Just a Little: 2

by Miss Kitty E

Lance was surprised to find that he was once again nervous as he pulled open the back door to the theatre. He had no idea what to expect now that he was actually part of a show, he'd never been to any rehearsal that wasn't for choir; he just hoped he would be able to get the hang of it quickly enough. The moment he stepped into the backstage area, he felt as if he should leave. Everybody was rushing around performing tasks he couldn't help with, or talking and laughing in small, tight knit groups that did not seem to want outsiders, and that's exactly how Lance felt, as an outsider. In the corner of his eye he saw Joey and turned, hoping he might be able to talk to him, but the other boy must not have seen him and was half running up a staircase to some unknown destination. Lance sighed softly and walked out into the house, taking a seat somewhere in the third row, waiting for when he might be needed.

He was four questions deep into his math homework when he heard the director saying, "Alright everybody, opening number. Can I get the chorus up here?"

Hurrying for no real reason other than he was glad to be finally needed, Lance put away his homework and went up onstage.

"Okay, the boys gather around Joey, girls get around Hannah," Mr. Garcia ordered, taking a seat in the first row. He was quiet for a moment, working out the blocking in his mind. "Alright, Joey get in the middle, and Jeremy, get on his left." Lance stood back and watched as Joey sat down in the middle of the fake bleachers set up on stage, and a well-built kid that Lance guessed was Jeremy sat beside him. "Okay. Now, Adam, get on the other side, and the rest of you just kind of crowd around. I'll move you if I have to."

Lance didn't really know what the director meant by "crowd," but he figured sitting behind Joey would be okay. The director regarded them all, then nodded and turned his attention to positioning the girls. Lance shifted uncomfortably, he didn't much like crowds, but suddenly it wasn't so bad being surrounded on all sides by nearly complete strangers when Joey leaned back against his knees and smiled up at him. "Hey."

Lance smiled, and said it back, "Hey."

"Having fun yet?" Joey asked, with a sigh.

"Oh yeah," Lance said sarcastically. "Nothing like sitting still and being told what to do."

The director cut in, "Alright folks, quiet down. Let's start with the first verse. Mr. Henely, music please."

Joey sat up and started the trade of lines between him and Hannah; Lance and the other extras adding "Tell me more, tell me more," at the right times, but with more and more bored tones. Lance enjoyed it though, because whenever the Mr. Garcia paused to make an adjustment, Joey would make some joke, and always include him in on it. He didn't feel like an outsider anymore, even though the director couldn't remember his name, and the other students didn't even know it.

An hour later, they were dismissed and Lance said a quick goodbye, hoping to leave before Joey could follow him out. The last thing he wanted was for such a cooler and older boy see his mother's beat up Volkswagen, or worse yet, hear her usual greeting.

"Hey there, Sugar," she chirped happily.

"Hi mom," Lance murmured. He threw his bag into the back and took the shotgun seat.

"So, how'd it go? You have fun?" Diane pulled out of the parking lot just as Joey stepped out of the theatre, keys in hand as he moved towards his own car.

Lance sat back and smiled, "Great. It went really well."

His mother smiled, executing a right turn with exaggerated care. "You've never mentioned wanting to do anything like this before, Lance." She laughed, "Are you having dreams of being an actor now or something?"

Lance was tempted to retort, 'So what if I did?' but instead he shook his head and answered, "Just wanted to make some friends."

Diane glanced over at her son, an earnest expression on her face as she reached over to grip her son's shoulder. "You know if there had been any other way we would have stayed back in Mississippi, right?"

"It's alright, Mom." Lance felt the hand removed and looked over to see Diane pressing her lips together tightly. "I like it here so far, Momma, I promise."

She nodded curtly, "I know, Lance. I know. This move hasn't just been hard on just you, but if you can deal, I can deal, huh?" She smiled finally, lifting her hand to quickly wipe under her eyes. "We need to go to the store, is that alright?"

Lance nodded, just wishing he had more to say.


Lance spent almost every afternoon at the theatre now, looking forward to it throughout the day, growing impatient for it by the last periods of the day. He would spend most of the rehearsals with Joey, but he got to know the other members of the show, too. Some were rude, snobbish, wouldn't give him the time of day, but Lance didn't care. Most of them were nice and those who weren't got "the treatment" which basically entailed Lance and Joey giggling and making cracks under their breaths as the offenders went through their scenes.

For one reason or the other, Lance didn't see much of Joey during the day. He found out that the other boy was a year ahead of him, a junior, and that they shared no classes. At lunch Joey almost always went out with his friends, and Lance didn't really mind, he enjoyed sitting with Justin and JC, whose good-natured bickering deserved to be the basis of a sitcom. Once and a while, he and Joey would spot each other in the hall, and surprisingly Joey was discreet with his greetings, just a nod, or a smile, sometimes even a wink. He never got the feeling Joey was blowing him off, or trying to avoid him, Joey's smiles were always warm and lingering.

"Hi!" came an exuberant greeting. Lance looked up from his thoughts to see that a boy had flopped into the seat next to him. He pushed a hand through his hair, and smiled at Lance, waiting for a response.

