Little Bit of Heartache: Prologue

by Miss Kitty E

They all kind of knew, by varying degrees, because it wasn't hard to miss. JC would sit down to a meal and not eat, not really. He liked bread because it was filling, a bagel, a biscuit, a piece of plain wheat toast it didn't matter, so long as it was starchy. And he might poke at the vegetables on his plate for a while, too. Or pop an orange slice from the snack tray into his mouth. But he didn't ever sit down and eat. Justin knew, knew all about it because "JC had been pulling that shit since forever." Chris knew because he had taken psychology courses and knew the signs; he just didn't know how to treat it. Joey knew but he couldn't really understand, not wanting to eat, feeling fat when you weren't, it just didn't fit into Joey's perceptions of the world. Besides, he had his own problems to deal with. And Lance knew because he was the only who had the fucking guts to sit next to JC on the bus and talk to him.

During that small space of time on the bus when nobody had anything to say, and too little time had passed to be bored, and all you could hear was the sound of the wheels over asphalt, Lance would find a spot next to JC and choose his words carefully. Sometimes he asked to talk about it, sometimes he didn't. Sometimes JC started things up himself. Sometimes they sat in silence. Either way, it made Lance's heart hurt, every time, because JC was in pain and nothing he said ever seemed to make a fucking difference.

And what was there to do? Turn him in to Johnny? Their manager already knew, and was waiting until the end of tour to do anything about it. Sometimes it angered Lance, but then he wasn't exactly forcing JC into any kind of counseling, was he? How many interviewers had he admitted it to? None. He had thought about, a long time ago when he had first found out, and cried about it, right along with JC. He didn't cry about it anymore really, it was just a part of their lives. All that was left to feel, barring the bad times, the really awful episodes, was the little bit of heartache that faded when Chris started going stir crazy, or Joey's need to be social forced him to strike up a loud conversation with someone.

They were on their way to Dallas, and Lance thought he just might hate Texas because it's landscape was so fucking boring; hills and grass and cows and ugly little towns. Everything was quiet, Justin was still asleep and Joey was eating, and Chris was talking on his cell phone. Lance had no mail and nothing to do. He went to JC who was staring out the window, a notebook on his lap, pen lying limp in his fingers.

JC turned his head a little, looking at him with his unnaturally pale eyes. Sometimes Lance thought they were pretty, other times they scared him. Right now, he was leaning more towards pretty, even if there were a little too sad.

"How you feelin'?" he asked, softly.

JC shrugged and looked back out the window, a billboard proclaimed that the best barbeque in Texas was just twenty-seven miles away. "Alright, I guess."

"Still feel weak?" Lance prodded gently, hating that he had to ask.

JC shook his head, "I ate." He was proud, Lance was relieved.

"Good," Lance said, as sincerely as possible. "That's good," he looked away at Joe. "Do it more often."

"I try," JC's voice broke, and Lance regretted it. He looked back at JC, who was swallowing hard and blinking fast.

"I'm sorry, JC, I know you do. I just, I don't want you to hurt yourself. You don't have to." He put his hand on Josh's forearm and rubbed a little. JC still liked being touched in the mornings, but sometimes he hid from contact, Lance didn't know why.

Sighed, JC slid down into his seat a little further, resting his head on the back, staring up at the ceiling. "I don't know what else to do."

Lance didn't say anything, because he didn't really know what he could say that didn't sound too much like a nag, too much like a cliché. He kept his hand on JC's arm for a long time, hoping JC could gather some strength from that, but when he got up to make a call he could see it hadn't really made a difference.

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