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23 May 2006 @ 10:43 am

This is the longest moment of my life, watching him struggle to find the words. I can’t take it. I can’t believe I’m putting him through this. I push him aside, gently, and struggle to my feet. I limp over to the window, just wanting to put some space between us and prepare myself for his response. I won’t argue with him. I won’t beg. I have some pride. And beyond that, I respect his situation. I don’t want to be unfair.

But I don’t want to be alone, either.

I feel his hand on my shoulder. I don’t move, I don’t turn. He says, “I don’t want to lose you. Lose this, what we have. That much I know.”

Now, I turn. I stare into his baby blues. “Neither do I.”

“That’s a starting place, right?”

I nod. I guess it is. But where do we go from there? “I need to sit down,” I realize and lean on him a little as we walk over to the sofa. I must be getting better. I can sit a little easier now. He threads his fingers through mine. “Will you get me a cigarette?” I ask and he retrieves the pack and my lighter. He refuses one when offered. I inhale the soothing nicotine. It doesn’t help, much. My stomach hurts all of a sudden. I recognize this as stress. How can I be so stressed with someone I love?

“Let’s not talk about it now,” I try, pathetic of me, yes. He smiles.

“Shut up, Brian.”

“That’s my point exactly.”

“We can’t settle anything if we ignore it.”

“I know.”

“I don’t think this is the right time for me to leave New York.”

I draw my lips into a thin, tight line and use that as a cue to keep the rest of my expression dispassionate. Inside, something breaks. I nod. Say nothing. Voice is not to be trusted. I feel his hand on my arm, but I don’t look at him. He goes on. “Which isn’t to say I reject your need for us to be together.”

I glance at him. What the fuck? Now a little anger penetrates the pain. He can’t have this cake and devour it too. “I’ve already done the math. Kinnetik isn’t well established enough to survive a move to the city. All the big dogs play there. If I tried to re-launch my business in New York at this point in time, and gave up my home base here, I’d go down in flames. And not in a…”

“Yes, I know. Not in a positive, life affirming way. I’m not asking you to relocate your business.”

“So you think I should give up my own company and get a job flogging ads for a big dog?”

“Of course not. I know how much Kinnetik means to you. And you’ve turned it into a great business.”

“Then what are you saying?”

“I’m saying we both have to bend.”

I raise a brow. “You’re the one who bends over in this relationship.”

He smiles. “Only for your dick.”

“I could arrange that.”

“Let’s not get off the topic.”

I frown at his determination. “Ok, both bending means what in your pointed little head?”

“Not pointed, not little. It means it won’t be perfect.”

“Whatever is?”

“I know. We split our time.”

“How do we do that?”

“You come to the city, I come here.”

“You have a job, I have a job. We both need jobs.”

“Brian, how often are you in New York on business?”


“Right. And my job is menial labor in a poster shop, and waiting tables when I can get a gig. If I make a couple gallery sales, I’ll have the backup to be able to depend more on my art to support me. Which is my ultimate goal. There are no hours for an artist.”

“It’s not coming together in my mind, Justin.”

“Because you’re not letting it. For three months, we’ve been in a black hole of polite conversation and neither of us making the first move to see the other. Now we have an idea of what we both want and need. We accommodate, Brian.”

“Go on.”

“Admittedly, until I get a couple sales, and no, don’t even think about being the one to buy my canvases and give me the bankroll that way, I’ll know where they go, it will fall more heavily on you to travel. You come to New York on business, or you take a couple days off, or whatever. And I meet you and we stay together. Will we be living together? No. Not for awhile. But will we be together as a couple? Yes. And when I have more financial flexibility, I’ll come here, too. As soon as I have my feet under me as a painter, I’ll live wherever you want to live. I can paint anywhere. But first I have to get established.”

“I don’t know,” it’s not what I want. “It sounds like an occasional roll in the hay to me, not a relationship.”

He stares at me. “Since when is a roll in the hay not part of a relationship?”

“Active word being ‘part’.”

“Brian, work with me here. Are you asking me to move back? Is that the only thing that will work for you?”

Ouch. That’s a fair question. Yes, I want him to move back. But if he really feels he has to prove something to himself as an artist and that New York plays a part in that proof, then what the fuck am I doing? How could that make me happy to stop him from that goal? In the end, it could destroy us as a couple. I touch his face. “No.”

“Well then? The simple fact is you’re the one with the money, Brian. Not me. Not yet. I can’t travel as easily as you can. I can’t afford it and menial jobs don’t offer extravagant vacation schedules.”

I let that sink in. “There are some big accounts in New York that I’d like to spend more time pursuing.”

“Okay, keep talking.”

“I could do the rainmaking thing, part time, write off my expenses.”


“But not sure how your staying with me in some nice W hotel suite and ordering room service would aid your self help cause?”

He winces. “That’s a point.”

“So, I’ll stay with you when I come to New York.”

He laughed. “Sheeya, right. In my fourth floor walk up with three roommates, no privacy, bad heating, no style, and sharing a single bed in a room where a straight guy sleeps on the futon on the floor?”

