About two years later.
I don't know what might happen in the meantime. Fill in some of the thousands of good fanfics, all a lot more creative than what the original writers came up with. But I don't think Justin would've ever done a comic book with Michael or gone to L.A. to make a movie. If Brian had been ill, he would've told Justin about it, and they would've gone through it together. And he would've never gone on that stupid Liberty Ride without him. If he'd done it at all. Justin wouldn't have joined Pink Posse. (At least not two years after the attack.) They would've never split because of all that marriage and family stuff, and Brian would've never bought Babylon. Not in my "how I wanted it to be" universe.
The Stockwell storyline was the only one that could completely satisfy me because we finally saw Brian and Justin as equal partners, as a team. Whatever the creators did afterwards was disappointing, though, because they had clearly no idea what to do with Justin. And they forced Brian into a role he'd overcome. I never understood why they wanted him to be the king of the club scene at all costs. He grew out of it during Justin's recovery and the Stockwell storyline. That was the most interesting part of the show, and they ruined it by denying the development the characters took.
Well, let's assume the stories about Stockwell and Proposition 14 came up at almost the same time. We are somewhere in Season 5. Brian is still working for Vangard and Justin is about to finish his education.
"Where's your mind?" Justin asked, standing next to the couch. Brian hadn't even taken off his work dress. He must have slumped onto the couch right when he'd come home, deep in thoughts.
"Vance wants me to get in bed with Stockwell," Brian replied, sighing. "Not literally, of course."
"The homophobic police chief that is running for mayor?" Justin was shocked. "He's backing the Proposition 14 lunatics! They're gonna close down half of Liberty Avenue and take away every right we ever had!"
Brian had never been interested in the fight of the LGBT community. Not because he wasn't been aware of the problems. He just didn't see much use in protesting. Usually, it didn't change a thing when people were running around with posters or handing out flyers. No one in power was interested in some fags or in black people or whoever. The only way to change things was money. Tell a politician that it was good for the economy to give queer people more rights, and he might consider it.
This case was different, though. It aimed directly at him and everyone he knew.
"Vance wants me to run his political campaign and get him elected. Not because he'd care about him, he wants Stockwell's backers for our client list."
"You can't do that!" Justin exclaimed.
"How am I supposed to tell him that?" Brian asked in despair.
"You explain to him how dangerous this guy is to you and everyone connected to Liberty Avenue!"
"And deliver him a reason to fire me on a silver platter?"
"Why should he…?"
"Most of our clients are like Stockwell," Brian cut him off, sitting up. "White, homophobic dudes that aren't interested in anything but their business. They run factories in Third World countries and have children work for them sixteen hours a day, only paying them a few dollars. They pollute the environment with their production lines and their mostly useless products. Other cultures, gay people, women… are only interesting to them if they can sell them something. So, what's the difference? Only that it has a direct impact on us this time. But that's not an argument. If you can't separate your personal feelings from business, you can't do this job. You have to become a social worker then. Or an artist," he remarked with a sarcastic smile. "Then you may be able to refuse to work with people like Stockwell. Or his backers. Because these people are pretty much of the same kind."
"Otherwise they wouldn't fund him," Justin agreed. "But you're a partner in the firm. Your word has to be worth something!"
"Junior partner," Brian corrected him. "And I need a very good reason to refuse working with Stockwell. It can't be about him being a fascist. If it were for any other reason, it'd be pretty difficult for Vance to fire me. But telling him that I don't want Stockwell because I'm gay and feel threatened by him, would give him the possibility to fire me."
"He can't fire you because you're gay!"
Brian scoffed. "Of course, he can! There's no work protection law or antidiscrimination law in this state. So, on which law do you want to base your law-suit? And getting fired because of it would mean I'm done. No one is going to hire me. Ever. Because it'll look like I sexually harassed someone."
For a moment, Justin was speechless. Anger was creeping up in him, while watching Brian walking over to the minibar, pouring himself a drink. "That's totally fucked!"
"It is," Brian agreed. "So, I have to be very careful and come up with a plan that avoids Stockwell but maybe gets us one of the backers. Then Vance would have the foothold he wanted and would lose interest in Stockwell immediately."
Justin sighed. Things were getting more and more difficult. It had been such an awesome sign when Massachusetts had allowed same-sex marriage recently. But instead of moving forward, the community in Pennsylvania was backpedaling. If Stockwell became mayor and Proposition 14 came through, it wouldn't need much more to ship them off camps.
"Any ideas yet?"
"Not really." Brian sighed, taking a sip of Scotch. "These are major players. Hard to get to, hard to impress."
"But you can't do that," Justin insisted. "I mean help Stockwell getting elected."
"If I can't come up with anything else, I have to."
Justin joined him, taking the glass out of Brian's hand and took a sip too.
Brian had known, it would drive Justin nuts. He was strongly involved in the fight of the LGBT community. Since his own father had gotten him arrested because of his protest against Proposition 14, he was in a permanent state of rage anyway. It had been a while since Brian had seen Justin so devastated like in the night when he'd had to bail him out of a holding cell at the precinct.
