The minutes ticked by slowly, too slowly for Brian as he glanced at his watch, only ten minutes had gone by since the last time he’d looked.
“Fuck” he grumbled, couldn’t this fucking plane fly any faster? He turned his head to look out the small window, the landscape far below seemed to be playing peek-a-boo with the clouds just under the plane. The jet had been in the air for three and a half hours with still another estimated hour and a half to go and Brian had spent much of that time thinking about Justin.
He kept reliving the last time he’d seen the blond, they had all been at Jennifer’s after Molly’s disappearance and he had been standing with Justin when Mikey had come up to them saying he was going to take Deb home. Justin had urged Brian to go along for the ride…… ”Why don’t you go with them, you probably need a break.”
Brian hadn’t wanted to leave, but Justin had been right, he had needed a break. He remembered pausing at the door, turning to give Justin a small supportive smile before following Deb and Mikey out into the darkness.
He’d been kicking himself ever since, if he had stayed, he would have been with Justin when he had gotten the phone call, could have kept him from jumping on the first plane to LA, should have……….
“All those thoughts running through you’re head isn’t doing you a damn bit of good.”
Brian turned his head to glare at Steve in the seat opposite his. The man had tried to make small talk with the brunet earlier in the flight but Brian’s mind hadn’t been on conversation and the other man had seemingly given up. Now the back of Steve’s seat was pushed into a reclining position, his eyes were closed and one long leg was stretched out in the isle. Brian had thought he’d been asleep, but even as he watched, Steve lazily opened one eye and slightly turned his head in Brian’s direction; there was no sleep blurred look in the cold, clear eye staring back at him. Suddenly Steve opened the other eye and sat up, repositioning the seat into an upright position.
“You keep thinking those thoughts; they’re just going to drive you crazy!”
“Do they teach mind reading at the FBI academy now?” Brian asked, irritated that his thoughts had been interrupted.
Steve didn’t let the agitated tone get to him. He knew the frustration of not knowing what was happening to Justin right at this very moment was weighing heavy on Brian’s mind. He’d felt that way himself too many times, knew what the fear and worry of not knowing what was happening to a loved one felt like.
“Nope, just seen a lot of people go through the same thing you’re going through now….. If I had only been there or there had to have been something I could have done” Steve glanced over at Brian “sound about what’s going through your head right now?”
Brian sighed, knowing Steve was right “Yeah” the momentary aggravation of having his thoughts interrupted was gone, eased by the sound of Steve’s calm voice.
“There wasn’t anything you could have done Brian, you couldn’t have stopped him from going.”
“I know” Brian nodded, knowing Steve wasn’t saying something he hadn’t known already “you’re right, I know” he then glanced at the man “I thought you were asleep”
Steve let out a small derisive snort “I haven’t slept since I started looking for him.”
That’s when Brian noticed the small picture of Andrew in Steve’s hand. He had been so lost in his own thoughts and worry over Justin that he hadn’t noticed when Steve had retrieved the picture out to the briefcase that was now sitting on the seat next to him. The hazel eyes moved back to Steve’s face and Brian saw for the first time the haunted shadows in the other man’s eyes. There was something there and Brian wasn’t sure what it was but had a sudden feeling that the case of Glen’s missing ex boyfriend held a special significance for Steve. The other man was waging an inner battle with a demon he couldn’t exercise and Brian wondered if he and Steve had more in common then he thought, even though his ever present gay-dar had so far been quiet.
Brian slightly inclined his head at the picture “he’s more than just another case I take it”
Steve gave a small smile “he’s my brother, step brother actually” he answered, gazing fondly down at the small photograph “my mom died when I was just a baby and dad married his mom when I was six, Andy’s four years younger then I am.”
He looked back at Brian then “I have to find out what happened to him, this is tearing my parents up inside. My dad is holding up pretty good I think, but mom….” Steve shook his head turning and placing the picture back inside the briefcase then turned back to face Brian again “mom’s having a hard time with this, Andy’s her baby.”
“So that’s really why you’re here?”
“That’s why I’m here; Pete knows I’ve been looking for him”
Brian looked up toward the front of the plane where Pete was manning the controls “he’s a good friend.”
“Yes, he is” Steve answered. Brian watched the man turn and settle back into his seat and knew the rare moment was gone. He stood and stretched then moved up to the front of the plane.
Pete glanced over as Brian slid into the co-pilots seat “How are you holding up?”
Brian shook his head “I can’t stop thinking about him, in that fucking house, with that…” he stopped for a moment, running a hand wearily down his face “What was he thinking Pete, what the fuck was he thinking, why didn’t he tell me first?”
