This is a "how I wanted it to be" universe.
We are in the beginning of Season 3 at Lindsay and Melanie's anniversary party.
Forget about Ethan. In my universe, he doesn't exist.
Forget about what you thought to know about Brian and Justin's relationship. In my universe, Brian didn't dump him at Debbie's in Season 1. They have been living together since Brian realized how full of hate Justin's father was. He made a decision when he took Justin back home with him, and I always hated that they backpedaled only an episode later. Brian and Justin had their fights, but they managed it. Justin had made Brian do boyfriend before he asked him to go to the prom with him. They are a couple since then.
Forget about the Brian-Michael-story. In my universe, Michael only pretends to be Brian's best friend (which Brian is aware of.) In fact, he's his fanboy that first tried to drive him and Justin apart, then turned to David to make Brian jealous (who he didn't react), and then decided to give up and move to Portland. Like in the show, he came back, much to Brian's dismay, because Michael went on being a pain in the ass. It got better when he bought the comic book store and met Ben.
But this isn't the end of the story…
He'd never punched anyone before. At least not for real. Sometimes he'd been close, but he'd always managed to hold himself back. Stay civilized. Maybe he'd never been furious enough. Which was surprising because many things had gone wrong in Brian's life. This burning, piercing aggression that had taken possession of his body and mind was new. Like someone had hit the red button. Like his fist had its own will.
The result was stunning. Like a tsunami striking the coast. Like an explosion. Dishware clinked, excited shouts everywhere when Michael hit the ground. Debbie was worried, then angry. Ben was about to punch back, but Brian blocked him. Someone asked, "Do men always do that?"
No, men didn't always do that. Only when they met the last straw that broke the camel's back. Slowly, Brian realized what he'd done. His view cleared, the sharp buzzing in his ears stopped, and Lindsay's voice got through to him.
"I think you should leave now, Brian."
Justin stepped next to him, grabbing his arm. "Why did you do that?"
"What does it matter why he did it?" Debbie asked, still kneeling at Michael's side. "He's an animal hitting my kid!"
"Violence is never a solution!" That was Ben. Zen-Ben. Pleasant, intelligent guy, but Brian wondered why on earth he'd chosen to be with Michael.
"Says the man that was ready to take violent revenge," Justin remarked in a sarcastic tone. "And yes, it does matter." He squeezed Brian's arm, trying to make him look at him. "What did he say to you?"
Everyone stared at him in silence. As if they had realized that they might have been too hastily with their accusations. That he actually might have had a reason.
Brian met the asking look of Justin's blue eyes. Dozens of emotions flooded him, too fast and too confusing to identify all of them. Anger, shame, love, the urge to protect him…
"He said…" It took Brian a moment to shake the disease that used to take hold of his tongue in situations like these. "He said you were a parasite that was only after my money. That I should have left you lying there. That you weren't worth saving."
"What?!" It was one loud shout, coming from almost everyone standing around them.
"How can you say something like that?" Debbie asked, outraged, and smacked her son.
Michael protested and sat up, still pressing one hand to his face. "I didn't mean it! It was a slip of the tongue."
"Pretty long slip." The anger was bowling up again. Why could Michael never stand up for himself? He got caught lying, but he was still denying. He made mistakes, but he was still playing innocent. Brian was sick of it. "And, of course, you meant it. That's the worst part of it."
"I overheard you telling Vic that you're planning to take your boytoy on a vacation," Michael explained.
"So what?" Brian asked, while Justin looked at him in surprise. It was the first time he heard of it. A vacation? A real vacation? His heart beat a little faster.
"Every time I think you've finally learned it…" Brian broke off and sighed. "You were never interested in me as a person. So, why do you care what I do with my money or what I'm planning to do with my BOYFRIEND?"
"It's not true that…"
"Of course, it is," Brian cut him off sharply. "I'm your walking wet dream. Your secret fantasy. A superhero from one of your comic books. Too unreal to care about his possible real-life problems. Your personal Jesus, your personal drug. You're like a drug addict, Mikey, and I'm the coke that makes you high just by looking at it."
He paused, then continued, "I'm guilty of this situation too. As soon as I got aware of it—and it wasn't long after we'd met—I should've fucked you to destroy your fantasy and break your heart. And I would've done it without any regret because I never was interested in you either. Not sexually, definitely not romantically or in any other way. Hell, we weren't even friends."
Michael got onto his feet, shaking off Debbie's hands. "I am your best friend!"
"That only exists in your mind. It's part of your fantasy. Friends take interest in each other's lives," Brian reminded him.
"You never told me anything about you or your life."
"That's true. But it takes a lot of trust, and I…" Brian thought about it for a moment. "Usually, you'd confront me with an advice. Or should I say accusation? Almost everything you say to me sounds like an accusation. Like when you read about my father's funeral and felt urged to tell me your opinion about my alleged misbehavior."