Adaptations by Teri
Rated R for language
B/M/J- This is one of three fics. Michael has left
Pittsburgh. This is his story.
Disclaimer- The characters featured here that appear
on QAF are the property of CowLip and Showtime. I own
none of them. This is for private entertainment and
is not making any profit.
It was a crowded room. Voices swirled through the air
along with the smells of good food and the sound of
soft background music. Michael moved amid the crush
of people, stopping to talk to a few of them, on his
way to the other side of the room. A balcony door
beckoned, promising fresh air and quiet.
It had been a year since Marvel had approached him.
Someone had gotten hold of a copy of Rage and it had
made its way up the ladder of the giant organization.
This had resulted in a phone call from a Marvel
executive. Would Michael and Justin be interested in
coming to work for them? They were interested in
adding Rage to their current lineup but wanted the
creative team also.
They had talked about it. Would it be selling out?
Would Marvel try to change their original vision for
Rage? Marvel's people assured Michael and Justin that
nothing would change with the comic itself. What
would change however was the market it would reach.
So after much deliberation, the creative minds of
Novotny and Taylor now had the Marvel banner behind
them. Justin had stayed in Pittsburgh while Michael
had relocated to New York to be near the Marvel
offices. It was amazing that they could still work so
closely together despite the distance. But computers
were amazing things and once a month Justin would
commute to the Big Apple to put the final touches on
that month's issue.
Michael made it to the French doors and quietly
stepped out to the balcony. The view of the city was
wonderful, but he didn't see much of it, as his
thoughts were turned inward. It had been a lonely
year. Yes, he saw Justin and talked to him often. He
called his mom once a week and got caught up on most
of the gossip. He even had emails from Ted and
Emmett, and an occasional call from Lindsey and
Melanie. But the one person who had meant the most to
him had never contacted him. And there was a
suspicious lack of mentioning him whenever Michael
talked to anyone from home.
Michael's parting with his best friend when he left
for New York had been a particularly painful one.
Every time Michael remembered the hateful words that
had poured from his friend's lips, it hurt like the
very first time.
A year was a long time to ache for something, or
someone, he never had. Michael smiled ruefully in the
dim light. It had actually been closer to twenty
years. Had it really been that long since he had said
hi to the new kid in class? But it had been one year
with no contact whatsoever. One year of exile from
the person who had been the center of his universe.
Most days, he didn't even think about it, he was so
busy with work. He had made a small circle of friends
here, but it couldn't compare to what he had back
home. And there were lovers. More than he cared to
admit to, but not as many as he could have had. But
none seemed to be able to break through the wall
around his heart.
But sometimes, especially on starlit nights, when soft
music tickled his senses, he couldn't help but go back
in his mind, back to a time when it was just the two
of them against the world, when they were an
Even if, by some miracle, they were able to reconcile,
it wouldn't be the same. Michael knew he had changed.
He wasn't quite as na´ve as he had been then.
Sometimes it amazed him that he had been like that,
considering what he had been privy to. He had grown
in the last year. He had a reputation for being
serious, confident, and professional. But Justin had
asked about the sadness that shone in his eyes, how
come his trademark smiles were few and far between.
So even if his friend came back into his life, would
he recognize Michael?
He sighed when he heard his name being called. It was
time to rejoin the party, since it was for him, well,
for Rage. For some reason Justin wasn't here. 'I'm
gonna kill Boy Wonder,' he thought.
Tonight was to celebrate Rage's first anniversary. It
had become one of the most popular comics in the
Marvel line. The demographics amazed him, even still.
Michael figured that Rage would have a small niche
among the gay population and that would be mostly
boys. But surprisingly, they had a strong customer
base among straight women, ages 18-35. He grinned
when he remembered how shocked the research team had
been when they delivered that report. Rage refused to
stay in a box.
He turned back and entered the room. Justin's blonde
hair stood out in a group of illustrators. His partner
had finally made it. Michael started across the room
to meet up with the younger man, but a voice stopped
him. A voice that haunted his dreams, but he never
thought to hear it speak his name again. But it did.
A low, sexy purr that could be heard just above the
noise level of the room, "Mikey."
No one else in the room noticed the one word, but to
Michael, it sounded like a shout. He turned toward
the front door and saw him. All he could manage was a
Everyone in the room faded away. The only person
Michael could see was the one who had called his name.
He hadn't changed one bit. Hazel eyes glowed,
chestnut hair shone, lips crooked in a sexy, shy
smile. He had worn Michael's favorite Armani suit,
the charcoal, almost black, one, with a white shirt
and a pale gray tie. All Michael could do was stare.
He couldn't move, couldn't even speak. Suddenly all
the self-confidence he had gained disappeared. He was
right back where he started, worshipping Brian, who
was walking toward him.
