[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 1 of 3)

**One Week Later - Kinnetik New York**

It was the last week that Brian, Justin, and Shane would be working at the New York office of Kinnetik. Calison’s hadn’t moved into the offices yet, though they would be within a matter of days. Even so, there was still work to be done, and the Kinney’s never slacked on their responsibilities. However, due to the sale, over half of Kinnetik’s NYC employees had already left, having accepted job offers with other companies, which Brian and Justin knew would happen; it was simply the normal progression of things.

Presently, Brian glanced at his watch; 5:45 p.m. Looking up from the stack of boards in front of him, he quietly watched Justin and Shane working at Justin’s desk. Shane was using the drawing computer as Justin scrutinized over the drawings, telling Shane where to add shading or change color hues. By now, Shane was doing about 80% of all sketches or drawings for the clients assigned to Justin, his hand now inhibiting him more and more. Although Brian knew in reality that he personally was powerless to help Justin, it didn’t prevent the painful clawing he felt inside his gut. Fuck! Helplessness was one of those vile emotions he didn’t cope with well at all, especially when it came to his adoring husband.

Refocusing to the here-and-now, Brian asked, “Have either one of you seen Gus this afternoon? He should have been here hours ago.” Normally, as was Gus’ routine, as soon as he would arrive at Kinnetik when school was done for the day, he would go to his dads’ office to see them and Shane for a few minutes, and then go to his studio to study. But, not today.

“I haven’t seen him,” Justin answered.

“I haven’t, either,” Shane said. “I called him earlier and he said he had an errand to run after his last class.”

Justin suggested, “Honey, why don’t you call our limo driver? Wherever Gus had to go, he would have had to have taken him.”

Brian nodded and made the call. “Stephen? Brian. Where are you?” He paused as he listened, and then said, “Oh, you are? Okay. In that case, we’ll be ready to leave in 15 minutes; we’ll see you then.”

“What did he say,” Justin asked when Brian disconnected the call.

“He said he’s outside waiting for us now, and that Gus wanted to go home after school and he’s at the loft now.”
About forty minutes later, Brian, Justin, and Shane could smell the delicious whiffs of food coming from the loft before they ever opened the door. “Holy shit,” Shane exclaimed, entering the loft.

“Wow!” Justin said, noticing the glass dining room table set with white linen placemats and black china, crystal wine glasses, glistening silverware, and black crystal napkin rings wrapped around bright-white cloth napkins. And, in the center of the table, a collection of different sized white pillar candles set on mercury-glass candlesticks.

“What the fuck is going on, Sonny-boy,” Brian questioned, when he saw Gus carrying two hot dishes to the dining table with hot pads.

“Surprise!” Gus said jubilantly, setting the casseroles down on a couple of trivets on the table. “Will someone grab a couple bottles of wine while I get the salad,” he called out, to no one in particular. “Supper is ready.”

“Um, sure, I’ll get them,” Shane offered. He, Brian, and Justin were still wearing confused expressions on their faces, and looking at one another with bewilderment.

“Yeah, um, Justin and I will wash up and we’ll be right back,” Brian announced.

“Okay, but hurry up.”

Only minutes later, Brian and Justin returned, and as they sat down at the table, Brian scoffed teasingly at Gus, yet sounded serious and wore his classic stoic expression. “So, what have you done now, and how much is it going to cost me to get you out of it.”

Justin and Shane laughed at Brian’s comment.

Gus remained standing, holding a small stack of papers in his hand. “We’re celebrating,” he said. “I asked the limo driver not to tell you that I had an errand after school before he brought me home, if you happened to call him,” Gus explained, holding up the papers in his hand. He then passed one of them to Justin and asked, “Papa, would you read this,” his face bright with an ear-to-ear grin.

“Sure,” Justin replied. Justin took the letter from Gus, and as Brian leaned over and placed his chin on

Justin’s shoulder to read it silently to himself, Justin read out loud:
“To Gus Peterson-Marcus,
It is the honor of New York University to announce that you will be graduating this year Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising and Marketing, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Photography. Graduation commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 will be held on Saturday, 12th June, at eleven o’ clock in the morning. Congratulations on your academic achievement.”

Shane hollered, and jumped up out of his chair and grabbed Gus in a big hug. “That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you, babe!”

Justin also stood up and hugged Gus, “Wow! Summa Cum Laude? That’s quite an achievement. I’m very proud of you!”

Brian sat immobile for a moment staring at his son. He, too, was so fucking proud of him. He stood up and approached Gus, almost in slow motion. He grabbed onto him in a hug and at first, but said nothing. He still struggled at times to express his full emotions, but eventually he whispered, “No father could be prouder. I love you, son.”

Gus’ face literally shone! His fiancé’s praise and his papa’s exclamation meant so much, but his father’s declaration meant the entire world to him!

