by Josselin Kohl
They sit on the steps, and eventually Vic brings out some oatmeal, and they eat it, but cautiously no one brings up the idea of going back in to the house.
Vic seems to sense Brian’s thought, which is that Justin really shouldn’t be left alone even though it’s about time for Brian to be heading off to work. So Vic asks Justin if he’s working at the diner today. Justin shakes his head. “Do you want to stay here and help me make truffles?” Vic asks.
Brian can almost see it warring out on Justin’s face—chocolate versus the dishwasher-filled kitchen, and for a second he almost believes that chocolate will fix everything. But it doesn’t. “No, thanks,” Justin says.
“Do you have big plans for today?” Vic asks casually.
Justin looks frozen for a moment, glancing nervously at Brian. “I thought,” he begins, “I thought maybe I’d just get some drawing done.”
Vic nods agreeably, and eventually he takes the empty oatmeal bowls back into the house.
Brian squints into the sun, which is getting higher and higher in the fall sky, and wishes he had his sunglasses—squinting causes wrinkles. “So,” he says to Justin, “do you want me to take you back to the loft?”
Justin flinches at that. It’s a harsh question, but he has to shake Justin into some sort of admission, force him into acknowledging how weird he’s being, bring back the brave boy Brian loves to face the evil dishwasher.
Justin raises his head slowly, determinedly, and Brian has a moment of hope. “You don’t need to drop me anywhere,” Justin says. “I can walk to the field from here, and I just wanna hang out there today.”
* * *
When Brian’s laptop at work finally says it’s five o’clock, he packs up all his shit and hurries—though he doesn’t like to admit he’s hurrying—to drive by the abandoned alien lot. He pulls up by the curb and lays on the horn, and is pleased to see Justin’s head pop up and wave. Justin comes on over and gets in the car agreeably, fastening his seatbelt as Brian turns the car around back towards the loft.
It isn’t until they’re climbing up the stairs that Justin begins to look nervous.
“Did you have a plumber come by today?” Justin asks finally as they walk up the last flight.
“Yeah, I called the guy and he said he would—the landlord should have let him in.”
Justin nods, but still looks a little wary.
“Look,” Brian says, pulling a yellow carbon-copy off the loft door, “he left a receipt.”
“Oh,” Justin says, and they’re both still standing awkwardly outside the door and neither of them make a move to open it. “So, did he fix it?”
Brian reads the receipt, and contemplates lying. “No,” he says finally. “He couldn’t find a problem. He says maybe it’s electrical—I can call an electrician tomorrow.”
Justin nods again, slowly, and looks at the door. Brian looks at Justin, and then he, too, looks at the door.
“Maybe we should wait until the electrician comes,” Justin ventures finally.
Brian wonders vaguely what it is they’re waiting to do, but he knows what Justin’s getting at.
He doesn’t like thinking about--whatever it is he’s not thinking about, fuck aliens, broken dishwashers, whatever, and fuck it all, he doesn’t like Justin thinking about it either, so he tries to distract him.
Brian tugs Justin in close, cupping one hand around Justin’s ass, and the other around the back of his neck. He leans in and licks Justin’s neck as Justin tenses and tries to pull away, and then whispers in his ear. “Maybe we should go to a hotel,” he says. “One with a huge whirlpool tub, so I can fuck you underwater.”
He’s got Justin’s attention now, either with his words or the lazy grinding of his hips, and a smile is starting to form on Justin’s face, so Brian knows he’s gonna get his way. But when he pulls away and steps towards the loft door, Justin’s smile disappears in an instant, and he backs away towards the stairs, almost tripping on the first step.
“Hey, watch it,” Brian says sharply. Justin turns around quickly, catching himself on the railing of the stairway, and gives Brian an apologetic smile.
“I thought we were gonna get out of here,” Justin says, gesturing down the stairwell with his head.
“We are,” Brian says. “I just have to grab a few things, first.”
“Oh,” Justin says, getting that nervous look on his face again. “I think I’ll just wait in the car, okay?”
And it’s not okay, but Brian doesn’t really have any fucking choice about it.
TO BE CONTINUED