Justin's Dark Design

Chris is essential to Justin's scheme, as always. Chris is the best person to help him achieve his number one goal, and the realization is so utterly true and right that Justin tightens his hoody strings until his nose just barely peeps out. Chris stops rummaging through JC's cds and looks at him.

"You look like a serial killer right now," he says, pointing Fat Boy Slim at Justin. "Therefore, what's the plan? I know that means you have a plan."

Chris always gets it. It's his best quality. Justin crawls across the couch, jerking a bit with the motion of the bus, and drapes himself over Chris's back, pushing his hoody nose into Chris's neck so he can whisper.

"So, you know I have this thing for C."

"I know all about your thing," Chris says. "More than I ever wanted to know about your thing." He pulls away, but not very hard, scowling at Fat Boy Slim and tossing it aside. He picks up Enigma and examines it critically. Justin plucks the disc from his grasp.

"Listen to me! You have to help me get JC."

"I do?" Chris makes a grab for Enigma, but Justin holds it up and just out of his reach.

"Yes! Chris! You can help me. It'll be perfect. You pretend to go for JC, and I'll get all jealous, and then JC'll understand the depth of my emotion. It'll be, like, demonstrated to him."

"What!"

Chris cackles and lurches for Enigma, pushing Justin over onto his back on the couch and heaving himself right into Justin's gut. "That's not a plan. That's the plot of a romance novel." He gets hold of an edge of the cd.

Justin oofs and stretches, his chin popping out of the hoody hole, and almost manages to yank the cd back out of reach, but then Chris knees him a good one, the fucker, struggling on top of him, and Justin's screeching and laughing and no fucking way Chris is getting that cd now. Chris chuckles evilly in his ear.

"Could you two please try to keep it down?"

JC is rumpled and sleepy and cross, gorgeous and lickable with his ratty pj pants and his stretched out pink t-shirt and his eyes narrowed and his mouth straight and unamused.

"Oh, hi, JC," Justin says, breathlessly. Chris snorts into his neck.

"Hey, hotstuff," he says to JC. "Whatcha doing tonight? Wanna get naked by the firelight with a bottle of wine?"

Justin hisses "Chris" and JC looks at them for a minute, frowning.

"As long as you're not there," he says, gathering his blanket up in a grand snit and turning away. "Now will you two assholes let me sleep?"

He heads back for his bunk, swaying as the bus switches lanes or something, and normally Justin would be watching his ass as he walks away but right then Chris bites him and claims the cd.

"Ha HAA," he says, sitting up on top of Justin and displaying the cd to the heavens.

"Chris, goddammit," Justin says, unable to catch his breath, trying and failing to dislodge Chris by heaving up under him. "You ruined the plan ALREADY."

Chris ignores him. "Enigma?" he says scornfully, and flips the cd over his shoulder. Then he pats Justin on the chest and bounces until Justin oofs again.

"Don't worry, Romeo," he says. "I'll help you with your romance novel. You'll be in love and popping out babies in no time."

Justin pokes a finger into Chris's side, and Chris meeps and clutches himself and rolls off onto the floor. Justin can hear a cd or something crunching underneath him.

"Okay, then," Justin says.

..........

The plan has to work, it has to. Justin has been wanting JC for what feels like forever, and JC's, mmm, so hot and bendy and his hair and Justin really likes the way he dresses and of course, the singing. Plus, Justin knows for a fact that JC is a wildcat in the sack, an absolute freak. Not know know, per se, because if he did then he'd be a happy, dancing man, but he's seen the way the boys and girls look when security herds them out of JC's room afterwards, all ruined and used up-looking and that little smile. Justin really wants to know what that little smile's all about.

Chris is his only hope. He's the master, and if Justin can live through the mocking and the teasing and the innuendos and the outright eye-rolling, he knows Chris'll come through for him.

..........

Chris is perched at the edge of his chair, one knee bouncing along at a frantic rate, and that means Chris is having fun and up for anything. Perfect. The club is noisy and all crazy lights and loud music, and JC's dancing, Justin's been keeping an eye on him, so he slides into the space behind Chris in his chair to have a little pow-wow session about the plan.