“Couldn’t we trade him for the futon? Five minutes in a room with us, any straight guy will either switch teams or go running for the door.”

He laughs. “This is so true, but…”

“But what?”

“I don’t know. I don’t want to share you with them.”

“Justin, you have to bend, too. If I’m doing all this travel to keep the flame alive, you have to give in, too.”

“I know. But that apartment is a hole.”

“Okay, here’s my second and final offer on this subject. I’ll find a cheap, but acceptable studio apartment in Manhattan. Furnished. I’ll find a way to call it my corporate suite and I’ll write it off. You can’t live there because I have to keep it real for the IRS. And I’ll make it available to big clients or to other people who work for me. But when I’m in town, that’s where we’ll stay. It’s not a suite at the Westin with hot and cold running room service waiters and pay for porn, but it’s not your fucking walk up either.”

He nods. “I like it. Look for the downtown area, since that’s where my job and my working studio are located,” he reads my expression and retreats a little. “Try.”

I nod. “And you, goldilocks? What are the milestones you’re establishing to determine when you’re ready to join me on a more permanent basis?”

“I want to be able to afford to rent my own studio with running water, heat and a bathroom, the rest doesn’t matter. In Pittsburgh, wherever you choose to live. I want to know I can support that workspace on my own talent. And pay half your rent.”

“I don’t have rent.”

“Your mortgage.”

“I don’t have a mortgage. I paid it off.”

He glares at me. “Work with me, Brian.”

“My condo fees? My utilities? The cost of condoms and lube?”

“Man, this will be years away!” he says with a laugh. “Ok, half of all that.”

“I understand about your studio, I do. But I don’t need your help with the rest.”

“I know. But I need to contribute.”

I look at his prideful little face and I have to smile. I love the fire in his belly. I never want to do anything to dampen that passion for his art, for his life. Compromise. The name of the game is to make compromises you both feel good about. “I’ll tally it up and give you an estimate of half of my expenses, excluding my wardrobe, of course.”

He laughs. “I could never afford to dress you.”

“I know. It’s an addiction. This will probably bomb big time, Justin.”


“Because we’ll still have long periods where we’ll be apart. I can’t get to New York for business reasons, or you have a longer delay in being sold than you expected. I don’t know.”

“If it’s important enough, we’ll find a way. The difference is we’re trying, Brian. We haven’t gone dark on each other. Neither of us could exist with a rigid schedule, where I travel one week and you the next. We’d both get rebellious about that. I don’t love New York for the sake of living in New York. It’s a great city but no city is greater than how I feel with you. But I have to have time to do what I need to do. You get that, right?”


“And you know I would rather be with you, even when I’m not, right?”

“If you say so.”

“I do say so, Brian!”

His irritation amuses me. I smile. “Okay, okay, off your high horse, Hopalong.”

“Don’t put a doubting spin on my love for you. I’m sick of your always expecting the worst, always expecting to be hurt.”


“Well, get the fuck over it.”

I smile and kiss his tense neck. “I’m trying.”

He relaxes slightly and says, “Me too.”

“I know. Thanks.”

We kiss. The kiss is perfect. The compromise is still in play, and is imperfect. But it is a start. It is hope. It is something out of nothing. The phone rings. He picks it up. He glances at me and then says, “Hi, Mom. How’d you know I’d be here?” He glares into space. “Don’t you dare be smug. You interfered. You meddled. It was wrong and it could have blown up in your face!” He sighs as I chuckle. “That was pure luck. He’s been better, he hurt himself on the slopes. No, not serious, just painful and stupid.” He glances at me and grins. “Yeah, I know.”

She must have said that sounds like Brian, or something like that, and I have to agree. He goes on. “I don’t know, maybe. I’ll talk to him and call you tomorrow. Okay, bye.”

“I notice you didn’t mention your own stupidity on the slopes,” I say as he hangs up.

He shrugs. “It was nothing.”


“She invited us to dinner at her house tomorrow night.”

I sigh. Dinner with the in-laws. Who’d a thunk it? “Up to you.”

“Are you well enough?”

“Do I have to slay my own elk and skin it?”

“Maybe,” he says with a grin.

“Let’s compromise. I’ll eat the bread and veggies.”

He smiles and leans back on the sofa as I cover his mouth in a wet, sloppy kiss.
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Viv: BJ miss youvivrbn on May 23rd, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC)
About to run out the door to an interview, but just wanted to say *beautiful* post. More later.
rand_altrand_alt on May 23rd, 2006 07:34 pm (UTC)
thanks! good luck
(no subject) - vivrbn on May 23rd, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Bow ties are cool.: Vanished 1mi_nion on May 23rd, 2006 04:16 pm (UTC)
How sweet.
I am a glow in B/J happiness today.
rand_altrand_alt on May 23rd, 2006 07:34 pm (UTC)
thanks me too
asm614: Brianasm614 on May 23rd, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
I'm glad they're finally talking about this seriously, trying to figure out a workable solution.
Great chapter :)
rand_altrand_alt on May 23rd, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC)
thanks I think thats what they have to do
qafaddiction: brian loves justin stick figuresqafaddiction on May 23rd, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC)
It’s a great city but no city is greater than how I feel with you.