"Hi." Lance was still taking in details about this friendly stranger. He wasn't very tall, average really, with a narrow waist- narrow everything really –but a big smile and big hair, cut into a stylish, little bob.

"I'm TJ," he said, and his smile got that much wider. "You're new?"

Lance nodded, and sighed a little. Two weeks in and people still hadn't stopped asking that. "Everybody seems to think so, but it feels like I've been here forever." He let TJ's easy laugh flow unfettered, then continued. "I'm Lance. Are you in the show?"

"Kinda. I'm a lowly dancer on loan from the Dance class." He blew a strand of hair from his eyes. "You in theatre?"

Lance shook his head, "Nah, I guess you could say I'm on loan from the choir."

TJ smiled, and leaned back on the heels of his hands, "Ooh, I'm jealous."

Lance cocked his head to one side, "You want to sing?"

"Well yeah, but mostly I wanna be in a class with that cutie Justin Timberlake." And of course, TJ would be the kind of person to wink after having said something like that.

Lance tried not to think that statement was odd, he tried to act like he was an enlightened guy despite having come from a place like Mississippi, but he still ended up asking, "Justin?" sounding sheltered, and clueless.

"Ooh, yeah. That kid," TJ sighed fondly. "The dance class and basketball share the gym sometimes and lemme tell ya, I haven't seen pecs like that on a freshman since 90210."

Lance laughed, a little uncomfortably now, because TJ made it sound like he should be nodding and sighing right alongside him, and while Justin did look good it certainly wasn't anything that was could be considered universal. "Well that's nice," he said, coughing. "But why are you telling me this?"

TJ blinked twice, just bordering on batting his eyelashes, then shrugged, "Well, I mean, don't you... agree?"

"What? No! I'm not, I mean, there's nothing wrong with it, but-"

TJ shook his head firmly and sat up a little more, "Oh no, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make assumptions. You just-" he squirmed uncomfortably for a few seconds, then stood up. "Whoops, I gotta go. See you around, Lance."

"Wait!" Lance called, and to his relief TJ did pause. "You thought I was gay?" he asked, neither angry nor amused. "I act-"

"No!" TJ said quickly. He sat down again and shook his head, "No, no, not at all. And anyway, sweety, you can't act gay, it's just something you are or aren't. Um, I just saw you with Justin and JC and I thought maybe... and I just let that dictate what I thought about other stuff?"

"Like what?"

Lance mostly seemed confused and so TJ didn't feel it would be too bad of an idea to be honest. "Stupid stuff. Like you being with the theatre, and... um, I dunno. You're cute," Lance blinked, what did that have to do with anything? "So, um, don't come to school tomorrow and think you have to act all different or something; join the football team, or something crazy like that. You don't need to, it was just me, you know? Wishful thinking." He got up and Lance didn't protest, "I'm really sorry. I hope I didn't... offend you or anything. Later, Lance."

Lance put his thoughts on pause long enough to say, "Uh, bye, TJ."

"Joey!" Lance watched as TJ launched his small form onto Joey's back. "Let's take a smoke break, huh?"


Joey had a sneaking suspicion he would stop smoking when he turned eighteen, aside from the nicotine high he didn't get much out of them anymore than phlegm and the small thrill of doing something his mother would hate. TJ, he knew, was almost purely a social smoker, and no sooner had he lit his Marlboro Menthol Lite with Joey's lighter did he speak up.

"I may have horribly offended your little friend back there," he confessed.

Joey leaned against the brick wall that kept them mostly hidden from the street and any passing authorities, and blew out a quick puff of smoke. "What did you do? Or should I not ask?"

TJ gave a sheepish smile, "You have to promise you won't hit me. I bruise easily, dammit."

Joey took another fast drag, "I promise."

Taking a few precautionary steps away, TJ admitted, "I kinda sorta... um, intimated that maybe I thought he was... one of the gang if you know what I mean."

Joey's hand paused just before pressing the cigarette to his lips. He sagged, squatting down with his hands rubbing his temples, "Oh thank you so much, TJ!"

"I didn't mean to!" he blurted defensively. "I mean... I was so sure."

"Maybe..." Joey took a deep breath and then backed that up with a drag. "Maybe he just didn't want to tell you. He doesn't even know who you are."

TJ patted Joey's shoulder gently, "Joe-bear, look at me." He didn't continue until his friend actually looked up, "You think he's afraid to tell me he's gay?"

Joey sighed, "Okay... so you don't look like the kind of guy who discriminates." He finished off his cigarette, stamping down the butt on the pavement before he stood up again. "But you do look like you have a big mouth, so maybe he just didn't want it spread around. He's new here, you know."

"Joey, don't." TJ was still only half way through his own cig, "I've been down the same damn road, and straight boys are just gonna break your heart."

"You don't know he's straight," Joey said quickly. "When I know for sure, that'll be the end of it."

TJ looked at him warily, but gave a helpless shrug rather than any more "helpful" advice. "Alright, Joe-bear, alright."

When Joey got back inside it was time for him to do a scene with Hannah, he glanced briefly back at Lance who was still sitting in the audience, chewing a pencil thoughtfully, a little frown creasing his brow. He tried not to swoon like a fucking schoolgirl.

Part Three - Fic Index - Main