"This is your chance," he says into Chris's ear.

"It is?" Chris says, holding his cocktail up so Justin can drink over his shoulder. "At last! My big break!"

"I gotcher big break," Justin says. "Seriously! Dude! The plan."

"Ah, the plan." Chris sets the cocktail back down. He turns his head away, and Justin props his chin on Chris's shoulder so he can search the crowd for JC, although he has to scrunch his back up a little to do it, but he molds himself to Chris's back and Chris is pretty comfortable to mold onto.

"The plan! The plan, duh. Now, you have to get out there and freak on JC a little, just dance up on him like that, let him know you're interested. Then you can start touching him, like just touching on him a little bit, grabbing him and smiling at him, he won't be able to resist that. He likes your smile."

"He does," Chris says. "Well, sounds like you have it all figured out. What next?"

Justin gives him an approving pat on the chest, squeezing him a little for good measure. "Excellent question. Then you get him to leave with you, like 'hey baby, come on,' and that's where I come in. I'll show up, right, just as you're leaving, and I'll be pissed and hurt, I can do that pretty well, and then JC'll see how serious I am about him and then he'll understand."

"Hmm," Chris says. "Interesting. You realize, of course, that this is the most retarded and cliched plan ever invented."

"What! Fuck off. It could work. Like you could do any better!"

Chris thwocks him on the forehead with his thumb and middle finger. "In my sleep, Leonardo DaVinci. But anyway, your plan has one fatal flaw."

"What?"

"JC just left with a redhead."

Chris laughs long and loud and obnoxiously. Justin ignores him with dignity, making a long arm over Chris's shoulder to reach the cocktail on the little table, and there has to be a plan B, there's always a plan B.

..........

Plan B springs into action the next night when there's a knock on Justin's door, late in the evening after the bars and the music and the partying, and they have promo in the morning and Justin's really just tired. This better not be Chris.

"Hi," JC says.

He looks dangerous. Slightly fucked up and messed up and maybe he's already been with someone, Justin can't tell, but holy shit, what an idea.

"You gonna let me in?"

Justin jumps. "Yes?" he says, and JC laughs, a little growl, and pushes on past him through the doorway. Justin shuts the door behind him and leans back against it, and JC's moving around his hotel room, pretending to look at stuff, running his fingers over stuff and touching stuff, and holy shit. JC stops finally and looks at Justin, and Justin jumps again, and his stomach jumps and his cock jumps, but only a little.

"Chris says you want me," JC says, looking down at his fingers, trailing over the edge of a couch cushion.

"What!" Justin says loudly. That bastard. That fucker. He's so dead. JC meets Justin's eyes again and he smiles a little, amused, and Justin feels a zing right through him, feels like a tool but a happy one. A happy, horny tool, a soon-to-be dancing tool, so to speak, and his cock's really jumping now but Chris is so dead. Not even funny. JC steps closer.

"Is it true?" he asks, tilting his head, and Justin's head tilts, too. "Chris said you were panting for it." He smiles again, and Justin smiles, a reflex, but then JC's words sink in.

"He said what? Oh, my god. I'm going to murder him. I'm going to kill him."

"It's not true? You're not panting for it?" JC steps closer still and looks down again, his eyelashes so long against the thin skin beneath his eyes, and he's so pretty, god. His body's hard with muscles, long and lean, and it's just like Justin imagined, all that sexual energy focused right on him. JC pushes up against him with a little sigh. "Cause if you're not, you know. I could go."

"No! No, JC." No. Justin wants to grab him, wants to hold on to that tight ass and not let go, but he doesn't want to jinx this so he keeps his hands clenched at his sides.

"Well," JC breathes.

JC pushes against him again, a little nudge with his whole body, and fuck, he's hard. Justin can feel his hard cock and Justin's cock likes that a lot, and Justin's cock really likes JC's smell, earthy and warm. He smells like...

"Chris said you might be a little shy, but I should ignore it," JC murmurs into Justin's neck. "Chris said I should just go for it, mmm, and I told him I don't think so, because you're all about that cheesy romantic crap, but he said you'd be worth it."