Pete sighed “I don’t know, but knowing what we know about Halbrook, I’m guessing either him or a member of his family threatened his mother, his sister or possibly even you.”
“Justin’s not the type to just go off without telling anyone” Brian said, leaning his head back on the headrest.
“I didn’t think he was” Peter said, his eyes back on the instrument panel in front of him “but for some reason he did and we have to find out why. Judging from what you told me about him, he seems to have a pretty level head on his shoulders”
“Most of the time”
“Like I told you before, we’ll get him back Brian” Pete took one hand off the throttle, giving a quick comforting squeeze to Brian’s shoulder “right now he’s got one thing going for him and that’s the fact that Glen has another buyer for that painting and needs it finished.”
“I don’t suppose you have any idea who the buyer is, do you?” Brian asked and was surprised to see a wide smile split Pete’s face.
“He’s one of us.”
Pete reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out his cell phone to turn it on after he had brought the plane to a stop next to the special hanger set aside for law enforcement at LAX. As soon as he turned it on the phone beeped letting him know a message was waiting, he recognized the number instantly, it was the other team that had followed Justin to Glen’s house. He shrugged out of his seat belt, glancing back to see both Steve and Brian unhooking theirs as well. Still watching as the two men stood and began to move around the cabin he returned the call.
Brian unstrapped one of the cases hanging on the back wall of the plane and handed it to Steve. As he turned he caught Pete’s eye, his long time friend was staring straight at him as he spoke softly into the phone then several seconds later disconnected the call.
“We gotta move boys” he said as he tossed Steve a look “get on the phone and get that car here now!”
As Steve pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, Pete motioned Brian to one side “that was the other team, Justin’s inside the house. Our man on the inside said Justin’s fine for now but doesn’t know for how long, he thinks Glen is about to crack.”
If Steve noticed Brian’s suddenly pale face, he didn’t mention it as he stepped up beside them.
“Cars’ waiting outside”
As the three raced down the steps to the waiting car only one thought was going through Brian’s mind………. hang on sunshine, I’m coming.
Justin felt Molly’s tears soaking through his shirt and had to hold back a few of his own as he felt the tremors racking her small frame. She had been sitting on the bed when Glen had opened the door; shoving him inside with a snarled “you have ten minutes”. Molly had taken one look at him before breaking into heartrending sobs and racing across the room, flinging herself into his arms even before Glen had shut the door behind him.
Finally with a small hiccup she pulled back slightly, lifting a hand to swipe at her tear blurred eyes “I’m so sorry, Jus. He made me call”
Justin smiled and replied “its okay Mol” he replied cupping one side of her tear blotched face tenderly in one hand “he didn’t hurt you did he?” he asked.
Molly shook her head “no, I’m okay.”
He nodded and took a quick glance around the room as he took her hand, leading her back to the bed where she had been sitting when he’d come in. The room was sparsely furnished, holding just a small bed, nightstand, a small empty bookshelf and a dresser.
As they sat down he placed an arm across her shoulders hugging her against him and gave a faint smile as the girl returned the gesture.
“How’s mom?” Molly asked.
“She’s okay, worried about you” he replied, resting his chin on top of her strawberry blond head “and me too now.”
Molly looked up at him and Justin found himself staring into a pair of blue eyes so much like his own “but, Brian’s coming right? He’ll get us out of here.”
Justin had to smile at the confidence his sister had in Brian, to her the man could move mountains and part oceans but knew his next words weren’t going to make her feel better.
Justin shook his head “Brian doesn’t know” he stopped and closed his eyes for a moment; as thoughts of the dark hared lover he’d left back in Pittsburgh threatened to bring him to his knees “I didn’t tell him.”
Molly sat up and looked at him like he’d lost his mind “you didn’t tell him?”
Justin stubbornly pushed all thoughts of Brian out of his mind as he turned to face his sister; there would be plenty of time to think of the taller man later. He had to concentrate on Molly right now.
“Molly listen, we don’t have much time here, okay?” he said urgently and waited until she nodded her head “When I got the call, Glen warned me not to tell him or anyone else, he said you were both dead if I did. I didn’t ….I couldn’t take that chance”
Justin pleaded with her to understand, he loved them both so much and would do everything in his power to keep them from getting hurt even if it meant sacrificing his own life.
Finally she nodded “What do we do now?” She asked in a small voice.
“I don’t know yet, but I’ll get you out of here” Justin answered “I promise”
“How did you wind up with Glen?”
Justin reached for her hand and gave a gentle squeeze when a slight tremble went through her; he knew the kidnapping had been a frightening experience and talking about it wasn’t easy for her.
