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Title: Family Festivities (1/2)
Author: Etharei
Fandom: Queer as Folk (US)
Characters: Brian/Justin, Jennifer Taylor, Molly Taylor, Tucker, a host of OCs
Timeline: Future
Rating: NC-17
Summary: "Speaking of whom, does your family know he’s coming?" She hesitated, but Tucker knew that this was one of the biggest things plaguing her all day. "They do. At least, they know that Justin is bringing his partner."
Disclaimer: Queer as Folk and all the characters and situations featured therein are the property of Showtime, Cowlip Productions and their affiliates. I’m only borrowing them for purely non-profit, recreational purposes, and promise to replenish the condom and lube supply when I’m done.
Author's Notes: Written for the 'Christmas/New Year Challenge' at qaf_challenges. Originally posted HERE.

FAMILY FESTIVITIES


Jennifer Taylor knew that she must be driving her daughter and Tucker insane, but she couldn’t help it. “Molly, is the chicken-“

“The bird’s in the oven and turning the right shade of brown, Mom,” Molly was clearly speaking through gritted teeth. In all fairness, the teenager was being far more patient than her beleaguered mother had expected her to be.

“And the plates are so clean I think the food will slide off of them,” Tucker preempted her, in a much gentler tone and a pacifying smile.

“The wine bottles are in the coolers,” Molly continued the list. “And we’re also cooling a couple of replacements in case something happens to those.”

“The tree hasn’t shed any new needles since the last time I swept the floor.”

“Justin swears they’re on their way, and my GPS tracking device confirms it.”

“I’ve had a talk with all the dust in the house and they’ve agreed to not settle on anything until after tonight as long as we don’t go around wiping the house plants next time.”

Jennifer burst into nervous giggles, then frowned at her daughter. “Really? You have a tracking device on your brother?” Despite her obvious exasperation, Molly grinned and shook her head before striding off to check on the chicken. Jennifer suspected that Tucker had given some signal from behind her, and was proven right when his strong, lean arms encircled her waist.

“Calm down,” he whispered into her ear, pulling her close. The solid warmth of his body steadied her. “You’re no good to us if you get a nervous breakdown. Think of all the horror stories Molly and I could tell your family. Like when you got drunk last Christmas in New York.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Jennifer exclaimed, slapping his arm even as she chuckled heartily. “Thank the Lord we were in a private room. Brian still teases me about it every time we meet.”

“Speaking of whom, does your family know he’s coming?”

She hesitated, but Tucker must know that this had been one of the biggest things plaguing her all day. “They do. At least, they know that Justin is bringing his partner.” She turned so that she was looking Tucker in the face. Well, as much as she could with him being over a foot taller. She wondered if this was how Justin felt every time he had to look up at Brian. “I told my mother about Justin being gay when Craig and I got divorced. Justin still writes her letters at least once a year, and she’s always adored him, so I actually expect her to be the most accepting of all of them. As for the rest, I haven’t seen them all together in so long, I really can’t guess. I’m particularly worried about Joyce; she and her husband Rick are really religious and conservative. And Patrick had been close to Craig- I’m pretty sure they still kept in touch, and God knows what sort of stories my ex-husband’s been telling him. Shit,” she gripped his arms. “Should I call Justin and Brian and tell them not to come tonight? My family are meeting you for the first time, too; maybe it’ll go over easier if I don’t load everything on them at once-“

“Hey, sshhh, calm down,” Tucker pressed a finger to her lips, leaning in to touch his forehead to hers. “Easy, easy, just breathe. In, and out. In, out. Better?” When she nodded, he continued, “Maybe you’re right. Maybe you should be gentler with this; from what I’ve learned, that’s what you would have done before Justin came out. But you’re a different person now; what does the new you really feel?”

She paused, and looked him straight in the eye. “Fuck them. This is who I am now, and they can either take it the way I give it to them, or- actually, there is no ‘or’.” She exhaled. “No, they’ll just have to accept the way things are now.”

He grinned wolfishly. “That’s my Jen.” They shared a smile. “Besides, do you really think Justin will agree to not show up tonight after you badgered him about it for half a year?”

“You’ve got a point.”

The doorbell sounded. Jennifer had kept the ones they’d had when she was still with Craig; for once, the gentle tinkling of chimes didn’t calm her, but rather sent panic spiking through her again. Sensing it, Tucker took hold of her hand and gave her a warm, fortifying smile before leading the way to the door.

Her hand was so sweaty it slipped the first time she tried the doorknob. Strangely, while it was entirely possible that this was just her son and his partner arriving early (highly unlikely, but Brian did have a penchant for surprising her) she just knew it wasn’t. Sure enough, the door swung open to reveal the beaming, flushed face of her youngest sibling.