JC licks him. Justin can feel the tip of JC's tongue dipping into the crevice behind his ear, fuuuuck, so JC's words take a minute to fall into place, but then they do.

"Fuck, JC, wait," Justin says, surprised when his voice comes out husky and intimate instead of pissed off and loud the way he wants it to be. JC laughs against his neck.

"Well, which is it?" JC whispers, and his tongue, right there, ah. Justin takes a deep breath, fighting for his life, and JC's smell floods his nose again and suddenly everything is clear. JC smells like Chris. Really, really like Chris, like his sweat, like he smells after a rehearsal or a show, like after a game out in Justin's back yard, all sweated through because Justin just beat his ass at some ball. No fucking way.

"Fuck, no, JC."

JC steps away and Justin can breathe, thank god, but JC's eyes are narrowing, and he's beginning to look slightly pissed. Justin wants to smack himself.

"There's that mixed message again," JC says.

"JC," Justin says helplessly. He's so confused. His brain is on overload.

"Oh," JC says, really pissed now, or something. His face closes up and he pushes past Justin and he's out the door just like that, taking the plan and all Justin's fantasies and Chris right along with him.

Plan B, not so good. Plan B, in fact, has sucked. Plan B, with the plot of a porn novel instead of a romance and Justin didn't even have to do anything, plan B came right to him, but now everything's all wrong and Justin can't sleep for hours, thinking about plan B and JC the sex freak and Chris, the... about Chris.

..........

It's not easy the next morning, because Justin has to pretend to be all happy-go-lucky best friends with the guys for the promo stuff while simultaneously giving the evil eye to two of them. Chris ignores him like usual, while JC gives him the evil eye right back, and that hurts, surprisingly. Also, Justin thinks maybe his evil eye is mixed with some puppy dog longing, too, and maybe that looks kind of weird. It certainly feels weird on his face. Joey grabs his arm on the break and yanks him away from the others.

"Okay, Justin, spill," he says, turning his body to block Justin's view of JC, who looks great stretching his back out, the bastard. "What did you do this time?"

Justin squawks. "Me! What did I do! As if, Joey."

Joey tries to thwock him on the forehead, but he's not as fast as Chris, Justin snaps his head out of the way easily. Stupid Chris and his head thwocking and his teaching other people the head thwocking and his smell. Wait, that... Justin replays his thoughts, stunned, until Joey gets him square between the eyes.

"Ow, Joey, fuck!"

"JC's fucked up, and Chris is fucked up, and you're acting like a maniac, glaring at everyone and twitching. You wanna try again with the 'as if'?"

It's so not fair. Everyone's always assuming things. Justin shakes his head, defeated. There's no way to explain what's been going on. He has no clue.

Joey opens his mouth and Justin ducks his head a little. He can feel his lips pulling down and he's pretty sure his demented evil puppy dog eyes are being taken over by a monster pout, but he can't help it. He's waiting for Joey, waiting for the lecture, when he hears Lance's voice.

"Are you sure you want to know, Joe?"

Justin turns his head, and Joey turns his head, too, and Lance looks at them both and goes on.

"Think about it," he says. "Justin and Chris and JC. How can it be something that doesn't make your head hurt?"

"Well," Joey says, frowning.

"They'll figure it out," Lance says. "It's a crackhead thing. Let 'em be."

Joey purses his lips, then nods once and sweet, Justin's off the hook. But from the cool look Lance shoots him Justin knows that things had better work themselves out. He doesn't want Lance on his case. Lance is scary, yo. He grins at Lance, and Lance turns away, and then Joey cuffs him upside the head and he's squawking again and break is over, and JC's still stretching, wow, but Chris is looking at him, frowning.

..........

It takes some fancy maneuvering but Justin manages to avoid Chris all day, veering off when he comes near and jumping up when he sits down and never looking at him at all. Fancy maneuvering and strength of purpose, for sure, because man, Justin never realized before how much he automatically defaults to Chris in, like, every situation. So much so, in fact, that he forgets and automatically brings Chris a boloney sandwich and a Coke during their dinner break, but he tries to recover by plunking them down and fleeing, like he's a busy important man with so much to do, busy important things.

