On our last morning in Provincetown, Brian wakes up earlier than usual. I’m snuggled up next to him, warm and comfortable, body aching with sweet echoes of exertion, when he rolls onto his side, blinking drowsily before pulling me in for a long sleep-soft kiss.
Brian likes to think of his day-to-day lifestyle as hedonistic, but as fun as bars and clubs and backroom sex are, for me there’s nothing as filthy or indulgent as this, his tongue demanding my mouth, making my legs flop open, jellied, as I run my hands up and down his arms, luxuriating in the feel of firm muscle under smooth golden-tan skin. I’d let him do anything he wanted to me when we’re like this, curved around each other, drenched in warmth and arousal and love, and that feeling of being secure, cared for, my pleasure and happiness safe with him - there’s nothing like it.
He makes this soft little mmph sound as he rolls us over so he’s on top of me, pressing me into the sheets. I wrap my legs around his waist and moan in pure wanton pleasure, and he chuckles and goes to work sucking a bruise into the side of my neck.
Every once in a while, I think - really think - about just how much Brian loves me. It’s a hard thing to consider, to be honest. I know without a doubt that if I picked up and left right now and never came back, he’d still spend every day of the rest of his life loving me just as much as he does right now, at this moment, kissing the edge of my jaw and running one hand through my hair while the other strokes my morning hard-on.
It’s not unlike his argument for why he’d be the best possible candidate for marriage, I guess. After spending most of his life adamantly opposed to ever letting anyone close enough to love, once he admitted out loud that he loved me, there was no going back. He’ll be - how did he put it? - fervently and passionately committed to me until the day he dies, and probably beyond that too.
Brian nuzzles into my temple, sighing when I slide a hand across his back, and I’m suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of desperate affection, helpless in the knowledge that he’s mine for eternity.
“I love you,” I whisper, and he lifts his head to smile at me before kissing me, deep and sultry with just a hint of possessiveness. I realize, as I often do when I’m having these thoughts, that he’s not the only one with a bone-deep need for this, that despite my relatively non-dysfunctional understanding of commitment, I’ll always be his just as much as he’s mine. It was hard enough to resist him when he wasn’t openly devoted to making me happy, when he was afraid to show much more than the barest hint of sweetness in public, and now ... fuck, I just want him, so badly it hurts, but in the best way I could imagine.
The only times I’ve ever questioned if Brian and I were right for each other were when one of us was looking for something that our relationship wasn’t - me, trying on a teenager’s vision of romance with Ethan, him, fruitlessly chasing some ridiculous eternal youth, threatening, though I think he didn’t realize it, to leave me behind. Now we both know exactly what it is we want, and I want him. All the time, all over me, on me, inside me, forever.
Brian releases my mouth and starts licking down my chest. I decide to table my self-reflection session for now, because he’s rubbing his stubble against my stomach at just the right angle and the bed smells like sweat and sex and us, and I don’t want to spend any mental energy I don’t have to on anything other than how good this is.
He noses back up to my face and kisses me again. “When was the last time you had a really good fuck?”
I grin, wiggling happily under him. “Last night, remember?” I lick up the side of his neck and put on my sexiest voice. “When you spent hours pounding me into the mattress, and I came so many times I blacked out?”
Brian laughs. “Oh, yeah. Guess I forgot.”
I slap him on the ass for that and he arches an eyebrow, but he’s smiling. I smirk back. “You just couldn’t be bothered to think of a more original come-on.”
He rests his forehead against my cheek, but doesn’t deny it. I stroke his hair. “But if you’re offering...”
He laughs again, starts kissing back down my body. “You’re so easy.”
“Look who’s talking.”
He doesn’t respond, just takes his time with me, licking and biting and kissing and kissing and kissing, moaning into my abs, pushing his face against my stomach, and I tangle one hand in his hair as he moves lower and lower, kisses growing wetter, dappling a trail of bites and bruises over my hipbones, all the while slurping heavenly pornographic sounds into my skin.
He’s just sealed his lips over the head of my cock, sucking gently, just enough to drive me crazy, when my phone rings on the bedside table. I throw it across the room before he can ask me if I’m going to answer, and he grins up at me and goes back to work, deep-throating me, making the most amazing noises as I melt into a happy puddle on the bed.
Then Brian’s cell starts buzzing. I groan, because we both know that he’s completely incapable of not answering it. He really tries to ignore it, I can tell by the way he doubles down on the suction, slipping a hand under his mouth to stroke the base of my dick, but after the fifth ring he pulls off, kisses my cockhead apologetically, and reaches for the phone.
