They've been making circles around each other since the day they met, in a ring of light on a street corner.
At the time, Brian wasn't thinking about anything beyond that night. He had no idea where Justin might lead him, saw nothing beyond blond hair and a tantalizing innocence ripe for the taking.
If asked, Brian would've said that he didn't do repeats or relationships or bullshit emotions. He didn't start things, with anyone.
It was supposed to be a single encounter, just pleasure. But instead, that night had weight and force and momentum all its own. It was something that neither of them could have anticipated.
It was a beginning.
At first, Justin orbits around Brian. He traces a roundabout path on the periphery of Brian's existence, finding his way from Michael to Lindsay to Debbie. By the time Brian realizes what Justin's doing, it's already too late to stop him.
Michael summons him to Debbie's house one day. "Get him out of my house!" he says angrily. Brian just has to laugh. He hadn't even realized that Justin knew Debbie; the kid is obviously far more persistent than he'd ever thought.
When Brian gets to the house, he goes upstairs with no idea what he's supposed to do. He doesn't exactly have a lot of experience dealing with troubled youth. Most of the time, he still feels like he is one.
Brian may not know what to do, but Justin does. He's a natural-born cocksucker, so he sinks to his knees and pulls Brian in with a stealth blow job right there in Mikey's old room, while the family waits downstairs.
And Brian finds he doesn't want to stop Justin in his orbit. What he wants is to fuck him a lot, so that's what he does.
Brian spins Justin around the dance floor until they're both dizzy. They turn and step and dip together in perfect time to the music, and Brian can hear his heart beat against his ribs. It's completely, ridiculously romantic and for once in his life he's okay with that.
He should've known everything would go to hell.
Sitting in a hard plastic chair in the hallway outside Justin's hospital room, all he can do is rest his head in his hands and remember and blame himself.
The motion of the bat swinging around, tracing a path toward Justin's fragile skull. Brian shouting his name, leaping from the Jeep and moving as fast as he could to intercept -- but not fast enough. The crack of the bat. Brian's own screams echoing across the parking garage. Justin's blood pooling around his head in an obscene halo on the concrete. Daphne's pink dress as she kneeled opposite him and cried and somehow remembered to pick up the phone.
Inside the room, Justin is still and pale. As long as Brian has known him, he's been in motion. Spinning, dancing, making circles around Brian. Now all that energy has drained away and left him here, finally at rest in a sterile hospital room. If he dies, it will be Brian's fault.
The only thing that Brian can do is to trace an orbit of his own, visiting the places that he knows and Justin knows. He rotates in an ever-smaller circle from the dance floor to the backroom to the bed and back again, and every night after visiting hours are over his route brings him inexorably back to this hallway and this window and Justin, asleep in this bed.
Brian never alters his course, even once Justin wakes.
For a brief time, they are wrapped up in each other, two bodies orbiting a central point. Their circle is defined by the reach of Brian's arms, held together by the strength of Justin's determination, and the thumpa-thumpa of Babylon's music sets the pace of their movements.
Truthfully, he doesn't expect it to last as long as it does. Justin is insightful and intelligent and he sees things that other people don't with those laser-sharp blue eyes. Brian can't think of a single reason (besides his cock) why someone like Justin would want to be with him. It just doesn't make sense.
When Justin finds someone else, someone who can give him the romance he wants, that makes sense. Brian won't give him those things, but he also won't put a lock on the door and force him to stay.
Justin wants to leave, but he's trapped within Brian's gravitational field even as he struggles to get away. They go round and round in their arguments as they build up speed -- arguing over picnics and flowers and a thousand other tiny things. Brian can feel the bond between them falling apart under his hands, and knows there's nothing he can do. It's everything about a relationship that he always wanted to avoid. It's lies and bullshit and guilt, and all they do is retrace the same ugly steps over and over again.
