Justin stood at the sink with Brian shaving and smiling. A sometimes dangerous combination, he speculated, as he cut his chin. Justin had been living happily, for the most part, with Brian for a couple of weeks. So far it seemed like Brian half enjoyed having him around and Justin was feeling quite content with life.
Justin still wasn't completely back to normal; he couldn't go into large crowds alone and his hand still gave him fits of cramps and shooting pains from time to time. But sometimes, when he and Brian were together doing something as simple as sharing the sink to shave, Justin had a hard time remembering Chris Hobbs and what he'd taken away from him. Instead, he was content to focus on the thrill he got from being with Brian.
Brian glanced over at Justin's hiss as the blade nicked his chin.
"You should really be more careful, Sunshine, we wouldn't want you slashing your own throat now would we?" Brian asked with a smirk as he reached over to swipe the small drop of blood off of his lovers chin with a hand towel he kept nearby for just this reason.
Justin playfully scowled at him for a moment. "You have your shaving techniques; I have mine. Leave me alone."
"O-oh and your techniques involve slashing your throat? Well, be my guest, just don't bleed on the good towels," Brian said placing his tongue firmly in his cheek and quirking an eyebrow in Justin's direction as he met the 18 year old's eyes in the mirror he delighted in seeing the playful sparkle there and knowing he was the one who put that look into his eyes.
Brian turned back to his shaving, all the while throwing glances at the blonde next to him.
"What do you shave anyway? You had absolutely no stubble before you shaved; you look exactly the same now as before except for that chunk missing out of your chin. Are you sure there's even a blade in there?" Brian teased.
Brian reached for Justin's razor to 'check' for a blade; Justin furrowed his eyebrows and shot Brian a mock scowl before switching his razor to the other hand; farther away from Brian.
"What time are we meeting the guys?" Justin asked ignoring Brian's comment from a moment before. Brian apparently decided to let the issue drop and he turned back to the mirror to finish his own shaving.
Justin splashed some water on his face to rid himself of the last of the shaving cream then grabbed a towel and scooted out of Brian's way so he could do the same.
"Six thirty, and if we don't hurry up we're going to be late," Brian said snapping a towel in Justin's general direction, playfully.
"You like being late," Justin reminded him with a grin as he tried to catch the other end of the towel, missing by a mile.
Brian splashed some water on his face and then toweled off his face and shoulder where some of the water had splashed. "You're right about that," Brian said with a grin as his fingers wormed their way into the boys' towel where the end was tucked in neatly. He expertly pulled Justin in for a kiss.
"We better go get dressed," Justin said when they broke apart.
Brian rolled his lips into his mouth then swatted Justin on the butt with his hand.
"Get going then," Brian said with a smile.
Justin grinned, he loved playful Brian. It was a side of himself that Justin was sure the dark haired man didn't let many people see and Justin felt truly blessed to be one of the few that Brian 'played' with.
Justin was walking into the bedroom when the first stab of pain hit him. It was directly behind his right eye and he nearly collapsed from the shear force of the pain. He reached out and grabbed the bathroom door frame as a wave of nausea swept over him full force and spots began to dance in front of his eyes.
With a groan he started to involuntarily drop to the floor but suddenly Brian was there and caught him.
"What is it? What's the matter?" Brian asked worriedly as he mostly carried Justin over to the bed.
"My head, the light," Justin mumbled.
Fuck, a migraine. This was the first full blown migraine that Brian had had to deal with since Justin moved in. Brian was almost getting used to pretending prom night had never happen and that Justin was ok. This, though, brought back the reality that Justin was still suffering from a massive head trauma. It was almost enough to make Brian ill as well.
Brian hurried around extinguishing all the lights in the loft. Ok, now what, now what? Brian tried to remember all of Jennifer's careful instructions. She had left him a list with all of Justin's' medications, including the instructions on how and when to administer them. Where is that fucking list? Brian began to half panic as he made his way quickly and quietly to the bathroom trying not t focus too much on the boy clutching his head in agony on the bed.
Brian knew that if he had to call Jennifer she'd insist on coming over and mothering Justin to death and Justin certainly didn't look like he needed to be mothered to death. Brian rummaged through the pill bottles and was relieved to find one that had 'Migraine Stuff' written on the label with a black marker. The writing was Justin's and Brian silently thanked the boy.
After checking the labels on the other bottles just to be sure, Brian decided that the one in his hand was indeed the correct medication for the situation. He popped the bottle open and noticed that his hands were shaking slightly. He shook two of the small pink pills into his hand and quickly filled up a glass with water then he returned to Justin's side with the water and pills.
"Here, take these, they'll help," Brian whispered.
Justin opened his eyes and blanched at the water as the nausea returned full force.
"You need to take them," Brian coaxed.
Justin relented and let Brian help him sit up to take a sip of the water and force the pills down. He then laid back and closed his eyes allowing Brian to ease a pair of pajama pants over his hips.
Brian finished getting Justin half dressed and covered with a blanket, he stood to change into a pair of his own pajama pants before heading over to the phone to call Michael and let him know that he and Justin wouldn't be coming out tonight.
