[identity profile] rainbow-rose1.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] queer_as_fics
Author: rainbow_rose1

Characters: Brian, Justin, Gus, J.R., Ben, Michael, Lindsay, Melanie, Ted, Blake, Debbie, Carl, Jennifer, Emmett.

Rating: Adult; sexually explicit.

Warnings: There are several situations of angst.

Beta: Yes.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters associated with 'Queer As Folk'. No infringement intended.

Summary: Gus is now a teenager, with all the usual teenage growing pains, and some not so usual. There are other family problems with his parents that will come to light, but carry consequences. But when Gus starts making decisions and choices for himself, one set of parents fight against it, while the other, encourages him. Brian and Justin, too, will face their own dilemmas, some of which are unalterable. *This story is the sequel to, 'To Be, Or Not To Be'.*

CHAPTER 19 (part 2 of 3)

Gus didn’t need to look at the caller ID on his cell phone when it rang. From the personalized ringtone, he knew instantly that it was his sister. “Hey, Squirt,” he answered happily.

“You’re not going to believe it! Sometimes, my dad can be so…so…such a pain in the ass!” Jenny Rebecca squeaked.

Gus laughed, “Yeah, Uncle Mike can get that way. What happened?”

In pure horrified, drama-queen fashion that only a teenaged girl can produce, Jenny Rebecca explained, “Senior Prom is coming up, and dad is questioning mine and Kelsey’s decision to go together as a couple. He said that maybe it’s a bad idea because we’re lesbians! Can you believe it?! He actually fucking said that! And he’s gay! How can one homo tell another homo, not to go to prom just because they’re queer?!”

Momentarily, Gus muted his phone when he couldn’t hold back his laughter; his adorable and sweet little sister could really get riled-up at times; it was the one trait she’d noticeably inherited from her father. Gaining his composure, Gus asked in genuine surprise, “Really? Uncle Mike said that?”

“Yes! We’re not the only gay couple at school, and everyone already knows about Kelsey and me. Besides, we know of two other couples who are gay and going to prom together.”

“I’m not sure I understand, Squirt. Are your dads trying to convince you NOT to go?”

“Daddy Ben is all for it, he thinks it’s great that Kelsey and I are out-and-proud and going to prom together, but it’s dad whose been having a temper-tantrum over it. And now, he’s saying that if Kelsey and I insist on going together as a couple, then he and daddy will go as our chaperones! Oh, my god, Gus! I’m going to be completely humiliated! Who has their parents accompany them to Senior Prom to babysit?” Jenny wailed to her brother, the unimaginable reality of having her dads at her prom, overwhelming her. Ben wouldn’t be so bad, but Michael? Well, even Jenny was realistic enough to know that he would find some way of embarrassing her, intentionally if necessary. “Everyone will laugh; I’ll be fucking humiliated!” Jenny cried.

Gus chuckled, but knew his sister’s predicament was very real to her. “Okay, I have an idea. How do you feel about Shane and me going to the prom with you, instead of your dads?”

“Could you? Really? Can you or Uncle Brian call my dad and talk to him for me? Pleeeeease?!” she implored her brother.

“Of course.”

Now feeling relieved, Jenny asked, “Why is dad making such a big deal about my prom?”

“I’m not sure. Oh, shit…wait a second. I think I know. He’s probably remembering what happened to papa, um, Justin, at his senior prom. But that was years ago; Uncle Mike really shouldn’t be using that against you.”
Jenny thought for a second, “I suppose I can understand, but I feel like he’s making me and Kelsey miserable because of it.”

“Don’t worry, Squirt. I’ll take care of it,” Gus reassured her.

Jenny Rebecca knew that if her brother said he’d do something, he’d keep his promise; he’d never let her down before, and he wouldn’t now.


**Three Weeks Later - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania**

It hadn’t been easy. Convincing Michael not to chaperone Jenny and Kelsey to their senior prom and allow Gus and Shane to go with them instead, had given Brian one gigantic headache. Eventually, Michael had concurred, and Brian had been forced to take an aspirin.

Gus and Shane arrived early at Michael and Ben’s house. When dealing with teenaged girls, it can take hours in front of a mirror to get their look just right. About fifteen minutes after they arrived, they heard Jenny’s voice call out from the top of the stairs, sounding utterly panicked. “Guuuus! Help! My hair looks like shit! It won’t cooperate!” Jenny then began to cry.

“Come on,” Gus said, grabbing Shane by his shirt and tugging at him. Both took the stairs two at a time, and when they reached the top, Jenny threw herself into her brother’s arms.

“I w-want to l-look p-pretty for my prom, but n-nothing is going right,” she cried.

