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Justin opened his eyes slowly.
It was only beginning to get light out. Soon the C.O.'s would make their way down the tiers, racking the doors and calling for the men to wake up and prepare for morning headcount.
It was already uncomfortably warm in the small cell, one of those early September mornings that was as humid as July. But Justin wasn't about to move yet, not matter how warm he was. No, he wasn't going to move until he had to.
Justin was in his usual place, wedged between the brick wall of the cell and the hot, sweaty body of his cellmate. His jocker. His daddy. His lover. His everything.
Justin sighed and held tightly to the man. If anyone had told him a year and a half ago that he would be in a medium security state prison in bed with a convicted murderer Justin would have assumed that person was crazy.
And if that same person had told Justin that he would be happier than he had ever been in his life, he would have known that person was definitely crazy.
But it was true. Against all odds and all expectations, Justin Taylor was happy.
Justin let his hand play softly up and down Brian's chest as it rose and fell in a deep sleep. The hair between his nipples was light brown and silky. Justin pulled gently at a strand, feeling the soft dampness of it.
There wasn't an inch on that long body that Justin didn't know intimately. Know and love intensely. Every hair. Every mole. Every scar. Brian's tattoo. The slight nick in the ridge around the head of his beautiful cock. Justin often touched that nick with his tongue while he was sucking Brian. It was a tiny imperfection that, along with all the other slight imperfections, made Brian even more perfect in Justin's eyes.
Even Brian's knife scar, an angry, jagged trail that was still red and raised along Brian's left side, was more a badge of honor than a defect. Because Justin knew how Brian had gotten it. He'd been stabbed defending his punk. His cellmate. His lover. Justin. And to Justin it was a beautiful thing. The mark of a warrior. Of a man.
Brian sighed in his sleep and turned, reaching automatically for Justin.
Justin didn't need to ask Brian if he loved him. Justin understood how difficult it was for Brian to put his feelings into language. Understood how much words had cost Brian in the past. Those very words -- I love you -- had cost Brian his freedom. And almost cost him his life and his soul.
But Justin never doubted what Brian felt about him. Never for a single moment. It was in everything he said and everything he did, every single day in the Quad. It was in that scar and the wound that had almost taken Brian's life. It was in the way Brian touched him. The way Brian watched over him and kept him safe.
And the way that Brian had been given back to Justin. That was the most amazing thing of all. That was a gift. And Justin vowed that he would never waste that precious gift.
Justin put his hand under the worn sheet and held Brian's morning hard-on. It was firm and long and pulsed in Justin's hot hand like a heartbeat. Both men were already drenched in sweat. It would be another sweltering, airless day in the Stanton Quad.
"That feels great," Brian mumbled, just rousing out of his sound sleep. There was nothing like waking up to a loving hand on your dick.
Justin grinned. "I can't keep away from it. It's like my hand has a life of its own and it wants to stroke you and squeeze you more than it wants to do anything else!"
"Your hand is very smart," said Brian, sleepily. "And talented, too!"
"If you think my hand is talented, wait until you feel my mouth," Justin whispered.
Justin lowered his voice because he heard one of the C.O.'s walking back up the tier close to their cell. Most of the guards ignored sex between prisoners unless it was too loud or too blatant. Otherwise the Administration seemed to feel that it kept tensions down among the inmates. Better to have the inmates paired up and furtively screwing than to have them angry, horny, and fighting with each other. Only a few of the more rigid C.O.'s routinely wrote up hooked-up couples for fucking quietly in their own cells -- and those guards tended not to last very long up on the tiers.
