Just a Little: 4

by Miss Kitty E

Phyllis Fatone was so unlike Lance's mom it was amazing. Diane kept an immaculate house, and while Joey's home wasn't dirty, Lance couldn't say that the clutter of magazines, knick-knacks, and laundry quite compared. Diane was naturally soft-spoken, and always polite, but Phyllis was loud and direct, her laughter could fill a whole room. His mom dressed habitually as a schoolmarm, and never left the house without a full compliment of jewelry while Phyllis at six o' clock was perfectly content to relax in sweats and a nightshirt. But Lance liked her, even thought he should introduce his mother to her, just so Diane could have a friend outside of the bitchy women she worked with.

Joey's room was much as Lance expected it, messy. Clothes on the floor, old dishes piled up in miscellaneous corners, the walls were covered in a patchwork of magazine cutouts of punk and alternative bands Lance didn't know. He sat on the corner of Joey's bed, tracing patterns in the sheets as Joey spread out the instructions on the box, reading them carefully.

"The bathroom is the door on the left," Joey said looking up. "Go wet your hair."

Lance nodded and did as he was told, sticking his head under the shower and getting his shirt a little wet in the process. He grabbed a towel as he left glancing in the mirror, he hated the way his hair looked wet. Futilely, he tried to straighten it a little, sighing a little in frustration. He glanced down and saw a green glass bottle teetering near the edge of the counter, bored and stalling for time, he read the label, it was cologne. He wondered if it was Joey's and opened it, sniffing experimentally. Without really thinking he daubed some onto his fingers, and pressed them to his neck. He laughed, now he smelled like Joey, he didn't understand the novelty, but he liked it.

Joey didn't asked what took him so long, but then he was busy, mixing up the peroxide and lightning powder- whatever the hell that was -in a plastic tub. "Last call for second thoughts," he said gesturing to the chair he'd drawn close to the bed.

Lance took a deep breath, and shrugged, "Let's do it."

"Alright," Joey laughed. He felt a little dumb putting on the gloves, they reminded him of the kind the lunch ladies wore, but he forgot about it soon enough as he started massaging in the bleach, standing over Lance, watching his face more than anything. Lance's eyes eventually fell shut, the smooth way Joey's fingers stroked his hair lulling him half-asleep. His lips parted as the muscles in his neck became limp and loose, relying on Joey's hands to keep him steady. Joey eyes fell once more from Lance's hair to his face, sweeping over it with genuine affection, pausing at the pink, worry-bitten lip, and the white teeth behind it, and the tip of the red tongue behind them.

He pulled his hands away from Lance's hair and took a few steps back, "It's in pretty evenly." He went to the egg timer and twisted it a few times. "There. Twenty-five minutes and I can officially start calling you Blondie."

Lance rolled his eyes, and fiddeled with the towel around his neck, "And won't that be fun..."

Joey smirked, "Well, I'm looking forward to it, yeah." He sat back on his bed and looked at Lance thoughtfully, trying to imagine him as a blonde. "It's gonna look really good I think."

Lance smiled shyly and ducked his head down for a second, "I hope. You know, I didn't tell my mom I was doing this."

"Ooh, rebel!" Joey laughed. He leaned back on his hands and kicked up his legs, resting his feet in Lance's lap. "Why not?"

Lance shrugged and started tickling the exposed arches of Joey's feet, they curled and wiggled a bit and, after a short fit of laughter, were removed. He chuckled and looked again at Joey who seemed to be waiting for the answer Lance had tried to avoid. "It's hard in my house sometimes," he said, swallowing. "To be who you want to be. Mom and Dad expect so much because of Stacey and the things is, I know I can do it. I can be that smart, that good and stuff, but, I don't know, sometimes I just don't think I want to. I've never really admitted it, but sometimes I really want to just... sing and mean it. Not for choir, just for me, to do it as a career or something, but when I told them that, they just made it sound... stupid." Joey leaned forward and rested his chin on one hand, still nodding along to what he was saying. "They didn't mean to, but it was like, 'ha ha, very funny, Lance. You do have a nice voice, but get your head out of the clouds and back in your homework cause you and I both know it's a long shot at best.'"

"It's not a long shot," Joey said strongly, like he really believed it.

Lance shook his head, "No. It is. It is for everybody, and I don't really mind it or anything. I'd rather be safe in a normal job than a starving artist."

"Now see, that's where you lose me," Joey sat forward until his and Lance's knees nearly touched and before they knew it the timer dinged and they had spent twenty minutes talking about nothing in particular but enjoying every second of it.

With a heavy, deep breath Lance followed Joey into the bathroom and washed the peroxide out of his hair. Two of Joey's fingers hooked in his belt loop kept him from ever tipping over too far as he leaned forward to wet the back of his neck. Joey's hands were in his hair again, this time without the gloves, working in the deep conditioner, never letting a drop get into Lance's eyes. His knees were starting to hurt from being braced against the rim of the tub but it was over soon enough, and Joey threw him another towel. He could barely stand to look, drying his hair as completely as he good before he looked in the mirror.

