wouldbedorothy: (bj belonging)
[personal profile] wouldbedorothy
Title: Anniversaries
Fandom/Pairing: QAF-US, Brian/Justin, Justin/Daphne friendship
Rating: PG-15? (Sorry.)
Word Count: 6400 (Dang, that got away from me.)
Disclaimer: Not my show, not my characters (mostly).

Summary: Exactly one year after prom, there are two very different anniversaries taking place. Approximately the first half (60%?) is all Justin/Daphne, and the rest is Brian/Justin. PART 3 in this prom AU story. Please read Guilty By Association and Anybody Would Break first. Note the warnings on those! This fic does reference rape.

Author's Note: I don't think anyone needed or wanted a third part to this, particularly, but I thought D&J still had a lot to talk about. I also wanted to take a look at B/J again. They got the bonding and protective Brian from S2, but without Justin feeling like a victim, which kind of fucked him and them up in canon, so here they're already more like they were by S4 :) I think I started writing this third part in 2013. I'd write a paragraph or so and then not look at it for two months lol. Freakishly belabored (as is this note) but I'm chancing that it finally formed something that could be enjoyed.



Anniversaries
by AHS


“So, the game is called I Never.”

Justin rolled his eyes as he took a seat on the floor, but he would do whatever Daphne wanted. This day was all about distraction - for both of them, really - and a game with a heavy alcohol component seemed as good a distraction as any.

It was the one-year anniversary of their high school prom. Making it exactly one year since his best friend had been raped.

They were at the loft because Brian had the good booze.

“You know the rules, right?”

“Yeah.” He didn’t know if it was a good idea, though. “Are you sure you don’t want to go to the movies? I still haven’t seen Spiderman.”

“I did. Peter and Harry are a totally tragic love story.”

“Hey!” Justin threw a pillow over the coffee table at her.

“Sorry! I went with Seth. I’m sure Michael would be happy to go with you, even if he's already seen it ten times.”

Hanging out with just Michael wasn’t as strange a suggestion as it once would have been, but he still shrugged disinterestedly. “Maybe.”

“Maybe your better half?”

“Yeah, I don’t think so. And Brian and I both object to your terminology.”

“He’s not here, and I never listen to you, anyway, so get over it,” she giggled. “He could have stayed. He is my next-best friend.”

“That’s so weird, or it should be. But I kind of really like it.”

“Me, too.” She took two bottles from behind her back and held them up. “Okay, so… vodka shots or tequila?”

He just gave her a look and she smiled knowingly and put the vodka away, then started pre-filling shot glasses.

“I’m only gonna fill these, like, halfway, so we can play longer.”

“Lightweight.”

“Lush. Okay, who goes first?”

“You go.”

He wanted to see what kind of ‘I Never’s she came up with. He’d only played the game once… at Emmett’s request, with Em and Ted and Michael and a pretty stoned Brian… and everything they came up with had been sexual. (And Brian and Emmett got completely smashed.) Considering the day, Justin intended to avoid that topic.

“Hmm.” Daphne thought for a few seconds, then grinned. “I never took tap lessons.”

“How do you know about that?” Justin shook his head at the unexpected blast from the past, then obediently poured and downed a tequila shot. “It was only for a year,” he said through the burn. “And I was five.”

“But you looked so cute in that little sequined vest! I saw the picture!”

“Yeah. That was one of the stupider things my dad tried to use to blame my mom for making me gay. Before he tore it up.”

Daphne winced. Justin took another shot, just because.

“Sorry, Jus.”

He looked at Daphne and remembered and felt like shit for getting maudlin at his pathetic little Daddy stopped loving me story when she had been through… Today was about her.

“My turn!” he quickly shouted. “Let’s see… If we’re going old school humiliation…” His eyes narrowed with mischief and he rubbed his hands together. “I never sent a fan letter/marriage proposal to N*Sync’s JC Chasez.”

She did the shot and slammed the glass down defiantly. “So? He‘s hot.”

