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16 April 2013 @ 09:59 am

(many thanks to the amazing tatjana_yurkina for my beautiful banner)

Title: The Making of an Artist
Author: later2nite
Pairing: Brian and Justin
Time Frame: Fluctuates between 3 distinct periods in
Justin's life: his childhood, his years in NYC, and the present



Arriving at your destination much later than you should have, thanks to confusing subway routes through unfamiliar territory, you pray to fuck you've finally found the place where you can crash. Letting out a heavy sigh, you compare the building's address with the one on the crumpled paper in your hand, only hoping you're not waking Daphne's friend when you ring the buzzer for 317. He'd been jovial enough on the phone after your plane landed, directing you to his little corner of the world and assuring you that getting there was easy, but that was two hours earlier.

It's an unexpected female voice that greets you, jarring you from thoughts of fluffy pillows, warm duvets, and Brian's body wrapped around yours. "Yes?" it calls through the panel, one of the grunge bands whose popularity soared when you were in grade school blaring in the background.

"Uh, I'm sorry. I must have the wrong apartment number." You drop your duffel bag on the ground and reach into your pocket. Rechecking Daphne's scrawl, you read 317 once again.


You look up. "Yes, I'm Justin. Is Josh there?" Slinging your bag over your shoulder, you hurry into the building when the gate unlatches. The elevator's seen better days. You hope it gets you to the third floor safely.

You can't mistake the door you're looking for, finally placing Kurt Cobain's guttural delivery of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as it blasts from behind it into the hall. When it swings open on your third knock, an attractive, aging hippie is smiling at you. Well, you guess by her attire you've come face-to-face with a real live hippie. The only reference you have to go by is ancient footage you've seen of Woodstock. The pungent aroma of weed wafting up your nostrils supports your theory.

"There you are! We were beginning to think you'd gotten lost!" Her smile widens while she checks you out from head to toe. Subtlety not included.

"I, um, didn't really know where I was going." You swipe a hand through your hair and glance at your watch. "Josh said it was easy to find, but, uh, is he here?"

"He'll be back in a few. He's out on a beer run." She waves the bottle in her hand at you and winks. "Come on in."

"Thanks." You still have no idea whom you're talking to. Taking in the modest space, you unload your bag on a chair while she flits off to the kitchen, graciously accepting the last beer when she comes back. You're too tired to fight as she pulls you down on the sofa with her.

"So, you're from Pittsburgh, huh?" She kicks off her shoes and gets comfy by your side. "You're gonna love the East Village art scene." Her knee touches yours when she lays her hand on your thigh.

You'd kill to lie down before the sun rises, but the couch will probably double as your bunk. And she seems to be firmly planted on it. Stifling a gaping yawn, you miss your side of Brian's bed with a passion. "I just need a little time to figure out the city."

Reaching for the joint in the ashtray, she relights it and nods at the CD player. "Nirvana. Crying shame about Cobain, don't you think?" She takes the first hit and offers you some.

You go back. Way back. "I was like eleven when he died. No, that's okay." The last thing you want to do is get high with someone you don't know.

How fucking far does Josh have to go to find beer?


Your eyes are already acclimated to the darkness when you enter your studio in the middle of the night. Stealing quietly out of your sleeping husband's arms, you were somehow drawn up to the attic, concluding a very long time before that fighting the haunting vision never works. Obediently, you've given yourself over to its power.

Locking yourself in, you hesitantly approach the easel in the corner while the painting beckons from under its cover. You unveil your work in progress and regard it with a critical eye. The perspective's a little off, but you need to create the shade you'd seen in your dream before it fades from view. You pick up a clean palette and three tubes of pigment, setting off to chase the color of hopelessness.

Soon buried in your work, time has no meaning as you slide further and further away, losing pieces of yourself as you go.


"Dad! Dad! Guess what?" You scamper out to the driveway when your father gets home from work, clutching the spelling test you'd aced earlier that afternoon in your hand. Jumping up and down, you can't wait to show it to him.

