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Title: What Is and What Should Have Been…
Story Type: AU
Word Count: 1683
Warnings: Passion and Lust…
Beta Queen: bigj52


Summary: Justin reflects back on his life, and his regrets…

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, plot, etc. are property of their respective owners, including, but not limited to Russell T. Davies, Cowlip, and Showtime. The author of this story is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended…


What Is and What Should Have Been…

“Justin! It’s not healthy for you to continue to hide from the real world.”

“Daphne, please…”

“Please! Please, what? It’s been a year. You need to get on with your life.”

“Not today. I’m just not up for this conversation again today.”

“Not today! Not yesterday!”

Justin sighs, he hates doing this over and over again. Why can’t everyone just leave him alone?

“If not today, then when? You can’t keep living like a hermit!”

“I just need more time.”

“Time! Time for what? As I recall the divorce was your idea.”

“It was. I was miserable, but after twenty-five years it’s hard to know how to move on.”

“How about we go for a walk in Central Park?”

“I don’t know…”

“You can bring your sketch pad and draw, or even better yet, let’s bring your easel and paints?”

“Maybe later in the week. Just not today.”

“Do I need to call the men in white coats? Maybe up your Prozac? Or should I call your mom?”

“Oh, God, no!”

Knock, knock, knock…

“Daph, I gotta go. Reeves is knocking on my door.”

“Only you would have an assistant named Reeves.”

“What? It’s his name.”

It took Justin years to finally admit that his marriage was a mistake, and another decade to actually end it. Even though it’s been a year since his divorce was finalized, he’s still depressed. He feels lost, unsure of his future, and afraid that he’s wasted his life. He’s spent the last three decades doing what everyone else thought was best for him, his career, and his future.

“Excuse me, sir. There’s someone here to see you.”

“I thought I was clear. I’m not to be disturbed under any circumstances.”

“Yes sir, I know. But Mr. Kinney was very insistent. He said that it’s urgent.”

“Brian? Brian’s here?”

“Give me five minutes then show him up.”

Justin jumps up and runs to his bedroom, changing out of his sweatpants and tee shirt. He washes his face and runs a comb through his hair, cursing himself for not taking a shower for days.

Nervously, he takes a seat in his overstuffed leather chair. He’s holding a pencil, with his sketch pad opened to an unfinished sketch he started six months ago.

He looks up, smiling as the door opens and in walks a young man who looks so much like Brian, he can’t help his mind from going back in time to his teen years.

“Mr. Taylor, I’m Gus Kinney. I’m the executor of my father’s estate and will.”

“Oh my God! No!”

“No, it’s not that, but he is sick. I know he didn’t want you contacted until after his death, but... And I know you haven’t seen each other for thirty years. It’s just that, I think there’s somethings he needs to tell you before it’s too late.”

Tears are running down Justin’s face, as his mind reels. He’s cursing himself for never following his heart and returning to Pittsburgh and the man he never stopped loving. Instead he elected to put his career before his own happiness. He even married Aaron, his agent, because it was easy, and that’s what everyone expected. He’s always wondered what might have been, if only he had been stronger, instead of taking the easy way out.

He agrees to return to Pittsburgh with Gus. Maybe it’s not too late. He’d give anything just to have a chance to put things right between him and Brian. He goes to gather his things, wondering what he should pack. He stands looking at an old photograph of them from their engagement party, the last photo of them taken together. It’s the one thing that he’s always kept close over the years, the one thing that always evokes true happiness and sorrow deep in his soul. As he looks in the mirror at the man he’s become, he desperately wishes that he could turn back time, to right the wrongs that he’s inflicted upon himself. If he had only stood up to all of those who always knew what was best for him. If he had only trusted his own instincts. If he could only have a second chance, he wouldn’t hesitate to declare his true love and life’s ambitions.