Justin started laughing, pretending that he was trying not to. “I just can’t believe you think he’s the talented one!”

“He is! You just wait and see.”

“Mm hmm.”

***

“I never got my nipple pierced.”

*tequila shot*

“You thought about it.”

***

“I never told a couple of lesbians I was a ‘big fan.’”

*tequila shot*

“Yeah, because, ‘I like Cheerios,’ is so much more sophisticated.”

***

“I never puked cotton candy and hot dogs from the top of the Ferris wheel into some poor woman’s hair.”

*tequila shot*

“Who dared me to eat ten of them?”

***

“I never tried to use mayonnaise to shave my legs when I was twelve because my mom wouldn’t buy me shaving cream.”

*tequila shot*

“Yeah, that was just dumb. And gross.”

***

“We know too much about each other, Daph.”

“It does make the pattern of the game a little predictable.”

“So how do we shake it up?”

“Um... I… might have something.” She took a few seconds, seemed to be summoning courage, got a little secret smile. “I never had sex last week.”

Justin blinked. She wasn’t slurring her words, and he didn’t think he was drunk enough yet for his ears or brain to be inventing shit. But why would she want to bring that up? He looked at her almost guiltily but she seemed fine, nodding toward his glass for him to do the shot, so he did.

And then so did she.

He definitely knew he wasn’t drunk enough for hallucinations, so that meant…

“Daphne? You…?”

Her smile grew into a grin. “Yes. Seth is a patient man.”

Daphne and Seth met when she signed up for a self-defense class and he was the instructor. At the last class, he asked her out, and as terrified as she’d been at the thought of dating, she told Justin there was something about Seth that made her have to try. She brought out the rape story on date number two, almost daring him to run, but he didn’t. Nearly six months later, they were still going strong.

“He never pressured you, right?”

“Never! I didn’t know when I might ever be ready, and he knew that from the beginning and was okay with it. He was so considerate of me, it finally got to the point where I pretty much had to jump him.”

Justin couldn’t help but laugh, so surprised and happy for his best friend. “You didn’t. You jumped him?

“I made the move, let’s say that. And I had to keep letting him know that I was sure and that I was okay.”

“And you were? Okay?”

“A little shaky at first, maybe, but then... yeah. More than okay. The best I’ve ever felt. It’s not even just that I feel safe with him. I really love him, Jus.”

He crawled around the coffee table and hugged her. “I love him, too! For making you this happy.”

“Hey now, he’s mine,” she teased.

Justin sat back, seemingly laughing, but there were tears in his eyes.

“Justin? Those better be tears of joy.”

He started to say yes but accidentally sobbed instead. He sat and started to shake, tears falling, head falling into his hands.

Daphne reached out and stroked his hair, just making small shushing sounds and trying not to show how freaked out she was.

“Shit,” he managed to get out. “It’s usually wine that gets me emotional.”

“Yeah, Justin, I don’t think you can put this all on the alcohol. Tell me.”

“No, it’s nothing. Fuck, you were smiling a second ago and I turned into a big queen and ruined it. This is supposed to be your day.”

“If it’s my day, then I get what I want. And I want you to tell me the truth.”

Justin wiped the wetness from his cheeks and blew out a breath he hadn’t meant to hold. “I love you, you know?”

“I know. I love you, too. But if you’ve decided it’s really me you want and not Brian, I’m sorry but you’re just too late.”

Her pseudo-serious look of pity made him blink and his mouth open and close like that of a fish, until she cracked a smile. He laughed, or almost laughed, for a moment, but she didn’t even have time to mentally pat herself on the back before his expression clouded again.

“I think this is mostly something like relief hitting me, but...”

“But what?”

“You’re finally happy, and I’m so glad, but it still doesn’t make it okay that I left you that night.”

“Justin…”

Fuck! I didn’t mean to say anything.”

She gently pulled his hands away from his head, which he was holding too tightly, like he was trying to keep thoughts from escaping as speech. “It’s not like we both don’t know why you’re trying so hard to keep me entertained today. I just didn’t know you needed it more than I did.”