“Jean!” Jennifer said with genuine pleasure, stepping forward to embrace her sister. “And Alan!” The stocky man carrying a gift basket with an enormous bow smiled warmly at her. “Come in, come in!” Tucker was ready to receive their coats, and only smiled at their politely puzzled expressions, waiting for Jennifer to introduce him. “Jean, Alan, this is Tucker Morris.” There was a frozen moment of surprise, for the very good reason that the only thing Jennifer had revealed to her family about the man she was seeing was his name. “Tucker, this is Jean and her husband Alan.”

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet Jennifer’s family,” he said sincerely, holding out his hand.

Jean automatically took it and shook, but her eyes flickered between Jennifer and Tucker several times. “A pleasure to meet you, too. Jenny told us she was seeing someone, but sadly neglected to give any details.” Fortunately Alan didn’t appear to be ruffled at all, and greeted Tucker quite warmly as he handed the gift basket over. As expected, Jean grabbed Jennifer’s hand and forced her to hang back while the men disappeared up the stairs to the dining room.

“Jenny, you didn’t tell me you were dating a younger guy!” Jean exclaimed in a loud whisper, but Jennifer was relieved to see that her sister looked pleasantly surprised rather than outraged. “He must be half your age!”

“Less than that,” Jennifer corrected, allowing herself to look smug. “And I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”

“Oh, yes you did!” Jean giggled. “But I don’t think I would have believed you, anyway. Way to go, big sis. He’s really cute, too.”

“Don’t let Alan hear you say that.” Feeling considerably less nervous than she had only minutes ago, Jennifer caved to impulse and briefly hugged her sister. “Thanks.”

Jean looked surprised, but appeared to understand, and nodded. Then the doorbell rang again. The two sisters looked at each other. “That’s probably Patrick and Helen; I thought I glimpsed their SUV on the turnpike,” Jean said. “I guess I’ll go and help with the food. But holler if you need help with the horde.” Jennifer nodded, comforted to have at least one sibling on her side tonight, and took a fortifying breath before heading towards the door.

#

“The food looks great, Ma,”

Debbie grinned and patted her son’s cheek. “Thanks, honey.” Of course, she couldn’t do any less than her best for Christmas dinner. The doorbell rang, and she heard Ben greeting Ted and Blake. “Looks like everyone is here! Hunter, pull the wine out of the cooler, will you?”

“Yes, Grandma,” the young man sighed, pulling himself up from the couch. After having accepting that it wasn’t in her son’s future to marry some nice girl and have lots of babies, hearing the endearment never got old with her; she grabbed Hunter and kissed him noisily on the forehead as he passed her.

“All right, everyone, get your asses over to the table!” she called to her little extended family.

“Do you want me to call Brian and tell him we’re starting already?” asked Michael.

Debbie blinked, a little surprised that Michael hadn’t heard. Then again, she supposed it’d been a while since Brian and Michael had gone about knowing the details of each other’s day down to the number of coffees they’d both drunk.

And it wasn’t the sort of thing Brian would find easy to tell the guys. Grinning, she said, “This year he’s having Christmas dinner with the in-laws.”

#

Ever since she first heard from her daughter that her grandson was gay, Frances Moore had struggled with conflicting feelings about the boy she’d once unabashedly proclaimed to be her favourite grandchild. Though she was the eldest, Jennifer was the third of Frances’ five children to get married, and by the time Justin was born Patrick already had a son and Joyce a daughter. But there was something about the young boy, with his golden hair and light blue eyes and angelic complexion, not to mention his brilliant smile and impulsive professions of love towards Frances, that endeared him to her from the moment she first met him. In her mind, he’ll always be that two-year-old gazing seriously at her as Jennifer introduced them, wide blue eyes holding a gravity that seemed to belong to a much older person, chewing on his lower lip before suddenly beaming before launching forward to sloppily kiss her on the cheek.

She usually saw her daughter’s family every couple of years, but ever since Jennifer divorced Craig there had been some excuse or other to not visit. At first she’d thought that her daughter had enough on her plate with finding a new job and a new home, and then there was that awful incident at Justin’s prom. In all fairness it wasn’t as if Jennifer ever invited her over. The few times they met had been at the small house Frances shared with a few other ladies, usually for a nice home-cooked lunch. It had come as quite a shock to Frances when she found out that Justin was living not with his mother, but the older male lover who had seduced him. His letters continued to show up in her mailbox, and she would peruse them carefully for any sign of- well, she didn’t know what, but whatever it was she didn’t find it. Justin written words didn’t seem at all different, aside from a growing sense of maturity that she’d have expected from any growing boy. He even mentioned his lover, Brian; at first briefly, hesitantly, in a single paragraph that had the feel of careful wording and composition, but with each letter the name was dropped more and more, as if it was something he couldn’t help doing. Eventually Frances got used to it, and even asked after Brian sometimes in her replies.

