Thanks and love to my Erins for readthroughs.
Daphne used to have a crush on Justin. Before they called themselves best friends, before they had sex in Justin’s twin bed, way back before Justin even knew he was gay, Daphne worshipped him painfully.
It was just that Justin was so blond and fair-skinned, so different from her own chocolate brown complexion. And the way he shone when he smiled. Daphne always secretly resented Debbie Novotny for taking credit for the name “Sunshine”, because Daphne knew that Justin had been her own personal sunshine long before that. And Justin had the best manners of any boy she knew, even if he did forget to let her go first through the doorway sometimes, and even though he called her Dumb Daphne when he was mad at her.
Daphne worshipped Justin right up until the time they started junior high, when she found herself in homeroom with Tim Chapman. Slowly, Tim began to take over her thoughts, and Justin was relegated back to friend status. Daphne doubted Justin ever knew, or would even care if he did. Stuff like that didn’t matter to Justin.
Daphne wonders now if on some level she knew Justin was gay and would never return her affections in the way she had hoped for. He was “safe” that way, a non-threat. If he rejected her, it wouldn’t matter, because he didn’t like girls anyhow. Daphne figures that’s probably what happened, and she congratulates herself for paying attention in her first year of college psych.
And really, Daphne thinks, there isn’t anybody alive who can compete with Brian.
Brian and Justin were meant for each other before they even met, Daphne likes to think, although she keeps that stupidly romantic notion to herself. She said it to Justin once and he laughed until tears streamed down his face and Daphne threw a french fry at him. “Oh God,” he giggled, “wait till I tell Brian that.”
“No,” she shrieked, horrified that Brian Kinney would laugh at her, but when Justin told him in front of her, Brian grinned that easy grin and put his arm around her shoulders.
“Why, Daphne,” he drawled, “you never told me what an idealist you were.”
Daphne blushed and stammered but didn’t move away, even though Justin was laughing again.
* * *
She walked in on them once and never told Justin.
Justin had told her to come over, that the door was never locked (which was a lie, because after Brian got all his stuff stolen he was religiously fanatical about locking it), and they'd go see a movie or something.
She was running late, and she guessed that maybe the two of them had gotten bored, because they obviously had found a way to amuse themselves before she got there. Daphne had opened the loft door and they were right there against one of the support columns, Justin's pants around his ankles and Brian's not even past his hips. For some weird reason, she focused in on Justin's fingers flexing and gripping the beam, and then on Brian's large hand as he covered Justin's.
They were beautiful, the two of them, and Daphne watched for a full minute before realizing what she was doing and becoming embarrassed. But they were like liquid, and all the muscles in Brian's bare back were so fluid under the skin, and whatever he was doing to Justin was making Justin whimper in the back of his throat and say, "Please, Brian, hurry up, please."
She closed the door quietly and pressed her ear against it, and then when she heard them both groan in unison, she counted to 300 before knocking loudly. Sliding open the door, she called brightly, "Anyone home?" and Brian strolled languidly out of the bedroom as if he'd been there the whole time.
"He's in the shower," Brian gestured over his shoulder, and Daphne heard the water running.
"Okay," she managed, thinking that Brian's bare feet were some of the nicest she'd ever seen, and he grinned at her.
Justin emerged shortly after that, and Daphne watched him approach Brian for a goodbye kiss. Daphne thought for sure that Brian would blow him off or make some sarcastic remark, but to her surprise, Brian not only kissed Justin, but also pressed another one to his forehead and squeezed his hand. "I'm going out," he said to Justin, and Justin feigned nonchalance.
"Yeah, me too probably," he said, and Daphne knew he was lying but didn't say anything.
* * *
She thinks a lot about the time Justin was hurt, and what she would have done if he had died. Daphne mentioned it casually to Brian once.
"He almost died," she said, watching Brian pour juice from the refrigerator while she waited for Justin to come home from work.
"He didn't," Brian answered brusquely, and raised a fine black brow at her over his juice.
Those two words said a lot to Daphne.
* * *
When they had sex, things changed.
She didn’t want them to. She tried really hard not to let it get weird, because she said she wouldn’t, she promised Justin things would be the same, but Daphne couldn’t help it.
He was gentle and considerate and so different from the rough pawings of the other high school boys. He let her keep her bra on because she was embarrassed in the broad daylight, and didn’t laugh at her once. Daphne couldn’t help falling in love just a little bit, and that was even before he made her come.