“Daph, I left you there. Doesn’t matter that I couldn’t have known what would happen. Doesn’t matter that we went as friends, I was your date. I should have stayed, should have taken you home. Should have at least checked with you! But all I could think of was myself. Called after the fact. Oh, by the way, I’m gone. Does that sound like a fucking best friend?

Daphne sighed, stood, picked up the partially-full tequila bottle and carried it to the kitchen, only somewhat regretfully pouring the remainder in the sink. She’d had a nice buzz starting, but she was feeling fucking sober now, and more alcohol was not going to do either of them any favors.

“First of all, all you could think of was Brian, which was totally called for. And second, Jus, I’m sorry if I never made this clear before…” She made her way back to the floor and sat right next to him this time. “I never expected you to come back. It never even occurred to me that you might.”

So you knew I was a shitty friend, Justin thought, but he managed not to say it out loud. He didn’t want her to defend him or make him feel better and he wanted to smack himself for going to pieces like this. His guilt was selfish and only served to hurt her, he knew that, but he could just never manage to fucking let it go all the way.

“Yeah,” he mumbled instead, like he didn’t actually believe it.

“Are you kidding? After that dance? The most amazing, most romantic thing I’ve ever witnessed? Or ever will, no matter how wonderful Seth is. If you had gone anywhere other than home with Brian, I would have hit you and told you to GO! As soon as you two floated out of there, I was arranging another ride.”

“You were?” Justin sounded skeptical.

“Yes. Renee had just gotten back together with her ex-boyfriend at the prom and he had hotel plans for them, but a couple of the Drama Club seniors said they could fit a 17th person in their limo.”

His eyes widened a bit, trying to imagine the physics of that. “But why did you go to the parking garage by yourself if you weren’t looking for me?”

Daphne’s eyes narrowed in anger, but not at him. “After a while, I had to get out of there before I punched somebody.”

Justin started to ask why, but he realized he was pretty sure why. “What were they saying?”

“It varied. I heard some girls admit they thought you guys were hot together or sweet together. A handful of people went back to dancing like it never happened. Some were laughing, some saying, ‘Oh my God, gross.’ I swear I heard one freak start praying. But it wasn’t until a bunch of the jock guys, his friends, started shouting at the prom committee that they wanted their money back for having to witness something so disgusting…”

Daphne shook her head and reached for a bottle that wasn’t there. Cursing her responsibility, she grabbed a used shot glass instead and pathetically (she thought) licked the inside.

“I felt like, if I didn’t at least take a breather, I was going to go Carrie on the whole damn place.”

Justin managed a half-smile. “Yeah, I think I could see that.”

“But, alas… no powers.”

Her eyes moved to the floor and her arms wrapped around herself. Justin could tell her mind was drifting to what happened next. Maybe not so much the act, but the feeling of being powerless.

He cautiously reached for her hand. She squeezed and he squeezed back.

“So it was still my fault.”

Jesus- You didn’t create homophobia, Justin! You can’t take the blame for it, or whatever the fuck it makes stupid people do.”

“I left you to deal with the fallout.”

She looked at him for a long breath, gave a slight nod. “All right. It was your fault.”

Justin swallowed uneasily and his grip relaxed to nothing, expecting her to pull her hand away. He’d always thought it but it hurt to hear Daphne agree.

“And Brian’s, of course.”

He was the one to pull his hand away. “What? No!”

Daphne looked puzzled. “How can it be your fault and not his? He showed up and danced with you in front of everyone, sending Chris into a rage! He took you home with him, leaving me alone!”

“But… no, that was all me! I asked Brian to come and I was stupid enough to jerk Chris off and I wouldn’t just shut up when he would start shit--”

“And I was right there with you, pissing him off! I made jokes at school about him not being able to get it up! I was stupid enough to go into a parking garage, young girl, alone at night!”

“Stop it! Stop saying that!”

