Summary: It didn't have to be this way, he thinks.
Notes: for my darlingest throughadoor on her birthday :X:X:X:X thanks to SDV for help with the end and e.e. cummings for the title.
Sometimes, when Brian feels particularly tired or maudlin or self-deprecating, he thinks about the prom, wonders about each of the moments he could have done differently to change the outcome of the night. He wonders how it might have gone:
1. He can't believe he's doing this -- that part's real, not imagined. He couldn't believe it then, and he can't now that he's envisioning it. He still only has half a clue what he'll do when he actually gets inside and finds himself surrounded by drooling, horny, teenaged breeders.
And then he's in, and he spots them almost immediately, grinning at each other like maniacs, like some stupid dance in a hotel ballroom is the most fun they've ever had. But they're -- cute, he has to admit... grudgingly. Very grudgingly. Daphne's wearing some ridiculously bright dress, the color of which resembles a radioactive peach, and Justin's hair is full of so much gel that it would probably crack if touched, but still. They look happy.
He starts to approach them and stops. Maybe Justin's changed his mind; maybe he doesn't really want this. Despite all of his bravado, maybe he's not actually ready to out himself to all of these people, the children of his parents' country club friends. When Brian leaves, he gets to leave everyone in the room behind; Justin has to come back to them on Monday. Teenagers are vicious: knowing Justin's gay is one thing, but seeing it? That's another issue entirely.
So he watches. He watches Justin dance with Daphne, first to fake Latin music and then to that old, corny song that still, to this day, makes him want to retch. Brian watches, then he goes home, content in the knowledge that Justin didn't really need him there at all.
2. "Mind if I borrow your date?" he asks, pulling Justin out to the dance floor with him right as the music changes. He thinks that, even had Daphne said yes, nothing would have been able to drag him away after that first look at Justin's sweet, open face. Shit, the entire St. James administration could have approached him, threatened to have him arrested for trespassing or statutory rape or being the old guy at the prom, and he still would have pulled Justin to him, danced with him.
They dance, and it's ridiculously romantic, just like he remembers. Just like it really was; he fucking loves every second of it. When the song ends, he pulls Justin by the hand towards the lobby, but they barely make it out of the ballroom before Justin stops, jerking Brian to him.
"What are you doing?" Brian asks.
"Come on," Justin says by way of an answer and leads him down the carpeted hallway to a door marked "Gentlemen." There's no lock on the door, and it makes Brian proud that this doesn't deter Justin in the least; it's only seconds before Brian finds himself pressed up against the tacky wallpaper with Justin's tongue in his mouth, Justin's fingers threading through his hair, Justin's cock throbbing against his.
When they break apart to breathe, Justin whimpers and Brian grins.
"You want me to fuck you?" he mouths against Justin's neck with a nip of teeth. "You want me to bend you over that sink and fuck you until you scream, don't you? Fuck you so hard that all your little friends can hear how bad you want it."
"Yeah," Justin answers, his voice thick. "Fuck me Brian, please."
He does, and it's goddamn hot, Justin flushed and writhing as Brian slams into him behind, watching themselves in the mirror. After they come, he sends Justin back to the dance with a promise of "Later" and a joke about how the high school handbook requires that every hot little slut get fucked on prom night.
3. They kiss in the parking lot, and it's soft and sweet. Brian feels his lips about to form the word he knows comes next in this sequence, but he pushes it back down, says instead: "Come home with me." And Justin does. Of course he does. How could he say no to the fucking sexiest man he's ever seen, and on this night, the best night of his life? He climbs into the Jeep's passenger seat, and Brian watches him with something so close to adoration that it's almost frightening -- or it should be, but it isn't. They drive home in silence, still drunk on the adrenaline of their big, beautiful "fuck you" to all of Justin's homophobic prick classmates, and Brian doesn't even care when Justin rips his tux shirt trying to pull it open before they even get inside the building.
What follows, in Brian's mind, is too hot to even think about: mind-blowing sex the likes of which neither of them has ever experienced, this connection that Brian has never even allowed himself to hope for. He thinks, had it happened this way, the universe might have exploded from the sheer amount of heat produced.
4. He doesn't hesitate. When he sees Chris Hobbs in the side mirror, he doesn't sit in his car wondering what exactly is going on; he gets out quicker, yells sooner and louder, runs faster toward Justin to stop the impending disaster. Justin turns at the sound of Brian's voice, his loud footsteps smacking against the concrete, and Brian has time to push him out of the way before the bat is even in the air.
He grabs the would-be weapon, punches Chris Hobbs in his goddamn smug face and watches with pleasure as he falls to the ground, unconscious.
"Are you okay?" he asks, turning to Justin.
"Yeah," Justin answers breathlessly. They're both breathless; Brian thinks his legs might give out at any second. "Are you?"
"I'm fine. God, he could've--"
"Killed me?" Justin closes the distance between them, wrapping Brian's trembling hands around his waist. "He didn't. It's fine. We're fine."
They stand together, quiet and solid, until Chris starts to groan from his place on the cement floor. Brian retrieves the bat and points it at him. "Get the fuck out of here," he says, his voice rough and harsh, and Chris does -- quickly.
"Thank you," Justin whispers, and Brian raises an eyebrow.
"For what? Punching out your classmate?"
Justin covers Brian's hand, the one that's still holding the baseball bat, with his own, and uses his other hand to pull their faces close. "You saved me," he mouths against Brian's lips, and Brian knows he's right.
Maybe that night really could have gone differently -- sweeter, safer, better. Maybe he could have gone home alone that night, or with Justin, back to his own bed and the memories of a night when he took a chance at loving someone and didn't fail. And maybe Justin's art would be different now, had it not been for the bashing, and maybe he never would have left Brian for the fucking fiddler or joined a bunch of angry fags in their pursuit of vigilante justice.
Maybe he wouldn't be lying here, right now, curled around Justin and feeling the soft, steady heartbeat beneath his palm. Maybe it was a trade-off: lose one night, gain three years. And really, what does it even matter? He can imagine a thousand different proms, millions of could-have-been, should-have-been, might-have-beens, and none of them makes any difference now.
Now, where everything really is good, so good that it's not even worth it to imagine how it could be better. Because it couldn't.