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03 November 2013 @ 01:08 pm

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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.







"So, Daph, one more day and you'll be here in his arms. Got the spermicidal foam all packed?" You can't resist a little good-natured harassing at the end of an hour-long call, laughing right along with her when she curses and tells you to shut up. "I think it's great you guys are getting back together! Josh is really nice."

You don't mind taking credit for the match. They've both told you it probably wouldn't have happened if you hadn't picked Daphne's brain about where to stay in New York, their endless Skype sessions and text messages heating up the on-again, off-again romance once more. After a month in the city, you find yourself as anxious as he is to see her when she visits this weekend.

You just can't figure out why she insists you keep your Friday night free and join them at the steak house after she gets in. "Don't you guys want to be alone for a romantic dinner? If it were me . . ."

"Come on, Justin. Josh and I have talked about it, and he knows how much I miss you."

"I miss you, too, Daph. But I gotta get to school now. Don't forget the condoms!"

Heading out in time for your afternoon classes, you tighten the scarf around your neck as a light dusting of snow flurries clings to your lowered lashes. You recognize Josh's boots plodding toward the building from a few feet away.

"Justin. Hey." He narrows the gap between you and stops. "I've got reservations at the restaurant tomorrow night. You're coming with us, right?"

"Yeah, sure. Thanks, Josh." Why the hell do they want you to tag along? You guess they're not going to find the nearest bathroom as soon as they see each other and fuck.

Crazy breeders.


"Shit!" The scoop of vanilla ice cream you just dropped in your glass of Coke sinks to the bottom real fast, forcing rivers of gooey liquid over the rim and onto your mom's spotless countertop. "Shit! Shit! Shit!" You should clean it up, but you're in a hurry, grabbing your homemade Coke float and popping a blank tape into the VCR just as your movie comes on.

"Mommy! Look what Justin did!" Your five-year-old bacterial infection of a sister is at it again. She eyeballs your soda fountain gone awry with mischief on her mind when they walk into the kitchen after her playdate. "He made a very big mess in here!" she tattles, sticking her tongue out at you in true devil-child fashion.

Fortunately, your arsenal is much more sophisticated. You flip her the bird behind your mom's back and set the table for dinner when you're told.

"I wanna be a cartoonist or computer animator when I get out of art school." Taking another slab of meat loaf from the platter, you grin. Your brand new ambition just might be the best idea you've ever had.

"Art school?" Your dad looks up from his dish. "I always thought you'd go to Dartmouth, Justin. Where I went. You can certainly get in if you do as well in high school as you're doing in middle school."

"Yeah, but I'm gonna be an artist. I recorded Yellow Submarine today so I can watch it whenever I want to. It'd be really fun to make animated movies."

"There's plenty of time to talk colleges, Craig. Justin's only in seventh grade." Your mom gets up to refill her glass. "Don't play with your food, Molly," she says just before the family discussion hangs a left turn into the future of technology.

"You know, that VCR in there will be obsolete pretty soon," your dad tells her. "I was looking through Sony's catalog of new products at the store, and I saw that they're making DVD players now."

Your head pops up. "DVD players?"

"New devices to play movies recorded on thin little discs just like music CDs. A whole new format is going to take over in a few years." He laughs when he thinks about the rapidly approaching digital video disc age and Taylor Electronics. "Everyone will need to buy a DVD player to watch them."

"Wait. What?" You drop your fork into your mashed potatoes, suddenly realizing how this new format is going to affect you personally. "You mean every movie ever made will have to be put on a disc? It could take forever before they get around to Yellow Submarine!"

You don't know it yet, but your newly recorded video cassette tape is about to become your most prized possession, sticking with you from this very night in 1995 to wherever your life may lead.


"Are you coming to bed anytime soon?" You lean over your husband's shoulder from behind as he lies in his chaise on the terrace, kissing the side of his neck.

He traps your hand on his chest with a flattened palm. "You done working?"

"Yeah. Come on."

"Why don't we sleep out here?"

"All night? I thought you had an early meeting tomorrow."

"I do."

"It's getting cold."

"I'll keep you warm."

Your eyebrows zigzag a little more with every odd statement he makes. "Sleep outside in one chair?" Freeing your hand, you stand up and walk around in front of him. "What's wrong?"

Brian sips at his whiskey, keeping his head down. "When did you have it framed?"

"Oh, that." You glance at the new addition above your bed through the French doors. "This morning. Just a spur of the moment thing, actually. I called Thomas Brothers to set up an appointment, and Anthony said Adam was out of town but he could come out right away because he didn't have anything booked until the afternoon. I didn't call you to come home because Anthony's the str—"

"It creeps me out."

"—the straight one. What creeps you out? The painting?"

"Yes, the painting." He squints into his tumbler. "It's . . ."

