I was really excited to sit down with Austin Regan and talk about his life after the ordeal he and his two men, Mack and Tan, went through as described in the Ignite series. Out of all my characters, their journey was certainly the most dangerous one, as these three weren’t sure if they would survive. But they did, and now they’re building a new life in the last place on Earth they’d ever expected to end up… Now, if you haven’t read the Ignite series yet, this may contain some spoilers, but in this case, that was impossible to avoid.
Austin, thanks so much for sitting down with me.
My first question has to be: how are you three doing?
[smiles] We’re good, genuinely good…and I never thought I’d be able to say that. It’s been a year after we arrived here, and while our road has been rough, we’re now finally moving into a place where we can process the past and move on, embracing the future.
That’s gotta be a thrill in itself, knowing that you have a future now.
Very much so. After the United States fell apart and we ended up in the CUS (the Conservative United States), I didn’t think there would ever be a day where I could be myself as a bisexual man, where I could be happy, let alone find not one but two partners. Life was…hard. Dangerous. I mean, one stupid mistake I made got me sent to the reintegration camp. In hindsight, I’m grateful I ended up there because otherwise, I would’ve never met Tan and Mack, but it shouldn’t have been that way. Putting people in a camp just because they’re not heterosexual or because they’re non-binary or trans is wrong on so many levels. I thought humanity would’ve learned from history, but alas.
Your father worked for the CUS government, though.
[sighs] Yes, he did. He thought he could protect me that way, but in hindsight, I don’t know if he made the right call. Being part of that regime, even if he meant well and did what he could to make things better, will forever be a thing he’ll have to live with. But it was an impossible situation for him, I do recognize that. At the core, my father does believe in a small government, in states’ rights over federal powers, in making people responsible for their own lives. But this moral component, that was never his opinion. He fully embraced me when I came out as bisexual, and well, it turned out he wasn’t quite so straight himself… [laughs]
How are he and Pax?
Nauseatingly happy [laughs]. My father is sporting this constant grin whenever Pax is in the room, like the little Zagorian is his sun. And Pax, man, he just worships the ground my dad walks on. He’s so kind and sweet and he makes my dad so happy… And he and Mack are still really close friends. They get each other on a level that the rest of us don’t, and I’m grateful for that. They’re both introverts and they share a history of feeling deeply lonely and different, and I think that’s created a special bond between them.
How are you three finding your way?
Slowly, that’s for sure. Lives have changed, of course, and not just ours. We’re rebuilding Earth and adapting to the new circumstances. In our case, we spend a lot of time growing our own food, making our little farm sustainable, and building a cooperative culture with the people in our town. We depend on each other, and since contact with the bigger world is still complicated, we have to come together and provide each other with what we need. There’s a whole new economy developing that’s more like the old barter culture, and it’s amazing to see. People are specializing and then trading their services with others. We’ve decided to focus on growing produce, especially vegetables. We were able to get more land, and we’re growing enough that we sell in exchange for meat, dairy products, grain, and more. Others have a dairy farm, there’s a few bakers, we have blacksmiths and handymen, and all kinds of useful trades. It’s a whole new world, but we’re making it work.
We still have bad days, Tan especially. He’s still in therapy, and I think he will be for a long time. It helps him, and he’s definitely grown more stable. But he went through hell, more than me and Mack, and that leaves scars. he’ll always have those. People sometimes think that you can get over something like that, but you can’t. You learn to live with it, to give it the proper perspective and place in your life. But it never goes away. Not even when you’re as much in love as we are. Love is amazing…and so is the sex, but it’s no magic cure. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, because I long clung to the idea that we could “fix” him. I hate being powerless. I’m a fixer, and it was hard for me to realize that Tan doesn’t need to be fixed, that I’ll never be able to take that burden from him. Mack was much better at that, but then again, he’s better at almost anything.
[grins] I’m better at sex, of course.
[laughs] But seriously, though, his transformation has been amazing. When we met him, he was so shy and insecure, always scared to make a mistake. He was like that poor abused puppy, always fearful to get kicked again. But man, has he bloomed. This whole new life we’re building, he was made for this. His past wasn’t easy either, but it sure as hell prepared him for all of this. And so did Tan’s experience of growing up on a farm. You’d never tell by his glittery heart, but the boy has skills I never thought he had. In fact, out of the three of us…I’m the least useful one. I provide the physical power and maybe the brain power in terms of planning and managing, but the ideas all come from those two. And I gotta be honest, a few years ago, that would not have sat well with me. I would’ve never admitted to not being the best. God, I was arrogant. But if nothing else, seeing everything you once knew get destroyed before your eyes, seeing mankind be all but decimated, it puts everything in a new perspective. Things I once cared about, like wanting to play football in college, are now meaningless. All I want is to be alive and happy, to be with my men and those I love. Nothing else matters anymore.