Love Potion #9:
Michael sighed and looked down at the cool beer in front of him, tuning out Brian's bitchiness and wondering what had set him off this time.
Swirling the bottle slowly, he watched the condensation form temporary designs on the bar top. He'd been looking forward to tonight all day, because it had been close to week since he'd seen Brian. Between Brian's workload, Michael's relationship with David, and the Boy Wonder they hadn't had more than five seconds together since last Friday.
But now he was almost wishing that Brian hadn't made it to Woody's tonight. Almost, because even an obnoxious Brian was better than no Brian. Just...would it have killed him to act like he actually wanted to be here? Instead, anyone would get the impression that hanging out with his best friend was something Brian had been forced to endure upon pain of death.
And, by the looks on their faces, he was certainly making Emmett and Ted wish that he'd opted for death.
Things had been so much better before that blond twink had shown up. If he'd just get the hint and get lost all ready then Brian wouldn't be so moody all the time and they'd be able to enjoy their time together without that kid hovering over them, forcing himself on Brian -- making Brian dance with him, tricking Brian into spending time with him, manipulating Brian into fucking him.
He sighed again and forced his mind away from his least favorite topic and tried to think of something to say or do that wouldn't piss Brian off, so that they could actually enjoy themselves tonight.
"Brian...," he started to say, but was interrupted by the object of his malevolence.
"Hey, guys," Justin said and slid in between Brian and Michael, forcing Michael to shift backwards and nearly fall off his bar stool.
Once he'd righted himself he said, "Watch it, asshole," to Justin's back.
Justin grinned over his shoulder and said, "Sorry," in a tone of voice that showed he was anything but.
Justin turned his complete attention back to Brian. "Hey."
Brian ignored him. Pushing away from the bar, he said, "I've had about as much of this place as I can stand," and headed for the door.
Justin followed after him like a lovesick puppy dog. "Great. I can't wait to get out on the dance floor," he said and swiveled his hips, moving to non-existent music.
"Nobody invited you, so why don't you go home. Oh, wait. You can't; your parents kicked you out."
Justin ignored him, like usual, but Brian glared at him and Emmett let out a gasp.
"Michael, that was an awful thing to say," Emmett said, then went over to Justin and wrapped an arm around Boy Wonder's shoulders. "You just ignore him, sweetie, he's a bit grumpy tonight." He looked over at Brian for a second and said, "They both are. Maybe it's that time of the month?"
"Not wanting to spend time with you losers does not mean I'm in a bad mood; it means that I have good taste," Brian said as he removed Emmett's arm from Boy Wonder and tugged the kid up against his chest.
Michael scowled at Justin's back. Apparently, whatever little difference of opinion had set Brian off this time was now forgiven. It was disgusting. Kid wasn't here five minutes and he was already manipulating Brian, making him do things he didn't want to do, because there was no way he'd want to act like a possessive boyfriend if he was thinking straight.
Michael caught Justin's cheeky grin and gritted his teeth. Why did Brian let Justin get away with mocking him like that? Couldn't he see what was going on?
"Aren't they just too cute, Emmett? Like a real couple," Michael said, knowing full well that it would be like waving a red flag at a bull.
"Shut the fuck up, Michael. I am not cute and I don't do relationships," Brian said and gave Justin a light shove then turned away, walking out of the bar without another word.
Michael smirked at Justin, but the kid didn't seem to notice. He started to follow Brian out the door, but Michael stopped him with a hand on his arm.
"Are you a masochist or are you just too stupid to figure it out. He doesn't love you. He won't ever love you. Give it up already and go back where you belong."
Justin shrugged him off and scowled at him. "You don't know him as well as you think you do, Michael. He cares about me. A lot."
"It's not bullshit and you'd know that if you weren't so deeply in denial. You're the one that he's never going to love, at least, not in the way you want him to. You're the one who should give up and go home to David."
Michael clenched his hand into a fist.
"Uh, boys," Emmett said and stepped between them. "Maybe we should calm down a little. Unless you want to be the evening's entertainment for all the queers on Liberty?"
Michael looked around and saw that nearly everyone in the bar was watching them, but found it hard to care. He turned back to his nemesis to find that Justin was leaving.
