boy brought out, not a softer side, but definitely softened the harsher edges of his personality. He liked the way Brian would often look to Justin for his opinion, and not defer to it per se, but certainly took it into account unless it came to the artistic side of the business; and then it was obvious that that was Justin's domain.

They made a stunning team, and it had prompted him to take a chance and invite the younger couple out to dinner with him and his Lucille. And he hadn't regretted the decision since, as a friendship that he'd come to cherish had developed over the years. It also didn't hurt that Justin was the apple of Lucille's eye. If Leo hadn't known any better, he'd swear that Justin was her long lost child.

"That was a wonderful meal, Justin," Lucille said, jarring Leo out of his musings; and he felt momentarily embarrassed that he'd let his thoughts get away from him. Justin beamed with pleasure, nearly blinding the entire room. "I'm surprised that you and Brian remain as trim as you do, if you eat like that all the time."

"Justin could eat his weight in food and not gain an ounce," Brian snorted, sending his husband a tongue in cheek grin. "It's annoying actually. Me? I have to exercise five times a week to maintain what he does just by running around the house."

"I remember those days," Leo sighed, patting his belly; which was full of glorious food and wine. "Sadly; I gain weight if I even look at food these days." He raised his glass to his wife. "Luckily, my lovely Lucy loves me anyways."

"So, I'm assuming that I can't tempt you into dessert then," Justin said teasingly, knowing full well that Leo had a notorious sweet tooth and he wouldn't miss it.

"I never said that," Leo said quickly and then gave a deep, belly laugh. "Let's not be too hasty there; I always have room for dessert. It'll just be more of me to love."

"Oh, pish posh," Lucille snorted, rolling her eyes at Leo, her words warming Leo's heart. "As if you aren't the same gorgeous man I married thirty years ago, you well you know it."

"Well," Leo said thoughtfully, although the amused smirk on his mouth probably gave him away. "They always do say that eyesight is one of the first things to go."

"Oh, you," Lucille huffed and threw her napkin at him, while the rest of them laughed. "I'll have you know that my vision is perfectly fine, you old coot." She paused. "Then again…that is a green shirt you're wearing, right?" she said, squinting at his very obviously blue shirt.

Leo snorted and threw the napkin right back at her, making both Justin and Brian exchange fond looks with each other and laugh. Turning to the young couple, Leo was happy to see that glow that very few people get when they look at each other, but professed that the two sharing the moment were soulmates.

Yeah, he was a bit of a romantic; sue him.

"How about we adjourn to the living room for dessert and some after dinner drinks so that Anna can clean up," Brian said, interrupting Leo's thoughts as he set his napkin onto the table and stood.

"Oh, I can…" Justin immediately stood and made to clear the table; always willing to help, that dear boy. But he was halted in his tracks by Brian's stern look.

"Justin," Brian said, a warning in his tone; Justin looked as if he was going to protest, but quieted when Brian tucked a strand of his hair behind his ear and reminded him. "You know as well as I do that she'll never allow it."

"Ugh," Justin rolled his eyes and scrunched his nose. "I swear, between the two of you; I'd be wrapped up in swaddling if either of you had your way."

"But they're right, dear," Lucille said, smoothing the waters as she always did. She tucked her arm into Justin's. "I know how notoriously stubborn you can be, but let them fret and coddle you a bit. You're going to need it when it gets later into your pregnancy. Now come with me; I want to hear all about the plans for your shower. And I better get an invite young man. Nothing will keep me away from celebrating your first born."

And with that, Lucille expertly maneuvered Justin out the door. Brian just watched in awe, shaking his head at how easily Justin caved, while Leo snickered. Both boys should have known by now that Lucille always got her way.

"I've set up the dessert tray and the scotch and Mrs. Brown's favorite port in the room, Mr. Kinney," Anna said with a smile as she walked into the dining room. "There is peppermint tea for Justin, of course."

"Thank you, Anna," Brian said, nodding to her as he stepped around the table and headed toward Leo. "I appreciate you staying late and helping out."

"It's not a problem," Anna said, and then turned her attention to the table.

"Shall we catch up with our spouses?" Leo smirked, nodding his head towards the two voices echoing in the other room. "Before Lucy talks poor Justin's ear off."

"That's only if he hasn't done the same," Brian snorted, leading the way into the living room. He walked over to a small bar and held up a crystal decanter. "Scotch?"

"Please," Leo nodded as he took a seat in the armchair nearest the fire. Brian walked over and handed him a drink; he nodded his thanks, idly listening to Justin fill Lucy in on all the set details of the baby shower.

"Would you like some port, Lucille?" Brian asked as he walked back over to the bar and held up a bottle for her perusal.

"Please, darling," Lucille smiled, and held up her plate. "It will go perfectly with this caramel cheesecake."

Leo snickered, because only Lucille could get away with calling Brian Kinney, darling, and not have the man make a face or bite her head off. Although, it would have been amusing to see him try. Leo took a sip of his scotch and then took the plate of cheesecake from Justin, nodding his thanks.

Justin smiled and then turned away, reaching for the third plate, and cut an extra big slice of cheese cake, knowing that despite Brian denying he wanted any, he usually ended up stealing about a third of Justin's desserts. But as he was pulling away, he jostled his cup and knocked it over, splashing tea all over the tray.

"Oh, fuck," Justin cursed under his breath, and then flashed a sheepish smile as he picked up his tea cup. "Pardon my language. I spilled some tea."

"I'll get a towel," Brian said, setting the bottle of port onto the bar, missing the flash of alarm on Justin's face.

Leo raised a brow at that; especially when Justin sprang up from his chair and started walking swiftly across the room towards the downstairs linen closet; which, curiously enough, was only a few feet from where Brian was standing. It certainly would have made much more sense if Brian had gotten it; but for some reason, Justin didn't want Brian going over there. Something that Brian obviously realized too as he spun around and watched his husband's odd behavior with a frown.

"Uh, no that's okay," Justin said hastily, casting a nervous look Brian's way. "I'll get it."

"Justin, I'm closer to the closet and standing," Brian said, his frown deepening, but he remained standing by the bar as Justin breezed past him.

"It's fine," Justin said, his voice taking on a strident note, which seemed to do nothing to assuage Brian. "I was the one that spilled it, so I'll get." Brian continued to watch him oddly, prompting Justin to roll his eyes. "Jesus, Brian, it's just a few feet away. I think I can manage a trip to the closet all on my own."

"Sure you can; but you were sitting and I'm…closer…" Brian said slowly, cocking his head as he watched Justin with narrow eyes. And then something seemed to come to him and his lips compressed into a thin line as he walked towards the closet; he obviously knowing something was off with his husband.

Leo looked at Lucille and arched a brow, but she just shrugged and shook her head. So, she had no idea either. Brian, on the other hand, stepped up behind Justin and grabbed the door just as Justin was getting ready to close it; they both struggled with it for a few seconds before Brian merely glared down at the shorter man. Justin huffed and stepped aside, reluctantly letting the closet door go; and then he pursed his lips as Brian poked his head into the closet and made a triumphant cry.

Brian smirked and then pulled out a couple of well-known boxes, much to Justin's annoyance. "And just what do we have here, Sunshine?"

Leo snorted with amusement now that he knew what was going on; Cynthia had filled him in on the ongoing Twinkie struggle. Lucille chuckled herself and watched the two husbands spar with a great deal of pleasure and fondness. Well, things were never boring with them.

"This looks like a box of Twinkies to me," Brian said with faux surprise; Justin just scowled and crossed his arms over his chest. "But that can't be as I specifically remember a conversation about this and how you weren't going to eat them anymore."

"In your dreams maybe," Justin hissed and snatched the boxes out of Brian's hands, holding them behind his back. "Me on the other hand; I recall telling you that I will eat my Twinkies when I damned well feel like it."

"Now Justin," Brian sighed, shaking his head at his husband; and if Leo was reading it right, he was more amused than annoyed. "You know I'm just looking out for your health."

"Don't care," Justin growled, tucking the Twinkies against his chest and holding onto them for dear life. "They're mine and you can't have them."

"Justin…" Brian said, but was quickly interrupted by Leo's darling wife.

"Oh Brian, leave the boy be," Lucille said with amusement, rolling her eyes as she set her plate aside. "If he wants his Twinkies, let him have his Twinkies. There are far worse things he could be eating." She stood and walked over to Justin and linked her arm with his. "Now, come dear; show me this mural you've been telling me about."

Justin walked off with Lucille, his precious Twinkies still tucked in his arms, and glanced over his shoulder, flashing a triumphant smile. Brian just shook his head and shot him a heated look. They conversed silently with their eyes, seemingly going back and forth, until finally Justin flushed and quickly looked away. Then it was Brian's turn to smirk triumphantly and saunter away. He walked over to the bar and poured himself a scotch, acting as if he'd won that confrontation. And he probably had based on Justin's reaction.

Sighing, Brian walked back over and sat down, taking a small bite out of Justin's cheesecake.

"A word of advice from a man that has been through this three times before?" Leo said with a small smirk, somehow knowing Brian didn't need the advice, but daring to impart it anyways. "Choose your battles wisely; because this is a battle you will never win."

"Oh, I know," Brian laughed, a tongue in cheek smile on his face. "To be honest, I don't even care all that much; I just find the entire thing amusing. As long as he's denied them, he'll keep craving them; and if I keep him focused on this, then I don't have to worry about him getting into worse mischief."

"Devious," Leo said, toasting him with his glass. "I always knew you were someone to watch. Hopefully Justin won't figure out what kind of game you're playing anytime soon."

"Oh, I'm sure he knows," Brian said, a touch of pride in his eyes. "He's a smart one even if he plays the naïve innocent at times to get his way. He has as much fun with these games as I do, so he willing plays along just to keep our friends guessing."

Chapter Text

January 29 – 21weeks

Brian looked through the lens once more, making a few adjustments to the height of the tripod and the focus as he stared at Justin across the room. Justin huffed and continued to hold the sign on the wall, waiting to see if Brian was happy with it's placement. But even with the minor adjustments, it still wasn't fully visible.

"Lift the sign a little higher; I think about an inch should do it," Brian said a bit absently, smirking when Justin rolled his eyes and lifted by the placard the suggested distance. Brian smiled and gave Justin a thumb's up. "Perfect; I think that will do it."

Justin shook his head and pressed the light yellow placard into the wall, making sure to firmly smooth along the edges where they'd placed the blu-tack. Standing back, he stared at it critically to make sure that it was straight and then shrugged, deeming it good enough for his artistic sensibilities.

"I thought these were all supposed to be exactly the same for Gus' project?" Justin asked as he continued to study the placard, which read, '21 Weeks!' And then was filled a few random facts about Sunbeam's size and milestones.

"They are," Brian said as he adjusted the digital camera once more, swapping out one memory card for another. He carefully placed the card with all of Gus' data on it in a case and put it on the dresser, so that he didn't misplace it; but kept it readily handy, so that he could put it back in and film the thirty seconds of footage after this.

"So, what's with the sign?" Justin asked, gesturing to the placard as he quickly changed into the white t-shirt and black track pants that he'd been using for Gus' project.

"That's for our own personal collection," Brian said, smirking when Justin's head popped up and he looked at him with surprise. "I thought we could have weekly progress pictures now that you're showing. We can put them in the baby book."

"Oh," Justin whispered, his eyes watering and his lower lip trembling just a smidgen; he sniffled a little and looked away to discreetly wipe his eyes as his hormones and emotions got the better of him.

"Please tell me that those are just your allergies acting up again," Brian teased, sniggering when Justin flipped him off.

"Fuck off," Justin huffed as he walked over to stand by the placard, an annoyed look on his face; but Brian was well aware that he wasn't mad at him, just annoyed that his hormones had his emotions all over the place. "Just wait until you get pregnant and you have to deal with all these fucking hormones. It won't be so funny then."

"Who said anything about me getting pregnant?" Brian snorted, ignoring the dull ache in his heart that those words brought him; although, it wasn't as sharp as it had been when Justin and he had first started talking about having another child.

"If I have to go through this…" Justin stated testily, pointing a finger at Brian, but soon trailed off when he noticed Brian's pained expression. "Brian?"

"You know that it's not likely that I'll ever get pregnant, Sunshine," Brian said, his voice hoarse as he looked away.

And it was the truth; between his cancer and his age, not to mention all the drugs he'd done, and all the booze he'd drank when he was younger, he'd been told that he far too high of a risk for a healthy pregnancy. if he'd been told this when he was younger, he wouldn't have cared. At that point in his life, he'd never imagined himself living to see the age of thirty, let alone the age of forty-two; and settling down and having kids hadn't even been a thought in his mind.

But now, he felt definitely felt the pinch of never experiencing what Justin was experiencing.

"Not only is my age a factor," Brian continued with grimace, voicing some of his inner thoughts. "But there is also the issue of my cancer; or the radiation treatments specifically. I…I never checked, but with the location of my cancer, and...well, the likelihood that things are far too damaged down there is…"

"I know," Justin said, wrapping his arms around him, startling Brian as he hadn't even heard him move. His eyes were full of regret, but Brian just waved him off. He knew that Justin wasn't being purposely hurtful when he'd said that. "I shouldn't have said it."

"It's fine," Brian said, dropping a kiss on the top of his head; and then smirked and patted his ass in an effort to lighten the mood. "That's why I have you, my little incubator…"

"Oh, fuck off," Justin snorted, pulling out of his arms and marching back over to the taped marker on the floor. "You're such an asshole; sometimes I wonder why I put up with you."

"Because you soooooo adore me," Brian drawled in the same way a seventeen-year-old Justin used to do when they'd first met; Justin just sent him an exasperated look. "Now just stand there, smile and look pretty."

Brian chuckled when Justin flipped him off again; but he did indeed stand on his mark and smile, and looked fucking beautiful doing it. He watched his husband in awe, his camera clicking as Justin smiled and preened.

"Pull your shirt tight over your belly, Sunshine," Brian coached, waiting until Justin smoothed the shirt down and tucked it under the slight swell in his stomach. "Yeah, like that; perfect. Let's see that precious baby bump; Sunbeam is making the great debut."

Justin scrunched his nose and stuck out his tongue.

"Attractive," Brian sniggered, clicking the camera, "and forever immortalized on film."

"Bite me," Justin quipped, sticking his tongue out again.

"Later," Brian promised, snapping a few more pictures; just because he couldn't resist it. He took out the memory card and reinserted the card with Gus' data on it. "Now, take the placard down and so we can film this last bit for Gus and call it good for the day."

"Yes, sir," Justin mock saluted, reaching over to pull the sign off the wall.

"If only you were always this compliant," Brian mock lamented, sniggering when Justin scoffed. "My life would be so much easier."

"And boring as fuck," Justin snorted, setting the sign off to the side, and out of the frame, and then walking back to stand on his mark, smoothing the white t-shirt over his stomach.

"You do make life interesting, Sunshine," Brian agreed with single a nod of his head; he fiddled with the settings until he had Gus specifications set.

"I live to please," Justin said with a smile.

"And please you do," Brian leered, slowly running his eyes over his husband's body.

"Stop that," Justin complained, squirming under his heated look. "I can't have a hard-on for Gus' project and that is so not helping."

"Yes, dear," Brian sing-songed, pitching his voice into a falsetto and then sniggering once again when Justin rolled his eyes and made a rude gesture. "Okay, I'm starting in three, two, smile pretty."

Justin smiled, his hands cupping the small swell of his stomach, the shirt pulled taut to reveal the beginnings of his baby bump. Brian swallowed thickly and blinked back the tears in his eyes, dying to go over and kneel before his gorgeous husband and slid his arms around his waist and press kisses across the swell of his stomach. Something he never thought he'd ever want to do in his lifetime. But Justin had always managed to tip his world on its axis.

Smiling at the beautiful sight in front of him, Brian ticked off the last remaining seconds on the video screen and then turned the camera off.

"And that's us done for the day," he said, putting the lens cap back on and stretching.

His mind instantly turned to the things he needed to do that day at work; and for once, he didn't feel the charge he always got when he did, or the need to hurry off and get things done. For once, he really wanted to just grab Justin and drag them back to bed, and spend the morning loving him.

Sighing, Brian scrubbed his hand over his hair and turned toward the closet. Entering their walk-in, he looked up and frowned as he caught Justin staring at himself in the mirror, a pensive frown on his face. He turned to the side and smoothed the shirt over his stomach, his frown deepening as he rested a hand on the swell. He sighed and took off his shirt and once again studied himself from all sides, obviously unhappy with what he was seeing.

Brian pressed his lips together, suddenly seeing all to well what was going through his husband's mind. Clearing his throat, his frown deepened when Justin looked up, startled to see him standing there. His face smoothed and he turned from the mirror, hurriedly pulling out a set of his painting clothes from one of the shelves.

At one time, Brian would have ignored this and let Justin pretend nothing was happening; of course, he'd been an asshole then, only caring about his next fuck. But he would have turned away and not bothered to reassure the man because it would have been far too lesbionic for his tastes and he didn't do touchy-feely. Thankfully, he'd matured beyond that short-sighted mindset and he wasn't about to let this pass.

Not when he had spent the entire morning in awe of his husband's beauty.

Walking up behind Justin, he wrapped his arms around him; thankful that instead of pulling away, he sunk back into his arms and pressed his face into his shoulder and upper arm. Pressing a kiss on top of his head, Brian just held him for a minute and then turned him in his arms so that he could look into his face.

"Please tell me you're not thinking about that bullshit Michael was spouting off while at the Big Q," Brian said, sliding a finger under Justin's chin and tipping his head back.

But Justin refused to meet his eyes.

"No, of course not, I…" Justin hedged, looking anywhere but him.

"Justin," Brian said, grabbing his chin between his fingers and forcing him to meet his eyes.

"I…I'm trying not to," Justin said, a slight hitch in his voice as he tentatively met Brian's concerned gaze. He bit his lower lip. "But…"

"Justin," Brian sighed and pressed his lips to his husband's brow as he considered what he wanted to say. "Sunshine...do you have any idea how beautiful you are to me?"

"Yeah?" Justin said, a small dash of hope lighting his eyes.

"Oh, yes," Brian husked, crushing his lips to Justin's, and lingering, licking the tip of his tongue into his mouth before pulling back; he ground his already hard dick into Justin's, savoring his husband's low groan as he whispered against his lips. "You are so fucking sexy. I love looking at you and knowing, seeing, the fact that you're pregnant with my…our child."

Justin's breath hitched as Brian mouthed kisses over his neck and his bare shoulders, slowly maneuvering him back over to the mirror. He wanted Justin to see what he saw, standing there in next to the window, bathed in morning light, his hair gilded and eyes bright as stars as his hands cupped their child. The way his skin glowed, as if he were lit from within, like an angel fallen to Earth.

Brian spun Justin back around to face the mirror; Justin flinched and tried to turn away, but Brian just held firm and kept him facing the mirror, administering those soft, wet kisses over his shoulders and neck. He licked a long, wet stripe along Justin's jaw, ending at the hollow behind his ear, and then nipped the lobe as he slid his hand up to cup Justin's jaw. Gripping it, he tipped it back, so that Justin had no choice but to look in the mirror.

"What…" Justin stammered, his breath growing ragged as their gazes met and he saw the heat in Brian's. He licked his lips and swallowed thickly, his gaze anchored with Brian's, unable to look away as Brian continued to tease his jaw, neck and shoulders with his teeth, tongue and lips. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because you need to remember how fucking beautiful you are to me," Brian stated firmly, sliding his hands over Justin's chest and down to cup the swell of his stomach; and God, it still amazed him to feel that small bump under his fingers.

"Brian…" Justin whispered, his eyes falling half-mast as Brian rubbed the swell of his stomach and then one hand continued down to cup his dick. His eyes grew dark and smoky as the Brian slid his hand into his pants and wrapped around his dick.

"Look at you," Brian murmured against his ear, pressing a small kiss there; humming at the little noises Justin made in the back of his throat as he slowly stroked his dick. "So fucking beautiful that it still takes my breath away every time you walk into the room; and then when you see me and smile…yeah, that. Just like that. I can't help, but wonder how the fuck I got so lucky as to have you in my life."

"You…" Justin gasped, arching his hips into Brian's hand when Brian slowly circled thee head of his cock with his thumb before dipping under to tease the sensitive nerves there. "Are…such cornball."

"Only for you," Brian promised, pulling his hand out of Justin's pants, smirking when Justin whimpered at the loss; but then he gasped again as Brian grabbed the waistband of his pants and tugged them over his hips, and down, leaving them to pool at his feet. "Fuck. You are so fucking hot."

Spinning Justin around again, Brian ripped off his shirt and then crushed him against his body, grinding his clothed dick into Justin's. Growling at the hindrance, Brian yanked off his sweat pants and then dragged Justin closer to the wall of mirrors, tumbling them down onto the thickly carpeted floor. He maneuvered them until Justin was on his back and they were lying length-wise to the mirrors, their bodies on full display.

"Wait, what are you doing?" Justin gasped, and then groaned, his lashes fluttering when Brian covered his body with his, grinding their dicks together.

"Moving you so there is a better view," Brian murmured against his ear, rocking his hips into Justin's, their pre-come covered dicks sliding together with every thrust, until Justin was moaning and rocking back against him.

"Brian!" Justin cried, biting his lower lip as they continued to move together, pleasure zinging over Brian's nerves each time their dicks brushed and ground together. "You can't…we can't…you have to…"

"Yes, we can," Brian said, reaching up and grasping Justin's chin and turning him to face the mirror. "Because you need to see how fucking gorgeous you are; how fucking sexy I think you are." He whispered, meeting Justin's lust blown eyes in the mirror. "I love watching you. The way you writhe, the way you squirm and bite your lower lip and try so hard to hold back as I'm pounding into you."

"Brian…" Justin murmured, his eyes riveted on the sight of them moving together. Brian kissed, nipped and licked his way down Justin's body, worshiping it, all the while keeping his eyes anchored with Justin's in the mirror, so that he had no doubt just who Brian was thinking of when he fucked him.

Fucking Mikey and his fat-assed mouth; he needed to deal with that menace and soon; no one made his husband feel inferior and lived to get away with it.

"I can't think of a more erotic sight... other than when I make you come," Brian said, fumbling with his sweats, and pulling out the little bottle of lube that he'd stuck in there this morning. He screwed it open with one hand, the other still wandering over and worshiping Justin's body as it was made to be worshiped. "You in the throes of passion is one of the most exciting and stunning things I've ever experienced."

"Oh, God," Justin groaned as Brian slid two slicked fingers inside him; his body contracted and tightened around them for a moment and then gradually loosened. Brian slowly thrust his fingers in and out of Justin's body, scissoring them to stretch the muscles, teasing his fingers over his prostate every now and then.

Justin writhed, and rocked his hips, fucking himself onto Brian's fingers, trying to take them as deeply as he could. Brian watched Justin's face, entranced. His eyes were closed in bliss, lashes fluttering against flushed, sweat-kissed cheeks each time Brian dragged his fingers over his prostate; his lips were slack as he moaned and made the most delightful kittenish sounds that went straight to Brian's dick.

Groaning, Brian pulled his fingers free, ignoring Justin's hiss of disappointment and generously lubed himself up before sliding into his husband. Justin cried out and arched his back. His body constricted around Brian's dick and it was all he could do not to fucking come right then and there. Panting into Justin's neck, he held himself very still, both to give Justin a chance to adjust and to give himself a chance to calm down.

"Open your eyes; look at yourself, Sunshine," Brian commanded, his breath hot and harsh against Justin's ear. Justin's eyes fluttered open and met his in the mirror once more, both sets blown wide and lust-drunk. "Really look at yourself and realize that I have never seen such a bewitching sight in my life."

Justin groaned and shifted his hips, making Brian clench his hands into his waist, hard enough to bruise. Gasping Brian began to move his hips, thrusting into Justin with long, slow strokes, angling to himself so that he scraped over his prostate with every glide. He slid in and out of his husband's body until Justin was met his every thrust, his legs clenched around Brian's waist and his cries echoing in his ears.

Sweat-kissed skin slid against sweat-kissed skin, ratcheting up the tension and pleasure between the two of them until their bodies were taut, coiled and screaming for release. Reaching between them, Brian wrapped his hand around Justin's dick, stroking him in time to his thrusts, until Justin jerked and stiffened beneath him as he came, crying out Brian's name as he spilled between them.

And once again Brian was entranced.

"Fucking gorgeous," he whispered as he watched Justin's face go slack with pleasure, his lashes fluttering and a small smile flitting across his face at his words.

And then he was lost as he continued to thrust into his husband's body, chasing his own release until the coiled heat in his stomach broke free and the world whited-out around him. Clutching his hands Brian thrust a few more times, riding out his orgasm, before slumping against Justin, spent and sated.

Nuzzling his face against Justin's, and Brian pressed a small kiss against his neck, his jaw and finally his lips and whispered, "Never doubt that you are totally, utterly and completely fucking gorgeous to me."

And Justin smiled against his lips, one of those bright, sunshine smiles that had always captivated him, and returned the kiss.

Chapter Text

January 30

Justin leaned back against the cushion with a contented sigh, idly flipping through a parenting magazine that had mysteriously ended up in his messenger bag. Really, his mother was not as sly as she thought she was; especially given that there were several post-its with her writing on them marking articles of interest.

He shifted in his seat, wincing a bit as his ass was still a bit tender from the day and night before; when Brian took the day off to show him just how much he wanted him before Justin had the chance to work himself into an epic queen out. He grimaced, and still couldn't believe that he'd let that little weasel's words get to him.

Typically, Michael's words slid right off Justin's back because he had long since written the man off. He was polite, and even friendly at times, with Michael when they were in a group setting; and absolutely professional when it came to working with him on Rage. But, most of the time, there was just too much bad blood and spite between them for Justin to actually call him a friend. And the only reason Michael was even still part of Justin's life was the fact that he was Brian's oldest friend. And that was all he was in Justin's mind; he couldn't in good conscience call Michael a best friend, because what kind of friend routinely pulls the shit that he does?

But, Michael had found, and torn into him, at a weak moment that day; which was the only reason he'd given the little shit's words any consideration at all.

He'd just found out that his clothing no longer fit him, which meant that he finally had to break down and go shopping for maternity clothing. On top of that, Brian had been away for two nights, so Justin hadn't been able to sleep all that well. Plus, Brian had been so busy with back-to-back meetings and wining-and-dining his clients that they hadn't had the time for their typical hour to two conversations before they went to bed. Add to that interfering mothers, and know-it-all-WASPs, and this odd feeling that he was being watched lately; and well, Justin wasn't really in the right frame of mind to deal with a Novotny Special.

And the little dickwad always knew just where to strike for the maximum pain.

Inhaling deeply, Justin counted to ten in his head and slowly relaxed his muscles; it would do no good to get worked up over the petty, little asshole's words again. That is exactly what he was hoping for and Justin wasn't going to give him the satisfaction; especially when Brian had gone above and beyond to reassure him.

Flipping the page, Justin raised his eyebrows as he read the title of one of the marked articles – How to Pick a Name for Your Baby. Humming under his breath, he settled down to read it, as this was actually something that could be useful. Outside of Brian mocking poor Adelbert's name (and seriously, who the fuck names their kid that?), they really hadn't talked about baby names outside of saying 'we are never naming our kid this.'

Like Adelbert.

Or Tiberius.

Or...well, any name that Michael came up with because it was likely comic based.

Justin had just gotten into the meat of the story when the scent of vanilla, apple and sandalwood filled his nose; he smiled and tipped his head back, accepting the soft kiss on his lips just as Brian wedged himself behind Justin. He closed his eyes, and just breathed Brian in, the familiar scent and presence going a long way towards loosening the knot that had grown in his stomach since his encounter with Michael.

"What are you doing?" Brian asked, pressing a small kiss to the hollow of his ear; his hands massaging his neck and shoulders, releasing even more built up tension.

"I'm reading an article on how to pick a name for the baby," Justin murmured, enjoying the feel of Brian's hands on him; there was nothing better in the world than when his husband's hands were on him.

"What's so difficult about it?" Brian quipped, sliding his arms around Justin's neck and pulling him back against his chest. "You pick a name you like, tell the doctors; they put on the birth certificate. End of story."

"It's not as easy as you'd think," Justin said, opening his eyes to focus back on the article, his body much more relaxed now that Brian was there.

"I have the feeling I'm going to regret asking this," Brian sighed, maneuvering Justin until he was sitting between his legs, flush against his crotch. "But why isn't it that easy?"

"Well there are several things to consider," Justin said, instantly taking on his 'teacher voice' as Brian called it; the one he used when imparting some random fact or he was being Brian's personal public service announcer.

"Like?" Brian asked, obviously humoring him.

"Like the initials," Justin said, coming up with a name with the letters he wanted off the top of his head and using the one listed in the article as it would work with their combined named. "Like I certainly wouldn't name our child Fiona Aileen or Zachary Ian."

"Well, neither would I," Brian scoffed, his nose scrunching in disgust at both names. "But I'm not seeing the significance."

"F-A-T," Justin spelled out and then paused to flash a knowing look over his shoulder before spelling out the initials for the second name. "Z-I-T."

"Hey, there is a 'K' in that last name as well," Brian protested, but did acknowledge the unfortunate letter groupings with a grimace.

"Kids aren't going to care about that, Brian," Justin said, recalling all too well what little assholes his classmates had been when they'd found out that Daphne's full name was Daphne Isabel Chanders. And wow, had she ever been pissed when she'd made the connection herself; she'd quickly changed it as soon as she was old enough to do so. "They are cruel, vicious, little animals when they get to a certain age and all they will see is 'FAT' or "ZIT' and our child's school years will be an absolute nightmare."

"Point taken," Brian nodded, running his fingers along Justin's arm, sending a delicious little shiver tripping down Justin's spine; a planned move judging by the smirk pressed against his neck.

"We also don't want to name our child something that everyone else is using," Justin said, a bit distracted by the lips tracing along his neck and jaw line. "After all, how many Jacksons and Madisons are in Gus' class?"

"I don't think we need to worry about that," Brian murmured, his hands running down Justin's sides to his waist, pulling him further into the vee of his legs.

Justin gasped at the feeling of Brian's erection pressed firmly against his ass; and then groaned. While he'd love to turn around, straddle his husband and do something about it, he didn't think he was capable of doing anything at the moment. Squirming against him, Justin smirked as Brian hissed and clamped his hands on Justin's hips to still them; it was, however, very gratifying to know that his husband wanted him as much as ever.

Especially given yesterday's near meltdown.

"Although, I would kinda like to keep the family tradition of using a derivative of the grandparents name for a middle name," Brian continued, wrapping an arm around Justin's waist. "My mom may be a vicious waste of space, as are yours and my dads. But your mother is a saint and both sets of our grandparents are amazing. We could draw inspiration from them."

"I'd like that," Justin smiled, loving the idea of a girl with his mother's name; or even a boy with Brian's middle name, which had been his paternal grandfather's name. "And I think they would too. Although, Deb and Vic were more your parents than Joan and Jack; so, don't forget them."

"They would be good role models too; or would have been in Vic's case," Brian agreed, a thread a grief running through his voice even all these years after Vic's death. He cleared his throat and rested his head on Justin's shoulder. "So, what else does this article tell you?"

"Oh, well." Justin looked at the article, as he hadn't gotten that far into it yet. "It says that we should also pay attention to the significance of the name – like the meaning of it and, as you just pointed out, potentially using family names. And also making sure that the names age well; names like Rain or Peach or Lucky might sound cute now, but when they get older, they might just murder us in our sleep for encumbering them with that name."

"THAT will never happen," Brian emphatically stated, shuddering at the examples that Justin had given. "I have far better taste than that; and if you even tried, I would knock you out, name the child while you were sleeping and deal with the consequences later."

"So, no Sunbeam or Sunray Taylor-Kinney in our future?" Justin asked, his tongue pressed into his cheek, snickering when Brian glared at him.

"I'm not even going to dignify it with an answer," Brian muttered, flopping back against the couch cushion with a disgusted look. "Sunbeam is perfectly suitable as a nickname, but if you even try to name our child that, there will be severe consequences."

"Depending on said consequences," Justin mused, a wicked gleam in his eyes. "That might not be the threat you think it is."

"Twat," Brian huffed, but the amusement in his eyes belied the gruffness of tone.

"Your twat, "Justin murmured, not expecting his husband to hear him."

"That's right," Brian said, wrapping his arms possessively around him. "All mine; and don't you ever forget it."

Justin smiled and leaned back against his husband, reveling in that little glow that washed over him every time Brian made these little declarations. He traced his fingers over Brian's thigh, doodling random shapes and words into it.

"You know," Justin said thoughtfully, as he swung around and straddled his husband's thighs, pinning him to the couch without much effort. Although he'd lost all interest in the magazine, as there were far more interesting things to pay attention to; like the very hard dick pressing into Justin's ass, he did want to address the matter of the name. "We should each take some time and write down some of the names we like; then see how they match up, and what are names we both can live with."

Brian's breathing hitched as Justin slowly kissed a hot trail up his neck, loving the way Brian shuddered beneath him. He might not be up for a quick fuck, but there were other things they could do to take care of Brian's not-so-little problem. He licked Brian's lower lip begging for entrance.

"Sounds like a plan, Sunshine," Brian murmured against his lips, his eyes hot as he cinched his arms tightly around Justin's waist, crushing him against his body. "In the meantime, I need to take a shower, and am in desperate need of someone to scrub my back; any takers?"

"I can do that," Justin murmured, squeaking when Brian growled and clambered off the couch, his arms still tightly wrapped around him. Brian palmed his ass as he swiftly headed down the hall towards their bedroom, their lips sealed tightly together as Brian drank him down like a man dying of thirst.

Yeah, he could definitely do that.

Chapter Text

January 31

Brian closed the suitcase with a snap and hauled it down the stairs and out the front door to hand off to John, who grabbed it and took it over to the SUV to be packed with the other bags. Rubbing his hands together to stave off the crisp, chilly morning air, Brian took a deep breath, gearing himself up for the unpleasant task set before him.

Waking Justin up at a normal hour before he was ready to get up was an aggravating undertaking all by itself; getting him out of bed at six in the morning, after only five hours of sleep, on cold as shit morning? That was the stuff nightmares were made of and a disaster just waiting to happen. But he’d let the little twat sleep as late as he could, and if they didn’t get going now, they would end up stuck in traffic and the drive would take much longer than it should.

Exhaling forcefully, his breath billowing out in a cloud of frozen vapor, Brian turned on his heel and went back into the house. Walking through the door, he smiled when Anna came out of the kitchen with a travel mug of coffee and small cooler with water and snacks just in case Justin was actually coherent enough on the trip to want them.

Something that Brian doubted, but better to be prepared than have Justin bitching the entire way that he was hungry.

“Going to wake the beast?” Anna asked, amusement dancing in her eyes as she passed him, heading to put both items into the SUV for Brian.

“Yup,” Brian snickered, heading for the stairs. “Wish me luck; God knows I’ll need it if I want to make it out the beast’s lair intact.”

“It will be worth it,” Anna said as she walked out the door. “Once he sees where you’re going, he won’t care that you’re waking him up before dawn.”

“Here’s hoping,” Brian muttered to himself, taking the stairs two at a time.

Brian strode through the bedroom door and walked over to his husband; Justin was curled up into a little ball under the blankets, with nothing more than a few tufts of blond hair poking out from beneath them. Exactly as Brian had left him when the alarm went off this morning and he’d crawled out of bed to shower and finish up some last minute packing.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Brian ran his hand through those few tufts of hair, smirking when Justin grumbled and shrank further into the blankets, trying to get away from whatever was touching him. Gripping the comforter, Brian pulled it away from Justin’s face, chuckling when Justin just buried his face into his pillow instead.

A morning person, Justin was not.

“Come on, Sunshine,” Brian murmured as he leaned down and pressed a kiss to the back of Justin’s ear. Justin whined, and seemed torn between keeping his face buried in the pillow and chasing Brian’s lips as he pulled away. “Rise and shine; it’s time to get up. We have things to do.”

“Brian,” Justin whispered hoarsely, his voice lilting upwards at the end in a question. Brian trailed kisses along his jaw and neck, further tempting Justin from his little nest of blankets. Justin opened his eyes and blinked several times before squinting at the clock by the bed. “What? It’s six in the morning; what’s going on?”

“You need to get up and shower,” Brian said, tugging at the blankets and huffing when Justin tugged back, keeping them curled under his chin. “We have places to be.”

“But…” Justin trailed off and frowned, and Brian could see his mind sluggishly working as he tried to remember why he had to be up.

Not that it would make one bit of difference, since Brian hadn’t told him about their plans for the day, or the rest of the weekend for that matter.

“Hop to it, Sunshine,” Brian said, yanking the blankets from his hands, and pulling them off his body. Justin hissed and glared at him, instantly curling in on himself against the chill of the room. “We need to be on the road in thirty minutes; you can sleep in the car.” Brian got up and cast a warning look over his shoulder. “Don’t make me pick you and throw you into the shower myself; I guarantee you won’t like the results.”

Justin cursed under his breath, but got up nonetheless and stomped over to the bathroom, slamming the door in his wake. Brian just snickered and headed back down the stairs for a final cup of coffee before getting on their way.

… … … … …

Brian pulled up the driveway to the Inn and turned the engine off; he looked at the building with a critical eye and could see why it had gained its popularity. It was a white on white, large, clapboard house that butted right up against Lake Erie, made all the more picturesque by the by the surrounding snow. It was quaint and cute and charming and really everything that would normally send Brian running for the hills, screaming at the top of his lungs the entire way.

But it was a client; so there would be no running from his fate. Plus, Justin would adore it.

Glancing over at his husband, he smiled to see Justin was still out cold, having lowered his seat as far as it would go and curling his body away from Brian the minute he’d gotten into the SUV. Running his hand over Justin’s hair, he barely held back a laugh as he remembered his husband, flouncing down the stairs like a wet, disgruntled kitten. He hadn’t said more than two words to Brian since getting up and immediately fell asleep as soon as the heater flipped on and the car started moving.

It had been for the best anyways; the drive, normally about two hours long, stretched out to two and a half as they’d hit some commute traffic as they made their way out of Pittsburgh. And if there was anything Justin hated more than being woken up before he was ready, it was sitting in traffic. This way, he didn’t have to listen to Justin bitch or nag him with a hundred questions about where they were going.

Leaning over, he pressed his lips to Justin’s cheek, smirking when Justin hummed and turned his head, nuzzling the tip of his nose against Brian’s jaw.

“Time to wake up, Sunshine,” Brian said, kissing the tip of his nose, which scrunched with disapproval, but hazy blue eyes blinked open nonetheless.

Rubbing his eyes, Justin sat up and then frowned, his eyes widening as he studied the snow-covered house and grounds in front of them. He turned to Brian, an adorably confused look on his face. “Brian…what’s going on? Where are we?”

“Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio,” Brian said as Justin turned at studied the inn one more time. “Or, more specifically, The Lakehouse Inn; one of our newest clients a la Cynthia. Come on.” Brian opened the door and stepped out, shivering as the cold air hit; he waited until Justin followed suit and held out his hand. Justin stared at him suspiciously for a moment before taking it. “She stayed up here a few weekends ago with her newest boy toy and did an impromptu pitch to the owners.”

“Okay,” Justin said slowly, still visibly confused and suspicious. “But that doesn’t really answer my question; what are we doing here?”

“Well, I’ve been in contact with them to finalize the details,” Brian said, tugging on Justin’s hand and practically pulling him up the drive with him; he wanted to look around a bit and get a feel for the place before meeting with the Cutlers. “And they recently got a cancellation on one of their suites for this weekend. So, they contacted me, and invited us to spend the weekend here.”

“What?” Justin stared at him, his mouth agape.

His surprise was fully justified in this case, as this had always been one of those things that Brian had refused to do. Hit up a ritzy hotel with all the amenities in some hot, swank tropical location? Yes. Spend a weekend at a quaint bed and breakfast on the lakeside in the middle of winter? No.

“It will be a working weekend of sorts,” Brian barreled on in an effort to cut off any questions he didn’t really want to answer. “I have a lunch meeting with the owners today, along with Cynthia, Devon, one of our lawyerws, and you, if you want to join us, to go over the contracts. But, after that I will be free and I thought that we could spend some time here, just the two of us, while we still have the time and opportunity.”

“Brian…” Justin said in hushed tone, before trailing off to look around, his lips still parted in surprise as he stared at one of the cottages in the distance. “You…”

“We could start with dinner tonight at the Inn’s restaurant, the Crosswinds Grille,” Brian said, pointing out the restaurant to Justin, who still looked like landed fish. “And have a night in, where we could make use of the two-person Jacuzzi tub, after which I will rub you down with spa care products they’ve promised me. And then, once I have you all limbered up, I’ll fuck you all night long.”

“Brian…” Justin said, gasping as they came to the end of a walk way and looked out into the patio area behind the inn.

And it was lovely, and dare he say it, a bit romantic, covered with the snow; He could just imagine it in summer, the sun glinting off the water as people sat, drinking wine from the inn’s winery and watching the sunset; and fuck, he was turning into a fucking lesbian. Turning back to Justin, he took his hand and led him back towards the front of the inn.

“And then tomorrow, they are having some sort of festival,” Brian said, smirking when Justin looked up at him with wide blue eyes. “It’s a pretty big deal here; but after we sleep in, we can either go to the restaurant again as breakfast is provided with the room package there, or we can go to the pancake breakfast at the Methodist Church, if you insist. And before you ask, yes, we can go to the parade.”

Justin grinned, that big sunshine grin, and was practically dancing in place at Brian’s side as he filled him in on the Geneva Winterfest; just as he did when Brian had told him that he wanted to Vermont for a week when his was just a teenager.

“And then they have several different things that we could do,” Brian said as they got back to the SUV and he opened the trunk to get take out his briefcase and Justin’s messenger bag. “There’s a chili cook off that provides free chili and cornbread muffins.” Brian paused and snickered when just made a happy noise. “Yeah, I thought you’d like that. And there is a Lego Build Off, ice carving, a cookie decorating contest, a snow mobile show and carriage rides, all going on at the same time. The Legos are provided and the other events are free.”

Justin just hugged himself, his eyes sparkling with excitement. He grabbed his messenger bag and tucked his arm into Brian’s as he closed the hatch.

“Or, if you prefer something indoors,” Brian said, leading them up to the front porch to let the Cutlers they were here. “I know you can’t drink, but one of the local wineries is doing wine tasting and live music. And at the end of the night, there is supposed to be a spaghetti dinner, which thankfully starts at four and ends at eight, so the no carbs rule won't be in affect.”

“Brian,” Justin asked, practically jumping in place. “Are you serious?”

“Yup,” Brian nodded pausing on the porch and looking out; Justin stopped at his side, practically vibrating with happiness. “And there is more. On Sunday, I thought we’d go to Geneva State Park and do a little snow shoeing, followed up by lunch at Horizons Restaurant and Lounge; and then, I have a surprise for you.”

“What…” Justin immediately asked, but Brian cut the question off before it could form; he did know his husband after all.

“Not telling,” Brian said, shaking his head at Justin’s pleading look. “The point to a surprise means not knowing about it beforehand, Sunshine.” Brian smirked, tongue in cheek when Justin pouted. “And pouting won’t get you what you want in this case; you’ll just have to wait and see.”

Justin looked around at the Inn’s surroundings and heaved a sigh, but nodded his acquiescence.

“So, what do you say, Sunshine?” Brian said, wrapping his arms around his husband. “Think you can put up with me – and only me, as no one has any idea where we are other than Cynthia and Devon, and they won’t tell if they want to keep their jobs – for the whole weekend?”

“Yes!” Justin exclaimed, his cheeks flushed and eyes bright with joy as he wrapped his arms around Brian’s neck and peppered his face with kisses. “Oh my God, Brian! I can’t believe you…you are the best husband ever!”

“Good,” Brian smiled; dropping a kiss on Justin’s upturned mouth. “Because there was no way in hell I was driving back home anyways. Now let’s get checked in so we can go feed that beast growling in your stomach.”

Chapter Text

February 1 (Part One)

He couldn't believe it. When he'd first seen them sitting in Crosswinds Grille, he'd thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. Again. That he was seeing things and that his love would vanish into thin air as he'd done so many times before, becoming some other blond that wasn't nearly as comely as his. After all, this isn't the sort of place that he would expect to find the two of them. Oh, his little blond would surely eat all of this shit up; he'd always been a romantic at heart. But the dickhead, well; he'd said multiple times he'd never be caught dead staying in a bed and breakfast or doing any of this romantic claptrap.

Which he'd once thought would play in his favor. This difference in romantic expectations had split them up before; he'd been hoping that something similar would do so again, because his blond could never resist the pull of romance for long. But it seemed like the asshole had learned from his past mistakes as the proof stood before him.

His beautiful love stood on the sidewalk across the street, a streetlamp illuminating his face and hair, giving him an ethereal glow, and leaving him utterly breathless in its wake. It had always been this way; at least for him. He'd recalled the first time he'd seen his beauty; the rapt expression on his face as he stared up at the stage, completely entranced by what he was hearing and seeing.

The way his lips parted, as if he were trying to, but couldn't quite catch his breath, his eyes shining with wonder. He'd made such a beautiful sight, and it had taken every drop of discipline in him not to disrupt the performance by going up to him and pressing his lips to that sweet, parted mouth, kissing him senseless.

But there had been too many people watching; and he hadn't wanted to share that moment with anyone, but his love. That should, and would, be a pleasure for him and him alone. So, he'd managed, just barely, to control himself with the intention of approaching him at a later date and making his bid for affection well known.

he wasn't worried. He knew that he'd win his beauty over. He'd never doubted his powers of persuasion in that moment. After all, he'd won over anyone he'd made a play for previously; no one could resist him for long. He hadn't felt one doubt that his love would follow suit. Who wouldn't want to be with him after all? He was charming, handsome, and talented; and he knew how to do and say all the right things.

Why wouldn't his little beauty fall into his waiting arms? Especially as he'd been so confused and alone at the time.

Except; just as soon as he'd had his love almost snared, he'd made a pivotal mistake in handling him. One that had cost him everything, allowing that bastard to sweep right in, turn his love's head and claim him for his own.

Staring at his love, he scowled as he watched the bastard wrap his arms around him, and press his lips to his love's, tasting him as he yearned to do so. Didn't he realize that he was only a placeholder? Someone to pass the time with because it wasn't the right time for them. That his love would leave the bastard just as soon as he'd gotten rid of his attachments, because they were the ones that were meant to be together? That they were connected and it was only a matter of time before his love came home to him? How could he not see it?

It was so obvious that his love felt the connection too; after all, why else would he have traveled here, of all places? A place that meant so much to him; a place that was an intrinsic part of his past. He was certain that his love remembered that, and that his love felt the same ties of fate that he had the moment they met. This was a little, picturesque, out-of-the-way town that was miles from everything they knew and held no significance to his love or the asshole, so why else would he be here if it wasn't to find him?

Plus, he'd seen the way his love kept looking for him all day as he'd followed them from event to event. The way he'd stop for a moment, his bright blue eyes sweeping the crowd, looking for something, looking for him. It had made his heart flutter and his blood rush, and he could just imagine their sweet reunion when it had happened. There had even been one time when Kinney had gone to the bathroom at Lusia's, that his love had looked straight at him, making him feel alive and like his life meant something again.

He'd been so tempted to go up to him then. To tell him that he felt it too and he was sorry for all the pain he'd caused in that past, but he was ready to treat him like the prince that he was meant to be. He'd even gulped down a couple of shots of tequila for a bit of liquid courage; but just as he'd gathered enough of said courage to approach his love, the bastard had come back from the bathroom and whisked him away.

Likely because he was worried that they would connect; but he couldn't stop it from happening. His love knew he was there; he had seen the way he hesitated and tried to wait for him to catch up numerous times, only to be thwarted and dragged away by Kinney.

It was only a matter of time and place.

Inhaling deeply, he closed his eyes and thought back to that morning. God, being near him had been blissful and heartbreaking at the same time. To have him so near, close enough to touch, but hindered because of a jealous asshole – it was a sweet torture. One he'd gladly suffer just to bask in his presence.

He remembered catching up with them at the parade this afternoon, once again delighted that he wasn't imaging things when he'd heard his laugh in the restaurant, followed by a flash of bright blond hair as he and the asshole were leaving. He'd even managed to get close enough at the parade to feel his heat, to hear his soft happy sighs, to smell his soap and shampoo. God, he'd smelled amazing – a mixture of citrus and sandalwood and almonds – just as he had when they'd first met.

He'd been so beautiful standing there, the sun hitting his hair and gilding it. And he'd wanted so much to lean into him then and there; to announce his presence, wrap his arms around him, to breathe him in, to kiss the soft pink lips that should belong to him. To claim him for his own; but he erred on the side of discretion, knowing that it wasn't the right time for them yet and that his love would arrange the perfect opportunity for them to meet before leaving here this weekend.

A meeting that was soon to take place based on his longer and lingering looks.

Opening his eyes, he watched as his love looked over at him one final time, just as Kinney walked into Pucker Up Candy Shoppe. Heart hammering in his chest, he licked his lips and knew that it was a sign. He could feel it, knew through their connection that his love was telling him it was safe to come to him, that he was waiting for him.

Finally, finally, they could be together.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped off the curb, waiting for a solitary car to pass before it was safe to cross and then quickly made his way across the street. His love had looked away in the meantime, but that didn't worry him any. He was certain he was just playing it cool so that Kinney wouldn't become suspicious. He just walked quicker, and soon he was nearly there, but then that asshole ruined it all!

… … … … …

Justin yawned and propped his back against the streetlamp, tired after a long day of running around the festival. He grinned to himself, still having a hard time believing that Brian had put this all together. Oh, he knew that Brian would deny it. That he'd tell Justin it was only good business to come up and explore the area so he had a better idea of how and to whom to market the inn. But he knew better.

His husband had turned into a bit of a closet romantic; though he'd never admit to it himself.

Sweeping his eyes over the street, he'd already fallen in love with the town and hoped that they could come back in the summer. Although, with Sunbeam due in June, it wasn't likely; they'd be far too busy trying find time to merely sleep to even think of getting away for a weekend. But maybe the following summer. Sunbeam would a year old then and he'd either feel better about leaving for a couple of days, or they could bring her with them.

Looking over his shoulder, he smirked to see Brian at the check out counter waiting for the clerk to finish helping the person in front of him. He would have gone in with Brian, but he was having far too much fun people watching; he had all these ideas he wanted to put down in his sketchpad once they got back to the room.

Turning back to the street, Justin's eyes lingered just a moment on a man that was standing across the street looking over at the candy shop. He frowned; there was something familiar about the person, but he couldn't put his finger on why. Maybe it was his build, or the way he stood, or something about his eyes, but he'd swear that he knew him. He couldn't place why as the other person was covered near head to toe with only a small part of his face visible. In fact, the only reason he could tell it was a man at all was the clothing was very masculine, the way he held himself, and most telling, when his scarf moved once, he could see the hint of an Adam's apple.

The man looked this way, seeming to contemplate on whether or not to go to the store; and then he was crossing the street, so Justin guessed he'd made up his mind. Losing interest, he turned back to the shop and he smiled when Brian picked up his bag, said something to the clerk and then walked out of the shop. Smirking, Brian walked up to him and handed Justin the bag without a word spoken between them.

"What is this?" Justin asked, a bit puzzled as Brian hadn't told him why he'd wanted to go into a candy shop in the first place.

"Open the bag and find out," Brian smiled, stuffing his hands into his pockets.

"Brian…" Justin said, and then huffed when Brian just gestured to the bag; and then he grinned as he started to dig through the contents and found some of his favorite candies; including salt water taffy and several chocolaty things that made his mouth water.

"Those are mine," Brian said, as Justin picked up a bag of dark-chocolate-covered coffee beans; and then grabbed them and stuffed the bag in his pocket. Justin frowned at the loss. "Pouting won't get you anywhere, Sunshine. There is plenty of other shit in there, including those stupid Jelly Belly's that you like so much. I also got you some rocky road, chocolate-covered raisins, and peanut butter cups too."

"What's the occasion?" Justin asked, bouncing on his toes as he went through his goodies, and silently damning the fact that he ate so much that he couldn't even enjoy it at the moment.

"I thought I'd grab you a snack or two for later," Brian shrugged, chuckling when Justin squealed with excitement as he found a pint container of Velvet Fresh Strawberry ice cream and another of Raspberry Fudge Cordial.

"Oh God, and I am so stuffed," Justin whined, desperately wanting to dig into the strawberry ice cream now, but knowing there was no way he could eat even a bite. "I guess, I'll just have to save these for later."

"I would hope so," Brian snorted; he wrapped an arm around Justin's shoulders and began herding him down the street. "Considering you've eaten pretty much nonstop all day. Between the Baked Cinnamon Brioche French Toast breakfast with bacon, an oatmeal parfait, and both yours and my home fries and the chili and muffins at the cook off, and the hot dog you just had to have and the nachos you had at Lusia's and the spaghetti, I'm surprised I'm not rolling you down the street."

"Fuck off," Justin said without heat, sticking his tongue out at his husband for good measure. "It's not my fault that Sunbeam has as voracious an appetite as I do. Mom said that she was the same way when she was pregnant with me."

"Great," Brian grumbled and shook his head. "Another kid to eat me out of house and home." Justin squawked at that description and elbowed him. "Ow! You and your fucking pointy, little elbows are a menace. Behave, Sunshine; or I might just rescind on your surprise tomorrow."

"No you won't," Justin said confidently; he knew that Brian would never go back on his word no matter how annoyed he might be. Plus, Justin knew just how to talk him around.

"I might," Brian hummed, smirking when Justin just gave him a 'get real' look; and then he smiled and wrapped his arms around Brian's face.

"No you won't, because you are the best husband ever," Justin said, squeezing him around the middle. Brian looked down and arched a brow, making Justin turn serious. "And I couldn't love you more if I tried in this moment. Thank you for planning this trip."

"Don't get moist," Brian groused, huffing when Justin just squeezed him again and buried his face into his chest. "Like I said, it's a working weekend and I figured we might as well take advantage of a free room and all the amenities so that I have a better idea of how to market this place."

"Bullshit," Justin sing-songed, drawing another huff from his husband. He grinned and turned around and walked backwards, poking Brian in the chest. "I am so on to you, Mr. Taylor-Kinney. I know you could have sent any number of your minions to take care of this, but you didn't."

"Yeah, well," Brian said as he rolled his eyes and grabbed Justin's hand, yanking him back into his side. He pressed a kiss to the top of Justin's head. "Gotta keep the husband happy, right? A happy Sunshine means sex on a regular basis; thus leading to a happy Brian. Win-win in my eyes."

"You're so full of it," Justin snorted, snuggling up under his arm and teasing him as he did when he was teenager. "And you soooooooo adore me."

"Yeah, I do." Brian said, rolling his lips between his teeth. Justin beamed, and ignored when Brian rolled his eyes again. "So, I was thinking; we should head back to our room and put that tub and bed into good use. And if you're a real good boy, I'll even let you…"

… … … … …

He seethed as he watched them walk away, wrapped in each other's arms, the asshole whispering something into his love's ear and ensnaring him once again. It happened every time. Just as his love was starting to break the spell Kinney had woven around him, that asshole would come back and hook him once again.

Well, he was tired of it all; it was time to make his presence known and put Kinney in his place for good.

Chapter Text

February 1 (Part Two)

Brian stirred and blinked against the soft grey light spilling in from the window. He yawned and stretched, and then smiled to find a warm bundle of blond snuggled up to his chest. Turning further on his side, he pressed a kiss on Justin's forehead, closing his eyes as he lingered for a bit. He wasn't surprised to see that Justin was still sleeping as they had a long, active night.

In fact, just thinking of it made his dick twitch with renewed interest.

Pulling Justin against his chest Brian rained kisses down over his cheeks and jawline and neck, all the while rocking his hips up into his husband's. Justin snuffled and buried his face into Brian's chest, and then arched like a cat as Brian ran his hands down his back. Making a little noise in the back of his throat, Justin pulled his face away from Brian's chest and blinked lazily, his eyes still blurry from sleep.

"Good morning, Sunshine," Brian smirked, dropping a kiss on his nose.

"Morning," Justin murmured, his voice sleep rough; he blinked again and yawned, and looked around, likely searching for a clock. "What time is it?"

"Just a bit before nine," Brian said, reading the number off of the clock on the nightstand just over Justin's shoulder. He pressed a soft kiss against Justin's shoulder as Justin groaned and buried his face back into Brian's chest.

"I thought you said we were going to sleep in," Justin whined, but then flopped onto his back as he realized there would be no more sleep that morning.

"This is sleeping in," Brian smirked, leaning over his husband to pepper kisses along his neck and chest, tracing his way down to his nipples.

"Maybe for you," Justin grumbled, and then his breathing hitched as Brian's lips closed over one of his nipples. Justin buried his hand into Brian's hair and sighed, murmuring almost absentmindedly. "But for the rest of us sane people, that definitely means after ten at the very least."

"But if we do that, "Brian said as he pulled off Justin's nipple with a pop to torment the other. Justin squirmed and moaned lowly as Brian teased him, nipping the sensitive bud with his teeth. He then crawled his way back up and dropped a quick kiss on perfect pink lips. "We'll never get the chance to do everything you want today."

"I hate when you make sense," Justin complained, his hands coming to rest on the small of Brian's back as he once again leaned over his husband.

"So, have you had a chance to think about what you want to do today?" Brian asked, running his hands through Justin's hair, marveling at how silky it felt against his fingers; even softer than it usually was.

"Well, I definitely want to see the parade," Justin said, a thoughtful look on his face as he looked over Brian's shoulder. Brian rolled his eyes. "I know, I know; it's silly, as I don't even live here or know any of the participants, but it just seems like the best way to set the mood for the day."

"I already said we can see the parade, Sunshine," Brian said dryly, a small smile curling at the corner of his mouth as Justin wriggled a little in excitement.

"And then of course, I want to hit the chili cook off," Justin said, his eyes sparkling; likely because he was imagining all the good food he was going to eat today.

"Of course," Brian snorted, rolling his lips between his teeth to hold back a full on laugh at that pronouncement. Like he expected otherwise. "No surprise there."

"And then, maybe a carriage ride?" Justin said, his tone lilting at the end to form more of a question than a statement.

"We could do that," Brian nodded; and really, he couldn't imagine a much more fun way to spend time with Justin, snuggled under a blanket and kissing. And maybe he could even talk him into something a bit more fun. "It will give you a chance to be off your feet."

"And then I'm torn between the Lego Build Off and the ice carving," Justin said, chewing on his bottom lip. "Both sound like a lot of fun."

"I think the Lego thing is mainly for kids, Sunshine," Brian said gently, having heard about the event from the Cutlers. "Although, I could be wrong; besides, it's hardly fair for them to go up against an artist of your caliber."

"Yeah," Justin said just a bit sadly; but he quickly perked up. "So maybe we could watch the ice carving and I can talk to a few of the artists about their techniques."

"Sure," Brian said, trying desperately not to shake his head at his husband's antics, before putting in his own two cents for the day. "And then we can go sit at Luisa's; there will be live music and we can have a rest and warm up. Maybe grab some of that free hot chocolate for you."

"Followed by the spaghetti dinner?" Justin said hopefully, wiggling in excitement once more and he licked his lips.

"If we must," Brian said, rolling his eyes again; Justin's appetite was going to be the death of him. And then he yelped as Justin swatted him on the arm.

"Yes, we must," Justin insisted, his face set into a stubborn frown.

"Carbs, Sunshine," Brian complained halfheartedly, but knew full well that he'd never win this argument and that they would be first waiting in line when it came to that damned dinner if Justin had any say in it. "You're going to kill me with all those carbs."

"But then, we could come back here and I'll help you work off all those carbs," Justin smirked, sliding his hand down and around to cup Brian's dick.