“Justin.” She spoke his name so quietly but commanded every bit of his attention with her sudden calmness. “It’s true. But I know it wasn’t my fault, just like it wasn’t yours, it wasn’t Brian’s, or anyone else’s except the guy who’s locked up now.”

Justin leaned back against the couch, heavy with relief that she didn’t blame herself or Brian. Or him. She never had. It had always been his issue.

“I was just making a point that blame can be placed in a zillion directions if you go looking for it, but it doesn’t make any of it rational or right. Renee blamed herself for not being able to take me home, even though that wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. It stressed her relationship with her boyfriend to the point that they broke up again. My dad blames himself for not giving me pepper spray to carry in my purse. My mom blames herself for talking so much about her own prom, like that was what made me go, never mind that I always wanted to go to prom. Your mom blames herself for not fighting the school harder, fully investigating their ‘tolerance of the intolerant,’ like that would have somehow made him not be there that night.”

“What? I didn’t know that.” He felt like a bad son, too. “Ninety-five percent of the shit Chris and those guys did, I never even told her.”

“But the school knew a lot of it. And even if we’d told them everything, you know nothing would have been done.”

“Fuck St. James.”

“Pretty much.” She bumped his shoulder with hers. “You know, Jus… as horrible as it was… that night and a long time after… and God knows I could never actually be glad for it… I still have nightmares sometimes… and my heart will probably always nearly beat out of my chest at the sound of footsteps behind me, no matter that I know how to take somebody down now… but… my life is what it is now because of everything that’s led up to this point, and that includes that night. And I really like what my life is now.”

He turned toward her, amazed by her. He wrinkled his nose slightly as if in doubt, but he didn’t really doubt as soon as he got a look at her face. There was happiness there, real happiness. “Seth?”

She played offended. “Hello? My life is not defined by my boyfriend, no matter how dreamy he is.” The corners of her mouth turned up. “But yes, Seth… who I met because I wanted to learn to defend myself, which was greatly because of what happened to me. And I had no fucking clue what I wanted to do with my life before, and now I’m Pre-Law.”

“You’re going to kick so much ass, Daph.”

“I know. Judge Chanders has a pretty nice ring to it, don't you think? Supreme Court Justice Chanders?”

“Absolutely, Your Honor.”

“And, don’t forget, on top of all that, I have two super-hot gay BFFs. What more could a girl ask for?”

That brought out a real Justin smile. “Very true.”

They sprawled out on the floor, perpendicular to each other, Daphne’s head supported by Justin’s stomach. Tired from the emotional discussion but grateful to have each other.

“Has this been bothering you all year?” she asked.

“Only when I let myself think about it.”

“It has to be over now, okay? It just has to. We’re best friends. You can’t feel guilty every time you see me. That doesn’t work.”

“I promise.”

She gave a teary snort. “Oh, you can just promise?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“It’s what we both need.”

“Okay then. But if you have trouble…”

“I’ll give in and talk to Brian’s shrink trick.”

“Huh? ‘Shrink trick’? That’s a person?”

Justin laughed, truly, and it jiggled her head around. “Story for another day.”

Surprisingly, she let it go at that, and they were just quiet for several minutes, until she whispered something to him.

“I’m glad you left with Brian. I had a dream once… a couple of months after… that you stayed and we were leaving together, and Chris suddenly hit you with something and you were on the ground and… there was blood all over.” She shuddered.

He rubbed her arm absently. “He said he’d brought a baseball bat for that.” He didn’t think about the words, spoken almost to himself.

But Daphne certainly heard them.

“What did you say?”

“Oh.” Fuck. Justin’s body tensed. He couldn’t lie for shit when it came to Daphne. “Just mumbling nonsense.”

“Right.” She sat up and turned, looking at his face. “When the hell did you talk to Hobbs?”

“I… uh…”

At a loss for how to get out of it, he finally decided it was okay for her to know now. He picked up an empty shot glass.