Brian closed his eyes and let the sweet sensation wash over him as Justin sucked him deeply and expertly. He came as quickly and as noiselessly as he could and then pulled Justin up against him to kiss his plush pink lips. There would only be a few more minutes of peace before the two would have to get up and dress for morning headcount. Then there was breakfast and the work of the day -- Brian to the Law Library and Justin to his classes over in the Administration Building. Then afternoon headcount at 4:00, dinner, TV and recreation in the evening, evening headcount at 10:00, and lights out at 11:30. Brian and Justin would have a good, long fuck in the dark after the lights were dimmed, and then they'd fall into an exhausted sleep. And the whole routine would begin again the next morning. That was the rhythm of Stanton Quad. The rhythm of their lives.
And they were content with it. More than content. Novelty brought disruption. And disruption brought trouble. And danger.
Both Brian and Justin had had enough disruption and danger in the past few months to last them a lifetime. Now all they wanted was a little peace and quiet. To be left alone. To have their cell and their work and their food. To have time to be together. And to forget that anyone else existed.
"Get a move on!" yelled the C.O., rapping his baton against the door of cell E-320. "Headcount in five minutes!"
But other people did exist, both in the Quad and in the world. And that's where the trouble always came from. From somewhere else.
From forces that were always intruding on Brian and Justin's little circle of two.
But in the meanwhile, there was one more minute when they could hold each other.
"Babydoll," said Emmy, taking Justin by the arm. "Don't you think that you better stop and consider before you do this? Because I don't think your man is going to like it one little bit!"
"I have been thinking about it, Em," Justin countered. "In fact, I've been thinking about it all summer. And I want to do it! I'm sure!"
"A punk doesn't do things without his daddy's permission, honey," Em warned. "It's not right."
Justin smiled slyly. "What's Brian going to do to me, Em? Kick my ass?"
But Emmy didn't smile back. "He could. Brian won't, of course, because he could never lay a hand on you in anger. But he might lose face with the other jocks if you do something that they know Brian doesn't like. They might see it as not keeping a firm hand on you. It's never a good idea to make waves, Justin. I would think that you, of all people, would know that."
"Our relationship isn't like that, Em, and you know it!" Justin huffed. "Brian doesn't order me around. We're equals!"
But Emmy shook her head sadly. "You can say that all you want, princess, but there's no such thing as equals between a punk and a jock in the Quad. It upsets the natural order of things. Next thing you know queens will be thinking that they're men and punks will be wanting to fuck their daddies! All hell would break loose in Stanton and then where would we all be?"
Justin bit his tongue when Em mentioned punks wanting to fuck their daddies. It was one of Brian and Justin's most closely kept secrets that Brian let his punk top him on special occasions. And if that were to be known by the other jockers, Brian might well lose his status as a man in the Quad. No matter how well-liked Brian was by the other jocks, a man couldn't play the woman's part and still be a man. So Justin stayed quiet about that and told no one. But then Brian and Justin had many secrets that they didn't share with anyone else in Stanton Correctional Facility for Men.
"Do you have the fee with you, honey?" asked Emmy as they climbed the down to the first tier.
"Yup," said Justin. "Twenty cigarettes, ten Hershey bars, and five packs of gum. Do you think that's a fair price? It seems like a lot of swag."
"Not really," said Em. "Stevie the Greek is the best in the Quad and you get what you pay for, babydoll."
"I guess. Is it going to hurt?" Justin asked suddenly.
"Probably," said Emmy. "What doesn't hurt in this hellhole?"
The pair approached the gate into the South Wing. Justin shuddered as he walked through it. The South Wing wasn't as frightening since the demise of the low-riders, but it was still alien territory and that always held the possibility of danger. Justin was glad that Em was with him. He never would have had the nerve to go there if Em hadn't come along to watch his back. That's what a real pal was for.
"Stevie is at the end of the first tier," said Em. "You leave the C.O. to me, honey."
Emmy took Justin by the arm and sashayed by the C.O.'s desk. "Morning, Officer Rocky!" Emmy said to the guard. "Babydoll and I are going visiting. Is that a-okay with you, Rocky sweetie?"
The C.O. shrugged. Emmy was a harmless queen. And she had a mouth on her like a fucking vacuum cleaner! Rocky's dick twitched slightly thinking about it.