And well, put like that, who the fuck was he to complain?

"Now that is something I can get into," Brian smirked, grabbing his husband's hands and pressing them into the mattress on either side of his head as he climbed on top of him. "In the meantime, why don't you help me work up an appetite for breakfast?"

… … … … …

Brian huffed out a sigh, stamping his feet to hopefully get some feeling back into them after standing for the last hour watching a parade that, frankly, he didn't give two shits about. If it wasn't for loving the adorable twat at his side, he would have happily skipped it and sat his ass down in a nice, warm bar and had a drink while Justin watched it.

But, he did love the twat, so here he was, freezing his ass off because they'd been standing in the same place for over an hour to watch a parade that reminded him of every other small town parade in existence. Exciting it was not.

Not that he'd ever say that to his husband; who, for all his thirty years, was watching it and acting more like the teenager he'd first met than an adult; and a pregnant one at that. He was surprised that Justin hadn't even complained about his feet hurting, but he guessed the additional weight hadn't become an issue yet.

Sighing, Brian was thankful to see the end of the parade make its way past them and that the crowd was now breaking up to follow the parade the rest of the way down to mapped route. Thank fucking God; now maybe he could get some circulation back into his extremities.

"Well, there is an hour of my life that I'll never get back," Brian muttered, huffing when Justin turned and glared at him; he swatted Brian on the arm before linking them together.

"Oh, please," Justin smirked as they headed to the Depot Street lot where the chili cook off was being held. Because knowing his husband and his bottomless pit of a stomach, it should be going off, demanding to be fed any time now. "Like I didn't see you smiling through out the whole thing."

"That's because I was watching you, not the parade, Sunshine," Brian said, kissing him on the cheek. And it was true; what he'd enjoyed most about the parade was Justin's reaction to it. "I swear; sometimes you acted like a bigger kid than most of the ones that were there today."

Showing his maturity, Justin stuck out his tongue; and then snuggled deeper into Brian's side as the turned the corner onto Depot Street. Brian couldn't help being thankful that they'd found a place to stand so close to where they needed to be. After Justin lingered over breakfast, he had thought they might have to give the parade a miss; but luck had been on their side. As they were leaving, they'd met up with the Cutlers, who were headed to meet up with their family, and they dragged the two of them along with them.

"I just like parades," Justin said, practically skipping at Brian's side, tugging him along as they caught sight of the gathering crowd all headed in the same direction. "They are such a happy event."

"I know," Brian huffed, but allowed himself to be dragged along because God forbid that Justin miss any of it. "The fact that you've dragged me to the Pride Parade every year since your first would have told me that without you saying a word."

"And now for another happy event," Justin said, rubbing his stomach with his free hand and practically salivating as they reached their destination. He broke away and walked swiftly ahead of Brian to his first vict…err…his first proprietor. "At least for my stomach."

Rolling his eyes, Brian followed in his wake and prayed that the twat wasn't going to be facing a miserable night of heartburn after this.

… … … … …

Brian sighed with relief as they sat down in the carriage and covered their legs with the blanket provided by the service. He had just managed to pry Justin away from the Chili Cook Off before he could eat his weight in it and was just happy to be off his feet. When he suggested this outing, he was certain that it would be Justin complaining about needing to sit down, but he'd been a little ball of energy since Brian had managed to pry him from their bed this morning.

Although, he had to admit that the chili’s smelled delicious and there were even a couple that he’d been happy to try himself, including a White Bean Chicken Chili that he loved and surprisingly a Spiced Apple Chili with Ground Turkey in it. Both had been really good and he light enough that he’d happily eat them again. Justin on the other hand favored the Braised Five-Alarm Texas Chili that Brian just knew was going to give him fits later, but he hadn’t stopped raving about it since.

Until now that is; Justin had gone suspiciously quiet in the past fifteen minutes and it was starting to worry Brian. Not to mention that it made him wonder if he needed to talk his husband into taking a nap. Although, there was also the way Justin had been occasionally scanning the crowds as if looking for something or someone, and occasionally jumping when Brian caught him off guard. He didn't like that one bit.

"Is something wrong, Sunshine," Brian asked, drawing Justin's attention from his mindless staring and bringing it back to him. "You've been a bit jumpy today."

Justin bit his lip and looked at the driver cautiously to see if he was paying any attention to their conversation, but when the driver just continued on his track, Justin turned back to Brian and said in a low voice. "It's weird, but I've just gotten this feeling that someone has been watching us today, all day; but whenever I look, I can't seem to find anything or anyone suspicious."

Brian frowned, but then quickly smoothed his expression; he'd had the same feeling periodically through out the day, but had just attributed it to them being visitors and an openly gay couple. But, if Justin was voicing the same concern, and was worried about it; well, Brian trusted Justin's instincts. He would be sure to keep a closer eye out.

On the other hand, he didn't want Justin to worry about it; the point to this trip was for him to relax after the trying weeks they'd just had.

"Well, we do stand out," Brian said, affecting an unconcerned voice in an attempt to soothe Justin's nerves; adding a little humor to distract him. "First of all, we are utterly gorgeous, so why wouldn't they stare? Plus, this isn't Liberty Avenue where we are just another couple of queers walking around."

"We've never been just a couple of queers walking around," Justin drawled, his tone as dry as the Sahara. "Even down on Liberty."

"Why, Sunshine!" Brian exclaimed in mock horror; looking at Justin as if he'd never seen him before. "I am appalled at your lack of modesty."

"Fuck off," Justin huffed, rolling his eyes at Brian's antics, but a small smile flit over his face, so win for him. "Like I didn't just verbalize what you were already thinking."

"Well," Brian grinned, his tongue tucked firmly in his cheek. Because it was true. "I can't argue with that."

"I do acknowledge and give you some pity points for your failed attempt at modesty, however," Justin said in a mock serious tone, patting Brian on the arm.

"I do so appreciate your benevolence, Sunshine," Brian said with a sarcastic smile; and silently patted himself on the back for successfully distracting Justin from his worries. "I just don't know what I would do without it."

"You'd never survive without me," Justin snorted, a small, affectionate smile on his face.

And wasn't that the truth?

Smirking, Brian flashed a wicked look Justin's way, and Justin instantly looked wary, as he'd come to know that expression all too well over the years. Brian slowly slipped his hand under the blanket and rested it on top of Justin's thigh. Justin's eyes popped open and his mouth dropped as Brian leaned closer and placed a small kiss at the hollow of his ear.

"Point well made," Brian said for his husband's ears only, his hand slowly creeping up Justin's thigh until it reached the crease. "But now that were moving, I have a better idea for what we could be doing."

"Brian…" Justin gasped softly, casting a nervous glance the driver's way as he whispered. "We can't…"

"Sure we can," Brian cut him off, sliding his hand onto his husband's dick and squeezing gently. Justin bit his lip and barely held back a groan as Brian began to stroke him through his pants. "You'll just have to be quiet; and trust me, after all those times I snuck in at Deb's, I know you can be quiet when you need to be."

Justin threw him a heated glance that told him that he was so going to pay for this, but Brian didn't care at the moment. Operation distract the twat was a success.

… … … … …

After their little romp in the carriage, Brian had led Justin back to the Inn for a quick change of clothing. He tried to convince Justin to rest for a few minutes before heading back out, but like always after an orgasm, Justin was energetic and raring to go. So, off they went again, this time to the Rotary Pavilion to see the ice carving.

And that's where they'd been for the past hour, Brian waiting off to the side as Justin flit back and forth between the artists, asking questions, watching and basically making an nuisance of himself. Not that the artists seemed to mind; once they'd heard his name, those in the know filled in those who weren't, and the whole lot of them couldn't have been happier to answer his questions.

He was in artistic heaven, and had that look that said he was considering giving the method a try himself for one of his upcoming shows. Brian just pinched the bridge of his nose at that thought, having visions of ice sculptures stored in sub-zero freezers everywhere in Pittsburgh. Hopefully he could talk him down to doing a demonstration instead and then displaying the single large work for however long it would last.

Sighing, Brian watched as Justin flit back to his original victim and, seeing that signs of fatigue creeping into his husband's face, decided enough was enough.

"Okay, that's enough of that," Brian said, swiftly intercepting Justin and pulling him away from the artists, flashing them a smile and waving as he dragged Justin away. "Let the man concentrate on his work, Sunshine. I'm sure he's working on a deadline and needs to concentrate on his entry."

"Oh, sorry," Justin looked over his shoulder sheepishly, waving to the artists as they departed. "I was just…"

"About to turn into a Popsicle," Brian cut him off, heading down West Main to North Broadway where Luisa's Mexican Grill was situated. "Let's find a warm place to sit down, have a warm drink and relax until your spaghetti dinner."

"Well, you did mention that place with the live music," Justin said, furrowing his brow as he tried to recall the name of it. "Luisa's?"

"That's the plan, Sunshine," Brian said as the walked along, his breath coming in short pants. Fuck, he hadn't done this much walking in along time. "Plus, they're doing wine tasting; alcohol is always a bonus."

"Not that it does me any good," Justin groused, pouting a bit. "God, I so miss just having a beer on occasion. Not even getting drunk; just the taste of a good beer or a glass of scotch. And coffee. And soda. And sushi. Sometimes this whole pregnancy thing sucks."

"Only a few more months," Brian soothed, wrapping his arm around his husband and pressing a kiss to his temple.

"Not soon enough," Justin grumbled, but allowed himself to be lead to the restaurant with a minimal of fuss.

… … … … …

Brian sat at the table and watched his husband eat with no little amount of awe. If he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, Brian would never believe the amount of food this trim man could pack away, pregnant or not. Even as a teenager his appetite had horrified a very food and health conscious Brian. However, he'd consoled himself with the thought that eventually, Justin would have to start watching his food intake in order to keep his trim, twink-like figure.

And while Justin's body had changed as he matured, his chest filling out and his shoulders broadening, much as you'd expect in the change from being a teenager to entering adulthood. But that fabled moment where Justin would actually have to watch what he ate never came. It was galling sometimes, watching his husband put away a meal that could feed two to three people easily and not gain one ounce.

Take for instance now; he had just finished a plate of nachos not even an hour and a half ago at Luisa's and he was still packing away the spaghetti as if he hadn't eaten all day. Brian, who hadn't eaten afar less that day, couldn't even finish his one plate. Shaking his head, Brian watched as Justin slurped yet another noodle into his mouth and the rubbed his hand over his face with a sigh.

"What?" Justin asked, nonplussed.

"Just trying to figure out where the hell you're putting all of that," Brian groused, eyeing Justin's plate with disgust. "Your appetite never ceases to amaze me."

"Hey, eating for two here," Justin said a little defensively, cradling his plate like he expected Brian to take it from him; but that would never happen. Brian had learned a long time ago not to take food from Justin. well, except for the Twinkies; but there was a perfectly good reason for that. "Plus, Liz said at our last visit that I'm expected to gain a certain amount of weight before the next visit. It's not my fault that I have a high metabolism and can eat my weight in food."

"Well, at least you aren't doctoring it with, I don't know," Brian scrunched his nose, and tried to find some vile food example, but couldn't find anything. So, he settled for something much more tame. "Vanilla pudding or something equally as ridiculous."

"Oh!" Justin rounded his mouth and widened his eyes at the thought; and Brian just couldn't do it, and immediately put his foot down. "That would be…"

"No." Brian said with an implacable frown. "Just no.

"You're no fun," Justin muttered, a small pout on his mouth.

"Not what you said last night," Brian smirked, his eyes lighting with mischief as he ran them over his husband's body, his mind turning to much more fun things now that the day was over. "Now hurry up and finish that and I'll show you just how much fun I can be."

Chapter Text

February 2 (Part One) 

“God, this was the best idea ever,” Justin sighed, happily wiggling his toes in the warm foot soak liberally laced with agave oil. It was the perfect end to a long, tiring, but ultimately relaxing and fun weekend. He’d really needed this after the stressful weeks that they'd had.

“So, a good surprise then?" Brian smirked, tucking his tongue firmly into his cheek as he looked over at Justin, his feet in a similar bath.

“The best,” Justin smiled, his eyes sparkling as he watched the attendant prepare the sugar scrub for their feet.  “I haven’t had a facial or a mani-pedi in forever. It’s especially welcome after all the walking we did yesterday and today.”

He looked down at his hands a bit ruefully, wishing that his poor nails would last out the week, but knew that it was highly unlikely. Between sketching, and painting Sunbeam’s room, and then working on his show pieces... well, his nails never stayed this nice. However, the hand massage and soak had really felt good. Especially given that it had been so cold, and his hands had gotten so dried and cracked in spite of his gloves.

“I told you we could have skipped today,” Brian said, flinching a bit as the attendant pulled his foot out of the bath and dried it off, before setting it down on a towel and then repeating the action with the other. “I’m sure we could have found something to do…”

Brian arched a brow and smirked, his eyes dancing wickedly as he turned them back to Justin. As if Justin couldn’t figure out exactly what he meant by that. Shaking his head at his husband, Justin shifted in his seat, drawing an equally wicked grin from Brian, as he knew exactly why Justin was shifting in his seat; as well he should since he was the cause of it.

“No,”Justin huffed, biting his lower lip to hold back a giggle as the attendant began to scrub his feet, inadvertently tickling him. “I definitely wanted to do that today. I’m really happy with the pictures I got of the park; I might use them for a winter-themed abstract landscape show at a later date. But it is nice to soak my feet after all that standing and walking around.”

“So, it would be a good thing that I also booked a couple’s massage then, wouldn’t it?” Brian asked, rolling his lips under as he stared at Justin from beneath his lashes.

“You what?” Justin asked, not certain that he’d heard that correctly; it was so out of character for his husband, who typically eschewed all things even remotely romantic. In fact, this entire weekend had been completely unlike him; not that Justin was complaining. Far from it, but he did have to wonder the why of it.

“You heard me,” Brian huffed, shifting uncomfortably in his seat and looking away.

“Brian…” Justin said softly, watching his husband with misty eyes; cursing that the fucking hormones running through his veins were making his eyes tear up yet again. He really couldn’t wait until this part was over, as he’d never been one for excessive tears. “I can’t believe that you would…”

“Don’t get moist,” Brian rolled his eyes before shooting him a warning look. “And I swear, if you ever mention this to anyone, I will twist your balls into a knot. Just enjoy it.”

Justin bit his lip, fighting back a ‘sunshine smile’ as Brian called it, and dropped the subject, not wanting to put Brian on the spot for his uncharacteristic romanticism. But secretly he was thrilled. This had definitely been one of the best trips they’d ever made and today in particular had stood out, starting with this morning.

 

Justin stirred, yawning and rubbing his face into his pillow; he stretched and then frowned as his hand met cold sheets. This wasn’t an unusual thing when they were at home; Brian was often up and out of the house long before Justin stirred in their bed. But he was a bit surprised that Brian wasn’t still sleeping after the day and night they’d had.”

Smirking, Justin flopped on his back and closed his eyes, vividly recalling dessert last night - Brian draped across a thick bath sheet on the bed, naked as the day he was born, and adorned with a smorgasbord of treats. But the best had been the strawberry ice cream that Justin had dribbled on and lapped from his skin.

It was the best way to eat ice cream.

Stretching, Justin was contemplating getting up and using the restroom before trying to track his wayward husband down, when he heard a loud slam of the door. Startled, Justin sat up straight in the bed and pulled the covers up to his chest just in case it was a maid coming in to clean the room. He didn’t think it could be, as they were checking out today, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

Justin paused and furrowed his brow as he heard drawers and doors open and close and general banging about in the other room. There was a clink of plates and cutlery, which surprised him, as he didn’t recall anything other than cups in the kitchenette. Of course, he hadn’t really explored beyond that either; once he’d found the coffee and the cups, he’d been happy and didn’t need anything else.

“Brian?” Justin called out, his back growing tense when there was no answer; but he had absolutely no intentions of going out there until he was certain he knew who was in the other room. Not after the way he’d felt watched all day yesterday, no matter what reassurances Brian tried to make. “Brian, are you out there?”

Biting his lip, Justin scooted towards the edge of the bed, readying himself to flee or, at the very least, put some space between him and the other person if necessary. He tensed as he heard footsteps walk his way, and then sagged with relief when the door swung open and a familiar face came into view.

”Good morning, Sunshine,” Brian greeted, a tray in his hands.

“Asshole,“ Justin muttered softly, huffing as he flopped back onto the bed, his muscles still coiled and ready for flight despite not needing it. Brian arched a brow, but didn’t say anything as he set the tray on the bedside table, and straightened up to take his gloves and coat off. “You’re dressed?”

“Went to get breakfast,” Brian said, peeling off his layers until he was just in a long-sleeved knit shirt and a pair of well worn jeans that fit him like a glove.

Justin tilted his head to the side for a better view and couldn’t help but admire the way they fit as he bent over. His husband had always been a gorgeous man.

“I thought you might enjoy eating here instead of the restaurant today,” Brian said as he stood up once more, a smirk on his lips as he knew just what Justin had been doing.

Justin stuck his tongue out at him and crawled up the bed to lean his back against the board, letting the sheets pool in his lap. And then it was Brian’s turn to admire him as the draped sheets accented his interest. Brian licked his lips and met Justin’s eyes, his fairly smoldering with lust.

“You thought right,” Justin grinned, stretching his arms above his head and clasping the headboard as he spread his legs in invitation. “You going to join me?”

“Thought you’d never ask, Sunshine,” Brian grinning, shucking his clothing as fast as he could and diving back into bed with Justin.

 

Sadly, their actual breakfast had gotten cold before they'd gotten around to eating it, but that was what microwaves were for; and it took no time at all for it to heat up and for them to eat before starting the rest of their day. Which had been fun, if a bit tiring.

“What’s that smile for, Sunshine?” Brian whispered against his ear, sending a shiver tripping down his spine.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Justin whispered back, his eyes dancing with mischief as he looked at his husband from beneath his lashes.

“Oh, I would indeed,” Brian said, pressing a small kiss to the hollow of his ear. “I do wonder if I could convince the masseuse to step out for a few moments while I persuade you to tell me what I want to know.”

Justin bit his lip to keep from groaning at the thought of Brian’s persuasion techniques, and then shook his head in exasperation.

“Like you haven’t already guessed,” Justin said with a knowing look.

“Maybe,” Brian said, resting his hand on Justin’s thigh; a bit to high to be polite. Justin bit down harder on his lip as Brian’s fingers traced small designs on the inside of his thigh, making Justin hard as a rock. Asshole. “But I do so enjoy hearing it from your lips; plus, you need to make up for denying me my treat earlier.”

Justin hissed, his cheeks coloring at the reminder, but thankfully the technician had moved away before Brian had said anything otherwise he would have kicked his ass once they were alone. Justin squirmed, scowling when Brian just chuckled and sat back thoroughly pleased with himself, making Justin wish he’d just given in earlier.

 

”This is much harder than I thought it would be,” Justin puffed, his feet feeling heavier than normal as they walked down the trail together.

On the other hand, the trees and cabins covered with snow were breathtaking and had given him all sorts of ideas that he needed to put to canvas when he had the chance. Likely after Sunbeam was born however, as he wanted to do these in oils; luckily, he’d thought to bring his digital camera and had gotten some great shots.

“I tried to warn you, Sunshine,” Brian huffed as they trudged down the trail. “But you were dead set on going. Maybe next time you’ll listen to me.”

“Doubtful,” Justin smirked, dodging when Brian tossed a handful of snow at him.

“Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me in the least,” Brian snorted, walking ahead of Justin, prompting him to take a photo of him. Brian rolled his eyes and turned away. “I gave up on trying to tell you what do a long time ago.”

“Does this mean you’ll stop trying to throw away my Twinkies?” Justin asked, tucking his camera back into his pocket.

“No,” Brian said in an implacable tone, giving Justin the hairy eyeball. “The Twinkies do not count in this scenario as you know damned well that they are bad for you. I don’t even know how you can eat those things.”

“That’s because all of your taste buds died in a mass protest years ago,” Justin blithely explained, pursing his lips in distaste. “I mean, dry turkey sandwiches? Salad with no dressing? Plain chicken breasts with a plain baked potato? I’d rather eat cardboard.”

“You probably would eat cardboard if it were edible,” Brian said, laughing and dodging as Justin dipped down and scooped up a handful of snow and threw it at him.

“Whatever,” Justin huffed, regretting the move now as it seemed to shorten his breath further. He really hadn’t thought this snowshoeing thing through.  “You know I’m right.”

“I know that you think you’re right,” Brian snickered, waiting for him at the end of a row of trees. “It’s not nearly the same thing.”

“How much further do we have to go?” Justin whined, and then grimaced because that was far too Michael-like for his liking.

“About another mile, Sunshine,” Brian smirked, but then nodded to the right when Justin grimaced again. “But, hey, we can find a place to rest for a bit if you need to. I was thinking maybe over there.”

“There’s nowhere to sit, Brian,” Justin huffed as he looked over at the copse of trees and bushes, noting there were no benches or even a fallen log to sit on.

“Oh, I’m sure I could find something for you to sit on,” Brian purred, yanking Justin back into his chest and molding his body against Justin’s.

“Oh, hell no,” Justin said, pulling away and hurriedly walking down the trail. “I remember what happened the last time we had sex in the snow; you were sick for a week. No way in hell am I dealing with that again.

 

Justin flushed again as his husband gave him a knowing look. But Justin just ignored him, focusing his attention on the attendant smearing a Strawberry Wine infused mask on his feet and wrapping them in plastic booties. Brian just chuckled again and went back to the magazine he was reading, a smirk on his lips.

Huffing Justin sat back and looked around the room, his eyes falling onto a brochure on the table beside him. Picking it up, he read through the various spa treatments and packages, his brow pinching when he noticed a distinct lacking in their own spa package. Not that he was complaining, but he also couldn’t resist teasing Brian about it either.

“So no waxing?” Justin asked, amusement coating his voice as he held up the brochure; and then laughed when Brian looked at him as if he’d grown another head.

“There is no way in hell that I am letting anyone get near me with hot wax outside of the bedroom, Sunshine,” Brian sneered, shuddering at the mere thought of anyone coming near him with said item. “Especially in certain areas.”

And then he smirked and leaned over, a wicked gleam in his eye that made Justin swallow thickly and realize he should have just kept his mouth shut.

“Unless you’re offering to do it yourself, Sunshine,” Brian purred next to his ear, tracing his fingers up his thigh. “If that’s the case, I’m game; I remember how much fun we had with hot wax not that long ago.”

Chapter Text

February 2 (Part Two)

Brian stared blankly at the remains of the loft and ran a hand through his hair, his body coiled as tight as a spring as glass and bits of…whatever, crunched under his feet. Scrubbing a hand over his hair, he turned in a full circle, trying to ignore the people moving in and out of his private space, documenting the damage.

Fucking hell; and the day had started so well.

After a morning of snowshoeing and general goofing off with Justin, Brian had booked them for an afternoon at The Lakehouse Inn's spa. They'd gotten the full treatment – a facial, a mani-pedi and a sixty-minute couple's massage of a sorts. Well, they were in the same room together, but Justin had received the Some Bunny Loves You prenatal massage, (and he fully admits to cringing at the name), and Brian had gone with the Relaxation and Deep Tissue massage.

They'd then had an early dinner, once again at Crosswinds Grille, before happily piling into their SUV and beginning the two and a half hour drive home. Or well to the loft, as Brian was scheduled for an early morning meeting at Kinnetik and Justin needed to meet with Sidney for some last minute details on the placement of his work. Because the little twat was anal and could never leave well enough alone when it came to his art.

They'd laughed and talked quietly the whole way home, not at all expecting the disaster they'd be coming home to. who would? This was something that you saw in movies, but thought was over exaggerated for drama's sake; not something you expected to happen in your own life. Brian still couldn't get over it and he was standing right there in the middle of it.

When they'd slid the door open, Brian immediately knew something was off;it ht him right in the gut and it had nothing to do with the balled up piece of paper that was sitting next to the door; a ball of paper that he'd known for damned sure hadn't been there when they'd last been in the loft. But it was the first indication for things to come; and it hadn't prepared him for what he and Justin had found when they flipped on the lights.

They'd stood in the doorway in utter shock as they looked around, finding their house in shambles - the furniture was tipped on end and slashed to ribbons with what had to be a large knife; something that was confirmed by the butcher's knife lying on the floor. The glass top to their coffee table had been shattered and glass scattered across the living room area, with the body sticking out of the TV screen; and all of the wires connecting to the DVD player and the cable box ripped out.

All of the kitchen cabinets were open and his and Justin's dinnerware, glasses, and cups, all gifts from their wedding registry, lay smashed and ground into the floor; and most of their small appliances - the toaster, the blender and the coffee machine most notably - looked as if a blunt object had been taken to them and lay smashed and scattered across the counter. But that hadn't even been the worst of it.

Open-mouthed Brian stared in dismay as he noted that several of the glass panels surrounding the bedroom had been smashed in, the glass flown everywhere in the bedroom and the dining area; their dining table took equal treatment. And in the bedroom, the bedding, and the few items of clothing that they'd left behind, had been shredded to ribbons. And more, he'd walked through the bedroom into the bathroom to find the mirror cracked as if someone had punched, the hamper was pretty much kindling, and all of his toiletries were upended and smeared.

Justin's...well, Justin's were simply gone; as if they'd never been there to begin with.

And still, that hadn't been the worst of it.

No, the absolute worst had been that every picture of them, every single picture of Brian and Justin together, had their frames smashed against the floor and the photos had been rent down the middle, with Justin's half missing and his half defaced in some way. All of Justin's sketches of the two of them together had been shredded; the ones of him alone were burnt to ashes. Or at least that's what he thought was sitting in the garbage can. He supposed he should be grateful that the asshole hadn't set them on fire and just left them to burn the fucking loft down.

But the greatest tragedy was the painting.

When Justin came home from New York, the first day he spent in his new studio, he had painted the two of them lying in bed, Brian on top of Justin with their clasped hands stretched out over the bed. The two of them were fuzzy, like a slightly out of focus picture, with their clasped hands in sharp focus, the focal point of the painting.

He'd always loved that painting; he could feel Justin's love for him in that painting; and his sheer joy he felt at their reunification and the promises they'd made the night before, when Brian had asked him to marry him once again. It had always been one of his favorites, and the only reason it had been in the loft in the first place, was that the frame had been damaged and Justin was in the process of looking for another.

Usually it hung in their bedroom at Britin, right across from the bed, where they could see it every morning.

That same painting now lay in shreds on the ground, the frame busted until it resembled kindling. And Justin…God, Justin was just sitting there in front of it staring blankly at the ruins of it, heartbroken and so very quiet that there were times Brian had to check that he was still breathing. And fuck if that didn't just tear him up inside.

When he found this fucker, he was so going to end him.

Rubbing his hand over his mouth and jaw, Brian exhaled explosively, his heart aching for his husband, and looked around again, surprised to see that only Carl remained behind. Smiling weakly at the other man, Brian slowly walked over to him, glass crunching underfoot, and stood by his side as the other man studied the room.

Carl shook his head at the damage, disbelief etched into his face.

"You seeing what I'm seeing, kid?" Carl asked softly, his eyes immediately falling onto the ruined sketches and the shredded pictures, and...God...the painting, along with other random missing things. Things that belonged to his husband and should be there, but after inventory, were noticeably missing; like his favorite lounge about the loft hoodie that once draped over one chairs. It wasn't surprising that Carl hadn't gotten the measure right away.

"Yeah," Brian sighed heavily, wishing he could unsee it; as he really didn't like the implications. "I'm seeing what you are seeing. It's like…"

Brian paused because he just couldn't voice it.

"Someone is trying to erase you from his life?" Carl asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Yeah, that…" Brian swallowed, his throat tight as he looked around the loft once more, still unable to believe what was happening. "…the fuck?"

Carl nodded gravely as he walked around, his brow furrowed as he took it all in. He sighed and met Brian's eyes, the both of them completely shell-shocked by the destruction and the sheer violence behind it. The older man sighed again, rubbed his hand over his face and then looked towards Justin, who was still kneeling in front of his destroyed painting.

"Think he's figured it out yet?" Carl asked, nodding to Justin.

And Brian knew exactly what he was asking – did he think Justin realized that this wasn't just a random act of vandalism, but targeted, with Justin as the vandal's obvious obsession and Brian the vandal's apparent obstacle.

"Hard to tell," Brian said in a low voice; he rolled his lips between his teeth as he studied his silent husband. And then he shook his head in disbelief. "He's so upset about the sketches and painting right now, I don't think it's sunk in just yet. Thank God most of his work is at the manor." And then Brian paused, cursing low under his breath as he ran a hand through his hair. "Fuck…the manor. I need to call Anna and John. I hope that nothing has happened out there. It's his sanctuary."

"You do know you're won't be able to keep this under wraps," Carl said, fixing him with knowing look. "He's an intelligent man; once he's over being shocked about it, he'll put the pieces together."

"I know," Brian sighed; knowing Justin was far too intelligent not to do just that. And when he did, there would be hell to be paid. His little spitfire would not take this sitting down. "But, I'll deal with it then; for right now, he doesn't need anymore stress. Not with the baby…"

"That's gonna backfire on you," Carl warned, interrupting him. Brian grimaced, but couldn't refute his words. He looked away, making Carl sigh and roll his eyes. "But I have a feeling you already knew that."

"What am I supposed to do?" Brian asked with a terse smile on his face; yes, he absolutely knew that Justin would have his ass for protecting him from this, but he and Sunbeam came first. "He's already stressed out due to everyone butting their fucking noses in where they don't belong, and worrying about the show, and then there is the fact that he's already aware that someone has been watching us."

"Wait," Carl turned around, giving Brian the hairy eyeball. Brian winced; shit, he hadn't meant to say anything about that. "What do you mean there was someone watching you? You didn't mention that earlier."

"What's to mention, Carl?" Brian sighed, knowing that he was going to get an earful from the retired cop. "Neither of us saw anything out of the ordinary; and trust me, I was looking after he mentioned it. All I could have told them was it felt like we were being watched and that I had a gut feeling it's related to this."

"Still," Carl huffed, looking not pleased at all that Brian was holding information back. "You should have mentioned it to the detective in charge; even if there was nothing they could do with it. We need to know stuff like this so that we can adequately protect you. You have to realize how serious this is, Brian. This is not your average vandal. This person has serious beef with you and I don't think it's fully sunk in that no alarm was raised until you got home. That can only mean one thing."

"They had the code," Brian said tightly, his anger flooding back in an instant, his eyes flashing and cheeks heating as he stared at the room. "They had the fucking code to my alarm system. Yes, I did grasp that Carl."

"Then you have to realize that any bit of information you have, no matter how insignificant you think it might be, is important," Carl said, staring Brian down, not in the least cowed by his anger. "If we're reading this right, this person is obsessed with Justin; and equally obsessed with getting you out of his life. That does not sound like someone you want to tangle with."

Brian growled low in his throat and shoved his hands through his hair; he clenched them into fists and pulled as he took those words in. He felt so helpless; and fuck, he hated that feeling. There was no worse feeling in the world; especially when it came to keeping his husband safe. Which he couldn't do if this fucking asshole could just walk right into their fucking house at the drop of a fucking hat.

"I don't know what to do," Brian admitted, looking helplessly at Carl. "I don't want him staying out at Britin all by himself while I'm in town; and yet, I can't have him staying here when that asshole, or even assholes, has the code and could just walk in without consequence. I mean, yes; I can and will change it; but that does me little good when I have no idea how they got it in the first place."

"When was the last time you changed it?" Carl asked, the detective in him kicking in. "And who has it?"

"We changed it about two months ago," Brian said, thinking back; they usually changed it every six months. "As for the people that have it; Ted and Cynthia do since they take care of things if we're gone for extended periods of time; but I trust them with my life. I haven't told anyone else."

"Deb knows it," Carl said, his brows pinching thoughtfully.

"How the fuck does Deb know it?" Brian asked, outraged to find out that someone had had loose lips; although, he'd swear on his life that neither Ted or Cynthia would do such a thing. "I know that I never told her; and I'm pretty sure that Justin hasn't either."

"I don't know," Carl shrugged. "I know I heard her saying something about needing to write it down not long after you changed it. I just assumed you had told Michael and then told him to pass it on to her."

And no; no he did not do that; he'd stopped giving Michael the code when he'd had the locks changed a few months after Justin's return. He'd gotten sick of having good old Mikey letting himself in whenever the hell he felt like it. Typically when they were busy and interrupting the two of them.

"Mikey," Brian spat, his ire growing as this was yet one more transgression to add to the growing list of them. "Great, this day just gets better and better."

"I can talk to her when I get home and find out," Carl offered, but likely knew that it would do little good. While Deb had gotten better about facing Mikey's bad points, she was his mother and find a way to make this Brian's fault.

"Don't bother," Brian said grimly, knowing that he needed to have a word with Mikey as soon as possible. He'd been trying to corner the little asshole for over a week now, only to be put off by Ben and the others; all telling him that Mikey was sick. But he called bullshit; he knew better now and Mikey was going to get a firm talking to even if he had to kick his fucking door down. "I'll take care of this myself."

"If that's what you want to do," Carl said blandly; and Brian gave him a faint smirk knowing that the man planned to be as far away as possible when it happened. "I need to head into the precinct and give this new information to the detective working your case." Carl walked over to him and squeezed his shoulder. "Be careful, son; and take care of our boy."

"We'll see you later, Carl," Brian said, a lump in his throat as the older man walked away "Thanks for being here."

"Anytime, Brian," Carl called as he walked out the door, closing it behind him.

Brian let out the breath he'd been holding and pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked over to Justin, who was still staring blankly at his ruined work and sighed. He had no fucking idea how to fix this for him. And, honestly, he didn't think he could. There was no way that the painting could be salvaged, no matter how much he wanted it.

Walking over to his husband, Brian sank to his knees and then sat down, pulling the blond into his lap as he did so. He pressed a kiss against the other man's temple, his heart breaking anew as a tear slid down Justin's cheek. Rolling his lips between his lips, he pressed his cheek to Justin's, offering him the silent comfort he needed.

"Hey, Sunshine," Brian whispered after a moment. "You okay?"

Justin choked out a bitter laugh. And yeah, he got that. The question was so laughably lame that he wanted to kick himself for even asking it; but he still had no idea what to say and he wasn't about to offer up pithy platitudes.

"Who…" Justin swallowed as his voice cracked, his fingers trembling as they sifted through the wreckage. "Who would do this, Brian? Who hates us so much that they'd destroy all of our pictures?"

Brian closed is eyes; fuck, Justin would start with the question that he had no answer to; the one he'd been dreading. Especially as, by his wording, he still hadn't yet realized the most of the violence was perpetuated against, not them as a couple, but Brian as an individual and his place in Justin's life.

"I don't know, Sunshine," Brian said, kissing him softly on the cheek "But I have faith in Carl's friends; they'll figure this out." And well, so much for not offering platitudes; but he did believe it to be so.

"They destroyed our painting, Brian," Justin said hoarsely, his voice thick with tears. "Our painting; the first one I painted when I came home for good. Why would they…it's gone; completely destroyed. There is no way I can salvage it."

Brian blinked, fighting back his own tears as he needed to stay strong for Justin right now; he'd deal with his own grief later. Burying his face into Justin's hair, he breathed in deeply, finding strength in Justin's scent and presence; at least enough to make it through this conversation without completely losing it.

"Then you'll paint us another," Brian said with a soft sigh, kissing along his jaw. "And this one will be bigger and better because we are in a better place. Don't let this asshole get to you, Sunshine. That's what he or she wants."

"I just…" Justin trailed off; and then clenched his hands into fists and hissed. "God, I'm so furious that someone broke into our home and touched our things, destroyed our things. I just can't…" Justin swallowed and pressed his fingers to his eyes, as if trying to stave off tears. He sighed. "I'm just glad that nothing happened at Britin."

"Did you get a hold of Anna and John?" Brian asked, glad that one of them had had the presence of mind to contact their house and grounds keepers.

"Yeah, they were at the cottage most of the weekend," Justin said, slumping back against Brian's chest, the fight draining out of him for now. "No one came by that they are aware of; and when they went to look; nothing was missing or destroyed. Thank God."

Well that was one less thing to worry about.

"Hmmm…" Brian hummed, the question that had been preying on his mind since they'd first opened the loft door reasserting itself at those words.

"What?" Justin asked, well aware that Brian had something on his mind.

"Nothing," Brian said, and then smiled sheepishly when Justin shot him the look. The one he'd developed when he was a teenager and said, 'don't even, I am so on to you.' Brian huffed. "Just wondering why they broke into the loft; we rarely stay here and only have a few basics for when we do. Our life is at Britin. And honestly, if it were me, I'd want to make as big a statement as possible, so I'd target the manor."

"Maybe they couldn't," Justin said with a small shrug of his shoulders; and really it was a simple, but relevant, and likely, answer. "The manor is much more secure than here; not to mention the fact that we have a private security company that is wired in, unlike here."

"Different companies too," Brian mused, cursing himself for not putting the loft into the contract with the new company. "I keep meaning to switch the loft over, but haven't gotten around to it. Although, this is as good as an incentive as any."

Justin just nodded and then reached out his hand to touch the shreds of the painting once more, his face a mask of heartbreak. And God, if Brian ever got his hands on this asshole, he or she was so fucking done for doing this to him. Inhaling deeply, Brian pressed a kiss to the top of Justin's head and held him close.

"Paint it again, Sunshine," Brian said, his cheek resting on Justin's head. "Paint it for me again; only this time, add our wedding bands as the focal point, not our clenched hands. And I will love it just as much as this one."

Justin chewed on his bottom lip as he looked at what had become a symbol of their reunion with growing determination; just as Brian knew he would.

"Okay," Justin nodded again, his jaw firming with determination and his eyes holding the fire that had drawn Brian in from the minute he'd seen a teenage twink standing under a lamppost. "But not this one; I have a better one in mind; one that will show off all of our family."

Chapter Text

February 4 (Part One)

Justin leaned back and closed his eyes, a tight little smile on his face as Emmett excused himself to go use the restroom. He felt bad for his friend. Emmett had been trying so hard to distract him from the night before, but all Justin could see in his mind were the shreds of his painting lying on the floor like the spilled entrails of a slaughtered animal.

It's what it felt like too.

Like he'd been gutted. Like someone had taken a knife to his heart and belly instead of the painting that had come to symbolize his hope and love for Brian. God, he still couldn't believe that someone had done that; and why? Why would someone destroy his work like that? He just couldn't wrap his mind around the level of rage and violence needed to destroy…to crush…

Justin took a deep breath and shook his head; while he was certainly upset about the rest of the damage to the loft, it was the loss of his art that shattered him. Each piece was a part of his heart, a part of his soul that he freely gave away because he wanted to share the way he viewed the world. It was deeply personal, and that someone hated the two of them enough to completely eradicate a part of that; it…he just couldn't fathom that level of malice; that level of enmity.

Breathing harshly through his nose, Justin tried to block out the visual of his work laid out in ribbons and pieces on the hardwood floor. He didn't need to spark another panic attack. He'd already been close to that edge since last night and had been desperately been trying to crawl back from that ledge as he knew that this level of stress couldn't be good for him or for Sunbeam.

That is, of course, why that annoying, whining little weasel's voice decided to cut through his mental exercises now; fucking Murphy's Law.

"There you are you stupid, little shit," Michael hissed; and Justin could tell from the tone of his voice that he was gearing up for another epic temper tantrum; fuck, where was Daphne when he needed her; he so did not have the patience for this shit today. "I knew you were going to be nothing but trouble when you came into our lives. But, of course, you have Brian brainwashed and completely under your spell; and he never listens to me anymore."

Gee, I wonder why, Mikey? Could it be you're an annoying little shit, who seems to be stuck in a time loop; where we just keep coming back to this idea that I'm the villain in some cheesy comic book script that you've written for your life?

Did he mention that he had no patience for this shit today?

"Hello, Michael," Justin sighed, opening his eyes to focus on the thorn in his side. "How lovely it is to see you again; how are you today? Me? Oh, I'm doing as well as can be expected given that I seem to be carrying the world's next, great soccer player or gold cast professional dancer."

"Don't get smart with me, you little shit," Michael spat; and it took everything in Justin not to roll his eyes and, inadvertently, make things worse. "Being cute isn't going to distract me from your bullshit splattering all over Brian once again."

And Jesus Christ, Michael was a fucking broken record; he really needed to get new material because this shit was just boring Justin now.

"So, what have I done now?" Justin blithely asked, wondering what transgression he'd committed now in Novotneyville. "Did I single-handedly bring about the national debt? Hold down Lance Armstrong and force him to take steroids and lie to the entire world about it? Instigate global warming? Did I manage to somehow get one of your favorite comic book superheroes killed off again? Not to worry on the last one. You do know that in about a month or so, that Marvel will find a way to resurrect them, right? Superheroes never stay dead. Well, outside of Captain Astro, but he was peanuts in the greater comic book universe anyways."

Yeah, take that asshole; now go the fuck away and let me eat my lunch in peace.

"Unbelievable," Michael spat, shaking his head in disgust; Justin just looked at him blandly since he still had no fucking idea what brought this week's tirade on. "You don't even care, do you?"

"Well, since I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about," Justin said in an even tone, mentally counting down from one hundred so he didn't smear the insect across the floor. "As usual; it's hard to find any remorse for my so-called actions."

"I'm talking about the fact that once again Brian is in danger because of you," Michael sneered, shoving Justin's shoulder. And, oh, he was just asking for that beat down now.

"What?" Justin asked irritably, getting sick of the circles Michael was speaking in. Just fucking tell him the problem, so he could get on with his life; preferably within the next eon too. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Oh, what, now you care?" Michael asked, trying to ape Brian's sarcastic wit and failing miserably. Seriously, don't even try to engage in a battle of wits when you were outclassed in every way. It just made you look pathetic.

And then Michael said something that had Justin's blood running cold.

"I'm talking about the fact that Brian has some psycho gunning for him and wanting to off him because of you, you shit head," Michael spat, completely ignoring Justin's comment.

Justin literally felt all the color in his face drain; his blood chilled further as his mind started rapidly piecing things together. Things he should have picked up from the beginning, but hadn't because he'd been so heartbroken over the loss of his art.

"What?" he managed to choke out, his body going numb as he played the destruction of the loft, and the hushed, but worried conversation between Carl and Brian, over again in his head; and seeing things far too clearly this time.

"Didn't think I'd hear about it, did you?" Michael sneered, still running off at the mouth and not even paying attention as he ripped into Justin. "Oh, but I heard all of the gritty details; about how someone broke into the loft and destroyed it. About how this asshole destroyed anything of Brian's and cut him out of all of the pictures of the two of you; and how he destroyed any hint of you as a couple, salvaging only your parts, but burning or slashing any hint of Brian out of existence."

"No, that's not…" Justin denied quietly, but then trailed off as his blood began to rush in his head, leaving Michael's voice to grow distance, as more pieces feel into place.

His heart started tripping wildly in his chest, tapping out an erratic tempo as he recalled the feeling of being watched; about how he thought he felt someone touch him at the parade and whisper something softly in his ear. He'd ignored it at the time, but now distinctly remembered a voice saying, 'you look lovely today, my angel.'

"How they defaced anything that even hinted at Brian being in your life," Michael continued without even realizing he'd lost his audience's attention as Justin was too wrapped up in his thoughts.

He clenched his hands into fists, shivering violently and his breath growing short and ragged as he remembered the way every piece of art that included Brian had been destroyed – either shredded, or slashed, or… Didn't he overhear something about ashes and something being burnt? Didn't fire usually symbolize the purging of something from one's life; or in this case, had this asshole tried to purge Brian from his life?

"Carl said that it had to be someone obsessed with you," Michael sneered, in a fine frenzy now that he'd had a somewhat captive audience. "Although, why anyone would want you is beyond me. You're nothing but a noose around Brian's neck; and, frankly, you should have been tossed aside a long time ago."

Justin's breathing grew shallow with every word spat at him and every single sign that came to mind, until his heart felt as if it were trying to pound out of his chest. His vision swam before his eyes and he felt like he couldn't breathe. It felt like his blood was literally throbbing in his head and neck and his chest was being crushed in a vise. He tried to draw in a deep breath, but he couldn't, ramping up his panic another notch.

"He said that they were actively trying to wipe Brian out of your life," Michael sneered, and Justin barely felt Michael's spittle hit his cheek as he rampaged on like a rabid animal. "Which should be the opposite if you asked me; you're nothing but a danger to Brian because this asshole has, for some reason beyond me, decided that eliminating Brian out of your life will get them what they want. That…"

Michael's voice instantly cut off as Em came back to the table; some small part of Justin registered Michael's face paling as he looked around and noted the disgusted looks of the patrons around him. And then he cringed when he noticed Em staring at him with barely repressed rage. But the greater part of Justin's focus was internal, latched onto the one thought that could terrify him more than losing the use of his right hand once more.

"Michael," Em hissed, shoving the other man away from Justin; but Justin could barely even react as his mind was elsewhere. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I'm was just telling this asshole that once again he is nothing but a menace and Brian would have been better off…" Michael hissed, gearing up once more, before cowering as Emmett's face darkened.

"Better off what, Michael?" Em asked in a deceptively silky tone, his eyes flashing fire at the smaller man. "Being with you?"

"That is not…" Michael protested, realizing he was perilously close to getting his ass kicked by any, and all, present.

"Save it for someone who cares," Em spat, turning back to a shaking and panting Justin. "Justin?" Justin turned slowly towards him, blanching when he saw the worried look on Em's face; shit, he must look worse than he felt. "Baby; are you okay?"

Justin tried to reassure his friend that he was okay, but he couldn't get the words out. All he could see in his mind's eye was Brian, lying broken and bleeding among the glass and the ceramics and the wood and the slashed canvas on the loft floor. Justin sucked in a sharp breath and, unknowingly, made a keening sound in the back of his throat.

"Baby, come on," Em pleaded, reaching out a hand towards Justin; but he couldn't stand the thought of anyone touching him right now. He flinched, curling away from Emmett as the visual of Brian continued to play over and over in a continuous loop in Justin's head. Em growled and spun around. "What the fuck did you say to him, Michael?"

"Oh, this is just so typical," Michael spat, firing up once again and clearly not getting the picture that he was treading on thin ice; something that a small, still observant, part of Justin recognized by Em's tone. It was the same  one he'd developed for tricks who couldn't seem to understand that no meant no. "He freaks out and you blame me; the stupid twink just couldn't face the truth that once again Brian is in danger because of him."

"You said what?" Em asked in a deceptively calm voice; and then he held up his hand before Michael could answer. "You know what? I don't have time for your petty bullshit. You have exactly thirty seconds to get the hell out of here, or you will learn just how I survived all those years in Hazelhurst. And trust me, when they say my aim is deadly accurate; it means just that."

"Sir, is there a problem?" the manager asked, coming up at that moment.

"No," Em said, and then paused, giving Michael the evil eye. "Actually yes; this man was harassing my friend and I'd like him to leave."

"Your friend?" Michael squawked, his mouth agape. "Oh and what am I?"

"Nothing, Michael," Em said, looking at him as if he'd smelled something putrid. "You are nothing to me. Because the person I met, the friend that I thought I once knew, wouldn't have done this. I don't know who the fuck you are anymore. And quite frankly, I don't care to. No leave before I do something I won't regret."

"But Em…" Michael whined, but Em ignored him.

He turned back to Justin and knelt down in front of him; Justin felt as if he was watching him from a distance, his vision blurred and graying a bit around the edges. Frowning, Em grabbed a napkin, wet it with some water from Justin's glass and dabbed at Justin's brow. Justin hissed and flinched; the napkin felt unnaturally cold against his unnaturally hot skin, almost as if he were running a fever. Closing his eyes, Justin shook his head rapidly trying to get away from the soothing touch. He didn't deserve it, not when Brian…

Oh God, Brian; why hadn't he seen what had been right in front of his face? He'd been so worried about his paintings and drawings and this asshole had threatened…oh, God, he couldn't even think it. Shuddering, Justin leaned his head against Em's shoulder.

"Sir, I have to ask you to leave," the tinny voice of the manager came above the roaring in Justin's ears. "I can't have you disrupting my business or harassing my customers."

"But I don't understand what…" Michael started, but was cut off.

"Please leave," the manager said a bit more firmly; and then he sighed and said to…well, Justin had no idea who; but someone there. "A little help here?"

"Wait, wait," Michael spluttered, and then demanding if he weren't the entire reason Justin couldn't feel any of his limbs. "What's wrong with him?"

"You need to leave now, Michael; I don't have time to deal with you bullshit!" Em spat, cautiously wrapping an arm around Justin; but Justin couldn't really feel it. He felt so cold inside, a hard ball of dread solidifying in his stomach as he played the words over in his head again. "Baby? Come on baby, talk to me."

Justin lifted his head and winced as pain lanced through it.

"Em?" Justin whispered, his hands shaking. "I don't feel so good. My heart is racing; I can feel it pounding in chest and neck and ears. And my vision is swimming. My chest hurts and it feels like I can't breathe…"

"Can someone call me an ambulance?" Em called over his shoulder, panic creeping in his voice; and Justin wanted to reassure his friend, and brother in all, but blood, but he wasn't even sure of it himself. "It's okay, Baby; you're going to be fine. Just breathe with me okay. Just like you learned, inhale, two, three; hold, two, three; exhale, two, three; hold, two, three. And again; that's good, Baby."

After that, Justin lost the thread of what was going on; he didn't know how long they sat there trying to force Justin's breathing to even out; but it must have been awhile because the next thing he knew he was being lifted onto a gurney, with voices echoing over him.

"Can you tell us what happened?" an authoritative voice asked.

"Unfortunately I don't know much as I went to the restroom," Em said, his voice frantic. "But when I got back, he was arguing with a friend, and he went suddenly pale and mentioned that he was having chest pains and breathing issues and that his heart was racing. He's pregnant and I didn't want to take any chances."

"His blood pressure is elevated," Another voice came from the fog surrounding Justin. "Are you riding with us?"

"Yes, I'm his brother," Emmett said in a firm tone; and Justin almost smiled at that. "Let me just call his husband and we can be on our way." Emmett pressed a kiss to his brow. "I'll be right back, Baby. I just want to call Brian, so he can be there to meet us there. I know how much you hate this, but we don't want anything to happen to, Sunbeam."

Emmett hurried away and then finally after a period of time that Justin couldn't quite keep the measure of, they were swiftly making their way out the door and he was being put into the ambulance, with Em's voice echoing in his ears before he mercifully blacked out.

"Brian? This is Emmett. I need you to get to West Penn as soon as possible. Um…something has happened to Justin, but I don't know what; the paramedics said something about him having an elevated blood pressure and Justin was complaining of chest pain and being short of breath and they are currently loading him into…Brian? Brian? Fuck me. I so don't want to be in Michael's shoes right now."

Chapter Text

February 4 (Part Two)

Emmett soberly watched the scene playing out in front of him with just a hint of a smile touching his lips, knowing that Baby's loud complaints would get him nowhere. It was a fight he'd become familiar with – Justin nagging Brian; and Brian ignoring Justin's complaints in favor of what he felt was best – since Justin had entered their lives.

It's also one he'd find much more amusing if he wasn't still trying to hold onto the reins of his temper, and wasn't fully cognizant of the reason for this hospital visit.

Oh, he hadn't been aware of the reason for Justin's meltdown at the time; but due to the amazing pervasiveness of digital media today, Emmett was now well-aware of why Justin had broken down the way he had. And he was madder than a wet hen; or, as his Aunt Lula would have said, 'that boy is about to pitch his self a dying duck fit. You best be running unless you want him to cancel your birth certificate.'

Tapping his fingers on the arm of his chair, he felt a cold rage envelop him as he thought back to the video that Todd had sent him. Todd had gotten it from his roommate, the moron who taped it in the first place, and had barely stopped him from posting it on YouTube. A good thing indeed since it carried information that did not need to be released to the public. And really, he'd love to know where the little twerp had gotten that information; he didn't believe for a minute that Carl had said one word about it.

He wished that he could say that he couldn't believe the vile things that spewed from Michael's mouth, but sadly, he couldn't. Even if he hadn't seen the video with his own eyes, he could fully believe that Michael was that low, that vile. And it certainly wasn't a recent thing by any means. No matter how much Baby denied it; Emmett had seen the cold, calculating look develop in Michael's eyes over the years when he addressed Baby. That yellow-bellied, snake in the grass knew exactly what he was doing.

Emmett had long wanted to instigate a Come-to-Jesus Meeting; preferably with his foot up Michael's ass. But Baby had talked him out of it time and time again; and because he loved Justin so much, and was trying to heed his wishes, Emmett had remained silent.

Well no more.

After watching his Baby work himself up into such an agitated state that he literally passed out due to hyperventilation; he wasn't going to sit back and play Mister Nice Guy. Michael was in his crosshairs, and he better do as his Aunt Lula would have suggested, running long and hard; because his check was about to come due and he'd long been writing checks his ass couldn't cash.

Sighing, Emmett tuned back into the ongoing 'discussion' between Baby and Big Bad, and was just thankful that Brian hadn't seen the confrontation video. Yet. Emmett had enough problems keeping his own temper in check; he didn't have the time or the patience to hold back a rampaging Kinney set on the warpath.

A sight that could be truly beautiful to behold when it was directed to a laser-like point, but also one that left a wide spread trail of collateral damage in his wake.

And there would be plenty of the latter in this particular case.

"When can I get out of here again?" Justin groused, punching at his pillows as he tried to beat them into some sort of comfortable state.

"Tomorrow," Brian reiterated, rolling his eyes at his husband's continued antics and slapping Justin's hands away as he rearranged the pillows once more. "I already told you this."

"It was just an anxiety attack," Justin huffed, throwing himself against the pillows in a fit of pique that almost hid the way his hands trembled. "I just don't see what the fuss is; I've had them before. There was no need to haul me off to the hospital."

"Your blood pressure is still higher than they like," Brian said, sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose, likely praying for patience. "They want to observe you overnight to make sure this is an anomaly, not something we need to worry about. It's done, Justin. And all the whining and groveling in the world is not going to change this."

"You take that back," Justin hissed, baring his teeth in the process; and really, he wasn't helping his argument by doing that. "I do not whine!"

"You're doing a great impression of it then," Brian said, casting an irritated look Justin's way; and then said something that had Emmett wincing because he knew it wouldn't go over well at the moment. "For a minute there; I swore that Mikey was in the room."

"Don't speak that name to me!" Justin spat, his eyes spitting fire; and yup, Emmett had known that would happen. Now that Baby was no longer shocked by the venom Michael had spewed at him, he was spitting mad.

"Oh, fuck," Brian said, narrowing his eyes at his husband. "What the fuck did Michael do now?"

"Nothing," Justin mumbled, wincing as he never intended on saying anything.

Baby crossed his arms over his chest and looked away from Big Bad, likely in the hope that he'd drop it. Emmett could have told him that would never happen. Big Bad was on the scent of trouble and was a fucking terrier with a bone when it came down to it.

"Justin." Brian stated implacably, a hint of steel in his eyes.

Justin turned back and just stared him down, not once flinching under that hard gaze, a mutinous expression firmly planted on his face.

"You know I will find out," Brian said, arching a brow. And really, that was the truth of it; because if Baby didn't fess up, Emmett sure as hell was going to do it. "You might as well come clean now."

"I can deal with it myself," Justin said, turning away to face the wall again.

Brian compressed his lips into a thin, white line as he stared at the back of Justin's head, his fingers clenching and unclenching as he tried to find way to get his recalcitrant husband to talk. And then he flicked his eyes over at Emmett, latching onto him with a suddenness that had Emmett sitting up straight; and then he smiled a cold, hard smile that said he'd figured out that Emmett was his best chance for information.

Swallowing thickly, Emmett stared right back, shivering at the look on Big Bad's face; and it took everything in him not to gasp out loud at the rage he'd seen simmering in Brian's eyes, inadvertently giving him away to Justin. His comic alter ego was well named and, for the first time, Emmett could really see from where Justin had drawn his inspiration for Rage; especially in this moment, when the living embodiment of Rage's JT was sitting in a hospital bed and suffering at the hands of his so-called friend.

"I hate hospitals," Justin muttered, wilting back against the pillows, his face paler than it should be as he stared miserably at the ceiling.

Brian instantly homed in on his husband once again, allowing Emmett to take a deep breath and relax. He didn't fool himself one bit in thinking that Brian wasn't going to pin him down as soon as possible to pump him for information. It would happen, and Emmett could all but read the number of days until Michael's demise in that look.

"I know, baby," Brian said, his face softening as he kissed Justin on the forehead. "But it's just for the night; and I will be right here with you the entire night." Brian ran his hand through Justin's hair, garnering him a watery smile. "Promise me that you will stay; if not for you then to make sure that Sunbeam is safe."

"Not fair," Justin mumbled, but seemed resigned to his fate.

"I thought we covered this before," Brian said, arching a brow as he sat back in his seat.

"I know, I know," Justin huffed, scowling at a very triumphant, and smug in the knowledge, Big Bad. "You still fight dirty."

"That's never been a secret, Sunshine," Brian smirked, running his fingers over Justin's arm before linking them with the fingers of the hand resting on Justin's stomach. "And still you manage to love me anyways."

Justin opened his mouth to respond, but was quickly interrupted by a blonde whirlwind as his mother rushed through the door in a panic. Justin didn't even bother to hide his groan as she rushed him, relief filling her face as she pulled him into her arms and nearly squeezed him to death.

"Justin!" Jen gasped against Justin's hair, her eyes closing against the tears welling up in them. Justin sighed and shot Brian an annoyed look as he patted her on the back. Brian just smirked, one that quickly smoothed out as Jen let Justin go and faced him. "I got here as quickly as I could, but between trying to get everyone out of the house I was showing and traffic…" Jen huffed and then dropped a kiss onto Brian's cheek before sitting down to catch her breath. "Hello, sweetheart; do you have any information yet?"

"You know," Justin huffed, staring at his mother in disbelief. "I am sitting right here."

"Hush, Justin," Jen admonished in the way only mothers could, barely sparing Baby a look before she turned back to Brian with a knowing look. It always amused Emmett that in these situations, Brian was the favored child; something Big Bad needled Baby about endlessly. "I know better than to ask you as you'll just downplay everything."

Justin huffed, threw himself dramatically on the bed, and buried his face into his pillows muttering something about interfering mothers and annoying husbands that wouldn't go away and leave him alone. Brian smirked at Justin's back, but quickly sobered as he filled Jen in on all of the details, his face growing darker with everything that the doctors had relayed to him about Justin's condition.

By the time he'd finished, Jen's face was set into a grim mask, Brian was clenching his hands into fists once more and Justin was staring at his hands with an uncomfortable moue on his face. And Emmett; he was furious. Meeting Brian's gaze once more, he nodded towards the door, getting a confirming nod in return.

"Jen," Brian said, a stiff smile on his face as he uncrossed his legs and stood. "Could you sit with Justin for a bit? I need to talk to Emmett out in the hall for a few minutes."

"Of course, sweetheart," Jen said, looking between Brian and Emmett with a curious expression, but didn't ask.

Justin's head shot up and he narrowed his eyes at his husband, but Brian just ignored him. Justin turned to look at Emmett instead, knowing he'd have a better chance of convincing him to let things go, but Emmett just shook his head.

"Emmett," Justin said with a stern look.

"Not this time, Baby," was all that Emmett said as he headed for the door.

"Mom!" Justin spluttered, a little shocked he wasn't getting his way. "You need to stop them!"

"Justin," Jen stated in a firm voice. "I don't know what's going on; but, if it's what I think it is, there is no way in hell I'm stopping them. Now lie down and stop fussing."