Gus held his sister as he and Shane exchanged smiles. Jenny was adorable, even now, and to her, not getting her hair and makeup to look absolutely perfect would be the end of the world. Gus kissed the top of Jenny’s head, and Shane said, “It’s a good thing your brother and I are queers. I’m fantastic with doing hair, and Gus is a pro at doing makeup; he’s told me before how he’d sometimes help you with it.”

“Y-You’ll help me? R-Really?” Jenny sniffled, looking over at Shane but keeping hold of her brother.

“I promise,” Shane said, “That by the time Gus and I finish, you will be the most beautiful girl at the prom. And more than likely, the most beautiful girl in the entire state!”

Again, Jenny sniffled, and Shane reached over and grazed his fingers across her cheeks, swiping away the tears. “T-Thank you,” she said, a small smile of hope curving her mouth.

“Then what are we waiting for, Squirt. Let’s get to work,” Gus told her, guiding her down the hallway to her room, with Shane right behind them.

Ben and Michael stood at the bottom of the stairs, having watched the tender scene. When Jenny, Gus, and Shane walked down the hallway towards the girl’s bedroom, Michael turned to his husband. “Gus always looks out for her. Sometimes I get a little jealous because I want it to be me she turns to. But honestly, I’m glad they have each other. Makes me wish I that I had had big brother growing up.”

“Instead, you had Brian,” Ben joked.

“Oh, god,” Michael said with a chuckle. “I don’t think my mom could have coped with having another kid. Brian and I were enough of a pain-in-the-ass to deal with.”

Ben smiled and pulled Michael against him in an embrace, giving him a kiss. “Jenny is a good kid. We should be happy that as parents, our daughter has a big brother like Gus. She also has a large extended family full of people who love and support her.”

Michael smiled and nodded his head. “And being the only girl, she’s the most spoiled, too,” he said, and playfully rolled his eyes.

“You want a glass of wine while we wait on them?” Ben offered.


Ben and Michael soon settled in the living room, sipping their wine and talking together while waiting for their daughter, and also waiting for Kelsey and her parents, who were soon to arrive.


“Can I look yet,” Jenny Rebecca asked.

“No!” Gus and Shane said in unison. The two young men had covered the mirror at Jenny’s vanity table and the full-length mirror as well, so she wouldn’t peek until her hair and makeup were done. Unfortunately, it only proved to make Jenny even more nervous and fidgety.

“Here,” Gus had finally said in exasperation, handing her the bottle of beer he’d been drinking. “But…only a sip…no more. That’s all we need is for your dads to see you buzzed when you go downstairs.”
Jenny laughed, “I’m an adult; I’m eighteen.”

“You may be eighteen, but the legal drinking age is twenty-one,” Gus reminded her.

“So? You know that whenever my dads leave the house I sneak a beer.”

“Yes, I know, you’ve told me,” Gus drawled dramatically, causing his sister to laugh and relax a bit. “Still, that doesn’t mean your dads are prepared to see you shit-faced drunk.”

“Geez. When did you turn into such a prude,” Jenny teased her brother.

Gus poked his sister in the side and tickled her. “Unless you want your hair to look like Grams frizzy red wig, I suggest you stop fidgeting and stay quiet.”

Jenny laughed, but quickly acquiesced.

Since Gus and Shane would be escorting Jenny and Kelsey to the prom, while Shane did Jenny’s hair, Gus quickly showered and got dressed in the Gucci suit he’d brought with him. Likewise, as Gus did his sister’s hair, Shane showered and dressed in his suit from Prada.

A short time later, Jenny Rebecca’s hair and makeup were complete. After she got her dress and shoes on, she turned to look at herself in the mirror. “Oh…my…god! I look…I…I’m…pretty!” Jenny smiled beautifully, and soon her eyes welled with happy tears. “Thank you! I love you both so much!”

“We love you too,” Shane told her, “But don’t cry, you’ll ruin your makeup,” he said, and gently kissed her forehead.

Gus grabbed a Kleenex and the powder brush to fix his sister’s makeup. “If you two drama queens don’t stop with the tears and kisses…” he threatened lightheartedly. Seconds later, Gus and Shane stood back and viewed Jenny Rebecca. “You look absolutely stunning,” Gus told her.

“You truly are the most beautiful girl in the entire state of Pennsylvania,” Shane said, both he and Gus smiling at her.

Jenny had chosen an off-the-shoulder, coral-colored, floor-length prom dress with a flowy skirt. From the waist up, the dress was completely pearl-beaded, and shimmered with the rhinestones that were placed throughout the beading. She had sparkling, silver, Jimmy Choo shoes, (a surprise gift from her dads) to compliment the beading, and her chestnut-colored hair had been curled, then styled in a soft up-do.