"What have you got there?" He ruffles your hair as he takes it from you, smiling when he sees the large red A+ marked on the top. "Wonderful, Justin! Mrs. Baker even gave you a gold star. Has Mom seen this?" He grabs his briefcase from the car and heads into the house with his little blond shadow in tow.

"Yeah. She doesn't feel good, though. I don't like that baby in her tummy. It makes her throw up and go to bed and be sad."

"You mean she doesn't feel well." He loosens his tie as you walk into the kitchen together. "Why don't we surprise her and fix dinner tonight? You want to help me? I bet that'll make her happy." Tacking your perfect spelling test next to the grocery list on the bulletin board, he beams down at your six-year-old self. "I'm proud of you, son. I think we should put every A you bring home right here on this board. What do you think?"

You think there won't be enough room for the grocery list before long, First Grade the easiest thing you've ever dealt with in your life. "Sure, Dad! I'll be right back!"

He doesn't know your book bag is full of homework papers and tests that are decorated with Mrs. Baker's felt-tipped red A's and gold star stickers. "Just be quiet up there. Your mom needs her rest."

You really don't like that baby in her tummy.


"Jesus, Aunt Meg! What the hell are you doing?"

You snap your head toward the door just in time to catch the horrified look on your new roommate's face.

Evidently aghast at his overly-forward relative, who's spent the past thirty minutes shedding every inhibition she's ever possessed, he drops a six-pack on the counter and glares at her. "Button up your shirt!"


"And open some windows!" Airing out his apartment, he finally makes it over to you and shakes your hand. "Hi. I'm Josh. Sorry about this."

"Justin." You stand to meet him, more than a tad relieved to be rescued.

Josh spies your duffel bag on the chair and turns back to his aunt. "You didn't even show him his room? I'm sure Justin's exhausted! God, I'm sorry," he apologizes to you again. "My brother moved out last week, so you're in luck. It's small, but there's an empty bedroom."

"Great! I thought I might be sleeping on your couch until I find a place of my own."

Meg scouts around for her shoes, bummed that the party's over. "We were just getting to know each other, weren't we, Justin? I was behaving myself. Tell him."

"Right . . ." Collecting her paraphernalia from the coffee table and depositing it in her hands, Josh shoots you another regretful look while he ushers her to the door. "Come on. I'll help you home. Say good night, Aunt Meg."

"You're no fun, Joshua. See you boys later."

You begin to understand that omen for what it is when he walks her across the hall and waits while she fumbles with the key to her own apartment. "This is perfect," you tell him when he returns and shows you around. Thanking him again, you promise to be more human in the morning, hitting the mattress in your tiny room the second he makes himself scarce.

Maybe leaving Pittsburgh at ten p.m. for parts unknown wasn't the most well thought-out plan in the history of plans, but you booked the last flight of the day for a reason. You think about your long good-bye in Brian's loft and muster a sleepy grin, your ass still thanking you for the proper send-off he made sure you received.



You don't know how long he's been banging on the door and calling your name, but the muddy din outside your studio somehow brings you back. 'Open up, Justin!' slowly registering as his command, the alarm in his tone tips you off to what you'll find when you do.

Setting your palette on the table, you drag your knuckles across your tear-stained cheek and rub your forehead, willing yourself to get it together. You hide your work under its snow white sheet and start to back away, Brian's impatience robbing you of your normal recovery time. When you open the door, you avoid his eyes at all costs. "Let me just rinse—"

"What the fuck, Justin?!"

You don't finish your thought because Brian's are too urgent.

"The door was locked. Didn't you hear me? It's three-thirty. I woke up alone, and . . . Hey, look at me." He takes your face in his hands. "What is it?"

"Go back to bed, Brian."

That's the one thing he has no intention of doing. "Talk to me. Come on. What is it?" He crushes you into his chest, his soft breath tickling the side of your neck.