Brian and Emmett exchanged an amused look as Justin squawked at his mother's words and quickly left the room before Justin could try hopping out of the bed to stop them. They silently walked down the hall, passing the waiting room to find a much more private area before Brian turned to him with a grim, but determined smile.

"What happened?" he asked, his tone brooking no arguments. Not that Emmett intended to argue with him over this; he, himself, was done.

Taking a deep breath, Emmett quickly filled him in on what he'd seen happening at the restaurant, including how Justin had seemed tense the entire morning in spite of his efforts to distract him, leading up to when he came out of bathroom to find Michael hovering over him. Brian's face grew darker and darker as Emmett then relayed the argument between him and Michael and trying to help Justin with his panic attack, but he had been too far gone to listen.

And then, when Emmett mentioned the video that Todd had stopped his roommate from posting, Brian growled and demanded to see it for himself. Emmett pulled the video up and solemnly handed his phone over, his blood chilling in his veins as he watched Brian's face harden until two pieces of flint stared up at him.

"I am so done with this shit," Brian said in cold, measured tone that had Emmett shuddering as he handed Emmett his phone. "It ends now."

With that Brian walked around Emmett with a grim smile; and well, Emmett was all for Big Bad going out and handing Michael his ass. But…but he'd promised Justin that he would be there for the night; and if he went after Michael now, there was no way he wouldn't end up in a jail cell. So, girding himself up for a fight, Emmett strode after Brian and intercepted him, arms crossed over his chest.

"Honey," Emmett said, and then paused to find the words necessary to temper Brian's rage; at least for the night. "I know you're angry and I don't blame you; if I were in your place, and Michael had done this to Drew, you would not be able to stop me from shooting his ass. So, far be it for me to stop you from getting your vengeance."

"I sense a 'but' coming," Brian said tersely; but at least he was listening and not turning Emmett into a human pancake.

"But right now," Emmett pointed out with a knowing look. "Justin needs you more than you need to get revenge. That boy is terrified; not only because he's in the hospital, but because he knows damned well that this could have an adverse effect on Sunbeam."

Brian exhaled explosively, and then cursed under his breath as he turned on his heel and walked a few steps away. He pulled at his hair and then turned back and gestured impatiently for Emmett to continue his thoughts. Again, he was visibly unhappy at the interruption, but still willing to listen to Emmett's reasoning.

"And to top it all off, he is worried about you," Emmett continued, running a hand through his hair; God, he hoped this would work. He really didn't want to tell Baby that his husband was in jail because he'd murdered his former best friend. "That doesn't make for a good head space. So, you need to focus on him for now. And then tomorrow, or the next day, or a week from now, when he has been discharged and he's at home resting; you can seek out Michael and I will be right there with you. Understand?"

Brian exhaled explosively once more, but eventually nodded.

"Yeah, I get it," Brian huffed, obviously not at all happy with putting his plans off, but seeing the reason in the current situation.

"Good," Emmett nodded; and then his gaze hardened as he thought of something else. "So, you go take care of our boy; I have a few things I need to do myself."

"Em…" Brian warned, obviously thinking that Emmett was going to go after Michael himself.

"I promise not to do anything to Michael," he said with a thin smile. "Yet. But I am curious as to why Carl, who knows better than to talk about an open case, is filling Michael in on details that would be better off left in the dark. Something isn't right there. I just can't see him doing that no matter how much he loves Deb."

"You make an excellent point," Brian mused thoughtfully as they headed back to Justin's room. "I remember when he was dealing that rash of break-ins before he retired. And even though we all knew most of the details from friends, he still refused to confirm or deny anything."

"And that's why I don't believe Michael one bit," Emmett said; it would just be like Michael to twist things into his favor. "Something is fishy there; and I aim to find out."

"Let me know what you find out," Brian said, grimacing as he approached the door. "For now, I have a drama princess to deal with; God knows making sure he doesn't try to sneak out of the hospital will be headache enough for tonight."

"Kiss our Baby for me," Emmett teased, smirking when Brian glared at him. "I'll be back once I find out what the hell is going on."

"Not likely, Honeycutt," Brian glowered, pointing at Emmett. "The only kisses my baby will be receiving are from me, and me alone. Keep your hands to yourself."

"Can't blame me for trying," Emmett quipped as he continued down the hall. "And don't call me, Honeycutt."

Chapter Text

February 6 – 22 weeks

Brian stared at the house that had, at one time, been home to him and sighed. It hurt his heart that after today, he may or may not be welcome in it; it really could go either way. After all, Michael was Deb's biological son, and she had a nasty habit of siding with him no matter had badly he'd behaved. And Brian was likely about to end a nearly thirty-year friendship today; but one did what they must.

He hated to confront Michael at Deb's house of all places. It had been his sanctuary for many years. And Michael knew it; which is why the asshole had very cleverly taken to hiding here as often as possible; he likely thought that Brian wouldn't dare rip him a new asshole in his mother's house.

Mikey really should have known better; nothing, but nothing would stop him from this.

"You ready, sweetie?" Emmett asked from the passenger seat, his eyes coolly trained on the house in front of them; he, thankfully, hadn't commented on them sitting outside it for the last several minutes as Brian put his thoughts together.

"Is anyone ever really ready for this, Em?" Brian huffed, a bitter note in his voice.

"I guess not," Emmett said noncommittally; he turned to Brian and arched a brow, taunting Brian just enough to raise his hackles. "Having second thoughts?"

"Oh, hell no," Brian hissed, glaring at a smirking Emmett. And he really wasn't; even now, his blood boiled every time he recalled Michael telling Justin that he was a danger to him; that he should have been...well, we all know what Mikey thought Justin should have been. Gritting his teeth, rage flooded his system; he really should have hit the asshole a lot harder that day. Maybe then he would have caught a clue.

"Not one bit" Brian confirmed with a grim smile; Michael was about to get a reckoning. "This has been a long time in the making." Brian paused, a small sad smile touching his lips. "I just wish I could believe that Deb won't hold a grudge or find a way to blame me for…whatever. Unfortunately, prior experience speaks otherwise."

Emmett sobered and smiled sympathetically; something that Brian ignored. He didn't need nor want anyone's pity.

"No matter what happens," Emmett said, patting him awkwardly on the back. "Just know that the majority of us – Jen, Daphne, Drew, Ted, Blake, Mel, Carl, and myself – we are all on your side, sweetie. Eventually she'll come around. She always does. If not in her own time, then you have a bitchy, little blond that would be more than happy to verbally smack some sense into her."

Brian couldn't help but smile a little at that because it was absolutely true; look at what the brat had done when he and Mikey weren't...speaking. He sobered at that thought; maybe it would have been better if he hadn't. Justin certainly would have been much better off without Michael's presence in their lives.

"The little twat does have a way of shutting people down," Brian agreed, his mouth twisting into a faint smirk; and then he turned back to the house, his eyes narrowing a tad as he noticed the curtains in the living room flutter; as if someone had been watching them.

And likely they were; his best guess would be Mikey since neither Deb nor Carl came to the door to greet them. And that just enraged him further. Fucking, little coward; hiding behind mommy's apron because he didn't have the fucking balls to face up to what he'd done. That one small action cemented how things were going to go in this meeting.

Had Mikey come to the door and taken his punishment like a man, Brian would have felt like there was still a sliver of hope left for their friendship. But by taking the coward's way out, he'd just proven he was not the man Brian had once thought he was; and he couldn't respect a man that couldn't admit when he was wrong.

Inhaling deeply, Brian opened his door and climbed out, barely aware of Emmett doing the same. He forcefully shut the door and then looked to the right; he shared a grim smile with Emmett and headed for the door. Quickly crossing the yard, Brian climbed the stairs with Emmett following in his wake. Reaching for the doorknob, he didn't even bother to knock as he didn't want to announce his presence. He just strode into the living room, a cold smile curling on his lips as he noticed Mikey shoving something into a bag at his feet, babbling to Deb all the while.

"Going somewhere?" Brian asked in a deceptively soft tone; one that he knew would throw the others off, but knew that Michael would recognize since he'd herd it numerous times when Brian had defended him from bullies. Michael's head popped up and he paled, his fingers falling useless against the bag. "Well, this won't take long."

"Brian…" Michael began weakly; likely about to begin his litany of reasons of why he wasn't really to blame – he wasn't feeling well, he was just worried and overreacted, he'd heard that Justin was acting oddly, the moon was full, they didn't have his favorite cheese in the store, he stubbed his toe this morning.

It really didn't matter what the fucking reason was; Brian couldn't give even one fuck about his explanations; there was nothing that Michael could say to excuse his behavior. And Brian was beyond sick of Michael's attitude and he wasn't going to tolerate it anymore.

"You with me," Brian hissed stalking over to Michael; he grabbed the other man by the arm and yanked him out of his seat, dragging him across the room when Michael didn't react fast enough. "Now, Michael!"

"What's going on?" Deb cried, getting up from her seat; but Brian didn't even bother to look back as he forcefully led Michael on a path through the living, into the kitchen, and out the back door.

There was no need to. He didn't need to look to know what their reactions would be. Deb would be standing there, hands on her hips, an indignant expression on her face because God fucking forbid someone other than she chastises her baby. And as for Ben, he'd just be sitting there stunned, like the useless, weak, fucking enabling asshole that he was, trying to figure out whether or not he should get involved.

It was beyond pathetic.

"Deb, Ben, I love you; but, butt the fuck out," Brian threw over his shoulder as he opened the back door and shoved Michael through it. He held up a single finger and pointed between his chest and Michael. "This is between me and him."

"Now listen here you little shit…" Deb started as she made her way toward the back door, only to be intercepted from her righteous path as Emmett came out of no where and blocked her. And that would be exactly why Brian brought him. Queen that he may be, Emmett knew how to hold his own against Deb and would watch his back.

"Deb!" Emmett growled, startling her long enough that he had a chance to shut and lock the door. "For fucks sake, leave it be! He is fully justified in his anger at Michael. And before you ask; no, I will not be telling you why, as it is none of your business! Now sit down and shut up!"

Brian smirked; if he hadn't been so pissed at Michael's actions, he would have laughed at Deb's shrill, indignant squawk filling the air, followed by the low, soothing tones of Ben trying to placate her. It was fucking pathetic just how predictable they could be. But as it was, he had a bigger fish to fry.

Brian clambered off the porch and down the stairs, Michael whining in his wake. He rolled his eyes, and grit his teeth against the urge to stop the whining with his fist. Entering the small yard, Brian shoved Michael firmly away from him, not caring that Michael stumbled a little. As it was, his breath was coming in shallow pants and he was so close to losing it, he needed to get Michael away from him.

"Ow!" Michael whined, rubbing his arm in an effort to draw sympathy; but it didn't work this time, as Brian was, to steal a phrase from Justin, on to him and his manipulative behavior. "Brian!"

"Shut up!" Brian commanded, his eyes practically spitting fire. "I have something to say to you; and for once in your godforsaken life you are going to keep that nasty mouth of yours closed and listen. Or I promise that I will take great joy in tying your ass down into a chair and gagging you. And trust me, you won't enjoy it."

Michael fell silent at those words, his eyes going wide and wounded, like a fucking puppy; but Brian wasn't buying it anymore. Not after what he'd seen in the past month. The wool had been firmly pulled from his eyes, shredded up and burnt to fucking ashes. There was no way Michael's little manipulations were going to get to him.

Pacing the length of the tiny yard, Brian studied Michael quietly, noting several things he'd been blind to for so many years – the slight bitter twist to his mouth, the spiteful crinkle of his nose and the calculating glint lying just behind that wounded gaze. It sickened him that he'd fallen for it so many times; and he couldn't believe that he had as he stared at this man – someone he'd once considered a lifelong friend. He also couldn't hold back the utter disappointment and disgust at himself from welling up in his throat like bile.

And that only made Brian's fury burn that much hotter and brighter; fucking little shit.

"I would hit you right now," Brian said in a carefully controlled voice, that still trembled with fury around the edges; he was careful to keep a couple of arms lengths between the two of them. He didn't trust his ability to hold back if Michael were within range. "But I'm afraid that if I start, I will never stop. And that…that doesn't make me feel very good, Michael. I have tried very hard NOT to be my father; and the fact that you have made me so furious that I'm contemplating physical violence makes me sick to my stomach."

Michael's eyes bugged out at that announcement, and for the first time he looked uncertain. Good. He hoped that the little asshole wallowed in it; he hoped that that it ate him up inside, just like the fear and stress ate at Justin when the little bastard attacked him the other day.

"Tell me, Michael," Brian said in a faux conversational tone, his eyes growing dark and flinty as he stared at his former friend. "Where in your pea-sized brain did you think it was it was okay to get a pregnant man so upset that he had to be rushed to, and admitted into, the fucking hospital because his blood pressure spiked?"

Michael swallowed thickly, his Adam's apple visibly bobbing from where Brian stood; Brian circled the other man with a sneer on his face, looking very much like a shark waiting to attack. And really, he was. He was this close to saying screw his principles and just wailing on the nasty little brat. And really, the only thing that stopped him was the fact that Justin needed him at the house, not in a jail cell. Brian arched his brow, and gestured with his arms and hands as if to say, 'well, hit me with your excuses, fucker.' But Michael just looked at the ground and remained silent.

Yeah, he didn't think the asshole would say anything.

"Tell me why," Brian continued in a mocking tone, smirking when Michael bristled at it. Come on fucker. Just one word; just say one word and give me an excuse to pound your useless ass into the ground.

"Tell me why I was sitting at my stressed-out, anxious husband's bedside, listening to our doctors say things like 'his blood pressure is far higher than we like it to be;' and that 'if it remains high, it could potentially lead to low birth weight or an early delivery;' or that 'it could harm the carrier's kidneys or other organs;' or my favorite, that it 'causes decreased blood flow to the placenta and potential placental abruption.'"

Michael turned white and then red; and took a halting step away from Brian, obviously wanting to put even more distance between them. But Brian could have told him that it was useless. If he'd really wanted to, nothing would have stopped him from getting his hands on the little bastard.

"Why was I sitting there comforting my husband," Brian asked, his voice growing steely as he stalked forward; blood rushed through his ears and his hands clenched into fists as Michael scrambled backwards. Not that it did any good as Brian caught up to him with two strides. He grabbed Michael by the collar and spat.

"Trying to soothe his anxiety so that his blood pressure didn't continue to rise; hoping, and praying to a God that I don't even believe in, that everything will be okay. Why was I holding his shaking body in my arms as he cried at the thought of our Sunbeam being born far too early, or even a potentially dying, leading to a stillborn birth!?"

Michael shook his head in denial, but Brian didn't want to hear it. He didn't care if Michael hadn't realized that his actions could have such serious consequences. The fact of the matter was that he knew that it could be detrimental in other ways. He knew that Justin's anxiety levels were often higher than most peoples due to his anxiety disorder. He knew that his actions could trigger a panic attack; and he knew that even something that small could have an adverse reaction to Justin and the baby.

And he did it anyway.

Brian wasn't feeling merciful for that reason alone.

"I'll tell you why," Brian hissed, shoving Michael away from him;he watched as Michael barely caught himself in time to keep from falling on his ass. Too bad. "Because you're a jealous, spiteful, little viper that eavesdropped on a phone conversation that had nothing to do with you and was none of your fucking business. And then, rather than using your few functioning brain cells to realize that letting sensitive information out was a bad idea, you used it to confront Justin in the middle of a fucking restaurant! Spewing your bile and venom for all to hear, including, potentially, the person that had perpetuated the crime in the first place! And then, rather than be a decent person, you blame my husband, triggering an anxiety attack. Because now, thanks to you, he's worried that I'm going to be killed. Did you not learn from the last time you confronted him?"

"You heard about…" Michael started and then cut himself off as Brian swung his head and stared at him incredulously.

Michael's eyes widened until the whites were showing, fear filling them as he realized that hadn't been his wisest move. Brian laughed humorously at his reaction. Really? Out of all the things he had said, that was what he latched onto? Un-fucking-believable.

"Oh, yeah, I heard about that," Brian nodded, his lips compressing in thin line as Michael winced. "I even got to see your charming behavior on a YouTube video."

Michael turned even redder if it were at all possible.

"I'm sure you're very familiar with it. It showed the world what an incredible ass you can be when things don't go your way."

Michael opened his mouth to protest, but quickly snapped it shut once more as Brian threw him a filthy look; one that just dared Michael to give him a reason to shut it for him.

"Don't think for one minute that I didn't realize that this video was the reason behind your so-called illness," Brian smiled coldly, cracking his knuckles for effect. "Sadly, I also know that it had nothing to do with you feeling ashamed of your behavior, which you really should be; but that it was because you were embarrassed at being caught and hiding because you knew I'd take a strip out of your ass once I found out."

Michael flushed and looked away, not able deny any of Brian's words.

"So, what was it, Mikey?" Brian mocked, carefully placing his hands in his pockets as he walked up to Michael and got into his face. "You had a bad day and decided that Justin was an easy target? You were jealous that Justin has the ability to carry our child while you can't, and he made the perfect punching bag?"

Brian smirked as something flickered in Michael's eyes as he said those last words. Bingo. He supposed that he should feel some stirring of sympathy for his former friend; it must be tough having to live with Ben's illness and realizing there were things you can never do as a couple as a result. And maybe he would have if Michael hadn't gone after Justin so viciously. Once he had though, Brian lost all sympathy for the other man.

"Ah, so I hit the nail on the head, did I?" Brian drawled, a cruel smile twisting his face. He ignored the pain that flashed over Michael's face. Michael hadn't cared about what he did to Justin, so why the hell should he? "You're pissed because you can never have raw sex with your husband and carry his child. And instead of dealing with it like a man, you've reverted to acting like petulant teenager lashing out at the world; or the most viable target. Did it make you feel better, Mikey? Were you hoping that he'd lose it?"

Michael's head snapped up, his eyes wide, mouth agape and seemed completely stunned that Brian would ever say that to him. That Brian would accuse him of doing something like that. But really, what was he supposed to think? Michael had become a rampaging nightmare from the moment that he and Justin had announced their pregnancy. And as sad as it was to say, he could very well believe it of Michael; even if it had only been on a subconscious level.

"Because that could still happen," Brian said, his voice gone hoarse as he thought of Justin, sitting at home on bed rest for the next two days in the hope that being in a calm, quiet, familiar environment would bring his blood pressure down to his normal level.

"He isn't out of danger yet. He could still go into labor; and having the baby at this stage could mean a death sentence for Sunbeam. Only about 20-35 percent of babies survive if they are born this early. And let me tell you, Michael; if that happens, there is no place you can hide where I won't find you. You better pray that I'm feeling merciful then; because if I'm not... Although, the likelihood of my being merciful would be slim to nil at that point, so I suppose that's moot."

Michael looked away, and for a moment, Brian thought he might actually look ashamed of his actions; but then Brian remembered how many times Michael had done something similar and then 'apologized,' only turn right back around and go back to the same damned behaviors. There is a reason that 'sorry is bullshit' had become one of Brian's mottos. Michael had taught him that lesson to him a long time ago.

Michael looked at his hands and mumbled something.

"What was that?" Brian asked, dying to know what little piece of wisdom Mikey was trying to impart now; or more likely, what excuse he was offering up now.

"I said I was sorry," Michael said a bit tersely; and really, if you're going to fucking apologize, at least have the grace to pretend like you mean it. Don't act like a petulant child being forced to say the words.

Brian stared at Michael for a long moment, wondering when he'd become this person in front of him – spiteful, mean, and bitter; a man that thought that nothing more than a few token words and a fake smile would heal the wounds he'd created.

Had he always been this person, and Brian had just ignored it because he was scared that he'd lose the only family that he'd ever known? Was he only willing to see it now because Justin had come into his life and bought with him Jen and Molly and Tucker and Daphne and a wealth of other people that made up his new family?

He didn't know, but it ended here; it ended today.

"Sorry, doesn't cut it, Michael," Brian said, exhaustion washing over him as he stared at his long-time friend; especially when Michael's mouth gaped again. Brian gave a mirthless laugh. "Oh yeah; that wasn't what you expected to hear, was it? You were expecting me to say 'sorry is bullshit' and reassure you that everything would be fine in the end, weren't you?"

Brian shook his head as the look on Michael's face confirmed his suspicions.

"Not gonna happen," Brian said firmly, almost laughing when Michael's eyes bulged again. "Not now, not ever. You are lucky you are even standing at this point; because I am so close to ending you that I can barely stand to be in the same room as you. In fact, the only reason that you are is that I still respect and love your mother and wouldn't want to cause her undue pain by murdering hder only child. Because let me tell you, it is so tempting right now."

Michael stared at him in disbelief and opened his mouth, but Brian held up a hand to ward him off because he really didn't trust himself to not give him the beating Michael so richly deserved. And he was terrified at the thought that if he started, he really wouldn't stop until Michael was no longer moving.

"Not to mention that I would be little good to Justin if I was in a jail cell. Now, I need to go back home and make sure that my husband and our child isn't going to be in danger because of your thoughtless actions."

Brian stared at Michael, and watched as the walls started to build right before his eyes; watched as Michael started rewriting the script in his head to go in his favor and Brian just shook his head at Michael's complete lack of remorse.

"But, before I go, I will tell you this," Brian said, wanting to make his position very clear. And there was only one way he knew to do it where Michael would believe it without question. "And this is a promise from me to you, Michael; and you know I never go back on my promises."

Michael swallowed thickly, his eyes welling up as Brian stared at him with no little amount of distrust, disgust and keen disappointment.

"If you so much as breathe on Justin wrong over the next few months, there will be no end to the pain I will cause you. You will be done. Do you hear me? I have put up with this bullshit for years because I know that Justin can take care of himself; he doesn't need me to fight his battles. But that ends right here, right now. Because right now, he is taking care of himself and my unborn child; and that comes first and foremost. Anything else, anyone else that causes him even a hint of stress or pain will have to come through me first. And you don't want to be on that list. Stay the fuck away from me, and my husband; you aren't welcome any longer."

Brian spun on his heel and walked back towards the house. Michael made a distressed noise that sounded suspiciously like a sob, but it didn't melt Brian's heart one bit. All he had to do was visualize Justin lying in a hospital bed, crying his eyes out as the doctors told him that unless they got his blood pressure under control, the baby would be in danger since he couldn't take most of the meds available. He was allergic to them. That single thought had chilled Brian to the bone and hardened him against any small stray strand of sympathy that he might have felt for his former friend.

"Oh, and Michael," Brian said as he opened the door, casting one last hard look his way. "If I find out that you have had anything to do with this asshole getting the code to the loft, running won't be an option. You will be dead."

Chapter Text

February 7

Justin held his breath and surreptitiously looked around Brian's office, his ears peeled for any movement outside the door. But after a minute, when no sounds echoed in the office outside, Justin sighed with relief and sat up slowly, trying to make as little noise as possible. Sliding to the edge of the couch, Justin placed his feet on the floor and stood up with a happy sigh and stretched. God, that felt good.

Pausing once more as he heard someone shuffling some papers around outside, Justin once again held his breath and waited several seconds; and then sighed with relief when footsteps began walking away from Yasmeen's desk. Straightening up, Justin swiftly and silently headed for the door, completely irritated that his wardens were taking this bed rest thing a bit too literally. There was absolutely no reason that he couldn't get up and move around a bit; his own doctor had told Brian just this morning that he was fine as long as he got periodic rest at home. It didn't, by any means, mean that Justin was confined to the fucking bed; or couch in this case.

But try explaining that to his husband and his minions; not that he'd ever call Cynthia or Yasmeen that to their faces. He did want to live to see his child born. But just try to explain that to them, and all he got was a raised brow and an unimpressed 'what of it' look.

Striding towards the door, Justin could nearly taste the sweet call of freedom when a loud voice called out from behind him, making him nearly jump out of his skin.

"Park it mister!" Yasmeen growled, pointing to the couch with one had on her hip.

Fuck! And he had been so close!

"But, Yasmeen! I just want to..." Justin said, looking at the door a little desperately, but trailed off as he knew that nothing would appease his jailer.

"No!" Yasmeen huffed, still pointing at the couch with a stern look on her face. "Plant your booty! You are to stay on that couch and not exert yourself. I will bring you whatever you need. Do not make me repeat myself."

Justin huffed and stomped back over to the couch, much like a five-year-old would have, glaring at Yasmeen the entire way. But fuck it, he was so sick of being treated like an invalid and he hadn't had his fucking coffee in three days. Yasmeen remained unperturbed, however; she crossed her arms over her chest and stared pointedly at him, tapping her foot until, finally, Justin caved and flopped back onto the couch as ungraciously as possible. All he wanted was half-a-fucking-cup of coffee, and to get up and get it himself; was that too much to ask?

"So what was it that you needed?" Yasmeen asked in a tone that brooked no arguments, arranging the files she'd brought in on Brian's desk.

Justin just pouted; there was no way he could tell her what he'd really been after as technically, he wasn't supposed to be drinking it for another few days. But Yasmeen just walked over and raised her brows, and Justin knew she wouldn't leave until he said something to appease her curiosity.

"I was just going to get a drink of water," Justin said with his best sweet smile; although, it likely was a weak thing at best given how pissy he was feeling today.

"Nice try, buster," Yasmeen snorted, giving Justin a 'do I look stupid' look. "But since there is a full bottle of water right beside your head, I'm not buying it. Try again."

Justin winced; fuck, he'd forgotten that Brian had set it there before running off to do…whatever it was he was doing. He couldn't quite remember as he'd been too busy fuming at been coddled like he was some hapless damsel to pay all that much attention. He thought he'd said something about meeting with Ted; or was that yesterday? Fuck, his memory seemed to be getting worse and worse these days.

"Justin?" Yasmeen prompted, drawing him out of his thoughts.

"I was going to get some hot chocolate," Justin said, all faux innocence; close enough anyways. And if he couldn't have coffee, at least he could have some damned chocolate. And if he was really lucky, she'd doctor it up with some caramel syrup, whipped cream and chocolate shavings, just as he liked it.

"I'm sure you were," Yasmeen agreed dryly, looking like she didn't believe him at all; which he didn't blame her because Brian had warned her about the coffee thing. Jerk. "You won't mind if I go ahead and get that for you then, will you?" Justin scowled; Yasmeen smirked. "Just as I thought; you just keep your cute, little tush right where it is, and I'll be right back with your chocolate."

Justin huffed, grabbed a pillow and screamed into it, blatantly ignoring the laughter echoing throughout the room as Yasmeen headed off to the break room. Just wait until Brian was sick again, bitching about being stuck in bed; he was so going to pay for this nonsense if it was the last thing Justin did.

Lifting the pillow from his face, Justin heaved a frustrated sigh and began counting the squares in the windows once more, completely bored out of his mind. The least the asshole could have done was give him a sketchpad and some pencils before he left; maybe even one of the new account files, so that he could work out some boards for it. Or he could have given him the baby magazines and samples that they'd gotten that morning; anything other just leaving him to lay there, watching the seconds of his life tick away on the wall clock, and driving him mad.

Justin had just reached the last window, when a loud clatter out in the hallway caught his attention and he rolled his eyes. The loud, strident voice carrying up the halls announced their visitor's presence long before she even made it to the office. Great. He so didn't need this today of all days; not when he was on a three-day coffee deficit and had spent the last two days in bed because of her fucking son.

Sitting up straight on the couch, Justin crossed his leg over his knee and rested his clasped hands on it; he watched the doorway with a bored expression on his face, the picture perfect WASP prince. If she wanted a scene today, she was going to damn well get a scene today; just not likely how she expected it to pan out.

Smiling thinly as he heard familiar footsteps all but stomping down the hall, Justin seethed quietly, Deb's likely opening words already echoing in his head; because really, she was painfully predictable in her reactions to poor, little Mikey's woebegone bullshit. Never mind the fact that the asshole had fully deserved the verbal ass-whooping he had gotten courtesy of Brian yesterday. If her poor little baby was hurt, everyone else around him had to hurt too or they'd never hear the end of it.

But not this time; he'd wanted to do this for years, and had only been waiting for Brian to wise up to both Novotnys manipulative ways.

"Where is that asshole?" Deb demanded as she strode through the door in a high dudgeon, her hands planted firmly on her hips.

Yup; he did so hate to be right.

Pasting a thin smile on his face, Justin rose from his seat and let her sweat it out for a moment as he crossed over to Brian's desk, unwilling to cave to her demands; ones that, quite frankly, she had no right to make. If she spent nearly the same amount of time disciplining her brat of a son as she had riding Brian's ass over the years, they wouldn't be in this mess right now as her child might have some actual fucking manners.

If he'd tried anything like this, his mother would have pulled him over her knee and beaten his ass black and blue no matter how old he may have been at the time; and then followed it up with thorough mouth scrubbing. And then, she would have forced him to do some sort of community service revolving around whatever horrible thing he'd said just to beat it into his head just how badly he'd behaved.

He would've never gotten away with this bullshit; and he wasn't going to allow Michael to get away with it either.

"How the hell should I know where your son is?" Justin asked in a frosty voice, arching a brow as he sat on the corner of Brian's desk; and then smirked internally when Deb's mouth gaped in disbelief.

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" Deb demanded furiously, her eyes spitting fire at him.

But, sadly for her, he was no longer a seventeen-year-old boy and wasn't in the least bit cowed by her attitude. He wasn't Brian; he didn't need her approval because he, for the most part, grew up in a stable, loving environment. And while his father had turned out to be a homophobic jackass, his mother was a fucking saint, who would lay down her life for either of her kids.

It was something he was grateful for every day of his life.

"I thought it was pretty cut and dried what I meant by that, Deb," Justin said, still acting like the icy little WASP he'd been trained up to be. "And frankly, I'm not in the mood to put up with your bullshit today."

"Well I want to know what exactly your husband said that has my baby looking so gutted," Deb spat, obviously not catching a clue; not that Justin had expected her to; but he had hoped for a brief moment. "That asshole had better not have…

Deb squawked as Justin rolled his eyes at her tirade and turned his back on her; nothing pissed Deb off more than the visual proof that someone wasn't listening to her. She wouldn't call you on it if you sat there and made the pretense of listening; even if in reality your brain was miles away. After all, how else had Mikey gotten away with it all of his life? He'd learned to sit there, tune her out, all the while making the appropriate noises and then promptly forgot it all, if he'd even heard it to begin with.

But visibly turn your back on her and it was the end of the fucking world. But Justin was at the point of not caring. He strode over to the pile of baby samples and started sifting through them while Deb made indignant noises behind him. Smiling as he found what he was looking for, he quickly tore the package open, strode back over to the desk and slammed the newborn-sized disposable diaper on the desk in front of her.

Deb stared at him with a funny expression on her face, clearly puzzled at  his actions; so he picked it up and handed it to her.

"What the fuck's that for?" Deb asked, taking the diaper and looking at him in complete bewilderment.

"I figured that since Michael obviously can't wipe his own ass without you getting up it," Justin stated with a sweet smile. "You might need it for his diaper change later today. I quite happen to like this brand; very absorbent, less mess to deal with."

"Sunshine!" Deb gasped, dropping the diaper to the floor as she clutched at her chest in shock. "I can't believe you said that to me!" Then she narrowed her eyes and pointed one blood-red fingernail at him and hissed. "This is all that asshole's fault."

And there it was; just as he had been waiting for, it was all Brian's fault. Well, fuck that!

"No," Justin stated firmly, holding his hand up when she started to reply; he was so done with this shit. "This is your son's fault for stressing me out so badly that I had to be hospitalized overnight due to an anxiety attack and a spike in my blood pressure."

Deb's mouth snapped shut as she stared at Justin with hurt bewilderment. Justin sighed internally; a small part of him feeling bad about what he was about to relay, as he'd never wanted to hurt Deb. She'd taken him in and really was like a second mother to him. But this shit had to stop here and now.

They were no longer teenagers; hell, they weren't even twenty-somethings anymore. And Michael's virulent behavior would no longer be condoned by his friends. And more, she needed to realize that and let her man-child reap what he'd sown. Continuing to listen to his half-truths, and outright lies in some instances, was going to get her quickly isolated and barred from the rest of their lives if this kept up.

"What are you talking about?" Deb asked, sitting down heavily in one of the chairs in front of Brian's desk.

Justin smiled grimly, a part of him having expected this.

"I see he played you true to form," Justin said quietly, a sad smile on his mouth. "Went home, crying to his mommy about how mean Big Bad Brian was, but didn't bother to fill you in on the details, did he?"

Deb bristled and shot Justin a disapproving look for his choice of words, but he just crossed his arms and stared back, a bland look on his face. She had no place chastising him when she couldn't even keep her whiny, little bitch of a son in line.

"Well, before you condemn someone, you should find out all the facts," Justin said, walking around the desk and opening Brian's laptop.

He quickly keyed in the password and navigated Chrome until he had what he wanted pulled up. Spinning the laptop around, Justin came back around the desk and sat in the chair next to Deb.

"Since you are unaware of why Brian bitched Michael out, let me fill you in." Justin paused and shot her an exasperated look. "Although, truthfully, he's a fucking adult and it really isn't any of your business." Deb opened her mouth, but Justin beat her to it, saying something that he knew would shut her up in an instant. "Did you know that he has been hounding me since we announced the pregnancy?"

Deb closed her mouth and shook her head. Justin nodded and typed a few words into the YouTube search bar and pulled up the first video. Sadly, he didn't have a copy of the second. Brian had that thing locked down tight the moment that he'd seen it; and no one had wanted to go up against the King of Liberty Ave to post it after the way he'd reamed out Todd's very hapless and idiotic roommate.

"Oh yeah," Justin said, queuing up the video, but hitting pause before it could play. "The first time happened two days after New Years. He stormed up to me in the Diner, I think you were off work that day; and had the nerve to accuse me of being a gold digger and trapping Brian into our marriage by getting pregnant."

Deb's eyes bulged and her mouth slackened as she looked between the computer and Justin in disbelief. Justin compressed his lips and nodded.

"Never mind the fact that we've been married for five years, and I make just as much money as him," Justin laughed bitterly; he'd not been surprised at all by Michael's actions that day. He'd actually been waiting for something similar as soon as they'd made the announcement. "He then began a smear campaign, stating that very thing, which had every jealous queen on the Avenue looking at me with pity. Well, that is until Emmett set them straight."

Yasmeen came back at that point a frown on her face as she stared at the two of them. Justin smiled tightly and shook his head, which had her backing out the room with his chocolate. Damn it.

"If that wasn't enough," Justin said as he turned back to Deb. "About two-three weeks later, he confronted me for a second time; except this time, he stood in the middle of the Big Q, demanding to know where MY husband was and why he hadn't called him like some jealous fish wife. And then he proceeded to tell me that it wouldn't be long before Brian went back to tricking because apparently I'd be too fat for him. "

Deb stared at Justin with wide eyes, and he could tell that she wasn't quite sure if she believed him or not. That was exactly why he'd pulled up the video of that day.

"This is the video," Justin said hitting play and letting it go right up until Michael told Justin that eventually Brian would get tired of playing Daddy and then hit stop. He really didn't need to share what Daphne had said after that as it would just bring out the lioness in Deb and then Daphne would eviscerate her if she came calling.

Deb bit her lip and looked down at her clasped hands. Justin sighed, as he knew that it was about to get worse.

"But that isn't even the worst of it," Justin said, echoing his thoughts. Deb looked up with a disillusioned look in her eyes. "No, the worst was three days ago, when he accused me of being a danger to Brian in front of a whole restaurant."

Justin paused and looked away, his eyes tearing a bit as he remembered the shock of hearing those words. Deb reached out and squeezed his hand. Justin gave her a watery smile and then squared his shoulders and cleared his throat.

"He told me that Brian would be better off without me in his life," Justin continued, his voice chilling as the words once again echoed in his head. "Because somehow, it's my fault that some psycho destroyed our loft; and I'm not really sure, but I think he was about to imply that it would have been better off if I was dead just like he did at Linds and Mel's party all those years ago. But I could be wrong; he was cut off when Em walked up."

Deb gasped and slapped a hand her mouth; she shook her head like she didn't want to believe that of her child, but then looked at the computer, where a petulant Michael was staring at Justin in absolute hatred, and then back at Justin's tired face, and knew that he spoke the truth.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Deb asked, her voice thick with tears.

"Because we were handling like adults should," Justin shrugged, "by dealing with it ourselves." Justin paused and closed the laptop. "Not to mention that Brian didn't want to upset you since you seem determined to blame all of Michael's bullshit on Brian."

"I don't..." Deb automatically started to say, but then cut herself off with a small frown.

"You do," Justin said with a mirthless smile; he sighed and shook his head. "I can't count the number of times I've heard you blame Brian for something that Michael's done." Justin paused to look at Deb seriously. "And when you aren't blaming him, you're expecting him to clean up after Michael."

Deb bit her bottom lip and looked at Justin uncertainly.

"And when anyone tries to tell you otherwise, you never listen," Justin said as he rose from the chair and turned Brian's laptop around once more. "And Deb, I love you, but I'm not putting up with this shit anymore. It's ridiculous that you're chasing after a grown man trying to solve his problems and expecting everyone to clean up his mess. Let him deal with his own shit for once."

Deb nodded and looked away. Justin toyed with the files on Brian's desk, not sure what more there was to say. Deb stood and hugged Justin quickly before she walked towards Brian's door at a much more subdued pace than she'd entered.

"And Deb," Justin said, hating that he was about to issue the ultimatum, but knowing it needed to be said. "If you're only going to come in here and call my husband names, and blame him for things he didn't do, you aren't welcome in my presence anymore. I won't tolerate you bad mouthing him."

"Sunshine…" Deb trailed off, swallowing thickly as her eyes teared up. "I didn't mean…"

"You never mean to Deb," Justin said with a sad smile. "But instead of working to change it, you do it again and again, and I am tired to listening you talk down to my husband; especially in this situation where it was in no way his fault. Michael was warned, time and time again, that if he kept this attitude up, Brian was not going to tolerate it any longer. He chose to do it anyway. It is no one's fault, but his own."

"Well said, Sunshine," Brian said a bit tersely, startling them both.

Justin studied his husband's face, trying to judge just how long he had been present and what exactly he'd heard of their conversation. But Brian's face was unreadable as his eyes danced between Justin and his pseudo mother.

"Brian…" Deb said, walking forward to hug him; and then dropping her arms when he held up a hand to put her off.

"Not now, Deb," Brian said; and, as much as he was trying to hide it, Justin couldn't help but hear the hurt in his voice. He just didn't know whether it was Deb's or his words that put it there. "I'll talk to you later. Right now, I need to discuss something with Justin."

And fuck, that didn't sound good at all.

"Don't be mad at him, sweetheart," Deb whispered loud enough for Justin to hear and squeezed his arm. "He was just looking out for you as any good husband would. And I deserved it for all that I said."

Justin fought the urge to roll his eyes as Deb walked out of the office; of course Deb would automatically assume he was the one that Brian was angry at. Like she hadn't just stood there calling him names and had been ready to ream him out for his perfectly justified actions. But, baby steps he supposed.

Brian snorted at her words, shook his head and averted his gaze to the ceiling as if he were praying for patience. He rubbed a hand over his jaw and continued walking into the room, a take-out package in his hand. He set the bag down and flopped into his chair, staring out at nothing for several minutes; until, finally, Justin couldn't stand the silence any longer.

"Brian…" Justin said, and then closed his mouth when Brian just looked at him; he wasn't quite sure what to make of that look though.

They studied each other for a long drawn out moment; and then Brian exhaled explosively and sat up in his chair.

"Fuck this," Brian groused, pushing the intercom for Yasmeen's desk. "Yasmeen, do me a favor and see if we can get a room for two at either William Penn or at the Fairmont; I don't care which one at the moment. Just make the reservation for tonight and tomorrow with a late check-out on Sunday. Money is no object; get the best room they have available. Let me know if neither of them have any vacancies and we'll plan from there."

"Will do, Boss" Yasmeen acknowledged before turning off the intercom. Brian huffed and turned to Justin with an exasperated smile on his face.

"Do you still have a packed carry-on here?" Brian asked and then paused; shaking his head, he waved the question off. "Never mind; we'll just buy what we need there. But we are definitely getting the fuck out of here for the rest of the weekend. I am not in the mood to deal with anyone else's temper tantrums."

Justin grinned and jumped out of the chair he was sitting in; he crossed the room, grabbed Brian in a tight hug and  kissed him soundly on the mouth. Brian chuckled and pressed a kiss to Justin's brow before pulling away and shoving the takeout container his way.

"Here; I bought you something suitably disgusting for that beast that's growling in your belly."

Chapter Text

February 8

Brian silently watched the young, brunette girl set up, happily humming to herself, bopping around to the music in her head and, pretty much, ignoring him in general; which was fine by him as he was doing the same. He thought her name was Maggie or Mattie or something like that, and she'd come highly recommended by Drew and Emmett; and that was the only reason he'd hired her. He didn't think that he'd be able to stand the peppy attitude otherwise. Although, he supposed it didn't matter much.

She was only the means to an end.

After everything that happened this past week, he'd been feeling a bit off center and, in a small way, disconnected from Justin. Between the break in, the trip to the hospital, trying to keep Justin from breaking his bed rest and actively trying not to kill his former best friend, he and Justin hadn't had much time to just be. And it didn't help that Justin, himself, had also been far too quiet and jumpy the past few nights.

Honestly, he would have preferred it if Justin had spent the entire time bitching at him for enforcing his bed rest; in fact, Brian had purposely been pushing his buttons over it in the hope of snapping him out of his funk. Anything would have been better than the current silence at home. But if Justin had been irritated in any way, shape or form, he'd kept it well hidden, and driving Brian absolutely nuts. He despised watching his husband act like the pale shadow of himself, constantly jumping at the slightest noise.

It needed to end.

Sighing, Brian turned away from the girl, Mary, or whatever the fuck her name was, and watched the bathroom door for any sign of Justin. He'd been in there for a while now, and if he didn't exit soon, Brian was going to barge in there and haul him out himself.

"Ready whenever you are, Mr. Taylor-Kinney," Macky said and then sat down in the chair he'd offered to her when she'd first arrived.

"Just give me a minute," Brian said as he strode over to the bathroom door; he'd raised his hand to knock on it, when it opened and Justin stepped out in a cloud of steam looking so delicious that he was almost sorry that he'd made this appointment as it meant that he couldn't scoop his husband up, carry him to their bed and lick every, single drop of water from his body.

Licking his lips, Brian just stared at his husband, flicking his eyes slowly over Justin's slender body, and imagining him beneath him. There was not a stray ounce of fat on him despite his recent appetite, and he was only rounded where he needed to be; Brian couldn't help being awestruck by his beauty.

There had never been a man that could ever hold a candle to Justin. Damp alabaster skin fairly glowed with health, the hint of pink dusting it all the proof he needed that Justin had just stepped out of the shower. Well, that and the dark gold hair that clung to the nape of his neck, temples and brow in wet clumps. His eyes, twin sapphires, stared right back at him and sparkled for the first time since they'd left Geneva-by-the-Lake. And Brian couldn't help being mesmerized by it, by him.

Cocking his head, Justin smirked and slowly walked over to Brian until he was pressed right up against him; Brian stared down into his face, his eyes riveted on the soft pink lips smiling up at him. He wanted to taste them so badly, and would've if they didn't have an audience. Lifting his eyes, he was met with a bold blue that had darkened to navy and Justin leaned in, his lips just a whisper away from his when someone cleared their throat. Startling, Justin turned towards the living room area and frowned

"Brian?" Justin asked, staring at the girl, who smiled and waved; ever the polite, little WASP, Justin waved back uncertainly. He turned a confused gaze back to Brian and whispered. "What's going on?"

Brian nearly laughed out loud at his bewildered expression over finding some random girl he'd never met sitting in their hotel room, but wisely kept it in check. The last thing he needed was Justin storming off in a huff.

"Well, Mr. Taylor-Kinney," Brian said for his ears only, wrapping his arms around Justin. "I thought that since the affects to last weekend's massage were negated by everything that happened this week that we might try it again."

"And those 'affects' would be?" Justin said, a faint smile on his face as he leaned further into Brian, and Brian barely bit back a hiss as a very hard, very interested cock ground against his; fucking little tease.

"Making sure that you're completely relaxed for the week to come," Brian said, grinding back and smirking when Justin gasped softly. Two could play that game. And then he shrugged, rolled his lips between his teeth and looked away shyly. "And, of course, to show you just how much you mean to me."

Justin's face lit in a Sunshine smile and again Brian was entranced by the sight in front of him; how his husband could ever believe that he'd ever get tired of him, Brian didn't know. But he was determined to nip that kind of thinking in the bud right now.

"I could get into that." Justin beamed, pressing a soft kiss to his lips before glancing over at the other room. "So, are we going to do another couple's massage? Because, in case you hadn't noticed, it might be a bit difficult to do with just one masseuse."

"Not exactly," Brian admitted; although, he really could use a massage as well after the week they'd had, this was solely for Justin. "I thought this time, I'd hire someone to show me how to do it; that way I could take care of you anytime you were stressed."

"You're going to learn how to do a prenatal massage?" Justin said, a hint of doubt coloring his tone as he arched a brow. "Out of the goodness of your heart?"

Brian snorted, dropping a kiss onto the tip of his nose. "Well, you know; any reason to get you naked and to get my hands all over you."

"That does sound much more likely," Justin snickered, cupping his face and playfully biting him on the jaw.

"Plus…" Brian trailed off and shrugged, his cheeks heating as he averted his gaze.

"Plus?" Justin prompted, wrapping his arms around Brian's neck.

"I know that technically we can afford for you to go to get a massage anytime you want," Brian said, looking back down into Justin's face. "But I read somewhere that this was a good bonding experience for both the parents and with the baby." Brian paused and tucked his tongue in his cheek as he teased. "Only if you want to do it, of course."

"IF I want to do it?" Justin huffed, staring at Brian as if he had grown a second head. "Yes, Brian; having my own personal masseuse, living in my house, and catering to my every whim, is a terrible hardship; I don't know how I'll be able to stand it."

"Twat," Brian said without heat, utterly amused by his husband's antics.

"Your twat," Justin happily said, another Sunshine smile overtaking his face as he peppered Brian's with kisses. "I can't believe you did this; best husband ever."

"So, does that mean you'll be rewarding me later tonight?" Brian asked, arching a brow as they swayed together.

"We shall see Mr. Kinney-Taylor," Justin said, pulling away with a smirk and walking down the hall to the living room area. "It all depends on how well you learn your lessons."

"Well this should be a snap," Brian smirked right back, following in his wake, fully appreciating the sway of the ass in front of him. "I've always been very good with hands-on learning."

"Oh my God." Justin stopped and turned, staring at him incredulously before rolling his eyes. "I can't believe you are even able to say that with a straight face; you so lose points for that horrendous pun Mr. Taylor-Kinney."

"Well, I'll just have work extra hard to meet your exacting standards, Mr. Taylor-Kinney," Brian teased, ignoring the way Justin rolled his eyes again; he walked up behind Justin and pressed his dick into his ass, showing him just how interested he was in that idea. Justin shivered, and then sighed as Brian dropped a soft kiss onto the nape of his neck. "In the meantime…"

Brian pulled away and made an after you gesture. Justin huffed and shot him a disgruntled look over his shoulder at being denied; but did turn on his heel and continue into the room, a polite smile pasted onto his face.

"This is Maddie…" Brian introduced, and then paused to make sure he got that right; the masseuse nodded enthusiastically. Sighing in relief, as he so didn't want another lecture on paying attention to names, Brian continued. "Maddie Parkinson. She's a friend of Drew and Emmett's and specializes in prenatal massage. Maddie, this is my husband, Justin Taylor-Kinney."

"Hello, Mr. Taylor-Kinney," Maddie said, holding her hand out; Justin shook it firmly and nodded his head in greeting. "Please feel free to call me Maddie. And more specifically, I am a Certified Physical Therapist, a Prenatal Massage Instructor and a Certified Educator of Infant Massage to be precise."

"It's a pleasure to meet you; please call me Justin," he said, his WASP manners on full display; and really, he was so like Mother Taylor in those moments that it made Brian want to laugh; not that he'd ever tell Justin that. He preferred to keep his remaining ball attached to his body. "So what exactly are we doing today?"

"Brian asked me to come in and show him some proper massage techniques for your back and legs, as well as for your baby bump," Maddie said as she pulled a couple of brochures out of her bag. "But before we start with the actual massage part; I did want to cover a few safety concerns for when you do this by yourselves."

Justin nodded and then sat down on the floor like he was in fucking kindergarten, looking up at his teacher for some reason. Brian sighed and dropped down to the floor behind him, knowing that Justin would be bitching about a sore back later if he didn't.

"First of all, you need to be aware that regular massage oil and most essential oils should not be used during pregnancy" Maddie said, going into what Brian called instructor mode and Brian had to fight the urge to tune it out. It was the same tone that Ben once used when he would lecture Brian and Justin on their lifestyles in the past, and Brian always had difficulty paying attention when it came up. "In fact, essential oils should be avoided entirely in the first trimester…"

After that, Brian only paid attention with half an ear, as he was much more intent on the man in his arms. He pulled Justin back between his legs and wrapped his arms around him. Running his hands over any patch of bare skin within his reach, Brian firmly pressed his dick against Justin's ass, until Justin was squirming deliciously against him.

Shooting an admonishing look over his shoulder, Justin huffed when Brian smiled, all faux innocence as he ignored the look and continued to trail his fingers over Justin's neck and arms and chest. It was nothing overtly sexual, but was enough to drive Justin crazy as they hadn't had the chance to make love the last few days due to Justin being in the hospital and on bed rest.

"Stop it," Justin hissed under his breath, grabbing Brian's hands and holding onto them to keep them from wandering, one eye still on Maddie; who either was either blissfully unaware of what was going on, or politely ignoring it. "Behave yourself."

"No," Brian whispered against his ear, pressing a kiss to it as Maddie went into a spiel about not pressing too hard when giving the massage, but rather maintaining a light, gentle, constant stroke. "I love the way you feel against me; I love the feel of your skin under my hands, so deal with it."

"You are so going to pay for this," Justin promised in a heated whisper, and then turned back to discuss the types of oils that Maddie recommended for stretch marks.

"Looking forward to it, my prince," Brian said and then straightened up, snapping back to attention when Maddie stood and grabbed a couple of pillows.

"Okay, so let's start with the back and legs first," Maddie said as she laid the pillows on the floor in front of her. "The first thing you're going to do is put two pillows on the floor into an arrow shape like this. And then Justin, you are going to lay on your side with you armpit between the two pillows, your head on this pillow, and this pillow should be tucked between your legs like so…"

"Not really what I want to slip between your legs at the moment," Brian teased, licking Justin's ear and grinning when he shivered and sunk his teeth into his bottom lip. "But I suppose that will have to wait until later."

"Brian," Justin hissed, jabbing him with his elbow. "Pay attention."

"Yes, dear," Brian mocked, letting him go so that Justin could remove his bathrobe and then lay down on the floor in the correct position. He was paying for this session after all.

"Now Brian, you are going to come up behind him," Maddie said, smirking at their banter; he was really starting to like this girl.

"One of my favorite places to be…" Brian quipped, chuckling when Justin squawked; he sat down behind Justin and then yelped when Justin pinched his thigh. "Brat."

Justin sniggered, but soon quieted when Brian, after listening to Maddie's instructions, began to massage along either side of his spine, working the oil in with the gentle, light strokes of his open palm. Brian continued to work his hands over the skin, his touch just above a caress, only digging in with a little more pressure when he came upon a knot. Justin groaned and made appreciative noises as he worked those out.

"Oh my God," Justin sighed, his voice slurring around the edges as he gradually relaxed under Brian's ministrations. "This is so amazing. Best husband ever."

Brian chuckled and continued to work on both sides for the next fifteen minutes until Justin was no more than a puddle of goo. And then Maddie added some instructions.

"Now take a loosely closed fist," Maddie said, demonstrating with her hand. "And gently massage the coccyx, that's the bone right here at the base of his spine, to help relieve the strain on the buttocks."

"Sooooo the best husband ever," Justin mumbled again with a happy sigh, his body twitching occasionally when Brian hit a particularly sensitive spot. "I hadn't even noticed how sore I was there until you started massaging it."

Brian snorted, and then bit his tongue on all the things he could have said to that comment. And he would have if he wasn't certain that his husband would hold him down in their bed and smother him after Maddie left if he did.

"Don't say it," Justin warned, obviously reading his mind and glaring balefully at him from one eye; or at least he attempted to glare, but he was far too relaxed for there to be any true heat behind it. "Pervert."

Brian just smirked and flashed a 'who me' smile at Justin; not that he could see it as his eyes were once again closed. But he must have sensed it as he huffed and pinched him again, making Brian yelp. Maddie laughed and then moved until she was sitting at Justin's feet as she went into teacher mode once more.

"Next you want to massage the legs as they get much more tired than you realize at times," Maddie said demonstrating on Justin's right leg. "Work from the foot up, massaging the foot, the calves and the outer legs, avoiding the inner thighs, which can be very sensitive."

"Well, that takes the fun out everything," Brian complained, tongue in cheek.

"Brian!" Justin cried, smacking his chest with the back of his hand.

"Oh, like you weren't thinking the same, Sunshine," Brian snickered, moving until he took Maddie's place and then slowly worked up Justin's leg. He started, as Maddie had told him, foot first and then worked up his calf and knee, to his outer thigh. And then, because he couldn't resist, he cast a mischievous look at Maddie, and grabbed Justin's ass, giving it a firm squeeze, eliciting a string of profanities from his husband.

"Well, I'll leave that last part up for you two to decide later," Maddie laughed, getting up to move a blanket and a pillow other out of one of the armchairs and placed them on the couch against one of the arms.

"Such a perv," Justin groused, but didn't put up much of a fight as Brian completed that side and nudged him onto his other side.

Brian rearranged the pillows and began to work on the opposite leg, rubbing out any knots he found on the way. He also ran his hands over Justin's side and worked on his back a little more, getting the areas that had been harder to reach. Another ten minutes passed before they were interrupted once more; Justin sighed, his eyes fluttering as if he was close to sleep.

"Okay, so with that done," Maddie said, clapping her hands together and wanting to move things forward as they were closing in on the end of their session. "Let's get Justin up so we can finish with the Belly Massage."

"Do I have to?" Justin groaned, his eyes slowly blinking open; he stared at Brian hazily. "I'm quite comfortable right where I am."

"Come on, Sunshine; up and at 'em," Brian said, and then carefully pulled Justin to his feet; Justin did as he asked, but continued to grumble at the thought of moving. But rather than trying to coax his husband into moving, Brian rolled his eyes, scooped Justin up into this arms and simply carried him to the chair.

"Brian!" Justin groused, even as he hung onto to Brian like a limpet. "I can walk myself."

"Sure you can, Sunshine," Brian drawled as he set him on his feet and patted him on the head. "You keep telling yourself that. Now, just stand there and look pretty."

Justin snorted and flipped him off.

"So, for this last part, Brian," Maddie said as she gestured to the couch. "I'm going to have you sit in there, your back against the arm and legs out in front of you." Brian nodded and sat down. "Justin, you will sit in front of him between his legs." Maddie paused again while Justin clambered onto the couch in front of Brian and got comfortable. "Yes, just like that. Now typically, I would suggest starting with some deep breathing to relax you, but I think Justin is more than relaxed enough, so we'll just get right to the belly massage."

"I'll say; if he were anymore relaxed," Brian smirked, pulling Justin back against his chest. "He'd be asleep right now."

"So, the first technique we'll use is called the Belly Lift," Maddie said, demonstrating on her own stomach. Brian squirted a little more oil into his hand and then carefully followed Maddie's instructions. "Slide your hands down over the ribs and the sides of the belly until you reach the bottom, and the scoop your hands under the bump and pull up gently, sliding your hands up the middle of the belly. Again, light, gentle strokes. And then repeat for, well…really, you can do this as many times as you like; there is no set number necessary. Just go until he is good and relaxed or Justin tells you that he wants you to stop. And then, once you're done, rest your hands lightly on the belly for about a minute and we will continue onto the next technique."

Brian nodded and focused all his attention on Justin's growing baby bump; he found it interesting that after months of not showing at all, Justin seemed to be growing quite a bit faster these days. He could swear that he was twice the size he was two to three weeks ago. Not that he'd ever say that to Justin; he did not want to deal with the resulting queen out from Justin believing that he was calling him fat.

"Tell me when, Sunshine," Brian said, running his hands down Justin's sides and under the baby bump to scoop it and run his hands gently over the middle of the belly for what had to be the sixth or seventh time. Eyes closed in bliss, Justin just hummed and didn't answer at first as he was totally lost in the massage.

"Can you just keep doing that forever?" Justin finally said, his voice once again slurred around the edges. "Really, there is no need to stop."

"Brat," Brian huffed, rolling his eyes, but continuing the movements nonetheless.

"And your point is?" Justin sniggered, a smirk on his face.

"There is no way that I'm going to…" Brian groused, and then froze when he felt the smallest jab under his hands as it passed over the middle of the belly. Brian inhaled sharply and looked down at his hands in wonder. He slid them back down to approximately where he thought he felt the kick and pressed them gently to the top of the bump, asking in a hushed tone. "Is that…?"

"Yup; that would be Sunbeam showing appreciation," Justin grinned, opening his eyes to meet Brian's wondrous gaze.

"Wow," Brian choked, his eyes misting as he rubbed along the stomach once more and then gave a watery chuckle when he felt it again, but this time it came a bit more sharply. "That was a strong one; are you okay? It didn't…"

"It didn't hurt, Brian," Justin laughed, squirming back further into his arms. "Really, I'm getting used to Sunbeam using my insides as a punching bag; sometimes I swear there is more than one in there."

"Gonna be a soccer star," Brian grinned, holding his hands in the same place hoping for some more movement; and was instantly rewarded with this weird little fluttering motion under his hands. Of course, that could just be Justin's stomach gurgling, but he chose to believe that it was Sunbeam. "Just like daddy."

"With our luck," Justin huffed, resting his hands on top of Brian's. "Sunbeam will be a jock without a shred of artistic talent; and then where would we be?"

"No worse off than when Gus became a science and computer geek," Brian shrugged, moving his hands a little and picking up on more little jabs and flutters. "Wow, Sunbeam is really active right now."

"Always is this time of day," Justin sighed with exasperation. "It's wonderful, yet at the same time it gets old real fast when Sunbeam starts tap-dancing on my bladder."

Brian nodded and then sighed contentedly; he began to massage Justin's stomach once more, startling when Maddie sat back down on the couch. He had forgotten in all of his excitement of feeling Sunbeam move for the first time that she was even here for a moment. Time to focus; there was only a few minutes left of their session and he wanted to be certain that he learned everything he needed.

"Well, then let's see if we can calm the little tyke down," Brian said; he rested his hands on Justin's belly and looked expectantly at Maddie, murmuring for Justin's ears only. "And then, after this session is over, we can celebrate and maybe apply our newfound skills to other areas."

Chapter Text

February 9 (Part One)

Justin carried the completed salad to his mother's table and set it down in the middle before fiddling with the three place settings, making sure that everything was straight and to his mother's specifications. Usually the table held five place settings for his mother's bi-weekly family lunch, which, much like Deb's dinners, were mandatory unless you had a damned good reason for not being there.

But this week it would only be his mother, Molly and himself as Tucker was away on a teacher's conference this weekend and Brian had gotten a call from the police wanting to go over something they'd found in the loft when they were investigating. Justin offered to go with Brian, but his husband shook his head and told him to go to his mother's lunch, so she wouldn't be put out too badly, and that he'd meet him there.

Stretching his arms above his head, Justin yawned and felt amazingly relaxed still despite everything that had happened. This weekend had been perfect and exactly what he had needed to feel centered and to get his feet back under him. Dropping his arms, he walked back into the kitchen and began placing the croutons into the small crocks of French Onion soup and covered each with a slice of provolone cheese, getting them ready for the broiler for whenever Molly got her ass there.