When they all settled down again, Gus said, “I have one more announcement.” He then handed over the larger stack of papers to Brian, saying, “What do you think?”

Justin leaned over and read the forms along with Brian, the two of them soon bolting up their heads to stare at each other, before they simultaneously turned to stare at Gus. “Are…are you sure this is what you want?” Brian softly questioned.

“Was I sure what I wanted when I moved here to New York to live with you? Or when I enrolled at NYU? Or when I asked Shane to marry me? Or when I…”

“We get the point, Sonny-boy,” Brian said with a smirk, interrupting him.
Gus’ face illuminated everything around him. Undoubtedly, he’d given this subject a lot of thought.

“What convinced you to make this type of change?” Brian asked his son.

“It’s something I’ve thought about doing since I was about fifteen-years-old, but of course legally, I never could have done it then. So when I moved here, I started thinking more seriously about it, and when I made up my mind, I knew that was it. I filled out the forms and filed them with the court about five weeks ago. Then this afternoon, I went to the courthouse to get the signed papers from the judge, telling me my legal name change was now finalized. Then when I received the letter from NYU with ‘Peterson-Marcus’ listed on it, it only strengthened my resolve that I’d made the right decision. I want my diploma, and eventually my marriage license, to bear the name ‘Kinney’. It’s what I really want.”

Brian couldn’t help but laugh, “Your moms are going to be so fucking pissed.”

“Dad, I did exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t need anyone’s approval. It’s my life, my decision.”

“And we respect you for it,” Justin said, “It’s your prerogative, son. But you do realize, don’t you, that when Lindsay and Mel find out, they’ll think that Brian or I put you up to this.”

“I know,” Gus replied. Looking directly at his two dads, Gus added, “You’re my father and papa, and both of you have the last name of ‘Kinney’, and I wanted the same name. I know most kids don’t think much about it or care what their last names are, but it means something to me. You guys have done so much for me, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am now in life without the support and encouragement you’ve always given me; neither one of my moms have ever done that for me the way you two have. After I almost died, both of you stayed right with me, you never left my side. I’ve never been prouder to be called your son…BOTH of you!” He then smiled again and stated, “As I see it, the choice to change my name is really both of my moms’ fault.”

Shane couldn’t help but to chuckle when he asked, “How do you figure that?”

“Well, mom didn’t give me a middle name when I was born; what she gave me instead was two last names…Peterson-Marcus. But now, I have one first name, one middle name, and one last name, like most people do,” he announced proudly, a perpetual smile still on his lips. “I did ask my mom once why I didn’t have ‘Kinney’ somewhere in my name. Mom told me that she had wanted to give me the middle name of ‘Kinney’, but that Mel was already so angry with me being named Gus, and that she had never wanted Brian to be my father to begin with, Mel adamantly told my mom that there was no way in fucking hell I was going to have any part of his name with mine.” Gus’ facial expression grew more serious and he raised his eyebrows, saying, “Just so you know, I’m quoting my mom when she repeated Mel’s words of, ‘No way in fucking hell’.”

“I can believe it,” Brian muttered. “I’m sure that wasn’t all she said, but Lindsay probably omitted the rest.”

Justin smirked in agreement, “Yeah, and I’m certain Mel will use that same expression again when she finds out about this.”

The other three men laughed and nodded their heads, agreeing with Justin.

Justin flashed his Sunshine smile when he re-read the legal documents, now calling Gus by his NEW name. “So, Mr. Gus Taylor Kinney, when do you plan on telling the two descendants of Attila the Hun? Um, I mean, your moms.”

“That’s very good,” Brian praised his husband, laughing at his comment, reaching over and running his fingers through Justin’s shoulder-length, silky blonde hair.

“I don’t know,” Gus replied, “I thought I’d just wait until I sent out my graduation announcements with my new name printed on them, and let them find out that way.”

“Oh, that will go over well,” Brian snickered, as Justin, Shane, and Gus, chuckled at his words. “It’s your decision to make, Sonny-boy, yet I would suggest you call and tell them before you send out your graduation announcements.”

“Usually, I’d agree with you, Dad, but I can only envision the yelling and accusations, followed by the fault-finding and calling you every curse word imaginable because they blame you for my choices. And then, of course, there’ll be the screaming and arguing… I’m not prepared to spend an hour on the phone listening to their bullshit.”

“I wouldn’t either,” Brian replied. He held up his wine glass to give a toast, with Justin, Shane, and Gus quickly holding up their filled wine glasses as well. “To our son, Gus Taylor Kinney. Congratulations on graduating Summa Cum Laude from university; no fathers could ever be prouder than Justin and I are. Also, for your new, much more handsome-sounding, name.”

