Keep You Safe and Warm

by Miss Kitty E

Justin knew that the photo shoot would be outside. And he knew, oh how he knew, that photo shoots involved a lot of standing around while the photographer got the f-stop right, took solo shots, tried to explain exactly what he meant by "jump up and strike a pose." He also knew that it was December. But somehow it hadn't really clicked that it would be so fucking cold. He'd snapped off the weather channel right after the weatherman had said there'd be a high of fifty degrees, but before he mentioned the thirty-degree wind chill. Even his expensive, gray, angora sweater was just not able to keep him warm when all of his body heat was being stolen by gusts of wind that came in sneaky two to three minute intervals.

It wasn't snowing, sure, and Justin's hands weren't turning blue, but he was uncomfortable and that seemed reason enough to complain.

"Chris, I'm cold! How much fucking longer do we have to be here?"

Chris was engulfed in a massive Pittsburgh Steelers jacket, puffed up at the top like he was, his legs looked even shorter than normal. He looked warm though, zipped and buttoned up inside his gigantic, tacky, out-of-style jacket. "How the fuck should I know, kid? Where's your jacket?"

"I didn't bring one."

"Kid, it's in the middle of fucking December."

Justin frowned, "Well, I guess I thought I didn't need one, old man."

Chris frowned very tightly, "Don't call me old man."

"Well stop calling me, kid, then," Justin scoffed. "You sound like you're from a bad 40's mobster movie anyway."

"You've never seen a bad 40's mobster movie. You hate anything and everything that's in black and white. You won't even watch James Dean movies."

"Whatever, Chris." Justin sighed and walked away. Not mad, but seeking out someone who was a little more sympathetic than grouchy elf-men who grew up in Pittsburgh.

"Hey, I'm not the one who didn't wear a jacket so I could show off my purdy new sweater!" Chris called after him.

JC was in the middle of doing his solo shots, smiling and bouncing up and down for warmth. The pictures that would result would be very, very cute, Justin suspected. JC's slim leather jacket was folded carefully on his chair. Justin tried to snag it, but his sweater was too thick, and the sleeves felt too tight and too short. For the first time Justin regretted his muscle mass. He folded up the jacket again and tried someone else.

Lance was on the phone, in a rugged looking jacket that had been purchased at some decidedly not rugged place, some place on Rodeo Drive no doubt. Lance hated being interrupted, and he wasn't likely to give up his jacket to Justin, or anybody. Lance was very shy of cold weather ever since he'd gotten sick. He took vitamins, and exercised, and got flu shots. Justin decided not to bother.

Justin looked around. None of his friends were there, ducking out for this reason or that. Generally, Justin's friends only wanted to come to photo shoots when there was a possibility of meeting famous people. But there weren't many celebrities to be found on a cold, blustery beach. Eventually, Justin's eyes fell on Joey. He was just talking to his brother, and frankly, Justin didn't honestly think he was more important than many people. Steve, though, was one of the people he did.

Joey's name sounded good when whined, so Justin let himself drag out of the vowel sounds a little bit when he said, "Joey, I'm cold."

Joey turned from Steve, giving him a little nod that said they were done. He smiled at Justin. "Give 'em here," he said, and put out his hands. Justin stared at them for a moment before giving Joey his hands. Justin's hands were long and square, not small at all, but they looked small between Joey's larger palms, and thicker fingers. Joey lifted his and Justin's hands up and for a second it looked like he was going to kiss them. He blew on them instead, a burst of damp warmth, that crept over Justin's skin.

Justin wasn't thinking about his hands. He was thinking about the way his stomach had dipped when he thought Joey was going to kiss him. Kiss his fingers. That was kinda funny, cause usually it only did that when he was around someone like Britney.

Joey's hands started rubbing now, and Justin smiled up at him. Joey's hands were really soft. It wasn't that they were uncalloused, but they were meaty rather than bony. They had give in them and Justin's hands were luxuriating in their friction.

