Title: It's Only Time
Pairing: Brian Kinney/Justin Taylor
Fandom: Queer as Folk
Spoilers: Seasons 1-5.
TV SHOW: Queer as Folk
PAIRING: Brian Kinney/Justin Taylor
A. Brian Kinney
”Look, I don’t believe in love. I believe in fucking. It’s honest. It’s efficient. You get in and out with a maximum of pleasure and a minimum of bullshit. Love is something that straight people tell themselves they’re in so that they can get laid. And then they end up hurting each other because it was all based on lies to begin with. If that’s what you want then go find yourself a pretty little girl… and get married.” - Brian to Justin (Episode 102)
Brian Kinney, in my opinion, is – or was – one of the most complex characters on television. I’m not even sure where to begin describing him, so I’ll just start with what most people would see him as at first glance. This is the “bad guy” you wish you could change. Brian is a successful business man at his designing agency when the show starts, although he still is waiting to make partner and actually own half the company. He goes to the clubs and bars on Liberty Avenue almost every night with his usual buddies: Michael Novotny, Ted Schmidt and Emmett Honeycutt. Brian grew up with an alcoholic for a father and a self-righteous Christian for a mother, his parents also produced another child – his sister – name Claire Kinney. When the show begins it’s made clear that Brian hasn’t told either of his parents about his gay lifestyle and doesn’t plan to anytime soon. Brian is very complex: he hides his emotions as best he can and he does this in various ways; mostly through drugs, sex, and alcohol. He tries to cut himself off from everyone because he feels that’s the safest way to live, only rely on you. While at times he may seem selfish, arrogant, and an asshole – you still have to respect him for who he is. He is what he is. No apologies, no regrets.
B. Justin Taylor
Brian: “How old are you really?”
Justin: “Twenty. [beat] Nineteen. [beat] Eighteen.”
Brian: “Well, what is this? A missile launch?”
Justin: “Seventeen.” (Episode 101)
Justin Taylor is a seventeen year old teenager attending a private school in “glorious” Pittsburgh. Justin knows he’s gay and the only person he confides that in is his best friend Daphne Chanders. Justin isn’t nearly as complex as Brian when the show begins. He’s not hard to understand. He’s a teenager trying to find who he is and experiencing life for the first time. Justin ends up on Liberty Avenue in the premiere of Queer as Folk and after that engages in a whole new chain of events that eventually lead to the show’s most epic coupling.
II. OVER THE YEARS
A. Season One
“That’s when it happened… When he came along.” - Michael Novotny (Episode 101)
The first year of Brian and Justin’s relationship is basically dealing with two very different people who want very different things. Brian originally picks up Justin one night to just take him home and fuck him. He gets more than he bargained for when he finds out that not only is Justin seventeen, but he’s not looking for “just a fuck”, he’s looking for the love of his life (which he now believes is Brian). Justin tells Brian that he’s in love with him but Brian quickly dismisses his feelings as puppy love that he will eventually get over.
Luckily for Brian, Justin doesn’t give up that easy. After Brian tells him he’s not interested in a relationship, Justin persists to follow him around until one night at Babylon he steals Brian’s trick-for-the-night to grab his attention. Much to everyone’s surprise, Brian falls for it and ends up taking Justin home again. A series of fortunate events keep Brian and Justin seeing each other: Justin’s dad finds out he’s gay and kicks him out of the house (Justin temporarily moves in with Brian), Justin makes friends with Lindsay (the father of Brian’s son, Gus), Justin gets a job at the Liberty Diner (where Brian goes almost every morning). Obviously, Justin could probably be named borderline-stalker but Brian seems to enjoy the attention (most of the time).