"So, how was the rest of your weekend, sweetheart," his mother asked as she built the pesto chicken sandwiches, also getting them ready to be put onto the panini grill. "Brian called me to let me know that you'd be gone for the weekend, but he didn't tell me why or where you were going."

"Well the why is that Deb…well, that's not accurate," Justin said as he leaned against the counter. "The why was the culmination of everything that's happened since we got back from Geneva. But the last straw was him coming back to the office to find that Deb acted true to form and was blaming Brian for Michael's bullshit."

"I just don't understand her sometimes," Jen sighed as she set the finished sandwiches, (including one for Brian that she'll likely make him take home for him to eat if he didn't make it for lunch), onto a tray.

"Sometimes?" Justin huffed, rolling his lips under as he shook his head.

"Justin," his mother chastised, shaking her head when he just smiled innocently. She sighed and began cleaning the counter. "I understand wanting to protect your children; it is the most natural feeling in the world for a mother. Typically. But there is protecting and then there is coddling. Deb definitely falls into the latter."

"You've been known to be a bit overprotective yourself," Justin reminded her as he crossed his arms over his chest.

"That's because I had a fiercely independent son, who was always telling me that he could do it himself,'" his mother said, mimicking his childlike voice. "That strong sense of self tends to terrify a mother who has lived in the world that he is so determined to take on much longer and knows the dangers associated with it."

"I just knew what I wanted from a very young age," Justin said with a lofty smirk.

"And you'll notice that after awhile I backed off and left you to it," his mother said, her voice dry as the Sahara. "What I did not have was a helpless man-child that can barely put his socks on in the morning without consulting the world if wearing socks would be appropriate or not."

"Gee, Mom," Justin snorted and bit his bottom lip to keep from laughing at her very accurate description of Michael. "Tell us how you really feel."

His mother just sent him a chiding look and continued to clean up without a word; mostly, because she couldn't deny anything as it would be an outright lie. Justin sighed and thought back to the confrontation with Deb, his heart aching a bit that he'd been forced to rip the blinders from her eyes, but needs must. He really couldn't tolerate listening her badger and disparage Brian any longer.

"I think the main problem with Deb is," Justin continued with a thoughtful frown. "She feels guilty about Michael's dad. More to the point, she feels guilty that she damned well knew that Michael's father has been alive, and well, this entire time; but she was too embarrassed to admit that she'd fallen for, and slept with, a gay drag queen. And thus prevented Michael from ever knowing his father until it was far too late to build a real relationship with him."

"Don't make excuses for her, Justin," his mother scolded, a frown on her face. "Her behavior on Friday was deplorable. Not only was she blaming the wrong person; but to then confront Brian at his place of business was just the height of unprofessional. I would never have dreamed of doing that to you or your father no matter how angry I may have been at the time. It's just not done."

"I don't think those words have ever existed in the Novotny lexicon," Justin stated dryly, sniggering when his mother shot him a wry look.

"Point," his mother conceded with a nod, changing the subject as she walked to the dining area to wait for Molly. "So, that was why; now where did you go?"

"We didn't go far at all," Justin said, following in her wake. "Brian needed to stay in Pittsburgh because he has a couple of key accounts to present this week and didn't want to be too far away if something went wrong with the boards. So, we stayed at the Penn for a couple of nights."

"Oh," his mother said as she leaned against a chair, "How was it?"

Justin opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by the slamming of the door and hurried footsteps making their way into the kitchen. He exchanged an exasperated look with his mother; she'd often said that Molly would be late to her own funeral.

"I'm here, I'm here!" Molly called, rushing into the room in a flurry of limbs and ragged, panting breaths. "I'm here!"

"You're late," his mother said, arching a single delicate eyebrow as she walked back into the kitchen to finish the last steps of their meal; Justin winced at the eyebrow of doom, recalling all too well the number of times he'd been on the other side of it.

"I said I was sorry," Molly huffed, her tone a bit petulant as she flopped into her chair; she didn't bother to help out in the kitchen as it was well known that she somehow managed to set fire to water one time. How the hell that happened, he had no idea, but she'd been banned from the kitchen ever since.

"Actually…" Justin said as he walked towards the kitchen, about to point out that she hadn't actually apologized at all, but his mother gave him the look.

"Justin," his mother said in a warning tone as she set the sandwiches on the grill. Justin scowled, but knew better than to say anything as he put the crocks under the broiler. But when her back was turned he did stick his tongue out at his sister anyways.

"I was up late studying last night," Molly whined, flipping him off in retaliation.

"Is that what they are calling it these days," his mother asked dryly as she grabbed the plates from the table and took them to the counter. Much to Justin's amusement, especially as Molly squawked and flushed bright red at their mother's words.

"Mom!" Molly exclaimed as she buried her face in her hands.

"What?" his mother said, a smirk on her face as she pulled the sandwiches off of the grill and cut them in half before placing them each onto a plate. "Please, darling; I was once your age too. I didn't just spring up, full grown, out of your father's head, ready to produce children. Although, he would have probably preferred if I had."

Justin snickered and grabbed the potholders; he pulled out two of the crocks and placed them on the trivets next to the place holdings, dancing around his mother as she juggled the three plates. He pulled out the third and closed the broiler before walking over to the table to set it down on the trivet next to his plate.

"Oh, gross," Molly groaned, grimacing in disgust and rubbing her hand over her face. "I don't want to know these things, Mom."

"Oh, all right," his mother said, laughing at Molly's expression as she grabbed the iced tea and lemonade out of the refrigerator and set them on the table. "You're no fun."

"Teenagers…" Justin sneered teasingly, pouring himself his typical mix of half sweetened iced tea and half lemonade mixture. Hey, he hadn't had any coffee in five days, he was going to damn well have his tea if it was the last thing he did.

"Hey, it wasn't so long ago that you were one yourself," his mother chided, her eyes sparkling with amusement as she sat down. "Don't cast stones."

"I was never this bratty," Justin mock piously informed his mother, his nose in the air.

"I beg to differ," His mother snorted as she poured herself some unsweetened tea. "I recall a stubborn young man that basically told me to go fuck myself' numerous times; although, granted, never in those exact words."

"Lies," Justin cried, his hand over his heart, sending his mom into a fit of giggles. "I have no idea who this person you speak of is."

"Yes, well memory is the first thing to go when you become an adult," his mother said in mock sympathy, patting his hand consolingly.

"Anyway," Justin said, getting back to the topic at hand now that they were situated. "So we stayed at the Penn Friday and Saturday night in the Presidential Suite." Justin paused as both his mother's and Molly's eyebrows rose at that announcement. "Yup; how Yasmeen swung that I have no idea, but it was available for some reason."

"Lucky dog," Molly grumbled around her sandwich, and then winced when his mother looked over at her in disapproval.

“So we left Kinnetik, and checked in not long after Yasmeen made the reservation,” Justin continued in between bites of his food. “Got to the room to check it out; and my God, it’s amazing. Really beautiful, if a bit much for what we needed this weekend, but you know Brian. “

Justin rolled his eyes as he bit down on his sandwich, showing exactly what he thought of Brian's extravagant ways at times. His mom and sister laughed, having been privy to his and Brian's 'discussions' about just this thing.

"I would have loved to just stay there for a while," Justin continued after he'd finished chewing. "But Brian immediately dragged me off to go shopping. He says it was because he didn't want to drive all the way out to Britin to get clothing, and then all the way back in; but let's face it – Brian doesn't need a reason to shop."

"That is true," his mother said, covering her mouth as she laughed; she flicked her eyes over Justin's new clothing with approval. "It's a shame his taste in clothing hasn't rubbed off on you after all these years."

"I just don't see the point to spending all that money on clothing that is just going to end up getting covered with paint," Justin scowled, stabbing his fork into a cherry tomato and popping it in his mouth; chewing and swallowing before he said. "I prefer to be comfortable and not worry about how much something cost when I'm working in the studio."

"Yes, dear," his mother said in that tone that told him she was merely humoring him.

"And then when we got back that evening, with more than we needed," Justin said, taking a sip of his drink. "Because shopping with Brian is never a quick and easy undertaking; we decided to just order room service and rest for the evening."

"What did you get?" his mother asked, dipping her spoon into her soup.

"We split a shrimp cocktail and the bruschetta trio which had sundried tomatoes, artichokes and kalamata olives on charred focaccia," Justin said, pushing his mixed greens into a small pile before stabbing them with his fork. "And then I had the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with forbidden rice and grilled zucchini and carrots. And Brian had the Salmon Aveline, which was just salmon over a bed of mixed greens, cucumbers, pine nuts, bleu cheese crumbles and brown sugar vinaigrette."

"That sounds lovely," his mother nodded, taking a dainty bite of her sandwich.

"We spent the rest of the night relaxing and watching TV," Justin said after finishing up his salad, he set the plate aside and pulled his soup closer to him.

"Is that what they are calling it these days," Molly mocked, her eyes sparkling as she managed to look up from her food long enough to comment. And they said he was bad about his food.

"Well, I figured Mom wouldn't want the rest of the details," Justin smirked, a devilish look lighting his eyes as he looked at his mother.

"I do appreciate your discretion," his mother said, huffing with amusement; Justin grinned and took a bite of his soup.

"Saturday was the best though," Justin continued, taking another sip of his drink. "After breakfast, Brian hired this masseuse that specializes in prenatal massage to teach him proper massage techniques so that we can do baby and me type belly bonding massages every night." Justin paused as his mother made a small happy noise. "Yeah, it was really sweet of him."

Justin finished off the rest of his sandwich in a couple of bites, and then wiped his mouth with a napkin as he chewed. He set the napkin aside and leaned back to fill them in on the rest of the day and evening.

"And then, we went to the Warhol and finally got to see the new exhibit as well as walk around for as long as I wanted. Pay back for putting up with his shopping the day before. And then we had dinner at the Terrace room, where we had the Lobster Bisque en Croute for starters, the Spring Salad with Blueberry-Sour Cherry Vinaigrette and then I had the Seafood Provencal with shrimp, scallops and sea bass over freshly made pasta and Brian had the Skuna Bay Salmon with spring onion potato puree and cherry tomato-fennel salad. And then we made it another early evening."

"Code for we had more sex," Molly quipped.

"Yes, dear," his mother said dryly, shaking her head. "I figured that one out for myself. It sounds like a lovely weekend darling."

"It was really nice," Justin said quite happily, loading his plate once more with salad and looking at Brian's sandwich with considering eye. He could easily make him something else later. "And just what we needed. Although…"

Justin trailed off with a shudder as he recalled last night's dream.

"Did something happen?" his mother asked, looking over with a concerned frown.

"Just a nightmare on Saturday night," Justin mumbled, his cheeks heating as his mother looked even more worried. She was well aware of his past with nightmares and he felt bad for worrying her. As, while the dream was unpleasant, it wasn't all that bad.

"About the break in?" his mother asked.

"No; you'll probably find this hilarious, but it was quite traumatizing at the time" Justin muttered reluctantly; and then just gave up because he knew she wouldn't relent until he told her about it. "I dreamed that Brian and I were at the doctor's to get our first ultrasound. And when Amy, the tech, started moving the wand around, she gasped. And when I asked her what was wrong, she told me that she hoped I was okay with multiples because I was having quintuplets."

His mother looked at him for a moment and then threw her head back and laughed; a full-bodied one that that seemed to start from her toes and nearly busted her gut. His sister quickly followed suit, leaving Justin scowling at his plate. And then he shook his head ruefully and chuckled, continuing his story.

"And I looked at her and screamed, 'What do you mean I'm having five!?' and she just started pointing them all out to me, like she hadn't just dropped a massive shit bomb on me; and I'm just laying there getting more and more panicked until finally I turned to Brian, glared at him and said, 'This is all your fault! You and your fucking super sperm! You are never touching me again!'"

"Oh my God," his mother wheezed as she tried to draw air back into her lungs, only to start laughing again at his expression. "That's hilarious."

"Oh, but then it gets better," Justin said with a wry smile. "Because Brian was just sitting there calmly through the whole thing, and after I was finished yelling at him, he just smiled blandly and said, 'That's exactly how we planned it, Sunshine. Remember? You said, let's just get it all over with in one go.' And my mouth just dropped open and I was so close to killing him, but then I woke up."

"God," his mother said in between laughs. "I remember those dreams; this one time with you, I dreamt that I gave birth to you, but instead of a baby, you came out as a small, full-grown adult. I remember my doctor saying something about it meaning that I was worried that I would miss out on your life or something like that. Frankly, I just think it was the sauerkraut I ate that night."

"I can't wait for these to end," Justin groused, rubbing the back of his neck before he dug into his salad. He was definitely eating that sandwich no matter what his mother said. "That was truly horrifying."

"I hate to break it to you kiddo, but dreams like that never fully go away," his mother said, getting up from her chair to put her dishes into the sink. "Instead they change from pregnancy dreams to baby dreams to toddler dreams to child dreams to teenage dream to…well, you get the picture. You are always going to be worried about your child, no matter what age they are. It's all part of being a parent."

"Well, at least there won't be anymore litter birth dreams," Justin muttered, stabbing a cherry tomato and popping it into his mouth.

"Well, at least until you decide to have another," his mother said from the counter, bagging things up and putting them away.

"Oh hell no," Justin said, shaking his head violently as he focused on his plate. "NO more after this one."

"That's what I said too," his mother snorted walking back over to the table. She set a plate next to him, Brian's sandwich neatly cut in two on it. "And then your sister came along and blew that idea right out of the water."

Justin beamed and grabbed the sandwich, happily biting into it as his mother kissed the top of his head and laughed as she said, "I remember that too."

Chapter Text

February 9 (Part Two)

"I'll see you later, Sonny Boy," Brian said as he hugged his son; Gus squeezed him extra hard and held on for a moment longer that he normally would, but Brian didn't blame him. He knew that Gus was still a bit shaken by the past week's events and his Jus' hospital scare.

"Bye, Dad," Gus yelled as he turned and ran back into the house, calling over his shoulder. "Give Jus a hug for me and tell him that I'll call him tonight."

"Will do, Sonny Boy," Brian called back, and then sighed.

While he'd seen Gus several times last week, both at the hospital and out of it, he hadn't had the chance to spend any quality time with him as they'd both been too worried about Justin and Sunbeam. That's why, instead of going to Mother Taylor's luncheon, he decided to take his son out for brunch and a catch up.

God knew they needed that time to regroup.

Turning on his heel, Brian groaned when he saw Lindsay leaning against his car; he so didn't need to deal with her bullshit today, especially as he still hadn't managed to go through all the fucking messages she'd left on his phone. The woman was becoming a menace and he was already dealing with enough shit in his life. He didn't need another stalker added into the mix.

"Lindsay," Brian greeted, a thin smile on his face as he walked over to his car.

"Where have you been?" Lindsay hissed, her arms crossed over her chest.

"With my husband," Brian stated blandly, fighting the urge to roll his eyes at her unwarranted show of possessiveness. Fuck, this shit got old, and he so didn't want to deal with this after the whole Michael debacle. What the fuck was wrong with his oldest friends? "Was there anything else that's none of your business that you wanted to know?"

"I need to know how to get a hold of you," Lindsay demanded, her nose set at a haughty angle, and Brian really did roll his eyes this time.

"No, you don't," Brian stated succinctly, moving around her to get to his car door.

"Yes, I do!" Lindsay spat, and Brian could almost see her stomping her foot like a petulant two-year old. "What if there had been an emergency and I needed to get a hold of you because something happened to Gus. He could have died for all you care…"

Brian swung around and pinned his friend with an enraged look, instantly halting whatever venom the vicious, little viper had been about to spew in its tracks. Walking over to Lindsay slowly, he got up into her face, making her take a nervous step back.

"Do not even go there, Lindsay," he stated in steely tone, his eyes hard as flint and his mouth twisted into a bitter smile. This had always been her go-to jab. "Don't forget how you tried that bullshit with me years ago and the result of it." Lindsay swallowed thickly and averted her gaze as she knew she'd crossed a line five years ago. "I told you then that I would not tolerate you using Gus as a means of controlling me, and I am telling you the same now. Do not make call my lawyer and tell him to enact those papers you signed."

Lindsay swallowed again, and then, seeming to find her spine once more, jutted her chin out as she watched him through narrowed eyes. "The fact remains that Gus could have been sick and you wouldn't have known."

"Again, no," Brian said with a cold smile. "Gus is well aware of the fact that he can call me anytime, day or night, and I will always pick up for him. Had he fallen ill, he would have called me." Brian paused and held up a hand to forestall what he knew would be Lindsay's next tactic. "And before you say it, had he been incapacitated and unable to contact me, Emmett, Ted and Cynthia, all knew how to get a message to me. And since none of them called me this weekend, because they, unlike you, understand the concept of 'do not call me, I'm going to be busy,' I know there was nothing that couldn't wait until Justin and I got home."

"I do not appreciate being kept out of the loop," Lindsay hissed, her hands clenched into fists at her sides. "I am the mother of your child…"

"And?" Brian asked, arching a disinterested brow; if he'd had a penny for every time he heard those words he'd be…well twice as rich as he was now.

Lindsay gasped, her hand flying to her throat as if utterly offended by his cavalier attitude; but really, what had she expected? Just because he'd shot his sperm into a cup didn't mean that she held any rights to his life no matter what warped little fantasy she'd built up in her head since college.

"Lindsay," Brian stated slowly, as if talking to a particularly dense and spoilt child. "Do you remember years ago; when you forced me to play hubby so you and Mel would seem 'hetero' enough to get Gus into that school you wanted him to attend?"

Lindsay didn't say anything, but he could see that she wanted to ask what the hell that had to do with their current conversation; so Brian pressed on.

"You said then, that back in college, you'd always imagined us doing that one day and then asked if I had done the same," Brian reminded her; Lindsay flushed a dull red and looked away. "And I told you then, without hesitation, that no, I had not."

The color in Lindsay's face deepened to a fire-engine red at the reminder; she crossed her arms over her chest and stared back at him, a mutinous frown on her face.

"That hasn't changed," Brian continued, rolling his lips between his teeth as he stared right back without an ounce of remorse. "You are not now, nor will you ever be, my wife. And the only person I answer to is a bitchy, little, pregnant blond who is currently driving me crazy with his fucking food cravings. The key word in that sentence being HIS not her. I don't answer to you; never have and never will."

Lindsay looked away, but not before he saw the hurt tears in her eyes; but Brian remained unmoved by them as he'd seen that ploy in action one too many times in the past and he sure as hell wasn't falling for them again.

"Now, if there isn't anything else," Brian said with a condescending smile as he rocked on his heels. "I need to get to the police station; and I have a whole slew of other things to do before picking Justin up from his mother's."

Brian spun on his heel and walked back to his door; he opened it and then paused to give Lindsay a hard look before he slid inside.

"Oh, and Linds," he said with a baleful frown. "Stop blowing up my phone when you can't get a hold of me; I have clients that need to know that they can contact me if they are ever in a lurch. I don't need you filling up my voicemail like an angry fishwife trying to track down her unfaithful husband. You have a wife; fucking pay attention to her before you lose your meal ticket."

And with that, Brian slid into his car, started it and drove away without looking back.

… … … … …

Sighing, Brian opened the door and stepped into the precinct; the last thing he wanted to do was meet with the police today. He'd rather be wrapped up in a cocoon with Justin, blocking out the real world for a few more hours; but sadly, the real world waited for no man, and Detective Nakamura insisted that it was important.

Rubbing the back of his neck, he walked towards the reception desk, but stopped as a familiar face made his way over to him. Smiling at Carl, Brian changed direction and held out his hand. Carl wisely took it as he knew that Brian, unlike Justin, would never tolerate something more touchy-feely in public.

"Carl," Brian greeted, shaking the other man's hand. "Aren't you supposed to be retired? What are you doing here?"

"I'd stopped by to talk to some of the guys today when Tak told me you'd be coming in," Carl said, looking over to the officer sitting at the reception desk and waved his hand; Brian assumed that was some preplanned signal to let the man know that Brian was here based on the way he picked up the phone right after. "Figured I'd stick around and see if you wanted any company."

"I…" Brian started, intending to refuse his offer, but then paused as he reconsidered it; the police had come a long way since the Stockwell days, but Brian still didn't trust most cops. "That would be great; I'm a little worried about what they found."

"Where's Justin?" Carl nodded, well aware of Brian's distrust for most of his former colleagues. "I'm surprised he let you come without him.

"He's at Mother Taylor's for her biweekly family luncheon," Brian said, huffing when Carl raised his brows in surprise. "I figured with everything that happened last week, he should just have a quiet day with his mom and sister."

"You did tell him…" Carl asked with a small disapproving frown.

"Yes, yes, he knows where I am," Brian said, cutting the other man off. "I didn't want it to get back to him through a different source like last time. I'm lucky I kept my balls after he calmed down enough to think things through."

"I hate to say, 'I told you so,' but…" Carl smirked, laughing when Brian scowled.

"But you're going to do it anyways," Brian said, a sardonic twist to his mouth.

Carl shrugged unrepentantly and laughed again. Brian rolled his lips between his teeth and looked away, not wanting to show his own amusement. Carl had indeed warned him that not sharing the details with Justin would come back and bite him on the ass. But, he'd expected his reckoning to come at the hands of an irate blond demanding answers; not a panicked blond sitting in a hospital bed, shaking like a leaf as he clung to Brian.

Christ, he could kill Michael for that.

That's not to say the anger didn't come later; it did as his ass could fully attest to. Justin had been livid and proceeded to take it out on him in the most delicious of ways. Brian didn't bother to tell Justin that his 'punishment' wasn't really much of one in his eyes; although, Justin was likely aware of that fact.

"So, did you talk to Mikey about his…indiscretion," Brian asked, looking around to see if anyone was paying them any mind, and then tempering his words anyway.

"Yeah," Carl huffed, a disgruntled look on his face as he stared off to the side; a sure sign that the affable man was still pissed at Michael's indiscreet words on Tuesday. "Not only did he get it from me, but he got it from Em and Deb; and then Tak had a go; Michael was lucky that Tak didn't simply haul his ass in for obstruction of justice."

"Would that have really been considered…" Brian asked with a frown.

"Not likely," Carl said, a small mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "But a day or two in jail while they figured that out might have done him some good. However, Tak didn't want to muddy the investigation with the arrest. As it was, Tak did explain to him, in small, pointed words, just how unhappy he was about it and told him in detail what Michael could expect if he did something so foolish again." Carl paused, looked around and then grinned. "He nearly pissed his pants when Tak told him that he'd haul him in if he continued to interfere with an open and ongoing police investigation."

Brian chuckled at that image; the part of him that was still fuming over Michael's actions deriving pleasure from his former friend's current predicament. It served him right; and couldn't have happened to a better person. Brian opened his mouth to respond and then closed it as young, brunet, uniformed cop walked up to them.

"Hey, Carl," The officer said before turning to Brian with a polite smile. "Detective Nakamura will see you now, Mr. Taylor-Kinney."

"I'll take him back, Bert," Carl said, nodding to the young officer, who in turn, nodded back and went on his way. "Shall we?"

Carl turned down the hall and led Brian deeper into the precinct, nodding to, and exchanging greetings with, officers and detectives along the way; until they came to a room filled with cubicles. Carl strode up to the last one on the right and knocked on the side of the wall. Detective Nakamura looked up, a phone pressed to his ear and held up one finger as he recited a bunch information that he wanted before he hung up. He stood and held out his hand.

"Mr. Taylor-Kinney," Nakamura greeted, shaking his hand firmly before turning to Carl and doing the same with him. "Carl."

"Please, call me Brian," Brian requested as they followed him into the cubicle.

"Brian then; and please call me Tak," he said as he retook the seat behind his desk. "I'm assuming that with Carl here, you give him permission to hear this information."

"Yes," Brian said, sitting in the plastic chair that sat just to the left of the desk; one that Tak must have pulled over when he heard Brian was there. Carl stood behind him, leaning against the low wall. "Did you find anything?"

"Well, we did gather evidence, and dusted for fingerprints, but we're still working on the findings; and I'm not at liberty to discuss it at the moment," Tak said, shuffling a few things on his desk and setting the files aside. "What I did want to ask about, was an item that we found that seemed out of place; but it could potentially be something that belongs to either you or your husband. I wanted to see if you could identify it for me."

"Sure," Brian shrugged; anything to help with apprehending this fucker. He wanted to make sure that this asshole stayed as far away from his husband as possible; or he wouldn't be held responsible for his actions. "What do you need?"

"While searching for evidence," Tak said, opening up a safe to his left-hand side. "My team found this." He pulled out a plastic bag that held a laminated picture of Justin and set it on the desk in front of Brian. "It looks like something you or your husband might do to salvage a fraying article, but something about it caught my investigator's eye. Does this look familiar to you at all?"

"No," Brian said, looking at it closely. He knew that picture. It was the one that had been printed in that art magazine Lindsay had shown him just before Justin left for New York. God, how he hated that magazine. "I have never seen that in my life; I mean, I know what article that's from, as it was the picture that went along that damned article that had Justin moving to New York. But I know that I don't own anything like it. And while Justin does have a scrapbook, it's not kept at the loft, nor would it contain anything like this. Although, I can have him stop by here when he's next in town if you'd like."

"That would be appreciated," Tak said, nodding as he jotted something down in his notebook. "If for no other reason than to eliminate him from the list."

Brian nodded and then looked down at the picture.

"I don't understand something, though; this picture is at least five years old," Brian said, noting the frayed edges; as if it had been handled over and over throughout the years. "And judging by the wear and tear of the photo, it's not been cut out recently."

"That would be my assessment of it as well," Tak said, leaning forward to study the photo with Brian. "What's your question?"

"If they've had this for that long," Brian said, leaning back into his chair with an assessing look. "Why are we just learning of this now? Why is it happening now?"

Tak nodded and picked up the bag; he stared at the photo for a moment and then put it back into the safe and closed it. He turned back around with a serious look on his face. "My guess is that your husband's stalker was happy to watch him from afar during that time; the fantasy sustained him and he didn't need anything more. But…but something has happened recently that's forced him or her out of hiding. Something's happened to make him or her escalate. When did you start noticing something was off?"

Brian averted his gaze and thought about it for a few seconds.

"Not long after we found out that Justin was pregnant," he said slowly, his lips compressing into a thin line. "It started gradually, with the feeling of being watched or someone being there; but when you turn to look, no one is there. The loft is the first physical sign that we've gotten; or well the first that we've noticed."

"That could do it," Tak nodded thoughtfully, rubbing his hand over his jaw. "Stalkers live off of their fantasies and they feed on the crumbs and scraps of their target's attention to power the illusion. When something comes along that shatters that illusion, which could very well be the tangible evidence of your union through your husband's pregnancy, it could send them reeling. And then, you get events like the loft."

"So, this asshole could have been following Justin around for five years?" Brian asked, shuddering at the idea that this asshole had been following Justin around for that long.

"Potentially," Tak said, linking his hands behind his head as he sat back into his chair; he cocked his to the side and stretched his lips thin effectuating a doubtful moue. "But not likely. The fixation could have occurred then, but the perpetrator probably wasn't following him around at that point. It might have just been a case of the perp following your husband through articles, such as the one the photo is from. But over time, that wasn't enough to feed the obsession."

He sat back up and stared Brian plainly in the face; and that was one of the things he liked best about the guy. He cut through the bullshit and got to the heart of a matter without fancy words or pussyfooting around. He stated it plainly and simply and just got the fucking job done, no muss, no fuss.

"So maybe then, he starts to show up at your husband's public appearances," Tak continued with a pensive frown. "It gives the perp a chance to watch and observe the object of their obsession, and if they happen to get a random word or smile in, then all the better for them." Tak paused to consider his words. "Eventually, the perp would likely try to find ways to insinuate themselves into their obsession's life to get even more of a fix. It happens so slowly over time that you don't even notice until one day, something makes the perp snap and you get what happened at the loft."

"So what do we do now?" Brian asked, uneasy that this asshole was still at large and could get to his husband easily; he'd never done helpless well.

"Beef up your security," Tak suggested with a shrug. "Change all your codes and make sure you, and only you and your husband, have them; don't give them out. Even if you trust the people you usually give them to; you don't know how the perp got that information yet. This will prevent it from being leaked again. I'd even suggest that you not use your typical cleaning services or any company that might have the access codes for the moment; at least not until we catch up to the perp. Keep an eye out and report anything suspicious. Make sure you don't go anywhere alone if you can help it. That's about all you can do at the moment."

"Bodyguards?" Brian asked, ignoring the pained groan behind him

"That's up to you," Tak grinned. "It couldn't hurt to beef up the security patrols around your house at the very least. It is a bit remote."

Brian rolled his lips under and nodded. He had been kicking around the idea of hiring a private security team for the past few days, and Tak made a very good point about the house. As beautiful as it was, their nearest neighbors were about half a mile down the road. Justin loved the remoteness of the property, but it sure didn't help them in their current situation. Nodding to himself he looked back at Tak.

"Was there anything else?" Brian asked, anxious to get on the road to Mother Taylor's and see, and just hold, his husband.

"That was it for now," Tak said, standing as Brian did the same and held out his hand. "But I'll call you when we have more information; and, of course, feel free to call if anything comes up or you if remember anything additional about the loft."

"Thank you," Brian said as he shook the man's hand once more. "You've given me a lot to think about."

"Thank you for coming in," Tak nodded, waiting until he and Carl had turned away to sit back down at his desk and pull a stack of files over to him.

Brian followed Carl out of the maze of cubicles and halls, his mind mulling over everything that he had learned and wondering just how much of it he should tell Justin. On the one hand, Justin needed the information so that he'd be alert to his surroundings; but on the other hand, if he knew just how long this has been going on, it would stress him out, and that wasn't good for him or Sunbeam. It was a tough call.

"Please, tell me you aren't going to hire a bodyguard to follow Justin around," Carl said, breaking the silence between them as they passed the reception desk. "You know as well as I do, that Justin will have a shit fit when he finds out."

"If he does, he does; he'll just have to deal," Brian stated implacably, even if he still hadn't decided if he was going to hire a private security team. He was leaning towards yes though; he'd just have to resign himself to dealing with his husband's wrath at a later date. "I will do anything – anything Carl – to make sure that he's safe."

"Oh, joy," Carl grumbled as they headed out the door; sighing at the drama the man knew this would likely cause. "I can't wait for the fireworks to start."

Chapter Text

BONUS!

February 10

Brian slowly eased his way out of bed, his eyes on his sleeping husband the whole time; not that he was too worried about waking Justin up. He slept like the dead. But it would just be his luck that tonight would be the one night that Justin would wake up to use the bathroom or to get a drink of water or to run off and find those odious little snack cakes that he loved so much; the latter of which would completely foil his plans.

He'd done everything he could think of to talk Justin out of eating those damned Twinkies including, but limited to – logic, sex, persuasion, sex, guilt, sex, manipulation, and more sex and nothing was getting through to him. So it had finally come down to this – if you can't beat them, join them.

But only up to a point; he did have standards, which didn't include mass-produced, Styrofoam-textured sponge cake filled with a grainy cream center.

Finally making his way to the edge of the bed, Brian quickly slipped out of it and headed to the bedroom door. He opened it slowly, careful to make as little sound as possible and then slid out of the room. Closing the door behind him just as silently as he'd opened it, Brian walked over to banister, where his housecoat lay.

Slipping it on, Brian headed down the hall to his Sonny Boy's room; he'd hidden the package that he'd received at Kinnetik a little over a week ago in there for one reason alone. Justin would never dream of going into Gus' room without his permission. And since his Sonny Boy was a reluctant participant in this venture, Brian knew that Gus would find a reason to keep Justin at bay while Brian relocated the box.

Opening the door to Gus' room, he flipped on the light, walked over to the closet and pulled out the box. Setting it on his Sonny Boy's bed, he opened the top and smirked at the six smaller boxes; pulling one out, he stared at the twelve individually wrapped cakes and snickered. They were perfect.

Setting the smaller box aside, he closed up the larger package and stuck it back into Gus' closet. Closing the door, he picked up the small box of cakes, walked out of the room and turned the lights out, closing that door behind him as well. And then, with his contraband tucked under his arm, he strode down the hall to Justin's studio as that was the only place left that he could think of where those damned Twinkies would be hiding.

At least in the house; and if they weren't there, he didn't know where the hell they could be. But he was pretty sure Justin wouldn't want to be trudge outside to get his fix in this weather, so the studio it was.

You see, when it became obvious that Justin wasn't going to listen to reason when it came to his Twinkies, Brian had hatched a brilliant plan. One that had, admittedly, taken much more time than he'd expected to put into motion; but a brilliant plan nonetheless. He'd done a little research, and then dragged Emmett into the scheme when he was having trouble finding what he needed, and came up with a healthier alternative to the sponge cakes of doom.

He'd hired a baker to make a similar snack item that should, in theory, look like, taste like and smell like those stupid Twinkies his husband so loved to eat. But these would be made with organic, all-natural ingredients without all the preservatives, (it wasn't like they lasted long enough to go stale anyways). And then, he had said baker wrap them individually and send them to him, so that he could swap out the mass-produced crap hiding somewhere in his house.

He'd spent the night before Justin was in the hospital, and the nights since he'd come home, looking in every conceivable hiding place for them. (Or well, the nights they weren't staying at the Penn that is.) But he couldn't find anything in the usual places. And that left the one place he typically avoided going into without Justin's permission as it was his sanctuary.

That made it the perfect hiding place, come to think of it; sneaky little twat.

Opening the door, Brian walked in and closed it before turning on the lights. He walked over to the table and set the box down and then looked around. If he were Justin, where would he hide the Twinkies. He looked over at the cabinets lining the walls. That would be a good place, but a little too obvious; especially after the linen closet incident. So, Brian was going to say no to those.

He looked at the drawers that held his paints, and briefly considered that; if Justin took them out of the box, he could line one of the drawers with them. But he immediately dismissed the idea as there was to much potential for contamination. And Justin would never compromise his or Sunbeam's health just for a hiding place. He dismissed the drawers and cabinets by the sink for the same reason; as that's where he stored his solvents.

And then he looked over at the far wall, where the cans of paint for Sunbeam's room were stacked. He was about to dismiss that idea as well, but then paused to reconsider it. That had possibilities. If he'd emptied and cleaned the can thoroughly, it could work. Walking over to the stack, Brian studied them, wondering if it was worth lifting and opening each one to see if Justin had indeed used one of the canisters.

And that's when he noticed that one of the cans on the left, about halfway down was different from the others. He couldn't put his finger on just what, but the lettering seemed a bit off somehow and the color wasn't quite right. Kneeling in front of the stack, Brian smirked as he touched the one that seemed off, and then touched the one next to it; the paper was just slightly different.

The label of the one that had caught his eye wasn't nearly as glossy as the other labels. And from there, he noticed other subtle differences, like the fonts were close, but didn't quite measure up and the color of the label was just a few degrees off.

Pulling down the cans on top of it, Brian pulled the paint can out of the pile and then pulled a screwdriver out of his pocket. He pried it open and smirked. Bingo. Sneaky little twat. He'd gotten an empty can from the craft store and then put together a label that looked like the others; likely not thinking the slight differences would stand out as much as they did. He had forgotten one thing – design and ad copy were Brian's life. And he was well versed in the subtle differences in hues, as well as the minute differences in fonts.

Pulling out a plastic bag from his pocket, Brian dumped the Twinkies into it and then grabbed the box he'd set on the table and emptied it into the container. Closing it, Brian put it back in the stack, and then positioned them all in the same exact order, just in Justin had paid attention to that when he stacked them.

Pocketing the screwdriver, Brian picked up the box and the bag of confiscated Twinkies and walked swiftly over to the door. He turned off the lights and then opened the door, stepped out and closed it behind him. Walking back to Gus' room, Brian stored the stolen Twinkies in the closet for later disposal and then left, heading back to his room.

Taking off his housecoat, he threw it back over the banister and then quietly entered the bedroom, swiftly crossing the floor to his bed. He was just about to slide back under the covers for a few hours more sleep when Justin suddenly stirred and popped his head up; he blinked at Brian lazily, nearly scaring him near half to death.

"Jesus fuck, Justin," Brian whispered, his heart hammering in his chest. "You scared the shit out of me."

"Where did you go?" Justin asked sleepily; Brian studied his face, but didn't detect any suspicion in his husband's gaze.

"I just went to the study," Brian said, shivering as he slid under the covers, now realizing just how cold he was. "I woke up with an idea for the Aster Avalon account; and I wanted to email it to myself before I forgot. What are you doing awake?"

"Cold without you," Justin mumbled, scooting closer to Brian. "I would have gotten up, but I figured it would be even colder outside the blankets."

"Well, I'm back; but you probably won't want to cuddle with me just yet," Brian said, sighing an internal breath of relief to hear that Justin hadn't discovered his subterfuge. "I'm sure I must be freezing."

"Don't care," Justin yawned, scooting right up against Brian and wrapping around Brian like a limpet. "Need cuddles."

"I do love how your vocabulary deteriorates to that of a six-year-old's when you're half asleep," Brian snickered, yelping when Justin pinched his ass.

"Fuck off," Justin muttered as he buried his nose into Brian's neck.

"Now, now, now; none of that," Brian mock admonished, wrapping his arms around his husband. "Little boys with dirty mouths don't get what they want."

"Not what you said the other night," Justin sing-songed, snickering at Brian's chagrined expression; well, what could he say; the brat was right.

"Point," Brian conceded; kissing Justin on the tip of his nose. "I rescind all previous statements. Feel free to talk dirty to me anytime you like. "

"Well, with that in mind, how about now?" Justin purred, rolling Brian onto his back and climbing on top of him.

"Now, would be very, very good, Sunshine," Brian purred, moaning as Justin slid his hand down into his sweats and wrapped his fingers around his dick. "Very, very good indeed."

Chapter Text

February 12

Justin walked down the street; his face tipped up and enjoyed the feel of the pale, winter sun on it as he and Brian made their way back to Kinnetik, hand-in-hand. They were just getting back from an early lunch at the bistro down the street as they were still avoiding the diner. Not because they were still mad at Deb or avoiding her, but because they were avoiding Michael as Brian was still in 'kill Mikey on sight' mode.

Or, at least Justin was avoiding him.

He really did not want to be hauling his ass down to the precinct to bail his husband out of jail if Michael played true to form and started whining about Brian being unfair to him. Because, of course, Mikey didn't do anything, but tell the truth; and it wasn't his fault that Justin was overly sensitive.

Yes, because apparently, panicking because you've just found out that you potentially have a stalker, who is also targeting your husband, was overreacting. Or, so the Liberty Rumor Mill said. Justin didn't really know for certain that Michael had said any of that as he hadn't seen him since their little showdown at the same bistro that he and Brian had just eaten at.

But, he could fully believe it to be true; it certainly sounded like Michael's usual brand of passive-aggressive bullshit.

Pressing his other hand to his stomach, Justin smile as Brian leaned down and kissed his temple, and decided to forget about the asshole. He just wanted to enjoy these last last few minutes with his husband before Brian had to meet with the Aster Avalon representatives and Justin headed back home to finish his last piece for the show.

He tipped his head back and kissed Brian lightly on the lips, humming when Brian stopped and deepened it, his arms wrapping securely around Justin. He sighed and wrapped his hand around the base of Brian's neck and enjoyed the impromptu make-out session, ignoring the people grumbling as they walked around them.

Tough cookies; he had better things to do.

"What was that for?" Justin asked as he pulled away, a small smile on his lips.

"You know me," Brian said, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. "I never could resist making a public display of the most beautiful man in Pittsburgh."

"And I'm not bad either, right?" Justin said with a self-deprecating smile, a hint of amusement in his eyes.

"Twat," Brian snorted, shaking his head, and then sobered. "I do believe that you have surpassed me, Sunshine. You are truly the most beautiful man I have ever seen; especially now that you're carrying, Sunbeam. I don't stand a chance."

"Wow," Justin teased, fighting back a wide smile. "What did they put in your drink at the bistro. Are you sure your dick is still attached because that was particularly lesbionic of… mmmph."

Justin giggled as Brian claimed his lips once more, kissing him into submission and cutting off anything else that he might say.

"Mouthy twat," Brian complained as he pulled away and wrapped his arm around Justin's shoulder, and they continued walking down the street.

"You like my mouth," Justin smirked, wiggling his eyebrows, eliciting a loud bark of laughter from his husband.

"Oh, I do, Sunshine," Brian said, his eyes dancing with mirth. "I really, really do. How about, when we get back to the office, you demonstrate just why I love your mouth so much and I will be vocally appreciative of your every effort."

"Asshole," Justin laughed, wrapping his arm around Brian's waist. "Only you can go from complimenting me in one breath and soliciting me for a blow job in the next."

"Oh, come on, Sunshine," Brian said, all faux innocence. "I was just looking out for the baby." Justin stared at him suspiciously at that non sequitur. "After all, I read somewhere that having an extra helping of protein is beneficial…"

Justin squawked and smacked his laughing husband on the arm. Huffing, Justin rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath about irritating husbands who need to behave if they are expecting him to do anything with their dicks. Brian just smirked; a look that said, 'please, Sunshine; like you can keep your hands off of this.'

Sadly, that was the truth; with his hormones raging the way they had been lately, denying Brian anything was moot. He'd just be punishing himself.

Sighing in exasperation, Justin shook his head and continued to walk down the street towards the office. Brian took his hand and fell into step at his side, a content smile on his face. Justin grinned and turned to him to say something, but whatever he was going to say was forever lost when he caught sight of Michael in the distance.

"Jesus," Justin cursed in a hushed voice, his eyes widening as they fell onto a bruised and battered Michael. "What the fuck happened to him?"

Brian looked over, his lips compressing into a thin line as the lit on Michael, but he remained suspiciously silent. Justin cast a wary look in Brian's direction and then looked back at Michael, who had turned his head in their direction. His left eye was blackened and there looked to be a shadow of a bruise on his right jaw line, and there was a scrape of some kind on his right cheek as well.

But most telling was the way he limped and held his body – as if there were bruises or injuries in places that couldn't be seen.

Narrowing his eyes, he turned back to Brian, vividly recalling the time he'd hit Michael at Mel's and Lindsay's anniversary party. Brian just watched his friend with an impassive look, but Justin could see the rage that simmered beneath the surface. A rage that likely wouldn't abate any time soon unless it found a target.

"Please tell me you didn't do that," Justin said, a quiet look of rapprochement on his face; and not because he cared one way or the other that Michael had gotten his just dues and had his ass handed to him.

No, it had to with the fact that Brian let himself get so angry that he'd ended up doing something he would eventually regret. Maybe not today; and tomorrow wasn't likely either. But eventually, he would calm down and then he'd beat himself up for giving into the temptation of physical violence; and then he'd start comparing himself to his father and it would just snowball into a fucking mess from there.

"I didn't do it," Brian parroted solemnly.

"Brian." Justin turned and forced his husband to look at him.

"No, seriously, I didn't," Brian said, realizing that Justin was legitimately concerned. "When I left, he was still standing without a mark on him. I didn't trust myself to stop once I got going; so, I made sure to keep my hands to myself. Mostly."

Justin nodded and took him at his word; but there was something lying just under that confession that had him looking back at his husband suspiciously. He just knew there was more to it than that. Crossing his arms over his chest he continued to stare at Brian until finally he sighed explosively and caved.

"Of course," he said a bit too nonchalantly for Justin to believe it. "I did conveniently forget that I brought Emmett with me when I left."

"Brian!" Justin exclaimed, slapping his hand against his forehead and staring at his unrepentant husband with no little exasperation. Brian just shrugged.

"I am not responsible for that Queen's actions, Sunshine," Brian stated firmly, arching a brow when Justin went to argue. "And frankly, if I could have done it myself without worrying that I would have murdered the little twerp, he would look far worse than that. I will not condemn Em for the actions I wish that I could have taken at the time."

Justin huffed, but then let it go, knowing that Brian wasn't likely to show any kind of remorse for Michael's predicament any time soon.

"I can't believe that Em…" Justin said, trailing off when Brian snorted.

"I can," Brian said as he reached for Justin's hand and led him down the street once more. "He was an out and proud queer in the middle of the Bible belt. You don't survive something like that without some serious ass skills." Brian paused, his mouth screwing up at the unintentional double entrende; and then tossed a tongue in cheek smirk Justin's way. Justin just rolled his eyes as they turned the corner. "From what I've heard, be glad he didn't have a gun with him."

"Brian…" Justin said, trailing off again when the implications of that last statement hit him. "Em wouldn't…"

"Kill him?" Brian finished with a serious look, pausing by Kinnetik's door to face Justin. "No, but he sure as hell would have made him hurt." Justin stared at his husband incredulously. "You forget, Sunshine; he thinks of you as a brother. He most definitely would do whatever he felt was necessary to keep you safe."

"I swear to God," Justin sighed and then opened the door and stepped into the lobby. "I can't take either of you anywhere."

"Deal with it, Sunshine," Brian said, following him through the halls to their shared office. "As I don't see it changing anytime soon. And be glad it was Em and not Blake that got hold of Mikey; as I'm certain we'd be scraping Mikey off the floor if Blake hadn't been preoccupied with Luc."

Justin winced at that thought; everyone thought that it was either Justin or Emmett that were the biggest instigators in their little trio. But in reality, Blake was usually the one that was dragging them behind him. He really would have hated to see what Michael looked like had Blake confronted him.

"Fuck," Justin cursed as they walked into the office. "No wonder Deb was on the warpath…"

"Don't make excuses for her, Sunshine," Brian said implacably, skirting his desk to look through the files that Yasmeen had set on his desk in his absence. "Her doing exactly as she did on Friday is the reason Mikey thinks that he can get away with this shit. True, I didn't help matters before you and I met; but most of the blame lies at her feet as she was his sole influence right up until the time that he was fourteen. And trust me, a lot of his behavioral issues were set in stone by that point."

"Jesus, what is it with people telling me that this week? I'm not offering up an excuse for her behavior, just an explanation," Justin huffed; and he wasn't.

Deb had always been one of Michael's worst enablers, followed closely by Ben. He wasn't excusing her behavior; it was that he could just see why she might have flown off the handle before asking questions if she'd seen Michael's face just after it occurred.

"You know as well as I do that once she saw Michael the next day," Justin continued with a frown. "That she would have remembered your confrontation the day before; and also remembered the time that you hit him at the munchers' party; and that she would instantly jump to conclusions. It's not the first time she's done so; and even with what I said to her on Friday, I doubt it would be the last."

"Sure it is, Sunshine," Brian smirked, trying to lighten the moment."We all know that it's because you have such a soft heart that you can't help defending mothers, babies and cute fluffy animals everywhere."

"Fuck you very much," Justin snorted as he rounded the desk and stood between Brian's splayed legs. "In your dreams maybe; everyone knows that I'm the badass in this relationship."

Brian slowly turned his head and stared at Justin with an 'are you fucking with me' look. Justin just smirked and then dropped to his knees in front of his husband; and anything Brian might have said after that was lost to a groan as Justin pulled him out of his pants and did indeed show him just why he loved his mouth.

Chapter Text

February 13

Justin walked down the bread aisle headed for the far end where all the snack cakes, Danishes and pies were located. While he had come to the store with the purpose of picking up a few things he needed to make jambalaya tonight, he also knew that he was running low on his Twinkies and decided to pick up a box or two while he was there. Even if that meant finding a second hiding place for them.

One could never have enough Twinkies in his opinion.

Halting the cart in front of the designated sweet breads area, Justin looked for his Twinkies and huffed when he realized that they were stacked on the top shelf. Again. Frowning, he stared at the box that was just out of his reach and cursed under his breath; if he didn't know any better, he'd swear that Brian had somehow convinced the store manager to move them to the top shelf just to thwart Justin.

But it would be highly paranoid of him to think that; and, well, he didn't think that even Brian was that persuasive. There was likely some other explanation for moving them to the top shelf, but didn't they realize that shorter people needed Twinkies too!

Biting his bottom lip, Justin looked around to see if there was someone who could help him, but it was just his luck that for once, the aisle was empty. But that didn't matter to him as he would get his damned Twinkies one way or the other, even if he had to find something to knock them down with. But first things first, he should really just try standing on his tip toes and reaching them on his own.

Pressing one hand firmly against one of the shelves, Justin reached up, standing precariously on his toes and cursed when he felt his center of gravity shift, nearly toppling him into the shelves. Dropping back down onto his heels, you would have thought he'd learned from the last time, but no, he just had to try it again. And then Justin shuddered, vividly recalling the last time he'd tried doing this and the way he'd nearly fallen over. That had scared the shit out of him. In fact, if hadn't been for that guy, he would have…

Justin frowned, rubbing his arms as the memory of that day came back to him; how could he have forgotten that? It had seemed so weird then, but now that the loft had been broken into, it really stood out as odd.

 

Justin sighed and looked at the boxes of Twinkies with a forlorn look; hadn't these been lower the last time he'd been there? He could have sworn that they'd been on the fourth shelf, not all the way at the top. Growling under his breath, Justin stood there and stared at the offending boxes, trying to figure out the best way to get them down.

He really hated when the store was reorganized; it ended up with him walking all over the fucking store because things weren't where they were supposed to be. And that meant wasting precious time that he could be using to finish Sunbeam's room or working on the pieces for his show. Didn't they have better things to do than to confuse their shoppers?

But obviously not, as he was stuck here, being deprived of the one thing that made this whole pregnancy bit easier to deal with, because some asshole thought they'd better on the top shelf; and it wasn't fair.

Well, maybe if he stood on his tiptoes, he could just reach them without having to find some tall person to grab them for him, looking like an idiot while they did so. Holding onto the shelf, Justin stretched up on his tiptoes and could just about reach them, but couldn't get a good grip on the box. Instead he kept knocking them further back. Growling under his breath, he stretched as far as he could and then started batting at the bottom of the box, hoping to nudge it off the shelf and into his waiting hands.

But just as he'd managed to push the box forward enough to knock it off, his feet slipped out from under him, and Justin had a split second to panic as he felt himself pitch forward. Time seemed to slow as he teetered on his toes and he was bracing himself against the inevitable impact of the floor against his knees, or worse, his belly, when he was pulled back against something firm and solid.

Scrabbling on his feet, Justin sighed with relief as strong arms wrapped around his middle and pulled him further against a firm, very male chest allowing him to get his feet back under him. Exhaling explosively, Justin sank back into his rescuer's grip and just stood there, knees weak, trying to get his breath back. That could have been a nasty spill; and fuck, if anything had happened to Sunbeam…God, he didn't know what he would have done if Sunbeam had gotten hurt all because he was too proud to ask someone for help.

Not to mention how Brian would have reacted to the fall; fuck, he would have wrapped Justin up in so much swaddling, that Justin would never see the light of day until well after the baby was born. And Justin would have let him, as already the guilt was setting in. He knew better than this; he knew that his balance was off these days and that he was having trouble doing things and should have asked for was nothing wrong with asking for help.

Fuck, how many times had he told Brian that very thing?

Still trembling, Justin opened his eyes and was just about to thank his savior; when he was suddenly pulled further into the man's embrace and felt the man's nose bury it's way into the hair next to his ear. He stiffened as the man inhaled deeply and groaned. What the actual fuck? Was this guy getting off on him…Justin shuddered at the thought, especially when the guy murmured in his ear, "God, you feel so good."

Gasping, Justin froze, not quite believing what he heard; the guy froze as well, and must have realized that he'd said that out loud rather than thought it as he swore under his breath. Justin swallowed, his heart hammering as he tried to break the other man's hold, but his rescuer, now captor, just squeezed him once more, and whispered, "you need to be more careful; we wouldn't want anything to happen to you."

And then the man abruptly let him go and shoved him lightly away from him; not enough to knock him over, but enough to disorientate him. Justin grabbed onto the shelf and the turned around to see if he recognized the man. Unfortunately, all he saw was the man's back as he swiftly turned the corner. Justin hurried over to the end of the aisle, but judging by the slap of feet on tile, he doubted he'd see anything.

And sure enough as he got the end of the aisle, all he could see was a figure in black hurriedly making his way out the door. And then the guy was gone and there was really nothing Justin could do. Turning around, Justin walked back to his cart, forgetting all about his Twinkies and hurriedly made his way to the checkout counter. He needed to leave now.

 

Coming back to himself, Justin's frown deepened and he couldn't help feeling unsettled by the memory. In fact, he couldn't believe that he'd forgotten about the incident in the first place given how weird and out of place it had been; but then, he'd likely wrote it off as some weirdo or former trick that decided to get fresh with a cute blond and didn't think of it again.

But now, with the loft break in, and the things that he'd learned from Michael, that incident took a more sinister note. What if that had been the stalker? And what if he'd been following Justin around the store? What if he saw that as an opportunity to get closer to Justin and… Justin shuddered again, his hands trembling as he stared blankly down the end of the aisle.

What if he was here now?

Inhaling sharply, Justin clenched his hands into fists and looked around without really seeing anything, his heart picking up in tempo as he thought of all the times he'd felt like he'd been watched. And then there was that weird sense of déjà vu that had been following him around, those times when he'd thought he'd seen someone familiar, but couldn't place them. How many times had he felt the hand of a stranger on him as he passed by, and how many times had that stranger been the stalker?

Rubbing his hands over his arms, Justin couldn't help the chill that flooded his body; that the stalker could have gotten that close to him and he wouldn't have even known it, freaked him out. And if the stalker could do that, what was to stop him from grabbing Justin off the street one day? Scrubbing his hand over his face, Justin reached in his coat to grab his phone; he just needed to hear Brian's voice right now before he completely freaked himself out and had another anxiety attack; and then he nearly screamed as he heard a voice near his ear.

"Are you okay, sir?" the voice asked; Justin whirled around, his heart pounding as he stared at the youth, his mind going into overdrive.

And then it calmed as logic kicked in and Justin realized that it couldn't be the stalker or, at the very least, couldn't have been his assailant. First of all, the kid was far too tall; nearly Brian's height and the stalker was closer to his. And the build was wrong; not to mention this kid couldn't have been more than seventeen and his voice wasn't right. It didn't have that ring of maturity that the other had.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Justin said, trying to shrug his panic off. "Just gave myself a bit of a fright when I was trying to reach something on the top shelf. I slipped a bit." He gestured to his stomach. "My center of gravity is a bit off right now."

"I can grab it for you if you'd like," the boy, Peter it said on his name tag, offered.

"That would be great, if you could," Justin said as he moved away from the shelf. "If you could just grab me two boxes of those Twinkies. Thanks."

"Here you go, sir," Peter said, handing Justin the boxes. "Was there anything else you needed help finding?"

"No, thanks," Justin said with a weak smile. "This was the last item on my list. Thank you, again."

And with that Justin nodded at the boy and walked away; but once again, he couldn't shake the feeling of being watched and he didn't like it at all.

… … … … …

Justin pulled through the gate at Britin and immediately activated them, watching them close and lock behind him. And then, and only then, did he feel safe. This wasn't something he typically did. In fact, Brian was often getting on his case about leaving the gate open when he was gone, disliking the idea of Justin out here all alone as their nearest neighbors were a good half-mile down the street.

True, Anna and John were often there, and Brian trusted them to keep an eye on Justin; but he also knew they were in and out all day, dealing with their various duties and that it often left the house open to anyone off the street if Justin didn't bother.

He was starting to see his husband's point.

Continuing up the drive, Justin parked and got out of the SUV, smiling at Anna as she came out to help him with the groceries. She had a small disapproving smile on her face a she'd tried to talk Justin into allowing her to do the shopping; stating that it was her job as it was part of her job description. But Justin had waved her off, insisting that he wanted to do it himself. Maybe next time he'd listen and let her go. He didn't feel quite safe there anymore.

"I told you, I could have done this myself," Anna admonished, grabbing a couple of the bags and heading for the door.

"I know, I know," Justin said, rolling his eyes. He swore, his life was filled with more than his fair share of mother hens. "But I wanted to get out and do it myself."

"What you wanted to do was buy more of those disgusting little snack cakes that you like," Anna harrumphed, casting him a knowing look.

Justin just grinned and nodded, "That too."

Anna shook her head. She agreed with Brian on the Twinkies; but unlike Brian, she'd said her piece and washed her hands of it, muttering something about stubborn carriers that never listened to the good sense God gave a goose anyways when it came to their cravings. Justin had just grinned and continued eating his 'disgusting little snack cake' as if she hadn't said a thing.

"Well, then you won't mind if I take these away before they contaminate your kitchen," Justin smirked, grabbing the boxes of Twinkies and making for the door.

"Get out here, you brat," Anna snickered as she began putting the groceries up. "Go hide them before your man gives you hell for them."

"He has to find them first," Justin snickered.

"You aren't nearly as sly as you think you are, my dear," Anna tossed back at him. "If he hasn't found them by now, he will soon enough. Mark my words."

"Ah, but I do like to keep him on his toes," Justin smirked as he walked out the door to Anna's laughter. "He'd be bored otherwise."

Running up the stairs with his contraband, Justin quickly made his way into his studio and closed the door. Walking over to his latest hiding place, an empty paint can in the stack of full cans along the wall, Justin dropped down to his knees and began pulling down the cans until he reached it. Grabbing the can, he reached for the screwdriver on the windowsill and quickly pried it open; and then immediately froze as the cakes came into view. A wide grin spread across his face; it looked like Anna was right.

Pulling out one of the cakes he studied it for a long moment and then chuckled at his husband's ingenuity. Well, there was a reason Brian had won the number of awards he had over the years. But for all his attention to detail there was a small flaw in his plan.

Opening the package, Justin held the supposed Twinkie up in the light; it looked like a Twinkie. He put it up to his nose and sniffed; it smelled like a Twinkie. He took a cautious bite; it tasted like...actually it tasted better than his Twinkies. But, no matter what he thought of it, this was most definitely not a Twinkie.

He'd give Brian this; he was good. He'd thought of almost everything, but for one small detail in the packaging – even the individually wrapped cakes that came in a box had the Hostess brand stamped onto the plastic wrapping. And the very noticeably lacking of a brand stamp told him that this was not one of his Twinkies.

It was some sort of imposter.

A, frankly, very good imposter, and Justin planned on eating every single one of them, but an imposter nonetheless.

Grabbing another one, Justin placed the lid back onto the can and placed it back onto the stack and quickly put the others on top of it. He picked up the boxes of Twinkies and walked over to the door to find yet another hiding place.

But mark his words; he would definitely be getting even with Brian for this.

Chapter Text

February 14 – Happy Valentine's Day!

Brian walked through the door and looked at the living room and sighed; he rolled his eyes as Emmett ran around making last minute changes here and there. When he'd called his friend up to ask him to make up a quick picnic dinner for him and Justin to share tonight, he wasn't expecting this level of crazy. But he really should have as Emmett wasn't one to scrimp on his designs, especially when it came to his Baby.

Frankly Brian would have just been happy with a blanket and a few pillows; a tray of finger foods and a bottle of chilled sparkling cider. But as always, their favorite queen had to make a production out of fucking everything, which is why Brian ended up with this weird canopy slash tent thing in his living room.

Although, he had to admit, Emmett really did know what he was doing when it came to creating ambience and Brian knew that Justin would love it. And the latter was more than enough to have him sucking it up and sacrificing his balls for the evening. After everything Justin had been through the past couple of weeks, he could swallow down all his bitter diatribes about commercialism and make it a night husband wouldn't forget.

He hoped the twat appreciated it

Emmett smiled at his creation, and Brian silently gave him points for creating this in so little time, even if the room was covered in candles and flowers. At least he hadn't gone for the clichéd cutesy red and pink, but stuck to blues and purples for the most part. Emmett stooped, adding a minor adjustment to the picnic area in front of the tent; which reminded him of a question that he wanted to ask.

