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He leans back against the door and fights the urge to tug at his tie. It had taken forever this morning to get the stupid thing into a satisfactory straight line and he doesn't want to ruin all of that work. Even if it feels like he is about to suffocate. But at least it is cooler in here than outside. The weather seems to have forgotten that it is autumn and is instead sweltering. But maybe that's just Texas. He wonders how the outdoor wedding will pan out in this heat with everyone sweating and uncomfortable in their suits and dresses. Justin plans to find a shady tree and hide under it after the wedding. Even if that might be incredibly unsociable and he might be bringing the fun and easy going perception of Australians by the rest of the world into disrepute. He doubts Dal will let him do as he wants. Dal will probably forcibly drag him from his shelter under his tree, intent on torturing Justin until he gives up his pretense at tall, dark and mysterious and make him talk to every person he doesn't know at this wedding, which includes most of the 250 or so guests attending.


Dal is currently fussing around Nick, locking stray strands of hair back into place, brushing imaginary dust from his lapels and generally keeping himself occupied by buzzing around the room like an energiser bunny. Lenny is talking quietly on the phone. He is standing at the window, which takes up half of the wall and looks out on to the driveway that is currently packed with parked cars, and the mountains rising in the distance. His head is bowed and his dark hair is falling in to his face and Justin knows Dal shake his head and will fix it up before the wedding.


BJ is... missing. But then BJ and Dal have recently been avoiding each other like the plague.  In their long story, BJ and Dal have always had a very complicated relationship and things had escalated last month. Dal is getting married and BJ is leaving, which makes them being here at this wedding even more complicated. Especially since both of them are Nick's groomsmen. The few times they'd been forced to interact have been very awkward affairs, with them falling over themselves to avoid each other while pretending everything was fine.


Justin is distracted from the woes of his friends' love life by Nick, who turns, still laughing at Dal's attempts to straighten his tie, to face him.


His golden hair is set perfectly, not a strand out of place, and his blue eyes are alight with laughter. He really does look like some Nordic god that Dal always teases him about. Justin feels his breath catch as he straightens up.


"I feel like I'm going to throw up," Nick says, stepping towards him with a smile.


Justin smiles back but his lips feel frozen and he isn't sure what it looks like on his face. The smile on Nick's face falters and disappears completely.


Justin reaches up to straighten Nick's tie, hands smoothing over the blue silk. Nick steps too close. But then that’s how they’ve always been, stepping into each other’s space without restraint, without fear of rebuke. Because they’ve never needed permission and they’ve always worked better together. Justin straightens an imaginary crease from the collar of Nick’s dress shirt and he can smell the eucalyptus scent of Nick’s shampoo. He is suddenly reminded of how he used to tease Nick about koalas dropping on him because he smells like a tree. He remembers Nick pushing him away playfully and the concern in his eyes when Justin pretended to hit the wall harder than he actually did. He knows that if he runs his hands through Nick's hair, ruining all the work Dal had done to perfect it, it would feel soft and fine like the silk of the tie under his fingers.

But they don't do that. Not anymore.


His fingers graze over the pale skin of Nick's throat and he feels it as Nick's breath hitches. Nick raises a hand to come tentatively to rest on Justin's own at his throat, his blue eyes fixed on Justin's brown ones.




Justin can feel it. Himself at the edge of a cliff.


Take a step forward.


Kiss Nick, run his hands through that golden hair, make him gasp, make him moan and they could step away from all this pretense. Live their lives the way they've both wanted for so long. Without fear.


Take a step forward and Nick pushes him back. Spits at him in disgust and tells him to go and never come back.


Take a step forward and Nick tells him it is too late. That he chooses her. They never would have worked anyway.


Take a step forward and there is no going back.

He will fall in to the unknown waiting at his feet and all the futures he never dared think about will swallow him up.


So he drops his hands and steps back. Averts his eyes from the hurt in Nick's eyes and tells himself it is for the best. That the way Nick reaches after him is nothing but an afterthought and that the twist in his heart might unravel one day.

He steps back from Nick and steps in to a future he dare not stray from.

Nick runs a shaking hand through his hair and turns away and Justin knows this moment will define him forever.

He avoids Dal's sad, knowing eyes and heads for the door, tugging at his tie to loosen it. He leaves and hopes he won't look back. But knows that he will. He will always remember the time when  he had stood at the edge of that precipice, with all of his futures swirling below him and wonders if he'll ever stop wishing he had taken that one step forward.