Justin finally leaves him for his dreamy-eyed schoolboy, but that very same night he comes back. In the silence of the darkened loft, the door slides open and Justin walks in slowly, as if unsure of his welcome. He stands at the foot of the bed and awkwardly strips down to his briefs before crawling into bed. Brian pulls the sheet back for him, makes room at his side. This is Justin's place for as long as he wants it.
He lies awake for hours and holds Justin close, knowing that he will be gone again soon.
They've been dancing around each other for so long that Brian shouldn't be surprised when Justin spins back into his life. He was never truly gone, still appearing at regular intervals in places like the diner and Lindsay and Mel's anniversary party, but always maintaining a careful distance.
But suddenly, things are different. Justin is everywhere, and that careful distance is a thing of the past. He's in the backroom at Babylon and he's buying Brian's drinks at the bar, he's shooting pool at Woody's and bringing his sandwich at the diner even though Brian knows he sat in Kiki's section. He insinuates himself into the art department at Vangard, so Brian can't even go to work without seeing that blond head of hair and hearing him say, "Mister Kinney."
Brian could push him away, if he wanted to. With one well-placed shove he could cut Justin loose, send him spinning off into space. He doesn't.
Justin spins back into his orbit, and Brian pulls him in with arms wrapped possessively around his waist. Their bodies move instinctively on the dance floor, Justin kisses his way up Brian's neck and silver confetti falls around them. It feels familiar, and yet something has changed.
They fall into a pattern, and strangely enough it works for them. They come together hard and fast, rolling across the hardwood floor with a frantic rhythm -- and then they separate again.
Brian's strength fails him, along with his malignant ball, and he pushes Justin away. It's too little, too late, and Justin only stays away long enough to let Brian come to regret it. Soon enough he's back and closer than ever, sitting on the edge of the bed with chicken soup, nursing Brian until he's strong again.
Justin goes all the way to Hollywood and Brian thinks he's gone forever, but his orbit brings him back. He can't stay away; there is a gravitational force that always pulls him back to Pittsburgh and the loft. This time Brian is ready, offering him an empty drawer for as long as he wants to stay.
Michael becomes a house-husband and Brian rejects him in the same way he's always scorned the Stepford fags. But Justin doesn't agree anymore, and he's already rotating away again. He tells Brian that they want different things, that this will never work. His bag is already packed.
It takes a catastrophe to bring Brian back, but in a way it's no surprise. One of them always comes back. He's sitting in the back of a limousine, speeding along the highway away from Justin and everyone he knows, when a voice comes on the radio and his heart stops beating for a moment. "There's been an explosion at Babylon--" That's all it takes, and Brian is shouting at the driver to turn around, hurtling back toward the place where it all began.
Brian does all he can to make Justin stay this time. He turns himself inside-out trying to give Justin the life he wants, to be everything he needs, but it isn't right. It's a manor in the country and a promise of monogamy and engraved invitations... but Justin's observant eyes see through all that bullshit and he knows what Brian is up to, just as he always has.
Like the time before, and the time before that, it seems inevitable that they will spin apart again. This time, Justin's direction is New York City.
As Brian watches him go, he swears it will be the last goodbye.
the two-body solution
Brian stands by the window, smoking. There is a weight on his left hand, an uneven pressure that feels foreign and strange, and he's hyper-aware of it. There's a small velvet box on the bedside table. Brian's kept it for over a year in the back of his sock drawer, never bringing it out until tonight. The lid is open; the box is empty.
He hears the sheets rustle and the bed creak, and then the soft padding of footsteps across the floor. A moment later, Justin is standing beside him, sliding a warm hand up Brian's air-chilled arm.
Justin moves in, nestles his body against Brian's back and wraps both arms around his waist. Brian entwines their arms and links their hands, so that the thin circle of metal around his finger touches Justin's.
Brian turns Justin's hand palm-up and presses a kiss across the narrow band of the ring where it glints in the glow from the streetlight outside.
It's another beginning.