Brian Kinney communicates best when he's not talking at all. He uses actions — touching, helping, doing — to convey the important things. He saves his words for things like fuck off and fuck, yeah.
It takes Justin little more than a week to figure it out, figure Brian out. Days of being crushed by Brian's words, of almost giving up and walking away. But then the light bulb goes off.
And Justin adds two and two together and ends up with the beginnings of The Brian Kinney Operating Manual™. Grinning, he whispers, "I'm on to you, Kinney."
He changes his attack. Stops setting himself up to be denied and instead starts making himself available.
Available pays off. In fantastic fucks and tons of quiet communication.
Even when everything goes to shit, when Justin gets kicked out of his parents house, gets kicked out of Brian's loft, runs away to New York, the silent back and forth of words, of promises flows between them, feeding the seed of hope Justin learns to hide beneath his perfect twink exterior.
Then Justin's parents split up and he wonders if putting his dream of PIFA, of becoming an artist on hold, of being the son his father wants — Dartmouth and business and absolutely hetero — isn't maybe the right thing to do.
It's Brian — first with talking and then using a more Kinneyesque form of communicating — who shakes Justin up, wakes him to the fact that dreams are meant to be followed, captured, owned. With dancing and touching and kissing on the floors of Babylon, Brian promises to be there, to match Justin step for step, be a support while Justin chases his dream.
And Justin hears him, adds another page to The Brian Kinney Operating Manual™.
Justin's plan works, better than even he thought it would. It's a slow grind of building something between them, of Justin backing off while Brian fucks his way through the backroom, and then pushing when he has to. Pushing to be more than a trick, to be a different kind of friend, to be un-fucking-forgettable.
Asking Brian to his prom is exactly that. A strategic push that, even if Brian says no, which Justin expects him to do, that will let Brian know that Justin still feels more, wants more than an occasional fuck. No matter how good the fucks are, or how much communicating gets done.
The shock is that Brian actually shows up at the prom. Nothing in The Brian Kinney Operating Manual™ prepared Justin for the slight possibility.
But he lands on his feet, swallows his surprise, and, smiling, falls into step with Brian. Just as easy as when they're at Babylon, bumping and rutting against each other.
Just as easy, but completely fucking different. Because at Babylon the quiet conversations are usually about sex. About all night fuckathons and morning head.
But this? This Justin has to decipher, spends half the dance picking the looks apart until, eyes locked on each other, bodies moving together to the rhythm of an old Drifters song, everything falls into place and Justin gets it.
And once Justin figures it out, the words are loud and obvious and, as Brian dips Justin back, all he can do is laugh.
Brian Kinney loves Justin Taylor. And he admitted it. Finally.
The euphoria lasts until they're in garage, and Brian is watching Justin walk away. It lasts until Chris Hobbs steps in and Justin takes a bat to the head, losing more than just the dance, but also the words, Brian's unspoken declaration.
Time proves Justin lost even more than that. He lost his copy of The Brian Kinney Operating Manual™, his ability to read Brian Kinney. With losing them both — the silent claim of love and his fluency in Kinney-speak — Justin begins to doubt.
Doubt himself. Doubt Brian. Doubt them.
And then Justin fucks up. Fucks around. Fucks Ethan.
It takes months before Justin realizes what he's lost, and it takes even longer, until Ethan fucks around on him, before Justin pulls from The Brian Kinney Guide to Homosexual Lifestyle™ and finds the motivation to leave.
And even once he's left, when he's living with Daphne and longing for Brian, the loss of that one conversation, the missing memory of the dance, holds Justin back, makes him doubt himself, doubt Brian.
With a push from Daph, Justin finds himself working with Brian, running into Brian at Babylon, infiltrating Brian's life much like he did when they met.
And then he's kissing Brian and telling Brian he should take him back and then office doors are shutting and clothes are disappearing and, fuck…
Brian and Justin are communicating again.
A day later and they're dancing, hands roving over each other and lost in a world where nothing else exists, the words flow between them unhindered. I'm sorry and You're forgiven and love you and missed you, missed this tripping over one another loud enough that even others — Michael and Ben, Ted and Emmett — can hear them.
Brian Kinney communicates best when he's not talking at all.
A lesson Justin Taylor refuses to ever forget again.