Chris grabs his shirt tail, of course, and yanks.

"Have a seat, Justin," he says.

Justin says "k" as sulkily as possible, which is quite a lot, it's a talent, but he also tries for breezy and unconcerned, although maybe it doesn't quite come off. Chris looks at him dubiously.

"Are you all fucked up about something?"

"Of course not," Justin says, elaborately peeling the bread from Chris's sandwich and peering underneath.

"Of course not," Chris says. "That's why you haven't said two words to me today. That's why you have this look on your face today like you want to kill the world. Or you have gas. I can't tell."

Justin snorts despite himself. "Very funny," he says.

"I know; I'm the man. Now speak up before I stomp you."

Justin sighs and flips the mangled sandwich onto the plate. "Chris," he says. "I don't think you want to hear what I have to say."

Chris looks at him, then hauls him up under his armpit. He's sweaty, of course, Chris is always sweated up something fierce, and he smells so good, he smells like Chris and comfort and everything warm and familiar, so Justin slumps against him for a second, just breathing him in. Unfortunately he also smells like JC now, like weird conflicted kinky disappointment, so Justin stiffens up and pushes Chris away.

"Justin," Chris says, but Justin's out the door. He just cannot deal with this right now.

.........

Justin moons around for days and days and days, at least three days, and it really sucks because JC won't talk to him or write music with him at all, and Justin's not even that mad anymore. At him. At least, JC looks kind of nervous or something when Justin drifts by him clutching his music notebook, he looks nervous or guilty or sad, but who knows with JC, anyway, and anyway that just makes it worse, wondering what JC has to be guilty about.

And he hasn't touched Chris in days. Yeah, for the first time Justin feels funny about jumping on Chris's back like he always does, like maybe he shouldn't and doesn't even want to, right. It's the first time he hasn't just been able to jump on Chris as freely as necessary, as freely as needed, and he misses it. There's always so many times in a person's day when jumping on Chris's back is the only possible desirable course of action.

Chris has this look on his face lately, too. Like he's sad. It's so weird. Justin really doesn't like that at all.

Also, Lance has leveled that cold lizard look on him at least twice in the past few days and Justin knows Judgement Day is coming. Maybe three times, who knows, Justin's been avoiding him, too. Oh, it's all so fucked up. The word for the week is "suck."

..........

It's like deja vu all over again. Late at night, Justin's tired, knock on the door, and JC.

"Hi," JC says, frowning.

"Oh, boy," Justin says, sighing, and JC quirks his eyebrows.

"Not so mixed," he says, cattily, and just like that it's on, it's all right there. Justin hauls JC into the room by the front of his shirt and then crosses his arms.

"I didn't come here to be manhandled, Justin," JC says. "Although, ha." He crosses his arms, too, and seems to think he's made a point, all satisfied like that. Justin has no idea what he means and no more patience.

"What the fuck, JC," he begins, but before he can continue JC busts in.

"What the fuck, JC! What the fuck, Justin, is more like it."

He lifts his chin defiantly, but he's fronting, Justin can tell. Also, he's making even less sense than usual, which, okay, meow, Justin's feeling catty, too.

"JC, please, please, do me a favor," Justin says. "Just sit your ass down and talk to me. I'm so sick of this shit where I have no idea what's going on."

"I'm sure," JC says, but he perches on the couch.

Justin sits, too, but not too close. "Okay, talk," he says.

JC looks at the space between them on the couch and back at Justin, pointedly. "I'm not going to attack you, you know."

"God, JC!" Justin cries. "You're driving me insane! Can you not just speak?"

JC smiles, unexpectedly, but he also frowns. It's a strange look, but powerful.

"You want me to talk, you want to talk to me," he says. "But you won't talk to Chris. Why are you mad at Chris?"

No. Just, no. Justin gets up from the couch. Jumps up, really, explodes up. JC grabs him by the wrist.