"You're sure that he can eat everything that's here?" Brian asked again; he knew he was being anal, but he really didn't want this to come back to haunt them.

"For the dozenth time, Daddy," Emmett said, huffing with exasperation as he lit the fireplace. "Yes, he can eat everything. I made sure that I only bought pasteurized cheeses and double-checked that all foods against the do not eat list that you provided for me." He stood and looked at everything one final time, nodding his head. "Now can I go? Drew and I do have plans tonight."

Brian rolled his lips between his teeth; and just barely refrained from rolling his eyes as well, knowing that protesting that he'd never meant for Emmett to go through such lengths would do him little good. Emmett would do as he saw fit, and woe betide those who stood in his way. So instead he just smirked.

"One, never call me that again," Brian said, shuddering a little even as he did. "Associating you with that word in any connotation makes me shudder; and not in the fun, life-affirming way."

"Yeah, I have to admit that even as I said it I wanted to smack myself," Emmett grimaced, wrinkling his nose as he gathered his things. "And the second?"

"And two, and I mean this in the nicest way possible," Brian smirked, pointing to the front door. "Get the fuck out of my house. My plans for the evening do not include dealing with silly Queens who are making far too much of this than necessary."

"But it's so romantic," Emmett gushed as he looked at the room again; and while Brian could agree with that, and should thank Emmett for all his hard work, that just wasn't him. Now, if Emmett happened to receive a nice little bonus and some pretty bauble in the mail in return; well, it was only suiting for a job well done. "Baby is so going to love it. You did good, Big Bad."

"There is nothing romantic about this, Honeycutt," Brian groused, his skin already started to itch at the thought of this getting around the Avenue. "It is purely practical on my part; we both need to eat and Justin has been tired lately. He doesn't need to be standing on his feet cooking some hour-long dinner right now."

"And, of course, the fact that it's Valentines Day has nothing to do with it," Emmett teased, slinging his bag over his shoulder.

"Absolutely not," Brian denied, crossing his arms over his chest; that was his story and he was sticking to it. His twat had done more than enough damage to his reputation. "Do not even mention that day in my presence. It's just a quiet dinner for me and my husband after a long, busy day. That it fell on Valentine's Day is pure coincidence."

"You keep telling yourself that, Sweetie," Emmett said, reaching over to pat Brian on the cheek; Brian scowled and shoved him away. "But we all know that under that gruff exterior is a closet romantic just waiting to burst out. Now you enjoy your non-romantic, Not-Valentine's Day dinner with your man. I'm going to go home and see what mine has planned for me."

"Fuck off," Brian said, flipping a giggling Emmett off for good measure. "And I better not hear about this from anyone, Honeycutt. If I do, I know who to hunt down."

"My lips are sealed, darling," Emmett called as he headed out the door.

Sneering at the closed door, Brian turned away and knelt down to begin assembling the various foods that Emmett had made for them. To start off, there was a fruit and cheese platter with grapes, apple slices, fig jam, almonds, walnuts, sharp cheddar, herbed goat cheese, marinated feta cubes and gouda; all to be served with water crackers and sourdough baguette chips.

Just something to snack on while he heated up their main dish; which was salmon and crab cake sliders topped with mixed greens, tomatoes and garlic aioli. And it was being served with a mixed green salad with cranberries, orange segments, pecans, blue cheese crumbles and orange-sweet onion vinaigrette. Thankfully, Emmett had paid attention over the years and kept it light on the carbs.

Well, mostly; but he could get rid of the bun for the sliders and avoid the bread chips and crackers on the cheese platter. It was the dessert that was cause for concern as he had a feeling that the little twat would somehow get him to eat some of it.

There were two desserts; because, of course, there was whenever Justin and his infamous sweet tooth were involved. The first was a plate of cheesecake-stuffed, chocolate-covered strawberries that Brian was likely to have nightmares about. Because 'why settle for one or the other when you can have both, I always say.' Or so went Emmett's infinite wisdom of all things fattening and bad for your health.

The second was a decadent dark-chocolate-orange mousse that Brian refused to even touch; because he knew that if he did, there would be nothing left for Justin to try. Emmett had done that on purpose, knowing that Brian's one true weakness in this life, outside Justin, was dark chocolate and orange together. Emmett had been especially proud of that, snickering at Brian's glare when he pulled it out his cooler and put it in the refrigerator.

That had been particularly evil of him.

Glancing at the clock, Brian set out the last few items for the cheese and fruit platter, knowing that Justin would soon be emerging from his studio in search for food. And then he smirked when he heard a door open and slam closed as light, quick footsteps headed for the stairs. Right on time. He swore he could set a clock by Justin's stomach.

"Brian?" Justin called as he came down the stairs.

"In here!" Brian called over his shoulder; he looked around once more and then stood, turning to face the door just as Justin came in.

"I was wondering if…" Justin trailed off as he stared at the room, wide-eyed. He spun in a slow, tight circle taking in the flowers and candles, the tent and the food and the lit fireplace just behind Brian, his mouth rounded with surprise. He turned back and faced Brian, staring at him with no little amount of wonder. "Brian?"

"Um…" Brian said, uncertain of how to say it without actually saying it; and then he huffed because fuck it; in for a penny, in for a pound. "Happy Valentine's Day?"

"Brian…" Justin said again, still apparently stunned by the room and everything that came with it. And then a smile slowly spread across his face until he was damn near blinding Brian with it. "Really?"

"No," Brian said sarcastically, rolling his eyes as Justin did a little dance of excitement. "I went through all of this trouble just so we could invite Mikey and Ben over for a lover's…"

"Fuck off," Justin said, but there was little heat to it as he hugged himself with delight and turned in a circle again. "I can't believe you did this!"

"Well," Brian hedged, feeling the need to come clean. "Technically I made Emmett do it. I would have been happy with a simple picnic on the floor with some pillows and a blanket, but simple doesn't seem to be in that Queen's vocabulary."

Justin arched a knowing brow and the expression on his face all but screamed, 'well, duh; like I couldn't have figured that one out on my own.'

"It was my idea, however; and I did pay for it." Because he was damned well going to get some credit for this! He might not have thought of the fancy tent and the candles and the flowers and all this other frippery; but the basic idea was his!

"Stealing my ideas again were you?" Justin teased, his eyes dancing with mischief.

"Brat," Brian complained mildly; but he didn't deny it as he couldn't. He'd definitely taken a page out of the Justin's Book of All Things Romantic when he came up with it.

"You so did," Justin laughed delightedly and then bounced over to him and threw himself into Brian's arms. "Well, I thank you. It's a very nice surprise."

"Just don't expect it to become a regular thing," Brian said, resting his brow against Justin's. "I think I'm already developing hives from all this romantic bullshit and we haven't even started eating yet."

"I promise not to hold this against you," Justin stated solemnly, his eyes sparkling with humor as he pressed a kiss to his jaw. "Nor will I expect anything as clichéd as hearts and flowers on a daily basis. I quite like it when you're all curmudgeonly and only begrudgingly acknowledge my existence in your life."

And if that wasn't a complete load of bullshit, he didn't know what was.

"Twat," Brian huffed, and then smiled softly as sparkling blue eyes met his. "I know that I'm usually not the romantic type; and usually I avoid this day like the plague. But, I just thought that after the last couple of weeks…well, I just wanted to do this for you."

"As I said, it's a nice surprise," Justin said, a soft smile on his face as he ran his hands though Brian's hair. "And as for all this 'romantic bullshit,' you've been doing a pretty damned good job of it lately."

"Yeah?" Brian asked, rolling his lips under as he shyly stared down into Justin's beaming face.

"Yup!" Justin said, popping the 'P' at the end; and then he smirked, his eyes dancing with mischief as he nipped Brian on the chin. "It seems that all my husband training classes have finally paid off!"

"Fuck off," Brian huffed, shoving a laughing Justin away from him. He walked away and went to stand over by the fireplace with a mock pout on his lips.

"Oh, now, don't be grumpy," Justin said, bouncing up to him and wrapping his arms around his neck.

Brian just kept his arms crossed over his chest, curious as to how his little twat was going to make it up to him this time. And he didn't have to wait long as Justin stood on his tiptoes and kissed him softly on the lips, whispering against them, 'thank you.' Brian tried to remain impervious, but his twat just kept peppering his face with butterfly kisses and whispering the words of gratitude over and over until Brian melted.

Wrapping his arms around Justin, he molded his body against his and crushed their lips together, moaning when Justin' mouth opened under his. Licking into his mouth, he cupped the back of Justin's head and deepened the kiss, tangling their tongues together. Justin moaned and arched against him, his hands diving into and curling around his hair as he drank Brian down as if he were a man dying of thirst.

Actually, it was much like when they'd reunited after the fiddler fiasco; and well, when he came home from New York as well. Kissing, fucking, making love to each other as if they'd thought they'd never get the opportunity again. As if they couldn't stand to be parted, to be separated by anything, even the very air between them.

Brian slid his hands down over Justin's back and cupped his ass, pulling him deeper into his body, grinding their cocks together. Justin moaned and tugged at his hair; he nipped at Brian's lips, then teased his tongue over them to soothe the sting. Brian hissed as Justin slid his lips down over his jaw and then licked along the length of it up to his ear, where he nibbled and licked as he slid his hands down Brian's back.

"Justin," Brian panted, groaning as the little twat slid his hands up under his shirt, tracing and teasing his abs, ribs and chest as he tried to tug it from his body. "As much as I'd love to continue this, we do have dinner waiting."

"It'll reheat," Justin said, completely unconcerned as he finally managed to pull Brian's shirt off; he dropped it onto the floor behind him as he licked a hot, wet stripe up Brian's chest to his nipples. "Knowing Em the way I do, he would have taken this into consideration and made sure that dinner wouldn't get ruined."

"Twat," Brian hissed, burying his hand into Justin's hair as he latched onto one nipple and teased it; he suckled it until it hardened to a peak before releasing it with a pop and moving on to lavish equal attention onto the other. "I went through all this trouble just to have you ignore it in favor of sex."

"I can't help it if your romantic streak gets me horny," Justin mumbled as he kissed his way up Brian's chest and latched into his neck, licking and biting and sucking until Brian finally said fuck it and gave into the inevitable.

"Everything gets you horny these days," Brian muttered, tugging at Justin's shirt, because if he wasn't going to beat him, might as well join him.

"Lucky for you," Justin chuckled, happily raising his arms to facilitate the removal of his shirt. He dropped his arms back down around Brian's neck and groaned as skin met skin, and slid together. "It could be so much worse for you; I could be one of those pregnant people that don't want to be touched."

"Have I ever thanked you for your raging libido?" Brian asked, walking Justin back to the pile of pillows and blankets in their tent, working on the buttons of his pants. "Because really, thank you for not turning me into a sex-starved mess like Ted."

"Anything for you, sweetums," Justin said, snickering when Brian pulled back and frowned at him. Using the distance to his advantage, Justin quickly unbuttoned and unzipped Brian's pants and slid a hand down them to wrap firmly around his dick.

"Never say that again if you're expecting me to stay hard enough to fuck you," Brian stated, gasping as Justin's hand slid up his dick, his thumb teasing the head.

"Noted," Justin smirked, teasing his hand up and down the length before sliding down to cup and squeeze his balls. Fucking tease. "Not that you're having much of a problem at the moment.

"Dinner…" Brian said, pulling Justin's hand from his pants and attempting one last time to get their planned evening back on track. But his twat was having none of it.

"Later," Justin promised, sliding his hands back into Brian's pants and pushing them down his legs to pool at his feet. And then he quickly did the same with his, stepping out of them and kicking them to the side as he pressed full body against Brian.

"You're going to be the death of me," Brian murmured, capturing Justin's lips once more as he stepped out of his pants and tumbled them down onto the cushions. He slid between Justin's parted thighs and linked their hands together, pressing them into the pillow on either side of Justin's head as he ground their hips together.

"But what a way to go," Justin mumbled, wrapping his legs around Brian's waist and rocking up into Brain whimpering as their cocks dragged together; and then they were both lost as heat and desire took over.

Fuck it; if this is what Justin wanted for Valentine's Day, who was he to argue.

Chapter Text

February 15

Justin placed the phone into the crook of his shoulder and nodded as he grabbed the packages from the delivery boy. He handed several folded bills over to the boy; and then smiled and waved him off as he started to pull out some bills to make change. He mouthed a quick 'thank you' and waved as the smiling boy ran off to his car.

Watching to make sure the gate closed behind the delivery boy, Justin closed the door, unconsciously nodding once again at what the man on the other end of the phone was saying, and then walked towards the kitchen with his loot. Setting the packages on the counter, he began to pull out plates, cutlery and glasses, and set them on the table.

"No, that's fine Sydney," Justin said, when he could finally get a word in edgewise; he understood that the man was upset, but God could he go on. "I completely understand."

"I just feel so bad postponing it since it was only a week away," Sydney said, still fretting over the fact that he had to postpone Justin's show due to some emergency work that needed to be done at the gallery. But really, Justin was fine with it. "But if I don't get this taken care of immediately; it could potentially lead to other problems."

"Well, it's not like you could predict something like this," Justin soothed, pulling out several take-out containers, and setting them on the table, his mouth watering as the scent of garlic naan filled the air. "And better to take care of it before it could cause structural damage."

"I'm so glad that you're so understanding, Justin," Sydney sighed, the tension noticeably draining out of his voice. "The gentleman, and I use that word very loosely, that I was potentially lining up for the show after yours wasn't nearly so; I had to scrap that idea when he threw a fit knowing that I was more concerned with keeping your show than placating him."

"Who were trying to get in for next month?" Justin asked, smiling when Brian leaned into the door and motioned that he was going to go get changed. Justin nodded and stared at his filthy husband, wondering not for the first time just what he'd doing in the stables all this time. But then he shrugged and continued his conversation.

"Sam Auerbach," Sydney said, sounding not at all happy about it.

"Oh, him," Justin huffed disdainfully, not even bothering to hide his dislike for the man that had caused so many problems for the munchers. Not that he cared one way or the other about the drama that had occurred between Mel and Lindsay, but he did have serious issues when said drama spilled over onto Gus.

"Yes, him," Sydney laughed, knowing full well what Justin thought of the man.

The feud between Justin and Sam was well-known within art circles; and everyone knew better than to try booking them for the same show unless they wanted fireworks. Like that Los Angeles gallery that quickly learned he meant business when Justin pulled out of the show at the last minute. There were just some things he would not tolerate and being in the same room with sleazy Sam was one of them.

And fuck it; he was a well-respected artist and could pull the prima donna act if he so chose on the occasion; artists were known to be notoriously temperamental and it worked for him in that particular instance.

"Usually, I would chalk this up to one artist being jealous of another's success," Syndney continued once he'd stopped laughing. "But my gut tells me there is more to the story."

"Yeah, there is," Justin grumbled, grabbing some spoons out of the drawer and setting them into the trays of Chana Masala, Aloo Gobi, Rogan Josh, Chicken Biryani and basmati rice. "But it's old family business, and best left in the past."

"Oh, that," Sydney said flatly, obviously recalling the Sam/Lindsay incident without Justin having to say a word.

"Yeah, that," Justin said, pursing his lips as Brian walked in; and then he quickly changed the subject, as he didn't need Brian getting all grumpy due to muncher drama. "So, when were you thinking of moving the show to?"

"I was thinking March 14?" Sydney offered; Brian's head popped up and he frowned. "We'd do the invitation-only opening Friday evening with cocktails and hors 'd oeuvres; and then open to the public on Saturday to run through...possibly March 20? That will give me the five weeks that I originally wanted, but will give me a few days of transition for the next show on the March 25."

"Sure," Justin nodded, waving Brian off, and mouthing 'later' as he grabbed a beer for Brian and a bottle of water for him out of the refrigerator. "Shall I come in and we can go over the details some time next week?"

"How about we meet at Eleven Contemporary Kitchen in the strip?" Sydney hedged, sounding oddly nervous; Justin cocked his head at his tone, but then shrugged it off and chalked it up to him dealing with the mess at the gallery. "That way we could avoid all of the…you know, stuff going on here. Is there a particular day that would be best for you?"

Justin paused as he pulled out his phone and quickly typed in his code; he studied his schedule. "Any day but Tuesday works for me; I have hospital tour and a doctor's appointment that day."

"Great," Sydney said, and just could hear the faint rustle of papers in the background. "I'll make a reservation and then get back to you."

"Sounds good," Justin said, walking over to the table and sitting down. "Was there anything else that you needed?"

"No, I'll call back with the time and day for our meeting no later than Monday." Sydney said, bringing a close to their conversation.

"Thanks, Sydney," Justin said, spooning food out onto his plate and then cocked his head as he studied; a move that had Brian freezing and watching him warily. Honestly, he acted as if eating with him was a new form of torture. "And sorry to hear about the gallery and that it made such a mess of everything."

"I'm not," Sydney laughed again. "Honestly, the only reason I invited that ass back to the gallery was because some of my patrons were asking for another show. I couldn't care less if he never showed his face in here in the gallery, or even Pittsburgh in general, again. Talk to you soon, have a good evening and say hi to Brian for me."

"Bye Sydney," Justin said, still laughing as he hung up the phone, and then addressed Brian. "Sydney says hi."

Justin stood and walked over to the refrigerator, quickly riffling through it until he found the container that he wanted and then walked back over and sat down. Brian watched him with a bit of trepidation, but didn't comment on the plastic container in his hand. That was a first.

"What was that about?" Brian asked, loading his plate Aloo Gobi, focusing more on the cauliflower than the potatoes, the Chana Masala, a small portion of the Rogan Josh and then finished with a small helping of basmati rice. Unlike Justin, who happily piled the food on.

"Sydney needs to postpone the show due to some pipe issues," Justin said, adding a bit more of the Biryani, since that was what he'd been craving all afternoon.

"Pipe issues?" Brian asked,an odd not in his voice as he tore a small portion of naan off and dipping it into the Rogan Josh on his plate.

"That's what he said," Justin shrugged, humming with pleasure as he took bite of his Biryani. "Something about needing to close the gallery due to a problem with the pipes. To be honest, I didn't really pay all that much attention as he just kept babbling on and on."

"Hmmmm…" Brian hummed absently, his brow furrowed, a pensive frown on his face; something that was happening more and more often lately. And it was really starting to worry Justin.

"So, he asked if he could postpone it until March 15," Justin finished, carefully watching for his husband's reaction. "We're going to go over the details this week." But Brian just nodded absently; Justin huffed in exasperation. He'd find out what was going on eventually. Clearing his throat, Justin nodded to the food. "I hope you don't mind; I just didn't feel like cooking and I had a craving for it."

"Like I care," Brian smirked and his eyes flashed with mischief as he tucked his tongue in his cheek. "You know I'm easy, Sunshine."

"Yeah, right," Justin snorted, taking another bite of his food and humming. It was good, but he was right when he thought that it really needed something earlier. "The only thing easy about you is…well, that should be obvious."

"Twat." Brian said without heat, rolling his eyes when Justin just grinned unrepentantly.

"Your twat," Justin snickered and then picked up the container he'd taken out of the refrigerator. He slowly peeled the plastic wrap from the top and then dumped a healthy dollop of the contents onto the corner of his plate.

"What are you doing?" Brian asked, watching Justin with that same wary look he'd gotten earlier. Justin just rolled his eyes and started mixing the dollop into his food.

"Eating?" Justin stated slowly, looking at Brian as if he'd grown another head. What the fuck did it look like he was doing? Seriously, he'd no idea that Brian was this squeamish when it came to food.

"You are NOT feeding that shit to my child Sunshine!" Brian huffed, wrinkling his nose at Justin's latest culinary creation.

"And why not?" Justin demanded, purposely adding more just to watch Brian cringe. "If Sunbeam wants Chicken Biryani and butterscotch pudding for dinner; Sunbeam will damn well get…"

"Justin," Brian whined - yes, he actually whined - his face pained as he watched Justin take a big bit of his food; and then he turned a bit green as Justin hummed with happiness. that combination really did work as well as he thought it would.

"I will be eating this with or without your approval, even if I have to go to my studio to do so" Justin stubbornly stated, wrapping his arm around his plate as if to protect it; he wouldn't put it past Brian to try and take it from him and dump it. "And if I have to hide myself away to do so, you won't like me."

"Fine," Brian sighed, keeping his eyes firmly fixated on his own plate. "Just don't come bitching to me if you end up with heartburn, as I will feel absolutely no sympathy for your predicament."

"Please," Justin snorted, happily going back to his dinner. "You, as well as I, know that I have a cast iron stomach. The likelihood of that happening is slim."

"That's what you said about the chili cook off as well, and what happened?" Brian groused, stabbing a piece of lamb with his fork and then pointing at Justin with it.

"It was the five-alarm chili," Justin shrugged, completely unconcerned with Brian's dire predictions. He'd think he knew his stomach better than Brian, thank you very much. "Anyone would have had trouble after eating that; but damn it was so worth it. And if I do end up with heartburn now, it will still be worth it."

"Whatever," Brian said, making Justin grin as that was a sure sign that he'd won the discussion. Brian only used that when he couldn't think of anything better to say.

Justin hummed to himself, content as he continued to eat his dinner; but it was a short-lived thing as he knew that he needed to tell Brian what he'd discovered, or really, what he'd remembered the other day. He had considered not mentioning it, knowing that Brian would likely flip out and go all caveman on him; but then he realized, if the roles were reversed, he'd want to know if it had happened to Brian.

Chewing on his bottom lip, he toyed with his food as he tried to figure out the best way to bring the subject up. There really wasn't an easy or soft way to say it; but, on the other hand, he didn't want to bring on a heart attack by blurting it out either. Taking a deep breath, Justin looked up from his plate and startled to find Brian watching him with a pensive frown; almost as if he already knew something was up.

"Just spit it out already, Sunshine," Brian sighed, setting his fork down.

"Something happened the other day," Justin began, and then trailed off as he shook his head in frustration. "No…well, it didn't really happen then; more like I remembered something while I was at the store the other day."

Justin quickly filled his husband in on the odd incident; one he couldn't even remember when it happened, but it had to have been a good two to three weeks before. Brian listened, a grim moue on his face as his expression grew darker and darker, making Justin shift in his seat uneasily. He knew that Brian wasn't mad at him, and that he was really mad at the situation, but Justin hated when he got this way.

When Justin finished, Brian exhaled explosively, his eyes trained onto some far off thing that only he could see, his lips rolled under as he thought things through. Justin stirred his food around; he was no longer hungry, but took a bite anyways as he knew he needed to eat for Sunbeam's sake.

"I've been thinking," Brian began and then trailed off as he stared at Justin, uncertain how to put whatever was on his mind into words. Sucking on his bottom lip, he stared for a few moments longer and then sighed and began again. "Since the loft was broken into, I have been considering upping the security…"

"No," Justin said automatically, already knowing where this was headed.

"Justin," Brian sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Just, please; listen for a moment. I've been considering upping the security for a while now; both here and at the loft. I think we should definitely make sure we update to the best they have available and that we should even look at getting security personal to…"

"No," Justin said again; mentally cursing the asshole responsible for this because he'd known, he'd just known that Brian was going to go here. "I don't want a bodyguard, Brian."

"Justin." Brian stated a bit more firmly, an implacable expression in his face.

"No," Justin spat, feeling his anxiety ratcheting up at the mere idea of this bodyguard following him around and always watching him. "I hate the idea of someone always there, looking over my shoulder, watching everything I do! I hate the idea that some…goon is going to be there shadowing me and watching eery moment of every day; that they are going to be right there, breathing down my neck.

"Justin," Brian sighed rubbing a hand over his face.

"And I hate the idea that I can't go anywhere without them there," Justin continued, not even listening to his husband anymore. He just wanted to live his fucking life the way he wanted, was there anything wrong with that? "And telling me what I can or cannot do. That I can't even go to the fucking store without…"

"You already do!" Brian yelled, slamming his fist down on the table, his words stunning Justin into silence. They stared at each other for a long moment; Brian panting and his eyes wild as the met Justin's, which were wide with surprise. Brian sighed heavily as he slumped back into his chair, and said in a softer, but weary tone. "You already do, Sunshine; which is precisely the problem!"

"What?" Justin choked out, not getting where Brian was going with this; ad he already hired someone without even saying anything to him?

"What the fuck do you think the stalker is doing, Justin?" Brian asked, his eyes filled with a mixture of frustration, anger, fear and concern. "He isn't sitting in his house, watching you from afar; not anymore. He's fucking shadowing you, following you, breathing down your neck, looking for the next opportunity to interact with you. He's not sitting at home pasting your photos in a scrapbook. Or well, he's not just doing that any longer. You just said it yourself! He was there, at the store, close enough to grab you so you wouldn't fall."

Justin studied his hands; he hadn't thought of it like that. Or maybe he had and that was why he was protesting so vehemently to the bodyguard; he already felt watched and... hunted; and he didn't really want another person there, watching his every move.

"Could it be a coincidence?" Brian asked, and then shrugged. "Maybe. Do you really want to take that chance?"

Justin chewed on his bottom lip, his eyes misting as he shook his head no.

"I get that you hate the idea of someone dogging your every move," Brian said, leaning forward to slide a finger under his chin, tipping it up so that their eyes met. "And I'm not asking that of you. When you're at home, so long as the gates are closed and security patrols the area, it's not needed. Or if we're together or with friends or family, again, it likely won't be needed. I'm just asking that, if you are going out alone somewhere, that you have someone there to watch your back. Is that too much to ask?"

Justin averted his gaze and thought about it; he still didn't like the idea, but he really couldn't find fault with what Brian was asking. He did have one condition though.

"Only if you do the same," Justin said, a steely look on his face, shaking his head when Brian went to protest. "No; you want me to do this? You do it too. You think I don't worry about you? That I don't sit at home on pins and needles until you get home every night, wondering if something is going to happen?" Justin's voice cracked, and a tear slid down his cheek as he stared Brian in the face. "He is after you too. And, in fact, he is even more violently fixated on you. If you expect me to do this, Brian; then I expect – no – I demand that you do the same. Because if anything were to happen to you…"

Justin took a shuddery breath, because he didn't even want to think of what life would be like with out Brian in it. Brian made a choked sound in the back of his throat and shot out of his chair; he yanked Justin into his arms and pulled him into his body. Justin sighed shakily, tears still on his face as he buried his face into the crook of Brian's neck, and clung to his husband as if he were the only real thing in the world.

"Okay, Sunshine," Brian kissed his temple, his own breath shallow and his voice rough with suppressed emotion. Stroking Justin's back, he buried his face into Justin's hair and whispered. "I promise."

Chapter Text

February 16

Carl smirked as Brian shook his head and scanned his living room with a look of utter bewilderment on his face. It was rare to see the typically unruffled man so discombobulated, but as car after car of people had arrived at his house that morning, he'd grown more and more aggravated, much to the amusement of his equally delighted husband. And looking around at all the people sitting or standing in small clusters, he couldn't blame Brian for feeling agitated and out of his comfort zone.

The funny thing was, they hadn't even planned the mass exodus to Britin this morning; they'd all come on their own for various reasons. Ted and Blake had come over because they were sick of staying home. Em and Drew came over because Em wanted to talk to Justin about some idea he had for the baby shower. Jen and Tucker swung by because she was showing a house in the area later that afternoon.

He had no idea why Lindsay and Mel were there, but based on Lindsay's pout and Mel's exasperated expression, and the way Justin was pointedly ignoring both, he was sure it revolved around more unwanted advice. But at least the kids were there and having a ball bouncing from one group to another. Molly had come over with the purpose of nagging her brother into talking to her art group about Rage.

Daphne and her husband Liam showed up after that, their two-year-old son Kian in tow, to announce that she'd just found out that she was two months pregnant. At which point Brian turned white, walked over to the bar, poured himself a stiff one and slammed it down, muttering something about not being ready to 'deal with the hormonal twins from hell.' Liam shot him a commiserating glance and quickly followed suit.

And for Deb and him; well he was merely here to make sure did as she said she would. After her confrontation with Justin, Deb came home, confused and hurt by the boys reactions. And when he finally pulled the full story from her, he'd sighed and told her the truth – he didn't blame Justin one bit for saying the things he'd said.

Frankly, it had been a blow up that had been a long time coming; Justin wasn't known for holding his tongue on a perceived wrong. That he had done so for as long as he had was only due to his deference for Brian's feelings in the matter. But Carl had seen the storm brewing in his eyes every time Deb carelessly made a crack about Brian's former tricking or his unreliability or how she'd known he was trouble from the beginning. And saw how hard Justin had to bite his tongue on his thought on it.

It was bound to happen; and really, she needed to be told; because what Michael was doing wasn't right. Not only was he causing an undue amount of stress for Justin, it was creating friction within his own marriage as Ben was once again faced with Michael's unhealthy fixation on Brian. Even now, he'd been telling himself, and anyone that would listen, that Brian would 'soon get over it and come back to him' and that Justin was just being a drama queen.

Carl didn't know when exactly it had been that Michael had lost touch with reality, but he didn't see Brian forgiving him anytime soon.

But after a long discussion, Deb finally came around, especially once Emmett, in an unholy tizzy at her behavior, showed her the video of the confrontation between Justin and Michael. Deeply ashamed at the things she'd said, she called Michael and told him she was no longer putting up with his lies and half-truths and if he even thought of using her house as hiding place again, she'd kick his ass from here to Timbuktu.

And that was why they were here; she'd felt the need to apologize and try to smooth the waters between herself and the boys. But the boys were feeling, rightfully, hesitant given their history with Deb, and had been giving her wide berth all day; but hopefully this would be a step in the right direction.

"How the fuck did this happen?" Brian asked out of the blue, still looking around the room with an exasperated glare; especially when Justin just smirked and waved. Carl chuckled when Brian huffed and cast a disgruntled look his way. "I had a very quiet Sunday planned. Where the fuck did all these people come from?"

"One word," Emmett said, holding one finger up and then pointing it in Justin's direction. "Baby. Although, now that we are all here, make that two babies. I'm not sure who is the bigger draw at this point – Luc or Justin."

"I think Luc is just edging Justin out this time," Carl smirked, his hands in his pockets as he watched the chaos around him. "But just barely; and only because it's his first adventure into the outside world."

"Well, second," Ted said, shrugging when they all looked at him. "His first foray into the outside world was much less pleasant. It was to the doctor for his first check up. But technically, that was his first time out of the house."

"Yes, but it's still his first social visit," Emmett clarified, leaning against the wet bar as Brian continued to scowl at the unending upheaval of his day; that is until Jenny bounced up all smiles and worked her charm on him. He never could resist the Princess.

"Point," Ted nodded, sitting down heavily on a bar stool. "And am I glad for it. Frankly, we didn't think the staying at home with no help thing through very well."

"I tried to warn you," Brian smirked, his arms crossed over his chest. "But you both kept insisting that you wanted to do it by yourselves."

"And since when did you become an expert?" Emmett snorted, taking another sip of his drink. "I know that you have Gus, but Mel and Linds…oh."

Emmett paused, his mouth rounding as comprehension dawned; because, while Brian didn't have firsthand experience with dealing with a newborn baby on a daily basis, he did have a front row seat for the mess that became the girls relationship in the wake of Gus' birth.

"Yup, that right there," Brian nodded, sending an unreadable look the girls way, and sighing wearily when it looked like they were fighting yet again. Carl honestly didn't understand how they stayed together with all that strife. "Lindsay was convinced they could do it all on their own and look what happened."

"The massive shit bomb known as Maryanne," Ted nodded knowingly; and he should know, as when it all imploded, he to Mel, what Brian had been to Lindsay. "Not that I'd ever do that to Blake."

"And I didn't think you would," Brian huffed, casting a look Ted's way. "But that whole fucking mess definitely taught me that no matter how prepared you are, and no matter how ready you think you are, you really aren't. And there is nothing wrong with asking for help. God knows I will be more than happy to have Grandmoms Jen and Deb, Grandpa Carl and Aunties Molly and Daphne here to help out when they can."

"What about Grandpa Tucker?" Emmett teased, snickering when Brian winced.

"Oh God," Brian said, casting a look over at Justin, who was sitting on a chair, holding and cooing at Luc. "Don't let Justin hear you say that. While he may have made his peace with Tucker, he still cringes at the thought that his step-daddy is not that much older than he is. He might just have an aneurysm if you say that to him."

"That boy really needs to get over it already," Emmett said, casting an exasperated look over at Justin. "Tucker makes Jen incandescently happy; that's all that should matter."

"He knows that," Brian said quietly, a small content smile on his face as he watched his husband feed Luc. Likely imagining their own child in Justin's arms. "But tell me truthfully, if it was your mother who showed up with a man only five to ten years older than you, and introduced him as your new daddy; would you be so open-minded?"

"First of all, honey," Emmett snorted, a hint of derision in his voice; the same tone he got whenever 'the woman who bore him', his words, came up in a conversation. "My mother is a dried-up, sexless, shrew of a woman who wouldn't know what to do with a fine man like Tucker. She'd be too busy praying to her God for his everlasting salvation to know how to satisfy him. But I do concede your point."

Brian snorted, and toasted Emmett with his glass as they shared a knowing look. Carl watched the exchange and couldn't help wondering when they'd gotten to the point in their friendship that they could do that; exchange a look and know what the other is thinking. It wasn't they weren't good friends in the past, but he'd never seen them connect like Brian and Michael did; or even the way Brian and Ted did. But lately it seemed as if Emmett had stepped up to the plate and crossed some invisible barrier in Kinneyland.

"So," Brian drawled, his eyes still trained on Emmett. "Does anyone want to address the white elephant in the room, or will it be up to me to ask where Mikey and the Good Professor is?"

Emmett scowled and knocked back his drink in an attempt to remain silent; Brian just continued to stare at him with his infamous tongue in cheek smirk. They seemed to hold a silent argument for a couple of minutes before Emmett finally huffed and caved.

"Let's just say he was advised to stay away, and leave it at that, sweetie." Emmett said, looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

"Right," Brian said, arching a brow, a look of utter disbelief on his face; Emmett squirmed. "Do I want to know what he said to warrant the beat down?"

Carl's eyebrows shot up at that comment, having been completely taken by surprise at this new information. He'd seen Michael's injuries; and more, he'd had to listen to him whine about them for several hours as he tried to gain sympathy from his mother. But, Michael had been oddly reticent on telling Deb who had done it to him and why it happened; he'd just said over and over that it had all been a misunderstanding and told her to let it go. Carl hadn't been aware that the beat down had been handed down by Emmett. But now that he thought about it, it made a whole lot of sense.

"No, you don't," Emmett said, a hard glint in his eyes. "Suffice to say, he got what he deserved. Although, I am only responsible for the black eye; the bruise on his chin and the scrape on his cheek happened as he hit the concrete. As for the rest of his injuries, I have no idea where they came from. But, you know as well as I do that everyone on the Avenue loves Justin and thinks of him as their Prince. So, it could have been any number of people who witnessed or heard what Michael did that day."

"He isn't their…" Brian hissed like a scalded cat, scowling at Emmett as if he'd said that Justin was going to compete in the King of Babylon again; and yes, he'd heard that entertaining story from the gossip queen himself.

"Yes, yes, I know," Emmett rolled his eyes and waved him off. "He's your Prince. Jesus. I don't remember you being this possessive when you first started dating."

"I do," Ted said, smirking when Brian turned his scowl onto him. "I distinctly remember that within the first few weeks of Justin starting to hang out with us; one night, you were hanging all over him and kissed him on the jaw. And caveman over here came up to you, threw your arms off of him and dragged Justin over to him and wrapped him in his arms in very definite 'hands off; mine' manner."

"That's right!" Emmett chortled, clapping his hands with glee, and blatantly ignoring Brian's death glare as he turned to Ted. "I had forgotten about that."

"It wasn't that bad," Brian grumbled, his cheeks red as he looked away.

"Yes it was, sweetie," Emmett disagreed, his lips stretching into a shit-eating grin as he patted Brian on the shoulder. "But that's okay; you let us know right up front that your little blond was different and off limits; even if you wouldn't admit it to yourself at the time. So, good for you, sweetie."

"You guys are just so hilarious," Brian drawled sarcastically, obviously trying to get them away from a touchy subject; and then he paused and pulled his cell phone out his pocket, frowning as he read the display "Excuse me, I need to take this."

Carl watched as Brian answered it and walked to a quiet corner of the room; he only listened with half an ear as the boys began to reminisce about the Great Brian and Justin Show, more concerned with Brian's reaction than what they were saying. Brian's face grew darker and darker, his voice taking on a harsh note as he talked and Carl sighed, having a bad feeling he knew exactly what the call was about. Despite being retired, he still heard things on the street; and if the rumors proved right, this would not end well.

Making his excuses to the boys, Carl slowly walked over to Brian and silently joined him, careful to stay out of earshot; Brian looked up as he approached, his face unreadable as he continued to talk to the person in a soft, but firm tone. Carl watched and waited as Brian talked for a few more minutes, knowing he'd likely need to defuse the situation if it was indeed related to the gallery. Brian exhaled explosively and hung up, his face a blank mask as he stared at Carl; but his eyes…his eyes gave everything away as they were filled with a helpless rage and terror.

Taking a deep breath, Carl slowly walked up and then just stood there waiting for the Kinney wrath to fall down on him.

"You knew about this," Brian said in a remarkably calm tone; but Carl had gotten to know this boy well, and could tell he was just barely holding it together.

"I heard that there was a break in at the gallery and that some of Justin's work was destroyed, but didn't know for sure," Carl said, trying to stick to the bare facts, rather than what he speculated to be true. "I also know that Tak said that he needed to talk to you about the case when I saw him yesterday; but outside of that, everything else was rumor or speculation."

Brian scoffed and looked away; and again, Carl couldn't blame him for being upset and drawing the conclusions that he'd had, as Carl had done the same.

"They defaced the painting of me, Carl," Brian said, his hands trembling; but whether it was due to fear or rage, he couldn't tell. "This asshole wrote the words 'Die Whore' on it. That doesn't sound like a coincidence or rumor to me given that all of the art of me, as well as the painting and any sketches that were of me and Justin were destroyed in the loft."

"But without physical evidence linking them," Carl said, feeling a bit helpless with the rhetoric he was spouting; even if he was retired, he couldn't turn of the cop inside of him. "They can't rule out the possibility that it's a different vandal."

"But you don't believe that," Brian said, looking back at him, his lips compressed into a thin white line, obviously needing the acknowledgement.

"Everything in my gut says they're related," Carl said, verbally confirming what the both of them knew to be true no matter what line had been handed to him.

"Fuck," Brian spat, his eyes trained on a laughing Justin, who was now chatting to an excitable Jenny as she pressed her hands against his stomach. "Just what we fucking need. I just got Justin to calm down a bit and to agree to let me handle this; and now, he's going to be on the fucking warpath if he hears this. Although, there is no way in hell I'm going to tell him about it if I can help it."

Carl rolled his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. He had been afraid of this very reaction when Tak told him that he just felt that the two incidents were connected. Brian was a notorious control freak, and there was no one else in this world, outside of Gus and Jenny, that he loved more than Justin. That he would move Heaven and Earth to keep the man safe was an understatement.

"Brian," Carl said, pausing to gain his attention; Brian looked over, his eyes wild with fear. "I'll warn you again, though I doubt you'll listen; but keeping Justin in the dark is going to backfire on you."

"Then tell me what am I supposed to do, Carl?" Brian hissed, running a hand through his hair. "I'm between a rock and a hard place. You saw what happened when Justin found out about the stalker targeting me at the loft. He had a fucking anxiety attack so bad that he ended up staying overnight in the hospital, with the doctors warning him that he needed to reduce his stress or there could be complication for both him and Sunbeam. I can't take the chance of a repeat."

"I know, son," Carl said, resting his hand on Brian's shoulder and squeezing. "But think about telling him something; because if you keep this from him, and he finds out from another source like he did with Michael, it could end just as badly for you. And you know that."

"Fuck," Brian cursed again, ignoring the looks Ted and Emmett were sending his way; he dropped his head into his hands. "I don't know what to do."

"You just take care of you and our Sunshine and Sunbeam;" Carl said, squeezing his shoulder once more as he walked off to have a chat with the other two boys about moving certain measures forward. Nothing was going to hurt those boys if he had any say in it. "Let me and the others handle the rest."

Chapter Text

February 17

Something wasn't adding up.

Justin lay on the chaise in front of the fire and watched the flames dance in the hearth, his mind mulling over the last few weeks. So much had happened, and so fast, that he'd yet to have a chance to process it all; and now that he'd had a slow moment to think things through, he started noticing things he hadn't before.

Or well, it wasn't that he hadn't noticed them, but more that he hadn't really had the opportunity to put the pieces together to get a clearer picture of what had been happening with this whole stalker business. Justin shuddered and rubbed a hand over his stomach, cupping it protectively as he thought back to his last visit to the grocery store and what it had revealed.

He couldn't help wondering how many like events had occurred over the years; ones that he'd ignored or chalked up to some asshole trying to get fresh with him. After all, everyone knew that until five years ago, he and Brian had maintained an open relationship. He, himself, had insisted on it while he lived in New York and made a name for himself. And there were assholes everywhere that thought they could manhandle him because they thought him to be nothing more than a clueless twink with a great ass.

They'd learned differently very quickly.

How many times had he done that in a day though? Touched someone or bumped into them, smiled at them or exchanged a pleasantry or two, without even thinking about it? How many times had he shrugged off an odd interaction as just something to be expected as regular city life and called it local color, never thinking of it again; because who wasn't unique or unusual in some way in New York or down on Liberty Avenue?

And as each, and every, one of those odd moments came flooding back; it forced him to examine them for signs, for hints or clues that the interaction wasn't nearly as innocuous as he once thought.

Sighing, he wearily rubbed his hand over his face; there were far too many of them for his comfort and it left him feeling uneasy in his own skin.

It didn't help that he also knew that Brian wasn't telling him everything; that his husband had been holding information back from him ever since the loft break in. Oh, he knew it seemed like he had been in a catatonic state at the time; but in reality, he'd seen and heard far more than either Brian or Carl were giving him credit for; you'd think they would have learned by now not to take everything at face value with him.

Justin was giving them the benefit of the doubt, however; and chalking up their failure to the fact that they were just as shell-shocked by the destruction of loft as he. It was annoying though. He didn't need to be protected from this; in fact, the lack of information could very well be more detrimental than the stress of knowing it.

He loved his husband, but sometimes Brian still saw the naïve seventeen-year-old twink that needed protecting, rather than the thirty-year-old former New Yorker that had seen and done far too much in his short life. And don't get him wrong; he loved Brian's protective streak and his need to make everything safe for him and Sunbeam. But sometimes… sometimes he just wanted to smack him over the head and tell him to stop being a stubborn ass.

God how he hated being coddled.

To make matters worse, he was pretty sure something was going on with his show now. He had felt that there was something more than the pipes were wrong when Sidney called the other day. He didn't catch on to it at first, but within the first couple of minutes of Sydney's explanation, Justin knew something was off. It wasn't so much what he had said, but more what he hadn't. Sydney, once you knew him, was very chatty. He could talk your ear off about everything and nothing at the same time.

So, when he called the other night, and only stayed on the phone for about fifteen minutes; it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Added to it, was the way he'd carefully picked and chose his words; as if he were reading from a script. Justin hadn't said anything that night as all he had were his suspicions, and he'd wanted to give the man the benefit of the doubt as he could have just been distracted by the current crisis, but he still knew something was up. And he'd been proven right to be concerned.

As, the next day, when everyone had descended on their house for the various reasons, Brian had gotten that call. Justin had no idea who had been on the other end of the line, but he had seen Brian's reaction to it despite his obvious attempt at hiding himself in a quiet, dark corner of the room. Even more interesting had been Carl's reaction as soon as the phone went off; the way he'd watched Brian's reactions was very telling, and Justin suspected that it was a call that Carl had been expecting.

And really, he didn't know who they thought they were fooling in the end, having that mini-conference right there in the damned room, each looking as sober as judges, but it certainly wasn't him. Maybe they'd thought Justin had been too distracted by Luc and their other guests, but they'd certainly forgot one thing. Justin had always been tuned into Brian no matter where he was in a room; and he always had been from the very first night that the two of them had met.

Justin knew Brian better than anyone else; and he could always tell when something was wrong, even if his husband's face was completely devoid of emotion. There was just this shift, or ripple, in the air and Justin knew within seconds all was not right with the man he loved. Did they really think that they'd fool him?

But the real kicker came when he'd read the news this morning.

Brian had kept him successfully distracted all day yesterday; first, with a nice and slow morning fuck that kept in bed until nearly eleven. And then, all of their friends and family were there for an impromptu family lunch, which went on through dinner for a few of them. And then, Brian had decided that he'd wanted a movie night and they'd spent the rest of that night curled up on the couch together, eating popcorn and watching movies.

So, he hadn't had the chance to read the paper; or really, read through the news on his tablet, yesterday. But, it was bound to happen eventually, and he couldn't quite believe that they'd both thought they could keep the news of the break-in from reaching him. Inevitably, it was going to slip; and slip it did. This morning, he had been going through the articles from his news monitoring service, set to catch any mention of his name; it was something that his agent had recommended so that he would never be blindsided by an article.

And lo and behold, in the newest batch, there was an article on a break-in at Bloom Gallery. The news on the break-in was sketchy at best, with a vague mention of a piece of artwork that had been damaged the night before Sydney called him. The only reason his name had been mentioned at all was due to the announcement that his show would be postponed because of the break-in and subsequent investigation.

He had to admit, he was pretty ticked off that Sydney had lied to him the other night; his gut told him that the piece damaged was one of his. Why else would Sydney, Brian and Carl have been acting the way they have been for the past two days? He'd been this close to storming the gallery and Kinnetik and demanding answers today. But once he cooled down, he realized that Sydney's hands, at the very least, had likely been tied. He'd likely been told to keep certain details under wraps until the police were done their investigation and the detective had the chance to contact him and Brian.

So, He was willing to let that part drop for now.

His husband on the other hand; he was not so happy with him. While he completely understood why Brian would want to keep this close to his chest; after all, he did remember how terrified Brian had been when he'd gotten to the hospital and learned of his condition, it was still infuriating. He didn't blame Brian for erring on the side of caution; but it was beyond frustrating to be treated like he were a fragile little faggot that couldn't cope.

The only reason he'd gotten so upset the other day was he'd been having a pretty shitty day to start with; on top that, he'd not been able to get much sleep due to the break in, plus he hadn't eaten since the day before and he was still enraged that his painting and artwork had been destroyed. Michael coming in and laying the rest of that shit on him had just been the final nail in the coffin. He'd already been anxious since finding the loft destroyed; it wasn't going take much to topple him over the edge into a full blown panic attack.

And it hadn't; and he'd ended up in the fucking hospital, and now they were driving him crazy by handling him with kid gloves. That Brian was pulling this overprotective bullshit again grated; and he wasn't quite sure how he wanted to deal with it. Did he confront his husband when he got home? Or did he hold off in the hope that Brian would eventually come clean?

Sighing, Justin closed his eyes and scrubbed a hand over his face before dropping it onto his bare stomach once again. He still didn't have any answers; and until he had all the pieces of the puzzle, he didn't think he would find one any time soon.

"Not that I'm complaining with the very nude welcome home," an appreciative voice rumbled and startled Justin out of his thoughts. His eyes flew open and landed on an amused Brian staring down at his body with obvious interest. Shit; he hadn't even heard the door open. "But do I want to know why you're laying in the middle of the living room without a stitch on?"

Justin bit his tongue against the rude comment he wanted to make and simply stared at his husband for a moment, noting the dark circles under his eyes. Deep lines were etched into his face, evidence of his fatigue and stress level, and in that moment Justin deflated; he didn't have the heart to rake his husband over the coals for his continued over-protectiveness and his need to control the situation.

Heaving an internal sigh, Justin decided to let it go for now and see how the events played out over the next few days. But, if Brian hadn't come clean by the end of the week, his ass was so getting reamed; and not in the fun, life-affirming way.

"I'm hot." Justin complained; which had been the absolute truth. For some reason, he'd been having fucking hot flashes all day and he'd finally gotten tired of it and decided to say fuck clothing for the time being.

"Well, yes," Brian drawled, licking his lips as he set aside his coat and suit jacket and slowly walked over to where Justin was laying on the chaise. "I'd definitely agree with that assessment; but it still doesn't tell me why you're naked as the day you were born."

"Not that kind of hot," Justin rolled his eyes, but he also couldn't help the pleased smile that spread over his lips as Brian began unbuttoning his shirt. His cock twitched with interest as Brian dropped to his knees at the end of the chaise; especially when he began dropping small kisses along the insides of Justin's thighs.

"Although the compliment is greatly appreciated at the moment. I mean, temperature wise, I'm hot. I've been having hot flashes all day and I got sick of putting on layers, only to yank them off twenty, thirty minutes later. So, finally, I decided to build up a fire and lay naked in front of it. It's working so far."

"You aren't getting sick, are you?" Brian looked up, a concerned frown on his face.

"No," Justin reassured, nearly melting when Brian continued his ministrations. He gasped as Brian slid up the chaise between his legs and continued to pepper kisses over his stomach and chest. "Liz said that this could happen from time to time the further I got into the pregnancy; which is why she suggested dressing in layers. It's just been one of those days."

"Well, then," Brian leered, sliding his shirt from his body and then quickly undoing his pants and sliding them off before crawling back between Justin's legs. "How about I join you; I wouldn't want to pass up such a fortuitous happenstance."

Justin groaned, and his back arched, as Brian licked a strip up his cock, and then completely lost all conscious thought as his husband's mouth engulfed him. Fuck talking right now; that could definitely wait until later.

Much later.

Chapter Text

February 18

Brian walked down the hospital hall, his arm firmly wrapped around Justin's shoulders in an effort to ground himself. God, he hated hospitals. He had ever since Justin's bashing and he'd spent every night standing outside Justin's room watching him fight his demons in his sleep. The only blessing was that this hospital wasn't the one that Justin had spent all those weeks in recovery. He didn't think he could step foot in it if had been.

Pressing his lips to Justin's temple, he slid his arm down to his waist and wrapped his hand around it, resting it protectively on his belly. Justin looked up with a smile, but continued walking towards the waiting room where they were supposed to meet their guide for the hospital tour that Justin insisted on doing.

Personally, Brian didn't think the really needed it; how hard could it be? You showed up, waited hours while your spouse threatened you with every form of bodily injury that their creative minds could concoct, (which was not-so-surprisingly plentiful for someone as creative as Justin). And then you spent the rest of the time in pain as your partner squeezed the life out of whatever body part they could latch onto until the baby was born. He didn't really see the need for a tour.

But Justin started prattling on and on about preregistering and being comfortable in his environment during such a stressful time and knowing where to go when the time came, and Brian had finally agreed if only to shut him up. And, if it made things that much easier for Justin on the day of the delivery, then Brian was happy to spare a few hours to go on this stupid tour.

"Brian, Justin," a voice called from behind them; Brian halted and turned around to find Justin's OB, Liz Jackson, walking toward them with a small frown. Brian stiffened, hoping that everything was okay; he really didn't need anymore bad news at this point in the game. "I'm so glad to see you; I was wondering if after the tour, you had some time to come by my office so that we could talk."

"Is there something wrong?" Justin asked, his brow furrowing as he studied his OB's harassed expression.

"Not wrong per se," Liz hedged, smoothing her hair back from her face. "But I do need to discuss something of utmost delicacy and I really don't want to have that conversation in the halls where anyone could hear."

Justin and Brian exchanged worried looks.

"Sure," Justin said slowly, a small frown on his face; he arched a brow in Brian's direction. "I know that I don't have anything planned after this; what about you? Do you need to get back to the office?"

Brian thought back for a moment, mentally running through his schedule; he'd only been planning to tackle the pile of paperwork on his desk for a few hours after this, but didn't actually need to be in the office until his phone conference with Liberty Air.

"Not until about three," Brian said, scratching his chin. "I have a phone conference then. But, if necessary, I can have Cynthia take it or reschedule it for me. It wasn't anything important; we were just going to go over some numbers for their latest campaign. I can always e-mail them if necessary."

"It shouldn't take that long," Liz reassured them, looking relieved. And that really didn't sit well with Brian at all. "I think it should take no more than an hour."

"Are you sure nothing is wrong," Brian persisted, his hand tightening around Justin's stomach. He really didn't think he could take anything more at this point.

"Yes," Liz waved off his concerns with a smile. "Now stop worrying and enjoy your tour. I'll see you in an hour."

Brian watched her depart, still worried about what she said, but decided to shunt it aside for now. If something had been seriously wrong, she would have called them immediately. And while her words didn't lend any true comfort, he was willing to trust her for now. He had to stop seeing issues before they actually became issues, but it was difficult. Too many things had happened too quickly lately and he just didn't need something more to worry about at this juncture.

Pressing closer to Justin, they'd met up with the hospital educator, as apparently there was a shortage of nurses that day and the nurse assigned take them around was needed to assist in a birth. Their first stop was in registration, where the educator advised them it would be wise to preregister so that they didn't have to wait around and fill out papers when Justin wouldn't likely to be in the mood to deal with it.

Justin nodded emphatically at that, and suggested they do it after the tour, but before they go see Liz; Brian didn't see any problem with that at all. He hated paperwork in general and was certain that they would both be too busy dealing with the actual labor to care about it at that point.

From there they went to triage, where the educator explained that this where the nurse would not only admit Justin; but they would also monitor Justin's vitals and assess whether or not he was ready for delivery. from there, they then were headed to the family waiting rooms; and Brian couldn't help but snort at the size of it. There was no way in hell that they could fit the family in there; hopefully there was another waiting room where the excess could spill into or they were shit out of luck. Then, they toured an unused labor and delivery suite, and an unoccupied postpartum room.

Justin and the educator chattered away the entire time, with Justin asking dozens of questions that Brian wouldn't have even thought of; it was obvious that the little twat had done his research as he carefully noted things down in a notebook. Brian shook his head; if only he was that organized about everything else in his life.

The tour ended with a view of the newborn nursery; and really, Brian had a hard time himself not choking up at Justin's delighted reactions at seeing all the babies, and knowing that some day soon that their Sunbeam would be in there too. Justin wrapped his arms around his stomach, tears in his eyes, even as he beamed up at Brian with excitement. And Brian was hard pressed to hold back a few of his own because, somehow; this tour had just made everything seem that much more real.

Justin asked a few more questions as the walked back to the registration are to do their paperwork, his hands waving excitedly as they discussed the various amenities the hospital had to offer. Brian smirked at his antics, and when Justin finally wound down, Brian ushered him into the registration area; there they spent the next thirty minutes or so going over the paperwork and filling it out, which was peppered by even more questions.

And then, they finally walked out of the hospital itself and crossed the parking lot to surrounding medical offices, where Liz's practice was situated. Walking into the office, Justin sat down while Brian talked to the receptionist and signed in, letting her know that although they didn't have an appointment, that Liz asked them to stop by after their tour today. He filled out the even more paperwork, (and fuck, did he hate this part) and then walked over to sit down next to Justin, who was staring out the window pensively.

Brian watched as Justin chewed on his bottom lip, with his brow furrowed and a far off look in his eyes. He continued to watch the parking lot for several minutes, his fingers working nervously on the arms of the chair,so wrapped up, that he hadn't even noticed that Brian was sitting next to him yet.

"What's wrong?" Brian asked, trying to garner his husband's attention; but Justin was either ignoring him, or he hadn't heard him. And judging by the dazed look on his face, Brian was certain it was the latter.

Worried, Brian gently shook his shoulder, startling his husband out of whatever trance he'd gone into. Blue eyes looked up at him, wide and fearful, his body tense and ready for flight until he registered who was sitting next to him. And then he sighed and slowly relaxed, his body slumping into the chair.

"Justin?" Brian probed, trying to get an answer for his behavior.

"What?" Justin asked a bit absently, looking out the window once more before shaking his head and turning away with a frown.

"I asked if something was wrong," Brian prodded again, his own frown intensifying. "You've been staring off into space for a couple of minutes."

"I thought I saw…" Justin said, and then trailed off and shook his head again.

"Thought you saw what?" Brian prompted, looking out the window, but seeing nothing out of the ordinary. That didn't mean that he didn't believe Justin, just that whatever had spooked his husband was gone.

"Never mind," Justin said a bit more firmly, his lips compressing into a thin, white line, his eyes on fire as he looked back towards the window one final time. And then he squared his shoulders and turned away. "I'll tell you when we get home."

Brian opened his mouth to argue, but they were called into the office at that moment and he shelved the topic for the time being. Justin went through the typical vitals intake – blood pressure, weight, temp, etc. – and then they were ushered into an exam room. They sat there, the both of them silent as they mulled over this last little episode. This was getting ridiculous; fuck, he couldn't wait until the police caught up to this asshole so that they would stop jumping at shadows, no matter how real or imagined they may be.

Shaking his head as the door opened, Brian decided to focus on the matter at hand; there was time enough to deal with the stalker after this. Justin and Sunbeam were much more important at this given time as he was still concerned about Liz's words.

"Hey Liz," Justin greeted, back to his typical sunshine self and smiling broadly as his doctor entered the room.

"Hello Justin, Brian," Liz greeted, a chart in her hands; she walked over to the examination table, where Justin had been sitting. "So, before we get to why I had you come in today; tell me how you've been feeling? Have you had any further issues since you were last in the hospital?"

"Not really," Justin said with a small shrug. "I've been feeling pretty good recently, with the exception of being tired in the afternoons. But after a quick cat nap, I'm usually fine."

"That's good to hear," Liz said, noting the information into the chart. She looked through it, leafing through a few papers before addressing Justin once more. "Based on the vitals the nurse took, I see that you finally started gaining the weight that you needed."

"I'd be shocked if he hadn't," Brian muttered, snickering when Justin scowled and hissed at him. "The way he eats these days is awe inspiring."

"Shut up," Justin huffed, rolling his eyes when Liz just laughed; Justin's appetite had been a long running joke between Liz and Brian, with Liz herself saying she'd been amazed that Justin hadn't gained more weight than he had during this pregnancy.

"You know it's true, Sunshine," Brian smirked, laughing when Justin flipped him off as soon as Liz turned her back to him. Brian blew him a kiss.

"I also see that you've had your blood work done; that's good," Liz nodded as she continued to jot some things down in the file. "And so far there is no need to worry about gestational diabetes."

"Now that is shocking knowing his sweet tooth," Brian huffed; and really with the number of Twinkies the twat ate, he was surprised he hadn't died of sugar shock yet.

"I married a comedian," Justin said dryly, rolling his eyes at Brian's observations. And then squirming in his seat, he turned back to Liz. "So, not to be impatient…"

"But, truly he is," Brian quipped, laughing when Justin balled up a piece of paper and threw it at him. Liz just laughed it off, quite used to their banter.

"Shut up," Justin said, pointing a finger at him; Brian made a zipping motion over his lips, as Justin turned to Liz again. "What was the reason you needed to see us."

"Well, when we were looking through your files the other day, I noticed something off about the ultrasound you had a couple of weeks ago," Liz said a bit hesitantly, leaning against the bedside tray. Justin's eyes widened in alarm; echoing the panic that flooded through Brian's veins, but Liz just held up a hand. "Now before you panic, nothing is wrong with the baby. It has nothing to do with that."

Brian's panic tamped down a bit, but didn't immediately abate; as she hadn't said anything about Justin or that there wasn't a problem at all; just that there wasn't a problem with Sunbeam. Licking his suddenly parched lips, Brian took a deep breath and asked in an even tone, "So, what is the problem?"

"The reason I asked you to come by is that, somehow, instead of showing you your baby, we played a recording of someone else's ultrasound. So, we need to do it again." Liz said, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

What? Was that even possible? How the hell does something like that happen? Frowning, Brian tried to wrap his mind around it and just couldn't; it didn't make any sense to him. How do you mix something like that up? But, then again, he wasn't a tech expert, nor did he know anything about medical tech, so what did he know?

