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10 December 2016 @ 11:43 pm

(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.



"What a mess. Why the hell haven't we done this before now?" You unfold the top of yet another cardboard box and peek in, frowning at the random belongings you haven't seen in six months.

Brian isn't making any better headway than you are going through his long lost things. "After living without this shit all this time, we could probably get rid of it and never miss it."

"That's why I've got a throw away stack going on over here. Feel free to add to it." You'd had your life in SoHo packed up and shipped to your property in West Virginia, meeting the truck on your doorstep at the same time Brian's loft arrived in its own crates. Blending the essentials from both moving vans, you worked together to create a warm, eclectic home. Only problem seems to be the miscellaneous stuff relegated to one of the spare rooms upstairs. There'd always been something more exciting to do than deal with it. But now you have to. "We only have a week until Josh and Daphne and the twins get here for their visit. And Meg texted me this morning that she'll be able to make it, too. I knew we should have fixed up these three bedrooms sooner."

Brian lets out a small groan. "You thinking what I'm thinking? If anyone can furnish and decorate in a crunch, it's Emmett. Let's give him a call."

Your face lights up. Not only do you have the most brilliant boyfriend on the planet, but you've also just spied your favorite woolen scarf wedged between some old NYU textbooks. "I've been looking for this!"

"And you find it in July." Brian shakes his head and laughs. "Hey . . ." He digs deeper into the pile he's been sorting through and scoops up a handful of black velvet from the bottom of it. "Remember these?"

Your eyebrows arch halfway up into your forehead when you look over at him. "No, Brian. I don't remember ever seeing our wedding rings before. Or shopping for them. Or trying them on the day we picked them out. Or—"

"Okay, smart-ass. Come over here." He waits for you to set a dusty desk lamp aside and pulls you close when you cross the room.

You'll never get tired of the way he kisses you while he palms the back of your neck. You watch him hesitate briefly then pry open the small boxes. "Gorgeous. Just like the day we bought them." Your thumb traces over the exposed surface of the slightly larger fourteen karat gold band. The one that was going to be yours.

"See if it still fits."


He's already loosening both of them from their slotted nests. "All right. If you insist. I'll put mine on, too. I'm sure my slender fingers are the same size they were seven years ago."

"What are you saying? I have fat fingers?!"

"Your fingers are great, Sunshine. See?" He works your wedding ring onto your left hand and raises it to eye level between you. "Perfect."

A swarm of butterflies awakens in the pit of your stomach when he drops his ring into your other hand. You slide it down over his tiny knuckle with halted breath. What exactly is happening?

"We talked about having them engraved."

"We did."

"Still want to?"

You check the carpet for nonexistent stains, slowly looking back up at him. "What are we doing, Brian?"


Barely able to concentrate on the mountain of homework that's due the next day, you finally cross the last 't' and dot the last 'i' on your English paper and throw everything into your backpack. Eight forty-five. Your stomach says feed me, but it's time to get ready to leave.

A shower later, you lean close to your bathroom mirror with a towel around your waist, inspecting the seventeen-year-old complexion you thought would never clear up. Smooth as silk, once you flip on your electric razor and take care of the thinly scattered whiskers that make an appearance every few days. Teetering on the brink of manhood isn't easy, but that's where your master plan comes in. Even if you have to take the bus to get there.

"Kind of late to be out, isn't it? Especially on a school night. Why don't you come home with me? No? Go on home to your mommy. Go on."

Christ, what an asshole. Why the hell did you think a circus sideshow like Liberty Avenue was the only place to get laid again? You feel like an underage fish out of water, and you don't even know the bus schedule back to the suburbs. Some master plan.

You inhale a long drag off your cigarette and walk away from the creep, clueless, aimless, and a litany of other lesses as the sewer vapors float up from the street and swirl around your ankles. Stopping against a lamppost, you close your eyes and try to disappear.

And that's when he spots you. That's when your life begins. Years from now, you'll be lying in his arms in front of a crackling fire and he'll admit you'd stolen his heart on that very first night.

The night you became a man.


Lindsay fires up her computer and clicks on the Bloom Gallery's sales template, positively giddy over the lucrative deal and how quickly it went down. She knows it'll be quite some time, if ever, before she gets out of the way and watches another piece utterly sell itself as yours did. With the staggering amount of work she didn't do, it almost seems wrong to pocket her cut. Typing the date in the appropriate box, she bids that thought a swift parting. Hey, no need to overthink this. "So, Tamara, if I can just get some information from you, we can have your painting delivered tomorrow before five p.m. Name, address, phone number. That kind of stuff."