"Oh my god, Joey! What did you do?" He glared shortly at the other boy and then returned his eyes to his reflection. His hair was practically yellow, even wet it was so bright. "It's too much. Oh man, you realize my mother's gonna kill me, right?"

Joey scratched the back of his neck, looking quite sheepish. He didn't know what had happened, the instructions said twenty to thirty minutes, but still he didn't try to defend himself. "Um, maybe once it dries-"

"Hair dries lighter, not darker Joey." Lance pulled the towel off from his shoulders and went to Joey's room.

Rubbing his face with both hands, Joey muttered, "Well fuck me," and followed him. He pushed open the door to his room and saw Lance lying on his bed, not in any kind of sexy way, just lying with his hands under his head, legs crossed and eyes staring at the ceiling. Joey was quiet for a long time, trying to think of any way he could make this better. "We could dye it again," he said finally. "I'll drive you to the store and we'll get another box of dye any color you want. Blonde, brown, blue, it doesn't matter."

Lance shook his head, "It's fine, Joey." He laughed softly, "Might be kind of fun to see what kind of look my mom gets on her face when she sees it."

Joey sat down in the chair next to bed, "Take from someone who gets yelled at a lot, it's not fun."

Lance shrugged, "Maybe not. But I'd rather see if I could withstand it."

"Listen, you can spend the night. You know, show it to them in the safety of daylight."

"Huh?" Lance looked over and saw concern on Joey's face. "Oh it's not like that. They'd never... the only weapons they use effectively are guilt and 'frank discussions.' It's not that at all... just that I've never done anything like this." He rubbed his hand over his now nearly platinum hair. "God, if I'd shown up at my old school like this..."

"Scoot over," Joey told him suddenly.

Lance did as he was told and Joey laid down next to him. If Lance had thought about it, maybe it would have seemed weird, maybe he would have come to the conclusion that nice, normal boys didn't lay in the same bed as nice, bisexual boys, but he didn't think about it. They didn't say anything for a long time, just laid together aware of the press of flesh here, the warmth felt there. Lance had just started to wonder about the position they were in when Joey rolled onto his side and touched him. Just one hand, the fingertips really, touching Lance's hair in a critical way, assessing the job he'd done, but Lance couldn't see that, didn't realize it. He did the only thing he could think of with Joey's breath on his cheek, and his body that much closer, he touched Joey back, reached up shyly and threaded his fingers in Joey's thick, brown hair, stroking it.

Joey spent a brief moment thinking about everything Lance had said that night, about being something he wasn't for his parents, thought about his shy grins, and the hand in his hair right now and thought it would be okay to press lips against Lance's and see what happened. He pulled back after just a second or two and watched, Lance blinked in surprise a few times, but didn't move that much or say anything really, and the biggest change that Joey could see was that his lips were parted now, and seemed inviting.

So he took the invitation and kissed Lance again, licking into Lance's mouth, sucking his bottom lip until it almost bruised. And he might have pulled away again, to give Lance one more chance to tell him to stop but the hand in his hair slid down to his neck and kind of pulled, so that Joey was half on top of him, and he started making soft, careless noises in the back of throat so Joey figured he'd been given enough warning. He moved his hand a little to tip Lance's face up, gaining better access, then rested it on Lance's hip, fingers curled around the bone that protruded there. Lance's kisses were inexpert and seemed to be trying to do everything at once, but they were also eager and breathless so they were really kind of hot.

And neither had any inkling of the passage of time, or any goal past sustaining the warm, pleasant feeling this brought them so they didn't stop when the door opened, or even the first few words that were spoken by the intruder, "Joey, how many times do I have to tell you not to leave bathroom in such a mess? Oops! I'm sorry."

Joey sat up quickly, but Lance just covered his face, "Mom!" he shouted, indignant and embarrassed. "Jesus, you're supposed to knock."

Phyllis held up her hands to quiet him, and looked a little to her left rather than directly at Joey. "I thought he was a friend!" she said in her defense. "You never tell me these things."

Lance had a rather awful feeling this was going to turn into some long discussion about how she and her son "never really talked any more." He sat up, and hid just a little behind Joey's back, keeping his hands up around his cheeks because he knew they were a bright guilty, red now.

Joey apparently had the same fear, and kept his voice loud and urgent, trying to push her out of the room with just the sound. "It's a rule!"

She did take a step back, but put both hands on her hips, "Hey, it's not a rule until I say it's a rule."

"Jeez, Mom, just get out," Joey spoke just a little softer then.

"Okay, okay, I'm going!" she turned on her heel and left, shutting the door behind her.

Joey ran one punishing hand through his hair and looked back at Lance. "That one's gonna stick with me for awhile."