"It represents a new beginning. I think it's the most significant work I've ever done, considering the role it played in recovering my lost memories."

Brian sets his drink on the table and finally looks you in the eye. "That's what it is for you. For me, it dredges up an agonizing past I'd rather not relive every time I walk into our bedroom. Can't you see that?"

What you see is a partner who's weathered many a storm with you, your hard-won, resilient relationship with him finally turning out the way you'd always imagined it could be. How insensitive of you to overlook what your albatross-turned-savior has been doing to him all this time. "Fuck. I'm really sorry, Brian. I've been so self-absorbed." The fateful thwack of a baseball bat shattering the best night of your lives crackles in your ear, no longer a mere story that happened to someone else. "I haven't been thinking about your feelings."

"Can we put it somewhere else?"

"Yeah. Let's get it down." You pull him inside and take off your shoes, both of you standing on the bed and carefully detaching the large piece from its hooks. "We can drag it out to the pool house. Or maybe the stables. No one will find it in there."

"I didn't mean . . ." He looks puzzled, but you're only getting started.

"I know what you mean. You're afraid you won't be able to perform with it hanging right above your head. But I'm not gonna let that happen. We're gonna dump it as far away from here as we can."

"Won't be able to perform? Me?" Brian scoffs at your incorrigible ass, shaking his head from side to side. "You're a brat, you know that? You're a thirty-year-old brat." Helping you prop the painting against the wall outside your bedroom door, he can't wait to get his hands on you.

He's going to have to hold that thought, though.

"A thirty-year-old brat? Did you just call me thirty? Fucking thirty?!" You stop for a second to work out the current date in your mind, such trivial information rarely on the tip of your tongue because Lindsay keeps track of where you need to be and when. Hardly believing it's the last day of your twenty-ninth year, you don't lose it until your husband makes a sweeping gesture out of pointing toward the antique grandfather clock at the end of the hallway.

He wishes he had a picture of your face to keep for all posterity when you see that it's eight minutes after midnight.

"Fuck! I'm fucking thirty! How did this happen, Brian? Fuck!"



With Daphne's plane scheduled to land in two hours, you shower and shave late Friday afternoon, flashbacks of home dancing before your eyes as you dress. Hearing Josh rush in from work and grab a quick shower in his own bathroom, you're looking forward to going with him to meet her at the airport and on to a big steak dinner from there. You're finishing up your beer in the living room when he comes out. "Ready for a big night? I know Daphne is!"

"Hell, yeah! Let's just say bye to Aunt Meg before we take off. I haven't seen her since yesterday."

Your sense of uneasiness goes from bad to worse when Meg doesn't respond to your knocks, an eerie silence the only thing you encounter when you try to check in with her.

"Aunt Meg!" Josh pounds on the door with his fist. "What the fuck is she doing in there?" He sighs and looks at his watch.

"God, I hope . . ." You're reluctant to voice your growing fear. You know something he has yet to learn, having seen her earlier in the day and heard all about the mess in which she'd just landed. "Are you okay, Meg?" you yell out, jamming your finger into the doorbell getting you nowhere.

That's when Josh remembers they'd given each other emergency keys to their apartments when she first moved in and hurries back into your place to get it.

"Oh, my God." You had a feeling it wasn't going to be pretty.

"Jesus." Josh avoids stepping on the shards of glass that were once a gin bottle and crouches down beside his aunt where she lies on the kitchen floor. "I've told her not to keep the hard stuff in the cabinet over the fridge. She has to climb up to reach it." He takes her wrist and feels for a pulse.

You wade through the spilled liquor with squishy footsteps and right an overturned dining room chair when he says she's still breathing. Moistening a handful of paper towels under the faucet, you kneel down to wipe the dried blood from the bottom of her heel. "I guess she stepped on a piece of glass when she fell. This is a bad cut."

"She hates shoes. She'd go to work barefoot if they'd let her." Josh thanks you for cleaning her foot. "It takes hours for her to get this smashed, but she should have just been getting home. The time element doesn't add up."

Since Meg's managed to drink herself into a stupor and knock herself out, it's up to you to explain. "She left the gallery early today. Well, actually, was asked to leave was how she put it. I'd just finished my last class around noon and was passing by the Grey when I saw her come out. We walked home together, and she admitted to me they'd smelled alcohol on her breath. And that it wasn't the first time. Her boss told her she needed help and to consider herself on a leave of absence until she got it." You can tell he's not too surprised about her predicament, correctly gathering as you've come to know them that he takes more care of her than the reverse. You see him ready to dial 911 when the foot you're dabbing with wet paper towels starts to squirm. "Josh, look. She's waking up."

Meg's eyes peel open one at a time, a pained moan escaping from her core.

"Don't move, Aunt Meg. I'm calling for an ambulance."

"I'm fine. Really." Slowly raising her head and shoulders, she looks around and frowns at the damage. "I must have slipped. I remember scooting the chair over . . ."