"What?" Brian asked, echoing his first thought; and then smirked with amusement as Justin echoed his second.

"How does that even happen?" Justin asked with bewilderment, staring at Liz in utter confusion, his hand pressing to his baby bump.

"To be honest, I don't have any explanations really," Liz said, still looking extremely embarrassed. "The only reason I even noticed any issues was that the name on the ultrasound was different than the name on your file. I do know that we had to put off your ultrasound once before because we were having issues with the program and the machine; but I can't even begin to figure out how this happened."

Brian and Justin exchanged confused looks; whatever he had been expecting, it certainly wasn't this. Not to say that he wasn't relieved that it wasn't something much more worse, but it was just an odd thing to happen and he didn't know what to think.

"So, we were hoping that you would have time to do it today," Liz finished in a rush, exhaling explosively. "No charge of course as the error was ours."

"Uh," Justin said with a small shrug; and Brian felt the same way. What else could they do in this situation? They both still wanted to know the gender of the baby. "Sure; I have the time. As long as Brian has the time…"

Brian nodded; after all, it was only about one; he still had an hour and a half before he really had to worry. "Well, it's a good thing that we didn't tell anyone the gender. That would have been fun trying to explain to everything if things had changed and why."

"Good," Liz nodded, heaving a relieved sigh; she moved over to the door and gestured. "So, let's move to the other room and we can get started."

They walked into the other room, and immediately Justin laid down on the bed; he tucked his shirt up under his armpits and lowered his pants to just under his baby bump. And God, if he still wasn't the sexiest thing that Brian had ever seen; Brian met his gaze, and held it, letting him see just how beautiful he was in his eyes. Justin flushed and looked away shyly, hissing as Liz squeezed a dollop of gel on his belly, before meeting them again. They simply stared at each other for a long drawn out moment, each wrapped up in the other, and this moment, before a surprised gasp caught their attention.

"Oh, well, that's surprising..." Liz said a bit nervously, her hand fluttering on the keyboard by the monitor in front of her. Brian instantly turned to her, his heart in his throat. What the fuck did that mean?

"What's surprising?" Justin asked as he swung his head over to the monitor; and then his mouth gaped and his eyes bugged as he stared at the screen.

"Well, I just wasn't expecting this," Liz said a bit flustered, her hands moving in an agitated manner over the keys as she typed something in, her eyes wide as saucers as she stared at the screen.

"What do you mean you weren't expecting this?" Brian asked as he looked up to the screening monitor mounted on the wall in front of him; and then his mouth slackened, and his heart began to beat out a staccato rhythm as just stared, not quite believing what he was seeing. He swallowed thickly, his vision graying around he edges as he asked in a hoarsely squeak. "Am I seeing that correctly?"

His mind tried to process what he was seeing, but kept balking at the image; that couldn't be. But as Brian counted them again and again, his eyes widening each time he did so; he couldn't refute what they were seeing. And yes, he said them, because if this was to be believed…

"If you're seeing three babies, then yes you are," Liz said, laughing a bit nervously as she too stared at the screen. "You don't mind multiples, right?"

Brian just shook his head, the noise in his head growing louder and louder as his blood pulsed, rushing through his veins as it tried to keep up with the rapid pounding of his heart. A cold sweat broke across his brow as he literally felt the color drain from his face, thinking that he must be dreaming because THREE? What the fuck?

He could barely deal with the thought of one in the beginning; how the fuck was he going to deal with three at the same fucking time! There was no fucking way. They'd never get any fucking sleep. Pressing his hand to his mouth, Brian swayed, his head swimming as it tried to make sense of what was in front of his eyes, but he couldn't deny it that every time he counted, there were still three fucking babies on the screen.

Dropping his head between his knees, Brian closed his eyes as spots danced before his eyes and took several deep breaths, trying to get the thrumming of his heart under control. It was fine. Really. He could do this. So, he wasn't expecting three babies, but they could make it work somehow. They could get an au pair, or three; and with the help of Mother Taylor, and Deb and Carl and the others, they could do this. Maybe.

Oh, fuck; who the fuck was he kidding? How the fuck were they going deal with three babies at once? How do you deal with three toddlers at once? Fuck! How the fuck were they going to deal with three fucking teenagers at once!? Gus was bad enough, and he was just starting his teen years; three at the same time, at the same age. Jesus fuck, his hair would be gray before they were fourteen.

Inhaling deeply, Brian startled when he felt a hand on his shoulder; he looked up at Liz, his mind whirling as he tried to accept his new reality.

"Brian?" Liz asked, holding out a glass of water in her hand. "Are you doing okay? Do you need a glass of water?"

"I'm fine," Brian stammered, taking another couple of breaths in the attempt to get his heart rate under control; but it seemed as if his lungs were crushed in a vise and he couldn't get enough air. Fuck. THREE. He looked over at Justin, who was staring at him with laughter in his eyes. "I'm fine; I just need a moment to adjust…"

Wait. His laughing husband!?

Brian trailed off, his eyes narrowing as he stared at the giggling twat on the bed; and in that instant he knew he'd been played. There was no way in hell that Justin would be sitting there, cool as a cucumber and laughing if he'd just found out he was having triplets. He'd still be sitting there, staring at the screen, completely catatonic at the very least; or he'd be cursing up a storm and throwing the biggest bitch fit in the world, blaming Brian for this at the worst. There was no way in hell he'd find this situation amusing unless the little twat had planned this somehow.

"Bull. Shit." Brian said, his eyes narrowing further as he pointed a shaking finger at his husband; Justin just laughed, his eyes sparkling with deviltry.

"Whatever do you mean, honey?" Justin said, trying to affect an innocent look, but the twat was laughing too hard for it to work.

"I call bullshit," Brian hissed, scrubbing a hand over his face as his heart finally started come down to a normal rate; fucking, little pain in the ass, twat. He was so going to kill him for this. "There is no way you could be having three; you're not big enough."

"Well, everyone shows differently, Brian," Liz said very seriously, but her eyes were sparkling with humor. "I have met some carriers who didn't even know they were pregnant until the last month or so because they didn't show much at all. They thought they were just gaining a bit of weight. It is possible…"

"Possible," Brian agreed, staring at his still giggling husband; he was so going to pull the little brat over his knee when they got home. Jesus fucking Christ. "But not likely. I know you, you little twat."

"Are you implying that we're lying to you?" Justin blinked, all faux innocence; and then he cracked up again, holding his stomach as he laughed, tears streaming from his eyes.

The fucking twat; when he got through with him…

"I'm saying that I know you're lying to me," Brian huffed, slumping back into his chair and scrubbing a hand over his face again. He pinned his husband with gimlet eye. "I'm on to you, Sunshine." Justin just smiled, completely unrepentant. Brian shook his head. " And I also suppose expect me to pay for this little prank of yours?"

"Nope," Justin chortled gleefully, popping the end of it. "It's all covered.

"You are so paying for this when we get home, brat," Brian huffed, ignoring Liz as she walked out the door to give them some privacy. And that only set his husband off on another round of giggles.

Oh, yes; laugh while you can, brat.

"I guess next time you'll leave my fucking Twinkies alone," Justin smirked, his eyes gleaming with humor as he let Brian know that he was onto him as well.

Oh, it was so on, little boy.

Chapter Text

February 19 – (24 weeks)

Justin walked through the halls of Kinnetik, nodding and smiling to people as he passed, but didn't bother to stop to talk to them as he was a man on a mission. And stopping would have meant that it would have taken that much longer for him to get to Brian, and he didn't think that he could put off his hunger for even one more second. As it was, he'd felt like it was gnawing his insides to ribbons.

Turning a corner, he screeched to a halt and threw his hand up in front of him as he nearly collided with Murph, who was coming down the hall from the opposite direction. Grasping the other man's arms to stabilize him, Justin apologized profusely for not watching where he was going and was about to squat down and help him pick up his papers, when Murph flushed and waved him off. Justin blushed too, recalling vividly just why the man still couldn't look him in the eye and with one more quick apology, continued down the hall.

Trotting into the reception area outside Brian's office, still flushed and a bit breathless as he always seemed to be these days, Justin smiled as Yasmeen looked up, her phone pressed to her ear. Holding up one finger, she turned back to the caller and very sweetly told them that if they didn't get their asses in gear and get the proofs on her desk in an hour as they promised, Kinnetik would be shopping for a new graphic artist.

Justin snickered as the person on the other end of the phone tried to protest, but Yasmeen very ruthlessly explained that he had signed a contract, spelling out all the terms and conditions of his employment, and that she'd didn't care if the fucking Pope had showed up on his doorstep asking for his services. A promise was a promise; and if he didn't get them here, within the time frame he'd agreed upon, Kinnetik would be invoking the fiscal penalties written into said contract and they would be shopping around for a more reliable graphic artist.

After another moment, a shark-like smile slid over Yasmeen's face as she politely thanked the likely trembling artist and said she looked forward to seeing him soon.

"Vicious," Justin snickered as Yasmeen hung up the phone."

"I hate outside contractors," Yasmeen grumbled, noting something in her computer before turning to Justin with a pleading look. "Why can't you come work at Kinnetik. You draw circles around these idiots and I can actually stand you."

"Because Brian and I would kill each other," Justin smirked, quite familiar with this refrain. And it was the truth; as much as they loved each other, they were so not compatible in the work environment. Brian was anal and liked everything in its place; and Justin's work environment was a study in controlled chaos, and a barely controlled one at that.

"Well, we definitely wouldn't want that," Yasmeen said with a put upon sigh; she turned to the stack files on her desk and began to flip through them, assessing what needed to done now and what could wait. "God knows we'd never survive the fallout if anything happened to either one of you."

"Is he in there?" Justin asked, nodding toward the closed door.

"Yup," Yasmeen nodded, flipping open the first folder with a snap. "He just finished his weekly meeting with Murph. And free for the next two hours; I made sure to keep his schedule clear until one, just as you requested."

"You're a gem," Justin said, dropping a kiss on her cheek before heading for Brian's door; and then paused, his mouth gaping a little when Yasmeen flashed him a cheeky smile and asked in a teasing voice.

"Do I need to make myself scarce?" Yasmeen asked, an amused glint in her eyes as she gestured to her desk.

"What do you mean?" Justin asked, his eyes narrowing just a tad as Yasmeen just laughed and then smirked knowingly. Justin flushed; what was it with people thinking that he was a sex fiend these days?

"Just wondering if this is the kind of lunch where I should make my scarce," Yasmeen clarified, her eyes going round and wide, and her smile taking on a note of innocence. Yeah, right.

"You're terrible," Justin snorted, knocking on the door and then grabbing the knob when he heard Brian giving the okay to enter. "I'm going to tell Brian."

"Go for it," Yasmeen goaded, turning back to her files with a smirk. "He'd probably applaud me for my forethought."

"Terrible," Justin said again, shaking his head as he opened the door and walked in.

Brian looked up from his computer and then leaned back in his chair with that smile that always made Justin's insides twist. Closing the door behind him, he walked over to his desk and leaned down to kiss him gently on the lips. Brian hummed and cupped the back of his head, deepening the kiss until they were both breathless and panting.

"Your assistant gets cheekier by the day," Justin said as he pulled away and sat down in one of the chairs in front of Brian's desk.

"What did she do this time?" Brian asked, a resigned look on his face.

"She wanted to know if it was the kind of lunch where she needed to make herself scarce," Justin snickered, toying with a pen on Brian's desk. "I do believe that was her way of saying that if we're going to have sex she doesn't want to hear it."

Brian smirked, his tongue pressed into his cheek as he slid his eyes slowly over Justin's body. Justin barely held back a groan, his body instantly heating up under his husband's hungry gaze and cursed himself for saying anything; because he now had two warring hungers to sate, and he didn't know which was the stronger one at this point.

"So, is it?" Brian asked, arching a brow as his eyes slowly slid back up to meet Justin's; and then he smirked as Justin squirmed in his seat, his dick already half hard.

Fuck, these hormones were going to be the fucking death of him. Literally.

"I see where she gets it from," Justin said dryly, trying to think of things that didn't involve having Brian ripping his clothes off, laying him down on his desk and fucking the shit out of him, and not having much success with it.

"What's the point of having an assistant that doesn't know her place?" Brian snorted, getting up from his desk; he moved his desk lamp out of the way and sat on the edge in a very familiar gesture that did nothing at cooling Justin's libido.

"Ooohhhh," Justin said, a smirk flitting across his lips. "I wouldn't let her hear you say that. You'd never be able to trust what was in your coffee after that."

"Which is why, you, as my loving husband, won't say a word, will you?" Brian said, hooking his foot around the base of the chair and pulling Justin closer to him. And fuck, Justin was so fucking tempted, but he really needed food as well.

"Maybe," Justin said, sucking on his lips as his eyes slid over his husband's body; and fuck, at the age of forty-two, he didn't look a day over thirty-five. His body was still hard and toned and fucking sexy as hell and Justin just wanted to eat him up. Flicking his eyes back up, he deliberately licked his lips and asked. "What do I get out of it?"

"Well, if you'd get your sweet ass over here," Brian rumbled, spreading his legs in invitation. "I could give you a sample."

And Justin considered it; oh, God, how he considered it, but then his stomach gurgled its protest and he knew that sex was just going to have to wait for now. Brian looked at his stomach with dismay and arched a brow, a mildly exasperated look on his face.

"Tempting," Justin snickered, leaning back in the chair. "But I was at the art store all morning and I'm starving; so you need to feed me."

"Of course you are," Brian huffed, rolling his eyes as he got up and walked around his desk to type something into his computer.

"And since we are no longer avoiding the diner…" Justin continued, ruthlessly employing his puppy dog eyes.

"Who says we're not?" Brian huffed, eyeing him wearily; shaking his head when Justin jutted his lip out in a pout. "Just because we're talking to Deb…

"I want greasy, cheesy, bad-for-me, food," Justin declared, his stomach rumbling in agreement.

"Of course you do," Brian said dryly, rolling his eyes again; but he did begin to gather his wallet and keys. So score one for him. "My kid is going to be a butterball before they're even born."

"My kid is going to actually appreciate food, not look at as merely something to fuel your body," Justin scoffed, scooting the chair back in its original position.

"Wait, what were you doing at the store?" Brian asked out of the blue, a small frown on his face. "Don't you usually buy your supplies online?"

And fuck; he'd been hoping he hadn't caught that part.

"I have that new show that I'm prepping for next year," Justin shrugged, getting comfortable as he knew that Brian wouldn't drop it anytime soon. "And I wanted to look at some of the paints. It's one thing to order paints that I use on a regular basis over the net, and another to try buying new colors over it. No matter how good the pictures are, the colors are always off. Better that I see them in person."

"Please tell me you didn't go alone," Brian demanded, his frown deepening as he skirted the desk and sat down in front of him

"I didn't go alone," Justin parroted dutifully, huffing when Brian scowled.

"Justin." Brian gave him that look; the one that said that Justin was treading on thin ice and made him want to balk and dig his heels in and be a complete brat about it as he told Brian he was a big boy and he could take care of himself. But he didn't; he swallowed the urge. Barely.

"Look, John came with me as he had a bunch of shit to do as well," Justin huffed impatiently; just because he'd decided not to purposely poke the beast didn't mean he wasn't irritated. "So, he helped me with my stuff at the store and dropped me off here, and then went off to do his shit and he'll take everything home. I figured we'd go to lunch, and then I'd spend the afternoon here harassing your art team, and then we'd go home together. I was watched the whole time, Dad."

"Watch it, Sonny Boy," Brian warned Justin in a firm voice, making Justin squirm again in his seat. Fucking tease. He knew exactly what that did to Justin. "Don't make me take you over my knee."

"Don't hurt me, Daddy," Justin pleaded in high-pitched voice, widening his eyes in a way that had Brian murmur something about 'drowning in an ocean of blue.'

Of course, right after he'd demanded Justin thoroughly check him over to make sure that he still had a dick because he couldn't believe he'd said something so lesbionic. Not that Justin minded; it had been a rather enjoyable night of demonstrating just how much Brian was not a lesbian, and was still the stud that he'd always been.

"Brat," Brian snorted, relaxing now that he was aware that John had accompanied Justin to the store. "And you know damned well that Murph and the others would be ecstatic to see you. I think they like you more than they do me."

"Well, maybe if you didn't terrorize them on a daily basis," Justin huffed, eyeing his husband with no little exasperation. "They would stop buying voodoo dolls with your face on them."

"Touché," Brian smirked, and then rolled his lips under for a moment before continuing. "Look, I know that you don't like having people hovering; but until this asshole is caught, I would feel better if you weren't alone, especially as…"

Brian winced and trailed off, obviously unhappy that he was about to reveal more than he'd intended. Justin just arched a brow and waited him out; but when it became obvious that Brian wasn't going to continue, Justin decided to take matters into his own hands.

"Especially as…?" Justin prompted, wondering if the man was ever going to come clean on what he knew about the break-in. Brian pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.

"There was an incident at Bloom's," Brian stated slowly; and Justin could tell that he was choosing his words carefully. Justin decided to indulge him for the moment. "The reason Sydney had to postpone your show wasn't because of an issue of the pipes, but because there was a break-in."

"I know," Justin said, smirking when Brian snapped his mouth shut and just stared at him. Justin raised his brows and shrugged.

"What do you mean, you know?" Brian demanded, obviously annoyed that Justin wasn't as in the dark as he'd thought. It almost made him laugh, but again, he bit his tongue because it would've just pissed Brian off further. "They said that they'd let me tell you…"

Justin huffed and rolled his eyes.

"You guys honestly didn't think you could keep it from me did you?" Justin scoffed, instantly shutting down Brian's queen out. "Brian, there was an article in the paper about it; it mentioned my name and you know damned well what that means…"

"Your monitoring service…" Brian said, cursing under his breath as he realized just how fruitless their subterfuge had been; Justin just smirked. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"I was waiting to see if you guys would come clean," Justin said, his mouth set into a thin line; Brian had the grace to blush and look sheepish. "By the way, thank you for doing so, as I would have kicked your ass if you hadn't."

Brian winced, and then exhaled explosively. He reached over and pulled Justin out his chair and wrapped his arms around him. He leaned his head against Justin's and just seemed to breathe him in for a moment. Justin wrapped his arms around Brian's neck and kissed him softly, lingering for a moment as they shared air.

"I just want you safe," Brian whispered as they parted; he rolled his lips under. "As, I've said before, I want you around for a long time."

Justin sighed; he tipped his head back and stared into his husband's eyes, smoothing his hair away from his face as he said:

"Having all the information available will do a better job of protecting me than keeping it under wraps. What if I had gone into Sydney's by myself one day, thinking that I was perfectly safe in doing so because he has some of the best security around? Had I not been aware that the stalker had somehow gotten access to the building, I could have gotten myself into a jam and been easily cornered in any of those store rooms."

"How do you know it was the stalker?" Brian asked, mostly out of curiosity it seemed. "I never mentioned…"

"Gut feeling," Justin said; he leaned into Brian and laid his chin on his chest. "Technically, I don't know. But judging by the way you, Sydney and Carl have been acting the past few days… it tells me this wasn't your average criminal breaking in and stealing everything that wasn't bolted down job."

"My little genius," Brian huffed, ruffling his hair and pressing a kiss to his brow. "You have always been far too smart for your own good. And mine as well."

Justin tightened his arms around Brian and just stayed there, both comforting his husband and drawing comfort from Brian as well. He knew that Brian was on edge with everything going on, and this new element, with the stalker escalating, it had to have thrown him badly. He understood why Brian was trying to circle the wagons so to speak, with Justin planted firmly in the center, protected and sheltered. He got it. He did. But Brian also needed to realize that he couldn't protect him from everything.

"So," Justin said, turning a few thoughts over in his head; he needed clarification on a few facts to set the puzzle to rest. "I get them wanting to keep details quiet, given that it's an ongoing investigation, but just tell me one…well, no, two things."

Brian looked wary, but nodded nonetheless.

"First, was it one of mine?" Justin asked, his look and tone brooking no arguments; he would find out in time anyways, so there was no reason to keep it from him.

"Yes," Brian said, his eyes flitting over Justin's face as if he was trying to figure out just where Justin was going with this. Justin nodded.

"Second, was it from the current show?" Justin asked; and this was the clincher.

If it was, well, that would negate a few ideas he had on what was happening. It wouldn't make much sense in his head, but it would put a few questions to rest. But if it wasn't, that narrowed the field considerably as Justin was well aware of which paintings Sydney had in his possession that weren't part of the upcoming show. And this answer would definitely give him a clearer idea of where to focus his attention.

"No." Brian said, his eyes narrowing as if he'd just realized where Justin was going with his questions, which wouldn't have surprised Justin at all. His husband was no slouch in the brain department.

"I really want to ask which one it was," Justin said, a knowing look on his face; yeah, it was exactly as he'd suspected. "But I won't. I think I can guess just based on your reaction and what I know Sydney has in stock."

"Like I said, you have always been a clever little devil," Brian sighed, now more than a little exasperated. Justin just smiled as innocently as he could.

"Good thing for you too," Justin quipped, biting him lightly on the chin. "You'd be bored otherwise."

"Boring is a word that I'd never use for you, Sunshine," Brian snorted, and then laughed as Justin's stomach made its presence known again. "Now let's get you some food before your stomach decides to eat itself." Brian pulled him close and ground the dicks together, making Justin moan as he murmured against his ear. "And then, you can come back here and feed another appetite before you go play in my art department. It's been a while since I've fucked you over my desk."

Chapter Text

February 20

Brian leaned back in his chair, he head throbbing as he tried to make sense of everything he'd learned when he'd met up with Detective Nakamura, or Tak as he preferred to be called, and Carl this afternoon. He pinched the bridge of his nose and dug his fingers into his eyes in the hopes of relieving the pressure built up behind them, absolutely frustrated with the way the case was going. Or, in reality, how it wasn't going.

He'd hoped that with this newest break-in, that the police might have had some definitive answers for who was doing this and a plan for bringing the asshole to justice. At the very least, he'd hoped that they'd have a list of suspects that he could identify. But it had been nothing like that as they didn't have anything.

Or at least, nothing of great importance.

Exhaling harshly, Brian reached into his drawer and pulled out a small bottle of pills; he opened it, shook two out and dry-swallowed the aspirins, hoping that they would ease some of the ache in behind his eyes. But he knew it would do nothing for the ache in his heart or the helpless rage and fear that was bubbling in his gut.

He'd hoped to have some answers for Justin when he went home tonight; but from what the good detective said, unless this asshole struck again and acted a lot more carelessly than he had before, they were at a dead end as there just wasn't enough evidence to make even a half-assed identification.

And fuck; those words had really rankled when Brian had heard them; he had been so close to popping, that he  was surprised that he'd handled it as calmly as he did.

 

" Please tell me that you have something on this asshole," Brian said wearily, scrubbing a hand over his face, feeling his fatigue down to his bones.

It had been a rough night, with Justin waking up due to some vivid dream that he was being chased down a long, dark hall, with no end in sight, and his stalker just a hairbreadth behind him at all times. And Brian didn't know just how much more of this that he could take. He'd hated the feeling of helplessness that washed over him as he held Justin's shuddering form,trying to quietly soothe him back into sleep.it had been a fucking nightmare of its own.

" Unfortunately, there isn't much to go on," Tak said, a regretful note in his voice; he sighed and looked just as tired and downtrodden as Brian did as he flipped through his notes. "Whoever did this was smart; very smart, and they didn't leave much usable evidence behind."

" What do you mean?" Brian asked, dread curling in his stomach; he'd hoped that by now they'd have some answers for him, if not an actual solution; and to hear that they didn't have anything made him want to scream.

" Well there were no fingerprints at either your loft or the gallery for starters; outside of those that were expected to be there that is," Tak said, rubbing his hand over his face. "Not even a partial, which leads us to believe that the perpetrator was likely wearing gloves."

Brian exhaled explosively and cursed under his breath, his agitation growing as Tak flipped a page in his file.

" There was also was no security footage that was of any help," Tak continued with a grim look. "Somehow the perp knew exactly where the cameras were located at your place; or, at least, he or she knew where they were at the doors and inside the stairs and halls." Tak shook his head, his brow pinched. "And once inside, he was masked just as he was during the gallery break-in. And those he took out almost immediately."

Brian exchanged a helpless look with Carl, whose own face was somber at the news.

" Again, there were no prints at the gallery," Tak said, as he continued flipping through the pages. "All keys to the place were accounted for, including a set that the granddaughter of a former employee turned in, yet the locks weren't jimmied. Tried to follow up every key-holder, and all were cleared but the former employee and the granddaughter; but they were also out of the country at the time and have been gone for over a week." Tak paused to scratch his brow. "We did get a partial footprint in the gallery. But without other evidence, it doesn't do much good."

Brian huffed and scrubbed his hand over his hair, his ire growing with each new detail. "What about the photo? If he handled it as often at it would seem he did, surely he wouldn't have been wearing gloves every time he handled it."

" We got a couple of partials," Tak said, sitting back in his chair. "But they were too small to get anything useful. Most of it was smudged due to the constant handling. And even then, it's not like on the TV, where you input a fingerprint and instantly get a match. What you typically get is a number of likely matches that you then have to then compare against the print and look for certain distinguishing points. It's not something you can just overlay and go, yup that's it! The elasticity of skin, smudging, and other environmental factors can make matching difficult."

" So, basically, you're saying that this entire method is for shit." Brian growled his frustration, waving off a concerned Carl when he moved to say something. He knew that this wasn't the detective's fault; and he was more angry about the situation than anything, but he was beyond frustrated and he hated not knowing things!

" I'm saying that they help with narrowing the field," Tak said with a shrug. "With a positive identification, they can be a great way to link a suspect to a crime; especially when factored with other identifying evidence. But they aren't the home run that Hollywood would have you believe. And with a lack of evidence, all we can do is hope this asshole trips up, and soon."

" Well, that's just great," Brian said sarcastically, his lips compressing into a thin line as he sat back and listened to the rest of the report, but his mind was already trying to figure out how to best protect his husband.

 

Brian shook his head and then winced as the motion sent pain lancing through his head worse than before; reaching over, he grabbed his water bottle and took a long drink. The rest of the meeting with Tak had gone pretty much the same way – there were interesting tidbits and similarities between the two break-ins, but nothing substantial had been found nor was there anything they could do anything with. The only things of note that Tak needed to follow up on was the fact that Sydney and he had employed the same cleaning service and security service for the loft and the gallery.

Tak was hoping to find a lead there; otherwise they were fucked.

And just knowing that made Brian uneasy. He'd trusted both companies for a long time; and he would hate for either of them to have been involved in any way. Thankfully, he didn't use either for Britin, as he and Justin had decided to go with a security company closer to the house; and Anna and John, along with their daughter, Maggie, and son, Eric, took care of the upkeep of the house and grounds. The only time they hired outside help was when they were planning a large party at the house.

He'd also brought Tak up to date on a few things that Justin had confided in him last night; namely that, while they'd been at the hospital the other day, Justin was certain that he'd seen someone watching them as they crossed the parking lot. But more importantly than that, he was almost one hundred percent positive that he'd seen this same person lurking when they'd been in Geneva-by-the-Lake. In fact, Justin was ready to go on record and swear that they were the same person.

What had been even more disturbing, was that the height, weight and build of the person he'd seen both times, was also similar to the guy who'd grabbed him at the store. Now, had it been anyone else, Brian would have dismissed it as paranoia; but Justin had an accurate eye and noticed things that others didn't. And he'd distinctly recalled that the jacket both men had been wearing. Or really, he remembered the stylized wolf on the back of the jacket; which to his eyes, looked like it had been a custom design, not something mass-produced.

Even more disturbing was the fact that Justin also swore that the voice that had called him 'angel' while they'd been watching the parade in Geneva, was the same as the voice that had spoken to him in the grocery store. Although, that bit he'd been a bit more hesitant to confirm as there had been a lot of background noise at the parade and he could be wrong.

Still, it had been enough to send a chill down Brian's spine.

Fuck, he didn't know what to do.

He knew that Justin was going to want an update when he got home, and he didn't really want to tell him that they were shit out of fucking luck because this asshole was playing it smart at the moment and doing nothing to give himself away. He really didn't want to see the pinched expression on his husband's face or have to listen him cry out in the middle of the night again because he was dreaming of this asshole closing in on him.

Sitting up, Brian began packing up his briefcase; he knew that there was no way in hell that he was going to get any fucking work done for the rest of the day. Better to just go home, wrap Justin up in his arms and try again tomorrow. Sliding some files into his bag, just on the off chance that he might get inspired later, Brian looked around and stood, and was just about to tell Yasmeen that he was leaving, when she'd buzzed him.

"Yes," Brian said as he activated the intercom.

"Mr. Taylor-Kinney," Yasmeen said, her formal tone and hint of annoyance setting him instantly on edge; somehow, he knew that he was going to regret answering.

"Yes, Yasmeen," Brian said, praying that whatever it was would be quick and painless and he could fucking leave soon after. "What is it? I was just packing up and about to tell you I was leaving for the day?'

He said that last bit pointedly; hoping that whoever was waiting would get a fucking clue and leave him alone.

"There is a Benjamin Bruckner here to see you," Yasmeen announced, sounding like she would rather get a root canal than announce his presence. Brian barely held back a snort at how accurate that image was; she was not a fan of the Novotny-Bruckners. "He was wondering if you might spare him a few minutes to talk."

Fucking hell; just what he fucking needed - a pow wow with Zen Ben. Could this day get any fucking worse? Actually scratch that; he should know better than to tempt the fates by asking that question.

"Send him in," Brian sighed heavily, and barely held back the string of expletives that wanted to flow after that statement. "But after this, I'll be leaving and working from home for the rest of the day. let the masses know that they better not call me unless it's an emergency."

"Yes, Mr. Taylor-Kinney," Yasmeen acknowledged with no little disgruntlement; and Brian couldn't quite quell his laughter as he could easily imagine her staring at Ben as if she'd smelled something foul.

"And Yasmeen," Brian said with a knowing smirk, having heard what had started her foul mood in the first place. "Go home before you make the rest of my admin staff cry and I have to hire an entire new staff."

"Whatever," Yasmeen huffed, not at repentant about the girl she sent scurrying back to her office in tears. "It's not my fault that Darla's an incompetent nitwit. I explained the system to her three times before I left. How she managed to schedule three accounts for the same time spot, I don't know; but she needed to be told that she needs to pay more attention to what she's doing and not flirting with Garrett in legal. Do you know how much I hate dealing with Kellie at Eyeconics? Let alone having to tell her that we have to change her meeting time?"

"All the same," Brian snickered, recalling just how pissed off she'd been when she'd gotten back from lunch and realized the mess the new girl had left her; not to mention the hour she'd spent soothing egos and smoothing the waters because of Darla's incompetence. "Go home."

Deactivating the com, Brian sat back down at his desk and sighed; he really didn't want to deal with this shit today of all days. It had already been shitty, and having to explain to Zen Ben that there was no way in hell that he was going to forgive Michael for his recent shenanigans sounded like a headache in the making. Actually, make that a worse one in the making, since he still hadn't gotten rid of this one. He was in no mood to play nice.

"Brian," Ben greeted as he walked in, closing the door silently behind him. "Thank you for seeing me on short notice."

"Ben," Brian greeted, fighting to keep his face bland; because like hell was he going to make life easier for the other man. Not when he'd purposely been blocking his access to Michael. "What can I do for you?"

"I don't wan to take up too much of your time," Ben said, rubbing the back of his neck; and Brian was hard pressed not to snort at that; a bit late for that isn't it Zen Ben? "I just wanted to come and invite you and Justin to dinner with me and Hunter."

"Why?" Brian asked, trying to figure out his game; while Ben hadn't mentioned Michael, Brian wouldn't put it past him to try and ambush the two of them if he thought it would smooth things out between Michael and Brian. And like hell was that going to happen.

"I'm sorry?" Ben asked, seeming a bit surprised by his question; but what had he expected? That Brian would just cave because he asked nicely. Uh uh, no way asshole; I know whose side you're on and it's not mine.

"Why do you want to see us?" Brian asked, arching a brow as he studied the other man, noting his pinched expression. "Or, more specifically, why should I let any of your family near Justin? The last time that happened, he ended up in the hospital."

"That's fair," Ben nodded, a thin, pained smile on his face. "I can understand you not trusting the invitation after what Michael did."

"Not just Michael," Brian corrected, his lips compressing into a thin line as he stared harshly at the man who had protected Michael. He got it to a point; Michael was his husband. But there comes a point where you have to let the other person face the consequences for their actions; Ben hadn't learned that yet. "You aren't very high on my list either considering what happened after the Big Q Showdown as people like to call it."

"I am sorry about that," Ben said; and he seemed genuine, and Brian wanted to believe him; but he'd also seen Ben lie straight-faced without even flinching. "I was operating under false pretenses."

Brian snorted, shaking his head at that load of bullshit.

"I don't quite believe you on that, Benny Boy," Brian said, rubbing a hand over jaw. "I know that the video went viral. And unlike Deb, who still thinks that computers are a waste of time, I know you are very well versed in social media since you have to deal with that shit on a daily basis with all those college kids around you. I don't believe for a minute that you didn't see the video and you still continued to piss around with me."

Ben flushed red, but remained silent.

"But fine," Brian said held up a hand. "Let's say I do buy into this little fantasy that you're weaving here; what guarantee can you give me that your husband isn't going to ambush Justin the moment we meet you. Because let me tell you, Ben; if this is a thinly disguised, misguided attempt at bringing about some sort of resolution between us, you're wasting your time and mine. And, you won't like me when I'm done sowing the field with your entire family's blood. There are few things in this life that I cherish, but that little blond twat that I married and my sprogs top the list. I will raise bloody hell if anyone even thinks of breathing on them wrong."

"I…" Ben swallowed thickly and looked away. "I understand; and you have my guarantee that Michael will be nowhere near whatever restaurant you chose. Deb and Carl promised to hog tie him to his old bed if necessary."

"Well," Brian said, steepling his fingers as he studied the other man contemplatively. "It does seem that you're all wising up a bit when it comes to Michael's manipulations." Brian paused as he considered the pros and cons of the invitation. "I have to admit, you have me curious; but I can't give you an answer now. I need to talk it over with Justin; and let me tell you this now, if he says no; I will stand by his decision."

"Understandable," Ben nodded, taking the answer with better grace than Brian had expected. "Please feel free to call me anytime and let me know your decision. All I want is a chance to make amends between me, and the two of you; and I have a bit of news that I want to share that will, hopefully, have Justin resting easier. Also, Hunter wanted to be there to, as he put it, 'congratulate his favorite blond nemesis.' His words, not mine."

Brian's eyebrows rose, and he was tempted to ask just what kind of news would matter to either him or Justin, but he held mum as he really just wanted to get the fuck out of there and Zen Ben had already wasted more than enough of his time.

"I'll talk to Justin when I get home and let you know," Brian nodded and stood, gathering his things in a not so subtle hint. "Was there anything else?"

"No; have a good evening, Brian," Ben said, nodding again as he turned towards the door. "And say hello to Justin for me."

Brian nodded and watched as the other man walked out of the room before he exhaled explosively and relaxed his stance. Fuck this day. He was so over it. Time to go home, snag his favorite blond twat and forget the rest of these assholes for a while.

Chapter Text

February 21

Brian stood at the front of the conference table, shuffling through some papers in front of him as his chosen team came into the conference room and took their seats at the designated spots. Without looking at them, he handed out a packet of papers to each, and then slid a small tray of cups in front of each of them, ignoring their perplexed expressions as he did so. They would know what was happening soon enough.

Grabbing another packet and his own tray of cups, he rounded the table and sat down at the head of it, meticulously arranging everything in front of him. Looking up, Brian smirked as his three guests stared at the little cups in front of them with confusion for a minute and then looked up at him for an explanation.

"Thank you all for meeting me here today," Brian said, a bland smile on his face as he pulled the packet towards him. "I know that you all have busy schedules, so I do appreciate you taking the time to meet with me for this impromptu task force." He looked up when Emmett hesitantly raised his hand halfway; as if he was still in fucking grade school. Brian arched a brow. "Yes?"

"Um…not that I mind," Emmett said, looking at the other two guests with a bemused smile; which made sense as he was the only non-employee in the room. "But…um…why exactly am I here?"

"I need your expertise as a food service specialist," Brian informed him succinctly; and then turned back to the packet. "Plus, Ted is still on leave and I needed a third person."

"I see," Emmett said, drawing it out in a way that said the exact opposite. He shared another bemused look with Cynthia and Yasmeen, and then shook his head and turned back to Brian.

Brian rose from his seat and gestured to the settings in front of them.

"As you can probably tell from the lettered cups in front of you," he said, turning each of his taster cups to face around, trying to remain as professional as possible. "This is a blind taste test. And in each cup is a different brand of coffee. Beside it, you should also have a lettered information packet for each brand minus the name. If you do not, let me know and I can give you one. What I need, is for you to taste each of these coffees and make notes of what you think of it – taste, color, smell, etcetera; and then rate it, with one being 'I never want to drink it again' and ten being 'this is just as good as, if not better than my current brand.' Any questions?"

This time it was Cynthia that waved her hand.

"Uh, why are we doing this?" she asked as she set aside the packet she'd been studying and faced Brian.

Brian sighed; he knew that if any of them would questioned what he was doing, it would be Cynthia. Not because this was a new thing for her. They were often sent various products to look over and try out all the time, so that they would have a better idea of how to market said item. The problem was that this wasn't for an account. And if anyone knew that information, it would be Cynthia.

But, he had hoped if he'd presented it in a professional manner, she might let it slide for once. He should have known better really. Rolling his lips between his teeth, Brian tried to decide just how much information he wanted to give on the taste testing. Or, well, how little he could get away with saying without it becoming obvious that this was personal request, not a professional one.

"Would you believe me if I said that it was for a potential client and I want to have a blind taste test to see how it stacks up against other brands?" Brian asked, knowing damned well that Cynthia wouldn't buy it even for a minute. But he had to try anyways.

"No," Cynthia said, easily cutting through the bullshit; it was one of the things that Brian loved best about her. He also hated it because she'd always saw right through him, especially when he was trying to spin a story. "If it were a new account, I would have heard about it."

Brian sighed; okay, so half-truth it was.

"I've been thinking about switching my coffee brand," Brian admitted reluctantly; and the thing was, it wasn't lie. It wasn't the whole truth either. "And I wanted to get some expert opinions?"

"Right," Cynthia scoffed, narrowing her eyes as she studied Brian, her brow furrowing in that way that told Brian that she knew something was off, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what yet. "And how are we're your panel of experts?"

"Well," Brian said with a winning smile; one that only seemed to make her all themore suspicious. "I trust all of your judgments and I know you won't bullshit me."

He and Cynthia stared at each other a long moment; the look in her eyes told him that she knew he was full of shit, but she just didn't know why. She really did know him far too well. Brian just smirked and she huffed and turned back to the cups in front of her.

"Uh…if that's the case," Yasmeen piped up, looking at the cups in front of her with barely disguised disgust. "I don't think I'll be much help."

"Why?" Brian asked; and then he scowled as a thought came to mind. "Don't tell me that you drink that instant shit; because if you do, we need to re-educate you on what real coffee truly is."

"Actually, I don't drink coffee at all," Yasmeen shrugged, her nose scrunching up as she continued to stare at the coffee as if it was going to bite her.

"What?" Cynthia said, giving up her staring contest with Brian in favor of looking at the other woman in surprise. Something that Brian fully understood, because really?

"How do you not drink coffee?" Brian asked, staring at his personal assistant as if she'd suddenly sprouted another head. Fuck, he didn't think he could survive one day without his coffee, let alone never drink it again.

"I never cared for the taste of it," Yasmeen said, shrugging again; and still Brian just was not getting it. Who doesn't like coffee? "And a lot of hot drinks make my stomach hurt; so, I don't even drink hot chocolate or cider or anything like that."

Brian stood there, stunned. He'd never heard that before and couldn't wrap his mind around the idea of not liking coffee. It just didn't compute. Yasmeen just stared back unrepentantly and shrugged for a third time, sliding the cups away from her slowly.

"I think you broke him, sweetie," Emmett joked, a smirk on his lips as he watched the interplay. He did, however, pull his tray closer to him; so, at least, Brian knew that he could count on him for this venture."

"How does anyone not drink coffee?" Brian asked, still not getting it. I mean, it was coffee; the elixir of the Gods. "How do you survive the mornings without coffee?"

"Trust me," Yasmeen snorted, a humorous light glint dancing in her eyes. "With my niece living with me; waking up is not an issue in the morning. Now, staying asleep on the other hand; that is a much more pressing problem. Sleeping in does not happen often."

"I can't even begin to fathom…" Brian said, still caught up in the idea of someone not liking coffee. It made no sense to him.

"So, as I said," Yasmeen smiled and stood, getting ready to leave the room. "I doubt I'll be much help as I can guarantee that it will all taste like crap to me."

"Be gone, you heathen," Brian huffed with disgust, shooing her away. "Find me another minion who appreciates a good brew."

Yasmeen just snorted and left the room; hopefully to find him a normal person who understands the beauty of a perfect cup of coffee in the morning. How the hell can you not like coffee? It just seemed so…he didn't even have the words to say what it was. But it was a travesty, that's for sure. Turning back to Cynthia and Emmett, Brian figured he should get started; he could catch the other person up when they got here.

And he opened his mouth to suggest just that when Emmett raised his hand again. Huffing, Brian pinched the bridge of his nose and prayed for strength; if this kept up, their coffee was going to go cold before they ever got around to drinking it. And then, the taste test wouldn't matter because it would all definitely taste for shit. Heaving a put upon sigh, Brian looked at Emmett and said:

"Yes, Emmett?"

"So," Emmett said as he dropped his hand, a knowing smirk in his lips. "What's this really about, Big Bad?"

"What makes you ask that?" Brian hedged, trying to bluff his way through it.

Emmett's smirk broadened. "I know how much you love your current brand; I remember the extensive taste testing you did just to find it. Why change it now?"

Brian cursed silently in his head and wished that his friends were just a little less smart and didn't know him so well. Rolling his lips between his teeth, he quickly thought up a likely excuse that would be close enough to the truth, but not give the entire thing away.

"I'm looking for a healthier alternative," Brian said slowly, running a hand through his hair, trying to be as nonchalant as possible. "You know, like that organic or all-natural stuff."

He failed, of course; because just as he said that Cynthia sat up straight in her chair and fixed him with a narrow-eyed look, her lips pursed. "Please tell me you aren't trying to replace Justin's coffee with decaf again; because, as I recall, that didn't work out so well for you last time."

Brian winced, cursing under his breath as she hit the nail on the head. Cynthia crowed triumphantly, a wide smile on her lips. Emmett's eyes widened with sudden understanding and then he hissed at the cups in front of him as if they'd betrayed him. Brian sighed and slumped into his chair; well, he might as well come clean.

"Last time" Brian huffed, shooting Cynthia an irritated glare. "I didn't taste it beforehand. I just listened to Ted, who swore Blake never noticed the difference."

"Yes, he did," Emmett refuted, shrugging when Brian looked at him funny. "He just learned to humor Ted and switched it right back to his regular brand after Ted swapped out the beans. Ted never figured it out."

And fuck, he hadn't thought of that; but the good thing was, neither had Justin. This was weird, because usually that was a very Justin thing to do; but maybe he'd just not been the mood to deal with it and went for the in your face method that day.

"Considering that's my CFO; you know, the man in charge of all of my money, that statement really doesn't raise my confidence in him any," Brian said with a frown. Although, that wasn't quite a true statement. He knew damned well that Ted was a wiz when it came to money matters and wasn't worried at all. He was just irritated that he'd been found out and was trying to deflect.

"Please," Emmett rolled his eyes and cast a knowing glance Brian's way. "When it comes to money, Ted's mind is a steel trap. It's everything else he has issues with."

"So, here's a question for you," Cynthia piped up, a smirk on her lips and an amused glint in her eyes. "What are you going to do when he's tired and notices the caffeine isn't working? You know, because there is none."

"I'll cross that bridge when I get there," Brian muttered, still feeling a bit disgruntled that his little plan fell apart before it had even begun. "He's pregnant after all; he was warned that he was likely to feel more tired as time went on. I can play it off."

"Yeah," Emmett scoffed in disbelief; he stood and waved his hand towards the coffee. " No way. Not getting involved in this. I like my balls right where they are, thank you very much. As does Drew. But, you have fun with that and let us know how successful you are."

And with that Cynthia snickered and stood as well, joining Emmett as he walked towards the door.

"Disbelievers," Brian called after them, shoving the packet he'd so carefully created aside. "I will win this."

"Sure you will," Cynthia called back over her shoulder, flashing him a smile that said that she was merely humoring him. "But you know what, your funeral. I'm going back to my office."

Brian huffed again and stood up to clean everything the mess he'd made; he definitely needed new friends.

Chapter Text

February 22

"So, an interesting thing happened today," Brian stated quite out of the blue, startling Justin from his thoughts.

Justin looked up from his sketchpad, utterly confused, wondering what could have been so interesting that Brian trekked all the way from his study, and down into the basement media room, where Justin and Gus were watching a movie. Or, well, Gus was watching the movie and Justin had been working on a preliminary sketch for the painting he wanted to do for their bedroom.

The one that would replace... Justin shook his head, and shunted that thought aside in order to focus on Brian. Furrowing his brow, he tried to recall if anything unusual had happened that morning, but nothing came to mind. It had been a relatively quiet day, with even the phone as silent as a tomb for one; which he supposed was unusual in, and of, itself. But then again, it was usually Michael calling and since Brian wasn't speaking to him...

"Oh?" Justin asked, wondering where Brian was going with this; which seemed to be the exact opening that Brian was looking for as he grinned and prowled into the room in a very distinctly predatory manner. One that did not make his dick hard. Nope, not at all. "What happened?"

"Earlier this morning, while you were still sleeping," Brian said with a knowing smirk, coming up to lean against the couch that Justin was sitting on, his arms crossed over his chest. "Gus decided that he wanted to play Mario Kart, and challenged me to a game."

"Okaaaay." Justin drew the word out, still uncertain where Brian was going with it; he tried to think of what could be so unusual by that; but, frankly, it just sounded like a typical Saturday morning to him. Unless… "Did you actually win this time?"

Gus snorted and Brian scowled; he leaned over and flicked Gus in the ear. Gus scowled and moved away, dropping to the floor in front of the TV set. Okay, so it wasn't that. Justin rolled his lips under and stared at Brian, completely at a loss.

"Not ringing any bells, Sunshine?" Brian taunted as he placed his hands on the arm of the couch and leaned forward, a feral grin splitting his face.

"Should it?" Justin asked, utterly bewildered; he had no idea what Brian was hinting at; although, based on the way Brian was acting, Justin supposed that he had something to do with it. He just didn't see what he could've done to put that smirk on Brian's face; he'd slept until nearly noon that day.

"Hmmmm…" Brian hummed and lifted one hand; he reached behind his back and pulled something out of his pocket, holding it out in front of him. "This jog your memory any?"

Justin's eyes widened as he stared at the innocuous yellow, sponge cake in Brian's hand and cursed under his breath. Fuck. He'd thought that he'd moved those the other day! But he must have gotten distracted and forgotten, considering the evidence was staring him in the face.

Well, fuck; how the hell was he going to explain this one?

Justin chewed on his lower lip. When they'd gotten home from the prank ultrasound; Brian had told him that, if he was going to eat the little snack cakes, he would prefer that Justin eat the ones he ordered as they were made with organic ingredients. And Justin had complied; the ones Brian had bought did taste a hell of lot better. And even he could see the appeal of them over the real Twinkies, which were filled preservatives.

And then the asshole had held him down on the bed and tortured him with his lips and tongue until Justin promised not to buy the others again. A promise that he hadn't broken by the way, as he'd purchased the Twinkies before the agreement; but he doubted that Brian would the distinction.

He was so fucked.

"I see that caught your attention," Brian continued, stalking towards Justin slowly, prompting him to clamber off of the sofa and round it, trying to keep some distance between himself and his husband. Because he also remembered the agreed upon punishment if he broke said promise. "Imagine my surprise, when we opened the cabinet where the games and consoles are stored, only to find a box of Twinkies."

Justin hissed, wishing that he'd remembered to move them yesterday. He so didn't need to get his ass spanked today, not to mention the other delicious, yet inappropriate, forms of torture Brian insisted on.

"Sorry, Jus," Gus piped up, sending Justin a sympathetic smile over his shoulder. "I tried to play it off and tell him that they were mine, but he wouldn't believe me."

And that was why he loved this boy; best son ever. Even if it hadn't worked, he had his Papa's back.

"Damned right I didn't believe you," Brian snorted, and slowly circled the couch again, snickering when Justin scurried towards the opposite end. And then Justin scowled and halted in his tracks, offering up a rude gesture to let Brian know what he thought of that. "I know my little twat far too well."

"They could have been his!" Justin huffed, scowling and scurrying away again as Brian just continued his slow prowl. Brain snorted and didn't bother to answer; which Justin didn't blame him. If the roles had been reversed, he would have believed him either. Not that he was going to admit to that. "Well, they could have been!"

Brian just shook his head sadly at Justin. "I thought we agreed that I would back off on the Twinkie thing, if you agreed to eat the ones that I bought for you?"

And well, yes they had; but surely the ones he'd bought were granfathered into the deal. It would have been an utter waste otherwise; and Justin hated wasting food. Huffing, Justin moved away from the couch, towards the door and then stood his ground, his eyes warily following his husband ambling steps as he stalked towards him. "We did," he agreed, crossing his arms over his chest. "But, I bought those a few days before we made our deal and then forgot about them."

Brian snorted again and stepped right up, toe to toe with Justin; he leaned in and arched a brow. Justin defiantly jutted his chin out; he rested his hands on his hips and leaned in until they stood nose to nose as well, showing Brian that he wasn't going to be intimidated.

Brian smirked at the challenge and met it, whispering against Justin's lips, "Then why are there two missing?"

Justin's eyes widened; his head snapped back and he cursed under his breath once more as he knew he'd been caught, sending Brian into a round of guffaws. Fuuuuuuck; he had forgotten that he'd opened the box yesterday when he couldn't find the snack cakes that Brian had bought him. And he had looked. High and low, nearly tearing the house apart in his enthusiasm; but nothing turned up.

So, he caved, and ripped open the box of creamy, sponge cake goodness figuring Brian would never know the difference.

Of course, he could have just called Brian and asked; but these were readily available and it wasn't like he expected Brian to find out as he'd planned to move them. But that obviously didn't happen and now he was paying the price. He supposed he could have lied and said he ate them before they made their agreement, but Justin didn't like lying to Brian, even over something so small. Unless it was obvious it was an outright lie.

Like now.

"Mice?" Justin offered weakly, a sheepish grin on his face.

Brian just stared at him incredulously.

What? It was his story and he was sticking to it.

Grinning unrepentantly, Justin just stared right back as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Fuck it. If he was going to get in trouble, might as well make Brian work for it. Brian exhaled explosively, pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered under his breath about 'smart-ass husbands that needed to be taught a lesson.' Hearing that, Justin slowly backed away, heading for the door as Brian looked up and shook his head; he rolled his lips under in that look where he was trying to be stern, but really meant he was trying not to laugh.

"Here, Sonny Boy," Brian said, tossing the Twinkie to Gus, who caught it and opened it immediately. "You can have the rest of them as well; just don't eat them all in one sitting, please. I need to have a discussion with your other father."

"A discussion, right," Gus huffed, rolling his eyes as he turned back to the TV. "I'll stay here then; you know, in that basement, with the TV up so that I'm not traumatized by another of your 'discussions.'"

Justin flushed as Gus grabbed the remote and did just that, and then went back to ignoring his fathers. Brian smirked and walked menacingly towards him. Justin took another two steps back and then, when he hit the door, spun around and trotted off down the hall as fast as he could; which, sadly wasn't all that fast since he was hampered by his growing baby bump. He climbed the stairs and then headed towards the others, thinking that if he got to his studio, he'd be safe. A sound plan that never reached fruition as Brian, who'd taken the stairs two at a time, grabbed him around the waist and pulled him into his chest, halting all movement.

Squealing, Justin struggled, halfheartedly trying to break free; but it was a short-lived thing as Brian just said 'fuck it,' scooped him up into his arms a la Rage and JT and hauled him into his study, kicking the door shut behind him. But like hell was Justin going to give in graciously; he knew what was coming. So, once Brian had set Justin down on his feet, he immediately scurried away and put a small side table between them.

"Mice?" Brian huffed, staring at Justin despairingly; and yeah, Justin admitted that had been weak; but it wasn't as if he had been trying to give a serious answer. "Seriously, mice? That's the best you can come up with?"

Justin shrugged; what could you do?

"Would you prefer that I lied to you and said that I ate them before we made the agreement?" Justin asked, smirking when Brian scowled at the thought; if there was one thing Brian hated above all things, it was being lied to. "Should I have told you that I've only eaten the ones you've ordered since the agreement? I could have, you know. There was a five-day gap between when I bought them and when we made our agreement."

"Uh huh," Brian scoffed renewing his predatory prowl. "It's a good thing you didn't, little boy; that would have definitely gotten you into even more trouble than you're in now and I would have instantly hauled you over my knee to exact my revenge."

Justin rolled his eyes and moved to put the loveseat between them when Brian got to close.

"It was a Twinkie emergency!" Justin said, resting his hands on his hips and glaring at a smirking Brian, carefully pointing his vulnerable backside away from his husband's grasping hands. "You can't punish me for that!"

"Oh, I can't, can I?' Brian said, snickering at his antics; and then he wagged a single finger tauntingly at Justin. "You know the consequences, Sunshine." Brian pointed at Justin and then pointed the empty space next to him, commanding in a voice that sent a pleasant shiver down Justin's spine. "Now come here."

Justin shook his head, a mutinous expression on his face; no way in hell. Not that it deterred his asshole husband any; Brian just flashed a wicked grin and skirted the couch,intent on getting to Justin.

"Brian!" Justin hissed, his cheeks flushing as he stepped away.

But unfortunately, he hadn't been watching where he was going and ended up backing himself into a corner. A flash of triumph flickered in Brian's eyes as he continued his advancement; Justin huffed, and took his eyes Brian for only a second to see what was blocking him. But it was enough as Brian used his distraction against him and quickly ate up the distance between them. Justin looked back and startled to find his husband directly in from of him a victorious grin on his face.

"You can't!" Justin hissed, leaning away, but it was no use; he was good and caught. "Gus is here! And you know exactly where that leads."

"Oh yes, I do," Brian purred, grabbing Justin around his waist and yanking him against him.

Brian pulled him as close as they could get and still breathe; he nuzzled the tip of his nose along Justin's cheek and ground their dicks together, smirking when Justin gasped as his hormones once again took front and center. Fuck. He was so ready for the day when his libido didn't get excited at a stiff wind. It was like being a fucking teenager all over again. And he thought seventeen was bad.

"Which is why I'll be waiting until later to blister you ass for going back on your promise," Brian murmured as he trailed soft kisses over his jaw, nibbling and nipping until Justin was a puddle of goo.

"You say that as if it's supposed deter me from attempting it again," Justin snorted, groaning when their cocks slid against each other; fuck, how was he supposed to concentrate when he did things like that. He needed to regain control. "Besides, this is your fault."

And that seemed to it; score one for him.

"My fault!?" Brian screeched, (yes, screeched, it does happen occasionally; although Brian would deny it if asked); he pulled back and stared at Justin incredulously. "How the hell is your lack of control my fault?"

"well, I ate all of the pseudo-Twinkies you put in my can," Justin stated primly; snickering when Brian just stared at him as if he's grown another head. "And I don't know where the others are. Ergo, your fault."

"There were twelve of them in that box!" Brian exclaimed, his face screwed up in disgust; and really, why is he surprised by this? He knew Justin's sweet tooth and should have expected it.

"And?" Justin demanded, his hands on hips; and huffed when Brian just gaped at him. "That was nine days ago!"

"You ate twelve pseudo-Twinkies in nine days!?" Brian shook his head as his eyes slid over Justin's body as if he were expecting to find evidence of his splurge; something that had Justin bristling.

"Actually it was seven days ago," Justin correct, just a bit miffed; Brian scowled and shook his head in disgust. Justin shrugged, completely unrepentant. "Hence the Twinkie emergency. All your fault."

"I'm not even going to dignify that with a response," Brian huffed; he walked over to the couch and flopped down, still looking a bit put out by Justin's confession. "You and your fucking sweet tooth. I swear, it is going to be the death of me. But, for your information; they're in Gus' room. I'll be sure to give them to you tonight and you can hide them to your heart's content. Fucking twelve in seven days."

Justin decided to take that as a minor victory; Lord knew he needed them some days. "It's not my fault; I couldn't help myself."

Brian just arched a brow and then groaned when Justin solemnly quipped:

"They're like Lay's; you can't eat just one!"

Chapter Text

February 23

"Is there a point to this?" Justin pointedly asked, not caring in the least if his words and tone came off as rude, even if went against his nature to do so.

His mother had raised him to be a proper WASP after all; but there just came a point in time where the kid gloves needed to come off, and this was definitely one of those times. Lindsay had been waxing poetic all afternoon about the 'spiritual and life-enhancing miracle that was birth,' specifically, and in general, sharing way too much fucking information about her own experience with Gus.

What was it about carriers who felt the need to share their own birth experience in as excruciating detail as possible to other parents-to-be? It amazed Justin that there were as many people on the planet today given this propensity to over share. God knows that if he'd talked to Lindsay before deciding to have a kid, in all likelihood, it wouldn't have happened by the time she was done. Because, really, it sounded more like the climax of a horror movie than the 'spiritual and life-enhancing miracle' she claimed it to be.

Taking a sip of his water, Justin watched as Lindsay scrunched up her face in displeasure, giving off the appearance that she'd smelled something foul; a look that was becoming more and more familiar the deeper Justin got into his pregnancy. But really, had she not learned the last time she'd tried to steer him in a direction in line with her own way of thinking? Just because he hadn't seen the manipulation that the whole Art Forum article had been at the time - you know, back when he'd barely been an adult - didn't mean that he'd be so easily led around by the nose again.

Smiling blandly at their audience, who were deriving far too much enjoyment out of Lindsay's and his sparring, Justin waited for whatever new nugget of Zen-like truth she was about to spout on squeezing something the size of small watermelon out of something that soooo wasn't. Because he hadn't drank the Kool-Aid; and he wasn't interested in buying any bridges either; so he had no idea why she'd thought that he'd fall for any of her nonsense now.

"I'm just saying that giving birth is a natural and beautiful thing," Lindsay huffed, sitting up in her chair primly, acting as if she were royalty, ruling over her underlings. Justin barely quelled the urge to roll his eyes as she turned his mother, a simpering smile on her face. If she only knew what his mom really thought of her and her airs. "Surely, you'll agree with me, Jen."

Justin snickered as his mother turned to her with a bland smile, looking every inch the old money she was; only he could see just how annoyed she was to be dragged into this petty battle of wills. To the rest of the room, it looked as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. Well, Brian would have been able tell if he hadn't been too busy discussing the baby growth project with Gus and Jenny; he'd been around her enough to see it too.

"Oh, honey; don't get me involved with this," his mother said with a mild smile that was just a little too plastic around the edges; and then it turned genuine as she looked at him. "Besides Justin was stubborn from the very beginning and took nearly eighteen hours to make an appearance; and then when he did burst onto the scene, he screamed the place down. I didn't find anything magical about that." Justin rolled his eyes, as he'd heard that story every time she was irritated with him. "I should have known even then that you were going to be a drama queen."

