by Miss Kitty E

Once, in anger, JC had called Chris a busybody, and rather than be insulted, Chris had broken out into laughter (which had done nothing to ease JC's mood).

"It's funny cause it's true," Chris had said tritely, and it was. Chris was one of those people who is 'in the know' simply because he had to know. There was no use in keeping secrets from him because he'd pout and whine, snoop and eavesdrop until he was in on it, too. This trait kept him pretty immune to pranks as well; Chris was just too nosy to let any kind of suspicious conversation go unnoticed. He didn't apologize for this, because he didn't apologize for any aspect of his personality, he had spent nearly thirty years becoming who he was, and he wasn't about to spend the next thirty becoming someone else. He thought he made that obvious, but apparently Dani hadn't been as good at reading the fine print as he thought she was. He missed her a lot, too much, sometimes, and these days he was eager for distraction.

So naturally when he saw Johnny, Lonnie, and a man he guessed from the t-shirt was the venue owner standing together in a tight circle, concerned looks on their faces, he had to stake out a place and listen.

"You think we should cancel the show?" Johnny asked in a hushed voice.

Chris' eyes got wide, but not nearly as wide as the venue owner's. "Woah, woah, woah! You're sure that's necessary? You said you'd gotten these letters before."

"Yeah, but now he's making threats," Chris could barely believe the no-nonsense, authoritative voice was Lonnie's. After all, Lonnie was generally a pretty jovial guy, and even when he was in 'professional mode' he was less inclined to order them around as tell them what they "should do" in the same tone of voice as your mother when you "should wear a coat." Chris had never seen him so serious and suddenly the eavesdropping wasn't entertaining anymore, he gave up trying to be sneaky and just looked at Lonnie when he spoke again, "And, listen, there's one more thing. It isn't postmarked. This was hand delivered."

Johnny blinked, "Shit. Shit."

Chris decided they had no right to be talking about this privately and so added his voice. "Excuse me? Someone is threatening us? Johnny what the fuck is going on?" Johnny only looked startled, and so Chris turned his attention a few degrees, "Lonnie?"

The big man huffed like he'd just been beaten, and he guessed that he had; they'd made Lonnie promise to be upfront with them, always. "Somebody's been sending letters, generally from or around the cities we've been touring in. They said some... troubling things about Justin, and they've been getting worse. We didn't want to tell you, it'd just freak you out when there's nothing any of you could do, that's our job." Lonnie looked over at Johnny and was glad to see there was no anger.

"But they've gotten worse? And this psycho made it inside the venue?" He looked around for Justin and didn't see him. His stomach dipped sharply, but he forced away the panic.

Johnny spoke now, "Listen, Chris, we've stepped up security and we've already got the police involved now that he's finally broken the law making these threats. So there's nothing to worry about. Don't tell Justin, don't act like anything's wrong, we'll see what happens tonight and cancel the show tomorrow if he have to only if we have to."

Chris nodded, he had more questions but he didn't think they'd get answered. "Okay, but you'll tell me, right, if anything else happens?"

Johnny said, "Sure," in that same condescending tone he might have answered if Chris had just asked to be the Queen of England, but Chris didn't call him on it. Instead, he turned away and went in search of Justin.

He just had to see, to be sure, he slipped through the venue's hallways, peeking into every dressing room, asking everybody he past if they had seen Justin. They all shrugged and pointed different directions, one person finally giving him a straight answer that Justin had gone to get some of his things off of the bus and Chris tried not to walk too fast because nothing was wrong.

He burst through the doors anyway, and in the suddenly blinding sunlight, he saw Justin and sighed. Completely alive, completely unharmed, smiling and talking warmly with some guy, he was perfectly fine. Then Chris took a second look at the guy, he was a stranger but there was nothing remarkable about that, he could be anybody, a new member of the crew, an interviewer, a caterer, but just cause he didn't have "psycho" written across his forehead didn't mean Chris shouldn't get Justin away from him as soon as possible.

He wasn't very good at being intimidating, when you were just shy of five-ten you just didn't try it very often, but he knew how to be a jealous boyfriend, and the method had always seemed to work in the past. He went over and pretended he needed to talk to Justin but didn't want to interrupt. He put his hand low on Justin's back and smiled at him, but did not smile at the stranger. He looked around, spotting Lonnie suddenly near the bus watching them with a quietly intense face. Chris smiled, not wanting Lonnie to come over; he was doing just fine as Justin's guardian, thank you.

He started absently rubbing his thumb over the little rise of muscle next to Justin's spine, staring evenly at the stranger- who pretended not to notice -while Justin continued talking excitedly about sports with him. Eventually, he succeeded in distracting the younger man, and after saying good-bye he found himself being playfully confronted.

"Jesus, Chris, what do you want? Or did you just wanna molest me?" He elbowed Chris gently in the side.

Chris smiled, looking away from the retreating back of the stranger, "You're legal now remember? And we work together so it's sexual harassment, not molestation, sweet cheeks." He did drop his hand, though, "Who was that guy?"

