Connor didn't really understand art. It was all too abstract for him. Sure, he got their decorative value. Pretty pictures to hang on the wall were perfectly normal. But he didn't understand what made one piece better than another. As he walked down the austere hallway, half-heartedly reading the little bronze plaques that hung under each piece listing the painter, the title and when it was made, he knew he was missing most of the experience of being here. That's why he came.

Troy didn't know he came here. He would probably never know he came here because Connor sure as hell wasn't going to tell him that he'd been to an art gallery. But he came, sometimes once a week, sometimes more or less depending on his mood and how things were going. He wasn't here because he had any interest in the subject. Really, he had no clue beyond what little he'd managed to pick up from the books he read in the university library between classes. He never checked them out, he just took them from the shelves and read a bit before putting them back when it was time to go to class. Even if he read every book in the library he doubted he would understand.

Art was abstract. He was beginning to think that was the entire point of it. You can't eat it. You can't gain sustenance off of it, unless of course you're the painter and then, if you're lucky, you make enough to support a lavish penthouse and upkeep for yourself and your lover and can afford just about anything that catches your whim. Hell, a really good painter could do all that and foot the full bill for his lover's university expenses. He had once mentioned paying it back and then completely forgot after Troy had then fallen out of his chair laughing and wouldn't stop for five minutes. But Connor wasn't quite sure what made someone a good painter.

From what he'd seen of 'good' art, it had no meaning, no purpose. The images didn't exist like he or Troy or anyone else did, though in some cases they were meant to represent real things. It was strange sometimes, seeing himself on canvas, because it was almost him and then not at the same time. And there's nothing concrete about art, no set guideline to separate real art from someone's piled trash. It was just art and you were supposed to know it when you saw it without even really knowing what it was you were looking for.

Connor came to a stop in front of one painting, a recent addition. There was a review posted on a podium next to it. He recognized it from the first line. He'd read the article in the library, but Troy had been the first one to show it to him. Normally Troy ignored the critics, but he'd cut out this article, highlighted the one section and stuck it on the fridge for Connor to see. Connor had promptly ripped it off and thrown it away when he got back. But he'd read it later, safely away from Troy because he knew what Troy would say if he knew.

As he looked up at the portrait hanging on the wall opposite him, he remembered everything Troy had done to get him to pose for it. This painting, the very first one of him Troy had ever done, sparked so many emotions inside of him. They'd come so very far from how they were in the beginning. He liked to think he'd grown up along the way. Around him people in the hall stopped and stared at him and the painting. They went unnoticed, not even there to his senses as he read once more the part Troy had highlighted for him.

"Art itself is an experience of beauty. In beauty we find comfort, solace. We are rested. It fills our hearts and in rare instances, like this, we find beauty returned to us. So I thank the respected Mr. Vaughan for sharing with us the beauty that is in his heart."