“I never… got so angry after your committal hearing that I stole my father’s gun and followed Chris to a bar and into the men’s room and shoved the barrel in his mouth and almost pulled the trigger.”

He rushed it all out in one breath, then put the shot glass to his lips and tilted his head back, miming a drink.

Daphne’s face froze in a look of shock and pain. Just as Justin was starting to worry and reaching to gently touch her shoulder, she hauled off and punched him in the arm.

“Ow!”

“Are you fucking kidding me?!”

He massaged the hurt spot and shook his head, eyes downcast.

“Why would you do that? How could you be that stupid? Does Brian know?”

The questions were fired at him in rapid succession, and - not having much of an answer for the first two - he focused on the last.

“Yes. Thankfully. If he didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.” He smiled sadly, remembering, and his eyes teared a little. “He found me. He talked me down.”

Daphne’s hand pressed to her mouth and she nodded uneasily. “Talked you down,” she repeated, through her fingers. “But you weren’t… You were just trying to scare him, right?”

He knew she didn't mean Brian now. “I… wanted to scare him.”

“And that’s it. You wouldn’t have actually shot him.”

Justin looked at his hands, his lap, the stray bottle cap from the tequila on the floor.

Tell me.

“I don‘t know… I think I would have killed Hobbs.”

The words took several seconds to sink in, then she was up and retrieving the unused vodka bottle from the cabinet, opening it and taking a long drink.

“Well, there’s another reason for me to love my next-best friend,” she choked out past the burst of fire in her chest. “If you don’t stop being an idiot, he’s going to fucking outrank you. Even if he didn’t tell me.”

“I made him promise not to. I’m sorry, Daph. For all of it.”

She sat back down, putting the bottle out of his reach. “You don’t get any vodka.” Suddenly she threw her arms around him and squeezed as hard as she could. “But you do get one of these.”

He felt a tear drip onto the back of his neck. “Thank you.”

“Your promise?”

“Still stands. I got most of my anger and self-destructive shit out a long time ago, and I think we exorcised the rest tonight.”

“Good. I’d yell at you some more but I’m sure Brian took care of that.”

Oh yeah.”

They were still hugging when Brian came home a few minutes later.

“Should I be jealous?”

Justin raised an eyebrow at him over Daphne’s shoulder. He knew Brian did jealousy when it came to him, but even in a situation that warranted it, the man would never admit it. He waited for the rest.

“You making time with my girl, Blondie?”

There it was. Again, should be weird, but just warmed his heart.

“I saw her first,” Justin replied, grinning as he stood up, hoping somehow that Brian hadn’t noticed his face was a mess of mostly dried tears.

“Are we going to fight for her? Because there’s a hot guy sitting in a car outside who I’m pretty sure would wipe the floor with both of us.”

“Seth’s here?” Daphne located her cell phone under the coffee table. “Oops, volume off. My designated driver’s been waiting for ten minutes. Told you he was patient. Gotta go, boys.”

“You’re leaving?” Justin asked, surprised. Sure, they’d spent most of the day together already, but it was barely ten o’clock. “I kind of thought you were spending the night here.”

“No, not tonight.”

She gave Brian a pointed look with those words. Justin didn’t notice, but Brian did, and he gave a short nod, which seemed to please her.

She picked up her purse and hugged Justin again, presented Brian with her cheek to kiss, and assured them both that she was only a tiny bit buzzed and warm-feeling and that she would take the elevator and not the stairs.

“Didn’t interrupt some kind of important bonding shit when I came in, did I?” Brian said quietly to her on her way out.

“Nah, we definitely got that done. It's your show now, tiger. Oh, and one more thing...” She stood up on her toes and whispered her news in his ear, causing a surprised eyebrow and a deep smile.

“Congratulations, darlin'.”

“Thanks.” Daphne raised her voice as she exited. “I was just telling Justin that he’s a lucky bastard because he is way too pretty for prison!”

And then she was gone.

“Was she making reference to what I think she was making reference to?”

“Yes.”