"Are you sure you're all right?" You lob the bloodied wad of towels into the trash.

"Yeah . . . just . . . maybe if you guys can help me up." She sinks into the sofa as if it's her long lost friend after you and Josh ease her over to it. Pinching in on her temples, she grumbles something about the room spinning and totally screwing up this time.

"We're gonna talk about that," Josh assures her, "but first I gotta text Daphne. Her plane's getting in, and she's expecting us to be there." Thumbs swiftly typing, he revises the arrangements, asking Daph to hop in a taxi and come to the apartment. Adding that he'll pay the fare and explain everything when she arrives, he turns back to his aunt and shushes her when she starts to apologize for ruining his plans. "You know you need to get this under control, Aunt Meg. We can't ignore it any longer. Justin told me what happened at the gallery."

"Did he tell you my job is on the line? I swear, I'm gonna kick this thing. I have to."

At least she's facing her problem. You offer to whip up your grandmother's magic potion to help her recover from this latest blunder. "If you can stand it. Last time, the stink freaked you out."

"I don't know what's in that crap, but it worked like a charm. I can force it down to get off this merry-go-round."

"I'll see what I can do. Hang on." You walk across the hall to your own kitchen and start mixing away.

A much needed cigarette before you go back takes you out to your private little retreat on the fire escape, where you pull up the stool you'd bought on your second day in the city and stashed there for times like this. Lighting up, you suck in a most satisfying lungful of toxins, watching the never-ending parade of vehicles crawling up and down the street. You expect one of the Yellow Cabs to stop any minute now and let Daphne out.

Your curiosity piques when you spot a sleek black limousine inching its way over to the curb right beneath you, seriously doubting that any of your neighbors would have chartered such a lavish ride. Exhaling a thin plume of smoke as evening falls, you're stunned to observe one Daphne Chanders emerge while a uniformed chauffeur holds her door open with a white-gloved hand. 'What have you done, Daph?!' is all you can think of as you picture Josh coughing up the extravagant expense, but that image vanishes into thin air when you see what happens next.

It feels like a lifetime since you've held him. Kissed him. Made love to him. And yet there he is three stories below, ducking as he follows her out of the back of the limo. Impossibly more handsome than the last time you'd seen him, Brian straightens up elegantly and towers over the driver, going for his wallet in the inside breast pocket of his full-length camel hair overcoat.

Joining your blown mind, your heart bursts out of your chest.

predec2predec2 on November 3rd, 2013 09:37 pm (UTC)
Woot! Woot! I asked the other day about an update, and here it is! I've missed this story.;) Somehow I knew Brian would show up - thought he would just be at the steakhouse, but I like this scenario better.;) I'm really enjoying this story, Linda. I'll be looking forward to the next update.:)

BTW, I think it's very difficult to write in 2nd person, but I think you are doing it quite well.:) *Hugs* ~Kim
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 3rd, 2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Kim. This chapter has been stalled for such a long time, but your kind words truly did help to lift the block and get it finished.

Yeah, Daph and Josh had originally planned to get Justin to go with them to dinner, where he'd be shocked to see that Brian had come to NY with her, but Meg kind of screwed that up. LOL (I like this scenario better, too!)

Hopefully, the next chapter will behave and let itself be written with a minimum of problems. It's so crazy - I have every detail of the plot of this fic mapped out. But I couldn't write a decent sentence half the time for this chap.

I thought 2nd person would be extremely difficult and limiting before I tried it, but I was happy to find out it's not.

Thanks again for spurring this chapter along! ♥

Hugs, Linda
techgirl_on_ijtechgirl_on_ij on November 3rd, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
Love young Justin telling his dad he's going to be an artist!

So great that Brian is coming to visit. Very romantic.

Great update!
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 3rd, 2013 10:16 pm (UTC)
Hey, you! How was your weekend?

Yeah, young Justin has a pretty good sense of himself at 12 years old. He's got 5 more years before his dad turns into a raging asshole.

A month alone was all Brian could take. He needs his Sunshine.

Thanks for the sweet comment.

shadownyc: b/j 512 Happy Kiss by stephmckshadownyc on November 4th, 2013 12:08 am (UTC)
I was hoping Daphne & Josh had a great surprise in mind.

I'm glad B/J were able to deal with the painting before it became any more of an issue. It's great that they can read each other's mind.

Great chapter! Glad to see more of this story.
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 4th, 2013 04:49 am (UTC)
Yeah, Daphne and Josh were definitely setting Justin up for a huge surprise - until Meg threw a monkey wrench in there.

B/J certainly have learned to read the other's mind after all this time.

Thanks you so much for your interest in this story. I really appreciate it. ♥
rulisteningbjrulisteningbj on November 4th, 2013 12:21 am (UTC)
So happy to see this. Wonderful update. You would never know you have been struggling with it. Great writing.