After a hushed argument with Michael over Justin ruining his life Brian hung up rather abruptly and turned the ringer on the phone to the 'off' position. Last thing the kid needs is to hear the phone ringing twenty times tonight while Mikey tries to convince me to leave him and go out, Brian mused.
Brian went over to the computer intending to get some work done but he couldn't concentrate. Michael's words kept running through his mind 'You're letting him change you, Brian, I don't like it.' It just kept going like a CD stuck on loop. After a few minutes Brian sighed as he realized he wasn't going to be getting any work done so he powered the computer down.
The brunette was wandering through the kitchen in the dark looking for something to nibble on when he heard Justin bite back a moan. He hurried up to the bedroom and found Justin curled around a pillow in the fetal position, hands still clutching at his head.
"Hey," Brian whispered as he carefully sat down next to Justin placing a hand gently on Justin's shoulder blade.
"Just make it stop, please make it stop," Justin pleaded with a sob.
Brian felt his heart constrict as he realized there was nothing he could do for the boy besides be there with him while they waited it out. Brian repositioned himself on the bed and wrapped his arms around him. Justin rolled over with a grunt of pain and buried his face in Brian's chest.
They lay like that for a moment and then Brian had an idea.
"Roll over," he whispered as he pulled away to sit up.
Justin moaned a little but complied.
Brian sat astride Justin's hips and began to massage the muscles on the back of the boys' neck and into his shoulders before moving up to his temples and rubbing light circles there.
"Am I hurting you?" Brian asked.
"No, it feels good," Justin replied in a pain filled, raspy whisper.
And so Brian continued his ministrations on Justin's tight muscles until he felt the teen relax. Then he lay back down beside him and let the boy fall into a light slumber with his head on Brian's shoulder.
Justin awoke a couple of hours later to find Brian watching him. His head was feeling a lot better; the nausea and spots in front of his eyes were completely gone.
"This is a change, I'm usually the one awake, watching you. You could have gone out, you know," Justin said his voice gravelly from sleep.
"I was just making sure you're ok. What kind of care giver would I be if I left you on your own just after your head almost explodes?" Brian said in a light teasing tone.
Justin smiled at him, "Not a very good one." Brian nodded with a tiny smile playing around his lips.
"So, how are you feeling?" Brian asked.
"Better, I have a headache but the nausea and light sensitivity is gone. I think the massage helped, they usually last longer, thank you," Justin said, looking up at him from under his lashes feeling almost bashful. This new caring Brian was different in the best ways possible but sometimes Justin wasn't sure how to act around him.
"You're welcome," Brian responded placing a kiss on Justin's full lips.
The two settled back down and lay in silence for a while until Brian spoke up.
"So are you hungry? Want me to order something?" Brian asked.
A few nights later Brian and Justin were staying in. Justin wanted to draw and Brian had a campaign that desperately needed his attention if Ryder had a prayer of getting the account. Brian was having a hard time working though, Michael's words from a few nights earlier kept flitting into his mind at the most inopportune moments and it took all his willpower and concentration to focus enough to get anything done.
That's why it took Brian a moment to realize that Justin was cursing when his first 'Fuck!' exploded from the living room. After the curse registered Brian looked up from his laptop and checked the boy over quickly with his eyes. It didn't look like Justin was in any immediate pain or danger so he went back to his campaign.
"Fuck!" Justin exclaimed a minute later.
Brian looked up again and again it seemed the boy was fine, if a bit irritated.
On the third 'Fuck' he didn't even look up.
When the fourth 'Fuck' within a ten minute time span was accompanied by a 'shit' and a 'damn' Brian stood up from his desk and walked over to Justin, who was sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table with several sketch pads out in front of him.
Brian let his eyes play over Justin's' work. It was definitely done by someone with talent but was shit compared to Justin's' usual art. Satisfied at having found the source of the teen's outbursts Brian went back to his desk without a word and sat back down to try and work.
Brian quickly realized that he simply couldn't get his mind in gear to work seriously on the campaign. It wasn't just Michael's words that were bothering him, it was the fact that Justin was going through something huge, something life changing and there was nothing Brian could do to make it better. Brian didn't stop to analyze the fact that he wanted to make it all better.
Justin was quiet for some time before he let loose with a string of curses that was accompanied by him throwing all his work from the past hour on the floor. After sufficiently covering the floor with his artwork, he got up and stormed out of the room, stepping on numerous sketches as he made his way to the bedroom. He climbed the stairs and flopped down onto the bed with flourish.
Brian looked up as Justin stormed past him. He raised an eyebrow as the teen flung himself on the bed. Brian took a moment to decide if he should let Justin deal with this on his own or if he should go see if he could help.
In the end Brian decided to go to him.
"Hey," Brian said.
Justin didn't move or reply so Brian sat down next to him and laid a hand on the teens shoulder, squeezing lightly.
"Want to tell me what that was all about?" Brian asked.
Justin sat up and looked at Brian his eyes shining with unshed tears.