Brian walked to Justin and gave his hand to pull him up, then let Justin pull him over to the sofa and down. “You finally decided to tell her?”

“Partly came out accidentally, but yeah, I told her.”

“And she reacted…”

“Loudly. A little violently.” He touched his bruised arm. “But she still loves me. Even if your stock keeps rising and rising.”

Brian smirked. “I’m good at it.”

“I know, you’re a great friend.”

“I meant rising. Isn't that what you said? My cock keeps rising and...” Brian pressed a hand to Justin’s forehead. “You feeling all right? I worry when you miss innuendo.”

Justin batted the hand away, then let his head rest on Brian’s shoulder. “Haha. Yeah, I’m good. Kind of worn out, I guess. Emotional day.”

Brian’s thumb swept over a leftover bit of moisture on Justin’s cheek. “Thought you were going to distract her and everything was going to be happy, fluffy, drunk bunnies.”

“That plan probably would have worked better if I hadn’t been the one to fucking bring up what I was supposed to be distracting her from. And then fall apart.”

“Fall apart?” Brian tugged Justin’s legs to lay across his lap, resting his hands on Justin’s thigh, probably comforting himself mostly as he waited for more.

“Yeah. Pretty embarrassingly. Not that I can embarrass myself in front of Daphne at this point. But I was embarrassed for me.”

“But did you get all that shit out that you were hanging on to? And did Daphne knock some sense into you finally?”

“Think so.”

“I’d say it was fucking worth it, then. Now you can go back to being a moody bitch just because you’re an artist.”

“Fuck you, philistine.”

“There you go!”

Justin playfully stuck out his tongue and Brian quickly closed his mouth over it. Falling into the vaguely tequila-flavored kiss, Justin wondered why he bothered drinking, since kissing Brian always made him feel warmer and floatier than alcohol ever could.

“You’re back from Woody’s really early,” Justin noted when they pulled back. “Come to think of it, you hardly taste like you drank at all.”

Brian shrugged. “One beer.”

Justin leaned forward and touched his nose to the man's neck, breathing deeply, then dipped down to his chest and inhaled again. “And you don't smell like you had any fun,” he said with a faux sad face, not catching a scent of anyone but Brian. “Or am I just not smelling low enough?”

Brian mostly managed to swallow the laughter tickling fingers at his waistband were threatening to cause. “Why do you think I left? I'm fresh as a fucking daisy.”

Justin didn't even try to swallow his laughter at Brian's phraseology. “Poor baby. How come?” A thought occurred to him and his mood sobered. “Out of some kind of respect for Daphne?”

Of course Justin never thought for a moment it might have anything to do with respect for him. Them.

Stupid twat. “Just wasn't interested.”

“Did you come home to take me to Babylon then?”

“No.”

“Oh.” Justin tried not to look disappointed. “Yeah, no, no problem. I hadn’t been expecting to go, anyway, I'm tired, it’s just that you were here… But you should get back to the guys, I’m fine. I’ve got school stuff I can work on. Or I might just go to sleep.”

Justin disentangled himself from Brian and stood up. Brian stood, too, with a small chuckle, and grabbed hold of the back of Justin's shirt before he could walk away.

“I'm afraid your work might get disturbed, and your sleep definitely will, because I’m not going to Babylon. Or back to Woody’s, or anywhere other than here.”

“You’re not?”

“And I wanted to be sober so at least one of us would be able to hold us up.”

Justin turned fully towards Brian and scrunched his face in confusion. “Hold us up for what?”

Brian started walking to the bedroom.

“Oh, hold us up... for some particularly precarious sexual position?” Justin flashed a naughty grin, about to go join Brian.

“Wait there.”

“Um... okay.” Justin fidgeted a bit, not quite able to see what Brian was doing. “Well, I just said 'particularly precarious' correctly, so I'm without a doubt not drunk, if that helps... with whatever you've got planned.”

He was just about to start cleaning up the mild mess he and Daphne had left, of mostly empty glasses on the coffee table and a few pillows on the floor, when he felt himself turned around and something draped around his neck.