As the young girl stood mesmerized, looking in the mirror, Gus produced a black velvet box from his camera bag and presented it to Jenny. The girl’s eyes grew wide with surprise, staring at the box.

“Aren’t you going to open it,” Shane prompted her.

Slowly, she opened the box, and found a teardrop, diamond and pearl necklace, with teardrop earrings to match. Both Gus and Shane then saw the most gorgeous smile from Jenny Rebecca. “Y-You got this for me?” she croaked, again on the verge of happy tears.

“Yes, Squirt, all for you. We happen to think you’re worth it,” Gus told his sister, stepping over to fasten the necklace around Jenny’s neck.

Jenny put on the earrings, thinking how wonderfully lucky she was to have two brothers who loved her.
“I’m going downstairs first and get my camera ready,” Gus said, “Then when I announce you, Shane will escort you down while I start taking pictures. You ready?”

“Ready!” Jenny said with a smile, and a soft giggle, now feeling almost giddy with happiness.

By now, Kelsey and her parents had arrived, and when Gus made the announcement, “May I present to you, Miss Jenny Rebecca Marcus-Novotny,” Jenny looped her arm through Shane’s and he escorted her down the stairs.
When Jenny reached the bottom of the staircase, Kelsey walked over to greet her girlfriend. “You look so beautiful,” she told Jenny, the two girls meeting their mouths in a tender kiss.

“Wow! Kels…you are absolutely gorgeous!” Jenny told her, seeing the quiet, shy, Kelsey blush.

The petite Kelsey looked exquisite in a fitted, strapless black dress with lots of silver beading, which contrasted beautifully with her pale skin and blonde hair. Her long, straight, blonde hair, which she normally wore with a headband or in a ponytail, was styled in layers of soft curls that framed her face, and flowed gracefully down her back.

Gus and Shane, along with Michael and Ben, greeted Kelsey’s parents, and all six adults soon stated they wanted to take some pictures of the girls before it was time for them to leave. “Oh, wait a minute, we have a surprise for Kelsey,” Gus announced. He retreated another velvet box from his camera bag and presented it to Kelsey.

Beforehand, Gus had called Kelsey’s mom and told her that he had bought a surprise jewelry set for his sister, and he wanted to get one for Kelsey, too. He also found out what color of dress each one would be wearing. Gus had been so impassioned about doing something nice for the girls for their prom, Kelsey’s parents had complied with his request.

Kelsey smiled shyly, and her eyes widened as she opened the lid of the jewelry box. Nestled inside was a diamond and black onyx necklace and set of earrings, identical in style to Jenny’s. The young girl gasped, as did her parents and Ben and Michael. Kelsey was speechless, and also motionless.

Gus and Shane smiled at one another, and Shane removed the necklace from the box and placed it around Kelsey’s neck and fastened it for her. Simultaneously, Gus explained, “We got both girls the same necklace and earrings, just in different gemstones to match their prom dresses.”

“See,” Jenny Rebecca said excitedly, drawing attention to her own jewelry and smiling.

It was then that Ben and Michael really noticed what their daughter was wearing. Michael decidedly stated, “Gus, the jewelry had to be expensive. We can’t let you do that; spend so much money on jewelry for Jenny.”

“I agree,” Ben stated, but much more gently than Michael had.

“The fuck you can’t. It’s a gift, from me and Shane. Besides, she’s my sister, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“Yes, and I’m her father, in case you’ve forgotten,” Michael snapped in reply.

Gus said defiantly, “Well, the money is already spent, and the gift is non-returnable.”

Kelsey’s mom spoke up, being much more diplomatic and kind. Standing next the boys, she gently placed a hand on Gus’ arm. “Gus, Shane, we deeply appreciate what you’ve done. The jewelry is beautiful; your taste is impeccable,” she said, with a genuine smile, “You and your family have always treated Kelsey with such kindness and acceptance. The jewelry is really too extravagant a gift, and my husband and I would like to help pay for it.”

Gus put an arm around Kelsey’s mom, and cast a quick ‘I-dare-you-to-say-something-now’ look towards Michael. “No, that won’t be necessary. Shane and I both wanted to do this for Jenny and Kelsey. Just seeing how happy they are, is all the payment we need. We look on Kelsey as being as much of a sister to us as Jenny Rebecca is.”

“Thank you. Thanks to both of you,” Kelsey’s mom answered, giving both young men a kiss on the cheek.

Standing up from where he’d been sitting on the sofa, Kelsey’s dad approached Gus and Shane, patting them on the shoulder while thanking them, with true sincerity, for the beautiful jewelry they’d bought for Kelsey. It was only then that Michael and Ben relented, and thanked Gus and Shane. Though between themselves, Gus and Shane thought that Ben’s gratitude was more heartfelt than Michael’s was.