Everyone in the vicinity laughed outside Lindsay, who was wearing a smile that was a little to plastic to be genuine – it was a little too wide and a little too tight; sort of like one would expect from stretching a rubber band. Seriously, what the hell was her problem? It had been funny, even if it had been at his expense. It's okay to laugh.

"Thanks a lot, Mom," Justin huffed; not that he didn't agree with her, but did she have to announce it to the world?

"Anytime, sweetheart," his mother said, the faintest hint of a smirk on her lips. Justin rolled his eyes again as she leaned over and patted him on the cheek. "Just remember – what goes around, comes around."

"I'm sure Sunbeam will be an angel," Justin said in a haughty tone; and mock scowled when his mother snorted in utter disbelief.

"Yeah, I said that too," his mother said, an indulgent look on her face, her tone as dry as the Sahara. "And look at what I got stuck with."

Justin just rolled his eyes again, something he was doing a lot of that day, and jabbed Brian in the ribs with his elbow when he snickered. He yelped and glared at Justin, and then pinched him on the ass, frowning when Justin barely reacted. Justin just smirked; that's what happened when your husband had an obsession with your ass. You sort of grew immune to the constant abuse.

"I did it," Lindsay stated primly, drawing all eyes back to her; obviously she wasn't happy that she'd lost her audience. Everyone looked at her in bewilderment, having since moved on from the prior nauseating topic. So, of course, she clarified just in case everyone hadn't wanted the conversation to end about twenty minutes ago. You know, when she first brought it up. "Natural birth; it was a wonderful experience."

Justin noted the grimaces around him and decided to nip this in the bud before Emmett climbed into Drew's lap and begged him to make it stop before he decided that he never going to have kids. He turned to Lindsay and stared at her as if she'd grown another head. "That explains so much."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Lindsay demanded waspishly, her mouth pursed so tightly that it looked as if she'd been sucking on a box of lemons.

"Look up the word masochism," Justin told her, smirking when she let out a little outraged gasp; he did so love to tweak her tail these days. It was just so damned easy and he needed to get his entertainment somehow since Brian was being all Captain Caveman on him. "That should tell you all you need to know."

Justin yelped when Brian elbowed him in the ribs this time; and then scowled and glared at him as he rubbed them - like he didn't get enough of that with Sunbeam.

"Wait; why the fuck would you do that?" Brian asked as Lindsay's words clicked; and this time it was him that was staring at Lindsay as if she'd lost her marbles.

Lindsay huffed and primly smoothed her skirt over her legs. "I just didn't want to be pumped full of drugs."

"Since when?" Brian snorted, likely recalling the time after Gus was born when breastfeeding certainly hadn't stopped her from toking up and drinking E-laced punch. Thankfully she'd had the presence of mind to switch to formula after that for a few days.

"I found it to be a very spiritual experience," Lindsay said a bit stiffly, her mouth compressing into a thin line. Time to shut this conversation down.

"Yeah, fuck that; when they ask me if I want drugs, I'm going to say knock me the fuck out," Justin said, leaning against Brian as his husband wrapped an arm around him and turned back to the conversation he'd been having with Gus and Jenny. "I'm actually not allergic to these drugs, and that would be the only reason that I would forego them."

That brought on another round of laughter from everyone assembled. Well, except for Lindsay, who just scowled and shutdown. He should probably feel bad that he'd made light of the topic, but what did it take to get her to back the fuck off? He'd already told her once that he didn't need, nor did he want her advice. He had a very competent doctor that could easily handle any questions that he might have; and since Liz specialized in male pregnancy, he trusted her word over someone whose own advice was based solely on her personal experience as a woman giving birth and what she'd read on the net.

Sensing that things would get out of hand if she didn't interfere, his mother turned to him with a smile and asked, "So, have you and Brian decided on a name yet?"

Justin groaned; he'd known this question would come up eventually, but he'd been hoping to put it off for a while longer. The truth was, Brian and he had been so wrapped up in everything going on in their lives; that they hadn't really done more than toss the occasional name around. He knew that the really needed to buckle down and find the time to focus on it; but every time they'd attempted it, they had been met with some new drama. Not to mention that the whole keeping the gender a secret was an issue.

Luckily, Brian decided to come to his aid.

"We've been jotting down names that we like, but haven't narrowed it down just yet," he said, running his hand along Justin's arm to show that he had this. "And we don't really want to share since it will give the gender away; but, nice try."

"You can't blame me for trying, dear," his mother laughed, not at all ashamed of her ploy; she'd been trying to trick them into telling her the gender since they'd found out. "I remember when we were trying to decide on Justin's name; you were lucky that I won that battle. Your dad was picking the most pretentious names possible, like Preston and Tiberius; luckily, I convinced him that it was a tradition in my family to name the first male child after his grandfathers. He swallowed that down hook, line and sinker."

"Well, nothing was more important to dad than appearances," Justin said wryly, crinkling his nose at the idea of being named Preston. God, his father had no taste at all. "Although, it looks like the both of us tend to favor gender neutral names."

"Well then, there shouldn't be a reason that you can't tell us then, is there?" Emmett teased; Justin crinkled his nose and stuck his tongue out at him.

"Still not telling," Justin said, covering his mouth on a yawn. Fuck, he'd been getting tired much easier and faster these days. He hated to see what it was going to be like when he started hitting the last couple of months of his pregnancy.

Leaning back into Brian, Justin let himself drift, mostly ignoring the conversation around him as the family offered up names for consideration. Most of it was all in good fun, and mostly to poke at Brian, who immediately shot them all down. But when Emmett suggested Tallulah James, a name he'd always loved as it reminded him of his Aunt Lula, Justin knew that it was time to leave before Brian killed the other man.

Plus, it was getting close to six and Justin knew that Michael, Ben and Hunter would be arriving soon for dinner; and while Justin wouldn't mind seeing Hunter, he wasn't so keen on the other two. Especially as he was still undecided on this dinner with Ben. He had to admit, a part of him was curious as to what this news Ben had for him was; but he just didn't trust him not to say something to Michael, and give Michael the opportunity to show up and cause problems.

As it was, Brian and Justin had come over to Deb's for lunch instead of dinner, and then spent the rest of the afternoon with everyone as they showed up. Leaning up, Justin pressed a kiss into the hollow of Brian's ear and whispered, "We should get going; it's getting close to six and you know what that means."

"Yeah," Brian murmured back, tuning to drop a soft kiss on Justin's mouth. "Are we going to Mother Taylor's for dinner tonight or is it just us?"

"She and Tucker have plans," Justin said, sitting up and stretching out his legs in preparation of getting up; another thing that had been getting increasingly more difficult the bigger his stomach grew. "So, it's just us. Take out and home?"

"Sounds fabulous," Brian said in a low voice, looking around to make sure that no one was paying them any mind. "I like the idea of having you all to myself. And I do hope that you didn't forget about our little conversation from yesterday. I know I didn't."

"Brian…" Justin protested, although it was a weak one at best; in truth, he was already getting hard just thinking about all the dirty things Brian had vowed to do to him in punishment for his supposed transgressions.

"Make our excuses, Sunshine," Brian demanded quietly; and then he stood, and said for everyone to hear. "We have things to do."

Justin clambered up with Brian's assistance and did just that, exchanging hugs and kisses and making plans with Emmett to do lunch this coming week. And then they headed out, the both of them hissing when they opened the door and realized that they hadn't left soon enough. Rolling his lips between his teeth, Justin looked up at Brian, who just shrugged and kept walking as if he hadn't seen Michael, Ben and Hunter walking up the sidewalk.

Shrugging, Justin followed in his wake, nodding to Hunter, who Justin had taken a surprising liking to once they got beyond his whole wanting Brian bit, as they passed. He didn't bother to acknowledge the other two; not that it stopped Michael from opening his fat mouth and making an absolute idiot of himself. Again.

"Where are you guys going?" Michael demanded as he spun around to watch them walk down the sidewalk towards their car.

"Leaving," Justin said, keeping it short and sweet when it became obvious that Brian wasn't going to answer; Brian looked at him and shook his head, silently telling him not to goad the dumb animals by poking at them. But fuck it; he asked.

"But we just got here," Michael spluttered, as if unable to believe that Brian would simply walk away from him without a single word spoken; never mind the fact that Brian hadn't spoken to or acknowledged him in any way over the past two weeks.

"Exactly," Justin said again, ignoring Brian's sigh; he was so going to pay for this when they got home, but at the moment, he enjoyed winding Mikey up

"Listen here you little…" Michael began, walking towards them, but he didn't get far before Brian was turning around and pulling Justin behind him in a great Rage impression.

"Michael." Brian hissed sharply, flicking a look that could kill his direction; and that was all Brian had to say to have Michael huffing and stomping off as if someone had pissed all over his Captain Astro comics.

Sighing, Brian turned around and just looked at Justin for a long moment, silently chastising him for not ignoring the puffed up, annoying, little man; one that was followed by the look that told him he was in for it when he got home. What a shame. Justin just grinned unrepentantly, walked over to the car and climbed in. Brian shook his head, rounded the SUV and slid into the driver's side.

Starting the SUV, Brian looked to make certain no one was coming and then pulled out onto the road without saying a word, immediately heading for their favorite Chinese restaurant because he just knew Justin that well. He kept flicking little glances over at Justin, who hummed along with the song on the radio until finally Justin felt the need to break the silence between them.

"You know, you enjoy those verbal sparring sessions between me and Lindsay way too much," Justin observed, sending his husband a knowing look. Brian snickered.

"They should make WASP offs into a sport," Brian said, a smirk firmly planted on his lips as he turned into the parking lot of the restaurant. "We'd make a killing."

"They have," Justin said dryly. "It's called Dinner at the Country Club; remind me to take you there some time. I hear that Craig is still reeling from the last verbal beat down that Mom gave him. We could really make his day and make him deal with his richer, much more successful, faggot son and his equally impressive husband."

"As fun as that sounds," Brian drawled, his tone implying anything but. "I have better things to do; namely you, naked, and in our bed. Now hurry up and get out of the car, so that we can get food and then get to it."

Chapter Text

February 24

Emmett sighed and hurried after his favorite blond; although, he really wasn't his favorite blond at the moment since he was likely to get Emmett killed due to his actions. But despite how hard he'd tried to convince Justin that this wasn't a wise idea, the blond just stared him down and told him that if he didn't come with him, he'd find someone that would. And just like that, Emmett had caved like a house of cards under a stiff wind.

What was it about the Taylor-Kinneys that had Emmett caving to their will with a mere bat of their eyes in Justin's case, or an arched eyebrow in the case of his less jolly other half? They were going to drive him mad with all of their subterfuge and maneuvering of each other. Although, he supposed it was sweet in a weird way; but he knew he should've just turned down Justin's offer for lunch today.

He slid into the passenger side of Justin's SUV, because it was definitely Justin's SUV, and not Brian's, as Big Bad had told everyone from here and sundry, and closed the door. He cast an exasperated glance over at Justin, just to let him know what he thought of this venture; but Justin expertly ignored it, and instead, started the car and pulled out onto the drive.

Well, he supposed that Baby would've grown immune to that look, considering how many times he'd been on the receiving end of, and withstood, the patented Brian Kinney death glare. He supposed his puny look of disappointment had nothing on that.

"Brian is so going to kill me for this," Emmett muttered as Justin headed towards the interstate that would take them into to town and directly to Carnegie Mellon. And he had been looking forward to a quiet day of puttering around at home.

"Brian isn't going to do a thing because he's not going to find out," Justin snorted, easing onto the highway and then punching the gas to speed up. Emmett grabbed the pocket in the door in preparation for another adventure in what Justin called driving. Sometimes, he wondered how the boy managed to get his license.

But then, he just chalked it up to the one truth in life – Justin learned all the rules, then acted like an angel until he got what he wanted and then promptly forgot them.

"You say that now," Emmett sighed, giving in as gracelessly as possible, just knowing that there would be hell to be paid since he couldn't talk his Baby out of this misadventure. It would be like trying to tell Michael that Brian would never see his as husband material – completely useless. "But Big Bad always finds out."

"Who's going to tell him?" Justin huffed, looking away from the road long enough to cast a derisive expression his way. "Me? Not likely." Justin changed lanes with the barest look, nearly cutting someone off. Really, New York had been bad for that boy's driving skills. "You?" And then he paused to ponder that and shrugged. "Well..."

"He just has this way of knowing things as soon as he looks at me," Emmett defended, his knuckles blanching as Justin continued to lane hop. He was so glad it was the middle of the day and not rush hour. "It's like he has a built-in bullshit detector. He does the look – you know what look I'm talking about – and the next thing I know, I'm confessing all my sins and telling him about the time that I briefly had a career as a male escort…."

"You were a male escort?" Justin asked, flicking an incredulous glance his way as they careened down the interstate; Brian really needed to enroll this boy into remedial driving lessons. "I never knew that."

"It was very short-lived," Emmett shrugged, waving it off with his free hand, because like hell was he going to let go of his handhold. "Didn't even last out the day. They told me that I would be expected to escort women as part of the job, and then, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, whatever happened on our downtime was our business if I wanted to make a little extra cash. I shuddered at the mere thought of some society matron pawing me like I was her new favorite toy and got the fuck out of there."

"That must have been horrifying," Justin laughed, flicking his turn signal on after the fact; someone really should have told him that you need to indicate that you're changing lanes before you did it.

But then again, that went back to those rules that Justin ignored when it benefited him; something that Emmett should have learned when a cute, little, bubble-butted blond came along and demolished all of Big Bad's rules with nothing more than a Sunshine smile.

"You have no idea, sweetie," Emmett said, shuddering at the thought of being anywhere near girl bits. Really, once had been enough to make him realize the horrifying fate he'd escaped that day. "I saw a small sampling of the clientele as I was leaving and let's just say; if that's what you can expect, I wasn't all that impressed."

"Poor Em…" Justin laughed, and then scowled as someone got in front of him and had the nerve to go the speed limit. "Terrorized by all those female bits; although, I don't blame you. I'm not sure I could do it either. Having sex with Daphne was bad enough; especially when she decided I was her new favorite toy and dumped her boyfriend in some misguided belief that we were now boyfriend and girlfriend. Never mind the fact that I was queerer than a three-dollar bill and was routinely getting fucked by Brian at that time."

"You always were the exception to all his rules," Emmett said; tittering a bit at the double meaning that comment. "Not that I blamed him once he got a look at that cute, little, bubble-butt. If I'd have thought that you'd have even spared me a glance, I so would have tapped that. But alas, they all want God Kinney."

"Yes, they all wanted him," Justin smirked, changing lanes again to go around the person in front of him; thankfully he didn't flip the other person off as he passed, but he did give them a what-the-fuck look. "And well, still want him to be truthful about it, but I'm the one that got him. Eat your heart out Pittsburgh."

"At least when he finally fixated, it was with someone I could stand," Emmett said, bracing himself as they careened onto the off ramp, speeding down it as if they were still on the interstate until they were just at the end and Justin finally applied the brakes. "Some of his tricks, while admittedly gorgeous, were as dense as a ten-foot concrete slab."

"Dense as a brick didn't work for you?" Justin snickered, looking briefly to make sure there weren't any cars coming before he went on his merry way, abusing traffic rules right and left as if they were mere advisories and not concrete laws.

"Oh, honey," Emmett shook his head, still amazed that a trip that should have taken about an hour, took nearly half that. "They were well beyond that. Definitely the 'just sit there and look pretty' types. It's no wonder they couldn't hold his interest."

Justin pulled into the university area, navigating the roads as if he knew where he was going; which he likely did. Justin never did anything half-assed. And this had been no spur of the moment idea. He'd planned this from the very start, including inviting Emmett along because he'd known that Emmett would cave into his desires.

"Fuck," Emmett muttered again, refocusing on the reason for this visit now that he was no longer concerned with his immanent death at the hands of his very good, but slightly reckless friend. No, his death will likely be a long, drawn out thing at the hands of his very irate husband. He just couldn't win. "Brian is so going to kill me."

"You're always free to leave," Justin said as he swung into the parking lot, and because life always favored him, found a parking spot immediately. "The only reason I asked you to come with me is that Brian has been acting like a caveman lately; and I promised him that I would never be alone until they caught the person who broke into the loft and gallery. If you feel you can't handle this that bus over there will take you back. In fact, it might be better for you in the end as you have looser lips than…"

"Now that's just rude, Baby," Emmett said, cutting him off and breathing a sigh of relief when the car stopped moving; he didn't care how he did it, but he was definitely driving them home. "But I'm going to overlook it because I love you and I know you're stressed."

Justin turned off the SUV and looked over at Emmett, arching his brow in a perfect imitation of Brian. And that was just so unfair; he couldn't use that trick too! The puppy dog eyes were bad enough; he didn't need to be subjected to the Kinney arch as well.

"And Brian really would kill me if I left you here by yourself," Emmett continued, ignoring the way the little brat snickered at him. "And sweetie, I am far too young and pretty to die and deprive the world of all the fabulousness that is me; even if it means they can only look and long from afar these days."

"And they say Brian is the egotistical one," Justin teased, unlatching his seat belt and opening the car door. "How is it that we've never seen this coming?'

"My flame burns far too hot and bright," Emmett preened as he opened his own door, sending a small smirk over at the blond; who just rolled his eyes. "It blinds you to all of my pesky flaws."

"Okay, Miss Scarlett," Justin huffed, climbing out of the car. "Get your ass out then if you're coming with me."

And then he slammed and locked the doors, not giving Emmett much of a choice, but to follow him on his hair-brained task. While he could understand the reasoning behind the trip, Emmett really didn't like that Justin was keeping it from Brian.

"I just don't see why you didn't just go to dinner with them and find out what they wanted with Brian at your side," Emmett complained, getting out of the car and following Justin.

"Because I don't trust Ben not to open his mouth and let out the fact that he was having dinner with us to Michael, and where it was being held," Justin stated implacably, all humor draining from his face as his lips compressed into a thin line. "And you know that little prick would just love to come down and make a scene, whining to Brian about not coming to see him and saying that he was acting unreasonably and all that bullshit. And right now, Brian is already enough on edge; he might actually kill him this time and then where the hell would I be when my baby daddy is in prison?"

"Well, when you put it like that…" Emmett reluctantly said, following his friend through the corridors; because, of course, he knew exactly where Ben's office was located. He had to wonder if it was because he'd been there before or he'd managed to wring that information out someone. Shaking his head, Emmett muttered under his breath. "Drama princess."

"I'm just protecting my free access to the best sex known to man," Justin said, trying to inject some levity into the coming confrontation. "No one could blame me for that."

"Yes, I'm sure that's the main reason why," Emmett snickered as Justin stuck his tongue out at him and turned a corner.

"Plus, if we do it this way, he has no time to plan what he's going to say, nor can he get word out if it was indeed an ambush," Justin said, restating his reasoning behind the trip as he stopped near a cracked door. "Here we are; now, you just sit there and look pretty, while I find out what the fuck he wants."

Emmett squawked at that and swatted a sniggering Justin on the arm. "See I ever help you again."

"You love me and you know it," Justin said as he knocked on the door; and truth was, the brat was right. Justin had become the brother he'd always wanted, easily replacing the bigoted assholes that shared his blood.

That was likely why he was doomed to forever chasing after Justin, trying to make sure he didn't get into too much trouble. And if he did, that Emmett was right there to help bail him out of whatever misadventure he'd been dragged into.

"Come in," Ben called out; Justin pushed the door open and stepped into the room with Emmett at his heels. Ben held up a single finger as he continued to write something on the paper in front of him. And when he finished, he looked up, his eyes widening in surprise to see them there. "Justin, Emmett; this is a surprise."

"Ben," Justin nodded politely, ever the little WASP even when he was gearing up to rip someone a new one. "How have you been?"

Emmett waved, but didn't say anything as this was all Justin's show; he was just the support. And he wanted the dynamics of this meeting to be clear from the get go. Ben set down his pen and sat up as if immediately sensing that this wasn't a social call.

"Fine," Ben nodded; he sat back with his hands clasped in his lap. "And yourself?"

"I've been well," Justin said lightly, his hand unconsciously coming up to rest on his baby bump as he said the rest. "Although, Sunbeam seems to think that my bladder is a trampoline, so that's always fun."

"I can imagine," Ben smirked, and then gestured to the chairs in front of his desk. "Please, have a seat. How can I help you? I assume that you came here for a reason."

"I did," Justin said as he sat down, his own hands clasped in his lap; and really, it was like they were trying to out polite each other, much like Justin and Lindsay tried to out WASP each other. A game Justin always won. "I wanted to find out what this news is that you thought I'd like to know; and why you'd think that I'd care one way or the other."

"Ah," Ben said, and then sighed when he noticed the look on Justin's face; the one that told him that he was in no mood for games. "The dinner."

"Yes, that," Justin said, jumping right into the topic at hand; and Emmett had to respect the fact that he didn't try to draw it out, but simply cut through the bullshit and got right to the heart of the matter. "Call me crazy, but I'm not too trusting of either you or Michael right now. Michael is obvious; it goes without saying why I don't trust him. But you, it's because of your continued interference and your absolute inability to allow Michael to face the consequences of his actions."

"I see," Ben said, drawing the words out, but he kept quiet as if he'd sensed that Justin had more to say on the matter and he didn't want to interrupt him. Too bad his husband couldn't learn that trait; it would save him a well of hurt and disappointment.

"It tells me a few things about your character that I can't condone right now," Justin stated bluntly, not really caring if Ben liked his assessment or not. And it did seem to cut to the quick given the way Ben swallowed heavily at the words.

"Not when it's not just my own health that I'm looking out for," Justin continued with a small frown on his face; Ben had the grace to flush. "But the most important of these is that, no matter what sob story you sell to me and Brian, you will always put Michael first." Justin paused to watch Ben's reaction to that, and smirked when he found the confirmation he needed. "And that's fine; he's your husband and it's natural that you would want to protect and support him."

Justin paused again; but this time it was for impact judging by his next words. Emmett was surprised, and supremely proud of his brother in everything but blood's calm demeanor throughout that entire spiel.

"But this wasn't a little argument between friends, Ben," Justin said, the first sparks of anger lighting his eyes until they shimmered like blue flame. "He sought me out, verbally attacked me, broadcasted sensitive information to the public at large and ended up being the cause of an anxiety attack that had me hospitalized overnight because my blood pressure worried the doctors enough to admit me."

Ben remained silent, but he did look uncomfortable and squirmed in his seat with each transgression Justin listed. So, Emmett supposed that earned him some points; but he was still of the wait and see where this goes mind. Ben had been just as bad as Michael in Emmett's opinion, but it was due to his inaction rather than his actual actions.

"Which is a serious problem as I, likely, can't take drugs to stabilize it since I'm allergic to a lot of the meds," Justin said, his voice quivering for a moment; likely due to remembering what the doctors told him that day. "Having high blood pressure could mean that Sunbeam isn't getting the blood flow needed and could be underweight or even be born early; and those are the minor side affects. So, I need to know that this isn't going to be another ambush, because like hell am I going to go through that again."

Ben opened and closed his mouth several times, trying to find the words to reassure Justin, but he seemed to be at a loss for words. But Justin didn't say anything; he just sat there, patiently waiting for the other man to answer. Which was a hell of a lot better than Emmett, who wanted to choke the answers out of him.

"I understand," Ben finally said; and then he sighed and ran a hand over his face. "And I don't blame you for not trusting Michael; or me for that matter. I know that you have more important things to worry about; and that's why I wanted to have dinner – to impart some news that would hopefully bring you a little peace of mind. I really did just want to apologize to you and Brian and give you that news. But I can see where my prior actions would make you hesitant to believe me."

Justin continued to stare at him skeptically, but nodded in acknowledgement anyways.

"Yeah, sorry," Justin said, not sounding sorry about it at all. "I just don't see dinner in the cards at this juncture; while you may be genuine in your assertions, I don't trust Michael as far as I could throw him. I just have a bad feeling about this, and I am going to trust my gut as it's rarely led me wrong."

"Fair enough," Ben nodded, sitting up in his chair again; he set his clasped hands in front of him and leaned against the desk. "I can tell you now, and you can pass the information onto Brian. No dinner necessary; although, Hunter will be disappointed as he was looking forward to catching up with you."

"Tell him that he's free to come to the house anytime," Justin conceded; And Emmett still found it funny that an unlikely friendship blossomed between the two once Hunter had stopped chasing Brian. "Well, within reason. I'd love to catch up with him as well."

"I'll let him know," Ben said with a small smile. "The reason I asked to see you was, first of all, to apologize for my actions after the restaurant incident. I could say that I was acting under false pretenses, which was the case for the first day, but I won't insult your intelligence that way. It's true that I hadn't heard about the hospitalization until the next day when Deb came to ask Michael if he knew what was going on. He'd merely said that you'd had a disagreement and…"

Justin snorted at that; talk about the understatement of the year. But then again, that was so Michael, and Emmett couldn't help but remember several like moments where Michael painted either himself or the situation in a better light than it had originally been cast. And he was sickened by the fact that he hadn't noticed it for so long.

"Yeah, he downplayed it quite a bit," Ben acknowledged, his smile turning into a frown. "He simply said that you'd had a disagreement and that he didn't want to see anybody; I couldn't see any harm in running interference until everyone cooled down, so when Em and Ted came calling, I sent them away."

"And after?" Justin prompted, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Well, as you said, he is my husband," Ben said, wincing as even he'd recognized the lameness of the argument. "And I also didn't want Brian to end up regretting his actions if he lost control. I know what that's like."

"Okay, we'll go with that for now," Justin said, still looking skeptical, but willing to set it aside for the time being as he, apparently, had bigger fish to fry. "What is this news that you think will bring me 'peace of mind.'"

"Michael and I will be moving," Ben stated bluntly to the both of them.

Emmett's mouth gaped as he stared at the other man, as there hadn't been a hint of this on the Avenue, and it was nearly impossible to keep that kind of gossip under wraps. Emmett turned to Justin, whose eyes were bugged out at the announcement; and then shook his head when Justin looked over and arched a brow. No, he hadn't heard a thing about it.

"It's just temporary," Ben hedged, holding up a hand to halt their questions. "I was offered a chance to do a summer seminar on the hidden gay subtext in various forms literature and media; and I've accepted it as of last week."

"Okay," Justin said slowly, obviously wondering how that added up to Ben and Michael moving; which was the question Emmett was wondering himself.

"But, I still have to be here until May 6, and the seminar begins May 19," Ben continued, running his hands through his hair. "That doesn't give me much time to find a place to rent and settle into. So, after a long discussion about everything, and explaining to Michael that it might be a good idea if he got away to let things cool off a bit, he's going to head out there early and set up house for us."

Justin's eyebrows rose at that announcement, but he remained skeptical. And Emmett didn't really blame him after everything that Michael had put him through lately. This seemed to be more of the same Novotny lip service, where he promised to do something and then never delivered. Emmett had a hard time believing it himself.

"And I know you have no reason to trust that he'll stay away," Ben said, echoing Emmett's thoughts. "But I'm hoping that for once he'll listen to reason and stay put. He seems keen on it; although, it is more from the stand point of thinking that Brian will miss him and welcome him with open arms when he returns."

"Of course, he does," Justin sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. He already seemed to be developing a headache at that thought. "When is he leaving?"

"By the end of March at the latest," Ben said as he flipped through a few papers on his desk. "There are several things he needs to wrap up and he's training Hunter to manage the shop while he's gone. That should give him a little over a month to find a place and settle in. We'll be gone through mid-August."

"Well," Justin said, obviously tired of the entire thing and looking to end the conversation now that he'd gotten what he wanted. "First of all, congratulations on the seminar; I assume that it isn't through the university and that's why you have to find your own lodging?"

"No it's not," Ben shook his head, a rueful grin on his face. "I'm doing a favor for a friend; but unfortunately, while it pays well and is about a subject I'm passionate about, it doesn't come with lodging. Hence, why it pays so well."

"Well," Justin said again, falling back into the perfectly polite WASP that Jen raised him to be. "Thank you for telling me; congrats again and good luck. But I think I'll reserve judgment until I see how things play out." Justin paused as he stood, preparing for their departure. "I want to believe you; but I know Michael and the way that he acts. I have a lot of doubts that he'll actually do as he's promising you. But, I also can't deny that it would be a relief if he does."

"I understand," Ben said as he stood as well. "All I can say is, he said that he would stay away from you and Brian until he leaves for Seattle and that he's looking forward to the time away. I guess we'll all have to wait and see if he follows through. And again, I'm sorry for…"

"Really, Ben," Justin cut him off, holding up a hand to fend off any further apologies on his part. "While I'm not happy with your actions, I can understand them, as I would do the same with Brian; it's not you that owes me the apology. But I won't allow Michael anywhere near me to do so. He's finally crossed a line with me; and I don't ever foresee a time where we'll reconcile."

"I understand," Ben nodded and held out his hand to Justin. "It was good to see you, Justin. And I hope in time that I can regain your trust; but I'll also understand if that never happens."

"You too, Ben," Justin said, politely shaking the other man's hand. "Be sure to send your brat kid around; I've missed him."

And then they both silently walked out the door, still utterly stunned by the news and wondering what was going to happen next. And all Emmett could really think as they walked away was – well, this was game changer.

Chapter Text

February 25

He awoke to his head throbbing in time with his heartbeat, his mouth dry and tasting as if he'd been sucking on dirty socks all night. He cracked his eyes open a slit and then hissed as pain radiated across his gummy eyes, and, in turn, stabbed through his head like a razor-sharp knife. Screwing his eyes shut, he breathed slowly, starting shallowly and then working his way up to deeper, longer breaths as he tried to quell the nausea washing over him in wave after wave.

It was going to be one of those days.

Lying motionless, he took several deep, slow breaths until the nausea dissipated, and then he carefully pried his eyes open once more. He blinked slowly, his brow pinching with confusion as he stared at his unfamiliar surroundings, wondering where the fuck he'd had landed himself this time. Turning his face into the generic, white pillowcase, he groaned, his dick instantly hardening as a familiar scent filled his nose.

Sandalwood. Vanilla. Citrus. Justin.

Sliding his hand under the bland blue blanket and hideous cheap motel coverlet, he cupped his dick and squeezed, his breath hitching as it filled and lengthened. God, the scent alone, mixed with the heady aroma of musk from his arousal, was nearly enough to make him come. He circled his thumb over the head of his dick, gathering up drops of pre-cum, and used it to slick the shaft for a leisurely morning toss off while enveloped in the scent of his beloved.

Fuck, he'd always smelled good; it was one of the things that had always drawn him to the blond like a moth to a flame. That, and his pale, unblemished skin, that seemed to glow from some inner fire that he'd always wanted to touch and tame and bathe in. And those pretty, pink, pouting lips that just seemed made for sucking cock; in fact, he was imagining them wrapped around his dick right now, sucking him down to the root, his hot mouth and tongue running up and down it as he bobbed his head in his lap.

Moaning, he planted his feet into the bed, and rocked his hips, fucking up into his hand, all the while imagining that it was that gorgeous ass that had attracted him from day one. So good. And he was just getting into it when he felt something stirring in the bed next to him; gasping he halted his actions and stared into blue eyes; ones that were not quite the right shade, but were gorgeous nonetheless.

They blinked at him as the man sleepily pieced together his surroundings and then smiled – beautiful and bright, but not quite right. Buttery blond hair fell around his face – again, so very close, but not quite right – as the twink propped himself up on one elbow and looked at him with a sly smirk.

And then it all came flooding back to him – the pressing need to get out of his apartment before the walls closed in on him, stumbling onto some little hole-in-the-wall bar, and meeting the hustler that, if he squinted just right, looked enough like his beloved that he could pretend to have him for a few hours.

He'd picked him up in the bar, paid for the night before walking to where he'd left his car; he drove them to the nearest cheap motel because he wouldn't sully the place he planned to bring his beloved with a cheap imitation; and ended up fucking him all night, only stopping when pink was starting to tint the sky.

No wonder he had a headache.

"Need a hand with that?" the twink asked with a cheeky smile, running his hand over his thigh to cup his balls, squeezing them gently, but rhythmically.

He looked up into a face that wasn't quite right – the features were not nearly as refined as his beloved's – and now, in the harsh light of day, the allure had faded and the twink was just a pale replication of the true perfection that was his love. Still he was beautiful, and his dick was hard as a rock and getting impossibly harder due to the blond's ministrations, and if he closed his eyes just right…

"Yeah," he whispered, his voice rough with lust as the twink grinned and grabbed the bottle of lube.

Sliding his eyes three-quarters of the way closed, he watched as the twink quickly opened himself up; something that didn't take long since it'd only been about four hours since they'd last fucked. And then the blond rolled a condom onto to his dick and slicked him up before slowly easing down onto it, his hot, tight ass enveloping him, punching a loud gasp of air out of his lungs.

His hands wrapped around the twink's hips as he groaned and sagged, the blond's head resting against his shoulder as he adjusted. He wrapped his arms around the blond and pulled him close, burying his face into the fine hairs by his ear and breathed deeply. Sandalwood. Vanilla. Citrus. Musk. Justin. It was intoxicating.

Pressing a small kiss to the tip of the blond's ear, he groaned and let go as the twink's muscles contracted around his dick. The blond sat up, planted his hands onto his chest and rose up until he'd almost lifted off his dick completely and then he plunged back down, eliciting a sharp hiss from the both of them.

"Yeah, that's it, baby," he murmured, digging his fingers into soft flesh, his eyes tightly shut and the vision of his beloved hovering over him as the blond rocked and writhed and circled his hips trying to find that right angle, his lips parted and head thrown back. "Ride me."

And then he lost all thought to the heat building between the two of them as the blond rode him for all he was worth, quickly bringing them to completion.

Panting, he flopped back on the bed, insensate, and a part of him, the part that craved the physical pleasure of another body, sated for the time being. But he still couldn't help feeling a bit let down and hollow as, while the twink was a close replication, he wasn't what he wanted. He was just a body to slake the lust that pounded through him every time he saw his beloved walking in the distance.

He watched, conflicted as the twink rolled off him, and clambered off the bed to grab his clothing. His head was throbbing again, and he knew that he had to get home soon to take his meds if he didn't want to be incapacitated for the rest of the day. He rolled out of bed, peeled off the condom, tied it off and tossed it in the trash as he headed to the bathroom for a quick wash before he called a cab; he didn't think he could drive.

He walked up the mirror and studied his face, still having trouble recognizing himself all these years later. The car accident that he'd been in eight years ago had made certain of that. Although he couldn't remember it, and couldn't remember much of a couple of years before that due to selective amnesia, he'd been told he'd crashed headlong into a pole while drinking drunk. Something that had left him scarred for life.

Due to a malfunction, the air bag hadn't deployed, and as he hadn't been wearing his seat belt, he'd flown into that dashboard; and with the windshield shattering on impact, his face had been mangled. It had been cut and smashed beyond recognition and had taken months of pain, and several surgeries, to rebuild it until it even somewhat resembled his face before the accident.

And it still startled him to see this stranger staring back at him to this day.

That hadn't been the only consequence; outside of the loss of years of his memories, which he'd never gotten back, he was now susceptible to debilitating headaches that often had him blacking out when they came on. Even the meds didn't help at times and those lost hours scared him at times as he woke up in places he didn't remember; hence his worry this morning.

And then there had been other issues; but he didn't want to think of that.

Scratching his chest, he looked at the shower, contemplating whether or not to take one with the the twink's voice broke though his thoughts.

"I hate when you call me Justin," the twink muttered as he pulled on his shoes.

"What?" he asked, a fluttering feeling of panic washing over him as he looked at the twink that looked so much like his beloved, but was not him. Had he said something that he hadn't? He didn't think he was missing any hours, bt if he had said something, then he needed to nip this in the bud before it could get out.

"Justin," the twink said, as he walked over to him, his gait a little hitched after the active night they'd had. "You kept calling me by his name last night; you know, your ex?"

"Yeah; something like that," he muttered, relief coursing through him; like he needed the blond to get to nosy. He didn't need anyone up in his business. He held his breath as the twink leaned in for one last kiss; which he decided to indulge. And then he closed his eyes and savored it as that scent washed over him again.

Sandalwood. Vanilla. Citrus. Musk. Justin.

And he was lost to it again, until finally the twink pulled away with a grin and turned on his heel.

"By the way," the twink said, heading for the door. "I left the toiletries that you brought with you and wanted me to use on the bed; I figured that you'd want them back."

"Yeah, thanks," He said, turning away from the twink, unable to watch him walk away and shatter the illusion. He wanted to hold onto it for just a few more seconds.

"I left my card in there in case you want to do this again," the twink said as he opened the door. He nodded, unable to answer; and then the door closed gently behind him, leaving him in silence.

"Sound good," he whispered to the room, his dick already growing hard at the thought of having his beloved again. Shrugging the thought of a shower off, as he wanted his scent clinging to him for as long as possible, he quickly dressed and called a cab; and then, leaving the key on the bedside table as he didn't want anyone to see him there, he stepped out the door and walked down to the cafe to wait. "I can't wait."

Chapter Text

February 26 – 25 weeks

Brian stood in the doorway to 'Justin's office,' watching his husband steadily work his way through the stack of files in front of him; he was bent over, his face a mask of concentration, with a pad of paper next to it for easy access as he jotted down notes on the potential interviewees that he was evaluating. Sadly, Brian and Justin were losing one of their best graphic artists because she and her husband were moving out of state to be closer to her sick mother, and Brian just couldn't take working with that idiot contractor again.

Justin sighed, and rubbed the back of his neck as he closed the file he'd been looking through without making one notation and tossed it onto a growing stack of rejections. Brian smirked while looking at the two stacks at the end of the desk, one considerably larger than the other. He could already tell which was which by the annoyed way that Justin threw the file onto the larger pile.

Everyone at Kinnetik thought that Brian was a picky bastard when it came to his standards for employment; what they didn't realize was that Justin Taylor-Kinney was twice the picky bastard that Brian was. The problem was, they took one look at his clean-cut, blond-haired, blue-eyed looks and thought he was a push over. That is, until Justin ripped them a new one and they left his office either completely shell-shocked or in tears, their belief crushed under the weight of Justin's very vocal displeasure.

Leaning against the doorway, he continued to watch his husband with a small smile on his face; while watching Justin work was a familiar sight to Brian, and a welcome respite to his busy day, that wasn't what caught his notice as he came into the office. No, the reason he couldn't stop staring was because Justin was wearing his glasses for once, something that he didn't often do.

Vain bastard that he is, Justin usually refused to even step foot out of the house with his glasses on, preferring to wear his contacts only. It was funny, but for the longest time, Brian himself didn't even know that Justin had to wear glasses. Even when he'd first come to live with Brian, Justin would wait to change them out when he went to school or after Brian would leave for the day if he was staying home.

In fact, it was only when Brian had unexpectedly come home one morning, as he'd forgotten a file that he needed for work, and found Justin standing in the bathroom with a pair of glasses on, that Brian even realized it. And what a funny morning that had been as Justin blushed and stammered his way through an explanation, before he quickly put his contacts in and left for the day.

The problem was, Justin had forgotten to place an order for a new batch of contacts this time, and he finally had to give up the ghost on his last pair and resign himself to glasses for the next two or three days. And his husband wasn't exactly happy about having to wear them; but it was either that or having to deal with a headache due to eyestrain, and he'd picked the lesser of the evils.

Brian honestly couldn't see what the big deal was; his husband was absolutely fucking sexy in his glasses and he wished that Justin would wear them much more often.

Pushing off the door jam, he walked over until he was standing behind Justin; he pressed a kiss onto his neck and whispered in his ear, "Have I ever told you how fucking drop-dead gorgeous you are when you're wearing your glasses?"

"You might have mentioned it a time or two," Justin smiled, but he didn't look up from the comment he was writing onto his pad; he did however, tip his head to the side in order to give Brian more access to his neck.

"You do," Brian said, pressing kisses along Justin's neck and jaw until he reached the lobe of his ear; he sucked it into his mouth and nibbled, delighting in the way Justin squirmed under his lips. Justin turned his head towards Brian and then sighed with contentment as Brian dropped a soft kiss onto his mouth. Brian lingered for a moment and the pulled away to nuzzle his nose against Justin's cheek.

"So, what are you doing in here?" Justin asked as Brian pulled away, running his hand over the back of Brian's head as he did so. "I figured I wouldn't see you until the end of the day given how packed your schedule is."

"I actually got through my paperwork faster than I expected and came to see if I could interest you in lunch." Brian said, running his hands over Justin's shoulders and kneading the knots at the base of his neck.

"Lunch?" Justin asked, a wicked smile touching his lips, making Brian snicker.

"An actual lunch, pervert," Brian clarified, laughing at Justin's look of mock disappointment. "Although, that does sound nice too. But I know you; we'll get started and then the beast that dwells in your belly will wake up and demand food and I'll be left hanging out to dry as you give in to its demands."

"Don't call our Sunbeam a beast," Justin huffed playfully, deliberately misconstruing Brian's words as he closed the file he'd been working on; and then, much to Brian's disappointment, he took off his glasses and set them in their case.

"Never," Brian huffed, still working out the knots in Justin's neck, eliciting a soft sigh of pleasure from Justin's lips. "I would never do that, and well you know it. I was talking about the one that growls loud enough that small children run from you in fear when it awakens."

"Ha ha…" Justin deadpanned; he rolled his eyes and slid his hand up, linking their fingers as he tipped his head back to look at Brian. "Such a comedian. Do us all a favor and don't give up your day job."

"Wasn't planning on it," Brian said as he dropped a kiss onto Justin's nose; and then he pulled away and stepped back, allowing Justin the space to slide his chair out and get up. "So, lunch?"

"I could eat," Justin quipped, smirking when Brian rolled his eyes at the typical answer.

"Well, like there was ever any doubt about that," Brian snorted as he headed for the door with Justin on his heels. He stepped through and waited, wrapping his arm around Justin's waist as he came out of the office. "I'm guessing you'll want to go to the diner for your daily ration of grease."

"You know me so well," Justin beamed, giggling as Brian groused about all the extra time he would have to spend on the treadmill from just walking into that place. "We should remember to bring something back for Cynthia. She was bitching about forgetting her lunch this morning and saying that she wasn't going to have time to go get something."

"She should just break down and send her assistant," Brian huffed as they walked out the front door and into the pale winter sunlight. "That's what they are there for – to assist you in any manner that you need."

"Would you send Yasmeen?" Justin asked knowingly, arching his brow in a very Kinney-esque manner. He really needed to stop stealing Brian's expressions.

"No, I would not," Brian said, a small shudder coursing through his body at the look he knew he'd get if he ever demanded such a thing. "But that is an entirely different matter; Julia is as sweet as can be, while Yasmeen would likely have my liver for lunch if I said anything like that. Luckily, I have you to make sure I'm fed on a daily basis. Don't think that I'm not fully aware of the pact you made with Emmylou to make sure I'm watered and fed when you aren't around."

"It was necessary," Justin huffed as they walked hand in hand down the sidewalk, forcing people to walk around them. "You can't survive on coffee and sheer stubbornness alone, Brian."

"I beg to differ," Brian smirked, pulling Justin close to avoid the woman running towards, and then past, them. "I managed without you for years if I remember correctly."

"Barely," Justin snorted, wrapping his arm around Brian's waist. "I still have no idea you survived considering that every time I came over, you had nothing but beer, water and poppers in your refrigerator."

"Take out is my king," Brian snickered, pressing a kiss on Justin's temple. "Or at least it was before you came along; I had all the best restaurants on speed dial and someone willing to deliver at each and every one of them for the right price."

"Yeah, and I'll bet I know what that price was," Justin snickered, rolling his eyes.

And Brian really couldn't refute his husband's words as that had happened on more than one occasion; it gave a whole new meaning to delivery service.

"But luckily, I don't have to worry about that now, as I have the little woman at home to see to all of my needs," Brian quipped, laughing and dodging when Justin squawked and lashed out to hit him upside the head for his description of him.

"Oh, you are so going to pay for that tonight," Justin warned, shaking a finger at him.

"Looking forward to it, Sunshine," Brian said, his tongue pressed firmly into his cheek and eyes dancing with laughter as Justin just glared at him.

Sometimes, when Brian thought back to those first rocky years between the two of them, Brian couldn't believe how far they'd come. He would have never been able to tease Justin like this. Hell, he would have never wanted to tease Justin like this. The whole idea of commitment and marriage had made him shudder and he would never have referred to Justin as his wife, teasing or otherwise, because he didn't do relationships.

He had to really wonder what the fuck he'd been thinking then; and why the idea of it and growing older scared him so badly. Because the idea of not doing this, of not being with this man all these years later made him want to puke these days. And it very well could have happened if Justin had been even the slightest bit less stubborn or resilient.

Brian grabbed Justin's hand and tugged him into his arms, snickering when Justin continued to grumble at his words and vow his vengeance when Brian least expected it. And Brian didn't doubt for a minute that his Sunshine would succeed in that venture. He leaned down and kissed Justin on the cheek, which his husband only grudgingly allowed; and then he opened his mouth to comment that Justin's ideas of punishment usually weren't much of a punishment in the end, but he was cut off by a loud voice calling over to them.

"Justin!" the queen called, waving her hand as she tried to hurry over to them in her four-inch heels; and how anyone could walk in those things, he had no idea. They looked beyond uncomfortable. "Brian!"

"Do we know her?" Justin whispered, watching the struggling queen with a confused look on his face. Brian snickered because he knew exactly why Justin didn't recognize her. And damn, what a night that had been.

"She was a last minute replacement when Sheba broke her ankle that one time," Brian informed him with a grin, snickering when Justin grimaced.

"Oh, right," Justin said, his cheeks coloring as he too recalled that night. Or, well what he'd been told of that night. "I think I vaguely remember that."

"I'm surprised you remember anything considering how plastered you and your little entourage were that night," Brian snorted, shaking his head disparagingly at his husband. Justin stuck his tongue out at him. "That was the night Ted, Drew and I bonded for life despairing at our partners antics."

"Oh, but what fun it was!" Justin smirked, his eyes dancing with deviltry.

As they should be considering the amount of trouble he, Blake and Emmett had caused. Bailing them out that night had been a blast; especially when Justin kept arguing with the officer that the dildo had only improved that travesty that City Hall called art.

Don't ask. No, seriously don't ask. He still didn't know how on Earth the three of them had gotten out of Babylon and down to City Hall, without being seen, in the first place.

"It's not every day that you get the chance to celebrate your first solo show," Justin finished, a smirk firmly planted on his face. "That only happens once in a lifetime, and I decided I was going to go all out. God, I hated life the next morning, but it was so worth it."

Brian was about to comment, but by then the queen had made it to them, slightly out of breath do to having to haul ass in those torture devices she called shoes. Brian turned to her and tried to recall her name, but was having trouble with it; although, he was pretty sure it was something like Annie Depressant or Charity Case or Leia Way, or something equally tongue-in-cheek and self-deprecating.

"Justin," the queen gushed, rushing up to his husband. Justin smiled at her uncertainly; mostly because he didn't remember climbing up onto the stage with her and belting out a Gloria Gaynor medley, and doing a surprisingly good job of it. "My have you grown; the last time I saw you, you weren't even showing yet. And now look at you."

Justin continued to smile and nod as she gushed on and on and even laughed when she mentioned his medley and some of the antics that he and the other boys had gotten up to the night she'd hosted…well, whatever competition it had been that night. They all sort of blended together after awhile and he couldn't remember a damned one of them. Well, except for the King of Babylon contest that Justin had competed in when he was seventeen; but Brian still refused to talk about it to this day.

His husband laughed again, and seemed to be relaxing, when she leaned in and made the biggest blunder that she could have made with Justin. Without thinking, or asking, she reached out and tried to touch his baby bump; which was a strict no-no in Justin's book. He'd always been notoriously picky about people touching him since the bashing as it was; but the baby bump was strictly off limits to everyone except Brian, unless he invited you to touch it. And if you dared, it brought on a queen out of epic proportions.

Like right now.

"What are you doing?" Justin demanded, going from warmth and laughter to glacial in a split second, his hands coming up to cover his baby bump.

Oh, yeah, this was about to get ugly.

"I was just…" the queen stuttered, shrinking back when Justin glared at her.

"Just what?" he demanded, his eyes frosting over and turning into two little blue ice chips as he began to rant. "Fuck, I barely even know you; why would you think it's acceptable to touch me without my permission? Would you like it if I ran up to you out of the blue and started fondling your breasts or grabbing your junk without permission?"

The queen flushed as she realized just how rude her actions had been; she shook her head and had the grace to look ashamed and apologetic for her actions, but Justin was hardly appeased by the gesture. Brian sighed and decided that  he'd better step in and nip this in the bud before Justin completely obliterated her.

"Then why the fuck would you think it's acceptable to touch my stomach without my permission?" Justin demanded again, his cheeks red with anger. "It is just as personal, as intimate, as if I were to grab your junk."

"Okay, settle down, tiger," Brian said, pulling his shaken husband away from the equally shaken queen. He tucked Justin under his arm and forcefully ushered him down the street, nodding to the queen as they passed. "I think she got the picture; time to go and feed the demon growling in your belly. And no, I'm not talking about Sunbeam, but whatever is growling in there at the moment."

Justin huffed and glared at the queen over his shoulder, but allowed Brian to guide him towards the diner without much protest. He turned back around and looked at Brian. "What the hell is wrong with people? Why the fuck would anyone…"

"They're just all a bunch of excited queens that want to celebrate the new Prince or Princess of Liberty Avenue's arrival, Sunshine," Brian carefully said, being sure to not mention anything that would give away the gender as the Avenue was full of nosy assholes, and also cutting of what he knew would be an hour long tirade if he hadn't have done so.

Really, there were only so many times he could listen to this particular rant before he wanted to pull his hair out. He really should just get Justin a t-shirt that instructed people to stay the fuck away from the belly if they wanted to live. Actually, that wasn't such a bad idea, and Justin would love it.

"They can't help themselves," Brian continued, pressing a kiss to Justin's temple.

"Well they can celebrate by staying the fuck out of my fucking personal space," Justin growled as they walked into the diner, storming over to their usual table in a high dudgeon.

Brian just rolled his eyes and nodded as he sat across from his fuming husband and prayed for patience; maybe if he fed him one of his fucking Twinkies, he'd lighten up. One could hope, at least.

Chapter Text

February 27

Justin walked through the store, chattering away to his mother as they did the grocery shopping, his heavily pregnant belly guiding the way down the aisles. God, he couldn't wait to get this kid out of him; it seemed like he'd been pregnant forever, and he ached all over, with his hips and back taking the brunt.

Resting his hands on his lower back, he laughed at something his mother said as she put things into the shopping cart and tried to ignore the dull ache in his lower body, as he just knew that she'd force him to sit down if she found out he'd been lying about it. And, frankly, he'd felt like he'd been far too sedentary the past couple of weeks as it was and he just needed to move.

Now, if only his body would get with the picture.

Sighing, Justin shot an envious look at the cart that his mother was pushing; something that she insisted on doing as it was full to the brim with food, and she didn't want him exerting himself. But, fuck; he'd so love to have something to lean against just for a little additional support. That is, if his stomach didn't get in the fucking way as he was as big as a house and it did with everything these days.

" You know, Justin," his mother said, a wry smile on her face. "I could have done this myself. I am more than capable of buying food that both you and Brian would actually eat. Or, if you were that concerned, Anna could have come with me. You really didn't need to come yourself and should stay off your feet right now. It can't be all that comfortable doing all this walking."

Justin huffed; so, he guessed he hadn't been as discreet as he'd hoped with how he was feeling; not if his mother knew within the first twenty minutes of shopping that he was having difficulties. Then again, it could just be that she knew him that well.

" I know," Justin scowled, crossing his arms low on his chest, so that they were nearly resting on his burgeoning belly. "But if I didn't get out of the house today, I just might have screamed. I swear, Brian has been taking this whole overprotective daddy thing way too seriously. Just last night, I was going to get up to get a drink and he was off the couch and out of the room, getting it for me before I could even sit up."

And that was the absolute truth; Brian had brought new meaning to the term of helicopter parent over the last month or so. And he'd been slowly driving Justin mad with all his do's and don'ts and expectations and rules; and really, it had gotten to the point that Justin had been forced to call in the Calvary and have Ted and Emmett drag him off to do something this morning before he killed him.

" He just worries," his mother said, laughing at Justin's look of utter disbelief; because really, that was the fucking understatement of the year. She shot him a sympathetic look and patted him on the arm. "They always do. Let him wait on you if it will make him feel better. He can't do much for the actual pregnancy itself; and you know what he's like when he's feeling helpless or useless."

Justin sighed again; yes he did. That was the only reason Brian was still breathing on the days that his need to solve everything that stood in Justin's way overruled his sense of self-preservation. He's known that about Brian since the bashing, and even when he was annoyed by it, he also couldn't help but find it endearing.

" I know," Justin huffed, grabbing a couple boxes of Twinkies and tossing them in the cart, deliberately ignoring his mother's exasperated look. And how Brian had gotten her involved in their little war, he didn't know; but he wasn't going to deal with it right now. He needed his Twinkies or Brian was going to die. "I just wish he'd hover just a little less at times. You'd think that I have a terminal illness, and wasn't just pregnant by the way he acts."

" Well, look at it this way," his mother said, pushing the cart down the aisle without saying a word about his addition to it; likely because she knew that he was already on edge and she didn't want to be bailing her pregnant son out of jail because he'd murdered his husband. "It won't be much longer now, will it?"

" No," Justin said, inhaling sharply when Sunbeam kicked a kidney; he rubbed his back and cursed the fact that he had such an active child. "My pregnancy has recently dropped; I have been carrying mid-stomach for most of the pregnancy and now it's started to settle down into the pelvis area. Liz said that's usually a sign that the baby is getting ready to make his or her grand entrance. But she did also warn me that I could still be a couple of weeks out from birth, if not more; most first time carriers drop about two to four weeks prior to giving birth. Still, I'll be glad when it's over. I ache everywhere; and god, I am so tired of peeing every thirty minutes."

Not to mention he was so looking forward to getting a good fucking again; while they'd still found ways to make love, he and Brian had had to be a bit creative with positions; and Brian was always worrying that he'd somehow hurt the baby or cause Justin to go into labor if he didn't take things as gently as possible. Justin had told him numerous times that it wouldn't happen, but the man stubbornly refused to budge.

" I think we all get to that stage eventually," his mother laughed and then looked down at the list in her hand; she cursed under her breath and started walking back towards the end of the aisle. Justin arched an inquisitive brow, but his mother just waved him off. "Be right back. I forgot to grab the flour when we were on the other aisle."

Justin shrugged; and the he took the opportunity to lean against one of the grocery shelves in an effort to relieve some of the strain on his legs, feet and back. Sighing again, he rested his hands on his belly and then looked down with a frown. He ran his hands over his belly, feeling it all over and his frown deepened.

What the hell?

He stood back up and pulled at his shirt, and then let it drape back over his belly, his heart hammering in his chest as he studied it, thinking he had to be wrong with his conclusion because it made absolutely no sense. He pulled out his phone and typed in the code and then activated his camera; he held it out to his side and took a picture of from the side. And then he stared at it again, shaking his head at the impossibility of what he was seeing.

" Is something wrong dear?" his mother asked; Justin startled, his eyes wide as he hadn't even heard her walk up, which was never good considering his current predicament with the stalker situation.

He bit his lip and stared at his mother, trying to decide what to say. His mother, for her part, just stared back, a concerned frown on her face. Finally, Justin bit the bullet and figured he'd just ask, as he really couldn't help but wonder if he was losing his mind.

" Does my stomach look small to you?" he asked, looking down at his stomach; and, again, it'd seemed to have shrunk a bit since the last time he looked at it.

Smoothing his hands over his belly again, he made a small startled cry as he was certain that his shirt was looser than it had been before; there was something seriously wrong here, but he really had no idea what to think as he'd never even heard of something like this. Fear shot down his spine as he clutched at his baby bump, sending his blood pounding through his head and thundering in his ears, a cold sweat breaking across his brow.

" I can't really tell any difference," his mother said, looking utterly flummoxed by the question; and then she just stared at Justin like he'd grown another head as he started pawing at his shirt in an effort to pull it up to get a better look; but it wouldn't cooperate.

" Something doesn't feel right," Justin insisted, his voice pitching higher than usual in his panic; but his mom just shook her head in puzzlement.

And Justin just shook his in exasperation at her lack of reaction, as he knew that something was seriously wrong! His hands began to shake as he continued to struggle with his shirt, the material growing slacker as his stomach continued to shrink. In fact, he could actually feel the baby inside him shrinking, getting smaller with every passing breath, and he didn't know what to do to stop it before it totally disappeared!

" Mom," Justin choked, his hands scrambling over his belly, his sight graying around the edges as he began to hyperventilate; and yet, he knew that there was nothing that he could do to stop it. "Something is really, really wrong here. My belly keeps shrinking. How can you not see it? This is your grandchild for fucks sake! What's going on? What's happening to my baby?"

" I'm just not seeing anything wrong Justin," his mother said, running her hand over his brow as if she was checking for a fever; but he wasn't sick damn it! His baby was disappearing before his very eyes and she wasn't doing a damn thing to help him! "Are you sure it's not just all in your head?"

" No, something is wrong," Justin choked out, the tempo of his heart ratcheting up another notch as he could barely feel the baby fluttering anymore. "I can feel it! It's like it's shrinking; getting smaller and smaller, like my body is absorbing it. Look, don't you see it? I'm half the size I was when we got here and there is all this excess, loose skin. I'm not going crazy!"

Justin reached down and started crying as the bump was almost gone; and he didn't know just how he was going to survive without…

 

Justin shot up straight out of bed, his breathing harsh and shallow as he scrambled with the blankets; he yanked them off, shivering as the cold early morning air hit his sweat-dampened neck, back and chest; and then he pressed his hands to his baby bump with a sigh of relief. He flopped back against his pillows and tried to get his breathing under control, his hands still cradling his precious Sunbeam, still worried that the bump would disappear at any moment.

Jesus! That had felt so fucking real!

Taking a deep breath, Justin closed his eyes, his heart still thundering in his chest and his body quaking at the vivid dream, and vowed to never eat chili cheese dogs before bed again if this was going to be the result. Pressing his hands tighter to his stomach in an effort to reassure himself that had indeed been a dream, Justin startled as he felt a hand running through his hair, combing it back from his face.

Opening his eyes, he turned and met Brian's sleepy, but worried gaze, and took comfort in the hand that continued to pet him until his breathing and heart rate had returned to normal. Sighing, he scooted closer to his husband and pressed his face against Brian's shoulder, just breathing him in as Brian continued to soothe his worries away.

"Are you okay," Brian finally asked, pressing a soft kiss to his temple.

Justin nodded and took a shuddering breath as the adrenaline started to leech from his body. He pulled away and looked up into Brian's worried eyes and kissed him softly on the lips.

"Yeah," Justin croaked, and then cleared the frog from his throat; he still had his hands attached protectively around his belly, because fuck; that dream was far too vivid and felt too real for him to let go. "I just had a weird, fucking dream, that's all."

Brian nodded and rolled his lips between his teeth as he stared down at Justin's hands, and the way he continued to cradle their child. "What was it about?"

"I…it…I don't know how to describe it," Justin stammered, jumping a bit when Brian moved and his hands joined Justin's on his baby bump. Smiling weakly, Justin struggled to come up with the words to explain his weird dream; but he didn't think that there really was a way to do it, so he just dove in. "In it, I was about eight months pregnant or so."

Brian nodded as Justin paused; he propped his head up on one hand so that he was looking down on Justin. Justin swallowed thickly and then panicked when Brian began to pry his hands from his belly. Brian halted and just stared at Justin, trying to reassure him without words that it was okay and Justin clenched his hands for a moment, but did let them fall away, only to have them replaced by Brian's hand gently stroking it.

Justin took a deep breath and continued.