"Hey," he said and started to go after him, but was stopped by Ted.
"Let it go."
"I..." Michael looked into Ted's sad brown eyes and felt his anger draining away. "I just want it to be the way it was before he showed up."
"I know," Ted said, "But, it can't. And you've got David now."
"Yeah," Michael said with a sigh, but he'd drop David in a minute if he ever got the chance to be with Brian -- his first love, his true love.
"Let's go to Babylon. Drown our sorrows in loud music, watered down drinks, and hot, sweaty men," Emmett said with an uneasy grin and steered Michael out onto the street.
But, they'd barely made it down the steps before Michael came to a halt. "You guys go on without me." He couldn't bear the thought of watching Boy Wonder hanging all over Brian and acting like they were lovers. He'd either puke or strangle the twat.
"Are you sure?" Emmett asked.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Michael said and tried to look reassuring.
Neither Ted nor Emmett looked convinced, but after trading a look they let it go, saying goodbye and heading off to dance and, if they were lucky, fuck the night away.
Michael watched them go then turned and began walking listlessly down the street. Eyes downcast, he just let his feet take him where they would.
He didn't know how long he'd been walking when he heard a vaguely familiar voice say, "You didn't take my advice, did you?"
"What?" He stopped and turned in the direction of the voice. "What advice?" He said as he got a look at the speaker. It was Mysterious Marilyn, the one who had warned them about the flat tire they would have on their road trip and seemed to know that Brian was his one true love.
"I told you that he was a bad bet, but you didn't listen."
"Brian's...This is none of your business."
Marilyn held up her hands in surrender. "Suit yourself, but I might be able to help you. If you'll let me."
"Why don't you step inside," Marilyn said and gestured towards the open doorway behind her.
Michael looked at the building for the first time and realized that it was some kind of mystical/witchcraft shop. He stood on the sidewalk for a moment, unsure. Did he really think that Mysterious Marilyn could whip up some magic potion to make Brian admit to his feelings for Michael?
Marilyn had disappeared inside the store by the time he decided that it sure as hell couldn't hurt and she had known an awful lot about what was going to happen to them on that unfortunate road trip.
He stepped through the front door and into what looked like a convenience store. It was brightly lit with fluorescent lights and filled with metallic shelves and racks. The shelves were either covered in bottles and small containers or books of various thicknesses and design. There were some colorful scarves at the front of the store, near the register. The front counter was made of glass and chrome and contained a large ornate dagger, an old-looking deck of oversized tarot cards, and a small statue of a dragon made out of what looked like lead.
Marilyn was standing behind the counter waiting for him. "So, you decided to accept my help, hmm?"
"Yeah, sure," Michael said distractedly. He began to wander up and down the aisles, picking up random items and studying the labels.
He chuckled over the Fast Money Potion that "Smells like money" and wondered whether the protection oil could be used to keep a house safe from annoying teenagers, but what really caught his attention was the love potion.
He pulled it off the shelf and gave the semi-transparent brown bottle a little shake. Unlike a lot of the other items in the store, the small white label wrapped around it didn't say much -- just the name, "Love Potion #9", and a short blurb.
"Famed in song and story, those that taste this elixir will find their heart's truth and remove all obstacles to love's final reward," he read out loud and felt a thrill of excitement run through his body. Could it really be true? Could this small bottle finally cut through all the bullshit and allow Brian to finally admit his love for Michael.
"I see you've found the romance section," Marilyn said as she leaned over his shoulder to see what had caught his attention.
"Does it really work?"
"Oh, yes. It's completely fool proof, provided the proper ingredients are added."
"Ingredients? Isn't it already pre-mixed? Michael asked, looking at the label again. "It doesn't say anything about additional ingredients."
"That's because this isn't something for the uninitiated to mess around with," Marilyn said and removed the bottle from Michael's hand. "This is powerful magic, my friend. It can tear lives apart, destroy friendships and families, and break hearts."
Michael frowned. "I thought it was supposed to bring people together."
"It does, but it only brings together those that truly love each other. We often fool ourselves into believing that lust or comfort is love and one sip of this will permanently destroy that illusion.