"You want to know what that was all about?" Justin asked angrily. "I'll tell you what that was all about." He held up his right hand supported by his left. "This is what it was all about," Justin said, his voice nearly a sob.
Brian noticed the fine tremors running through Justin's right hand and took it in between his own hands. A moment later a powerful cramp went through that same hand causing Justin's fingers to hook into an almost claw-like state. Brian felt his heart go out to the boy who was trying so hard to keep the agony of the cramp from showing on his face.
"You're just pushing yourself too hard," Brian said as he began rubbing Justin's hand and trying to work the cramp out with his own strong fingers.
"I have to push myself hard if I want to go to PIFA this fall," Justin said in a shaky voice.
"If your hand isn't strong enough for you to go this fall no one's going to blame you. You could wait and enroll in the spring," Brian said.
"I'm going this fall," Justin said resolutely.
Brian smiled at the kids determined nature.
"Alright, alright, you're going this fall and you're going to do great," Brian said.
"Yeah, if I can learn how to draw by then," Justin said bitterly.
"You draw fine, much better than me," Brian said knowing he was setting himself up for a major jab from the kid and hoping he'd take the bait.
Justin grinned a little, "Gus can draw better than you so that's not really a compliment."
Brian feigned anger at the remark for a moment and then grinned, relieved that the blonde had taken the bait.
"I suppose you're right," Brian said.
They sat in silence for a few minutes longer; Brian massaging the tense muscles in Justin's hand and Justin lying back with his eyes closed. When he began to feel the muscles relax Brian asked, "Feel better?"
Justin flexed his fingers for a moment before replying, "Good as new. Thank you."
"Anytime, Sunshine, anytime. Now get your ass up and go clean up the living room," Brian said swatting Justin on the butt as he stood.
Later that night Brian lay awake in bed listening to Justin breathe as he had every night since the kid moved back in with him. So far so good, he thought to himself. Usually the nightmares started around 2am. Brian checked the clock; 2:18. Maybe he'll go one night without dreaming, Brian thought to himself. That'd be good for him, a whole night of undisturbed sleep.
Brian had no sooner had the thought than Justin started moaning. Or not, Brian thought. The brunette turned onto his side facing Justin and watched the boy, intently. It didn't seem the dream was too bad just yet and Brian was trying to decide if he should wake him now or see if it would pass.
A moment later Justin started breathing a little heavier, thrashing around just a little and Brian took that as a sign to wake him. Laying a hand on Justin's stomach, Brian began to shake him just a little, trying to lull him back to consciousness, gently.
Justin's breathing went back to normal and Brian began to mutter what he assumed were comforting words into Justin's ear.
"It's ok Justin, you're safe, I'm right here," Brian murmured his lips brushing the blonde's ear.
After a moment Justin's eyes fluttered open and Brian was staring directly into the blue depths. Justin started at him for a second as if trying to process what he was seeing then he wrapped both of his arms around Brian's neck pulling the man down hard on top of him.
Brian was a little startled; he hadn't been met with this reaction to a nightmare before. He maneuvered himself around until he was able to run one hand through Justin's hair.
"Wanna tell me about it?" Brian asked in a soft voice.
"You got attacked by Hobbs," Justin said in a thick voice.
Brian just nodded a little against the boy's shoulder. He didn't have to say anything else. Brian fully understood the paralyzing fear of watching someone you care about be attacked by Hobbs. He understood and remembered it all too well.
Brian's arm tightened around Justin a little. The two lay in silence that way for a long while; Brian half way on top of Justin with one arm around his waist, the other hand in his hair and Justin's arms wrapped firmly around Brian's neck.
How does he always know? Justin wondered to himself. How can he always tell when I need to be woken up, when I need to be comforted? Justin smiled inwardly a little. Brian could tell him that he doesn't do love all he wanted. This, right now, Justin realized, was love.
Eventually Brian's back began to hurt from the awkward position Justin had forced him into when the blonde had grabbed on to him a while earlier. Carefully making sure that Justin didn't have to lose contact with Brian's body the brunette rolled onto his back and gathered Justin against his chest, holding him tightly.
It didn't take long after that for Justin to drift back off to sleep, lightly snoring into Brian's shoulder. Brian could tell almost immediately that the rest of the night would be peaceful. There was something about the way Justin's body felt against him that told him whether or not the rest of the night would be ok or filled with bad dreams.
Brian lay there trying to force himself to sleep now that danger of nightmares had passed for the evening. Michael's words came back to him, haunting his mind for what seemed like the millionth time since Michael had first uttered them; 'You're letting him change you, Brian.' Brian almost sighed but then he realized something. He was letting Justin change him. He wasn't such a cold hearted bastard anymore. Brian from a year ago would never stay in more nights than he went out, sit up watching over someone sleeping to try and keep the bad dreams away, lying in bed holding that someone tight to his chest as if both of their lives depended on it.
The more Brian pondered these thoughts the more he realized that the change was long overdue. He was a father now after all, he needed to learn to help others and to care what happened to the people he…cared about.
Brian smiled and tightened his arms around Justin's sleeping form. Yes, I am letting him change me and it's all for the better.