After they all clinked their glasses together and took a sip of wine, Brian added, “And here’s to the bitching we all know Lindsay and Mel will give Gus when they learn about not only his name change, but about his and Shane’s engagement, too.” No one drank to the faux toast, but they all laughed, thinking Brian’s teasing comment was, unfortunately, spot-on.

Gus said, a bit nervously, “Holy shit! I forgot that I haven’t told them yet about Shane and me getting engaged,” his face in a frozen, wide-eyed expression. “Granted, I don’t talk to my moms very often, but I think sometimes they’re purposely on the lookout for something to argue about.”

Justin muttered, “Things are about to get very interesting around here.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more, Sunshine,” Brian whispered, leaning to one side to give Justin a kiss. He then clinked his wine glass against his husband’s and took a long drink of the burgundy-colored liquid.

Brian, Justin, Gus, and Shane, all considered themselves realists, realizing how Lindsay and Mel were going to react to Gus’ news. But absolutely nothing could have prepared them for the reality of the firestorm that would soon blow directly to their front door.


**Six Days Later - Saturday Afternoon**

Justin walked slowly through the massive office spaces of Kinnetik New York. Now empty of people, it felt like a ghost town. To the casual observer, it would appear that he was simply meandering, with no real purpose in mind. However, the truth of the matter was, he was taking in the surroundings for the very last time, committing to memory everything his artistic mind saw.

During the previous week, Brian, Justin, and Shane, had cleared out all the items or materials that were not part of the Callison’s sale. But today, Brian and Justin had come alone to the office to make a final walk-through, the last time their feet would ever tread the floor of the mighty business they once owned and built together, the very last day of existence for Kinnetik NYC, before it was vanquished permanently.

A part of Justin strongly disliked the main reason behind Brian’s decision to sell the New York office. They hadn’t really discussed it with each other, it was simply one of those subjects that both of them understood, as informative as any conversation could have. Still, in Justin’s opinion, NOT talking about it totally went against his repetitive claims of staying independent and doing things for himself. He was again feeling like Brian was taking care of him. Maybe it wouldn’t make a great deal of sense to someone else, but it did to him. He felt his skin prickle as the more pessimistic side of him tried to convince his thoughts that Brian shouldn’t want or need to take care of him. Perhaps it was time to have a talk with his tall, gorgeous husband, and make it clear that regardless if they are married, Brian shouldn’t be taking such liberties.

Simultaneously, as the conceited thoughts sprang to Justin’s mind, he felt two strong arms lovingly encircle his body from behind, and a warm, wet mouth gently lower to the base of his neck. Justin closed his eyes and tilted his head to the side, resting it against Brian’s bicep, exposing more skin for his husband. He placed his arms on top of Brian’s and pressed them more firmly against his body. Inwardly, he now chided himself. How could he ever think that Brian’s motives were anything other than noble? Though Brian himself may never refer to them in the same way, Justin knew it was precisely what it was. It was Brian who had made such a large, unselfish, and self-sacrificing choice. But more than that, Justin realized that there was not one other person on earth that Brian would ever do that for, except for him. His husband, was indeed, a very special man!

Justin mumbled softly, “I’m sorry, honey.”

“Sorry about what,” Brian whispered, while nibbling on Justin’s ear.

Justin turned around and wrapped his arms around Brian’s neck, feeling his husband’s encircle his waist. Pressing their foreheads together, Justin answered, “For ever doubting you. Some couples can spend a lifetime together and never have what we do.”

“And what’s that? Impressive dicks? More money than god? The ability to fuck for 24 hours without stopping?” Brian answered, with a mischievous grin.

“Well, there is that,” Justin chuckled. “What I meant was, we’ve always been there for each other when it really mattered. And regardless of how long we’re together, you still look out for me and protect me, even from myself sometimes. You’ve done all of this for me, Brian. Thank you.” Following a tender kiss, Justin added, “Don’t ever stop being who you are,” smiling sweetly at his husband.

“I love you, Sunshine,” Brian replied, as he breathed across Justin’s lips, before claiming them in a kiss.

“Considering we’re the only one’s here, I think we should take advantage of fucking in places around the office we never could before,” Justin suggested, palming Brian’s cock through his clothes, feeling it harden under his touch. “The perfect way to say ‘goodbye’ to Kinnetik New York.”

“I think your idea needs more thorough exploring,” Brian agreed, starting to unfasten his husband’s jeans, their lips hungrily meeting each other again. The afternoon was certainly a very productive one, although not for anything business related.


**Seven Weeks Later**

Gus’ graduation from NYU was fast approaching, as was his sister’s graduation from high school. In the meantime, in New York, Brian, Justin, and Shane worked on client projects for the Pittsburgh office of Kinnetik. Brian or Justin talked almost daily to Theodore, either by phone or video conferencing, to stay informed and get assignments from him. And due to Kinnetik’s impressive client portfolio, there was never a shortage of projects or presentations.