"Mikey, we need to talk."
Michael just shook his head, afraid that his voice
might betray him.
Michael's eyes slid away from Brian's face and locked
onto Justin's. The blonde man nodded once.
Wordlessly, Michael took Brian's hand and led him out
through the French doors to the balcony where he had
They stood, side by side, leaning against the railing,
much as they had so many times on the catwalk at
Babylon. Michael waited. If Brian wanted to talk,
then he was going to have to start.
He heard Brian's deep sigh as the taller man turned to
face him. "Why didn't you ever call or write me,
Mikey? A whole year, and not a single word! You
couldn't even send me a fucking email?"
Steeling his resolve, Michael answered softly, barely
getting it out, "You made it perfectly clear when I
left, that you wanted me out of your life forever."
"Shit! And you believed me? How did you think I
would react? Smile, wish you good luck?" Michael
Then Michael felt his body forcibly turned. Brian
gripped his upper arms. "I thought we were the
dynamic duo, Captain Astro and Galaxy Lad, Rage and
Zephyr. Nothing, not even the forces of evil would be
able to separate us. But you ripped us apart."
Suddenly Michael felt as if his tongue had been
untied. "I had to grow up Brian! I might write a
comic book but sometimes I have to live in the real
world. I couldn't follow you around forever. I've
made a life for myself. I had to adapt to life
Michael was still in Brian's grasp, and the taller man
pulled him closer. "I know you have. Justin has told
me." Michael's surprise must have registered on his
face. "Justin has made sure that I know everything
about you since you left. Sometimes I think he should
be the writer, with all the enthusiasm he has had,
regaling me with stories of your successes." He
paused, the added in a dark voice, "And your lovers.
But I don't give a fuck how many tricks you've had.
It doesn't matter."
"Then tell me what does, Brian."
"Close your eyes." Michael stubbornly refused.
"Close them," Brian ordered. "What do you see?"
"You," came the whispered answer. Flashes of memory
swept over Michael.
Michael shuddered within Brian's hold. "The first
time we met, when I showed you where the school office
was. The two of us on my bed, looking at that damned
magazine." He heard Brian softly chuckle.
"When you left to go to college. Watching you on the
dance floor at Babylon. The smile you had when you
held Gus for the first time. All the times we shared
a bed. When we got stuck on the turnpike with the
flat tire. Holding you while you cried, in the
hallway of the hospital, waiting for news about
Justin. Living through the aftermath of Justin
leaving with Ethan."
Michael took a deep breath. "But most often, I see
the hate in your eyes when I told you goodbye."
"It wasn't hate, it was hurt," Brian whispered.
"What do you think I see, when I close my eyes?" he
heard Brian ask.
"I dunno, some twink sucking you off?" Michael joked,
mostly to cover his uneasiness.
"I see you. I see the frustration in your eyes when
your mom walked in on us when we were 14. I see the
pain flash in them when I took Justin home. The hurt
and anger I inflicted when I outted you to Tracey at
your birthday party. When I accosted you in the shop.
When I said all those horrible things to you when you
left." Michael started to interrupt but felt Brian's
finger on his lips. "Sshh...I caused you so much
Hazel eyes slid closed. "But then I see the moment
that you took my hand on the hospital roof, the
happiness on your face when I gave you the comic book,
the sultry gaze when I took those pictures for your
ad, the love in your eyes after I kissed you on the
"Don't you see, Mikey? Even after a year of being
apart, we really are still together."
Michael wrenched himself from Brian's grip, turned his
back on him. "I can't do this, Brian. I can't give
you everything and get nothing in return. It's taken
me this long to realize that I don't have to settle
for the little things you dole out. I want it all; I
deserve it all."
"I've never said different, Mikey. You are the person
most deserving of that."
Michael spun around to Brian. "Are you willing to
give me everything then? Are you willing to be in a
"I don't know, but I'd like a chance to try."
The honesty in Brian's eyes cut through his hard won
resolve. All his determination to not give in was
quickly crumbling under Brian's murmured words. He
turned his back again on the one man he truly loved,
in order to regroup before Brian pushed him past the
point of no return. But he wasn't going to get that
chance. He felt Brian's fingers in his hair. "Always
have, always will," floated to him.
There was nothing he could do, no wall he could erect,
that would stand up against those words. His head
dropped forward and a tear made its way down his
cheek. He felt his heart swell with the love for this
man, love that had been there right from the start.
The love that he thought he had buried so deep that no
one would ever see it. But within a matter of
minutes, Brian resurrected it.
"I love you, Mikey." There was a brief moment of
silence. "I'm in love with you."
"Do you have any idea how long I have waited to hear
you say those exact words?" Michael's whisper was
hoarse with feeling.
"As long as it took for me to learn to say them."