"You'd best be sure that you're Brian's true love or he'll be lost to you forever, because he will never be able to live within a comfortable facsimile of love; he'll have the real thing or he'll have nothing. Can you imagine how that would affect someone who's already married? What if they had children?
"It's best that only a very few know the missing ingredient."
"I guess so, but I still want to try it. Brian and I were meant for each other; I know it."
Marilyn looked deeply into his eyes for several long moments, as if she was reading his very soul. Finally, she nodded and said, "Very well. I will sell it to you, but be prepared for the consequences of your actions, Michael."
"I am," Michael said and smiled at Marilyn. If this worked then he'd not only be rid of that annoying pest, but he'd finally have Brian for his very own.
He couldn't wait. Feeling positively giddy, he followed Marilyn to the register and waited impatiently while she rang up the sale. After he'd paid, she placed the potion in a small brown paper bag and reached for a piece of thick, ivory paper the size of a business card.
In a dark, flowing script she began to write at the same time as she spoke. "I'm writing this down so that you won't forget, although it's really quite simple. Well, the directions are simple, actually acquiring the final ingredient might not be."
"What do you mean," Michael asked and leaned over a bit, trying to read what she had written.
Marilyn finished and slid the card in with the bottle and handed Michael the bag. "The final ingredient is a single drop of blood or another bodily fluid from the one that will be given the potion."
"Blood?" Michael asked and grimaced. Gross. And how was he going to get some of Brian's blood?
"Or another bodily fluid, like sweat or saliva or cum."
"Cum?" Now that was a strong possibility. It should be easy enough to slip into Brian's loft after he had left in the morning and collect a used condom. "How fresh does it have to be?"
"Less than twenty-four hours old."
"Good. That's perfect."
"Mix it into the potion and then get Brian to drink it. It's odorless and tasteless, so the easiest way is to mix it into a drink."
"How will I know it's working and how long will it take?"
"It should begin to work almost immediately. If you've followed the directions correctly, Brian will feel dizzy for a few moments and may develop a mild fever. This will pass within moments. After that, you'll know it worked in one of two ways: he'll make a clear and lasting commitment to his true love or he'll simply no longer seek gratification in sex the way he does now."
"What does that mean?" Michael asked.
"It means he'll stop tricking."
"Really. Now go and don't come crying to me if you don't like what you get."
"If this doesn't work..."
"It will," Marilyn said and disappeared through an open doorway behind the counter.
Michael looked down at the bag clutched tightly in his hand and licked his lips nervously. Could he really go through with this ridiculous scheme? If the others knew what he was contemplating...
He shook his head and walked out onto the still busy street. It might be ridiculous and desperate, but at this point he was willing to try anything once. He loved Brian too much to leave him at the mercy of that clingy, selfish adolescent.
Two days later he was ready to put his plan into action. He'd slipped into Brian's loft that morning and removed a filled condom from the basket in the bathroom. It seemed the best place to get the freshest sample, since it likely came from a morning fuck in the shower. (He'd seen Justin and Brian leaving together from his vantage point across the street and they'd both had that well-fucked glow that was too fresh to be left over from the night before.)
The written instructions Mysterious Marilyn had provided said that he only needed to put a teaspoonful into Brian's drink, so he'd only mixed up a small portion of the potion, just in case the sperm was too old.
But he was really hoping to get it done tonight. He couldn't wait for Brian to take him back to the loft and lead him over to that big, inviting bed, lay him down and...
The clink of bottles pulled him out of his daydream and back to the reality of Woody's. He tossed some money onto the bar, took a few deep breaths to calm his suddenly racing heart and gathered up the two bottles of Sam Adams. Twisting slightly, he hid his movements from the rest of the bar with his back and carefully poured the mixed portion of Marilyn's love potion into one of the bottles.
Being careful to keep track of which bottle was which, he rejoined Brian at the pool table and handed him the adulterated bottle.
Brian placed it onto the edge of the table and Michael just barely stopped himself from saying something. His nerves were completely fried and he wanted this to be over with already.
He wiped sweaty palms on his pants and waited for Brian to finish making his shot. When the ball slipped into its hole, he groaned. He'd be waiting all night at this rate.
Brian grinned at him and said, "Don't worry, Mikey. You'll get a turn. Eventually."
