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When it happens, Michael gets a hug and some promises. Late afternoon sun stretching across the hardwood floor. The two of them settled on the futons Brian has fucked Justin into a hundred times before. When it happens, Michael gets comfort.

Justin gets the click of a lock and a Blockbuster fine for damaged merchandise. In the bus on the way home he studies the dvd - Wonder Boys because Brian likes Tobey Maguire, even if Justin disagrees - the long crack in the centre where it bounced against the floor.

Justin gets an empty bed. Justin gets three days of nightmares, Brian lying pale in a hospital bed somewhere. Justin gets Daphne's sympathy and long hours on the computer. Googling cancer, testicular cancer, rate of recovery, radiation, probability of recurrance. Googling Robinowitz to make sure he's the best.

Justin gets only Brian's anger. Brian's screaming. Brian's silence.

He wills his phone to ring.

When Justin sees her, Deb is still pissed at Brian and thinks nothing of his absence. Justin doesn't tell her, because he thinks it might just about kill her. Sometimes he thinks Brian is her favourite son.

He calls Brian fifty times like a stalker.

He's furious at Michael. For selling him out, even if he didn't mean to. For receiving everything that is denied to Justin. Furious because he knows, he knows that Michael can't possibly look after Brian the way he needs. Twenty years of experience, and Mikey still can't handle Brian the way that Justin can.

He goes to the loft and uses his key, but Brian has thrown the deadbolt and that's the first time that Justin thinks that maybe this is for real. He imagines not being with Brian in six months, in a year. Time hasn't stretched this endless since he felt Ethan's hands in his hair in the warm morning sun. Time crumbling meaninglessly along with his three am curfew.

He is furious with Brian.

He loves Brian so much.

The fifth day it's wrenching, it's him waking up at three am and having to drink himself to sleep. It's an empty bottle of whiskey and kneeling over the toilet, Daphne saying, "He'll come around," and Justin thinking, maybe he won't, maybe he really really won't.

The sixth day is worse.

A website uses phrases like mature teratoma and lymphatic invasion, and Justin thinks of Fight Club, Bob's bitch tits, Remaining Men Together, and he wishes he had a more useful knowledge base. He types left handed because his right is throbbing from the stress.

The eighth day is the enlightenment, and Michael's redemption. Justin has almost convinced himself he doesn't care, but it suddenly makes so much sense in that insane Brian Kinney neurotic spectacular way. Oh, Brian, he thinks with a long suffering sigh, and that's when he does the groceries.

As if he'd fucking leave. Justin loves Brian Kinney to death, but sometimes, he's a fucking moron.

He tells him that, later. In the dead of night. Bed not empty anymore, thank god. Brian lying limp and exhausted. Smelling slightly of puke and clutching Justin's elbow, murmuring and unsettled in his sleep.

Sometimes, he thinks life would be easier if Brian didn't love him so much.

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