"Okay, sure." Tamara rattles off her address and phone number while she fishes in her bag through a sea of plastic credit, opting to use her American Express card to pay for the pricey addition to her living room makeover. She wonders what's up with the shift in Lindsay's demeanor when she hands over her credit card and driver's license as valid I.D.

"Hobbs?! Your name is Tamara Hobbs?" Lindsay's face turns into a big fat grimace as she recalls the wrath she felt sitting in a packed courtroom and hearing the decision handed down by one sickeningly biased judge. The blatant discrimination heaped upon her and members of her community by the despicable Regular Roy still festers to this day. She thinks of your sweet, innocent, eighteen-year-old self, critically injured by Satan incarnate in such a vicious hate crime. Eyeing the pretty girl across her desk, she subtly shakes her head from side to side. It can't be. It just can't be.

"Yeah. Why?"

"Your little boy's so cute. I think I heard you call him Christopher that day you were asking where the restroom was and you found Justin's painting in the storeroom?" It's got to be a coincidence . . . It's got to be a coincidence . . . Lindsay writes up the transaction as if her pulse weren't racing and her mind weren't darting in a thousand different directions at once. "Is he named after your husband?" She looks up from the screen and manages a weak smile.

"Uh-huh. Chris always said he couldn't wait to have a son and raise him to be a miniature version of himself. He's getting his wish, too." Tamara laughs and pulls out a wallet-sized family photo to show Lindsay. "Some days Christopher Junior can be a real monster!"

"Oh!" Lindsay might have to throw up. "I mean, oh, I guess one monster in the family is enough." Aiming visible contempt at your former classmate's likeness, she half-expects the picture to start smoldering in his wife's hands and blister her skin. She runs the girl's card and returns it to her along with her I.D. "Pennsylvania sales tax is six percent. So on your hundred thousand dollar purchase, that's six thousand dollars. One hundred and six thousand dollars you and your husband just shelled out for Justin's work of art."

"Yeah, I know." Tamara skews a look at Lindsay and stands to wrap up the meeting that's taken a rather odd turn. "Please thank Mr. Taylor for me again. I'm so happy he decided to sell after all."

Lindsay scoots her chair back from her desk and rises also. Offering a businesslike handshake, she plasters a phony grin over the rage. "Don't worry, Mrs. Hobbs. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to hear that his personal masterpiece will be hanging in your home."



Still the most beautiful guy you've ever laid eyes on, Brian brings the fourth finger on your left hand to his lips and kisses the never-ending gold circle he's just placed on it. "You once said we don't need rings or vows to prove that we love each other, and it's true, but why should we hide these away in a drawer for another seven years? We're already married in every way that counts." His eyes pierce through yours. "Technically." He cocks his head and grins.

You want to memorize every pore in his face at this very second, but the membranes in your nose are stinging and your vision is blurred with welling moisture. Throwing your arms around his neck, you fight to keep it together. "God, I love you so much! I was just a kid when I fell in love with you, but thank fuck you waited for me to grow up. You were always there for me no matter what, mentoring, protecting, shaping who I am today. We've made it through everything, and now, just when I think it couldn't get any better, you want to be husbands."

"Husbands. Partners. Whatever you want to call it. You know I love you, Justin. Just promise me we won't get weird."

"Too late." You squeeze him closer. "We're already weird. Unorthodox. Uniquely screwed up. We wouldn't be us if we weren't." Brushing away a happy tear, you kiss him long and hard, your dueling tongues and traveling hands postponing project Clean Out the Guestroom for now and landing you down the hall in your bed.

Hours later, exhausted and sated, you lie tangled together on the threshold of sleep. You've been here a million times before, and you'll be here a million times again, yet why is this so different? You close your eyes and listen. There simply are no words for the first time your married hearts beat as one.

Maybe that's why there are dreams. Hypnotic dreams seeping into your brain, compelling you to slip from your lightly-snoring husband's grasp and follow them into the night.

Haunting dreams you must paint.