“Daphne told me I needed to give you a better anniversary to celebrate.”

Justin looked down to see the cool white of Brian's silk scarf from the prom. Brian had looked so beautiful wearing it. And when they danced, it was almost like Brian had claimed him with that scarf. It had even joined them in bed that night, but Justin hadn't seen it since. He ran his fingers over it, so distracted by the softness and the memories that it took a minute for Brian's unexpected word choice to sink in. His mouth dropped open a little.

“Anniversary?”

“That was her word, not mine. But… I agreed.”

Brian took Justin by the hand and led him to the largest bit of open floor space. Justin hadn't even seen him pick up the remote for the CD player, but suddenly he was pointing it and pressing, tossing it away onto the sofa just as the first note played.

Justin's stomach flipped pleasantly. It was that song. Their song. He thought he'd been very good about never bringing it up to Brian that they had a song, all this time, even if it wasn't exactly a song that got played a lot (or ever) at Babylon.

But Brian was acknowledging it.

Hazel eyes were a layer of cocky over nervous as he held Justin in the formal stance and started to move them to the beat. Never mind that he had done this before, and in front of a crowd. This was just the two of them.

Which could only be more difficult for Brian.

“Should I have dressed up?” Justin asked, only half-joking. His dance partner was wearing a deliciously tight black sweater and jeans, not a tuxedo, but he still felt underdressed in his T-shirt and sweats, not to mention sock feet.

Brian shook his head. “That's what this is for,” he said, running the ends of the scarf through his fingers.

Justin looked down at the juxtaposition of fancy scarf with his schlubby self and gave a small snort. “Oh, okay.”

“You look...”

Justin lifted his head and his eyes met Brian's just as the words paused. What he saw in them was something he'd been lucky enough to see a few times, maybe most notably exactly one year ago, but he was always cautious to not scare it away.

...good,” Brian finally managed, and the rasp in his voice made it not at all anti-climactic. “You look good, Justin.”

They weren't really attempting to recreate their prom dance... movements were smaller, choreography not as grand... so Justin figured it was okay to drop the proper hold and get a little closer, resting his head on Brian's chest and slipping his arms around the man's waist. He said thank you for the compliment with a light kiss to Brian's collarbone.

“I guess I also thought I should stay sober so at least one of us would remember this tomorrow.”

“I told you, I'm not drunk. I'll remember everything.”

“I almost wish you wouldn't.”

“Why?”

Brian sighed dramatically and it tickled Justin's cheek. “It's just so fucking...”

“Ridiculously romantic?”

It actually made Brian happy to hear Justin repeat those words. But Justin's bottom received a pinch, anyway, to which the boy only laughed.

“Yeah. That.”

“You want me to remember this stuff. Trust me. Because then, next time you piss me off, I think back to how you're making me feel right now, and it makes it a lot harder for me to stay mad.”

Brian could hardly argue with that, knowing that had happened more than once in the past year.

“Unless...”

Brian looked down, eyebrow quirked.

“Unless maybe there was something you wanted to say that you thought you only could say if you knew I wouldn't remember that you said it.”

“Was that a riddle, Sunshine?” Brian took a half-step back and took Justin's hand, lifting it high and twirling him around, just a couple of revolutions shy of the last time. “Run it by me one more time.”

Justin shrugged his shoulders dismissively as they returned to each other's arms. “Never mind.” He was no longer spinning, but he still felt a touch dizzy. “Nice moves. You know, you're... a really great partner, Brian.”

It could have just been about dancing, and Justin designed it that way, even though he meant much more than that and Brian knew it, knew it even though they'd never used that word, and it was a somewhat terrifying but fucking ridiculously perfect thing to say.

“And thank you for celebrating all the good stuff about that night,” Justin continued. “Not letting me forget. Or pretending it was just me.”

They never really talked about that night, and certainly not what they'd felt that night, but it was unquestionably shared. Brian had never tried to slight it or make Justin feel like he was alone in it. Never tried to pretend it was just a dance.