Normally, Michael would have made a snarky comment, but he was too nervous to do more than roll his eyes.
Then he got lucky. Brian grabbed his beer and took a deep swallow of the cold brew. Michael let out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding and nearly bounced with happiness.
Any minute now...
And then he showed up to ruin everything. Before Michael knew what had happened Justin had sidled up to Brian, said, "Hey," with a wide grin then took the beer out of Brian's hand and drank down several swallows before Brian took it away.
"Get your own, brat," Brian said with a smirk.
"Can't," Justin replied with a coy look and leaned back against the pool table, "I'm underage." He shifted on his perch to display his ripe, young body more effectively and Michael watched Brian's eyes dilate with lust.
You may be able to arouse him, but then so can all the pretty boys in Pittsburgh. You aren't the one he loves and you never will be.
And tonight would be the night when Justin would learn that simple truth once and for all.
Michael watched Brian move in on Justin, pressing up against the kid, hands still full of a pool cue and the half finished beer. Justin hooked his legs around Brian's thighs and for a single horrifying moment Michael was certain that they were going to fuck right there and then. But, then the moment passed and Brian moved away.
He tossed the cue onto the felt, knocking several balls out of place, and finished his beer in two deep swallows. He took a few steps backwards and arched an eyebrow. "You cuming?" He said to Justin, who immediately scrambled up off the pool table.
Michael couldn't believe it. "Brian, what the fuck? You're just going to leave me here for...for...him?"
Brian didn't even look away from the kid when he said, "Go home to your hubby, Michael. Maybe you'll get lucky, too."
"Fuck," Michael said and could feel tears welling up in his eyes. Brian was supposed to be his by now. Instead he was leaving for the loft with that fucking whore. It wasn't fair.
Wallowing in self-pity, it wasn't until he saw Justin stumble that he realized the potion had finally begun to work. Only it was working on the wrong person.
Brian watched Justin walk towards him and worked hard to contain his grin. If he was going to break his rules, at least he had the good sense to break them with a kid that was very nearly as hot as he was. Justin Taylor was a walking wet dream and he wasn't kidding when he said he was good at sucking dick.
He was probably the best that Brian had ever had. At least, he couldn't remember anyone else who could compare -- and not just when it came to blow jobs. Justin was insatiable and barely seemed to have a refractory period.
He could even get Brian to bottom. And love it. Though, not very often. Brian hated not being the one in control, but, somehow, with Justin, it was OK to let go every once in a while.
He was busy deciding what to do with Justin first when he saw Justin stop walking and close his eyes, raising his hand to his forehead.
"Justin," he said and moved to Justin's side. Concerned, Brian put his hand on Justin's arm when he swayed, but wasn't prepared for him to collapse. He quickly lowered Justin to the floor before he lost his grip and tried to keep from panicking.
"Justin," he said, but with more urgency this time and reached out to pat Justin's cheeks, like some moron. Needless to say, Justin didn't miraculously awaken, but Brian did notice that he was burning up with fever. He couldn't believe how suddenly this had come on; a few seconds ago Justin was fine and now he was crumpled on the floor, unconscious and feverish.
He looked up, searching for Michael, wanting to tell him to call for an ambulance. As soon as he spotted his friend he opened his mouth to speak, but couldn't get his throat to work at first.
He saw the look of shock and horror on Michael's face and didn't think there was anything sinister about Michael's expression, until he began to babble frantically.
"This can't be happening. This can't be happening."
Someone to his left said, "An ambulance is on its way."
He nodded his head in acknowledgement, but didn't take his eyes off Michael.
"She didn't say anything about passing out. He wasn't..."
Without conscious thought, Brian launched himself at Michael. He wrapped his hands in the collar of Michael's shirt and began to shake him violently. He would have wrapped his hands around Michael's throat, but somewhere in the deep recesses of his rational mind, he knew that Michael couldn't tell him what he'd done to Justin if he couldn't breathe.
"What did you give him, Michael? What did you do?"
Michael's face started to turn red and he began to claw frantically at Brian's hands. Suddenly, Brian was ripped away from him by several of the bar's patrons and he struggled against their constricting grip.