Brian wanted to do what he could for his husband to help, in any way he could. Although Justin had presumably come to terms long ago about having Shane work with him, Brian also knew that for Justin to lose even a small amount of his independence, was still incredibly difficult for him to absorb at times. And so, in an effort to assist his blonde-headed beauty, Brian decided to consult a physical therapist, after Justin refused to, saying it’d be a waste of time.

It was common knowledge (after Justin and Brian had been to a couple different specialists regarding Justin’s hand) that the on-going complications he was experiencing would never improve. Yet, the therapist suggested that Justin, in order to improve pliability by stretching the muscles, and with Brian’s help, try some of the basic hand exercises he’d learned when he was in the hospital following his bashing. Quite understandably, Justin wasn’t very receptive to the idea, believing the exercises wouldn’t help. But, Brian convinced him to at least try.

One day, while he and Brian were tossing a tennis ball back and forth, a painful cramp seized Justin’s hand and curled it into a fist. Using the ball as an aid, in an attempt to stretch out his fingers, he accidently dropped the tennis ball on the floor. Before Brian could reach down to pick it up, Shadow came scurrying across the hardwood floor and attempted to pick-up the ball in his mouth; but as his whole head was about the same size as the ball, his attempts weren’t very affective. After a few failed endeavors, Shadow then decided to push the ball across the floor with his little nose, walking a bit crookedly due to his one deformed leg. When he pushed the ball over to Brian, he then sat back on his hind legs and looked up excitedly at him, his little tail wagging as fast as it could go.

“Good boy,” Brian praised the clever, fluffy puppy.

“How does he do it,” Justin whispered, petting the tiny head of soft fur when Brian scooped Shadow into his arms to hold him.

“Do what,” Brian questioned, having an intuition of what his husband was going to say, judging by the pained expression on his face.

“How does he stay so fucking cheerful and energetic, with one of his legs being crippled? It’ll never get any better, his leg will stay like that for the rest of his life. So why is he so fucking happy all the time?”

Brian interpreted his husband’s comment: Justin wasn’t so much talking about Shadow’s crippled leg, he was talking about his own hand, in a not-so-cryptic way. Brian put an arm around him and sweetly attached his lips to Justin’s temple in a kiss, not removing his mouth as he softly spoke into the skin. “Because he doesn’t give up, he keeps on trying. But most of all, because he’s surrounded by people who love him unconditionally and think he’s perfect just the way he is,” Brian whispered, and then added with more determined words, “Just like you.”

Justin leaned against Brian, placing his head against his husband’s chest. “Thanks, honey. I love you, too,” feeling Brian kiss the top of his head.

Shadow looked up at both men, seemingly smiling at them as he wagged his tail. He licked Justin’s hand when he petted his soft fur, as if he were agreeing with what Brian had said. Neither Justin nor Brian could resist smiling at the sweet actions of their puppy.


**Two Months Later**

As expected, Gus waited to tell his moms about his name change. To be even more accurate, he decided not to verbally tell them at all, instead waiting until his graduation announcements were mailed; and that is how they found out. Both of his dads had suggested that he call and tell his moms personally, but Gus was an adult, and despite Brian and Justin’s advice, they left the decision totally up to him, without interfering.

Currently, it was a warm, early-spring day. The sun was shining brilliantly, and outside, the previously snow-covered ground was giving way to new green grass, and the trees were speckled with tiny spring blossoms. Even the bustling city streets seemed to be filled with a merrier chatter of people and noise of automobiles, greeting the springtime.

Despite the fact that all four men would soon be moving to Britin following Gus’ graduation, Justin insisted on going to his favorite garden center, about a 30-minute drive outside the city limits of New York; he still wanted to get some new potted plants and flowers to setup around their rooftop deck. And so, following a phone call to their limo driver, Brian, Justin, Gus, and Shane soon piled into the limo, now en route to the garden market.

By the time the men returned to the loft, all four of them were laden down by filled sacks and boxes of merchandise, along with different sizes of brightly-colored planter-pots. Even the limo driver carried an armful of the items up to the loft.

The first thing Brian did after he set the various items he was carrying down on the floor, directly inside the loft door, was to scoop up Shadow, as his little legs ran as fast as they could manage on the hardwood floor, from across the room and straight to him. Secretly, Brian loved how happy the little guy was whenever he’d come home, as Shadow always made a beeline for him alone.

(Sometimes, Shadow would get so excited, he’d tinkle on the floor as he ran. The first time it happened, Justin, Gus, and Shane had all stood there, frozen in place and holding their breath while staring at Brian, unsure of how he would react. But Brian had simply picked Shadow up and said, “Gus, go get the Swiffer Wet-Jet and mop that up. I’m taking Shadow to the park. Anyone want to go with me?” After the three other men almost fainted on the spot, they soon realized that apparently, Shadow was going to be one very spoiled little dog, by the one person they had least expected it from.)