"As long as you don't get in Loretta's face while you're over here," said Officer Rocky, reminding Em of the black queen who was the leader of the South Wing ladies. "Because Loretta doesn't like East Wing queens on her turf."
"I wouldn't dream of ruffling Miz Loretta's feathers, handsome," said Em, batting her eyes at the C.O. "We'll be quiet as little old mice."
"You better be -- or else!" said Officer Rocky, trying to sound threatening. But Emmy knew that Rocky wouldn't do anything. He had bigger things to worry about in the South Wing than a queen and a punk.
Em and Justin passed down the bottom tier to the cell of Stevie the Greek.
"Whatcha got?" asked Stevie, a grizzled safecracker in his 60's.
"Is this enough?" Justin handed him the cigarettes, candy, and gum.
"Is all right," the older inmate growled. "Take off your shirt and let's see what we got to work with."
Justin took off his blue chambray workshirt and his white tee shirt. His pale skin looked translucent even in the dim light of the cell.
It was so pure and untouched that Emmy almost gasped. "Are you really sure about this, Sunshine?"
Justin nodded. "I want it, Em." He turned to Stevie. "Right here." He touched a spot high on his right shoulder.
Stevie the Greek stroked the smooth skin of the boy's upper arm. "Nice," he said. This was a pretty, pretty boy. It had been a long time since he'd fucked a beautiful blond boy. And this one would fuel the old man's jerk-off sessions for weeks to come. "So nice. You got what you want?"
"Here." Justin handed him the drawing he'd done, in scale. "I made certain it's the right size."
Stevie the Greek studied the drawing. A simple red heart, outlined in black, with a name inside. The name of the boy's jock. Brian.
"You sure you want a name there, kid?" the old inmate asked. "Could give trouble when you get out. A boy with a man's name on his arm is not so good. Most guys want 'Mother' or the name of a girlfriend."
"I don't have a girlfriend!" Justin bristled. "And I don't want my damned mother's name on my arm! I want the name of my lover. And I want it on there forever. So are you going to do it?"
Stevie shrugged. "I do it if that's what you want." He took a bottle of alcohol and some pieces of cotton from a cardboard box. Then he took out his make-shift tattoo machine and his needles and inks.
Justin winced when he saw the needles and glanced apprehensively at Emmy.
But the queen didn't say a word. She'd warned Justin about this. She only hoped that the boy didn't faint.
The old inmate transferred Justin's drawing to his right shoulder. He worked carefully. Stevie was the best tattoo artist in the Quad and he didn't want to mar such pretty white skin. "That looks good," he said, and Emmy nodded.
Stevie swabbed Justin's arm with alcohol and then fired up his machine. "You hold on to your friend," he suggested to Justin.
"Is it going to hurt very much?" asked Justin, taking a deep breath and squeezing Em's hand tightly
The old inmate grinned. He was missing most of his front teeth.
"Of course it will hurt! What you think, little boy?" he said. And then he laughed as he touched Justin's shoulder with his machine.
Brian was filling out some forms for a new inmate when there was a soft rapping on the door frame of the Law Library.
Father Bob looked into the room. "I wonder if I might speak with you, Brian?"
"Sure," said Brian, setting the forms aside. "Come on in, Father."
Brian had very little to do with Father Bob or any of the other chaplains who had been stationed in the Stanton Quad over the years. An earlier priest had tried to gather Brian into his prison flock, but Ron scared the man away whenever he ventured onto the tier and Father Bob had never bothered to follow his predecessor's lead.
Brian knew that his file had his religion listed as Catholic, but Brian hadn't practiced that faith since he was a teenager, even though his mother had always been almost rabid about her own attendance at Mass. Brian's father, Jack, on the other hand, never went to church. "Joanie prays enough for the whole family," Jack claimed and Brian agreed with his old man -- one of the few things they ever agreed on.