Lance let his hands fall from his face finally, folding them complacently in his lap. He felt Joey lean in close and moved his head away.

Joey sat back, watching Lance with apprehension. When several moments passed without Lance speaking, or even moving, he pleaded, "Lance-"

"That shouldn't have happened, Joe." Lance looked up now, and there was nothing to contradict his calm voice except a tight crease between his brows. "I'm sorry. I gotta go." He struggled off the bed and all but ran to the door.

"Aw, shit, Lance don't do this." Joey stood and moved after him.

"I'm not doing anything." It suddenly seemed like Lance was afraid of him, putting up one hand and pressing himself against the door. "Just- it's late and I need to think."

"You can't walk from here to your house," Joey reasoned.

"JC lives in this neighborhood, I'll be alright." He twisted the doorknob, back still against the door, and left.

Joey stared at the floor for a while, then sat down on his bed. When he looked out the window, Lance was walking down the street, head down and hands buried in his pocket. He pulled at the Venetian blinds and stared at the ceiling instead.


As it turned out, Lance couldn't stay at JC's house, his grandparents had come to visit for some reason or the other, he hadn't been listening. He just felt embarrassed and scared, and he had half a mind to leave their doorstep and just walk, or hitchhike, or figure out the fucking bus route because he just wanted to be alone or at least with people who didn't know him. JC had driven him home, playing the radio the entire way because Lance had refused to talk. He thanked him at his driveway, turning to leave.

"Are you ever gonna tell me?" JC asked.

"Maybe." He was careful to take the walkway rather than trudge through the lawn, he even wiped his feet for no reason. He opened the door carefully, and didn't slam it, even though no one would be asleep yet. He didn't announce his presence, just took the quickest possible route to his bedroom.

"Lance, honey, is that you?" his mother called from somewhere, probably the kitchen where she was making a batch of fucking Tollhouse cookies.

"No." He didn't know why he said it, but it made him angry and he finally slammed a door, his own.

He kind of wanted to cry, but he couldn't. He kind of wanted to break something, but there was nothing in his room he could look upon with enough hate to ruin. He threw himself down on his bed instead, and tried not to think, or move, or breath. He kept his face buried in the pillow even when he heard the door open. He felt nothing, no comfort or dread, not even a desire to be alone when a heavy weight settled next to him on the bed.

This fingers, thicker than his mother's should be combed through his hair. "What did you do to your hair, son?" It was his father's deep, soft voice, and even with the heavy weight and thick fingers, Lance was still kind of surprised because his dad hardly ever tried to really talk to him.

He might very well have said nothing if it had been his mother, but the fact that it was dad warranted at least some reaction. He turned his face a little, cheek resting against the pillow now, but he kept his eyes closed. "A friend did it. For the show. I didn't mean it to be so bright." He sighed softly and tried to stop thinking about Joe. "I'm sorry."

"Why? It doesn't look so bad. Your mother's going to hate it." Jim continued to pet his son's hair a little, remembering when Lance was smaller, and he might have picked him up and just rocked him gently for a bit, knowing that when he let go somehow he would have made things all better. Only he had never really done that, Diane had. He regretted it now, and thought he might try to make up for just one of the times he'd handed Lance over to his wife because she was 'better at that kind of stuff.'

"I know something's bothering you, and you don't have to tell me, but if we help, Lance, please let us. I know the move has been hard on you, and I'm sorry for that, but-"

"It's not that, Dad," Lance softly. He took a deep breath and wondered if he could say it. 'Daddy, guess what, I think I may be gay.' But that would be too much for his father to handle, the word 'gay' was just too final, say that and his father would mourn his lost grandchildren, his lost legacy. 'Bisexual' would make it seem as if he knew too much, had been around the block a few times with both boys and girls. He could say that he had kissed a boy, wanted to do it again but was afraid to, but that was just so much more than he wanted to reveal. He sighed, "I can't. I'm sorry, I just can't right now."

"Okay," Jim got up and looked back at his son, seeing something slightly different there now. "Whatever it is, Lance. It's not the end of the world and we'll stick by you." It seemed like an appropriate thing to say, nicer than his own father would have said but not too nice, too weird.

"Thanks, Dad." The words were tired, and mostly empty, but that sound just a little less defeated than the first Lance had spoken when he'd entered.

Denial wasn't one of Lance's strong points, maybe it was all the math and he had taken, but something was either true, or untrue, it didn't switch over just because you wanted it to. So he knew he wasn't going to wake up the next day and not feel this way any more. He wouldn't be able to say he was caught off guard, because he hadn't been. He wouldn't be able to say he didn't know what he was doing, because he had known, he could barely believe it at the time, but he had known. He couldn't even say that he never knew he was capable of this, because this anomalous bit of his personality was new and yet familiar. Lance didn't need to worry about how or why, frighteningly, he had only to decide on the "what now?"

Part Five - Fic Index - Main