At the present moment, Brian walked over to the kitchen to retrieve some bottles of beer from the fridge. After passing the other three bottles out to Justin, Gus, and Shane, and then taking a sip from his own, Brian gazed at all the packages they’d just bought. “Honey, did we really need all of this?” he asked his husband.

Justin turned and smiled so brightly, that Brian knew regardless of what words came out of Justin’s mouth, he’d agree with him. He’d never say ‘no’ to his blonde, beautiful Sunshine. Justin answered, “I had to get some extra items to take to Britin. We’re going there this coming weekend to make sure everything is ready. Remember?”

“I remember. I only assumed you’d wait until we officially moved in before you’d get the things you wanted for Britin.”

“Oh, I’ll definitely need to go shopping again, but I needed these things, too.”

“I see,” Brian said, rolling his lips over his teeth and grinning. He gently swatted Justin’s ass playfully and kissed him, and Justin graced him with another wide, sunny smile following the kiss. “So, what does everyone want for supper tonight?” Brian asked.

“Shane and I thought we’d order a pizza and some buffalo wings,” Gus replied.

“Sonny-boy, will you call the Deli and order the grilled chicken Cobb salad for me, with the strawberry-walnut vinaigrette dressing on the side,” Brian asked.

“Sure. What about you, pop? What do you want?” Gus questioned.

“Besides your father’s naked body?” Justin smirked.

Brian chuckled huskily. “That’s saved for dessert,” he teased.

Gus and Shane both scrunched their faces. Ugh! Did the old men REALLY have to act so…so…well, like they couldn’t wait to fuck?

Justin laughed, “Well, in that case, order me the Italian sub sandwich from the Deli with a bowl of corn chowder.”

“Okay,” Gus answered, taking out his cell phone to make the calls, as he and Shane, with Shadow now snuggled on Shane’s lap, sat down on the sectional sofa.

A while later, the doorman, Simon, buzzed the loft when the pizza was delivered, and again with the deli delivery. But when the loft was buzzed for a third time, Brian exclaimed, “Who the fuck could that be?” Walking over to the intercom, Brian pressed the button to answer it. “What is it, Simon?”

“Mr. Kinney, there are um…well…there are two women down here who are insisting they be allowed to go up to your loft. Both of them are claiming to be Gus’ mother,” Simon said, sounding a bit bewildered and embarrassed; embarrassed for one of the women’s disturbed behavior.

In the background, Brian could hear Mel’s voice loud and clear, and she was clearly agitated. Brian closed his eyes and shook his head; fuck! This was not what he was expecting, or wanted to deal with. “Send ‘em up, Simon,” Brian instructed the doorman.

“Oh, shit, dad, I’m so sorry,” Gus said, standing up from off the sofa. He walked towards his father, ready to answer the door when his moms arrived. “I should have listened to you and papa when you told me to tell them; I know that’s why they’re here.”

“Leave it to the bull dykes to travel 350 miles just to have an argument,” Brian said snidely. He affectionately patted his son’s shoulder, thinking that yes, Gus should have taken his advice, but what was done, was done, and he and Justin would, as always, offer support to their son. Apparently, he was going to need it!

“Maybe Mel used her broom to travel here this time,” Justin said, while laughing.

Brian laughed as well, walking to the sofa to sit beside his husband. He held up his beer bottle in a salute to Justin, before leaning over to kiss him.

Gus and Shane also found the comment funny, and for a few, short moments, the air around them relaxed. It wouldn’t last for long, though.

Shane stood up to join Gus at the door, waiting for Mel and Lindsay. As he passed by Brian, Shadow whined and became fidgety in Shane’s arms, wanting instead for Brian to hold him. Justin, Shane, and Gus all chuckled, but Brian no longer minded if they did. He took ahold of Shadow, and as the puppy settled contentedly against him, Brian draped his free arm around Justin’s shoulders, his fingers playing with his husband’s blonde silky locks of hair.

Justin relaxed into Brian’s embrace while he tenderly scratched behind the puppy’s ears. The momentary quiet was shattered only seconds later when the elevator bell rang. To the four men, it sounded like an alarm going off, as if the lift itself personally knew the intentions of the two female passengers.

As Lindsay and Mel approached the loft’s open door, with Gus standing in the doorway holding it open, Lindsay appeared genuinely pleased to see her son. “I’m so happy to see you, sweetheart,” she said with a smile, hugging her son. Following the embrace, she stood back and eyed Gus, still smiling, “My goodness! You grow taller each time I see you.”

“Yep,” Gus said, smiling, “I’m now two inches taller than dad.”

While Lindsay then hugged and greeted Shane, Mel had quite a different reaction to seeing Gus. She quickly revealed the purpose for her and Lindsay’s surprise visit. “What the fuck is this?” she demanded, holding up his graduation announcement.