Kelsey’s father said, “I think we need to take some pictures of the girls before you all head off to the prom.”

“Oh, shit, that’s right,” Gus said.

Shane looked at his watch, “The limo should be here in about 30 minutes; we don’t have much time.”
While Gus, Ben, Michael, and both of Kelsey’s parents retrieved their cameras and began the picture-taking, Shane retrieved the digital video camera and filmed every minute of it.

Thirty minutes later, the limousine arrived; fortunately for the two girls. Jenny Rebecca and Kelsey both thought that every pose and background imaginable had been photographed of them, and they were anxious to get to the dance.

The girls had a marvelous time at the prom! And so did Gus and Shane. Although they were technically there as chaperones, they too enjoyed a few dances together, and each of them also danced with Jenny and Kelsey. The venue was amazing as well, as the high school had secured a large ballroom in a hotel located on the waterfront.
When the prom came to an end, everyone was tired and the girls were now carrying their shoes to spare their aching feet. Jenny and Kelsey, although exhausted, were utterly thrilled; they’d had the best night of their lives.


**Tribeca District, New York City - Brian & Justin’s Loft**

Having the loft to themselves for a few days while Gus and Shane were in Pittsburgh, Brian and Justin stayed in almost perpetual nudity, enjoying every moment to the fullest. And in Brian’s own words, he fucked Justin’s brains out.

They did, however, manage to spend a wee bit of time to begin packing for the upcoming move to Britin. Justin became quiet as he packed, and about midway through his second box, he suddenly stopped and made his way to the other end of the loft, going directly to his home studio. Brian silently watched him, and a minute later, followed his husband.

Justin slowly stepped inside the room, but Brian found it peculiar that Justin stood immobile outside the room at first, and only looked inside. Brian furrowed his brow and wondered why Justin had hesitated, almost as if he had been afraid to go inside.

As Justin stood in the center of the room, Brian walked in and quietly took a seat on the sofa. Justin didn’t need to turn around, he already knew Brian was there. “I used to love coming in here. It was my refuge, a place I could always go when I was stressed, or when I felt inspired or had a new idea. This room was where I could channel everything inside me and transfer my emotions onto canvass. Now, it’s literally painful to come in here, Brian.” Justin turned around and looked at his husband, a newfound shallowness in the blue orbs that Brian had never before seen in the normally-shimmering eyes. “There’ve been two great loves in my life…you, and my art.”

“And you still love me best,” Brian said with a grin.

“Fuck, Brian, I’m being serious,” Justin huffed.

“I know,” Brian whispered in reply, standing up and walking over to his husband. That helpless feeling was clawing at his gut again, and he hated it. He glided the back of his fingers along Justin’s cheek, saying, “So you don’t love me more than your paints and brushes?”

Justin couldn’t resist a smirk, or a smile. “I’ll have get back to you on that; I need to think about it first,” he teased, wrapping his arms around Brian’s waist.

Brian knew what Justin was thinking, he could practically read his mind. “You still paint, it’s not totally gone. You just have to…take your time.”

“That’s the fucking understatement of the year,” Justin mumbled. “Brian, if I take any more time to complete one fucking painting, I’ll be 120 years old before its finished! By then, I’ll be bald, fat, and old, and more than likely not be able to let go of my walker long enough to pick up a paintbrush. And let’s not forget, I’ll probably have to use my left and to hold my dick when I take a piss.”

Brian laughed at Justin’s creative imagery. He was certainly a very imaginative artist…and a bonafide drama queen.

“As it is now, I need to rest my hand after only five minutes of painting,” Justin lamented angrily.

“Well, I have to stop and catch my breath after five minutes of swimming laps in the pool,” Brian responded, somewhat derisively, although it wasn’t true. “Sunshine, the point I’m trying to make is…”

“I know what you’re going to say,” Justin said, interrupting him, “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, only how many times you pick yourself back up,” his reply sounding more cynical than Brian’s.

“I still hate when you do that,” Brian muttered.

Justin laughed, genuinely, and playfully swatted Brian’s ass. “I know you do.” Brian made it too easy to tease him sometimes, especially when it came to finishing his sentences. And sometimes, Justin simply couldn’t resist the urge.

“My point is,” Brian continued with his original comment, “Don’t give up. If you can only paint for 60 or 90 seconds at a time before you have to stop and rest your hand, then that’s what you do. But don’t quit.”

Realistically, it would soon get to that, and Brian knew it. But Justin had a way of pushing himself too much, too far over the limit. Brian sincerely didn’t want him to stop all together, but Justin only had two speeds when he drew or painted…full throttle, or full stop, there was no in-between. How can you encourage someone to keep trying, but simultaneously encourage them to take it slow and not push too much?