“Mom had just dropped me off at school. I watched her drive away then turned to go in the building. I had almost reached the steps and then suddenly Glen was right there in front of me” she hitched in a breath as the tears welled up in her eyes again “he said, your going to help me get that asshole back where he belongs” she looked at Justin “I told him to go screw himself and tried to go around him. He grabbed my arm and opened his jacket enough for me to see a gun shoved into his pants. I was so scared Jus.”
She looked at him as a tear began to trickle down her face “he made me go with him, I didn’t want to but he told me he would shoot anybody that tried to help me if I screamed, so I just went with him.”
Justin wrapped his arms around her while she cried on his shoulder, vowing that if it was the last thing he ever did, he’d see her safely back in their mother’s arms.
Glen mentally gave himself a pat on the back as he approached the door to Molly’s room. Ten thousand dollars was an extraordinary amount for the painting but, being the fool that Joshua was, the other man hadn’t so much as blinked an eye when Glen had named his price, and had readily agreed that the sum would be paid in brand new, one hundred dollar bills. A self satisfied smile crossed his face as he rubbed his hands together gleefully; he could almost feel the crisp green papers filling his hand.
As he reached the door he grabbed the handle and unceremoniously flung it open, allowing it to bang loudly on the wall, smiling mirthlessly as the two young blonds inside jumped at the sound.
“Times up my love” Glen said, smirking at the way the color drained from Justin’s face. Without sparing so much as a glance in Molly’s direction he stalked into the room and grabbed Justin’s arm, yanking his captive off the bed. Justin winced as Glen’s hand tightened on the already forming bruise left there when he had been hauled roughly into the house earlier.
“NO. Justin…..” Molly cried, launching herself at her brother and locking her small arms around his waist. Justin gave her a quick hard hug with his free arm as Glen looked on, then tiring of her sniveling; Glen jerked him away and proceeded to pull him towards the door, leaving a sobbing, broken hearted girl standing in the middle of the room.
As he was propelled down the hallway Justin glanced over at his ex as Glen snarled at him “The painting is in your room, I suggest you get started immediately”
Glen jerked him to a stop in front of a door Justin recognized as the door to the spare bedroom he’d once used as a studio. Opening it Glen looked at him “Use the time wisely Justin, I may go easy on your punishment if you do”
Before Justin had a chance to reply, Glen pushed him inside and closed the door, taking care to lock the newly installed locking knob, he didn’t want his prize getting out and wandering the halls when he was amusing himself elsewhere. Justin looked around, before where there had been canvases of all sizes, paints, brushes and other various supplies lining the walls now there was only an easel with a large canvas sitting on it, a small table that held his paints and brushes and a chair against one wall.
Glen walked back to the spacious front room and over to the liquor cabinet, pouring himself a generous amount of brandy from the decanter sitting on top. As he turned he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the large mirror hanging over the huge fire place built into the opposite wall. He smiled and raised his hand in a silent toast, laughing lightly while the image in the mirror did the same.
He raised the glass to his lips, taking a swallow while he walked to his favorite chair and sat down. Despite his earlier intent of having Justin share his bed at night, he was beginning to rethink his plan. He was still angry enough that he knew once he had Justin in his bed he wouldn’t be able stop with just a mere fuck, and while he resented the boundaries Joshua had put on him concerning the blond, he was perceptive enough to know that Joshua would want to see and talk to Justin before he paid Glen any money. As much as he disliked the idea, Justin would have to remain virtually untouched until the painting was finished, but, that didn’t mean he couldn’t have some fun with his reclaimed lover in the meantime.
Still lost in thought Glen’s mind switched over to the other male “guest” he had stashed away in the hidden room behind the walk in closet in his bed room. He absentmindedly swirled the amber liquid slowly around in the glass as he pondered the situation.
Andrew was another matter altogether, now that he had Justin back under his control, Andrew would just have to disappear, this time for good. He knew he couldn’t return the red head to the man he’d initially given him to when he and Justin had first gotten together. The man had been a client at Mason Inc. and had taken an interest in Andrew when he had first seen him, claiming the red head matched his own fiery nature. Glen huffed out an amused laugh, Andrew had proven to be too much for the man, fighting him at every twist and turn and the man had shown up on his doorstep one day with Andrew in tow, demanding that Glen take him back. He had and in the six weeks that Andrew had been in his home he had taken great pleasure in teaching the bitch the error of his ways.
A plan began to take root in his mind, a plan so deliciously brilliant that he was surprised he hadn’t thought of it earlier. He quickly knocked back the remaining brandy and sat the glass on the small table next to the chair and stood, the smile on his lips not quite reaching his eyes as he started down the hallway.
Maybe it was time Justin and Andrew met.