If you hadn't loved this man with all your heart for almost half your life, you'd be embarrassed by the trail of snot staining the front of his tee shirt where your nose is pressed. You release your brushes and knives from your grip as he reaches for them, slumping to the floor in a heap when he walks to the sink and turns on the water. The heels of your hands dig into your eye sockets while he carefully cleans your instruments and lays them out to dry, only falling to your sides when you feel your husband's lanky frame lowering down next to you.

"It's okay." He gathers as much of your drooping form as he can hold, his chin settling squarely on top of your head. "I'm here."

guavejuiceguavejuice on April 16th, 2013 05:45 pm (UTC)
This was brilliant.
All kinds of wonderful.
Looved it so much, my dear Linda. You are a true artist.
*hugs you tight*

Edited at 2013-04-16 05:46 pm (UTC)
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 17th, 2013 09:10 pm (UTC)
Wow! What a fabulous comment! Thank you so much for the sweet compliment. I'm so happy you're liking my new story. ♥
techgirl_on_ijtechgirl_on_ij on April 16th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
This is so great! I loved every line, every word. And the end left me crying.

Aww, Justin missing his side of Brian's bed.

later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 17th, 2013 09:22 pm (UTC)
Yay! So happy you loved it - I was hoping you would!

The end of this chap is a tearjerker. I could see it in my head so clearly, but wasn't sure if it came across that way when written. So thank you for saying that. It means the world to me.

Yeah, Justin's side of Brian's bed. That's a luxury he won't have in NYC. LOL

smooch ♥
shenovashenova on April 16th, 2013 08:59 pm (UTC)
Liking your story so far and I like the it mixes different periods of Justin's life. Looking forward to reading more soon.
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 17th, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this great feedback. Happy to know you like the 3 time periods. I wasn't sure how that would be received. Hope you like the next chap. I'll be up soon. ♥
JonDH: Pooh & Pigletthespian15 on April 17th, 2013 12:24 am (UTC)
It's weird to see Justin's dad so nice. :o

I think I am going to really like the crazy next door aunt. :)
Hugs, Jon
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 17th, 2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree. Craig is such a worthless human in the show. But canon gives us a hint of what he was like when Justin was young in the ep. where Justin asks him for financial help at PIFA. So I thought I would expand on that.

The crazy aunt - she's fun to write. So glad you think you'll like her. I was hoping somebody would! LOL

Thanks for this awesome feedback. Hope you like the next chap. ♥
landlady_4rentlandlady_4rent on April 17th, 2013 04:10 am (UTC)
Oh Linda, This is perfection. I love the way you're writing the 3 parts of his life together. You are a true artist. You are a brilliant writer. This is so wonderful. Wow! Hugs! Annie
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 17th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
Annie - you're a writer's best friend, you know that? LOL Your feedback is so wonderful. I thank you for the compliments from the bottom of my heart.

Glad you like the 3 time periods. I wasn't sure if that aspect would go over very well, but people seem to enjoy it.

*Hugs you* ♥
urugwajurugwaj on April 17th, 2013 09:20 am (UTC)
I like this aunt ;)
And all this story is great - so full mix of emotions!
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 17th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this great comment! I'm so happy you like the crazy aunt - I was hoping somebody would. LOL Lots of emotions, that's for sure. This fic will be full of them. Hope you like the next chap, too. ♥
mander3_swishmander3_swish on April 17th, 2013 06:55 pm (UTC)
The concept of this story is so totally interesting & the writing is brilliant! Can't wait to see how the juxtaposition of the 3 timelines plays out.

Last time I read a major story that focused on Justin as a painter, I felt the itch to create so I bought a bunch of canvases... Hopefully your story will kick me in the butt enough to start one of them! (Or start/finish the AU fic I have rolling around in my brain about artist!justin in NY)
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 17th, 2013 09:57 pm (UTC)
Wow! Thanks for this awesome comment. Makes me happy to know you're interested and think the writing's brilliant. That's music to a writer's ear!