“I love you, Brian,” Justin said softly.

“I love you, Sunshine.”

When Brian then pressed their foreheads together, Justin sighed and closed his eyes, remembering the prom. “We really did dance beautifully that night, didn’t we?”

“We were amazing,” Brian answered, his voice barely above a whisper, “And you looked beautiful.” It was painful to Brian whenever Justin got melancholy about his memories of the prom, and those leading up to the bashing. The bashing was one of those things that Brian wished he himself could forget; chasing after Chris Hobbs but being too far away to stop him; seeing Justin’s limp and nearly-lifeless body on the cold cement; falling to his knees beside Justin’s blood-drenched form and cradling him in his arms until the ambulance arrived, crying the whole time.

It was moments like this when Justin felt the need to remember, and talk about the prom and bashing, that Brian couldn’t decipher which was the most painful…seeing Justin struggle then with the physical disability the bashing had caused, or seeing Justin struggle now, unable to fully let go of what the homophobic psycho Hobbs did to him, and still suffering to this day with the physical disability.

But Brian also remembered another situation, about ten years ago or so, when Justin’s lost memories of the prom had been triggered, and suddenly he remembered everything. Justin’s returned memory of the prom wasn’t totally positive, Brian surmised, because of the pain and guilt Justin felt afterwards. Personally, sometimes Brian wished that Justin had never remembered; maybe it would have been better.

Brian was snapped back to reality by the soft, heart wrenching voice of his husband. “Brian? Did you hear me? Dance with me.”

Framing Justin’s face with his hands, Brian tenderly kissed him, then hungrily deepened the kiss. When the kiss ended, and without another word spoken between them, Brian padded softly to the Bose stereo and turned it on, playing the Thelonious CD Justin already had inside it.

As the soft jazz music played, both men wrapped their arms around each other and began to slow-dance. Justin placed his head on Brian’s shoulder and emitted a contented sigh. And as one of Brian’s hands slid up Justin’s back to settle in the blonde’s silky hair, Justin thought how much he cherished moments like this with his husband, and even more, the man himself. Indeed, he felt like the luckiest man on earth, and undeniably, the most loved.


**New York University - New York City**

It was Gus’ graduation, and no parents could ever be more proud of their child than Brian and Justin were of their son; they were proud as peacocks. Shane and Jenny Rebecca wore perpetual smiles too, the same as Brian and Justin, watching Gus throughout the ceremonial process. Indeed, Mr. Gus Taylor Kinney looked particularly handsome, the wide black stripes on the arms of his graduation gown and the gold tassel hanging from his graduation cap depicting his Summa Cum Laude academic status.

Following the ceremony, when Gus was finally able to make his way through the sea of people, he received bear hugs from both of his dads. Next, he got a fabulous kiss from his fiancé, a congratulatory embrace from Kelsey, and an adoring hug from his sister, lifting her up as they hugged so her feet were no longer touching the ground, and then hearing her giggle. Gus then found himself grabbed by both of his moms for hugs and kisses, as well as by both of his grandmothers, Jennifer and Debbie, also his Aunt Molly, and next by his six uncles, Ted, Blake, Michael, Ben, Emmett, and Drew, and even received hugs from Carl and Tucker. The poor young man felt like a rag doll being tossed about through an assembly line.

For his graduation party, Gus had chosen the Varvick Room. It was an urban, contemporary venue that was large enough to accommodate the family of eighteen people, along with additional friends, comfortably. The food was good too, and the drinks plentiful. But most of all, it was located in Tribeca, and within walking distance of the loft, just in case he found the need to get a breather away from the loud hum of the family. Brian also liked that last reason best. Everyone had a great time, and Gus received some fabulous gifts.

The day following Gus’ graduation, Mel and Lindsay went to the loft to visit with him and his sister, as Jenny and Kelsey were staying the weekend with the Kinney’s. Mel and Lindsay’s flight back to Toronto wasn’t scheduled to leave until later, and in an action that rarely ever happened, the women took time to sit with their two young-adult children and talk to them, along with Shane and Kelsey.

In the family room area of the Kinney’s loft, Jenny and Kelsey, both very petite young women, were sitting together in one of the black Barcelona chairs and holding hands; Gus and Shane were lounging on a large cushion on the floor positioned in front of the sofa with little Shadow peacefully sleeping between them; and Mel and Lindsay were settled on the sofa. Brian and Justin voluntarily stayed in the background, yet stayed close enough in case they needed to intervene. They were sitting side-by-side at the dining table, looking over their ‘to-do’ list in preparation for their move to Britin.

