Lance is staring. He leans over to JC. "He's a possibility, isn't he?"
JC hmmmms. He finally says, "Yes."
They approach the boy. His curly hair is naturally blond, they find out later on closer inspection. Lance tells Joey this, and Joey raises an eyebrow. Joey says, "That's kind of obviously Freudian, you know that, right?"
Lance says, "We know that, Joey," back. Joey doesn't say anything else.
When Justin hears about it, second-hand from Joey because Joey doesn't keep anything to himself, he says, "That's kinda weird."
"Yeah?" Joey eats another grape. "They're kinda hot together."
Justin looks over to where Lance and JC are ignoring each other to read different books. They never like to show affection in front of the crew. Justin thinks that JC and Lance, together, are a little creepy, actually, because of how they act around each other, but everyone else thinks they are fabulously happy. Justin shrugs, a little uncomfortably. "I dunno."
"What," Joey pops a grape in his mouth, "You wouldn't take the invitation?"
Justin scrunches his face up. It wasn't that, necessarily.
Lance looks up at him. JC should notice the look that Lance gives Justin, but he doesn't, and Justin shakes his head. "Nah, probably not." He laughs. "It'd be too weird."
"Your loss." Joey looked over. "They're totally hot."
"Yeah." Justin glanced down, uneasily. "They are."
Joey doesn't get it. He says, "Well, I'd be flattered, man. They're both so picky."
Justin knows they're picky. Lance looks at him again. JC is oblivious.
JC comes up to him later and says, "Come see this new song?" and tugs on his sleeve, and Justin goes, but leans away from JC when JC leans in.
At one point, JC says calmly, "You smell really good." Justin leans further away. People don't tell their friends that they smell good.
But, maybe they did if they were JC, because Lance and JC are cooing at each other at breakfast the next day, feeding each other. It's Chris, this time. He says, "They're so cute."
Justin nods. "Yeah, I guess."
"What?" Chris looks disgusted. "You have no sense of the romantic."
Actually, Justin does. He says so. Chris shakes his head, and says, "If that ain't romantic, I dunno what is." Justin continues to feel a little uncomfortable, thinking about one of them, maybe, putting their hand on the back of the boy's head, and thinking, 'he looks just like Justin,' and then maybe coming.
"No," is what Justin says, "I don't think so."
"Whatever." Chris snorts. "Just because there aren't candles, that doesn't mean anything."
JC looks up at them and smiles. This time, Lance looks up too.
The boy's name, Justin finds out, is Troy. He finds out from JC.
JC licks his lips when he says 'Troy'. Maybe the same way he licked his lips for Troy.
Joey sits down across from Justin. He says, "Okay, what's up?"
"Nothing." Justin looks startled. "What?"
"You've been weird." Joey puts his feet up on the couch. "So, what?"
"No--" Justin coughs. "no."
JC points at another boy, at another club, in both Joey and Justin's hearing. Lance frowns, shakes his head, gestures again. At first, Justin doesn't catch on, but then he figures it out when a guy with blue eyes and a shaved head catches Lance's eye, and immediately Lance stands up without even asking JC. Justin knows that they will take this one home.
Joey looks at Justin, once they go to dance with the boy. "Wonder what his name is?"
Justin drinks his beer. "You don't think it's weird?"
Joey pops a lemon into his mouth. "It's hot. It's totally hot." He leans over the table, suddenly, and his face is kind of dark. "You should go for it," Joey says to Justin, eyes intent. "You should go for it."
Justin blinks, and backs away. "Yeah." He looks carefully past Joey, at the booth. "I dunno. It's kinda weird."
He can hear the sucking sounds of Joey's lemon, and Joey's tongue slurping on it. Joey says around the rind, "You're missing out."
JC and Lance come up and actually fucking ask Justin to go to coffee with them, hands clasped loosely. JC says, "We were gonna go and get some coffee, wanna come, J?"
Justin barely thinks about it, but then he's not looking at their faces, he's looking at their hands, and the way that their fingers link absently, loosely, as if they were avoiding too much skin touching.
Lance says, "Come on."
Justin's heart thumps. Somewhere, he's a little afraid of this. He says, "I was just about to. I can't."
They walk away together. Justin counts their steps out, disquiet growing with each misstep.
Chris laughs when Lance brings JC flowers.
Chris doesn't laugh when JC brings Lance flowers.
Justin doesn't laugh at any of it, especially the trite little "I love you"s written on the cards. They accept the flowers, and put them down immediately, going back to other things.
Chris says to Justin, "If we could be so lucky."
There are over a hundred fans waiting outside their hotel. Justin is riding with Joey again. Joey puts a hand on his knee. "What's on your mind, Junior?"
"Nothing." He moves away from Joey. "Why are there so many people here?"