He doesn’t say anything for a while, maybe a full minute. Then he raises his eyebrows. “You’re sure?”
“We’re coming back today. We’ll be there,” he says in response to whatever the answer was, then hangs up and drops back down on top of me.
“What was that about?” I ask, gently nudging him downward.
He gives me a strange smile. “That was Quinn. They found something.”
“Yeah. They’ll tell us more when we get back.” His smile morphs into a more familiar sharklike grin. “Now, where were we?”
“What do you think it is?” I ask him, later, while we’re on the ferry back to Boston, where our flight back to New York is waiting.
He rests his arms on the railing we’re looking over. “No idea. Something we can use to take Pendergrass down, maybe.”
“Hopefully.” I lean into his side, rest my head on his shoulder, and he pulls me closer, one arm around my neck, his mouth just above my ear.
“So,” he murmurs, “how long do you think it’ll be before you can take a week off from being the Big Apple’s hottest young artiste?”
I laugh. “A little while, probably. Once I figure out what I want to do for my next show.”
He smiles into my hair. “Plenty of time to do some decorating in the house before we come back for a real vacation, then.”
“Only if you do all the organizing,” I say, brushing my lips over the hinge of his jaw. “If I do it, it’ll take ten years before there’s more than a futon and some orange crates in there.”
Brian shudders dramatically. “For someone with such a good eye for beauty, you’re completely useless at the most surprising times.”
“Fuck off,” I say, grinning. “We can’t all be taking mental shopping trips of the most glamorous designer furniture imaginable all the time.”
He laughs, softly, then turns my head so we’re looking right at each other. “You like the house, though?”
I roll my eyes. “Brian, I practically picked the house. I love the house. I just can’t believe you’ve never taken me here before. A gay beach town? Two hours’ trip from New York? It’s, like, my dream getaway.”
“Well, I wanted to show you some of the more faraway paradises before we went closer to home,” he says, walking his fingers toward the edge of my collar, pulling it back to stroke the skin there. I arch into his hand - a little less sluttily than I’d like, given all the families with kids on the deck - smiling as I remember our honeymoon, two glorious weeks in an obscenely luxurious Curaçao resort. We didn’t even leave the hotel room for the first four days.
Brian gives me a lopsided grin, and I have a feeling he knows exactly what I’m thinking about. “Now that we have this place, whenever all the pressure to share your genius with the world gets to be too much” - I punch him in the arm, but not too hard - “you have somewhere to escape to.”
“And here I was thinking that you just wanted another designer fuckpad.”
He snorts. “Of course, that’s part of the appeal.”
“And I wouldn’t want it any other way,” I say, catching his hand against my collarbone before it can do anything too scandalous.
I pause a moment, then add, “But choose furniture that I can get paint on. I’m not avoiding the sofa when I’m on vacation.”
He groans, and I laugh and kiss his cheek and look out at the ocean, feeling wonderfully content in how lucky I am.
The Pendergrass thing is surprisingly easy, in the end. When we get back to New York, Quinn and Sam and Frances and Cynthia are all waiting in the lobby of our building. On the elevator, Quinn explains; they have the documents we need - simple, boring stuff, bank statements, personal tax returns, but nothing that we could have accessed on our own through normal means. It comes down to the secretary, the only thing we didn’t expect: she’s the owner of the shell company, at least in name, but we have statements showing the balance transfers to Pendergrass each time Outrise made a “payment for services rendered” to Neveaux.
It’s enough of a paper trail to tie both of them up tight enough to hurt, so, over lunch (takeout), we decide that it’s time to go public.
Cynthia, it turns out, has an airtight plan for us to share what we know without getting anyone in trouble for the definitely-very-illegal shit Quinn did to get the right information.
“No electronic communication,” she says, and Quinn nods. “We print out everything - I have an old printer at home that we can throw out after we do it so there’s no chance of tracing this back to us.”
Everyone stares at her. She shrugs. “What? I read a lot of crime fiction.” Brian snorts, and Quinn looks reluctantly impressed.
Cynthia takes a notepad from her purse. “Then we mail copies of everything to these papers. They’re reputable and willing to take tips, and their readership is big enough that it’ll make a real impact.”
Sam frowns. “Shouldn’t this go to…” He pauses. Quinn stifles a laugh.
“The problem with sending it to the IRS, or whatever, is that technically speaking, we only have circumstantial evidence,” Frances says. “Pendergrass will hire himself a great lawyer, and he might get off clean.”
“He’s done it before,” Brian says. “Sued by at least one organization that we know of, and went right on scamming afterwards. We have to take him down hard enough that he’ll never be able to run a nonprofit again.” I fight the urge to shift into his lap and french him senseless - he’s so hot when he goes all radical - but this isn’t really the time, so I pocket the feeling for future use.