“No, I was definitely there with you,” he admitted softly. “Probably veering much too close to cheesily cheesetastic.”

Justin looked into Brian's eyes and smiled guilelessly. “Me gusta queso.”

Brian blinked. He pulled his lips in, trying to keep some control, but his mouth morphed into a much goofier grin than he had given it permission to. He held Justin tightly to his body and lifted him a few inches off the ground, turning them both around, around, around, before setting him back down.

Brian was shaking his head. “You are...”

“A dork? A twat? The love of your life?” Justin rattled them off teasingly but held his breath when he realized he'd said that last one.

Brian felt like he nodded just then, though he knew he actually hadn't, and he could have sworn his face showed everything he was thinking and feeling, though he knew it was probably skillfully impassive. It took a long beat for him to answer.

“You are... Justin.”

Surely some part of Justin knew that meant all of the above.

Brian kissed him to shut them both up. Enough talking. Dancing, too.

Walking Justin backwards to the bed, laying him down, and covering his body with his own, the song continued playing softly in the background, on repeat.

Brian ran his hands along Justin's arms, stretching them up above their heads, and gripped his wrists.

Justin pulled his mouth away from Brian's just enough to speak. “Mm. Watch it, mister. I took a few of those self-defense classes, too. I'm tough. I could have you pinned to the bed anytime I want.”

“Yeah? Why don't you go ahead then?”

Justin wiggled his lower body just slightly against its captor, feeling the immediate response. “I'm pretty comfortable where I am. Could be more comfortable, though.”

Four hands had Brian's sweater off in no time, then split back into teams of two to go after Justin's shirt and Brian's pants, and soon the only item of clothing remaining was the scarf.

“Much better,” Justin said, starting to lazily trail the silk over Brian's back and shoulders. “I wasn't even sure you still had this.”

“It was touch and go for a while with the dry cleaners, whether they'd be able to get the stains out, though I'm not sure if it was the jizz or the maple syrup that gave them the most trouble. It's just been in the closet since then.” Tucked away.

“I'm grateful for their valiant efforts.” Justin touched Brian's cheek. “I'm grateful for a lot of things.”

Brian lowered his forehead to Justin's and cradled the blond head in his hands.

“Like queso sprinkled on your French toast at 2 a.m.?”

Justin smiled fondly at Brian's response to an intense moment. “You'd do that for me?”

“I'll sprinkle if you make the French toast.”

“Deal. A lot of time to kill before then, though.”

“We'll come up with some ideas,” Brian said, just as strong legs wrapped around his waist and heels dug into his ass. “I think we have a winner.” Sly lips hovered a millimeter above Justin's. “Oh. One more thing...”

Suddenly there was warm breath in Justin's ear.

“If there's something I can supposedly only say when you won't remember... drunk, asleep, whatever the fuck...”

And a warm hand and cool silk on his cock.

“...how do you know I haven't said it already?”

And Justin's breath was gone.

But then Justin was kissing Brian, swallowing that warm breath and that question that had made his heart speed up and his skin ache for this man to fuck him, to touch every part of him, and he knew Brian was right, maybe more so than Brian even realized.

He'd already said it so many times, so many ways. From showing up to a stupid high school prom and dancing with him like that, to the actual words in the lyrics of the fucking song, to daring to refer to it all as “romantic.” In the way he took care of him the next day and well after, not bailing even when they weren't having sex, saving him so many times from himself in the wake of what happened to Daphne. In how he moved him in and never really seemed to want to be rid of him, even that sad once or twice he decided he probably should and halfheartedly tried. In how he'd given him time with his best friend today but also made sure he held on to the parts of this day that belonged to them.

In those looks Brian gave him every now and again that made him feel... precious, and like he had more power than anyone deserved.

The thought of possible secret three-little-word whispers having spilled from Brian's lips still made him smile, of course. But it wasn't really a secret. They knew. They both knew.

Once a year, Brian might even almost admit it.
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