Awwww... that just says it all right there, doesn't it? I'm proud of Justin for wanting to make it on his own. The conversation about expenses and wanting to pay for half of everything reminded me of the one Michael had with Dr. Dave. It's noble, but a tad unrealistic. At least B&J seem to have found a way to compromise, for the moment. And it sure beats watching Brian in the walk-up with all the roomies. LOL!!! But Brian's right, it will probably be tougher than it sounds.
rand_altrand_alt on May 23rd, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC)
bwahaaa! Love your stick figures!!!!!! I can just see brian in that melee. not.
connorblondconnorblond on May 23rd, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC)
“I’ll tally it up and give you an estimate of half of my expenses, excluding my wardrobe, of course.”

He laughs. “I could never afford to dress you.”

rand_altrand_alt on May 23rd, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC)
queenydivaqueenydiva on May 23rd, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
Loved, loved, LOVED this!!! Realistic, imperfect, but hopeful, just like real life. Thanks, Ran.
rand_altrand_alt on May 23rd, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
yeah and sometimes thats not all bad!!!!
southernlilsouthernlil on May 23rd, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
Well it is a start...as long as the boys communicate and Brian doesn't try for anymore cliffs. Who better than Brian to understand Justin's need to establish himself -
rand_altrand_alt on May 23rd, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
thats so true
A fanjustinlovesart on May 23rd, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
I loved this chapter. This could and should have been their final conversation on the show. Compromise is not a bad word, it's how every adult relationship works. I never understood why Cowlip were so set against it.
rand_altrand_alt on May 24th, 2006 10:08 am (UTC)
because they equated compromise with sacrifice and put a terrible connotation on that word. I thought great religions of the world and other honorable things were based on sacrifice but they made it sound like being selfish was the only true goal.
damietta on May 23rd, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC)
I like how Brian says that it might not always be smooth. That's so true. But, I love that you have them talking.

(If Cowlip were together for more than 30 years, don't you think there were "talks" and "compromise" in their relationship? Just baffles me how they could have written such tripe.)

Hmmm, dinner at the almost-in-laws. THAT should be entertaining!
rand_altrand_alt on May 24th, 2006 10:09 am (UTC)
you would think so, yes. I dont see how any real relationship survives without both some compromise and some sacrifice. I always hated this suggestion from them
Dreambee3: beautiful together - paddiesdreambee3 on May 23rd, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
Lovely and satisfying conversation. I flashed back to their meeting under the lamp post and found it a reversal of Brian’s first words to Justin “where are you headed”. Brian’s nature is always to expect the worst, but Justin is the one “who can change that”. He did so well in putting forward a reasonable compromise, showing Brian the way. I also like how Brian realised that a "hotel room relationship" was not going to work and that he found a way, acceptable to Justin, of having a decent place for their moments together in NY.

They’re headed in the right direction, and it feels good. Thankyu.

Luv this: "We kiss. The kiss is perfect. The compromise is still in play, and is imperfect. But it is a start. It is hope. It is something out of nothing."
rand_altrand_alt on May 24th, 2006 10:10 am (UTC)
thanks. and interesting analogy to first meeting
thumpathumpa on May 23rd, 2006 08:58 pm (UTC)
My heart was still in my feet after the last chapter, but I'm feeling a bit hopeful with this chapter.

The commuting back and forth will be tough!!
rand_altrand_alt on May 24th, 2006 10:11 am (UTC)
love that icon!!! commuting is always tough, but to nyc from pitts is really just a hop. not like coming from LA
(no subject) - thumpathumpa on May 24th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rand_alt on May 25th, 2006 08:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thumpathumpa on May 25th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
luvscashmereluvscashmere on May 23rd, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
Just back from a great long weekend at the cottage...and three new chapters!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
rand_altrand_alt on May 24th, 2006 10:11 am (UTC)
velcum, velcum, velcum!
bksbracelet: your sancturybksbracelet on May 23rd, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC)
Aahh compromise the word that relationships are really about. The boys are inching towards the ultimate goal cheers Chris
rand_altrand_alt on May 24th, 2006 10:12 am (UTC)
relationships that work and endure had better understand the importance of the c word. I certainly have learned it.
compromise - film102 on May 25th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
brianslave68brianslave68 on May 24th, 2006 01:54 am (UTC)
You're so talented Rand. Is any of your work published?
rand_altrand_alt on May 24th, 2006 10:14 am (UTC)
wince, not yet, but thanks
It's all published - film102 on May 25th, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mdlawmdlaw on May 24th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC)
Your Justin is perfect, strong, articulate, intelligent....everything Brian needs. And he probably does need to prove himself. m
rand_altrand_alt on May 24th, 2006 10:15 am (UTC)
i think its important for him to prove what he has to prove and for brian to respect that but also for justin to be there for brian, even if there isnt pittsburgh yet