Joey shrugs. He says, "That's the way it goes."
Justin pauses, wondering. He says, finally, "Have you noticed that JC and Lance have been a lot more..."
"They've been slutting it up." Joey grins. "Yeah, everyone noticed."
Justin tries to grin back. "I wonder if any of them are named Troy?"
Joey's laughing is too loud. "Hah! Yeah."
"Do you want to go out for dinner?"
JC looks up briefly. "Oh, yeah, sure."
Lance and JC go out for dinner. They do this a lot.
The waiter, Lance tells Joey later, looked a little like Justin. Joey grins at Lance. "You're scaring him off, you know."
Lance doesn't give anything away. He says, "The wine wasn't as good as I expected."
Joey hands Lance a beer. "You know, JC's hot."
Lance nods, and answers the same as anything else. "Yeah, he is."
Joey grins. "You guys have been having some fun, yeah?" Lance nods. Joey says, "Any time you want someone that looks like me, call up the real thing."
Lance nods again.
Chris shakes his head. "I can't believe that JC and Lance were fighting."
Joey shrugged. "They're a couple. They fight."
"Yeah, but." Chris looks at them. He says, "They don't act much differently."
Joey looks at them, too. Lance is frowning over some books. JC is curled up in an armchair. One of JC's hands is on Lance's knee. Joey says, "They're healthier than most couples."
Chris considers for a minute, and agrees. "That's true."
"The fight was about what club to go to, anyway. It was a stupid thing."
"We all do stupid things."
JC and Lance bring someone else home. This time he even sounds a little like Justin. Justin laughs, still uneasy with it, even though it's all out in the open and no one's hiding anything, which is even weirder. Justin says, "Lance. Um."
Lance looks up. "Yeah?"
"So." Justin swallows. "How was. How was he?"
Lance treats it like any other conversation. "He was good. JC liked the last one better."
Justin rubs the back of his neck. There are prickles there, from where he shaved his head again. JC seemed to like guys with curls, better. Justin says, "It's a little... it's a little weird."
Lance keeps looking at him, right in his eyes. "What is?"
Justin breaks the gaze, looks away. "How many people are celebrity look-alikes in this town."
Lance touches Justin's shoulder, gently, and then goes away. Justin turns to Chris, and rubs his jaw. He says, "I feel guilty."
Chris raises an eyebrow. "Why?"
"Well." He waits. "Just. Them."
"You're not doing anything, are you, baby boy?" Chris narrows his eyes. "You're not, right? Cause they're really in love."
Justin shakes his head. "Yeah, no. Nothing. Yeah. They're in love." He trails off.
Justin knows it's true, they are in love, cause they say so. It's just, weird, because they're stealing little pieces of him, too. Out of the corner of their eyes. In dark corners. With Troy. It's a little weird. Kind of.
"They're each other's habit," Chris says, and Justin nods, because he's sure right.
Justin asks, "You think it's romantic, don't you," and Chris nods at him. Justin thinks that maybe Chris is paying for a lot of sin, from something, to think that.
JC comes back, says, "They need you now," and is looking at Chris when he says it. Chris smiles at him, and JC smiles back, and it's normal. When Justin looks at JC, after Chris is gone, he thinks maybe, just maybe, that's how JC looked at that boy, the first night. He excuses himself, to call his mom.
Eventually, JC and Lance are going to fall apart from the inside-out.
Justin says this to Joey, one night at a club. The club atmosphere and drinking doesn't make it any less true. Chris has gone to get them more drinks. Joey answers, "They're pretty stable, Justin. Whatever they're doing, it works."
Justin swallows beer, and is grateful to Chris for setting something stronger down in front of him. He takes a gulp. Only then can he say to Joey, "I know. It's working."
Chris leans on his arms. "They'll figure it out eventually." He stares at the dance floor, where JC and Lance are dancing with different girls.
Justin gulps down more. Joey says, "That girl Lance has is pretty hot."
"He has taste, I'll give him that," Chris answers, and Joey slides a glance over to Justin. Justin isn't looking back. He's staring at the table, and he's staring at his hands clasped tightly in his lap.
Justin says softly, "I think they're broken," and Joey looks over at him in alarm.
Chris says, "What? What's broken?"
Justin shakes his head, trying to dispel the unease. "Nothing."
It's the answer Lance would have been proud of, Justin knows. Lance is dancing with a hot girl. Lance is hot. With effort, he stands up, and says, "I'm going home, guys."
JC stops him right before he hits the exit. JC asks, "Where are you going?"
Justin swallows. JC's face doesn't change. Justin says, "Home. I'm going home." JC releases his arm. Justin feels the tug of his sleeve long after he leaves.
In his car, Justin looks at his hands on the armrest. Eventually, it might be someone else's car.