In the season finale Justin asks Brian to his prom, which Brian quickly declines to. The big shocker: Brian does in fact show up to Justin’s prom, with a “corsage” of his own none-the-less. His corsage isn’t an actual corsage, but a white scarf that he gives Justin while they share a dance to the song “Save the Last Dance” by Ben E. King (feat. The Drifters). This is a huge step in their relationship, as Brian doesn’t ever slow dance, show up at proms, or do anything for his current fuck. He’s very self-satisfying and doesn’t do relationships, but clearly, him coming to Justin’s prom really says something about his feelings for him. After the prom Justin walks Brian to his car and they share a good night kiss. Brian watches Justin walk away from his rear view mirror and as he’s walking away Chris Hobbes (a school-mate) comes up behind with a baseball bat. Brian yells his name to warn him and just as Justin turns around the bat collides with his forehead and he falls to the ground, unconscious. Brian runs to him and yells for help. The season closes with a close-up of Brian holding the white scarf he gave to Justin (now stained with Justin’s own blood) and tears streaking his face.
B. Season Two
Justin: “He loves me in ways that you can’t.”
Brian: “In ways that I won’t.” (Episode 220)
The second season of their relationship deals with how to deal with a relationship. The premiere opens approximately two months after the bashing. Justin is still in rehab and it seems Brian is drinking himself into oblivion. Michael is back from his trip to Iceland (or whatever ice country he went too, I’m not quite sure which one) and finds Brian is up to his wicked ways again – not that he ever stopped, he’d just toned it down a bit. Michael asks him why he hasn’t gone to see Justin. Brian tells him there’s nothing he can do for him. But what Michael doesn’t know is that Brian goes to see Justin every night while he sleeps. Brian even wears the bloodied white scarf underneath his clothes. Justin eventually is released from rehab and the first thing he does is find Brian.
Brian and Justin talk at his loft and they recount the attack. The last thing Justin remembers is Brian saying no to going to prom with him, but Daphne told him that Brian showed up anyway and they danced. Brian talks about the bashing, it clearly still bothers him. Justin assures him that it wasn’t his fault, even though Brian is unconvinced. Justin moves back in with Brian at the loft and the first few episodes deal with Justin recovering and getting back to normal. By the sixth episode of the season Brian finally admits that they have an “arrangement” and by the eighteenth episode he calls Justin his “partner”. They establish rules for their relationship which are: 1) Be home before 3:00 AM. 2) Don’t kiss anyone on the lips. 3) You can fuck who you want, but no numbers or names exchanged. Seems simple enough, right? Not so much. Surprisingly enough, Brian is entirely true to the rules for the season; Justin is the one that ends up breaking them – not once, but twice.
The first time he breaks them, isn’t really important so I’ll move straight into the second time. While, Brian is abiding the rules, Justin soon learns that he’s still not getting what he wants from Brian. He wants Brian to be romantic, he wants Brian to love him and he doesn’t want Brian to feel like he needs to fuck other people. One night Justin is out with Lindsay and meets a violinist named Ethan Gold. Ethan is the anti-Brian. He is romantic and falls head over heels from Justin. Justin is instantly attracted to Ethan, but doesn’t act on his feelings at first. After a few picnics on the floor and romantic conversations Justin sleeps with Ethan. The last episodes of the season deal with the Justin/Ethan/Brian triangle. Mikey finds out about Ethan/Justin and tells Brian. Brian pretends like he doesn’t care, but the viewers know that he’s feeling a mixture of emotions, but mostly questions like “What the hell?” and “Why should I care?”. Brian confronts Justin and tells him, “It’s your call where you want to be.”
The finale ends with Justin choosing Ethan over Brian.
C. Season Three
”I decided you should take me back.” - Justin to Brian (Episode 308)
The third season picks up where the second left off. Justin has moved in with Ethan and Brian is fucking every trick he can find to keep his mind off Justin. At first, Ethan is everything Justin could ask for. He’s dedicated to Justin, he loves him and he doesn’t need to go out to clubs and fuck everything that moves – because all he needs his Justin. Justin hasn’t ever been in a relationship like that and to a certain extent he loves it. But honestly, is anything ever that good? And if it is, how long can it last? Needless to say, Ethan does cheat on Justin.