These letters weren’t particularly regular, though she usually got about five a year. Four consecutive months would bring no letters at all, followed by two letters within the space of a month. They lived in different worlds, Frances knew, but she liked to think that something was being shared between those lines of ink, a tentative connection between two people whose idea of each other likely did not match the reality at all.

Suddenly came Jennifer’s invitation to the family for a dinner at her home in Pittsburgh. At first it was going to be Thanksgiving, but Joyce had plans that she refused to change, so amidst much grumbling and protest-filled phoning it was grudgingly moved to Christmas. Frances’ other children had been puzzled, to say the least- over the last five years Jennifer had seemed to grow even more distant from them, communicating only occasionally and attending any gatherings even less frequently. However, she did reveal that she had a new beau, which would explain a lot of things.

She also announced that both her children would be there, and Justin would be bringing his partner. That was probably the clearest early sign they got that Jennifer had changed over the years- being a WASP family, Frances had prized propriety and good manners in her children, and Jennifer had always possessed both in excellent measure, as well as being the most passive in character. The old Jennifer would have asked if it would be all right for her gay son and his male lover to attend, and perhaps gently entreat any negative repliers, but according to this new Jennifer, Justin would be attending the dinner. Period.

Frances suspected that Patrick, who would normally never have tolerated such an attitude without some bristling, had quietened and agreed to come out of sheer curiousity.

Thomas, her youngest son and the one who had been living closest since his divorce, had volunteered to drive her to Pittsburgh. The plan was for Frances to sleep at Jennifer’s house, while the rest of the family took rooms at various hotels. She heard that an attempt was made to get everyone to go to the same hotel, but Joyce had only just returned to speaking terms with Jean, and Patrick’s son Leslie was still angry with whatever prank Thomas’ son Jeremy (named after his long deceased grandfather, may the Lord bless his soul) had pulled on him in that party two years ago.

“Is it true that Justin will be there tonight?” said Jeremy now from the backseat.

“That’s what your aunt Jenn tells me,” answered Thomas. “Speaking of which, Jeremy, remember your promise to behave tonight?”

“I will not ask any embarrassing questions, nor gawk at cousin Justin, nor make any remark or question concerning his gayness without consulting you first,” the mousy-haired seventeen-year-old recited. “Same goes for aunt Jen. Except for the gay bit, unless that’s what she’s called us together to tell us.”

“Hey, I know you know that she has a boyfriend now, whom we’ll also be meeting tonight, so you’d better watch yourself. Besides, I read that it’s usually the dad’s fault when his son turns out gay. Something in the genes, and not setting a strong enough example when the kid’s young.”

Unlike Patrick, Thomas had never liked Craig. “He’s still Justin and Molly’s father, Tom, so please watch what you say,” Frances reminded her son.

“Of course. Sorry, mother.”

#

Jennifer felt like she was under a microscope, and entertained the absurd idea of handing everyone a handheld magnifying glass so that they’d stop sneaking looks at her and Tucker over a glass of wine or while apparently deep in conversation with each other.

It was, indeed, Patrick and his wife, Helen, who arrived after Jean, their eldest daughter Marcia in tow. If she weren’t so nervous, Jennifer would have laughed at Patrick’s startled expression when he was introduced to Tucker. Her younger brother had been staring at Tucker ever since, the animosity clear in his eyes, which Tucker was manfully ignoring as he brought out the drinks and some appetizers to munch on as they waited for everyone. Next came Joyce and her husband Rick, along with their son Leslie and daughter Laura, further turning up the tension level in the little house. Molly, who had recently acquired Brian’s hatred of these sort of gatherings, was being an angel, circulating among their guests with food and drink and country club courtesies she must be recalling from her childhood.

At least with Molly, the little voice of the ‘old Jen’ murmured sadly in the head of the new one, there’s no awkwardness. Parents divorced, mom hooking up with someone new- all familiar territory, something they know how to handle.

Well, what was that sweet thing Emmett always said?

Fuck ‘em all.

“So, Jen,” Patrick said, all fake pleasantness. “Have you met Tucker’s parents yet?”