Dee Dee
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 4th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
Thank you, Dee Dee, for the vote of confidence. Glad you liked this chapter. Your comment makes me sooo happy! ♥
Toto_too514: Crayonstoto_too514 on November 4th, 2013 12:23 am (UTC)
SOOOO happy to see an update! This was a great installment too. I just love the peeks we get at the life of young Justin! They feel so completely real!
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 4th, 2013 05:02 am (UTC)
Thanks, Trish! Glad to know you liked this chapter.

Yeah, young Justin just seems to resonate with me. These glimpses into his childhood feel real to me, too.

I'm happy you're still reading and liking this story. ♥
JonDH: Hunkthespian15 on November 4th, 2013 02:06 am (UTC)
Very good story telling. :)
Was Justing a smoker? :o Shame on him. :o
Hugs, Jon
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 4th, 2013 05:09 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jon. Glad you're still reading and enjoying this fic.

Yeah, the first glimpse we get of Justin in 101 is of him taking the cigarette from behind his ear and lighting it as he gawks at the sights on Liberty Avenue. Most other times, he and Daphne are smoking when they hang out together. I agree - shame on him, but that's how the character was written in the show.

*Hugs back*
JonDH: Muppet Beekerthespian15 on November 4th, 2013 06:18 am (UTC)
Ah, yes the early days.
kinwad on November 4th, 2013 01:31 pm (UTC)
Linda, this is such a wonderful series! And this is such a love update! 2nd person POV can be tricky but you're really nailing it!
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 5th, 2013 04:52 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, Kin. I'm thrilled to know you're still reading and enjoying this fic. 2nd person is turning out to be fun. I'm glad I gave it a try.
guavejuiceguavejuice on November 4th, 2013 02:21 pm (UTC)
At last! I've been waiting for an update!!
It's so beautifully written and I love how B/J are so loving and committed and so much IC :)
*hugs you tight*

oh and I totally adore this image he traps your hand on his chest with a flattened palm.

later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 5th, 2013 04:56 am (UTC)
Thank you, V., for such a nice comment. I'm so happy that you're still liking this fic. ♥

urugwaj: thinkurugwaj on November 5th, 2013 04:28 pm (UTC)
I love all 3 of your Justins. His relation with his small sister is fantastic! You did it fantastic!
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 5th, 2013 04:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really happy that you're liking this fic.

Yeah, Justin's little sister was a pest, I think. Have you seen the deleted scene that they shot (but never used on the show) of Randy and a little girl who looks about 5 or 6 playing his sister where he calls her a bacterial infection? It's so funny. It's not the same girl who played his sis in the show.

urugwaj: I'm... special editionurugwaj on November 5th, 2013 05:38 pm (UTC)
You mean that scene when Justin watch tv and see "Dirty dancing" too? This is not the same girl? O_o Are you sure? I must look at in once again :)
Oh, I want to tell you more about your fic, abut things that I soooo like there, but... I can't ;( But you must know - I love this fic!
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 5th, 2013 06:31 pm (UTC)
I don't remember if he was watching Dirty Dancing in the scene I'm talking about. (I actually don't think I've ever seen a scene where he's watching that movie.)

In the scene I'm talking about, he's sitting on a couch in the den, and his mom is saying they're going somewhere, but he doesn't want to go. The little girl mocks him and repeats, "He doesn't WANT to go!" He cusses at her and his mom says, "Your father and I have asked you not to use those words in front of your sister." That's when he says, "She's not my sister. She's a bacterial infection for which there is no cure." He's just a typical surly teenage boy who wants to be left alone and not bugged by his mom and sister. (Randy plays it to perfection - I know because I've raised 2 boys. LOL They both went through the same phase.)

Anyway, the little girl is younger than the one who plays Molly in 110 when Justin goes home to her birthday party.

Thanks so much for saying more nice things about the fic! ♥
urugwaj: walkurugwaj on November 5th, 2013 06:50 pm (UTC)
You're right about that girl (~8min.) and about Randy as a real teen :) That girl was good too.
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 5th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
You found it!! Yay! I've seen it on one of my DVDs extra bonus reels or something like that - it was gonna take me forever to find it again because I don't know which one it's on. LOL

Although the one I have cuts off before he finds Dirty Dancing on TV. That's so perfect! I'm glad I saw this youtube clip. Thanks so much for the link. ♥
908718908718 on November 14th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
dapper don Brian
So glad Brian surprised Justin
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on November 14th, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
Re: dapper don Brian
Yeah, Brian is certainly the Dapper Don. I wish I could have filmed this scene I wrote of him following Daph out of the back of the limo. I have the look of it in vivid detail in my brain. Don't know how well I translated it to the written word, though.

Thanks for the comment. It means so much to me. ♥