“It looks surprisingly like an invitation to my college graduation,” Gus replied, with a large amount of sarcasm.

“Don’t be such a smart ass. You know goddamned well what I’m talking about. Your name is ‘Gus Peterson-Marcus’. Do you want to explain why it says ‘Gus Taylor Kinney’?”

Gus snickered at Mel’s out-of-control behavior; he’d witnessed it enough times in his life. It did reinforce his belief, however, about how incredibly lucky he was to have his dads, and how much he truly liked living with them. “Nice to see you, too,” Gus said, as Mel barged past him through the opened door, without giving him any type of kind greeting or saying that she was glad to see him.

Lindsay walked over to the sofa to greet Brian and Justin, but upon seeing Shadow snuggled on Brian’s lap, and seeing him gently pet the soft fur, clearly soothing the now-anxious puppy, she stopped abruptly in her tracks. “Oh, my god!” Lindsay exclaimed.

Shadow lived in a calm environment, and wasn’t accustomed to hearing yelling, as Mel had done, and it appeared obvious that even the puppy could feel the tension in the atmosphere.

Mel instantly turned around to look at Lindsay, “What?” she snapped, but then answered her own question upon viewing Brian Kinney actually holding a puppy! Mel blinked in rapid succession as her eyes widened; she couldn’t believe it! In what the four men thought was the very first time in history, Mel was rendered speechless. But when she approached the sofa to get a better look at Shadow, the puppy’s small body immediately tensed, and he growled at Mel, glowering his tiny teeth at her.

“Holy shit!” Gus exclaimed, “He’s never growled at anyone before!”

Brian and Justin found it amusing, and both began to laugh, as did Shane. “See that? I told you Shadow would be a good watch-dog and warn us of impending hostile intruders,” Brian stated with praise.

Mel could only glare through her now-angry, squinted eyes.

“I don’t believe it,” Lindsay said, “Mr. Kinney actually owns a dog,” and laughed as she shook her head in disbelief. “Can I hold her?”

“It’s a ‘him’. And no, you can’t hold him,” Brian replied authoritatively.

Lindsay appeared even more shocked by Brian’s protective behavior…for a dog? Hastily, Gus intervened. “His name is Shadow, and I found him, mom. It was the middle of winter, and someone had thrown him out in a pile of garbage next to a dumpster.”

“Oh, shit! Really? Then it’s a good thing you came along and saved him,” Lindsay said. Teasingly, she added, “And your father agreed to let you keep him? How in the world did you convince him? Was he drunk?”

“No! He was completely sober,” Gus answered, his voice tinged with roughness, not liking how both of his moms still expect the worst from his father, and that even now, they never give him credit for anything; at least anything that’s altruistic. “Dad’s the one who took Shadow to go see Aunt Molly for a complete checkup, and he takes him to the park for a walk every single day. He’s really good with the puppy, and spoils him more than any of us do. When I was choosing a name, I decided on ‘Shadow’, because he always has to be wherever dad is,” Gus responded, in defense of his father. He sometimes wished that the world knew the true Brian Kinney. Deep inside, Brian truthfully had a caring nature and a loving heart. Gus and his papa knew the real Brian, and maybe that was enough.

Mel’s irritation and anger had been fuming for the past few minutes, wanting to question Gus as to his asinine decision of having his graduation announcements printed with ‘Gus Taylor Kinney’. What the fuck was the boy thinking? In her mind, it was obviously the work of the meddling Brian. “Can we please regain our focus,” Mel said impatiently. She glared at Gus, saying, “Your small talk can wait until later.”

Gus wasn’t shy about sharing his opinion with Mel. Derisively, he said, “How nice to know that you define me as ‘small talk’. Which apparently means, anything I say has no significance. Really says a lot about my level of importance in your life…Mel.”

Since the time that Gus was a teenager, he had stopped calling Mel, ‘Ma’, due to their crumbling relationship. While growing up in his moms’ house, he had been exposed to their constant bickering and yelling, their blatant disrespect towards his father, and their uninterested behavior towards him and his sister. Eventually, it had taken its toll. Not only that, but the fact that he was more of a parent to his sister than his moms were, combined with Mel’s relentless refusal to stop talking shit about Brian in front of him, Gus had eventually had enough. By that time, his own personal decision of calling Mel by her name instead of ‘ma’, was something he needed to do for himself, and ever since, it’s been a choice that he’s never regretted.

“That’s not what I meant and you fucking know it!” Mel snipped back.

Gus slowly eyed Mel up and down, “Actually, I don’t. And judging by your demeanor and words, you could’ve fooled me.” Before things got out of hand, Gus decided to let his moms know about his name change, simply wanting to get it all over and done with, knowing a grand quarrel was brimming just below the surface. “I know why you’re here,” the young man said, “You’re both fucking pissed that I changed my name.”