The thing was, after some of the things she’d heard yelled at her during protests for PFLAG and the Stop Prop-14 campaign, barely veiled snide remarks from a younger brother concerning her age felt quite tame indeed. Thank you, Debbie. “His mother has passed away, unfortunately, but I have spoken to his father over the phone,” she replied without hesitation. “A very nice man.”

Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw Tucker being intercepted by Joyce. Jennifer considered going to help him, but after how he had handled things with Justin, she was pretty confident in his ability to take care of himself.

The chimes went off, like an announcement of death, setting a lump of poisonous lead in Jennifer’s gut. Her mother had arrived.

#

Brian pulled the Corvette over. “You all right there, Sunshine?”

“Huh?” Justin looked at him, his hands playing with the platinum cufflinks Brian had unofficially given him on not-Valentine’s Day. “Sorry, yeah. I’m just really nervous.” He frowned, taking in their surroundings. “My mom’s house is a few doors further down, Brian.”

“I know, but I think you need to calm down first before we go in there.” Undoing his seatbelt, Brian leaned over and drew Justin into a slow kiss. He felt the soft lips against his curve into a smile, before Justin reached up to the back of his head and pulled Brian even closer, his mouth hungry and heated.

It wasn’t what Brian had been intending to do, however. After several long minutes, Brian regretfully forced himself to pull away, conceding to one last peck as his hand pushed away Justin’s seatbelt and quickly tugged down his zipper. The flushed, already panting blond barely had time to let out a breathy “Brian!” before Brian was swallowing around his rigid cock.

Justin’s groans and whimpers filled the closed interior of the Corvette, his restless hands now planted quite firmly on Brian’s head, gripping tightly. Brian was going for fast and fierce, using his tongue to swirl around the circumference of the engorged muscle while it thrummed in his mouth. He moaned when he tasted Justin’s salty pre-cum, letting it dribble a little down his tongue and mixing with his saliva, easing the slide of his lips up and down the considerable length of cock. Justin parted his legs instinctively, unable to thrust upwards much because of his seatbelt and Brian’s hands holding him down. Brian reached a hand into Justin’s pants to massage his balls, causing the younger man’s moans and wordless gasping to grow in volume.

Finally, he felt the familiar, strongly compact body tense, before Justin came with a loud shout of “Brian!” Brian brought out the hand in Justin’s pants and used it to make sure not a single trace of cum managed to escape the tight vice of his mouth around the middle of the blond’s softening shaft as he sucked every drop down.

Once Justin was tucked in and zipped up again, Brian looked up at Justin’s brightly beaming face. It wasn’t fair, he thought, how one of those Sunshine smiles could reduce him to a goofily grinning idiot. Justin leaned in and kissed him, his tongue light and tender against Brian’s.

“I love you,” the whisper floated into Brian’s ear.

Brian pulled away and touched his forehead against Justin’s. A silent moment, then, “And my cock.”

Justin chuckled “I love you and your cock.”

“I love you and your cock,” Brian echoed, his voice even quieter. “And, occasionally, your ass.”

He got a swat on the arm for that. “A lot more than ‘occasionally’, Mr. Kinney, considering how sore it is even now.”

“Hey!” Brian protested. “You wanted to me to get into the whole ‘Christmas’ spirit.”

“I think I’ve got ribbon burns,” Justin complained, then sat up. “Shit, that car in front of the house belongs to my uncle Tom! That means my grandmother’s here! Fuck, what if she saw us?”

“Don’t worry, those other cars are blocking us from the lower floor windows.” Once Justin’s body had relaxed, however, Brian couldn’t resist adding, “Molly’s bedroom window, on the other hand, has a perfect line of sight. But don’t worry, she only shook her head and waved when I got back up.”

#

The first thing that Jennifer thought of when she caught sight of her mother was that she didn’t remember her being quite so... old. Frances Moore, née Lawrence, had married young like many well brought-up girls of her generation, so she was still in her late teenage years when she had Jennifer. Their family had good genes, so even now she looked like a very robust old lady, but still considerably smaller and frailer than the imposing matron Jennifer remembered her as. Though Jennifer had passed her mother in height at the age of 14, Frances had a talent for making herself seem larger than life.

“You look wonderful, mother,” she proclaimed heartily, bending down a little to embrace Frances’ slight figure. “I’m so glad you’re able to make it, I know it’s a long drive.”

“Thank you, Jenny-lamb.” But the voice- ah, the voice was as clear and edged and deadly precise as she remembered. Sometimes she wondered if it said something about their relationship, that the first thing she’d recall when thinking about her mother was her steel-sharp voice. “Wouldn’t have missed it for anything; it’s the first time all my offspring have gathered in one place since… Jean’s wedding?” Jennifer nodded, and reached for the bags her brother was holding. “Here, let me get that.”

