Justin walked into the apartment after a long day at the hotel. He'd been working more lately, trying to ignore the pain of losing his daughter. Technically, she wasn't lost. He knew where she was - at Miranda's.
Three months earlier, the judge had ruled in Miranda's favor after deciding that two gay men, one of whom liked to dress in women's clothing, weren't the proper parents for a young child like April.
He'd been strong, for Brad, but so far, his lawyer had been unsuccessful in getting joint custody, or anything other than supervised visitation rights with April. Miranda wouldn't talk to him, and he wasn't sure where she lived.
"I'm home." He muttered, slipping his shoes off.
Brad, of course, felt responsible. Maybe if he was normal... or if Justin had never met him... things would be okay between them.
He missed April almost as much as Justin, and it was tearing him up inside knowing how much his lover was hurting. He was chewing his lower lip when Justin came in, almost to the point of bleeding. He always did that when he was stressed or deep in thought. "...hey."
".. You okay?" Justin asked, running his fingers through Brad's hair.
"Of course I am." He answered. "I ate at the hotel, so you don't need to worry about dinner." Justin sank into the couch and pulled Brad to him. "You know, maybe this isn't all bad... With April gone, we can fuck whenever we want.." He forced a smile. "And now I can take those extra jobs at bachelor parties and earn a lot more money."
Brad lay his head on Justin's shoulder and closed his eyes. "...it's too quiet."
"Quiet's nice." Justin traced his lips along Brad's neck.
"Justin, I.. I can't, okay?" Despite the solitude, their sex life had cooled considerably since April left.
Justin groaned. "I'm going up to have a bath." He stood and went into the bathroom, slipping out of his clothes and climbing inside the tub once the water was hot enough. He'd been sexually frustrated, and having to dance for horny middle-aged women wasn't helping.
Brad winced. He felt awful, but he just couldn't get it up if he was depressed. And he was definitely depressed.
Justin leaned his head back and sighed softly, closing his eyes.
The phone next to Brad rang loudly.
He picked up and lay back on the couch. "Hello?"
"Hello, Brad? This is Lawrence."
Lawrence was the lawyer that had been working almost non-stop to get joint custody, even if Justin seemed to have given up.
He was instantly on edge. "Lawrence, hey. Um... let me get Justin..."
"Can you just give him a message for me? I just got out of a meeting, and I have another one soon."
"...yeah, sure. What is it?" He grabbed a pen and paper from the end table.
"Miranda's lawyers have agreed to a joint custody situation. Justin can have April every other weekend, starting tomorrow."
Brad shrieked. "Really?!"
Lawrence held the phone away from his ear for a moment. "Really. " He gave Brad Miranda's address. "You can pick her up tomorrow morning."
Brad wrote the address down quickly, hung up, and nearly flew into the bathroom. "Justin!"
Justin jumped slightly, sitting up in the bathtub. "Yeah? What is it?"
Brad barely paused between his words. "Lawrence just called and Miranda's lawyers agreed to joint custody and we get April every other weekend and it starts tomorrow and we can go pick her up at Miranda's house on Maitai Avenue!"
Justin's eyes lit up, and he gasped. "Really?" He climbed out of the tub, and still naked, pulled Brad up into a kiss. "Oh my god, that's wonderful."
Brad's depression? Gone. His libido? Back. "Mm... maybe eventually we can have her for longer..."
"We can keep fighting.. Oh, god.. This is so great.. We get our baby girl back.."
"We should celebrate."
Still naked, he scooped Brad up and threw him on the bed, ravishing him three times before falling asleep. He really was exhausted, and excited as hell about having April back.
The next day, he was up, dressed, and ready to get his daughter early. They arrived at Miranda's apartment at eight am on the dot, and excitedly, Justin knocked on the door, trying to ignore the various disgusting smells from the hallway.
It wasn't a nice building by any description. It was old, falling apart, and there were all kinds of stains on the carpet. Justin wrinkled his nose, and was assaulted with the smells of vomit, urine, and stale alcohol, to name a few.
A tall, skinny man with stringy hair answered the door. ".. Yeah? Are you guys here givin' out bibles or something?"
"... I'm April's father. We're here to pick her up."