"You sit your ass down. Listen," he says. "I know this is about the other night. I know you're pissed, but I'm not sure why, exactly. I mean, Chris said I should come over and I did, but I'm not sure why, exactly... oh, forget it."

He lets Justin go, but Justin sits down again. "Chris said you should come over," he says.

"Not really the point," JC says. "Chris said it was what you wanted, and I knew better, that's the point. I know you, your romance crap, but I was fucked up, and I'm sorry. Okay? But Chris said... Oh."

JC looks at him, a little line between his eyes. Justin wants to tell him to fuck off for some reason, wants to tell him to shut up, but he can only wait, holding his breath.

"Totally the point," JC says, and Justin's breath leaves his chest in a whoosh.

"What," he says, carefully. JC shakes his head.

"You're mad because Chris... but he. But you. Oh, man." JC looks at him with sudden energy. "I'm retarded. I knew you... okay. I get it now. I'm going to tell you something, Justin, and you're going to listen, and you're going to shut up and you're not going to get pissed at me and you're not going to hit me. And you're not going to get pissed at Chris or hit him, either."

Justin's stomach falls out and his world falls away, but out of self-defense he speaks. "After that I should kick your ass just because, JC. What. What."

"Justin, oh, baby," JC says, looking at him with something soft in his eyes. "You are so... okay. I went over to Chris's first, that night." He looks at Justin warily.

"I knew that," Justin manages.

"You knew that," JC says, looking surprised. "Okay. Because Chris... I was hot and fucked up, yeah, I said that. And nobody was. Chris seems like he doesn't care, you know? Like it wouldn't be a big deal. And he's hot and he flirts and he's Chris. So I showed up at his room." JC stops.

Justin tries to say "go on" but it comes out in a strange and half-strangled way, so he gives up. JC understands.

"So, I... there I was, getting up on him, and Justin, you have no idea, he... but anyway. He pushed me away, just like you, only he didn't yell at me like you did, I have to say." JC glares, so Justin throws his hands up and turns his face to the sky, appealing to a higher power. JC's glare transforms into a rueful smile but he tries to hide it.

"I, um," JC goes on. "I may have been pretty persuasive. Um. And finally Chris just told me to stop because of you, because of you being, oh, all about me and I laughed but he said no, give it a try. Dammit, Justin! I said no hitting."

Justin lifts his hands again, okay, fair enough. JC's frowning again, but when he speaks it's not at all what Justin expects.

"I suck, god! I know. I'm so sorry. You and Chris, not talking to each other, I would never have believed it could... all because of me! God, Justin, I'm so sorry."

JC's practically in tears, so upset, and Justin is shocked, pretty uncomfortably positive it's not JC's fault at all, not really, so he relents and hugs JC suddenly, lurching toward him and gathering his gorgeous skinny dorky strong body up into his arms and patting him on the back. JC sighs into his neck.

"Two time loser," Justin says. JC pushes him hard, but then he settles back into the hug, exhaling.

"I didn't know, man. Not really. I mean, I did, but god."

Justin pats him some more. "I didn't either," he whispers, and JC whispers back "yeah," and Justin likes this story a lot better, in this story he gets his friend back.

..........

Chris is squatting on the big couch in the back of the bus, scrunched up with his legs all crossed, listening to music. It looks really uncomfortable, but Justin can tell from the look on his face that he's listening to his sad music, Mazzy Star or some shit, and that fits. Chris alway punishes himself like that when he's sad.

So Justin rushes him, just totally jumps on him, pushes him over on the couch and the earphones go flying and the cord ends up wrapped around Justin's arm, but he ignores it to push his face into Chris's neck and inhale, mmm.

Then he pulls back to look down into Chris's face. Chris looks stunned, just completely flabbergasted, but he's rallying, Justin can tell.

"Hello, Justin," he says.

"Hi," Justin says happily and buries his face in Chris's neck again.

"I guess you're, oh," Chris says, squirming a little under him. "Ah, mmm. So, how's it going?"

"Very well, thanks," Justin says, grinning.

"Right, good," Chris says. "Excellent. Hey, thanks for stopping by! Tell JC I said hi. Or, not hi, really, just, um... hi. You know. Just hi."