“It’s all right, big sis,” said Tom, flashing her a chivalrous smile. “I’ll take them up, just tell me which room.”

“Up the stairs, second room on the left. It’s the only one with the door open.” She’d have asked Tucker to guide him, but she’d decided to bite the bullet and get the worst over and done with. Gesturing for him to stand next to her, she took her mother’s hand. “Mother, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” Sliding her arm around his waist, she said, “Mom, this is Tucker Morris. Tucker, meet my mother, Frances Moore.”

“A pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” he said earnestly, holding out his hand.

Jennifer’s mother stared at him, but like with Jean her hand automatically reached up and shook his. Light blue eyes peered critically at him, blinking and squinting and frowning. “I suppose I understand why you’ve been less than forthcoming about him,” she finally said. On the surface her words seemed kindly, but Jennifer was already inwardly cringing at the undercurrent of condescension and superiority. “Tell me, young man, are you truly my daughter’s man of the moment, or just a… friend on call for these special occasions?”

Mother!” gasped a clearly scandalized Joyce. Jennifer would have spoken if she weren’t so busy gaping.

Luckily, Tucker didn’t appear ruffled at all, and answered lightly, “No, I’m afraid I’m the real thing. Though I am a little flattered that you thought me to be, er, one of the former.”

“I suppose you have a point.” Nodding, Frances turned to pat Jennifer on the cheek once, then moved off.

“Was that good or bad?” whispered Tucker as Jennifer stepped closer to him. “I mean, obviously it wasn’t good, but I can imagine how it could have been a lot worse.”

“She’s really rattled,” Jennifer explained. “Otherwise she wouldn’t have reacted so strongly towards you. I mean, that’s the closest to vulgar language I’ve ever heard come from her, and she only gets openly hostile when she’s completely surprised and hasn’t had the chance to compose her thoughts.”

The noise level in the house gradually rose up again when the others saw that no more drama was forthcoming, at least for the moment. Jennifer absently welcomed Jeremy, Thomas’ son, and introduced him to Tucker, but the whole time her eyes kept straying to the slight but still perfectly straight figure of her mother as it slowly moved about in a casual examination of the house. There was a light tug on her sleeve, and when Jennifer indicated that she was paying attention, Molly whispered, “Justin and Brian are here.”

That definitely got her attention. “Did they call? I didn’t hear the phone ring.”

“No, I saw the Corvette from my bedroom window, parked in front of the Williams’.” Molly hesitated, then said with an exasperated expression, “They’ll be a couple of minutes yet. Brian’s just finished giving Justin a, erm, a pep talk.”

#

“No, Jenny hadn’t told me about him at all.” Joyce was saying to Helen. Frances nodded in a vague manner to indicate that she was listening, but unabashedly kept her eyes on the man by her daughter’s side. He towered over her by a good foot, maybe more, acceptably good-looking underneath a bush of unruly hair that showed signs of an attempt having been made to tame it. He was polite, gentlemanly in a rough way, and the two of them were clearly comfortable with one another.

“It’d be a scandal, if we weren’t all family,” Helen put in.

“Who says it isn’t?”

“Breadsticks, Grandma?”

Sensing she was being addressed, Frances immediately pulled out of her concentrated observations to smile at her granddaughter. “Maybe just one, Molly, thank you.” The girl handed her a stick and turned the plate in her hand so Frances could select a dip. “No dip, thank you dear. I may not gain weight any more than I did when I was your age, but my doctors tell me that I need to be careful of what I eat, now.”

“You look great, Grandma,” Molly assured her earnestly. “You don’t look a day over sixty.”

Frances chuckled. “That’s very sweet of you to say, Molly, but I can see the face in the mirror well enough.”

Molly turned to offer the plate of breadsticks to her aunts. “Molly!” Joyce exclaimed. “You’ve grown so much since the last time I saw you. A teenager now- my, how time flies. How is your father?”

“Doing good, from what I hear,” Molly answered politely, though Frances didn’t miss the slight tensing of her frame. “I haven’t seen him in a while, though.”

“That must be hard,” Helen said with a sympathetic smile. “At least you’ve got Tucker now, right?”

Molly smiled at that. “Tucker loves Mom,” she said quite matter-of-factly. “And Mom loves him. I like him, too, so we all get along really well.”

“But it must be hard,” Joyce persisted. “To see your mom with someone who’s much closer to your age than hers.”