Justin shrugged, "Dunno. Just some guy, said his name was Jason." He looked around but Jason was nowhere to be found having disappeared into the quiet hustle and bustle of backstage. "Seriously though, you need something?"

"Um," Chris racked his brain for a lie, he found one, and smiled in triumph. "What are you doing tonight?" He followed Justin onto the bus, patting Lonnie's arm as he past.

"Not much, I guess. I hear there's an alright club in this 'burb, probably gonna go out with Joey and see what kinda action we can find." He rooted through one bag, and then another.

Chris leaned against the doorway, watching Justin move, "You on the outs again with Britney?"

Justin laughed, "When aren't we? If she's not being a bitch, I'm being a dick, and it's always the other person's fault." He found his missing treasure, his CD player. He checked the CD already in it and went back to the first bag to get some new music.

Chris nodded, and wondered how much he could really say now, how much he should say. "How old are you, Justin?"

Justin didn't pause as he sorted the CD cases in his bag, answering like he was in an interview, "Twenty."

"Yeah, that's what I thought, so why do you think you should have this whole relationship thing figured out already? It took me..." He shook his head and laughed, "I'm still learning."

Justin smiled, nodding his head towards the front of the bus, and Chris followed him. "So anyway, wouldn't you rather, you know, hang out with me tonight? Don't see much of you anymore."

A big hand came down on Chris' head and scrubbed, "You've been missing me?" Chris tried to duck away, but Justin was intent on getting the loose black strands as mussed and tangled as possible, "Come on say it. You've missed me."

Chris tried pushing, then running, then once more with the dodging, but finally he just grunted, and said, "Alright, I miss you, I miss you." He shoved Justin away, and was freed, "Jesus, Justin," he worked his fingers through his hair, soothing the scalp and working through most of the tangles. He looked up and saw midnight blue eyes watching him, "So after all this is done, you come find me, and we'll see what we can do about having a girls' night in."

Justin snorted derisively, but nodded just the same, "Sure, man."


"Girls' night" consisted of ordering every pay-per-view movie available in Chris' room except the dirty one, and the G-rated one. By they time they got to the Adam Sandler movie, Justin was out cold, his head nestled in Chris' lap, so much for Mr. Nightlife. Justin had stretched out on the couch during the opening credits of the first movie, and rather than take the loveseat Chris had insisted upon this, claiming he couldn't see from the chair, which was bullshit. He did miss Justin, miss this, because back when they were just starting Justin used to fall asleep like this all the time. Chris ended up on the receiving end most of the time because they had sat together so much, but Justin would do it to all of them, use them as his own living teddy bears.

Used to do it, anyway. It'd been a long time since Chris had been able to run his fingers through Justin's hair, stroking it like he would a cat. That was a good metaphor, he decided, Justin truly was catlike right then, curled up against him, he'd flipped over a while ago, face pressed into Chris' stomach, breathing imperceptible, but warm against his t-shirt. He continued stroking Justin's hair until the gel started to make his fingers feel nasty, then slipped his hand down to Justin's side. He watched Adam Sandler scream- on mute, now -at some old lady, and chuckled. Justin stirred, making a disapproving noise, and to calm him, Chris slid his hand under his t-shirt and stroked his back like he would a fussy child.

He looked away from the movie and tried to mark every feature of Justin's sleeping face, morose little quips about what might have been and the way things were punctuating his thoughts. Everything had been ripe really, their relationship, the time and place, the tension pulling them together, but just when Chris was starting to look for his catalyst, Justin started pulling away. He'd retreated from everybody really, but it still hurt Chris to think that he was included on the list of things that Justin didn't need as much of anymore. He'd already taken as many steps forward as he could without crossing the line, but so be it. It didn't depress him, not now, when Justin was safe with him, would always be safe with him.

Less than a half-hour later, Chris found himself dozing, head falling forward, then back. He sighed softly, knowing there was no way in hell he'd manage to find a comfortable position without waking Justin. At any rate, he didn't really care to discover what kind of new and interesting kinks it would put in his back if he did. That left him a bare two options, he could say goodnight, or move Justin to the bed. And he still didn't want Justin to go.

He shook Justin's shoulder gently, and the younger man woke slowly, burying his face into Chris' stomach because it was warm and, in a curious way, inviting. Justin let out a heavy, content sigh before forcing himself to sit up. He threw his arms over the back of the couch and stretched, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry about that. I know you wanted to hang out, and then I just-"

"Nah, don't worry about it. Let's go to bed, huh?" Chris got up slowly, rubbing the muscles of his lower back.

Justin nodded and looked away, watching the movie for a lazy few seconds, then getting up himself. He walked a few steps and stooped to get his shoes, heavy sneakers that did not seem to want to accept his feet.

Chris paused, hands still on the blanket he was turning down. "Where ya goin'?" he asked impishly.

Justin looked up, brow furrowed as he tried to get the joke. "To my room?" he tried, shrugging. He looked at the bed suddenly, then at Chris, "You meant... together?"

Coughing uncomfortably, Chris struggled to find logic to match his emotion. He had hoped Justin would want to stay, would have gratefully accepted the opportunity, not that he would need a reason. "Why bother going all the way to your room when there's a bed right here?"