During the course of conversation between Mel and Lindsay and the four young people, the subject of Jenny Rebecca’s high school graduation quickly became the main subject. It was only two weeks away, and Mel asked what she planned to do afterwards. Neither Jenny, Michael, Ben, nor Gus, had disclosed the girl’s plan to attend university, or the fact she’d already been accepted into Emory.

“I’m going to university,” Jenny replied simply, “I’ve already been accepted, and so has Kelsey.” The two girls turned their heads to look at one another and both smiled, a moment before Jenny kissed her girlfriend softly on the lips.

Mel questioned in disbelief, “You have? When did that happen? And why the fuck didn’t you tell me about this before now?” Mel sounded more angry than proud.

Jenny Rebecca held her own against her mother’s harsh-sounding voice. “We, Kelsey and I, are going to Emory University in Georgia,” the girl replied.

“You and Kelsey,” Mel bit out. “So, was this your idea,” she asked Kelsey.

Kelsey gasped at Mel’s accusing tone and angry eyes. “I…I…um…” Kelsey stammered.

“Leave her alone!” Jenny said in defense of Kelsey. “This was something we talked about for a long time, and together we decided that Emory was where we wanted to go.”

Mel said mockingly, “You and I also talked for a long time, too, about you going to Harvard. It’s where you said you wanted to go.”

“No, I didn’t! YOU wanted me to go to Harvard.

“What’s wrong with going to Harvard? It’s not too late, you know. With your impressive academics from high school, I doubt you’d have any trouble getting accepted. One of my partners at the law firm knows a couple of law professors there; I’m sure I could get him to pull a few strings for you so you could start attending classes this fall,” Mel said hopefully, if not a bit demandingly.

“I don’t want to go to Harvard, and I’m not going. I’m going to Emory and majoring in Creative Writing,” Jenny said with confidence.

“What the hell kind of degree is that? It’s not practical, and I doubt that you could be self-sufficient in a career as a writer. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to make a living?” Mel balked.

In the background, Justin chuckled and said, “My mom told me the same thing when I told her I wanted to go to PIFA and study to be an artist, instead of going to Dartmouth to become a businessman.”

Brian grinned at his husband and nodded his head, “That’s right, she did,” he whispered.

“You two stay out of it!” Mel demanded, glaring at Brian and Justin.

Answering with a confident retort, Jenny told her mom, “Daddy Ben is a writer and he’s written several books. And dad wrote the Rage comic book, and it was a big success. I can have a successful career, too, as a writer.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily call them a success,” Mel scoffed. “I’ve read Ben’s books, and let’s just say that if he wasn’t a college professor, he probably couldn’t have afforded to live in a tent. And as far as ‘Rage’ is concerned, its success was short-lived. Your father had his 15 minutes of fame, and then in a flash, the comic was gone.”

“That’s bullshit,” Justin said loudly. Rage was still a sore subject for him. “You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about,” he said, glaring right back at Mel.

Brian draped his arm around Justin’s neck and kissed his cheek before he breezed his lips over the soft skin of his husband’s ear. “Forget it; let it go. You don’t have to explain shit to her.”

Gus stood up and went to his sister, standing directly behind her. Wrapping his arms around Jenny’s shoulders and resting his chin on the top of her head he looked directly at Mel. “You should be proud of Jenny…we are. She’s made up her mind of where she wants to go to college, so why don’t you just cut her some slack already. Christ! Do you always have to argue about every fucking thing she does?”

Mel continued her laser-like stare at Gus and Jenny, and shook her head slowly from side to side. “You two,” she scoffed indelicately. Most parents would be glad, even relieved, if their children had the type of supportive and close sibling bond that Gus and Jenny Rebecca had, but unfortunately, Mel wasn’t. “You’ve been thick as thieves you’re whole lives. I guess it’s pointless to try and talk any sense into either one of you.”

Gus and Jenny chuckled in unison, as Kelsey and Shane looked on in understanding, and smiled.

Brian then spoke up. “Now that you munchers are done bickering, isn’t it time you leave for the airport?” Between Brian, Justin, Gus, and Jenny, there was almost a competition on who could call for a taxi the quickest.

Jenny and Gus knew that no matter what, they would always have each other’s support and love, and it was one of the most wonderful rewards life had given them.


**Two Weeks Later - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania**

On the day of Jenny Rebecca’s graduation, the entire family gathered at Ben and Michael’s house. After Kelsey and her parents arrived, they all piled into their cars and soon began the caravan of vehicles driving to the high school.

Arriving at the school, the entire senior class assembled together to don their red graduation caps and gowns and lined up in single file, waiting until they heard the traditional Pomp and Circumstance music being played, signaling it was time. As all the students walked into the auditorium, picture taking was all ablaze.