Molly shrugged. “I have two friends at school whose Dads have married women over half their age. At least it was Tucker who went after Mom. She tried to keep it friendly, ‘cause she was worried about what Justin and I would say, but they were obviously into each other, so in the end I was the one begging her to go out with him already. He’s a good guy.”

Joyce looked somewhat disappointed and appeared intent on continuing her questions, but just then the doorbell sounded, a series of arpeggios on gentle chimes. “That’s probably Justin.” Molly excused herself and went to put the dish down on the coffee table, before joining her Jennifer and Tucker in heading for the door.

#

Jennifer pulled the door open so quickly that the bushy wreathe hanging on the other side swung askew; Justin and Brian stared at her with identical raised eyebrows, Justin carrying a bouquet of roses and Brian an expensive-looking bottle of wine.

“There you two are!” she exclaimed with a loud voice. “I was just thinking about calling you to see if you were held up by traffic. Come in!” Pulling Justin in, she hugged her son considerably tighter than she had for a long while. “Thank you for being on time, for once,” she hissed under her breath. Behind Justin, Brian’s lips quirked up into a smile. “I feel like we’re being circled by sharks.”

“It’s OK, Mom, Rage and JT have come to give them something else to gawk at,” Justin murmured against her ear, just before she released him.

“You know I wanted you both here for more than that,” she admonished.

“Of course we do.” Brian stepped forward and, to her sheer amazement, bent down to give her a brief hug. She managed to snap out of her daze enough to return it; over his shoulder, she saw on the ebony-black vase (its surface gleaming brightly, thanks to the polishing prowess of Tucker) placed right beside the door the reflection of avidly watching family members.

“It’s nice to see you, too, Brian,” she said, her voice back to its normal volume, if a tad on the loud side. “The two of you are cold- give Tucker your coats and come inside to warm up.”

“These are for you, Mom,” Justin handed her the lush bouquet, and smiled at Tucker. “Hey, Tucker.” Though he usually acted as if he suffered Tucker’s presence only out of love for his dear mother, Jennifer was pretty sure that her son had actually grown quite fond of her man.

“Hi, Justin.”

Both men successfully de-coated, Jennifer led them into the living room. By that time most of their guests had had the grace to recover themselves and pull back, so that when they entered the space it looked for all the world as if everyone had been deeply engaged in their respective conversations the entire time. Jennifer cleared her throat and said loudly, “Everyone, I’m sure you remember Justin.” Her son smiled politely and nodded his head. She laid her hand on Brian’s upper arm. “This is his partner, Brian Kinney.”

There was a moment of relative quiet, then in a cacophonous buzz the nest of WASPs came to life.

#

For reasons ranging from sheer curiosity to turbulent feelings she could not find the adequate words to describe, Frances could not take her eyes off her grandson and the man standing next to him. The man whom Jennifer had introduced as Brian did not look at all like the ‘perverted child molester’ Craig had ranted about once and refused to acknowledge the existence of again afterwards. Justin had never described him in his letters, so for years Frances’ imaginings had been filled with a self-drawn, somewhat villainous caricature of a man. This one, standing there in the flesh, looked beautiful, elegant in a way that usually only men of the very best breeding could accomplish. And though Frances did not exactly think of herself as materialistic, the society she’d been a part of all of her life had impressed upon her a certain respect for money, or at least for people who had respectable amounts of it. It’d been a few years since she paid much attention to the fashion industry, but she could still recognize a form-hugging shirt and trousers combination from Armani, a leather belt that had the emblem of Gucci worked into the shiny buckle, and leather Prada shoes.

Justin was no less well-dressed; the eye was simply first drawn to his companion. In fact, though this fair-haired person had all the prerequisite features, Frances found it hard to reconcile the teenaged boy she’d been envisioning in her head with the grown man standing there in front of them. Gone was the somewhat impatient energy always rolling off him, the edge of recklessness that had belied his movements as an adolescent; this Justin look more tempered, though no less sure, and he stood with a confidence and self-possession that he previously hadn’t had. With a twinge of regret, Frances realised that her favoured grandchild may be living only in her imagination by then.

“Grandma Frances,” he greeted her warmly before kissing her cheek, and the fact that he went to her first pleased her greatly, even though that was usually the normal procedure.

“Justin,” she smiled at him, gracefully returning the peck. “You look wonderful. You’re a grown man now!”

He laughed. “Yes, Grandma, I am.” He gestured for Brian to step closer. “This is Brian, Grandma. I’ve told you about him?”