Justin nodded self-consciously, "Yeah... a bed. Thanks, but no thanks, you know?"

Chris knew; knew that he was again being told a step back, that they weren't that close and probably never would be. He closed his eyes tightly and opened them, maybe it was dumb, maybe he was being paranoid, clingy, but he didn't care. Because trumping every 'sensible' reason there was the fact that Justin was in fucking danger and he couldn't just let that be.

"Just stay," he said softly, hoping that would be enough.

It wasn't. "Don't you... wouldn't that be a little weird?"

'And aren't you being a little weird here, Chris?' he filled in silently. Justin was quiet, waiting, then wiggled his toes a little further into his shoes and headed for the door.

"Justin," Chris' voice was newly urgent. "I think it'd be better if you stayed here tonight. Safer."

Justin stopped, "Safer? Dammit, Chris, what kinda game are you trying to play?"

Chris rubbed his face tiredly, "I... Listen, Justin-"

"No, Jesus, Chris, just tell me."

Chris didn't think he should, in fact, he knew he shouldn't but did anyway, cause he thought it would keep Justin with him. "I heard today- from Lonnie -that someone's been sending... weird letters. Bad letters... and that whoever is sending them may have been inside the venue today."

"This isn't funny Chris."

"Am I laughing?"

Justin frowned tightly, "Why didn't anybody tell me? Why the fuck would they tell you and not me?"

"I wasn't supposed to know either, and I-"

"Then why the fuck are you telling me this? Fuck, Chris, I don't know what you're on, I'm just- I'm just going to bed, alright?"


"Save it, Chris," Justin had his hand on the door already. "Just stop trying to scare me, 'cause it's not gonna work. Later." The last word was said as the door was closing.

Chris was still for a long time, then jerked into motion, sustaining it for as long as he could, just readying for bed and the next day, avoiding the moment when he'd crawl into bed and have nothing to see but darkness and nothing to hear but Justin's voice echoing in his mind. Eventually, there was nothing more to do, and he'd just lain back against the pillows when there was a knock, loud and hollow, on his door. He opened it.

Justin had his head down when he did, and kept it down when he spoke, "You stupid fucker, Chris. I can't... I'm scared of my own shadow now. I- I don't wanna be alone." He pushed past Chris, and kicked off his shoes, "I don't know who's dumber, now, you or me." He took the left side of the bed, and after a quiet moment, Chris took the right. He looked at Justin but could only see dark eyes, shining and still, staring at the ceiling. He turned off the light, and they lay together in the darkness, but as far away as one could possibly be.

"Could you... aw fuck, Chris, could you, you know, put your arms around me?"

He didn't answer, he had no idea what to say, but he acted, sliding over to Justin who- he discovered -had rolled onto his side. Chris curled one arm around his waist, his hand resting in the spot between Justin's shoulder blades. He crooked the other arm to rest under the pillow, then, after a moment of sharing Justin's heat and breath, he moved it just enough to brush the tips of his fingers against Justin's cheek.

He felt like crying when Justin moved closer.


Frantic pounding on the door woke them up, Chris first, and he spent a bleary moment trying to remember why he should be half on top of Justin. The fist on the other side of the door paused briefly, then began again, "Dammit, Chris, wake up!" It was Lance.

He rolled out of bed and went to the door. "Jesus, what is it?" he asked, using the blunt tip of his finger to work out the sleep from the corners of his eyes.

"Someone broke into Justin's room last night. Holy fuck, Chris we can't find him. They think- they think this guy, whose been writing..." Lance trailed off from his anxious explanation, watching Justin as he made he way to the door.

Justin slipped his arms around Chris' waist and squeezed them tight, he looked at Lance over the messy black spikes of Chris' hair. "I'm alright," he said softly. "Go tell them that, okay?"

Lance nodded silently, eyebrows raised to a near comical level. He looked at them again, begging for permission to ask, but none was given as Justin shut the door. The warmth at Chris' back was removed, wandering off in the direction of the window. Chris rubbed the back of his neck and waited for the cold feeling in his stomach to pass before looking back at Justin.

"You okay?" he asked, the silence was almost louder than his voice.

Justin nodded, staring blankly down at the street, Chris wondered if there were police already here, and then if it would be alright to touch Justin again. He hoped as much as he lay his hands on Justin's shoulders and pressed his forehead to the very top of his spine.

"You know, you..." Justin took a deep breath. "You probably saved my life, Chris."

"Maybe," Chris had his eyes closed, so maybe he wasn't aware of the way his lips brushed against the sensitive skin of Justin's neck. Then again, maybe he was. "Does that mean I'm your hero?"

Justin let the curtain fall closed again, blocking out the blue and red flashing lights of the squad cars, and ugly white light of the news van already fucking parked outside. He turned and Chris moved to step back, but Justin caught his wrist and pulled. Chris had maybe enough time to blink before Justin's lips found his and the bottom dropped out of his world. Another knock sounded at the door, and that'd be Lance, or Johnny, or god knows who, but before Justin could fully break away, Chris cupped the back of his head and held him there.

And when it was over there was no need for words.

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