Afterward, when they lay tangled together for a little while, a question occurred to her.
“Hey,” she had said quietly, and Justin lifted a sleepy head from her shoulder.
“Did you, uh … well. Um, you came, right?” Daphne wished she had more experience so she could tell for sure, but she figured that was the point of this whole experiment anyway.
The corner of Justin’s mouth had turned up. “Yeah,” he grinned at her. “Why?”
“I’m a girl,” she had blurted out, sort of confused.
Justin shrugged. “It still felt good, Daph. Doesn’t mean I’m straight or anything.”
“Oh, God forbid,” Daphne had snorted.
He chuckled. “And I was picturing Nick Carter.”
Daphne punched him in the arm and he yelped and pinched her side, which made her laugh.
Things didn’t stay weird for long, because Daphne made herself get over it. And Justin forgave her, because he was easygoing that way.
* * *
Daphne wonders if maybe the man she marries some day will let Justin be the best man at her wedding. She doesn’t think that getting married without Justin standing up with her would seem real, and somehow she sort of knows that he wouldn’t handle being called her “maid of honor” very well.
Then she remembers that she’s never getting married, and tells Justin so.
“Oh, whatever,” he says disbelievingly, and takes the cherry off the top of the sundae Debbie puts in front of her.
“What?” she asks. “I’m not. Why do I have to get married?”
“You’re a breeder,” Justin says nonchalantly. “All breeders get married.”
“What!” Daphne shouts, and throws her spoon on the table. Heads all over the diner turn.
“Shh,” Justin says.
“You SHH!” Daphne doesn’t know why she’s suddenly so angry, but there it is.
“Jeez, Daph, calm down,” Justin says nervously, and his eyes dart around the restaurant.
“I will NOT,” she proclaims, and stands up. “You’ve never called me that before, you little prick, and you’re letting that bastard Cody warp your brain. Don’t call me.” Daphne flounces out and hopes everyone sees.
Of course Justin calls her that night, because that’s what they do when they fight, and he apologizes. She accepts it.
It’s what they do.
* * *
She starts dating a really nice guy named Anthony who brings her flowers twice and pays for beer. One night, Daphne goes out to Babylon with Justin and sees Anthony dancing with a guy. When they start to make out, Daphne feels a little sick, and Justin pulls her out the front door.
“Let’s go,” he says, “I’m hungry.”
“No, you’re not,” Daphne says shakily, and hopes she doesn’t cry.
Justin blows out a breath of disgust. “He was an ass, Daph.”
“Did you … have you ever …” She can’t bear to even ask, even though she knows Justin will lie anyway.
“Fucked him?” Justin grins. “No.”
“I have,” Brian says nonchalantly, appearing behind them.
“You’ve fucked everyone,” Justin says dismissively, and turns back to Daphne.
“Not tonight, I haven’t,” Brian grouses. “I can’t believe the collective ugliness of the guys in there. Let’s go home, I’m horny,” he finishes with a leer.
Justin turns to Brian and Daphne waits for Justin to giggle and lean into him, like always. But he doesn’t. “I’ll meet you later,” he says, and kisses his cheek.
Brian is astonished. “You got a date?”
“Uh. Sort of,” Justin says, and nudges Daphne in the side with his elbow. “I want fries, Daph.”
Daphne looks at Brian uncertainly. “Um, maybe … maybe Brian could come?”
Brian looks pained. “I don’t eat french fries.”
Justin snorts. “He eats them off my plate instead. You coming, Brian?”
Brian heaves a deep sigh. “Sadly, not in the way I had hoped. Let’s go, so you kids can get your grease quotient for the day.”
“I got your grease,” Justin says slyly, and Daphne spends the rest of the night watching the two of them trade sexual innuendoes until her side hurts from laughing.
* * *
She figures Justin’s going to be one of those constants in her life. She hopes he will be, anyway. Daphne’s introspective enough to know that something inside her needs what Justin provides, and vice-versa.
They’ll fight, and Justin will act like a girl sometimes and Daphne will get annoyed with him, and she knows it will happen because that’s what always happens. And sometimes Daphne will have PMS and scream at him over nothing, and Justin will hate her for two days and then text her while she’s in the middle of English Lit with a smiley face, and Daphne knows it will happen because that’s what always happens. They’ll make up and then fight again and then make up, because that’s how their friendship is.
It’s just what they do.