It was just a few hours later that he found himself in the city that he once called home. Gus has invited him to dinner to meet his husband Joshua, and see Brian once again. He settles into his hotel room, trying to relax and calm his nerves, exhausted as he drifts off for a nap.

~~~

Justin wakes to the sound of his phone beeping. Startled, his eyes flash around the room. At first he’s uncertain where he is, then he remembers Gus’s visit. Looking down he turns off the reminder on his phone. Once again his heart aches for the life he walked away from. As he goes into the bathroom to freshen up, he silently wishes once more that he hadn’t made the biggest mistake of his life. But at least tonight he’ll be able to tell Brian that he loves him. That he’s always loved him, and that he’ll go on loving him until the day he dies. He just hopes that Brian can forgive him, that somehow Brian’s love for him hasn’t faded with the passage of time. Even though he knows it’s completely unrealistic.

Splashing water on his face, he looks deeply into the reflection of his own eyes. Slowly like in a dream he watches as his image starts to change. The deeper he looks at himself, the more he continues to see a transformation taking place. He’s transfixed by this evolution as his appearance morphs back in time to that carefree young artist who was so sure of his and Brian’s future. He hears someone in the outer suite, as he shakes his head to clear his fantasy.

“Taylor? What are you doing in there? I’m the fashion queen who’s always primping in the mirror. Come on, let’s get this over with. Then we can have every last minute together, just the two of us.”

Justin’s heart starts beating rapidly from the sound of Brian’s voice. He glances back into the mirror and is shocked to see he’s still that young man he was so long ago. He reaches over and looks at the aged photo of him and Brian. The one that is yet to be taken, until later this evening. He doesn’t know how this could be happening. He just hopes that he’s not hallucinating. That Brian is really standing out there, waiting for him.

He slowly opens the door unsure what he’ll find on the other side.

Justin’s POV

“Finally, you’re ready.”

“Brian!”

I rush to him as he wraps his arms around me and I know I’m finally home. God, how I’ve longed for this feeling. I’ve missed him so much over the years. Maybe there really is a God, or maybe I have a guardian angel. But whatever has happened, they’ve granted me the chance to live the life I’ve longed for, and I’ll be forever grateful.

“You look tired. I know last night was exhausting, but as long as you feel like you’re making the right decision, that’s all that matters. I want you to know that I love you. I’ll always love you, and we’ll be together all the time. New York’s not that far away. So don’t worry, we can make our long-distance relationship work.”

I slip on my suit jacket, then with Brian’s hand on the center of my back, he ushers me out to meet the firing squad. Brian’s putting on a brave face, even though this is that last thing he wants to happen. He can just imagine their faces, smug, with ‘I told you so’, and ‘I knew this was never going to happen’ looks in their eyes.

“Listen, I’ll do all the talking. You don’t have to worry about anything. We’ll get through this together.”

“No, Brian. I need to do this. It’s my career, and my decision.”

“Okay, whatever you think is best. I’m right here next to you. We’re in this together.”

“Yes, we are. We really are this time.”

Brian quirks his head and looks at him a little strangely, writing it off to Justin’s lack of sleep.

They walk into the room and everyone stops talking. They’ve all been speculating about what Brian and Justin would be announcing. Lindsay’s told everyone about Simon’s article, and what she thinks is best for Justin’s career.

Justin gazes out at their friends and family. He’s still having a hard time adjusting to how young everyone looks. He takes a calming breath as he gathers his thoughts.

“I want to thank you all for coming tonight. It really means a lot to Brian and me to know that you support us and our decisions.”

“I knows there’s been a lot of talk about the article in Art Forum magazine. How New York is a once in a lifetime opportunity, a chance that most artists wait years to pursue. But I want you to know that it’s never been my dream to live in New York, or hob knob with the rich and famous.”

Squeezing Brian’s hand, he continues with…

“All I’ve ever wanted was to be able to use my art to express my feelings, and hopefully one day be able to support myself in doing so. For me, my once in a lifetime opportunity is sharing my life with Brian, marrying the man I love, and growing old together. So we both want to thank all of you for joining us and sharing our special weekend to celebrate what many of you thought would never happen.”

Justin turns to Brian, wrapping his arms around his neck. Stepping up on his tippy toes, he kisses him passionately, letting everyone who may have doubted that they could ever make it, know that he won’t let anything stop them this time around. He’ll be forever grateful for second chances, and a life without regrets…

The End


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