"The pregnancy had just dropped and I was shopping with my mom, when all of a sudden my stomach started shrinking. Like the baby was getting smaller and smaller, and the pregnancy was going in reverse? Or the baby was being absorbed into me? I don't know. But something weird was going on; and, for some reason, my mom didn't or couldn't see anything wrong. And nothing I did or said could convince her that there was something wrong with Sunbeam; but there clearly was, as every time I looked down at my stomach it was that much smaller."

Brian's brows shot up into his hairline, and he seemed to be at a loss for words as he continued to run his hand over Justin's belly. And well, Justin couldn't really blame him for that, as Justin didn't even know what to say or think about the dream. His doctor, Liz, had told him to expect these kinds of vivid, pregnancy dreams; she even went into the whole anatomy of it and why they occurred, but Justin had just shrugged it off at the time. He'd always been a vivid dreamer and hadn't thought much about she had been saying.

But after this one, and the quintuplets dream, he now had a better idea of what she'd meant; and he really wasn't looking forward to more.

"Like I said, it was weird," Justin finished lamely; he snuggled up to Brian and buried his face into his shoulder, just breathing him in once more.

"Well, try to get some more sleep," Brian said, pressing a kiss to Justin's temple and wrapping an arm around him when he felt Justin tense up. "I'll be right here to watch over you and wake you if need be."

Chapter Text

February 28

"Do, I even want to know what caused this?" Brian asked, praying for strength as he stared at the closed and locked door of the break room.

When he'd gotten off of his conference call with Nebula Cosmetics, and had been told that there was a minor crisis that needed his attention, he'd been expecting an artwork fuck up or some account that needed a little finessing because the ad exec had made an ass of themselves. He hadn't expected to come out and find his husband barricaded in the break room, refusing anyone entrance.

Sighing, Brian rubbed a hand over his jaw and fondly remembered a time where coming into the office actually meant he spent his time working rather than putting out the resultant fires of his husband's queen outs. Of course, back then, his husband hadn't been pregnant and had actually been a reasonable person. God, he couldn't fucking wait until this whole pregnancy hormone shit was over and done with.

That day could not come soon enough.

"Just some assholes on the street making rude comments," Blake sighed, rubbing Luc's back, trying to burp him, but the newborn seemed much more interested in sleeping instead.

"Who were they and what did they say?" Brian demanded, thoroughly sick of Justin getting smacked in the face by others' bad attitudes and snide words; and he was just done with this, and would do whatever was necessary to let the Avenue know that this ended now if he had to track each, and every, one of these assholes down to beat some sense into them.

"Calm down, Papa Bear," Blake said, rolling his eyes when Brian glared at him and impatiently gestured for him to get on with it. "They were actually saying shit to me – well, at first. Justin shut them down pretty hard."

Brian's brows rose at that, wondering why they would be targeting Blake; not that he thought that Blake wasn't worthy of envy or jealousy, but he was usually so mellow, that few people ever had a bad thing to say about him.

"What did they say?" Ted asked, a guilty flush to his cheeks; likely because he hadn't been there to defend his husband as he'd been here at the office. While technically he was still out on paternity leave until March 10, he had been stopping in for a couple of hours every other day to get up to speed before coming back.

"Oh, some assholes were commenting on how I'd let myself go," Blake snorted, shaking his head at the absurdity of it; he seemed completely unperturbed by the confrontation. "Because, you know, it isn't like I had a baby not even two months ago. And this one queen – you know that one that's always hitting on you like I'm not standing right next you – said that he 'felt skinny standing next to me.'"

"What?" Cynthia asked rhetorically; her face was pinched and she looked like she was ready to go track down said idiots herself and deliver her own brand of swift and painful retaliation; likely with the very pointy, sharp heels of her favorite Loubouton pumps.

"Yeah," Blake huffed, rolling his eyes as he lay Luc back down into his stroller. "Like I said – assholes. But it didn't get too far as Justin came up when he said that, scoffed, looked him up and down pointedly and said, 'I'd enjoy it while you can since it's unlikely that this will ever happen again.'"

Brian snickered and shook his head while the others broke down laughing; he crossed his arms over his chest and glanced at the door, which remained stubbornly closed. While he did acknowledge that the comment had been unkind, and if he were Ted, he'd be looking for these assholes and introducing his foot to their ass; it felt more like a desperate bid for attention, rather than something Justin would find offensive.

"So why has he locked himself in the break room?" Brian asked again, more concerned with what had set his husband off this time.

"Well, as soon as he spoke up," Blake said as he repacked the bottle and burp cloth into Luc's diaper bag. "The bitchy little queen turned on him and started being rude to him. First he speculated on whether or not the baby was actually yours given Justin's and your reputation for fucking around. To which Justin laughed and said that he 'was pretty sure of it since yours was the only cock he's had up his ass in the last four years.'"

"I'm sure that went over well," Ted said dryly, but he was obviously holding back another chuckle at Justin's waspish tongue. And Brian himself was having a hard time containing his mirth as he knew very well that challenging Justin to a battle of wits was always a mistake if you were unarmed like this twat had been.

"As well as you could imagine," Blake smirked, his eyes dancing with amusement. "So then the queen said that he was surprised that you could even have kids at this venture with all the drinking and drugs and shit you did and snidely asked if you guys used fertility treatments. And Justin just looked at him with a dry smile and said, 'if I say no, are you going to ask what position we used next? Because that would be hard to pin down considering we usually fuck three to four times a night in various positions.'"

That had set off another round of laughter, with Brian even joining in and chuckling this time. He couldn't help feeling ridiculously proud of his husband.

"Oh my God," Cynthia wheezed through her laughter, eyes wet with tears of laughter and her cheeks stained red, her breath labored as she tried to regain her composure. "Please, tell me someone got that on video."

"I have no idea," Blake huffed between laughs, looking ridiculously proud at Justin's words. "But I wouldn't be surprised as we attracted a bit of an audience."

"So, what happened then?" Brian prompted, still trying to get down to the reason his husband had stormed into the office, had a few words with Yasmeen, and then stalked into the break room, slamming the door behind him. "So far I haven't heard anything that would have him locking himself in the break room with a platter of cupcakes."

"Well, seeing that he wasn't getting the response that he'd hoped for," Blake continued with a sigh, a small frown sliding over his lips. "He pulled out the big guns and snidely told Justin that he better enjoy the sex while he could because it was only a matter of time before you went back to tricking because you found his weight gain repulsive."

"Fuck," Brian hissed; of all the things the asshole could have said, he had to hit the one sore point that was certain to sent Justin into a tailspin. He'd already run up against this issue twice due to Mikey, and he didn't need this asshole bringing it back up. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "What happened after that?"

"Well, to give him credit," Blake said with a small smile. "Justin just sneered at him and said, 'Even if he did, he still wouldn't fuck you even with someone else's dick; he doesn't do whiny queens that make 'pencil dick' seem like a compliment.'"

Brian snorted again, which quickly morphed into a full-blown laugh as he imagined the look on the queen's face as Justin said that. If nothing else, Justin knew how to cut someone down to size with nothing more than a few well chosen words.

Learned that at his mother's feet he did, Brian thought; and then shook his head and cursed under his breath. Fucking Mikey and his Star Wars obsession.

"That's my boy," Brian muttered proudly under his breath garnering amused smirks from the others. "You put those bitchy queens in their place." He paused and then turned back to Blake with a frown having finally narrowed down what had Justin frothing at the mouth. "So, I'm assuming that was what sent him storming off into the break room?"

"I guess?" Blake said, his tone lilting into a faint question as he shrugged his shoulders. "After he said that, one of the Doms from Meat Hook came over and the queen nearly pissed his pants when he said that it 'sounded like someone needed an attitude adjustment,' and if he didn't watch it, he 'might just take up the challenge.'"

Blake paused as they all had a good laugh over that development, and then continued. "The queen pretty much fled after that and Justin stormed off over here. He went looking for you first, but when Yasmeen said you were on a conference call, she also mentioned the cupcakes and he's been in there ever since."

"Christ," Brian huffed, scrubbing a hand over his face as he turned back to the door, staring at it as if it would open under his sheer will, but it remained stubbornly closed with his pouting husband on the other side. Luckily, he had an easy remedy for that. "Just what I need today." Brian strode back down the hall to his assistant's desk and held out a hand. "Yasmeen, could you please give me the extra set of office keys in your desk so I can go pry my drama princess out of the break room."

"Good luck with that," Yasmeen smirked knowingly, but turned to and opened a drawer in her desk nonetheless and pulled out a set of keys. She turned back and dropped them into Brian's outstretched hand.

"What makes you say that," Brian asked, narrowing his gaze as she just continued to look at him smugly; as if she knew something he didn't.

"I'm sure you'll figure it out when you get in there," Yasmeen said, snickering when Brian rolled his eyes and turned on his heel to head back down the hall.

"I hate when she gets fucking cryptic; it always ends badly for me," Brian muttered, swiftly passing the growing crowd outside the break room; he paused to glare at the lot of them. "Don't you have work to do!? Because I could have sworn this was an actual office building and not a playground. But hey, if you don't have something to do…"

Brian never finished as everyone but Blake, Ted and Cynthia scurried back to their desks, having learned through experience that they never wanted Brian to actually find them something to do as it usually ended in tears. He arched a brow at the remaining three despite knowing he couldn't intimidate them.

"I don't work here," Blake said with a shrug.

"I'm on paternity leave," Ted smirked, making Brian roll his eyes.

"And don't even try it with me," Cynthia added, crossing her arms over her chest. "You'd never survive if I were to leave."

Brian rolled his lips under, and turned away; he walked over to the door, inserted the key and unlocked it. Opening the door, he met the irritated eyes of his drama princess and stepped through the door, closing it behind him. He locked it again and arched a brow, crossing his arms over his chest as he considered the merits of waiting Justin out and letting him talk in his own time. But he decided against it; he didn't have the time as he need to fix this before his next conference call in an hour and a half.

"So, I hear you had a busy day," Brian offered as salutation, huffing when Justin merely grunted and continued to determinedly peel the paper away from the cupcake in his hand. Blatantly ignoring Brian, Justin sank his teeth into the cupcake and moaned with pleasure, his eyelashes fluttering.

Brian continued to stare at him for several long moments, willing Justin to cave; but his husband just stared back and continued to eat his cupcake.  So, it's going to be like that then; all right, fine, time to switch tactics.

"Look, Sunshine," Brian said, walking over to the table; he placed his hands on it and leaned forward. "You can't mind what the idiots say; they don't know a damned thing about us or what I think. They're just a bunch of jealous queers who wish that it was them that had exclusive rights to my cock."

Justin snorted and finished off his cupcake, licking his fingers before he grabbed another.

"Oh, fuck that," Justin huffed as he licked his lips free of frosting, a move that went straight to Brian's dick. "Like I care what a bunch of bitchy queens say. I was over that as soon as Jonathon came out and offered his services to the brainless twit."

Brian hummed and cocked his head. The words had the ring of truth to them; but at the same time, Brian was having a hard time buying it. Justin was far to annoyed not to be upset about something. It was just a matter of figuring out what.

"Then why lock yourself in here with the cupcakes?" Brian asked, gesturing to the now half-empty platter; one that he was fairly certain had been full when it was sitting at Yasmeen's desk about twenty minutes ago.

"Because they're red velvet and full of awesome?" Justin said, staring at him as if it were the most obvious answer in the world.

And then Brian knew why Yasmeen was laughing at him; because after Twinkies, Yasmeen's red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting were Justin's own form of crack. And once he got started, he would not stop eating them until they were all gone. The only problem was that there were still nearly a dozen cupcakes on the platter and Brian so didn't want to deal with a sick Justin, whining that his stomach hurt because he ate too many fucking cupcakes in one sitting. No fucking way in hell.

But first, Brian needed to find out why he was pouting in the first place; and then maybe, by fixing that, he could stop this train wreck from happening.

"And that's it?" Brian probed; he was, quite frankly, skeptical because there was no way that Justin would be in such a pissy mood if he was 'over it.' Not when he had a plate of those cupcakes in front of him. "Because, I gotta tell you, Sunshine; you seem a little too worked up for someone who's over it."

"I'm fine," Justin insisted, his lips still turned down into a pout; and God help him, Brian was torn between finding it adorable and wanting to haul him over his knee and spank his sulky ass, giving him a real reason to pout.

"I call bullshit," Brian huffed, desperately fighting for patience as he knew yelling at Justin wouldn't solve a damned thing. "So rather than me sitting here playing twenty questions; why don't you tell me what's annoying you so we can figure out a way to fix it."

"There is no way to fix it, Brian," Justin said, flicking a disgruntled look his way. "Because it's one of the forbidden things. It's fine; I'll deal with it."

"One of the forbidden things?" Brian said slowly, having a bad feeling he knew where this was going; there were only a few things that mattered that Justin was forbidden from doing due to the pregnancy, and most of them revolved around some of his favorite foods. And since it was lunchtime, it was easy to deduce that he was craving something he shouldn't have.

"Yes," Justin hissed; and then he scowled as he picked up yet another cupcake and began unwrapping it. "One of the forbidden things."

"Dare I ask?" Brian asked, praying for patience; because really? He'd come running out his office, worried that the little twat's feelings had been hurt due to something someone had said or done to him, and he was pouting because he couldn't have what he wanted to eat? Jesus fucking Christ. Had he mentioned that he'd be glad when all this hormonal pregnancy shit was over with?

Justin remained silent, focusing all his attention onto his cupcake.

"Sunshine…" Brian drawled in a warning tone.

"I'm craving sushi, okay?" Justin grumbled, his cheeks flushing as he said it. "Blake and I were walking to the diner for lunch when that twit stopped us right outside the new sushi place; and fuck, it's been so long since I've had good plate of sashimi and this waiter walked right past the window with a big, heaping platter of it and bam! Sunbeam said, 'Feed me! I want that!' But, of course, I can't eat any fucking sushi or sashimi, so I'm currently trying to convince Sunbeam that red velvet cupcakes are better."

"You're craving sushi…" Brian stated in a neutral tone. And then he couldn't help it; he stood up and dug his fingers into his eyes in an effort to stave off the headache growing behind them. Fucking sushi. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"Didn't I just say that?" Justin asked irritably, his eyes flashing up for a brief second before he went back to chomping on his cupcake.

Brian sighed and once again prayed for patience; he couldn't believe that all this drama was over a fucking sushi craving. It seemed to defy all reason; yet there it was. And by the deepening of Justin's scowl, it wasn't going away any time soon. So, Brian took a deep breath and rolled his lips between his teeth.

As he saw it, he had one of two choices – he could either A) leave Justin here to sulk, (and really, he fully deserved it considering the sheer ridiculousness of this entire episode), and go about his day as planned; which would be the more productive option. Of course, it was also the option that would end with him paying for it later that night when his husband was still feeling pissy, and giving him the silent treatment to boot. Or B) he could use the tried and true method of snapping Justin out of his mood and relieve some of his own stress at the same time.

And since he wasn't a complete idiot, he chose option B.

Striding over to his husband, Brian yanked out his chair, startling Justin into dropping the cupcake he'd just picked up on the ground. Brian stared at it for a moment, and wondered if he should clean it up, but then said fuck it; he had more important things to do. Or more to the point, he had more important people to do, or well just one person. Decision made, Brian spun Justin's chair around and stooped; and since he couldn't throw Justin over his shoulder due to Sunbeam, he scooped him out of his chair bridal-style.

"Brian!" Justin exclaimed, his arms automatically wrapping around Brian's neck; he looked at him incredulously. "What are you doing?"

"I'm taking you some place a bit more private so that I can give you a much needed attitude adjustment with your favorite tool," Brian huffed, purposely using the Dom's words from earlier in order to make the brat squirm for all this unnecessary drama.

"What, your hand?" Justin challenged, squirming a bit in his arms as Brian juggled him so that he could unlock and open the break room door.

"No," Brian said as he stepped over the threshold and strode down the hall, passing Cynthia, Blake and Ted in the process. Nosy bastards. "My dick."

Justin squawked with embarrassment, and buried his reddening face into Brian's neck as both Ted and Blake snickered, and then proceeded to make themselves scarce. Which was good for them as he doubted they wanted to play witness.

"Yasmeen," Brian called as he passed her desk.

"Yes," Yasmeen said, looking surprised that he'd managed to pry Justin away from his prize; although, he didn't know why as he always got his way in the end.

"Now would be a good time to take your lunch," Brian announced as he headed into his office. "And take your time; I insist."

He smirked as Yasmeen laughed and began gathering her things; he kicked the door shut behind him and locked it before hauling a babbling Justin over to his couch and dropping him onto it. Sometimes, the only way to deal with a queening out brat was to go back to the basics.

Chapter Text

March 1

Justin sipped his coffee, trying to stretch it out for as long as possible as he knew he was going to need the energy pick-me-up today and this was the only caffeine that he was allowed. He glanced over at the clock and stood, gathering up his and Brian's breakfast plates from the table and walking them over to the sink.

Brian looked up from his paper and grimaced at the time; and then he hastily folded it as Justin rinsed their dishes and stacked them into the dishwasher. Standing, he quickly gathered it up, one eye on Justin the entire time and then hastily made a beeline for the door; just as Justin had suspected he would. And he thought he wasn't predictable.

"Don't go too far," Justin called over his shoulder, smirking when Brian cursed under his breath, realizing he hadn't been so stealthy in his retreat. Justin shook his head in amusement; he'd known for days just how much his husband had been dreading today and he couldn't help teasing him. "I'm going to need your help."

"Justin…" Brian said, coming suspiciously close to a whine; not that he'd ever admit to it.

"Brian…" Justin mimicked as he dried his hands and turned around; Brian scowled and Justin could see him internally denying that he'd sounded anywhere near that whiny. But...

They stared at each other for a long moment; with Brian obviously searching for a plausible reason to get out of Justin's plans for the day. And Justin willing to let him sweat it out for a bit just because he could. Brian's scowl deepened as he'd obviously failed to come up with a reason; so, Justin decided to let him off the hook.

"I wasn't talking about putting the favors together," Justin said, rolling his eyes at his husband's antics. "I'd rather not listen to you whine all day. But, Em has several boxes that need to be brought in; so, I'm certain that you and Drew can take a few minutes out of your busy schedules to get your He-Man on and bring them in for us; and then you're free to do whatever the hell you want."

Brian narrowed his eyes and stared at Justin suspiciously. Justin just smiled winsomely; it wasn't his fault that Brian had misunderstood; even if that had been his intention. Growling under his breath, Brian stalked over to Justin, knowing he'd been had.

"Oh, you are so asking for it, Sunshine," Brian warned, yanking Justin against him as he'd tried to pass by; not that it did much good, as Justin just continued to smile serenely. "I still haven't gotten you back for the triplets joke, and you just keep adding to your balance."

"I'm trembling in my boots," Justin snickered, quickly extracting himself from his husband's clutches, and walking out of the kitchen to go wait in the foyer for his guests.

"Laugh now, little boy," Brian huffed, following in Justin's wake; he stomped off to the living room, his only concession to Justin's request. "I'll get you when you least expect it."

"And I look forward to it," Justin simpered, yelping when Brian swatted him on the ass with the newspaper as he passed by. Justin rubbed his hand over his smarting ass and glared at his completely unrepentant husband. Asshole. As if it wasn't sore enough from yesterday.

Brian smirked, his tongue in his cheek as he flopped onto the couch and picked up the section he'd been reading at the table, blatantly ignoring Justin's stink eye. Justin huffed and turned away, watching through the window for Em and Drew's car. And after a few minutes he perked up as Em's voice came over the intercom and Justin opened the gate for them.

Walking over to the door, he opened it just in time to see Em and Drew pull up, followed by a second car that he hadn't been expecting. Turning to Em, he raised brows, silently asking what was going on as Em climbed out and rounded the van.

"I hope you don't mind that I brought Todd and Darren along," Em said by way of explanation as the aforementioned two stepped out of the second car and made their way over to the back of Em's van. "I figured some additional hands wouldn't hurt since we have a lot to do today."

"Hey Todd, Darren, Drew," Justin nodded and greeted the other three before turning back to Em. "Fine by me; I set us up in the kitchen since all the cookies, the chocolates and the champagne bottles were being stored in the pantry anyways."

"Perfect," Em said, opening the back doors to his van, revealing several medium sized boxes, which Justin assumed held the various favor boxes that Em had ordered and had sent to his house by accident. "I have the favor boxes that we ordered, plus the ones that I made in the back; you said fifty, right?"

"Yup," Justin nodded, wondering how on Earth his guest list had crept up that high. So, much for a small get together. "It's really like forty-six or forty-seven, but this way we have a few extra in case something happens or we have an unexpected guest."

"How the fuck do you have that many people to invite?" Brian asked as he finally came out of the house; nodding at the others, he reached in and grabbed a couple of boxes out of the van, stacking one on top of the other. "We don't have that much family.

"Well there's more than the family to think of, Brian," Justin huffed as he grabbed one of the smaller boxes. "We have some friends from Babylon coming, along with a few from Kinnetik. And then a few of your accounts needed to be invited, as you know damned well that Kellie and Lucille would have our balls if they weren't. And then there was my agent and her husband, and Sydney and his wife and other various friends from New York. It adds up."

"Mr. Popular," Brian mocked as he picked the boxes up.

"I can't help if people adore me," Justin simpered, fluttering his lashes and making Brian snort as he walked back towards the house.

"Hey Todd; how's it going?" Brian said with an absent nod as he passed.

"Fine…" Todd lazily replied, echoing his typical answer whenever they were at Babylon, and making Justin, Darren and Emmett snicker as he walked past Justin to grab another box.

Brian paused and did a double take, staring at Todd as if he'd never seen him before, and then he shook his head and continued into the house. Justin snickered, well aware of the reason behind Brian's confusion as this was likely the first time that he'd ever seen Todd outside the back room at Babylon.

Shaking his head, Justin focused on the task at hand, and with everyone helping, they'd managed to get it all in within a couple of trips; after which Brian and Drew immediately disappeared. He played host for a few moments, pulling out drinks and snacks and setting them on the counter and then walked over to the table, where Emmett had started laying things out.

"So, how do you want to do this?" Emmett asked, as he pulled out another tray of cookies from the pantry and set it down. "Because as much as I wish otherwise, I doubt we can fit everything in the boxes I made."

"You made it to my specs, right?" Justin asked, wondering what might have gone wrong with the boxes, as he'd already figured out just how much room they were going to need and there should be plenty of it if Emmett had followed the specs.

"Yeah," Emmett said as he grabbed several boxes of chocolates from the pantry as well. "But I tried to put it all in there, and there just isn't room for the T-shirts, Baby."

"Oh, sorry!" Justin exclaimed, immediately realizing the problem. "I forgot to tell you; the shirts aren't going to be in the box. We're going to hand them out at the door; they're all the same side, so I'm setting them on a table, along with a couple that I'm going to leave out in lieu of a guest book. The guests will sign those instead; that way we can frame them later and hang them in Sunbeam's room."

"Oh, well that makes much more sense!" Emmett said, sighing in relief that he hadn't messed anything up. "I'm glad to know that I didn't put them together wrong. And it's such a cute way to remember the event! I so love them, and I'm so glad that Yasmeen suggested them."

"Me too," Justin agreed, smiling as he pulled out a box of champagne bottles to add to their growing piles of goodies. "So, I figured that we'd each take a station since there are four of us now and do this as sort of an assembly line? Like Todd, if you'll come over here and I'll have you put together the boxes for the Dipped Oreos and then have you pack them up if you could, please."

"Sure, Justin," Todd said as he came over to where Justin was standing; he opened the boxes in front of him and then looked up at Justin. "How many of these per box?"

"You should be able to put four cookies into each favor box," Justin said, moving onto the next station. "Also, there are these yellow bakery sheets to line the box with if you would, please. And then just stack them in a pile over here when you get them done."

"Not a problem," Todd smiled and began building boxes. "Fifty, right?"

"Yup," Justin nodded, opening up another box and setting it by the other trays of cookies. "Any leftovers we'll hold onto and serve at the shower. And Darren, if you wouldn't mind, I thought I'd have you work on the You are My Sunshine cookies. They go with these tent boxes and again, they should be wrapped with the yellow bakery sheets. Three to a box - one circle cookie, one rectangle with designs, and one with words in each, thanks."

"Of course," Darren nodded, taking the spot over for Justin. "Whatever you need; where would you like me to put them when they're done?"

"Just set them here, next to the ones that Todd is packing," Justin said as he rounded the table and went to the next work station. "Now, Em; did you want to pack the key chains and wrist bands or did you want to assemble the larger boxes?"

"I'll stick with the key chains and wrist bands as you seem to have an idea of how it's all packed up," Em said, walking over to Justin. "You wanted these in the yellow, scallop-edged boxes, right?"

"Yup" Justin nodded, walking to the final station which held the large favor boxes, a box of wine totes, a box of champagne bottles, a box of votive candles, a box of candle holders, and more yellow tissue paper in the same color as the wax paper. "I wish I could have found them in a brighter yellow like the rest, but what can you do?"

"You should have said something, Baby," Emmett chided, quickly putting together boxes and filling them with the ease of someone who'd done it hundreds of times before. "I could have talked to one of my vendors; I'm sure they could have done a special order."

"That's okay," Justin shrugged as he began building his boxes five at a time, first lining them with tissue paper; and then he pulled out the lemon-print wine totes and folded them in half before laying them on the bottom of the box. "I just wanted to get it done without Brian having a heart attack. He was already grumbling this morning about it. Never mind the fact that I paid for it all with my own damn card."

"They always do, honey," Darren said, laughing as Justin huffed and Em and Todd tittered. "Men like Brian just don't see the point to all of our little rituals. They understand why we would want to make such a fuss and to thank the guests, who are coming to a party meant to celebrate you. Don't you remember what he was like with the wedding favors?"

"Yes; but I just want people to walk away with something more than a bag of Jordan almonds they'll never eat and little bottles of bubbles," Justin said, placing a half bottle of champagne on top of the wine tote. "Besides you know that Mr. Label Queen would have a shit fit if we ever did anything so traditional despite his complaints."

"Don't we ever," Todd snorted, pushing over his first pile of favor boxes.

"Actually, I'm surprised that you don't have Big Bad in here helping," Emmett said, building more boxes and setting them on the table. "How did he manage to talk his way out of it?"

"Are you kidding?" Justin huffed, grabbing several scented votive candles and placing one each into gold, metal lanterns with sun cut-outs on them. And then he packed those beside the bottle of champagne. "I'd like to have these done sometime today. If Brian had been in here, he'd argue with me every step of the way and then I'd have to kill him. A dead baby daddy does me no good."

"Fair point," Emmett conceded, snickering as he set several completed boxes near Justin's station so that he could add them to his own favor boxes. "Does he even know what's going into them?"

"Nope," Justin said, popping the "P" on the end as he set one of the tent boxes of cookies next to the candle holder, added the box of Oreos in front of it and then one of  Emmett's boxes on top of that. "Well, other than the champagne bottles; the rest is a complete mystery to him as he said, and I quote, 'Sunshine, if you wanted to fill them with pig shit, I couldn't care less as long as it doesn't come into my house,' end quote."

"Lovely," Em said, wrinkling his nose with disgust.

"That's Brian for you," Justin shrugged as he dumped ten miniature chocolate bars into the box; and then he folded the tissue paper over it all and closed the boxes, setting them aside for their labels.

"He does have a unique way of expressing himself," Darren said, setting more boxes of cookies by Justin's station, just as Justin set five more favor boxes onto the table.

"So, I'm guessing that he's going to skip out on the shower altogether?" Todd asked curiously, pushing his finished favors in front of Justin and working on a new batch.

"Oh, hell no," Justin hissed, eliciting another round of laughter form the others. "Are you crazy? I'm not doing this by myself. I've already warned him of his expected attendance unless he wants to sleep in the guest room for the rest of the month. He'll be there if for no other reason than he'd go catatonic if he were deprived access to my ass."

"And that my dears," Emmett drawled, a knowing smirk on his lips. "Shows you just who holds the power in the relationship; it certainly isn't the top."

"Amen to that," Darren and Todd fervently replied at the same time; and then they looked at each other and laughed. Justin grinned, especially when Brian walked in, a suspicious look on his face when all of the others immediately burst out laugh once again. Well, what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.

Chapter Text

March 2

Brian stood back and admired his handiwork, sighing with relief that he was finally done with the project. And none too soon as Justin had started nosing around recently, wanting to know what he'd been working on out here in the stables. It had gotten to the point that Brian had to have the locks changed, otherwise the little twat would have figured it out and ruined the surprise. Sometimes Brian was certain that the saying 'curiosity killed the cat' was coined with Justin in mind as the brat just couldn't keep his nose out of trouble.

Standing up, Brian circled the crib and ran a hand over the stained and sealed wood checking for any rough spots or splinters. Although, there shouldn't be any given all the hours he'd spent stripping and sanding it down; but he didn't want to take any chances considering the precious cargo that it would hold eventually.

Smiling with satisfaction, he stood back and took all three pieces of furniture in – the aforementioned crib, a dresser and a changing table; proud that he hadn't lost his touch. You couldn't even tell that they'd once been baby pink rather than the lightly-stained oak that had been lying underneath all that hideous paint.

Looking up as someone came to stand at his side, he nodded to Carl and turned back to the baby furniture that would soon make its way up to the nursery that Justin was painting. He really couldn't wait to see it in the room; he definitely felt the natural finish was much more suiting to the room Justin was creating than the white paint that someone had originally suggested when they were looking at furniture.

"It looks good, kid," Carl praised, as he walked around the crib to inspect Brian's work; he whistled appreciatively as he ran his over the smooth finish. "You did a good job. Jen will be pleased when she sees it at the reveal."

Brian smirked and looked away, both uncomfortable, yet pleased with the compliment; although, he was more than happy to hear Carl's assessment of Jen's reaction, since she was the one who had given him the furniture. When Justin and he had been discussing what kind of furniture they wanted for Sunbeam's room, Jen had pulled him aside and offered up the furniture she'd used for both Justin and Molly; something that she'd stored away in the hope that one of them would use it for their own kids.

And after inspecting it, and noting that it was solid wood and in really good shape, if painted a hideous shade of pink; Brian decided to grab it, sand it down and refinish it as a shower gift for Justin. And looking at the results, he was happy that he'd done so.

"Deb and Vic taught me how to do this when I was younger," Brian explained, a soft smile on his lips as he thought of those long, summer days away from his childhood home. "They were always buying furniture at garage sales and secondhand stores; and then they'd bring them home, sand them down and re-stain or paint them. And every summer they'd put me in charge of a project; I think I refinished her buffet and hutch three times before I was out of college. She said it was because it got dinged or there was a rough patch; frankly, I think she was just trying to keep me off the streets."

He'd loved those times as a teen, and he'd been surprisingly good at it once they'd taught him the basics and he'd had some practice. In fact, when he'd first gotten his own place after college, before he'd had the money to purchase the loft, all of his furniture had been bought secondhand and refinished by him. No one had ever noticed however as he'd always had a good eye for quality and by the time he was done, his furniture looked as if it had been purchased in some of the best stores in Pittsburgh.

"More like she was trying to keep you out of the clubs," Carl snorted, shooting an amused look at Brian, who just rolled his lips between his lips and shrugged; it's not like he could deny it. Deb had always worried about his lifestyle choices back then.

That is, until Justin had sunk his claws into him and wouldn't let go; then she just sat back and laughed as Brian floundered, and fought it, until he couldn't deny his feelings any longer; and then she had the ill grace to laugh again and say, 'I told you so.'

Not that he blamed her; he supposed that he'd feel a bit smug too had the roles been reversed.

"That too," Brian smirked, picking up cloths and pieces of spent sand paper and tossing them into the trash. "I didn't think I'd be able to finish it all in time for the shower; with the way Justin's been nosing around and trying to get in, I've had to wait until he was gone, distracted by visitors or napping before I could get in here to work on it. It got to the point where I was begging anyone to get him out of my hair."

"Who'd you sacrifice this time?" Carl laughed, having run afoul of Justin's determination a time or two himself.

"Well, luckily, Emmett and some of the boys came over yesterday to work on the shower favors," Brian said, dusting off his hands and taking one last look around to make sure that everything was put away. "Emmett managed to stretch that out and then quickly distracted him with other chores for the shower; so, that kept Justin occupied for a few hours. And then today, I convinced Mother Taylor to drag him off for lunch and shopping with her and Molly. They actually should be returning any time now."

If he wasn't already home that is; the only problem with being in the stables was that it was far enough away from the drive that he couldn't hear when anyone drove up.

"Well, then, I'm going to head out," Carl said as he walked out the door and paused at the beginning of the path that lead to the front drive. "My being here will just spark his curiosity further and then you'll never keep him away."

"Christ, tell me about it," Brian groused, shutting the door and locking it so that his brat of a husband couldn't get in, and then followed Carl down the path. "I'm still trying to figure out when to move this stuff into the nursery; I might have to take the day before off and make Emmett drag him off for some last minute shower shopping just to get it done."

"Let me know when," Carl nodded as they stepped off the path and walked down the drive to his car. When they got there, Carl rounded it and unlocked it, opened the door and leaned against the top of it. "I'll come out with Deb; between her and Emmett, they'll keep him suitably distracted while you, Drew and I move the stuff in."

"I will," Brian nodded, watching as Carl slid into his car, still feeling just a bit wrong-footed with this man's obvious affection and respect for him; despite the number of years that Carl had been a part of his life, he still wasn't used to having what pretty much amounted to a father figure.

Oh, he'd had Vic, and he wasn't discounting Vic's place in his life at all. He had been a solid influence; but he'd also been more of an indulgent uncle than a true father figure; or maybe that had just been Michael's views tainting his own back then. But, whatever it had been, while Vic had always given him good advice, he'd never been that firm father figure that either of them needed either. He preferred the indulgent, 'you will learn eventually' mode of thinking; which certainly has its place, but not the best attitude to have with young teenagers.

Carl had been the first true father figure that he'd known, having no qualms whatsoever in telling Brian when he thought he was being an idiot. He'd bluntly, and on more than one occasion, warned him where his actions were leading, pointing out all the pros and cons; and then left the decision in his hands.

"Later, kid," Carl called out and then closed the door, started his car and reversed, heading out towards the road.

Running a hand through his hair, Brian grimaced as he came away with a bit of sawdust and he didn't even want to think what else since it had once been an active stable. Turning on his heel, he walked into the house and up the stairs, intent on a shower to wash this shit off. Although, it was a damned shame that Justin wasn't there to help as shower sex had long been one of his favorite bathing activities.

But, if he was lucky, Justin would return soon and join him.

He quickly shed his clothing and tossed it into the hamper, before turning on the shower, adjusting the heat and stepping in. He quickly washed himself up, lingering for just a few minutes, hoping that Justin would show. But when it became obvious that he wasn't going to, he shut off the water and stepped out. Quickly rubbing himself down with a towel, Brian wrapped it around his waist and then took a second, smaller towel for his hair and strode into their walk-in closet.

He scrubbed the towel through his hair as he pulled a new pair of jeans and a long-sleeved, knit shirt off the shelf and then paused, perking his ears up. He waited a moment, swearing that he'd heard something in the room, but when Justin didn't come in, he shrugged it off and dressed. Then, as he was just pulling out a pair of socks from the drawer, he heard a small thump out in their bedroom, followed by a familiar voice cursing under his breath.

Striding out of the closet, Brian froze as soon as he entered the bedroom; because there, bent over at the waist, stood a nude from the waist down Justin, his ass fully on display. Licking his lips, Brian stood back to admire his husband's form, still as stunning as the first night he'd picked him up. God he was so beautiful it hurt sometimes. And he was so distracted that he didn't even notice what Justin was doing, or why he was bent over in the first place, until the item of clothing that Justin had been struggling with covered his ass and obstructed Brian's view.

And then he homed in on the fact that Justin was smoothing some sort of…well, what looked like pantyhose into place? Shaking his head, Brian stared for a moment longer trying to figure out what the hell his husband was up to this time before he finally gave up and asked, "What the hell are you wearing?"

Justin squawked and snapped up, his eyes going wide as spun around and stared at Brian, giving him a better look at the…well, the best way he could describe them was tights. Although, now that he had a full view, he could see that they weren't exactly pantyhose or tights as they were footless. Not that it prevented him from teasing Justin.

"Are those pantyhose?" he asked, a tongue-in-cheek smirk etched onto his face; Justin flushed, his cheeks turning a bright red at his question. And then he growled when Brian really hit it home with his next comment. "Don't tell me – this pregnancy has finally brought out your feminine side."

"They're compression tights, asshole," Justin huffed, glaring at a snickering Brian; he flipped Brian off for good measure. "And what are you doing in here? I thought you were in the stables like you have been every weekend for the past two months."

Well, that explained why Justin hadn't come to find him when he got home; not that he was going to let the brat manipulate him into changing the subject.

"I finished up about thirty minutes ago or so," Brian smirked, walking over to his husband; he circled him, wondering what the hell compression tights were supposed to be since they just looked like footless pantyhose to him. So, he just decided to ask. "What the hell are compression tights?"

"It's some sort of specialty support hose that you wear while pregnant for extra support," Justin huffed again, staring down at the tights with an annoyed expression. "It's supposed to help with tired legs and varicose veins, or something like that." Justin paused to glower at Brian, who was still snickering at his obvious discomfort. "I don't know. Mom bought them for me."

And that made little sense to Brian; not the support part, because he got that, but the varicose veins bit really didn't apply in this situation. He knew Justin's body, as well as his unblemished skin, intimately and knew that he had no need for this item of clothing.

"What varicose veins?" Brian asked, staring at Justin's covered legs, his brow pinched in confusion; and then it smoothed out as while he didn't think that Justin needed the tights, they made for a hell of a view. And Brian couldn't help being fully appreciative of them and admiring the way they clung to Justin like a second skin.

He licked his lips again and wondered how long it would take for him to peel those god awful tights off his husband's very delectable body. He really needed to test that out.

"Right!?" Justin huffed, running his hands over his legs, further distracting Brian. "That's exactly what I said. But Mom said that 'just because you can't see them, doesn't mean they aren't there; and if they aren't, it doesn't mean you won't eventually get them.' And then she paid for them and stuffed them into one of my bags."

"And you're wearing them, because…?" Brian asked; because he really did want know why on Earth Justin would ever feel the need.

"Curiosity?" Justin said, shrugging his shoulders as if that were a perfectly reasonable answer for putting on an item of clothing that closely resembled women's lingerie. And for Justin, it probably was. As he said before, the expression 'curiosity killed the cat,' had definitely been coined with Justin in mind. "I just wondered how comfortable they would be and if they actually do anything to support the pregnancy."

"Interesting," Brian hummed, stepping into his husband's body, molding his front to Justin's back as he slid his hands over his belly to his hips; this definitely needed a closer inspection. He smoothed his hands over Justin's thighs, his dick instantly hardening in a way he hadn't expected at the silky texture under his fingertips.

"What are you doing?" Justin asked, his voice a little breathless as Brian continued his explorations.

"I'm just taking a closer look to admire your newest item of clothing," Brian said, pressing his hardening dick into the curve of Justin's ass. He slid a hand up to cup Justin's growing erection and gently squeezed, drawing a small gasp from Justin's lips.

"What are you…" Justin started to ask again and trailed off as Brian started to peel the tights over his baby bump, so that he had more skin to touch, but it wasn't enough. It never was when it came to Justin. He spun Justin around, picked him up, and carried him to the bed, dumping him on the edge. "I thought you didn't like this kind of thing? All of your tricks in the past were more along the lines of gym bunnies rather than queens."

The question was rhetorical; and it was true that he'd often been more attracted to the hard, well-built type that looked as if they'd spent their lives in a gym. Justin had been an exception to that rule being much shorter, blonder, and thinner than his usual type. But then again, Justin had always been the exception to all his rules. Maybe that was what had him coming back to Justin again and again in the beginning.

"I don't," Brian agreed as he tried to peel the tights over Justin's legs; but it wasn't as easy as he thought it was going to be as the fucking things clung, leaving him to tug at them, and nearly ripping them in the process. "But I do like you; and frankly, your near naked ass is all that I need to get interested."

"Brian!" Justin squealed, laughing as he looked up into Brian's, likely red and frustrated face, but doing absolutely fuck all to help Brian with said removal of the tights. "Stop! You're going to tear them!"

"So, I'll buy you some new ones," Brian huffed, and then let out a triumphant cry when he finally managed to yank the tights from his husband's body. He tossed them over his shoulder and leered down at Justin, a lascivious smirk on his face. "For now, I have more important things to do."

"Oh?" Justin asked as he coyly peered at Brian from beneath his lashes. "And just what would that be, Mr. Taylor-Kinney?"

"A thorough inspection of your body," Brian smirked, pausing to lick a long, wet strip up his husband's stiff cock and swirling his tongue over the head as Justin cried out beneath him. And then he slid up his body to drop a kiss on Justin's parted mouth as he whispered. "You know, just to be sure there aren't any of those varicose veins your mother was talking about."

Chapter Text

March 3

Justin sighed in frustration as he looked at yet another infuriating e-mail from his mother, who was oh-so-helpfully suggesting another name for the baby. This was actually becoming an irritatingly regular thing ever since that lunch they'd had at Deb's a little over a week ago; and his mother wasn't the only culprit. It seemed that whenever he saw his friends or family these days, they were full of naming conventions and suggestions and shared them until Justin wanted to scream.

Like this e-mail; his mother sent it to him as a 'reminder' of what they'd discussed at lunch yesterday when she and Molly dragged him out to go maternity clothing shopping (again) and bought him those ridiculous tights. Not that he was complaining about those much now as it had led to a rather fun, fast and furious fucking session with Brian, who'd gotten turned on by them.

And hadn't that been a surprise, considering that he knows that femininity isn't typically something that turns Brian on. He's well aware that, with his twink-like physique, he really didn't fit the mold of Brian's usual type. And Brian, still to this day, can't really pin down what exactly had made him stop when he'd seen Justin. Oh, he doesn't deny that Justin was then, and still is, a beautiful man, (his words); but Justin just seemed to be the complete opposite of what Brian usually looked for in a trick.

But he was getting off track; his mother seemed to be on a mission yesterday, talking up all of the family names and their meanings and how they'd been handed down through the generations and all that. And while Justin got it, that this kind of naming convention was tradition on his mother's side of the family, he just didn't want to be held to them. And while he loved that he was named after his grandfathers, he really wanted to give the baby a name that was unique to them.

Plus, he and Brian were quite capable of coming up with a name on their own, thank you very much. He didn't need them to 'help,' if you could call it that.

But that did lead to a problem; and one he hoped to solve today, so that people would leave him the fuck alone and he could focus on other more pressing matters. Pulling up his e-mail account, he hit the compose button and set immediately to work.

 

From: Justin Taylor-Kinney

To: Family All ; The Gang

Cc: Brian Taylor-Kinney (work); Brian Taylor-Kinney (personal)

Subject: Baby Names

So, it's come to my attention, (and really how could I not notice with the way some of you have been bludgeoning me over the head with it; no names, you know who you are), that there is some interest in what we are naming the baby. As I have said before, we have been keeping our choices under wraps for several reasons; but the most important of those being that it would disclose the gender and that is so not going to happen no matter how hard any of you try to get us to slip up. Nice try guys.

Besides, if we were to disclose it, then Deb would have to stop the betting pool at the diner and we wouldn't want that. (Yes, Deb, we have always been fully aware that you were behind the pool; shame on you. ;))

So, to keep the lot of you from tracking me down, just to tell me of this really *insert adjective here* name you heard; and you just wanted us to know about it because was just so *insert adjective here*, I'm going to make a one time offer and then I never want to hear about it again, if you please.

Starting now, you have until the baby shower, March 22, to either e-mail me or physically hand me a list of name suggestions for Sunbeam. And we will take these suggestions into consideration when we come up with a names. Keep in mind that we prefer gender neutral names over ones that are obviously intended for a particular gender.

Please also note that any obvious name suggestions from popular movies, books, TV shows and/or comics will be completely disregarded and you risk the entire list getting tossed due to suspicions that you are trying to name our kid after a favorite character. (Looking at you Em; seriously, Katniss? I may not have read the books or watched the movies, but I do know who that is. I can't believe you thought you could sneak that by me.)

So, in recap – a list of names to me by March 22, and your silence there after, or I will not be held accountable for what I do. I have more important things to worry about than to have you all bombard me with names every time I see you.

~ Justin

 

Justin read the e-mail a couple of times; and then, satisfied with the message, he clicked the send button and just waited for the immanent Kinney queen out. Because he knew that in about five minutes he was going to be getting a call from Brian asking him what the hell he'd been thinking. Unless he was in a meeting. And then it would take him about five minutes after that to call him and ask him what the hell he'd been thinking.

Out of curiosity, and a little bit of boredom, Justin watched the clock, counting down the minutes; and sure enough, a little over four and a half minutes later, his cell phone lit up and peeled Brian's ring tone. Did he even realize how predictable that he was at times? Maybe he should tell him. On second thought, maybe he should keep that to himself for the time being as it made his life easier.

He picked up the phone and punched the accept button.

"Justin Taylor-Kinney speaking," He greeted, as if he didn't know just who was on the other side of the phone and why he was calling.

What fun was it if he let the cat out of the bag early?

"What the hell is this shit?" Brian demanded; that was it, no greeting, no 'hey honey, how is your day going?' Just a demand for information. He was so going to enjoy this.

"What the hell is what shit?" Justin asked, playing dumb just because he could. Plus it annoyed Brian; and as he's said before, an annoyed, worked up Brian is a fun Brian.

"The e-mail, Justin," Brian clarified, although his exasperated tone told Justin that Brain was well aware of the game he was playing. "Why are you giving our friends and family the option of helping us name OUR kid? Need I remind you of the Abraham and the Jenny Rebecca debacles?"

"I figured we could use some more kindling for the fire?" Justin asked, completely throwing Brian for a loop with that one.

"What?" Brian asked; and this time he sounded genuinely confused by the answer. It was good that he couldn't always predict Justin's reasoning; he had more fun this way.

"Look, I'm not actually going to take any of their suggestions seriously," Justin said, and then paused because that came out wrong to his ears; so, he explained further. "I'm planning to look them over; and if they have some nice suggestions that fit with the naming convention that we've decided on, then I'll add them to the list. But it's not something I'm expecting to change our minds one way or the other."

"Then why are you doing this?" Brian asked; and Justin didn't blame him for being confused, but he did have a very good reason for doing it – namely keeping his sanity.

"Self-preservation," Justin said, rolling his eyes when an e-mail arrived from his mother; seriously, he got that she was excited about the birth of her first blood-related grandchild, but didn't she have a job and other things to do other than to annoy him?

"Self-preservation?" Brian stated slowly; and Justin could just picture him, sitting at his desk, pinching the bridge of his nose as he prayed for patience.

Like he said, predictable.

"I am sick of people prying into our business, wanting to find out what names we've decided on," Justin explained, his annoyance bleeding through as he clicked on the email his mother had sent him; this time it was something to do with birth classes. "Or worse, every time I see them – and this is especially true with Lindsay – they have all these helpful suggestions for a name. If I do it this way, they will feel like they are contributing, but they will then, hopefully, leave me in peace."

Brian just laughed at that; and really, he would, as he wasn't the one dealing with this bullshit as their friends and family tended to stay away from Brian when it came to all things baby. He really wanted to know why they thought that he was the nicer, more sympathetic one as he'd thought he'd demonstrated time and again that it wasn't the case.

"My little genius," Brian said fondly, obviously finally seeing reason to Justin's grand plan; as he should. "Just promise me that you won't let them badger you into any of those names no matter the reasons behind it."

"Please," Justin snorted, clicking on an e-mail from Lucille Brown and chuckling at her quip of, 'I've always been partial to the name Lucille; it's very dignified, don't you think?' Justin shook his head and clicked on the email to respond. "If I haven't allowed them to guilt me yet; even when I've been a hormonal mess due to this pregnancy, I doubt it's going to happen now."

"You say that now," Brian warned; and Justin could just see him rolling his eyes at those words. "But you haven't heard the epic sob story that Deb can build up over her favorite cousin, or aunt, or dog, or whatever the fuck it was, Matilda. And that is a whole world of no, Sunshine; just no."

"Yeah, that is so not happening," Justin said, rolling his eyes when a message from Lindsay popped up; he couldn't wait to see that one. He was certain that she would tell him the perfect way to choose a name based on the projected birth sign, season and the phase of the moon or some other Earth Mother bullshit. Because it couldn't possibly just be that they liked the name or some mundane reason like that. "Don't worry, you will hold ultimate veto power."

"Great," Brian grumbled, making Justin laugh. "Make me the bad guy. I can just hear Deb now. 'I had Sunshine all convinced that Matilda was a beautiful name and then that asshole came along and ruined it for me.' Thanks a lot, Sunshine."

"Anytime, snookems," Justin snickered, ignoring Lindsay's latest book on how to raise a child in favor of snarking back and forth with Lucille. "At least it isn't Adelbert."

"Jesus Fucking Christ, Sunshine," Brian huffed, making Justin cackle with laughter once again. "I'm getting off the phone before you tell me that you finally drank the Kool-Aid and bought into Lindsay's Earth Mother crap about constellations and moon phases."

Huh, guess he got that email too.

"She is the fount of all baby knowledge," Justin stated solemnly, drawing a chuckle from Brian. "Yeah, I have to go and actually do some work in the studio now that I don't have everyone calling me for ridiculous shit. Later."

"Later," Brian replied, and then hung up the phone.

Justin sighed and looked at his computer and his phone, and then typed a quick message to Brian, letting him know that he was going to be incommunicado; and that if he absolutely needed him, to call the house phone and have Anna come pry him out of the studio. And then he shut down the computer and turned off his cell; he was so done dealing with this shit today.

Chapter Text

March 4

Brian took one last look at himself in the mirror and then walked out of the closet and into the bedroom, surprised when he didn't find a familiar blond lump still curled up in their bed. Grabbing his jacket, he walked out the door and quickly made his way down the stairs; he strode into the living room, and looked around, but his husband was still nowhere to be found. Something he found odd as Justin was violently against mornings if he could help it. Especially since he'd gotten pregnant.

In fact, the only thing that had any hope of prying him from their bed until he was good and ready, was if he'd been struck by a sudden wave of inspiration, sending him running for his studio. But Brian knew that wasn't it, as he'd definitely noted that the studio door had been open as he came down the stairs.

Dropping his jacket on the back of the chair nearest the foyer, right next to his briefcase, Brian walked towards the kitchen; knowing that, if nothing else, if Justin couldn't be found in their bed or his studio, he was definitely raiding the fridge or cupboards. He hoped. Because, to be honest, if Justin wasn't in there eating, he would actually start to worry at that point. Justin being out of bed for art or food was expected; Justin willingly climbing out of bed on a morning off for no good reason, not so much.

"Good morning, Anna," Brian greeted as he walked through the door, smirking when he spied Justin sitting at the table, his back to him, with an impressive case of bed-head. He absently dropped a kiss on the top of Justin's head as he walked to the coffee machine. "Sunshine, you're up early. I thought you were supposed to have a nice, quiet sleep-in this morning. Or, at least, that's what you were bragging about last night."

"Yeah, well," Justin huffed, leaning heavily against the table, more asleep than he was awake at that point. "Your child had other ideas this morning. Apparently, Sunbeam has decided that my bladder is a trampoline again, and I had to race to the bathroom before I embarrassed myself. Fuck; I'll be so glad when this is over, so that my internal organs don't feel like they are just one big bruise."

"My child?" Brian chuckled as he poured himself a cup of coffee and added an obscene amount of sugar in it; he nodded to Anna as she set his typical breakfast of dry whole-grain toast and fruit on the table and then walked over and sat down. "Why is Sunbeam always my child at times like this?"

"Because obviously you are the evil one of our partnership," Justin grumbled, taking a huge bite of his breakfast; and then he smirked, a wicked glint in his eyes. "Whereas I am the angel. Everyone says so."

Brian snorted, rolling his eyes because they really did think that Justin was the nice one; if they only knew. He looked up and shot his husband an incredulous look, freezing, his coffee mug halfway to his mouth, as he finally noticed just what Justin had been eating for breakfast. Setting his mug down, he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, fervently praying that he wasn't actually seeing what he thought he saw.

But when he opened his eyes again, the scene before him was exactly the same – Justin was sitting there, blissfully eating something that could only be classified as a dessert, not breakfast. The first layer in the glass looked like it was some sort of yogurt or pudding, which was then followed by a layer of Twinkies, cut into chunks. (And he really hoped that those were the pseudo-Twinkies that he'd bought or he and Justin would be having a very long 'discussion' about that.)

The layer of Twinkies was followed by a layer of bananas, and then that was topped with yet more pudding or yogurt; more Twinkie chunks were added on top, followed by more bananas, another layer of pudding or yogurt; and then, finally, it was all topped with a layer of whipped cream. Brian shuddered at the amount of sugar and fat loaded into one container; and then, once again, prayed for strength.

Not that his husband noticed; Justin was happily humming to himself and digging in as if he hadn't a care in the world. Brian cleared his throat and continued to stare at his husband until, finally, Justin managed to pry himself away from his 'breakfast' and looked up at him with a curious expression on his face.

"Please, tell me you aren't eating that shit for breakfast," Brian groused, staring at the concoction with thinly veiled disgust. Justin paused to look at him funny and then rolled his eyes and defiantly took another bite; just to demonstrate that he was a stubborn brat.

"I'm not eating shit for breakfast," Justin said dutifully, after he finished said bite. And then he smiled that, 'why, yes, I am a little shit' grin of his; the one that brought Brian this close to throttling his husband most days. It was only love that kept Justin alive on those days.

"That's not what I meant; and you well know it, brat," Brian said in an aggrieved tone, his lips compressing when Justin just shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, ask a stupid question…" Justin said, purposely trailing off as he arched a brow; and then he started explaining as if he were talking to a small child. And really, he was just asking to get spanked at this point. "I mean it is morning, and it is the first meal of the day; so, one could easily deduce that I am indeed eating this shit for breakfast."

"Fucking smart ass," Brian griped, scrubbing a hand over his face; he continued to stare at the trifle or parfait, or whatever-the-fuck Justin wanted to call it, his lip curled in distaste. "The real question is – why are you eating them for breakfast?"

"Because I want to?" Justin asked rhetorically, giving another nonchalant shrug of his shoulders. Brian frowned. "Plus, the last time I talked to Liz, she said that I should add more grains and legumes to my diet."

Brian paused and took a couple bites of his fruit and toast as he tried to figure out what that had to do with anything. He took a long drag of his coffee as Justin just stared at him and continued eating his treat.

Alright; he'd bite.

"Yes, I'm well aware of that fact," Brian said slowly, not quite getting where Justin was going with this; but he had to have thought this out beforehand, because as smart as the little twat is, he's not nearly coherent enough in the morning to make up an elaborate excuse on the fly. Which just meant that this was likely to try Brian's patience. "I was at that appointment with you as you recall; you know since you nearly gave me a heart attack b.y making me believe  we were having triplets for a moment."

Justin smirked, still far too pleased with himself over that prank; and likely feeling far too confident that he'd gotten away with it as Brian hadn't retaliated yet. But he would; all in good time.

"Well, that's what I'm doing," Justin continued primly, a virtuous smile on his face. Brian snorted, because like hell was he falling for that nonsense. He knew Justin far better than that. So, he narrowed his eyes, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. "I'm just following the doctor's orders."

Brian internally sighed and  fought back a twitch in his jaw; barely. There was no way he was going to give the little twat the satisfaction of seeing him react to that statement if he could help it. But he must not have quelled it fast enough as Justin just smiled smugly in return. Brian rolled his lips between his teeth and wondered where the brat was taking this.

"And how, pray tell, are you doing that?" Brian asked; he leaned back into his chair and studied the smirking brat in front of him, just knowing that he was likely going to regret asking, but was curious nonetheless.

"Well," Justin said, going into what Brian had fondly dubbed 'professor mode.' Something he'd often employed when he'd walked around as a teenager, spouting off random facts, and acting like Brian's own walking public service announcement. "Wheat is a grain is it not?"

"Yes," Brian drawled, suddenly getting the bad feeling that he knew exactly where the little twat was going with this; and he had to give him credit for trying to con his way out of it this way. Too bad he hadn't paid full attention to what Liz had told the both of them.

"That gets ground into flour, right?" Justin continued, his eyes twinkling with mischief; he took a large bite of the parfait and hummed in delight. Brian just shook his head at his husband's audacity.

"I know I'm going to regret saying this, but yes," Brian huffed; and yes, this is exactly where he thought the little brat was going. He picked at his fruit, eating as Justin dug himself in deeper, one eye on the clock so he remembered to leave on time.

"And flour is then used to make cake," Justin finished, looking quite proud of himself and his explanation. "Ergo, I'm eating more grains."

Brian snorted, and almost wanted to applaud at that load of bullshit; but he refrained because there was no need to encourage the brat.

Plus, he hadn't covered all his tracks; there was one glaring flaw in his argument – Liz had specifically said that he needed to incorporate more whole grains and legumes into his diet. Not just any kind of bread product that he wanted;, but whole grains. Although, he probably hadn't expected Brian to remember that fact as Brian had been far too busy trying to get his heart rate under control after the little twat's prank.

"Right," Brian nodded, a bemused smile on his face. He took a long sip of his cooling coffee and then took a bite of his toast, letting Justin prattle on as if he believed him.

"She never specified what form my grains or legumes had to come in," Justin said, all wide-eyed innocence as he continued to wolf down his 'breakfast.' Brian caught Anna's eye, who was standing behind Justin with a plate of fruit, whole-grain toast and a soft-boiled egg and a glass of milk, desperately trying not to laugh.

Brian turned back to his husband, and finished his toast in two bites; he dusted his hands off and then quickly ate the last two pieces of melon and drank the rest of his coffee, all while eyeing Justin with amusement. Wiping his mouth with a napkin, he stood, stacked his dishes and set them in the sink.

It was time to take a pin to his scheming, brat of a husband's balloon.

"Sure, Sunshine; makes perfect sense," Brian nodded, smirking when Justin first looked at him in total surprise as he'd obviously been expecting a different answer; and then he narrowed his eyes, as if he sensed that there was more to that statement coming, which there was. "I tell you what; let's call Liz right now and ask her if Twinkies are on the acceptable grains list; and if she says yes, I'll fully support this madness."

And that right there, that was calling his husband's bluff; which he knew.

Justin scowled and huffed, and then he grumbled under his breath about 'annoying husband's that just had to be controlling bastards and ruin all his fun.' Brian snickered, especially when Anna dropped the prepared plate of food and glass of milk in front of Justin without a word, making his scowl darken. He walked over, stood next to Justin, and waited until his husband looked up.

"I didn't think so," Brian smirked, dropping a kiss onto his forehead. Justin just huffed, a pout firmly etched on to his lips. "But nice try, Sunshine; now be a good boy and eat all your food so our Sunbeam grows up nice and tall instead of being a midget like you."

Justin squawked and lashed out, but his hand met nothing but air as Brian laughed and dodged quickly out the door. He will say one thing about living with Justin – there was never a dull moment when he was around.

Chapter Text

March 5 – (26 weeks)

"So," Mel said, looking at Justin and relaxing back into her seat, enjoying the relatively calmness of her day for once. "What were you reading when we came in?"

Mel nodded her head towards the thick packet of papers that Justin had been shuffling through when she, Ted and Blake had descended onto the booth that he'd taken up residence in. She hadn't even realized that they would be meeting up with Justin that afternoon when Ted and Blake had come to her office and all but dragged her out of it, with her weakly protesting the entire way.

As the newest lawyer at the firm, Mel was always working ridiculous hours, trying to prove that she was worth the faith that they'd placed in her despite the short time that she'd been there. The only time that she wasn't working th