"Oh. The faggot. Hang on." He walked into the apartment, leaving the door open. It was an absolute mess, with dishes all around the kitchen, and more than a couple bottles of alcohol. "Miranda, your fag ex-boyfriend is here."
Brad glanced up at Justin. Their baby lived -here-?
Miranda replied loudly. "Just send April out. I don't want to see him."
"Fine. April, your moms are at the door." The man snorted and went into Miranda's bedroom.
".. This is horrible." Justin whispered.
"..I wonder if the case workers have seen this place."
"They couldn't ha--.. April!" Justin immediately picked her up and held her tightly, letting the tears roll down his cheeks.
April clung tightly to her daddy. "Take me home," she murmured against his chest. Brad's throat tightened.
"Shh, baby. You get to come home until Monday.. and we're still trying to get you home for good. We miss you so much."
She sniffled and tightened her grip on him. "Promise?"
"Promise. Now come on.. we're going to order pizza and stay home and watch cartoons.. and we can go to the park as a family.." She clung to him all the way home, and barely said a word.
When they got home, Justin curled up on the couch with her, cuddling her close. "I'm so sorry, baby... "
"..I wanna stay here.."
"I want you to stay here too." He stroked her hair. "Are they hurting you?"
She sniffled and shook her head. "...they don't play with me."
Brad wanted desperately to cuddle her, but he kept his distance for now, so Justin could have some quality time with her. Besides, he had to order the pizza.
"Is the apartment always that dirty, honey?" Justin asked, kissing the top of her head, and motioning for Brad to sit down after. "Brad missed you a lot too."
April nodded and scooted over so Brad could sit on her other side. Brad, of course, immediately moved so that he was close enough to hug both of them.
"I love you both so much." Justin murmured, kissing each of them on the cheek. "How's kindergarten, April?"
"Love you too, Daddy..." She pursed her little lips. "Good, but the boys are yucky."
"Boys tend to be, dear." He smiled.
"Speak for yourself," said Brad. "I'm not yucky."
"No, we're not. We're men."
"They pull my hair and call me names," said April.
Justin frowned. "What names do they call you?"
"Ummm... 'Dummy' and 'Booger-face' and 'Poopyhead.'"
He tried to hide his laughter, but ended up letting out a quiet snort. "I'm sorry, honey. Why don't you tell your teacher?"
"She says they like me." She paused. "I think she's dumb."
"Boys do tease girls when they like them." Justin smiled, going to the door when he heard the knock, and paying for the pizzas, bringing them in.
"These boys are dumb. And I don't like them."
"Well, you'll change your mind when you're older." Justin said, as he bit into his pizza. "So what do you want to do this weekend? Whatever you want to do."
She thought for a minute. "Can we go to the zoo?"
"Sure." He was still a little tired from work, but he didn't care.
April smiled. "Can I pet the penguins?"
"If they let you. " He hugged her again. "I missed you so much.. "
"...do I have to go back?"
Justin nodded with a sigh. "Yes."
"I know. I don't want you to go back either.. but we don't have a choice.. if I keep you here, I could go to jail."
April looked up at her daddy, horrified. "Jail?"
"Shh. It won't happen. Don't worry."
"I don't want you to go to jail!"
"I won't, baby. We're going to talk to the judge and see if you can come home.."
"I love you, Daddy." She sniffled and leaned against him. "...and Brad too." Brad's eyes widened and he beamed. April loved him!
"I told you he wasn't a doodyhead."
"No, he's nice. I like him better than Miranda."
"Tomorrow, we'll go to the zoo. And we'll have a big dinner before you go back. Is she feeding you okay?"
April nodded. "I have cereal and chips."
"... I'll send some food with you. You make sure that guy doesn't eat it, okay?"
He kissed her cheek and had some more pizza, giving her another big hug. "I love you."
"I love you too, Daddy." She paused. "..before I eat, can I have a bath?"
"... Of course, baby.." He frowned. "Do you want me to fill the tub? I got you bubble bath."
She nodded, her ponytail bouncing up and down.
Justin picked her up and carried her to the bathroom, filling the tub up with warm water and bubble bath. "I'll come check on you in a few minutes, okay?"
