Justin has another ordinary day....he thinks. Set post 5.13. Justin is in New York, when something new happens.
It isn’t some huge revelation that brings him tearfully to his knees or a sudden explosion of colour and light and sound that makes him gasp and freeze. It isn’t even a dream or nightmare that he jerks awake from, and finds himself wrapped in Brian’s arms. It never is. That only happens in the movies.
Instead, he’s in
Since it’s one large warehouse room divided by thin cubicle-like walls, there’s a lot of bustling about and tripping over one another to get to the sinks or the extra paint or whatever. Each student uses his respective space differently. Some sit quietly and paint, meditating on colours and textures. Others draw, or do sculpture work. One girl makes large sculptures entirely out of beads and wire. Some wear earplugs for complete silence, others huge headphones so they can properly rock out.
Justin is one of those people who wear headphones. He listens to his iPod or the radio or whatever. He always listens to music when he works. When it happens, he’s listening to some random music
Two hours later and his warm-up canvas has turned into a real project, and he likes it a lot better than what he was originally planning on doing. He finishes as much as he can in the next two and half hours and then realizes that he has to let this layer dry before he can do what he wants to do next. So he decides he’s done for the day and cleans up, saying goodbye to his studio neighbor, Hanna. Halfway to the subway to get home, his stomach growls and he remembers that he needs to go grocery shopping because he’s out of everything except Lucky Charms cereal and a tomato.
He finds the closest supermarket and goes in, searching the aisles for what he needs. He dumps a jar of peanut butter, a bag of whole wheat bread (he got used to eating it while living with Brian and never stopped) and Nutella into his cart. He remembers a craving for salad he’d had the other day, and makes his way to the produce department. He grabs at random vegetables, the cheapest ones, tossing them into his cart. He picks up a head of lettuce and for some reason thinks about his earlier occurrence of déjà vu. He frowns as he puts things in his cart a little more slowly. There’s a memory to go with that, but it’s so faint. He wants to pull it forward, but it’s fighting him. He lets it go for the moment as he buys his food, pushing it away but making a mental note to look at it again.
He’s zoned out on the subway, sketchbook open to a blank page in his lap, when he picks up a pencil and begins to draw. He’s not even paying attention to his hand. Instead, he’s thinking about that memory, trying to drag it out. He knows that it will bother him like crazy if he lets it go, and he’s to stubborn to do that anyway. Just as his hand begins to seize and cramp, he hears the announcement that his stop is coming up. He looks down at his sketchpad.
Justin has drawn Brian hundreds, probably thousands of times. He’s drawn him sleeping, working, fucking, frowning, grinning his trademark shit-eating grin, all sorts of ways. But this portrait he’d unconsciously drawn was new. It was Brian smiling. Not his shit-eating grin, not his “I’m with Gus” smile, not his amused smile. No, this was different. This smile was open and free and joyful and so incredibly loving. This is a smile Justin doesn’t think he’s ever seen before, and he wonders where his brain had come up with it. He doesn’t have much time to dwell on it, though, because the train is at his stop and he has to get off.
Justin puts his food away, then turns to grab the milk. He leaves the refrigerator door open, and the light glancing off the counter catches his eye, something familiar in the slant of the blue light on the shining white tabletop. Something fades into his mind, a feeling of giddy movement, something that looks like a flash of Brian’s smile, a strain of music he’d heard long ago. He has no idea what that is, so he stares hard at the refrigerator light on the counter before putting the milk away and sitting down on the bed, straining to pull that weird memory from wherever it is hiding. He gets up and retrieves his sketchbook, sitting once more on the bed and staring down at the drawing of Brian with that beautiful unfamiliar expression on his face.
The memory –memories?- come slowly, like a reverse fog, or a Polaroid developing. First the sound of Daphne’s laughter, her pink dress. Now he knows why that particular colour was so familiar. Then comes Brian’s face, his adoring look as he stared at Justin. Justin gets up from the bed and begins to pace. Step by step, the dance comes back to him. The scarf, unblemished. That memory makes him stop and press the heel of his palms to his eyes. And then he remembers Brian’s face. The absolute adoring joy, the openness, the love in his eyes as they danced. Brian smiling, truly and absolutely smiling. Justin sits heavily down on the bed, uncertain of what to do.
It is like remembering times when you were three, or eight, or some random age when you barely remember most things, but then suddenly there’s an extremely vivid memory. It’s like that, but this memory is extremely important and Justin doesn’t know what to do, because he and Brian have hardly talked three times in a little under a year. But then his mind shoots him back the image of Brian’s wonderful smile, and Justin fishes out his cell phone and presses speed dial.
“What?” Brian answers in his work voice, which means he’s at Kinnetic.
“Brian.” Justin can barely make his shocked voice go above a whisper, and he can practically feel Brian tense and snap to full alertness.
“Justin.” Brian’s voice is tight, concerned, poised for the worst. “Justin, what’s wrong?” he asks after Justin cant get his throat to work right.
“I….I….” He can barely get the words out, so he forces them out in a breathless whispered rush. “I remember, Brian. All of it. I remembered.”
He hears Brian’s sharp intake of breath. “Are you okay? Justin?”
Justin exhales in a slow whoosh of air. He says the first thing that comes to his mind. “I wish you’d smile that way more often.”