"There's also something else," Brian said carefully. "Vance wants the backers because he thinks it might be the critical mass we need to launch the New York office. He has me in mind for running it. I always wanted that. I always wanted to go to New York one day, be one of the big players, have a penthouse and a luxurious office in one of the skyscrapers… But the moment he said it, I realized it is like a dream you have when you're a kid and want to become a firefighter. Later you realize it is hard, dirty work for which you won't get much more than a warm thank you. I don't want it anymore. And since I know you don't want it either…"
He'd thought Justin would consider NYC exciting, a city with a huge art scene where he might want to strive. But when he'd taken him to their vacation two years ago and they'd arrived at JFK, Justin had been disappointed. He'd assumed they would spend the two weeks there, and he'd hated that idea. Luckily for Brian, NYC hadn't been their final destination.
"Yeah?" Justin asked when Brian didn't go on.
"It's been on my mind since we got back from our vacation. First, I thought it was crazy, but I couldn't shake it. Then, I started to some research and calculation and…"
"What?" Justin's heart was beating a little faster. Could it be they'd been thinking about the same thing for a while?
Brian took a deep breath, getting nervous. He'd gotten better when it came to showing his feelings, but he still wasn't good at it. "I'd like going to Barcelona with you."
Justin stared at him, couldn't believe what he'd just heard. Was Brian serious? "You mean for good? To live there?"
He'd been in tears of emotion and joy when he'd realized what their destination was. Since he'd been a kid, he'd wanted to go to Barcelona. At least one time in his life. He couldn't even explain why. He'd just wanted it. And Brian had listened to him when he'd once mentioned it.
"Yeah," Brian replied, insecure, watching Justin closely. "I know it wouldn't be like a vacation. That would be naïve to believe. There would be problems to solve like everywhere else. But I think it's…"
"Our place," Justin said with a bright smile. Everything was bright suddenly.
They'd never been happier than in Barcelona. The LGBT community was huge there, and people were totally relaxed about it. No strange glances, no restricted areas, no guys shouting "faggots" at them… And Brian had never been so relaxed, so open up, so easy going. Like he'd completely forgotten everything dark in his life.
"I'd like it if we built up something together." Brian took Justin's hands, stroking them gently. "And we can't do it here. Even if we had more rights, the society wouldn't change. I don't see any future here for us. Like I said, you'll have to go to a place with a considerable art scene sooner or later, and that obviously isn't New York."
"But we can't simply pack our stuff and move to a foreign country," Justin objected, anxious. He wanted it so badly! It would be a dream coming true. He and Brian, together, in his favorite city. "Or can we?"
"Surprisingly, it isn't that difficult," Brian replied. "The easiest way for us would be to find you a job in Barcelona. As a graphic designer, at an art department of a bigger company, as an assistant at a university… whatever. It doesn't really matter. The point is for you to get a foot into the art scene and get a work contract. That will get you a work visa. With that you can indeed simply pack your stuff and move there. I'd go with you as a tourist. Then we get married, which makes us a family. That gives me the possibility to stay and launch my own agency—which otherwise would be a lot more difficult. I thought of using my connections on the US market to offer European clients to sell their products there and the other way around. As soon as the agency is up and running, I'll receive my own immigration status. Even if you lost your job then, you could still stay because of the family status. Or in other words, as long as one of us either has a shop or a work visa and we stay out of their social system, not much can happen to us."
Justin had listened to him, breathless. "Am I getting that right and you've just said we'd getting married?"
"Yeah," Brian replied as casual as possible, although his heart was pounding. The whole plan was based on it, and if Justin didn't want to marry him… "Spain has same-sex marriage with all rights and duties. It'd solve all our legal problems at once. Including buying a house, possession rights, health plan, insurance, taxes… We could build up a real life together."
Speechless, Justin stared at him. He couldn't believe that Brian actually wanted the same thing he'd been dreaming of for a while.
"Not romantic enough?" Brian asked, now frightened. He wasn't sure he could take it if Justin rejected him.
Justin needed a moment to make himself believe that this was real. "It's probably the most unromantic proposal in history," he finally replied with a laugh. "But… yes."
"I do." Justin clutched Brian's hands, getting a step closer. "I wanna go with you to Barcelona, I wanna build up a life with you, and I wanna marry you."
They looked into each other's eyes. Brian could see a thousands "yes, I do", while Justin could see how serious his partner was. He'd thought it through. It was what he wanted to do. Together. With him.
Brian caressed Justin's cheeks, then played with his hair. Yes, he was sure, he replied to Justin's nonverbal question. He took him into his arms, whispering against Justin's head, "I… love you, and I wanna be with you. Forever. Or at least for a long time."
"Oh!" Justin looked at him with tears of emotions in his eyes.
"I love you," Brian repeated, now confident, before he kissed him.
What about Gus? Well, how about Lindsay and Melanie wouldn't move to Canada, but instead following the boys to Barcelona? And how about Melanie would reconsider her strange decision about Michael being the sperm donor for her baby? She might ask Justin…
I hope you enjoyed this little story. It just popped into my head and kept me from writing the book I should actually write. So, I decided to write it down to get it out of my system. And, hey, it helped. The setting of the book is going to be Barcelona. :D