The moral to this lesson was that Brian did love Justin. Just because he didn’t love him in the way that Justin dreamed about doesn’t mean he didn’t love him. Justin dreamed about fairy tale love. This was the real world and just because Ethan told him pretty things and promised him the world, didn’t mean that it was true and that his feelings were real. Brian’s feelings were real and honest. He didn’t need to tell him the things Ethan did to feel them. Justin finally realizes this and wants Brian back. Justin gets a job at Brian’s advertising agency as an art intern, much to Brian’s dismay. Brian knows that Ethan and Justin are on the rocks and the viewers know it’s only a matter of time before tensions mount and eventually collided between the two.
Brian and Justin are working late one night and Brian is annoyed with the way Justin handled an account. The argument quickly turns personal and before you know it Justin kisses Brian and quickly leaves before Brian gets a chance to respond. Justin returns to Brian’s office later that night and they end up making up and having office!sex. The following episode they are at Babylon and everyone finds out they’re back together and “the fiddler fell off the roof”. They’re relationship is just like it was at the beginning of the second season, only now Justin has grown up more and Brian is more attentive to Justin’s needs. He still fucks random tricks, but he also makes sure Justin is happy too. Episodes 308-314 are probably the most blissful in the entire relationship they had. We’ll just call it the Pax Romana.
D. Season Four
Brian: “That wasn’t love. I just gave you a rim job and fucked your brains out.”
Justin: “It was love to me.” (Episode 401)
The fourth season focuses more on personal trials rather than dealing with Brian and Justin as a couple. The elements of them being a couple are still there, but they are dealing with more character problems than anything else. Mid-Season Brian finds out that he has testicular cancer and gets surgery without telling anyone. Justin does find out, but manages to keep it a secret for about a full day. When Brian finds out that he knows he kicks him out of the apartment because he’s afraid that “he was gonna leave anyway”. If we know anything about Justin, it’s that it’s he’s persistent. He goes back to Brian’s apartment the next night and they yell at each other but Justin eventually wins and takes care of Brian while he’s in recovery.
Justin learns that his comic book could be made into a movie. He flies out to Los Angeles to talk with a Hollywood executive and make plans for the movie while Brian goes on the Liberty Ride. The season ends with Brian asking Justin to move back in, the only problem is Justin has accepted a job offer in Los Angeles already.
E. Season Five
”I love you.” Brian to Justin (Episode 510)
It’s the season that is the most debatable. Some people hated it, some people loved it, others were just disappointed. I, personally, think the show went downhill with the premiere of the fourth season but the fifth season gave us some memorable moments nonetheless. The premiere opens with Justin in Los Angeles and Brian in Pittsburgh. He originally plans to take a trip to LA to visit Justin, but when Justin tells him he will be in LA longer than he planned Brian gets the feeling that Justin is choosing LA over him and he doesn’t want to hold him back. Justin learns that the film has stopped production because it’s too racy and the execs don’t want to finance the project anymore. He heads back home to Pittsburgh and finds Brian fucking a random trick – nothing new there. They quickly hit the sheets and Justin asks if the offer to move in still stands. Brian opens an empty drawer he was saving for Justin in response.
Things go well for the first few episodes until Justin starts to realize that, while he does love Brian, their relationship isn’t going anywhere. Is Brian going to spend the rest of his life as a club boy? Is he ever going to get past the need to be irresistible? Why isn’t he enough? After getting back from Babylon one night Justin tells him they’re both moving in different directions and they want different things. Brian agrees. Justin walks back to Brian’s room and picks up his bags that he’s already packed. He hugs and then leaves the loft for good. The next few episodes with the couple are awkward but they manage to be civilized towards one another.
