"Stand up." I commanded from my feet.
"No." He set his jaw and stared up at me defiantly.
"Stand. Up." I reached down and pulled him to his feet. That surprised him. He had a good six inches on me and another thirty pounds of muscle. I was never supposed to be able to pick him up. I was small. Elfish I think was the word used most often. I was not supposed to lift Justin from his seat and force him to stand on his own two feet. He showed his surprise for a split second before trying to sit back down.
My hands held his collar firm and wouldn't let him get any further than a partial squat. "Stand the fuck up." I growled, sounding way more calm than I actually was.
His feet took support under him and he snapped his jacket into position as I let go. "What?" Before the word left his mouth he'd assumed his cocky boy stance. The one that got him where he was. The same stance that proved that he hadn't yet grown up.
"Look me in the eye, Justin."
His eyes darted from the floor to a fleck on the wall behind me, barely missing my eyes.
I reached up, yes up, and turned his face to mine. "Look. At. Me. For fucking crying out loud Justin. Be a man and look me in the eye."
A soft breath escaped that might have been a sigh if Justin were brave. He stopped it midway between his throat and lips, then looked me in the eye. "I'm leaving Chris."
"Not yet you're not."
"I need to go."
I paused. He always needed to go. With Justin it was never halfway. It was all or nothing. He needed to go. "No. You need to tell me what this is all about."
"I'm going out by myself."
"Justin." I shook his head. He was never going to understand that through it all, I was the one in control. I gave him the illusion that he was the one making the decisions, but that was only because as a kid, he needed that. It backfired drastically. Thinking he was in control he assumed he had the upper hand. He had a lot of learning to do.
"I'm doing it on my own Chris." His eyes left mine for the space on the wall again. He was lying. "By myself. Without your help."
"Is that what you think?"
"It's what I know."
The final battle of our combined wills. A dangerous place to be. If anyone was just as pigheaded as me, it was Justin. I'd taught him well.
"Like that, huh?"
"I always gave you so much more than you deserved." I shook my head. Making eye contact him was a thing of the past. He wasn't man enough to face me and he wasn't man enough to admit anything he'd done was wrong.
He laughed shortly. One harsh "Ha" with the smirk he'd perfected in the studio on his own. When he really did have the power to say "Fuck off" and mean it. That shit didn't fly when he was around me. He knew that. At the moment he'd forgotten, but he knew. Deep inside he knew.
My hand slapping his cheek like a father would smack a child was enough to remind him. "You think you're all grown up?" I asked, trying to keep my surprised expression away from his suddenly aware eyes. "You think you're a man, Justin? You're not. You're a boy. You're a boy. A child. A toy."
I raised my hand to slap him again and he flinched. The six foot two man in front of me who could have pummeled me into the ground without thinking, if he had an ounce of scrap in him, flinched. His left eye, above the cheek I was aiming for, squinted slightly as his face turned a fraction of an inch. He flinched. But he was going to let me hit him.
He knew he deserved it. That's the only thing I can think of. Had he thought I was being unfair, he would have put his hand up to block the blow, and probably would have knocked my ass out. But he didn't.
"You're going to turn around and walk out that door." I stated it as a fact. I knew he was going to. And I wasn't going to stop him. But he needed to hear what I had to say first. To humble him. To make him know and understand everything I'd done for him.
His jaw twitched from side to side. He knew better than to respond.
"You're going to walk out and you're not coming back. No one no one, Justin makes a fool out of me. Least of all you." I bit the inside of my cheek hard enough to draw blood. "You've got a lot of damn nerve to think for one second that you could do that, then just walk away without repercussions."
"That's not how it works." I cut him off and narrowed my eyes at him. "You want to screw around and fuck everything that walks? Fine. Do it. I don't give a flying fuck who you screw Justin. Believe it or not, I don't. But you don't you do not flaunt it that way. In front of everyone that matters. You do not walk around like you own the place in my house. You do not bring your fucking teenage conquests into my house."
"I - "
"You just made a big mistake Justin."
"Chris, I -"
"We're done now. End of discussion. So turn around and walk out that door. Shut it tight behind you and don't even look back. You'll never see it again."
Justin's face fell. Realization flashed quickly. He'd gone too far. He saw that finally, when it was too late to take anything back.
"Take one last look Justin. Take a look at what you're leaving behind. The best lover you've ever had. The only person in the world who would put up with your childish bullshit. With a boy like you."
"You think pretty highly of yourself." His realization turned to bitterness as the true words sunk in.
"You're God damned right I do. I made you think you were a man. You're not. You're not man enough to satisfy anyone yet. Not even me. You're nothing but a toy. To me. To him. That's all you'll ever be Justin. Until you grow up." I was using words to wound his ego then. True or not, they hit home. He thought they were. That's what mattered. He thought I meant them. He never thought I could lie to him and it was obvious he still thought I couldn't.
He didn't say a word or move to go.
"Well?" I asked after three breaths. I nodded for the door and held my ground.
Justin pursed his lips so tight that they became white around the edges. Lips I'd once thought I would die for. He had something to say. I know he did. But he knew better than to say it. We were still on my turf. In my house. The moment of deception was too new. Brett, or Brad, whoever he was still stood in the other room.
"You've got exactly two minutes to leave." I held his stare and counted down silently. When a full minute had passed, he turned abruptly and walked out of the room. He shut the door tight behind him and I was left listening to his feet pound the cold tile to the front door.
A brief exchange took place between Justin and Joey. I couldn't make out the words but it was obvious that neither man was happy. The only words I heard clearly proved that neither of them wanted to deal with the other persons shit.
The front door slammed and shook the house to the foundation.
I stayed in the room. The door was shut against the voices of the three other men left in my house. None of whom would have any clue what to say when I opened the door. I prayed that they would all leave, but not the way Justin had. Justin sealed the fate of our relationship in under ten minutes. But he couldn't rock the brotherhood. They would stay until things were right enough for me to leave the room. They would take my side, because they felt wronged as well. It would be weeks. Months. Possibly years before we were all right again. Before Justin realized that he would never be anything more than a boy toy. To anyone but me.
And when he came back. I'd be there. Because I was in control. He'd be back.
Copyright © 2003, Amy Lynn
Inspired by track 3 on the Queer As Folk Season One soundtrack:
You Think You're A Man
Stand up like a man and look me in the eye
Take one final look at what you've left behind
Then walk away
From the greatest lover you have ever known
Yes, walk away
You're telling me that you can make it on your own
By yourself all alone, without my help
Mister, you just made a big mistake
You think you're a man but you're only a boy
You think you're a man. You are only a toy
You think you're a man but you just couldn't see
You weren't man enough to satisfy me
(Man - boy, man - boy)
Shut the door
Take a look around and tell me what you find
Shut the door
Take a giant step for you and all mankind
Then don't come back
I always gave you so much more than you deserve
Now don't come back
'Cause no one makes a fool of me
You've got a nerve to walk away
Mark the words I'm gonna say
Mister, you just made a big mistake
Shut the door
Take a look around and tell me what you find...