~ ~ ~ THE END ~ ~ ~
bksbraceletbksbracelet on December 11th, 2016 07:57 am (UTC)
Wonderful story and a it was an amazing twist to have the carthartic painting sold to Chris Hobbs for an obscene amount of money. I wonder if Lindsay will tell Justin and Brian and what their individual responses would be. Also I suspect if they knew they would donate the money to some gay organisation lol
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on December 15th, 2016 08:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Chris! And thanks for hanging in there and reading after the long gap between chapters. It means the world to me to know that you liked this story and the way it ended. ♥

Alexiel: stellarshinya_diey on December 11th, 2016 12:12 pm (UTC)
You are a cruel woman... What happens with the Hobbs plot? You can't leave it like that *pouts*
Great story ^^
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on December 15th, 2016 08:31 pm (UTC)
Sorry! I so didn't mean to be cruel. LOL I think Hobbs finding out which painting his wife bought could be a whole fic in itself. Some people have been asking for a sequel . . .

Thank you so much for reading and leaving comments along the way with this story. I means so much to me. ♥

Hike: Brian&Justin4hikinggirl70 on December 11th, 2016 02:46 pm (UTC)
That was an incredible fic! Love how Brian and Justin can finally be free of all the bad things that happen in their lives.
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on December 15th, 2016 08:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really glad you liked this story and left me so many beautiful comments on the chapters even when there was such a long gap in time to get it finished. It means the world to me! ♥

JonDH: Pooh & Pigletthespian15 on December 11th, 2016 02:51 pm (UTC)

You have to write an Epilogue for the Epilogue. :o
I need to "see" Hobbs have a cow when he sees the name on the painting. :p
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on December 15th, 2016 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jon! I've heard from a few readers that I can't leave it here. I think Hobbs finding out which painting his wife bought could be a whole fic in itself! LOL Maybe a sequel is in order?

Thank you for reading from the beginning and leaving comments on all the chaps. It means so much to me that you liked it. ♥

Hugs, Linda
JonDH: Pooh & Pigletthespian15 on December 16th, 2016 02:41 am (UTC)
Oh, a sequel sounds like a good idea. :)
guavejuiceguavejuice on December 11th, 2016 07:05 pm (UTC)
There simply are no words for the first time your married hearts beat as one.


And there are simply no words to describe the way I feel now that your B/J story has come full circle in the most wonderful beautiful way. May Justin only paint his hypnotic dreams rather than his nightmares from now on <3
Thank you so much for this fabulous story, a story I cherish so much (you know why <3)
Take care my beautiful friend
Hugs you
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on December 15th, 2016 08:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this beautiful comment, V! It means so much to me that you read from the beginning and liked this story.

I think one point wasn't clear in the way I wrote it, though. I tried to convey that the night they put their rings on and considered themselves married was the first night Justin was awakened by the dream that made him paint the nightmarish piece that led to the recovery of his lost memories. I kept trying to revise the end of the epilogue until it was clear, but now I'm wondering if it isn't clear at all. I should try to fix that.

But I thank you again for all your lovely feedback along the way with every chapter of this story. It means the world to me. ♥

Hugs, Linda
toshiani007 on December 11th, 2016 07:47 pm (UTC)
Amazing story, Linda, I loved it!!!
Big hug, my dear friend!!!
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on December 15th, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Ani!! It's so nice to know you loved this story, and I'm very appreciative that you hung in there and finished reading it after the long gap between chapters. Thank you for all the sweet comments along the way! ♥

Hugs, Linda
kinwad: head touchkinwad on December 12th, 2016 01:06 pm (UTC)
Linda, you certainly did your story justice! Wonderful fic! Thank you for sharing! *hugs*
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on December 15th, 2016 08:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Kin! I'm happy to know you liked this story and hung in there to finish it after the long gap between chapters. All your wonderful comments along the way have meant the world to me! ♥

techgirl_on_ijtechgirl_on_ij on December 15th, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC)
Such a wonderful ending to an amazing story♥

Smooch and kram
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on December 15th, 2016 08:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm happy you liked the ending, and thanks for all your positive encouragement while I struggled to get it finished. ♥

smooch and kram
rulisteningbjrulisteningbj on January 5th, 2017 02:44 am (UTC)
I finally got a chance to finish this story, or start all over and read to the end tonight. It was so much fun going back and reading and remembering. I have to agree with everyone else that it screams for a sequel. I know you struggled with finishing it with all your personal life issues. Thank you for hanging in there it was so worth the wait. You are truly a talented writer. Amazing in fact. I hope 2017 will be much smoother for you.

Dee Dee
later2nite: j at PIFAlater2nite on January 11th, 2017 03:43 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, Dee Dee. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply, but RL is at it again for me.

I'm so happy you liked this story and the ending, and I'm really glad you picked it up again and think the ending was worth the wait. Thank you for the beautiful compliment, too. It means the world to me that you like my writing. ♥