He kissed her forehead and went downstairs, dialing the number that he'd been given when he needed to contact Miranda. He waited a few rings, trembling in anger.
Brad followed him. "What are you doing, love?"
"Phoning Miranda.. I.. she takes April away from us.. a..and feeds her chips and cereal.. the apartment is disgusting... I.. how dare she. Miranda?" He asked, as he heard the phone click.
"Yeah, who wants to know?" Came the voice from the other end.
"What the -fuck- are you doing with my daughter?!"
"..who is this?" She sounded completely wasted.
".. This is Justin. Are you high?"
"...no. What's your problem? You got April.. lemme alone."
".. I want her here for good. You're not feeding her healthy food.. She's unhappy there.. the apartment is beyond disgusting.. "
"What the hell do you know? She's been here for three months and she's fine... she eats like a horse... and she loves me. And it's only dirty because Jerry's here and he's a slob."
"I'm having child services check into it. I'm getting my daughter back."
"Fuck you... you fucking faggot... they won't let you have her... she's mine..." he words were getting slurred.
Shaking, Justin slammed the phone down and called Lawrence, telling him exactly what April had said, and what the apartment was like. Lawrence promised to look into it and get back to him.
"I can't believe she could do this.." He whispered after he'd hung up.
"What did she say?"
"She was too stoned out of her mind."
"Are you serious?"
Justin nodded and sighed. "I better check on April." He touched Brad's cheek and went upstairs. "April?"
April had made a bubbly tower of her hair. "Yeeeeeaaah?"
He couldn't help but smile. "Just came to check up on you. How's the bath?"
"I'm all wrinkly."
"Rinse your hair, honey." He got her a towel.
She pinched her nose and ducked underwater, shaking her head around to rinse her hair out.
Justin helped her dry off, and into her nightie. "Come on down and have pizza with me and Brad."
"Are you and Brad gonna get married?"
His cheeks turned red. ".. I hope so." He said quietly. ".. Why?"
"Cause then he can be your little wife."
Justin's brow furrowed. "Why would you say something like that, honey?" He asked, going downstairs with him.
"Cause that's what Miranda says he is."
He flinched. "Honey, Miranda's just a very angry person." Justin paused. "Would it be okay with you if I married Brad,sweetie?"
"He's nice." She nodded. "And pretty."
"He is." Justin kissed her cheek. "I bet you're hungry."
"Go ahead and eat some pizza. I have to talk to Brad."
"Okay, Daddy." She pulled on her little mini bathrobe and ran to get pizza.
"Brad? Can you come here for a minute?"
Brad, ever faithful, came running. "Yes, Pookie?"
Justin took a deep breath before getting on one knee.
"Is my shoe untied?"
"It's been a while since we've met..and.. I don't want to think about being without you." He said, trembling.
"Justin? Are you oka---..." Brad went quiet when he realized what was going on. "...oh... god."
Justin pulled a simple gold ring out of his pocket. "Will you marry me?"
Brad's eyes nearly bugged out of his head, and his mouth went completely dry. "...I.."
"I really love you."
"....of course I will."
"Oh. You took a while.. my heart stopped for a second there." He smiled weakly, and stood, twirling Brad around.
"I'm sorry..." Brad sniffled and kissed him.
"Shh. You said yes. I'm okay now. "
"I love you..."
"I love you." He kissed him again and sighed. "Don't worry. We'll be a family again."
"I know... it's just a matter of time. Right?"
He nodded, slipping the ring onto Brad's finger.
"..but what will April think?"
"She doesn't mind. I checked with her first."
Justin nodded again, looking contentedly into Brad's eyes. "I love you"
"Mm... we need to have sex soon."
"We really do.." He smiled. "Tomorrow, we'll take April to the zoo.. enjoy family things."
"Maybe it won't be long until she belongs to us for good."
"We can have you adopt her.."
"Oh, god... I'd love that."
He grinned and patted Brad's ass. "Come on. Let's make sure she doesn't eat her weight in pizza.." He felt happy, and like a weight was off of his shoulders.. It'd been a long time, but he had the hope that he could get his daughter back.
And for the moment, that, and his soon to be little wife, was enough.