Justin pulls back and looks at him, amazed. Chris is really babbling. What the fuck?

"Hope you didn't mind that I let JC mack all over me before I sent him to you. All for a good cause, you know, and all that. Yeah. Well, anyhow, I gotta run, people and things, you know."

Justin stiffens, he can't help it. "Chris, you bastard. You fucker. How could you, how can you even..."

Chris clamps a hand over his mouth. "Good, good," he says. "That's all settled, then. Glad you understand."

If Justin's eyes were little sporks, Chris would be clutching his head right now, that's for sure. But Justin hasn't understood one thing since the inception of the plan, he has to admit, so he sticks his tongue out and licks until Chris pulls his hand away with a loud "EW."

"Chris," Justin begins, but Chris cuts him off, wiping his hand on Justin's shoulder, and he won't look Justin in the eye.

"Well, I know you two will be very happy together. It's about time someone made an honest man out of JC. I'll totally get you a sterling silver gravy boat the next time we stop at Wal Mart GODDAMNIT JUSTIN."

It's amazing how far Chris is able to curl up with Justin's full weight holding him down. Justin pulls his fingers out of Chris's sides and waits for Chris to stop spasming and meeping. It takes a minute, but finally Chris looks at him, panting.

"I'm going to tell you a little story," Justin says. Chris's eyes narrow.

"I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear this," Chris says. "You were right about that. When you said that? So right. My virgin ears..."

Justin shows Chris one claw hand, at the ready, and Chris falls silent.

"I'm going to tell you a story and you're going to SHUT UP AND LISTEN FOR ONCE, because dammit, Chris, it's a romance."

Chris closes his eyes. Oops. Maybe Justin's not being clear enough yet. Maybe words are not the answer. Justin's pretty articulate if he does say so himself, but every once in awhile things get a little...

He lowers his mouth to Chris's.

Their teeth clash and Chris bites him, probably from utter shock but it's a great idea anyway, a fantastic idea. Chris tastes even better than he smells, and the way his lips feel, fucking amazing. Justin's hard immediately, dizzy and ready, and Chris is making noises, crazy questioning noises, and whoa. Much better than words.

After a while Justin pulls back.

"Oh," Chris says.

"Do you get it now?" Justin says.

"Maybe," Chris says.

"Hmm," Justin says, and kisses him again.

This time it goes on for quite awhile, and there's rubbing and stuff, a lot of stuff, and Justin is very happy to note that Chris looks like a wreck when he pulls back this time.

"Mmm, I can't wait for the end of this tour," Justin whispers.

"What's your plan, Leonardo," Chris says huskily, so Justin smiles at him and licks his lips.

"Well! First we ditch all those other guys that're hanging around all the time, those boybanders."

"Them," Chris says, nodding.

"And then we go somewhere private, like, with privacy."

Justin pushes down with his hips a little and Chris pushes up, a wonderful equation, it's almost enough to make Justin believe in math. He tries out the licking behind the ear thing JC taught him and it's a hit, Chris makes a long incoherent statement of some kind that doesn't have many words in it.

Justin snickers. "What?" he says.

"Private," Chris gasps, and Justin nods.

"Right," he says. "Then we get naked and stay that way for a long time, maybe days, and when we tire each other out we can put the bed back together and just lay around and shoot the breeze and talk and shit. How about that one?"

Chris is almost beyond words, definitely a first, pulsing his hips and clutching at Justin and a fine sheen is covering his skin already, so lickable and good. His face is open, so sharp and beautiful that Justin has to kiss him again, and when he comes up for air Chris's face is filled with light. He manages "and, and" and Justin smiles.

"And then," Justin says. "I don't know."

Chris opens his eyes. He grimaces, baring his teeth, and Justin laughs.

"Your turn, man. I come up with the plans, then you fuck with them till they work. Deal?"

Chris growls, a wild animal sound, and suddenly Justin is flying through the air and landing on the floor and oofing as Chris lands on top of him, full force. Justin guesses that's his answer.

December 2004