Quinn takes a flash drive out of their backpack and hands it to Cynthia. “This is a backup. I’ll print the stuff off my sketchy-shit computer so I can wipe and overwrite the hard drive, so you shouldn’t have to use it, but we should have a copy just in case. We can clone it and send it to the newspapers if we need to, but paper’s less traceable.”
Cynthia puts the drive into her purse, and we all stand up. Quinn looks around at us. “Destroy him. Tell no one. Got it?”
Two weeks later, I’m walking to the park when I see Pendergrass’s face in a newsstand display, and I realize he’s on the front of the biggest finance newspaper in the city - and not for keeping a low overhead, this time. I buy two copies and run to the nearest subway stop.
Brian’s at his desk when I get to his office, so I go in without knocking and drop one of the papers on his desk. “We got him,” I say, and Brian stands up, grinning.
“Fucker’s going to pay?” he says, pushing me up against the desk.
“All the biggest donors are severing ties with Outrise and blacklisting him. Maybe he didn’t realize that going to New York meant that if he screwed up he’d lose every major supporter he’s ever gotten.”
Brian makes a satisfied sound and kisses me, hard. Things are just starting to get really interesting when Cynthia walks in with a stack of files.
“Brian, I need you to- oh. Hi, Justin. Didn’t see you come in.”
I push Brian off of me (not too far, though) and try to un-sex my hair a little. “You have to see this,” I say, pointing to the desk
She frowns at the newspaper. “Is that-”
I grin and toss her the other copy. “Looks like your plan worked out.”
We can’t celebrate too loudly, given that we’re supposed to be as surprised as everyone to discover the long-term financial fraud going on in Outrise and several preceding Pendergrass projects, but Sam gets Quinn to come over to the office and Brian cracks open the champagne fridge (an insane thing to own, I’m aware - don’t worry, I make fun of him for it all the time). We tell everyone else I’ve just landed a new show - I’m always getting offers now, so it’s not really a lie - and talk and laugh and get absolutely nothing done for the rest of the day.
Near the end of the workday, Brian, standing next to me, arm around my waist, downs the last of one of the bottles and looks appraisingly at the cover of the newspaper.
“You know, I think it’s high time that Kinnetik sets up a nonprofit branch,” he says. “Seems to me that New York could use a reputable” - he tugs me a little closer - “gay philanthropist.”
Cynthia grins. “I’ll have Ted call you first thing tomorrow.”
This time, I do kiss him, but everyone’s pretty drunk, so it goes over great.
One morning a few weeks later, I wake up late and realize that I have absolutely no obligations for the day, so I raid Brian’s stash of high-end weed and start doodling little pornographic Post-Its to leave in his briefcase. The combination of my excellent high and the sight of Brian’s desk printer gives me an idea, and I retrieve my tablet from the living room and start working on the present that I’ve just decided he should have.
I finish before he gets home - some of the detailing isn’t up to my usual standard, but to be fair, I’m pretty stoned and the artistic merit of this work isn’t really the point - and have everything printed and ready on the kitchen counter before I hear the elevator arrive at our floor.
Brian notices it as soon as he comes in. I watch him smile as he reads the title before turning to where I’m sitting on the sofa.
He holds up the Rage issue, complete with highly explicit cover art. “A Very Special Edition: Nothing is Wrong, JT and Rage Just Have Lots of Hot Sex?”
I grin. “I guess sometimes you’re just too good at solving all of Gayopolis’s problems.”
Brian flips through the pages, then looks at me with a deliciously predatory smile on his face. “Only you would draw me porn of our superhero counterparts fucking in Pendergrass’s ransacked office.”
I flop backwards onto the couch. My head lands past the arm, so I smile at him upside-down. “Face it, it’s what makes you so hopelessly in love with me. That and my ability to give out-of-this-world blow jobs.”
I lick my lips, slowly, watching in satisfaction as his eyes follow the motion of my tongue. He tosses the comic on the counter, strides over, and scoops me off the cushions, kissing me soundly. “Feel like gracing me with your superpowers?”
I loop my arms around his neck and kiss him back, as deep and dirty as I can. “It would be my pleasure...Mr. Kinney,” I purr into his ear, and he growls and throws me back on the sofa, then drops on top of me and proceeds to ravage me with every ounce of raw sexual prowess he has, which, as I well know, is quite a lot. I just let myself sink into the cushions under his warm weight and roaming hands, relishing in the knowledge that together, we’re unstoppable, and life is good.