Brian looked a bit startled to hear that he’d been spoken about. Up close, Brian’s features look no less refined, and added to that his considerable height, Frances sensed that this was a man capable of overpowering people when he needed to. The closer proximity also allowed her to sense a strong underlying sexuality in his body, though much restrained at the moment, and now that she could see the both of them very clearly the considerable age difference between was thrown into sharp relief.

Now, Jennifer at least was a grown woman able to make her own decisions, but Frances could just imagine a wide-eyed, angelic seventeen-year-old Justin encountering this gorgeous, predatory man in an innocuous stroll through town. “Yes,” she said simply, her mind on the incubi of classical myth as she shook his hand.

Brian clearly sensed her disapproval, and something sparked in his eyes. A quick glance at Justin, and he settled down; Justin bit his lip and seemed to be casting around for something to say. Frances’ displeasure at this tall stranger only mounted when she thought of how he was ruining her reunion with this man who claimed to be her grandson. As if to prove her point, instead of staying to talk to her Justin quickly excused himself and went to introduce Brian to the rest of the family.

#

Brian trailed after Justin as he went from relative to relative, restless and trying hide it. This was Justin’s show. Well, Justin and Jennifer’s. He felt uneasy in the unaccustomed role of tag-along, but he really had no right to complain after all the functions Justin had had to be in that position.

But, speaking of positions, damn was that sweet ass going to take a pounding later.

He was admiring said perky posterior when he felt eyes on him. Looking up, he saw that Justin was talking to a trio of kids who looked close to his age, and one of the guys was staring at him with disgust, eyes dark beneath big bushy eyebrows. Fighting the urge to flip him off, Brian just raised an eyebrow and stared at him in a way that Ted had once described as ‘really intimidating’ until he looked away.

“He’s totally hot,” he heard a cherry blond girl say quietly to Justin, his ears trained to pick up that sort of thing even in the middle of Babylon’s dance floor because such comments either referred to himself, or would direct him to a potential trick. But maybe it was more than his programmed ears- she looked directly at him as she said it, her eyes appreciative and inviting.

Brian felt like sighing. The girl had two big factors going against her- she was Justin’s cousin, and she was a she. Really, he felt a little embarrassed for her. Maybe determination against seemingly insurmountable odds was a genetic trait in Jennifer’s family.

“Tell me about it.” Justin was grinning, glancing at Brian. If he’d noticed the girl’s more than friendly look, he appeared quite amused by it. “So, Laura, you’re in your senior year, right? Any ideas about college?”

Someone bumped into Brian’s shoulder, pushing him back a bit. Now, Jennifer’s house had a pretty small living room, and with the number of people crammed in it right then it was totally plausible for it to have been accident. Only Brian had possessed finely tuned senses when it comes to body language and aggression, both from being gay in a straight world and growing up with a father who always knew, even when nearly passed out, where his belt was. And he knew that this was no accident.

“Oh, pardon me,” said the man who’d done it, looking not in the least bit sorry.

Brian didn’t want to cause a scene over something so trifle, so he just smiled unpleasantly down at the man. “No harm done.”

The man joined a women who was presumably his wife. Brian watched them for a moment, saw the way the man glanced meaningfully over his shoulder at him at Justin, saw cracked lips move only slightly, but enough to make out certain words that made Brian’s blood boil. He became aware of all the people around them, the glances and whispers, the thread of malice running behind crystal glasses and painted lips.

These people meant nothing to him, not directly. He barely remembered their names, though his was likely burned into their brains and tongues that night. But Justin knew them. Worse, they were Justin’s family. It would have been fine if it was just Brian they were judging- well, not fine, but tolerable, and in a way understandable, because he was a stranger here, more than a stranger- but they were sneering at Justin, too. Justin must have known, must have expected this, and brought Brian anyway- Brian really shouldn’t have been surprised. Justin had done it at seventeen, cast his lot in with Brian, in front of his own father; he probably never even had to think about whether he would be attending this dinner with Brian.

Brian wondered, struggling to keep down the bitter anger, if any of these people could appreciate how fucking brave Justin was, had had to be.

Justin was finishing up his conversation. They’d completed a circuit of the room, so there was no one left to go and talk to. Molly had made a round earlier, but quickly retreated to the kitchen on the excuse of having to help her mother. Smart kid. Brian felt like retreating somewhere, himself. because pretty soon, Justin would notice the looks, the whispers. Maybe he already had.

But for now, he was grinning brightly. “Cousins. You’d never believe what Jeremy- the guy with the bad hair- did to Leslie at a party two years ago. Leslie’s the one with the big eyebrows, by the way.”