Brian decides he needs a vacation and books a trip to Australia, just before he leaves the radio reports that a bomb has gone off at Babylon where Justin was at. Brian goes back to Babylon and finds it in shambles, police and firemen everywhere, people crying – just absolute chaos. Brian runs inside what’s left of the club and finds Justin. After he’s done so, he goes to the hospital to make sure that Michael’s okay. Brian leaves the hospital and goes back to Babylon to find Justin. They hug each other with a sign of relief and Brian finally admits that he loves Justin. Justin gets all teary and they kiss and hug. The next day Brian goes to Justin’s apartment and asks him to marry him. Justin tells him it’s just a case of temporary insanity, that he’s freaked out about what happened to Michael and he’s not thinking straight.
Later that day Brian drives Justin out to a country house and tries again. This time he tells Justin that he’s selling the loft and that he’s bought this house for them to live in. He’d “do anything, be anything” to be with him for the rest of his life. This time Justin says yes. They make love in their new house and then have sex for a few more days. The invitations for the wedding are sent out and everyone is shocked, but still happy for them.
So, I bet by now you’re thinking we’re all going to get a fricken fairytale happy ending? As fate would have it, no, it’s not going to happen. Justin finds out that there are more opportunities for his art in New York and that he should probably move there. Brian tells Justin that he doesn’t want to hold him back and Justin doesn’t want Brian to act like someone else, just to make him happy. They both agree that Justin should move to New York. They will keep in touch. They’ll still see each other. Brian says, “It doesn’t matter – it’s only time.” To me, this means they could never see each other again and they would still feel the same way for each other; that Brian wouldn’t give up the past five years even though it hurts like hell to watch Justin leave right now; which says a lot about how far his character has come. This is the reason he doesn’t let people get close to him – because they always leave in the end. But he’s realized that it doesn’t matter if they leave in the end. It’s the moments and the space in between that matters. If it means that that person is going to leave him in the end, it’s a small price to pay for having that person at all. So that’s where the show ends. Justin leaving for New York and Brian staying in Pittsburgh.
IV. THE RELATIONSHIP
In short, Justin and Brian belong together. No, Brian does not belong with Michael. And no, Justin doesn’t belong with Ethan (if it weren’t for Brian I bet he could’ve had a long term relationship with Chris though – ha! Shout out to my lover, argyletheme). Would Brian ever have fallen in love if Justin hadn’t been so persistent? No. He probably would’ve kept clubbing until he turned 40 (and then he’d probably consider himself dead of old age.). Justin was young and naïve when he met Brian, and within five years turned into one of the strongest, smartest men. Brian played a big part in that. While Brian was the older person in the relationship, Justin taught him things he hadn’t learned. He taught him how to love. They both taught each other things and balanced each other out. It’s so hard for me to explain the complexity of the relationship, but I hope that you can find some more angles in the links below.
V. THE FANDOM
Ridiculously - Download every BJ scene on record and then some. My personal favorite BJ fan site.
No Turning Back - Significant scenes, summaries, transcripts, and screen caps for your viewing pleasure.
Queer Eyes - Fanfic, icons, videos, screencaps, and more.
BrianLovesJustin.Org - A general link archive with a gallery, essays, fanfic, and games.
BJFic.Net - Brian/Justin fan fiction.
babel_on - A general media QaF journal.
queerasfolkfans - A general QaF journal.
qafdaily - QaF picture journal.
I really don’t read fic that often so I don’t have much to rec.
Subject to Change by Starla
VI. CLOSING THOUGHTS
I hope this was enough to convince you to ship this couple or at least check it out if you haven’t already. It’s hard to put their relationship into a 6000 word essay, it’s hard to put their relationship into words at all. All I can say is that it’s one of the most original I’ve ever seen on television and if you’re into something refreshing and new then please, please check it out. Honestly – if you’re watching The OC or One Tree Hill or one of those other teen shows and it’s just the same thing repeatedly but with different characters – all I ask is that you give this a chance. It truly is unique and entertaining; one of the deepest, complex relationships ever to be put on the air.