"Calm down," someone said.
"Brian," Michael croaked out between gasped breaths, eyes pleading and desperate.
Brian didn't feel moved in the slightest.
Everything had changed in an instant. A few minutes ago the thought that he could ever hate Michael would have been inconceivable, but now...Now Justin was hurt at Michael's hands. Now he might lose the man who had managed to make his fucked up life something more than bearable and it was Michael's fault.
How could he not hate the man who may have cost him a future happiness that he hadn't thought possible until he was faced with the possibility of losing it?
"If he dies, I'll kill you," Brian said, barely managing to get out the "d" word.
Michael flinched away from the venomous words and curled in on himself. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen."
Brian heard a soft moan from behind him and he immediately shook off the hands that were holding him to return to Justin's side.
He looked into befuddled blue eyes and took Justin's hand in his. "Bri...," Justin said and looked around in confusion. "What happened?"
"Oh, that must be why the room is spinning?"
"There's an ambulance coming."
"Ambulance? No," Justin said and struggled to sit up, "I don't need an ambulance."
He finally made it upright with Brian's help and took in the crowd gathered around him. He turned his face into Brian's shoulder and said, "Everyone's staring at me," in a quiet shaky voice.
Brian chuckled, but there was very little humor in it. "If you don't want people staring then you shouldn't pass out in the middle of a crowded bar."
"I'll remember that for next time," Justin said, voice sounding stronger and more steady.
Brian tightened his grip on Justin and said, "There better not be a next time, Sunshine."
At which point the EMT's arrived and began to check Justin over.
Several hours, a shit-load of tests, and a pair of hysterical mothers later, Brian and Justin arrived back at the loft without any idea of what had caused Justin's collapse. By the time they'd gotten to the hospital, Justin's fever had broken and the dizziness had passed. All the tests they'd run had come up negative. If it wasn't for Michael's break down at Woody's, he would have dismissed the whole thing as low blood sugar or exhaustion.
But, Michael had made it clear that he'd done something to Justin and Brian was going to find out what.
Michael waited until David had finally fallen asleep before slipping out of bed and into the guest bedroom. He opened the closet door and reached up for the shoe box on the shelf above the clothing rack. He felt around in the dark for a moment before getting a secure grip and then carefully pulled it down. A few more minutes of fumbling and he'd retrieved the tiny bottle that he'd hidden there earlier and returned the box to its place in the closet.
After closing the closet door, doing his best to not make a sound, he returned to the master bathroom, closed and locked the door, then turned on the light. If David woke, he'd think Michael was heeding the call of nature; he wouldn't have any reason to think that Michael was busy getting rid of incriminating evidence.
Once his eyes had adjusted to the light, he looked at the innocuous looking liquid. Marilyn had warned him, hadn't she. "Be prepared for the consequences," she'd said, but he hadn't. He hadn't been at all prepared for Justin to drop like a puppet with its strings cut or for Brian to go ballistic.
It had never occurred to him that Brian would care that much, that Brian might actually...love Justin.
Well, he'd had his eyes opened tonight -- in more ways than one.
Not only had Brian freaked big time over the thought of losing Justin, but for the potion to have had an affect on Justin the sperm in the condom Michael had grabbed had to have been his. Not Brian's. And, to Michael's way of thinking, that could only mean one thing.
Brian had bottomed for Justin.
Brian never bottomed. Ever. For him to let Justin top him...he had to have an incredible amount of trust in Justin. He wouldn't have that kind of trust in a trick, so Justin had to be more than a trick -- a lot more.
He'd been fooling himself and what was worse he'd known he was fooling himself. He wouldn't have felt so threatened by Justin unless he'd known that Justin was special.
Brian was in love. And it wasn't with him.
Choking back a sob, he opened the bottle in his hand and began to pour its contents down the drain. When it was finally empty he tossed it into the trash. He stumbled backwards until he hit the wall and slid down onto the floor.
Wrapping his arms around his upraised legs he pressed his face against his knees and finally released the tears that had been hovering since Justin had arrived at the bar.
Because of his obsession and selfish jealousy, he'd done something inexcusable and lost the one thing he'd always had with Brian, something that meant the world to him -- his friendship.