“Is that what he says they are?” Brian made a face. Justin laughed and poked him in the ribs. “Seriously, I was half-expecting them to crawl off his face!” He caught Justin’s hand as the younger man tried to poke him again, and backed up until his back hit the wall, forcing Justin to follow him. To their right was the front door and the stairs leading up to the dining room and kitchen. From where he was Brian was facing the living room and most of the occupants. If anything the overall mood there was even less inviting, and Brian was the target of more than one dark look.

But that was all right. As long as Justin couldn’t see them.

“So,” he started, forcing himself to look at only Justin. Not the hardest thing in the world to do, and once immersed in those shining blue eyes, Brian found all the unspoken ill will in that warm room inconsequential.

#

Though the night was far from over, Jennifer nevertheless breathed out in relief when she finally managed to herd everyone into the dining room. Molly helped her carry the dishes to the table, and Tucker took charge of the roast chicken. The compliments started coming, about how good the food looked, but Jennifer’s eyes kept flickering worriedly at Brian and Justin sitting together near one end. Everyone had been courteous enough, but they also kept staring at them like they were a show. Jeremy, Marcia, Leslie and Laura, Justin’s cousins, didn’t even bother hiding the fact that they were discussing them. After he finished personally greeting everyone in the living room, Brian had taken Justin’s hand and pulled him off to stand on one side.

Fortunately, Brian and Justin were capable of shutting out the rest of the world when they were together, and were quite used to being gawked at, so they were soon quietly laughing and snickering in their own little bubble separate from everyone else. Jennifer noted that Brian kept Justin with his back turned to the rest of the family.

There was probably something symbolic in that. And maybe her family would read more into that than they should. But Jennifer recognized Brian’s first instinct- to protect Justin. She’d known it for a long time, maybe even before she learned of his secret, nightly vigils at the hospital, before he first said to her, “I care about him.” But the reminder sent a wave of warmth through her, followed by a sense of calm.

Sitting down while Tucker worked on the chicken with an electric cutter, she heard Rick finish asking Molly about school.

“Molly’s grown to be quite the lovely young lady,” commented Alan, causing Molly to blush.

Jean nodded over her mashed potatoes. “And Justin’s made quite a name for himself in New York. I was down at the Hilton for a meeting with a client-“ Jean’s a lawyer “- and they had two of your paintings in the lobby!”

Justin thought about it for a few seconds. “I think I remember that commission. I was already back here in Pittsburgh when I did those.”

“I saw an exhibition a couple of years ago, down in Chelsea.” Thomas joined in. “Excellent work, especially for someone so young. You must be really proud, Jenny,”

She smiled, happily sincere. “I am, thank you.”

“It’s just such a pity Justin won’t be giving you any grandchildren, Jenny,” Joyce cut in with an artful sigh. “Successful, good-looking, with a good family background, you wouldn’t have any trouble at all attracting a decent girl. Oh well, at least Molly’s still in the running.”

Sometimes it was painfully clear how far Jennifer had gone from the person that her family had known. “Justin is, as you said, successful, and furthermore in what he loves doing. And he’s with good person who cares about him. That’s a mother’s dream right there. As for Molly, all I’m concerned about is that finishes her education,” she said with a smile. “Beyond that, I think I’ll leave it up to Molly whether or not she wants to have kids.”

“But Jennifer,” said Rick. “Don’t you want grandchildren?”

“I’m not saying it won’t be nice,” Jennifer conceded. “But I’m not the one who’ll be carrying and raising the kid.”

She was rewarded with bright, beaming smiles from both her children.


Family Festivities (2/2) >>

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
moviebuff83
Feb. 16th, 2007 08:22 am (UTC)
I really loved this fic. I'm glad that Justins' grandmother is going to be more accepting. Aunt Joyce is a BITCH!!! A really great fic.

Hugs,
carlina
etharei
Feb. 17th, 2007 08:31 am (UTC)
Thank you very much, carlina! I'm flattered that you had such a response to the characters, as I'm always a little insecure about my OCs. I'm hoping to write more on this universe, so if you enjoyed Aunt Joyce and Grandma Frances then do keep an eye out for sequels :-)
aj_socks
Nov. 18th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
“It’s just such a pity Justin won’t be giving you any grandchildren, Jenny,” Joyce cut in with an artful sigh. “Successful, good-looking, with a good family background, you wouldn’t have any trouble at all attracting a decent girl. Oh well, at least Molly’s still in the running.”

This. This just.... I don't even know, but I've had that line about kids thrown at me soooo many times followed by "You're pretty, you'd have no problem finding a nice guy". Sometimes people have no idea how deep comments like that can cut.

On to the next chapter =D
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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