I so hope this fic can motivate you to create art. I'd love to see it when it's finished. ♥
Daphne: spiral rainbowduffy_60 on April 17th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
Loving this so much I want more -- like right now! :-)
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 17th, 2013 09:58 pm (UTC)
I'm working on it! LOL So happy you're loving this fic. Makes me want to write faster. ♥
predec2predec2 on April 17th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
This is lovely, Linda. What a generous birthday present for V. I love the ending of this when Brian comforts Justin; and I adore the part where he takes the time to clean out his husband's brushes and dry them before returning to his side. Somehow just the idea that he took such care for them had a big impact on me and expressed how much he loves him. Looking forward to the rest of your story! Oh, and I hope you're still going to the con? I hope to see you there. *Hugs* ~Kim
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 18th, 2013 03:22 am (UTC)
Hi, Kim. This is such wonderful feedback. Thank you for reading and taking the time to write it. I knew when I wrote the short beginning for V.'s bday that I was going to turn it into a multi-chaptered fic. I've had the bare bones of it swimming around in my head for awhile now; I just need to flesh it out chapter by chapter now.

You don't know what it means to me to hear you say that the last part had a big impact on you and expressed to you how much Brian loves Justin. That was exactly what I was going for in that scene. I could see it so clearly in my head - Justin so distraught and Brian knowing that the brushes had to be cleaned. Doing it for his husband was definitely was a touching sign of his love.

I was wishing I was the director and had the actors in front of me, telling them what to do and say to bring that scene to life. Gale and Randy could have portrayed the emotion in the scene perfectly. But writing it? I wasn't sure if it would come across as I saw it in my head. So for you to say how much it impacted you has just sent me over the moon with elation! LOL

I'm still going to the con in June. I wish I could be there for the fic writer's get together on Thursday night, but I can't get there until Friday. I'm getting ready to book my flight. I keep waiting for the schedule page to be up on the Rise n Shine site so I can see what time the first thing starts on Friday. I don't want to miss it. Do you know what time things start on Friday?

Talk to you soon. And thanks again for the sweet feedback to the fic.


predec2: Tender shotpredec2 on April 18th, 2013 10:56 am (UTC)
Hi, Linda! I wish you were going to be there on Thursday, but I'm just glad that you are still coming and I'll get to see you again! I'm sure there will be plenty of time for all of us to get together during the con.;)

I don't think the schedule will be up for a while yet. I'm anxious to see it, too. I believe I read where the VIP dinner is on Friday; not sure when the cocktail reception will be, though. As soon as I hear, or see it posted, maybe we can make some more definitive plans.;)

Stay in touch and see you soon! In the meantime, I'll be looking forward to more of your wonderful story. *Hugs* ~Kim
Toto_too514: Crayonstoto_too514 on April 18th, 2013 12:35 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm hooked! MORE please!
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 18th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
So glad you likey! LOL Thanks for reading and this sweet comment.

And your crayon icon - It's so perfect for Preschool Justin! ♥

Chap 2 will be up soon.
ergenieergenie on April 22nd, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
Great start!!! Love the mixed emotions potrayed in this fic so far.... Can't wait to read more! Cheers!
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 22nd, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave this nice feedback. I really appreciate it. Glad you can't wait for more! ♥
7WildWaysUp7wildwaysup on April 29th, 2013 01:39 pm (UTC)
This is developing nicely, although I'm a little worried about Justin... ~ Kathleen
later2nite: vered bdaylater2nite on April 30th, 2013 04:55 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you liked it!

Yeah, Brian is worried about Justin, too.

All will be revealed in the coming chapters. ♥
908718908718 on November 14th, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC)
great update
I just love this story.
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 14th, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
Re: great update
You're so nice to leave feedback after reading. I really appreciate that.

It means the world to me that you love this story. ♥