Luckily, Gus and Brian, the two people who were using cameras to take pictures as opposed to most who were snapping them with their phones, had aisle seats, affording them the luxury of getting excellent pictures of both Jenny and Kelsey when they walked past them.

The graduation ceremony was lovely, although predictable as most graduations are. Even though neither Jenny nor Kelsey were valedictorian, they both were in the top five students of the entire senior class of 250, to graduate with GPA’s above 4.0, and each received special commendations and even a certificate stating such.

Afterwards, everyone gathered at Kelsey’s house for the graduation party, a gift from Kelsey’s parents to the two girls. They had purchased two ‘congratulation’ cakes; one with Jenny’s name on it and the other with Kelsey’s, as well as having an amazing array of delicious food from a catering company.

Lindsay and Mel were there, too, and Jenny was glad they were. Regardless that her relationship with her moms was strained, particularly with Mel, emotionally it did Jenny good to know that her mom was there for her; the girl needed to know it. And thankfully, Mel and Lindsay were on their best behavior.

Later that night, when Ben and Michael returned home with an elated Jenny Rebecca, Mel and Lindsay followed them home. They’d asked if they could come over to spend some time with Jenny, and of course the two dads said it was okay with them.

Gus and Shane were there, too, as Jenny always loved having her big brother around. Then when they heard that Mel and Lindsay would also be there, Gus and Shane made a special effort to go to the house too, for Jenny’s sake. (Meanwhile, Brian and Justin chose to go to Woody’s to shoot pool and have a few drinks before returning to their hotel room, and have some fun of their own!)

As soon as she got home, Jenny changed into a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt. Then, after Gus and Shane also changed into casual clothes, they, along with Jenny, carried some of Jenny’s packed luggage downstairs and set the bags near the front door.

“What’s the luggage for?” Mel questioned.

With a glowing face, Jenny was unable to keep the excitement from her voice. “I’m going to Disneyworld tomorrow; Kelsey’s folks are taking us. Actually, it’s their graduation present for both Kelsey and me.”

Ben smiled at his daughter and walked over to her, putting his arm around her shoulders and pulling her close. “Jenny and Kelsey have done so well this year and made such excellent grades, that Kelsey’s parents thought the two girls had more than earned a 10-day vacation to Disneyworld,” he stated proudly.

Mel was angry, and on the verge of shouting. “Oh, really? And you didn’t think it was pertinent to share this information with me before now? Or even ask if it was okay with me that our daughter is going on vacation with people we barely know, almost one-thousand miles away from home?”

“We’re not obligated to tell you anything,” Michael snapped at Mel, “Ben and I have full custody.”

Ben stepped in, sensing Mel was about to explode. “We’re telling you now,” he said calmly. “Kelsey’s parents are some of the finest people we know, and Michael and I trust them implicitly. Almost from the moment that Kelsey and Jenny began dating, Kelsey’s mom and dad have shared holidays, Sunday suppers, picnics with the kids, backyard BBQ’s, and school functions, with us. Believe me, Michael and I know them quite well.”

“Well I don’t!” Mel bit back.

“Whose fault is that?” Michael loudly exclaimed. “You and Lindsay have been invited to fucking everything that involves our daughter. You only have yourselves to blame for not being a part of family get-togethers or school functions. I know you can’t come to all of them, but you could show-up for some of them.”

Mel responded, “How can I be assured that my daughter will be with capable and responsible adults, and have proper supervision?”

Ben chuckled before he answered. “Jenny is eighteen now, and considered an adult. Legally, she can make up her own mind about what she does, or doesn’t, want to do.”

Mel argued, “Lindsay and I are only going to be in Pittsburgh for two more days. We had planned on spending the majority of that time with our daughter. You could have at least told us ahead of time so we could have been prepared.”

“And you could have told us your plans ahead of time, too,” Michael countered. “Even if we had told you about Jenny’s trip, you would have still argued about it,” he added, knowing he was 100% correct in his assumption.

“Sweetie,” Lindsay said to Jenny, her voice dripping with sugary persuasion, “Wouldn’t you rather visit with your moms for a day or two? We’d planned on taking you shopping and out to eat; doesn’t that sound nice? Kelsey’s parents do seem like such nice people, that I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you were to ask them to postpone your trip for a couple of days.”

“No! I don’t want to postpone it!” Jenny said, her soft voice cracking with emotion. “When I lived with you, everything had to be on your time. You rarely ever came to school functions or did things with me because you said it clashed with your work schedule, and you didn’t give a fuck about my feelings. I guess some things never change.” With Jenny’s sensitive and tenderhearted nature, tears were by now welling in her eyes.