Mel put her hands on her hips and said harshly, “Please explain, Gus, because I’m having a fucking difficult time understanding you or your actions.”

Gus retorted, “Make sure you really want to know, because if you ask me, I’ll tell you, but you won’t like the answer.”

“Gus!” Mel said loudly in exasperated anger.

Gus arched one eyebrow, the same way his father does, and looked Mel square in the eyes, ensuring she heard every concise word. With complete confidence and decisiveness, he told her, “You never have truly understood me, nor have you ever tried, not once. When I was growing up, if I made a comment or did something that reminded you of my father, you’d hatefully rant about how much you despised him, and that you’d do anything to make sure I wouldn’t grow up to be just like him.” Gus scoffed and rolled his eyes, and said mockingly, “Wow…that must be love.”

Wagging a pointed finger in Gus’ face, Mel said, with the volume of her voice rising, “Watch your mouth! You may be an adult, but I’m still your mom, and I won’t put up with your smart-ass comments!”

Justin stood up from off the sofa and approached Gus, placing an arm around his son. He glared unblinkingly at Mel, and stated, “This is OUR house, mine and Brian’s, and within these walls we always speak the truth. What Gus just said to you was true.” Justin stepped a little closer to Mel, purposely invading her private space, and said firmly, “Don’t threaten our son again.”

“Very well spoken, Sunshine,” Brian praised, smiling at Justin proudly.

Gus had something else he wanted to say to Mel. “For the record, I’m damn proud that I grew up to be like my dad. I guess your efforts didn’t work after all.” Gus turned his head to look at Brian, and at that moment, he saw the proudest smile on his father’s face he thought he’d ever seen! There was no mistake in the world that Gus’ dad loved him with all his heart, and Gus knew it, even tangibly felt it. Gus wondered, did his father know how proud of a son he was of him? If not, he’d make damn sure he did!

As the heated discord between Gus and Mel grew, Lindsay tried to calm it. “I think it would be better if Mel and I talk to Gus alone. That way, there’s no confusion or misunderstanding.”

“Yes, I agree. That’s a very good idea,” Mel echoed.

Gus protested. “I don’t think it’s such a good idea, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Brian now stood up, stepping over to stand beside his son and his husband. Still holding Shadow, the puppy once again growled at the close proximity of Mel. Brian handed the little guy over to Shane, who got down on the floor and played with him, using Shadow’s favorite doggie toys to keep him happily occupied.

“Yo, bitches,” Brian glowered, “If you want to talk to my son, it will be done here, with Justin and I being a part of the conversation. Otherwise, you are free to leave at any time. Personally, I’m hoping you’ll choose the leaving part.”

“Listen,” Gus said to his moms as he looked directly at them, inwardly feeling the support of his two dads even more strongly, “The truth is, I legally changed my name. Obviously, Gus is still my first name, but I now have a middle name, Taylor, and my last name is now Kinney.”

“Why the fuck would you do something like that?” Mel yelled. “Never mind…I already know! HE put you up to it!” she fumed, glaring hatefully at Brian. “You just weren’t happy leaving well enough alone, were you? You had to fucking interfere in our lives one more time! I’ll fucking never be rid of you!”

“Leave Brian alone!” Justin snapped at Mel, “He had shit to do with it! This was Gus’ decision, and we support whatever choices he makes.”

“Is it any wonder? You and Brian are two-of-a-kind!” Mel bitterly replied, “You’ve both fucking corrupted my son!”

“Stop it! Just fucking stop!” Gus said loudly to Mel. “For as long as I can remember, you’ve done nothing but bitch about my dads, especially my father. When I was a kid, I used to think that his REAL name was ‘Brian Asshole’; before I figured out what the word ‘asshole’ meant! All my life, you’ve endlessly put him down, called him names, degraded him, and have made it clear thousands of times how much you wish he’d fucking disappear forever. Do you realize that the first curse words I ever learned were the countless names you called my dad? You can’t be all that surprised that I wanted to remove ‘Marcus’ from my name?!” Gus stood steadfast and gratified, crossing his arms over his chest and arching one eyebrow dramatically, his appearance looking uncannily identical to his father.

Justin and Brian exchanged wide-eyed looks, as well as unspoken yet clearly understood, words, feeling honored by their son. Shane, too, was proud, and gazed adoringly at his gorgeous fiancé. Without regret, Gus was unquestionably defending what he believed in, and he was to be admired all the more for it.

“G-Gus…I…I never…I never intended…” Mel stammered, now feeling the weight and consequences of her years-old actions finally coming to fruition, in a way she never imagined. As the saying goes, the past will find a way of catching up to us, and at the moment, Mel found it to be prophetic. Maybe Lindsay and Debbie, and even Brian, had been right through the years, when they’d tell Mel that she shouldn’t talk so disparagingly about Brian in front of Gus.

