A/N - it all started with Lindsay, and so I wanted it to end with Lindsay. Thank you all for reading and commenting, it is hugely appreciated!
Lindsay rolled through the empty house, the only sound the whispering squeak in the front right wheel of her chair. For a Saturday afternoon, it was eerily still and quiet.
It was Gus's sixth birthday and the following day was the big party. Lindsay and Gus had moved back to Pittsburgh just about two weeks earlier, and not only was their new place still only half unpacked, it was far too small to host all their friends and Gus's friends, too. So the party would be at Britin, and Lindsay and Gus had come out early to have a smaller, more intimate celebration, with Brian and Justin before all of Gus's school and neighborhood friends would descend on the house the following day.
Lindsay and Brian had given Gus part of his present a day early, a bicycle, and Brian had spent the morning helping him learn to ride. Gus had been a quick learner, adapting to the lack of training wheels and the larger size bike with little troubles and only two crashes. When he'd finally mastered the balance, he'd howled with laughter riding back and forth and up and down the driveway while Brian ran behind him and Sunny chased them both. When he felt confident enough to no longer need Brian's help getting on, or taking off, he'd begun riding the long, arching, u-shaped drive by himself. Sunny of course was still at his rear wheel, following along and yipping and jumping around excitedly while Gus whooped and laughed. Promising not to go into the street, Brian retreated to the house while Lindsay stayed outside and watched from the sidewalk out front.
The afternoon was warm, and Lindsay had come inside to get some water - for herself and for Gus - finding the house quiet. She wondered if maybe Brian had gone upstairs when a slight movement out the large back window caught her eye. Rolling her chair closer to the bay windows in the breakfast nook that overlooked the back patio and pool, she smiled.
There he was.
Brian was stretched out on a lounge chair, likely having intended to take advantage of the warmth of the late August day to get a little sun. And no doubt that would have worked, if Justin weren't squished into the lounger too, his arms and legs draped over Brian.
Lindsay could see Justin's easel, standing a little off to the side with a partially painted canvas resting on it, large globs of paint smeared on the small table that stood next to it. She smiled again. Justin's best works were portraits and scenes he painted of Brian. His other stuff, the scenery and impressionistic works were appreciated but his portraits of Brian, and Brian and Gus, were what had ultimately given him the most pleasure and what little notoriety he'd earned in the art world.
Justin wasn't famous - at least not by most people's standards - but his paintings sold on a fairly regular basis and typically for quite a pretty penny. When he'd come back from Italy, there'd been a few tense weeks in which Jaelynn had tried to convince Justin he needed to be a more visible presence in New York. That people were talking about him and his works but the artist himself never seemed to be around. Justin fought with her, and with Brian a little too, to stay in Pittsburgh and the West Virginia house. He argued, quite truthfully, that he did his best work when with Brian and there was no amount of money or fame or fortune that could tempt him to live that dual-city life. Lindsay didn't see Brian argue too much with him about that point, and after a few more attempts Jaelynn stopped trying to make Justin come back to New York. It really wasn't necessary, and after seeing the types of works Justin did when without Brian Lindsay had to agree that staying with the other man was the better choice than trying to live a life in two cities.
Justin's works were quite brilliant, at least Lindsay thought so. He had a rare talent of capturing the essence of a person when he painted, which was undoubtedly why all his stuff that featured Brian was so popular and sparked so much conversation at the various shows and galleries Jaelynn booked for him. Even though Brian's face was rarely depicted outright and in any great detail, with just one look at a painted scene she could practically feel the attitude, the mood, the raw energy his form exuded. It seemed to radiate straight off the canvas, sometimes so brutally it was assaulting. Justin simply saw people, particularly Brian, in a way no one else really could.
Lindsay was in awe of him for that gift.
She watched them for awhile. It made her happy to see Brian so content, to see them finally in a place where they could make each other happy without any additional rules or caveats. She had been worried, when Justin was in Italy, but Brian's visits there and his calm (mostly) reassurance Justin would be back eased her nerves. She just wanted Brian to be happy. After everything he'd done for her - he deserved it; so did Justin.
Watching them together did sometimes make her a bit sad. She missed Melanie and thought she always would, and still every morning, day, and night she wished Mel was there with her. Always. It was worse when she had JR because in a way it was like Mel was there, around, but always just out of sight, always just somewhere Lindsay couldn't get to her. It didn't help that the little girl was a spitting image of her mom in the same way that Gus was growing to look more and more like Brian. She had Michael's big, brown eyes, but her features and her attitude were all Mel.
It was strange - her life now. Most of the time it was really good, though she had her bad days and figured she always would. She'd adjusted, mostly, to life in a wheelchair. It was still a struggle, at times, but she had started to recognize how lucky she was not to be more seriously injured; she may not be able to walk but she could still feel sensations and move around just a bit. But she was lonely and she couldn't help but wonder what might come next for her, and for JR and for Gus.
After New York and the somewhat regrettable one-night stand she'd had with Jaelynn, the woman had actually become quite a good friend, though the younger woman had insinuated to Lindsay on more than once occasion that she wanted to be more than just friends. Lindsay wasn't quite ready for that. She thought soon – but not quite yet. Jaelynn had been understanding of her feelings and they'd kept in touch despite her rejection of Jaelynn's advances. In fact it was Jaelynn who had encouraged Lindsay to continue drawing and painting.
After Justin's show in New York, and while he was gone in Italy Lindsay had suffered a kind of artistic breakdown. She hated everything she drew, and she hated everything she painted. Gus had been sweet in his encouragement to her, and Brian had done his part to be supportive but Lindsay hated everything she did. It was after she had a breakdown on the phone with Jaelynn (for which she was mortally embarrassed of for weeks after) that the younger woman offered Lindsay the kind of encouraging pep talk that can only come from someone who doesn't know you. She only repeated what Brian, and Gus to an extent, had been reiterating to Lindsay, but for whatever reason hearing it from her – a person so wholly unconnected to her past – had finally made her realize that though she'd never be as good as Justin, she had her own trademark talents and she began to foster them, seeing some improvements that gave her confidence again. A month later she was offered a job teaching art at an Elementary School in Pittsburgh.
Lindsay had to admit, dipping her toes into the art world again had been a huge relief, a different kind of therapy aside from the physical and mental she'd been participating in since the accident. It had actually made her feel a little less lonely and out of place.
Brian's long arms reached out suddenly and as Lindsay watched the two men shifted on the chair. Justin rolled over onto his side and Brian curled up behind him, wrapping his arms around Justin's torso and spooning him, his forehead pressing into the back of Justin's neck.
Lindsay smiled. She didn't have to wonder about Brian or Justin. They would be okay. They were together finally, and really, truly happy. She honestly couldn't be happier for them.