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Summary: Companion piece for to build a dream on. It's not set up the
same, with, you know, the numbered thing. But this is Justin's point
of view (before and) during Brian's drunk and mushy phone call. (tis drabble-y)
Justin drinks red wine.
He finds the white too sweet (too comfortable) - it settles in his stomach warm and promising. He drinks red instead: bitter, so bitter and it turns his stomach and never settles. Doesn’t let him rest or think about anything other that the nauseating twist in his gut. (but, oh, he thinks anyway)
It tastes like the earth - dirt and grass and pine leaves. What he imagines autumn would taste like: everything dying, ending, shifting to reds and oranges and browns (the colors of passion, yearning, and regret). It makes him think of Pittsburgh and Brian and a house that could’ve been his greatest canvas. His most challenging endeavor.
His cell phone sits next to the bottle (placed just so like a twisted avatar, a tether), and he can’t help stealing glances. Stealing minutes and hours from himself, just waiting – waiting – for Brian to ask him just once more to come home. He knows he won’t be able to say no again; they’ll be no arguments, no words between them – Justin knows he’ll just say okay and he’ll use the little he has managed to save and won’t be able to wait until morning to leave.
He has a suitcase he’s unable to unpack. He knows if he does his apartment will receive the title of home and the loft will be nothing but brick and cold metal. He’s scared if he lets himself ever really settle in New York he will never go back to Pittsburgh; to the loft’s frigid atmosphere that was really the warmest place he’s ever laid his head. So he keeps the suitcase underneath his bed and tells himself he just hasn’t gotten around to emptying it yet.
Sometimes he manages to convince himself it’s the truth.
When Brian calls, Justin has already drank half the bottle (he has already painted with the colors of yearning and regret), and when he answers he runs his fingers over the canvas he’s been painting for years. (the canvas of him and Brian; the one painting Justin will never finish, never stop creating)
Brian’s voice is distant over the line, and he says: How is it that - why, Justin, when. Fuck me.
Justin smiles, pulls his bottom lip between his teeth, and says, “You’re drunk, Brian. Try that sentence again.”
Why did you have to leave just when I was ready to love you like - like you were always waiting for me too.
The sentence plows through him with a heaviness he’s never felt before. A blow that no bat or hand could compare to; because, in that instant, Justin knows that Brian is right. Brian has, in his drunken clumsiness, managed to make the most clever (and grounding) observation, inadvertently pointing out Justin’s most hated character flaw: his inability to recognize when he has received exactly what he wants.
“Brian, I -”
There’s nothing to say. No excuses, no reasons, no answer to Brian’s question. He almost tells him the things he always does; about his art, how Warhol wouldn’tve been Warhol if, and how it’s better this way, no regrets, right? But it’s all bullshit (it’s always been). They weren’t changing each other - Brian wasn’t turning into a different person - they were, the both of them, growing up. They were standing on a plateau overlooking possibility and all the things he had ever wanted - and Justin ran. He panicked and ran, and it had nothing to do with a career (he never wanted to be Andy fucking Warhol).
He wanted to always be Justin Taylor: artist, idealist, great fucking dancer, and a man who would risk anything – give up everything – for what he knew was right.
“I want you to come home.”
And this was right. Brian was right. Pittsburgh and Debbie, Michael, his mother, Emmett dancing with his fucking arms thrown above his head to Abba; that was home, it was where he belonged. The place he’d never leave anything unpacked because he’d want to stay forever; where he’d drink white wine, light and sweet, and know there would always be someone there to toast with him.
“I love you.”
“Go to sleep, Brian,” Justin says, “and I’ll be there in the morning.”
He listens for only a few minutes to Brian’s gentle snoring (only long enough to hear a voice that can only be Emmett's, say: Oh, baby, what am I going to do with you?); then he hastily scribbles a note to his roommate, takes the money he’s been saving (hidden in the ceiling light), and hopes to God there’s a red eye flight out of LaGuardia.
Because, if not, he’ll have to go to Kennedy.