“You do this to her every fucking time,” Gus chastised Mel and Lindsay loudly. He turned to Shane, who already had an arm around Jenny. “Babe, will you take Jenny outside?”

“Sure.” As Shane and Jenny walked past him, Gus reached out and tussled his sister’s hair, an affectionate action that told her he was going to take care of everything. Jenny turned her head and mouthed the words, ‘Thank you’ to her brother, though she didn’t speak them out loud. Gus smiled and winked at her, and Jenny was confident that it would all be okay.

“Do you always have to do fucking do that?” Mel challenged Gus.

“Do what? Stand up for my sister? Hell, yes!” Gus replied emphatically. “You and mom certainly won’t do it.”

Mel jeered, “As you all are so eager to point out, Jenny is an adult now, eighteen years old. Don’t you think it’s time you start letting her fight her own battles.”

Gus snickered loudly, “Against the two of you? She’d never stand a chance! And surprisingly, Jenny’s never had to do ‘battle’ with anyone other than you!”

“Sounds to me like you’re acknowledging that Jenny Rebecca has to do battle whenever she talks to you,” Michael exclaimed, in his daughter’s defense.

“Can we please discuss this like civilized adults,” Ben asked, physically stepping in-between Gus and Mel. “Gus, I know you love your sister and you want to protect her, but fighting with Mel isn’t going to help.”
Suddenly, when Mel started to make a cynical response to what Ben had said, he very quickly and effectively cut her off. “And as for you, haven’t you put Jenny through enough? All she knows of her two moms is all the bickering and yelling you do. Unfortunately, it seems that’s all you’re still able to do.”

Gus spoke up, “Ever since Jenny moved here to live with her dads, you’ve barely taken the time to come visit her; I could count on one hand the number of times you’ve been here over the past three or four years. Now, will you please leave Jenny the fuck alone and let her be happy about going on this trip?”

“I’m still her mom…”

“And I’m still her dad,” Michael retorted. “Look, Jenny is leaving tomorrow morning with Kelsey and her folks to go to Disneyworld. She and Kelsey have been so damn excited about this trip, and I have no intention of telling her she can’t go. How about you, Ben?”

“Me, too,” he said, agreeing with his husband, “That’s our final decision.”

“Well, I guess we’re not wanted here anymore, Linds,” Mel hissed.

“We don’t mind having you around,” Ben said, softening his voice, “But every time you are, you want to criticize the way Mike and I parent Jenny Rebecca. If you can be accepting, and a lot less argumentative, you might discover that you and Lindsay, and even our daughter, would enjoy the time visiting together.”

“But you’ll have to try a whole hell of a lot harder than you are now,” Michael interjected.

“Listen, all of you,” Gus said, “Are you listening?” Gus waited until every eye was on him and everyone answered ‘yes’ before he continued. “Shane, Jenny, and I are going out to pick up some pizzas. Jenny wanted to have a pizza and movie night here at home before she leaves tomorrow, and we plan to give her that. If you two battling lesbians can pull your heads out of your asses long enough to call a cease-fire, I’m sure that Uncle Mike and Uncle Ben won’t mind if you spend the evening with us. But if not, it’d be better for all of us if you leave.” Without another word, or without waiting for a reply, Gus hastily exited the house.

The four adults still inside the house all looked at each other with wide-eyed expressions and gaping mouths when Gus left. And then suddenly, they all began to laugh. “Holy, shit!” Michael exclaimed, “Is anyone other than me, totally weirded out about how much Gus looked and sounded EXACTLY like Brian?”

Lindsay chuckled and asked, “Does he do that a lot? You know, act like his father?”

“More than you know,” Michael answered. “It’s like watching re-runs of ‘Brian Kinney Revisited’.”

The atmosphere around them now being considerably more relaxed, Mel apologized. “I’m sorry, Michael. You and Ben have done a wonderful job with Jenny, and it’s obvious how happy she is. I sometimes get…um…”

“You can’t stand not being in control,” Michael said, interrupting her.

“Okay, I think we’ve had more than enough arguments for one day,” Lindsay said, putting her arm around Mel when she spoke, her actions an attempt to calm Mel.

“I agree. Let’s just all enjoy the evening without fighting, for Jenny’s sake,” Ben suggested.

Mel and Lindsay agreed, and later, they did admit, they were glad they did. It proved to be an enjoyable evening, and they all had their fill of food, and let Jenny pick out the movies. Happily, brother and sister sat snuggled together on the couch, just like they used to do. And the following morning, Jenny was waiting excitedly, and squealed when Kelsey and her parents arrived right on time to pick her up, for what she knew would be a thrilling vacation.


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