“Bullshit,” Gus replied, “You always intend to hurl insults at my dad; don’t fucking lie to me. There isn’t one single member of our extended family who doesn’t know how much you hate my dad.”

Lindsay tried to diffuse the tension between her son and her wife. “Gus, sweetie, Mel didn’t mean…”

“Don’t mom, don’t defend her, please. Although you personally never talked negatively about my dad, you never tried to stop Mel when she did. I’ve made up my mind about my name, and as I’ve already said, it’s over and done with, and totally legal. You know, with as much as both of you disliked the fact that I moved here and attended NYU, and did your damnedest to talk me out of it, you’ll be glad to know that I’m graduating Summa Cum Laude.”

Mel and Lindsay looked at one another in shock. Moving to New York had truly been good for Gus after all, and simply knowing he was graduating in the top 1% of his class, was unquestionably the best surprise. Contrary to their prophecies of doom-and-gloom about Gus living with his two dads, the outcome had been optimistic, and positively constructive.

“I’m so proud of you, sweetheart,” Lindsay told Gus. Mel, on the other hand, remained stoic and silent.

“Thanks, mom. I do have one more announcement to make.” Gus took ahold of Shane’s hand and held it securely inside his, stating, “Shane and I are engaged. We haven’t set the wedding date yet, but we plan on getting married sometime this year.”

Shane held out his hand to show his engagement ring, hearing Lindsay gasp in amazement over the beauty of it. “Well, aren’t you going to say anything?” Gus asked his mom.

“I…don’t know what to say,” Lindsay answered. “I’m just surprised; I wasn’t expecting you to make an announcement that you’re engaged. You’re…so young, still, sweetie. This is a big decision.”

“It’s no use trying to change my mind. And I’ve already had the heart-to-heart talk with both my dads,” Gus told his mom, “All I want from you is for you to just say you’re happy for Shane and me.”

Yes, Lindsay realized, it was pointless to attempt to sway her son, once his mind is set on something. “I’m happy for you and Shane. That is, if getting married is what you really want to do. I think you should wait.”

Gus rolled his eyes. His mom was very skillful at making a compliment sound like only a half-compliment; an edge of an insult mingled with the positive. Fuck! It really pissed him off when she did that.

Mel’s first response was to infuse herself again in Gus’ life to try to talk some sense into him (although talk would be a very loosely described word; yell would be more accurate). She wanted to tell him he was being reckless and immature, that he was too young to make such a commitment, and that he needed more parental guidance in his life. She doubted there would ever be a time when she’d view Brian and Justin as being the type of fathers they should be, by her standards. However, thankfully, Mel decided that this time, she’d remain silent. It finally dawned on her that the more she fought and argued with Gus, the more he’d defend his decisions. He’d already pulled away from her and didn’t speak to her anymore, unless it was a dire necessity. Their relationship had all but vanished, and she didn’t want to risk complete and utter withdrawal. “If it makes you happy, Gus, then I’m happy for you and Shane,” Mel finally said.

“Thanks, Mel,” Gus replied. She hadn’t given the glowing or cheerful response Gus had hoped for, but the fact that she didn’t fury with rage or incite another argument, was very welcomed by everyone.

Mel and Lindsay only stayed for a little while longer to visit with Gus before they left; Brian and Justin merely tolerated them because of Gus. No sooner had the loft door closed behind them, and Shane asked, “I can’t believe your moms traveled all this way simply because they were pissed about your name change. Is this normal behavior for them,” he asked, still wide-eyed with disbelief.

Brian mumbled an answer, “I’ve learned never to underestimate what the munchers are capable of.”

“We’ve both learned that from personal experience,” Justin added, seeing Brian bobbing his head in agreement.
Shane asked Gus, “Why didn’t you tell them about us moving to Britin?”

Gus and Brian both snickered, and Gus curled his hands over Shane’s denim-clad hips and pulled him firmly against him. “I try to limit my arguments with them to one situation at a time.” Gus kissed his fiancé’s soft lips, but then afterwards turned to look at his dads, with an inquiring expression. “Do I need to tell them we’re moving to Britin? Please say I don’t.”

“You don’t,” Justin answered, “But I would advise against it. You’ll need to tell them at some point. Otherwise, they’ll send out the guards in search of you, filing a Missing Person’s Report.”

“Our lives are none of their business,” Brian interjected, “We live how we want and where we want. We don’t need anyone’s permission, especially the muncher’s.” He then added cynically, “I’m surprised that Michael hasn’t already told them.”

“I have no doubt he will, soon enough,” Justin said.

“Or Debbie, Ted, or Emmett,” Brian stated, rolling his eyes, “They can’t keep their mouths shut about anything.”



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