Emmy and Michelle and many of Brian's friends were regulars at Mass, but they could never tempt Brian to join them. Brian had decided long ago that prayers were useless. They hadn't saved him from being convicted and they hadn't saved him from the low-riders. And they hadn't saved him from his father's years of abuse or his mother's neglect. No, prayers were bullshit. If the queens found some comfort in talking their problems over with Father Bob, or if he could write a character reference for one of Brian's law clients, that was all well and good, as long as the priest left Brian alone.
Father Bob sat down in the creaky wooden chair. He thought that Brian looked very good for a man who had almost died five months before. He was still a little thin and there were shadows around his dark green eyes, but he seemed healthy and in good spirits.
The priest often saw Brian and his cellmate, Justin, on the Quad on a sunny afternoon, or at Movie Night on Fridays. They were always holding hands or had their arms around each other. Most inmates were not so bold about their relationships, but Brian and Justin's hook-up was so well-known that they didn't seem to care. And no one bothered them. Brian's legal work was too important to too many men in the Quad, and both men also had a lot of powerful friends, including Ben "Juice" Bruckner, who was the acknowledged "Big Man" in the East Wing -- and possibly in the entire prison.
"Brian, I'm not exactly certain how to talk about this matter with you," Father Bob began.
"Hold it," said Brian, putting up his hand to stop the priest. "This sounds like something I don't want to know about. If you can't figure out a way to talk to me about it, then I don't want to hear about it -- whatever it is!"
"But Brian, this is very important," Father Bob continued.
"If this is about me and Justin, then you can walk right back to the chapel and I'll forget that you ever came in here, Father," said Brian, angrily. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm a faggot and Justin is a faggot and no amount of praying by you or my mother or Justin's mother or the fucking Pope is going to change that or stop us from being hooked up! So if Mrs. Taylor sent you here to ream me out, you can tell her that her son handles that job without any difficulty."
"This has nothing to do with Justin's mother, Brian," said Father Bob. "Or with your relationship."
"Oh," said Brian.
Now he was puzzled. Why else would Father Bob come to him except on a soul-saving mission? "I guess I assumed that Justin's mom was behind this little visit. So, is this about Emmett's appeal? Or Michael? Or one of the other men you counsel?"
"No, Brian. Justin's mother isn't behind my visit," said the priest. "But yours is."
"My mother?" said Brian in astonishment.
"Yes. Your mother," Father Bob leaned forward. "When was the last time you contacted her, Brian?"
"Me? Contact HER?" Brian breathed. "Pardon my French, Father, but what the hell for? I've been in prison for nine years and in all that time the only thing my dear, sainted mother has done for me is to ignore me! And you know what? That's just fine with me! My parents are a couple of lousy drunks who never wanted me in the first place. I'm their 'cross' to bear. With me in Stanton Correctional my mother can be a martyr to all of her pals at church and my old man can feel satisfied that he was right all along in hating me because I turned out to be a criminal AND a faggot. I have no clue why my mother would want to contact me now, Father Bob, but I don't want my mother or you to send me any prayers or holy cards or rosary beads or official Vatican-approved relics to help put me on the right path. So you can save your breath and your time and go back to the chapel."
Brian stood up and went to the file cabinet, turning his back on Father Bob. His hands were trembling, but he didn't want the priest to see how shaken he was.
"Brian, I understand that you're bitter about your relationship with your parents," said Father Bob, gently. "But I don't think that you should turn your back on their attempt to reach out to you. At least hear what I have to say. Please?"
"All right." Brian took a deep breath and turned around. "What? What do they want?"
Father Bob smiled. "I've already submitted the paperwork to Warden Horvath and he's approved it. So, if you are willing, Brian, your parents have contacted me about arranging a 48 hour Family Visit for you and your mother and father for next week."
Brian stared at the priest. This was the last thing in the world he had expected.
"Oh, shit," was all Brian said.
Posted June 22, 2005.