"You're good at this."

"Lance used to get cold all the time. Growing up in the south didn't really prepare him for Europe you know? I had to do this a lot."

Justin always hated it when Joey talked about Lance. Justin and him were really good friends, but basically no one was as good as Lance in Joey's eyes. Listening to him talk about Lance was excruciating. "Blah, blah, blah, Lance. Blah, blah, blah, he's my favorite and you're not."

"Yeah, well, I'm cold now, so keep rubbing." Joey laughed and did. After a minute, Justin's hands started to feel raw and he pulled them away. He tugged the sleeves of his sweater over his hands and held them closed. Another gust of wind blew and Justin tensed all over. "Jesus."

Justin wondered if he was still young enough to bury his face in Joey's chest. Joey's jacket was open, and it would be really nice to bury his face in Joey's black, ribbed sweater, into Joey's chest. But he was almost twenty-one now, wasn't he? Not a kid anymore, and that might seem weird. To Joey and to everyone around.

"You're gonna freeze to death come evening." Joey said, putting his hands back in his pockets.

"You could give me your coat," Justin suggested, knowing it wouldn't happen.

Joey chuckled, "Yeah and if it were bigger we could share it."

"Temperamental stars don't share, Joey. You haven't been paying attention in Pop Star Class again."

"Never did no good in school," Joey said with a grin. Justin smiled back and felt clever.

"I'll be okay. I'd go back and get a fucking coat if I didn't think one of the photographer's assistants would make up a story about me storming out of the shoot, you know?"

Joey- who had been called a deadbeat dad for letting Kelly register the baby shower at JC Penney's because her friends were still hairdressers and her mom was retired -shrugged and said, "You should anyway, that shit doesn't matter."

Justin shook his head. "It does. In some weird way. I just... the less I do it, the less it's there, right?"

"So you're gonna freeze your balls off because you're too proud to go get a jacket?"

Justin didn't like to be told he was foolish, "No one's freezing any balls off."

"Yeah, yeah, that's why you came whining to me." Joey smiled, and held his coat open a little. "Share mine, okay? So I can talk to you, not just listen to you whine."

"What do you mean share?" Justin would rather be cold than fuck this up.

Joey shrugged, "Your pretty skinny, I bet if you got in real close we could get it closed."

Another gust of wind blew and Justin's hands were cold again. "Um."

"You know you wanna." Joey smile was at his hammiest, and Justin laughed without meaning to.

"C'mere." Joey took Justin's shoulder and turned him around. Justin's stomach dipped again- what the hell? –when Joey's arms closed around his waist and pulled him back against his chest.

Justin hoped everything he was feeling wasn't showing up on his face. If Chris saw he would know, and if JC saw he would suspect, and if Lance saw he would get jealous. He laughed too loud, like this was all part of a joke, struggled a little like he and Joey were wrestling. Chris and Justin and Lance all saw and looked away, rolling their eyes. Justin settled back against Joey's chest and sighed.

His back was completely flush with Joey's torso, stealing all the heat there for himself. His neck had Joey's breath hitting it, it made him shiver, but it was hot. His hands were safely clasped under Joey's, clasped on his waist. Joey was draped over him like a blanket, like a cloak, like Hercules' lion pelt. Justin had nothing more to complain about. Justin relaxed fully and Joey didn't seem bothered by his weight at all.

"So what are you gonna do with the rest of the day?"

Wow, Justin could feel Joey's voice, the vibration buzzing against his back, hear the resonance right in his ear. "Um. I think I'm gonna start a fire."

Joey chuckled, "A little destructive, don't you think?"

"I mean in my fireplace, doofus. Just. A fireplace and a book and maybe coffee. Normal leisure time. No rich people hobbies."

"Justin Timberlake be gettin' back to the basics, huh? Are you going to fall asleep by the fireside?"

Justin looked back at Joey in confusion, "Not planning on it, no."

"What about your eyes?" Joey asked. "Will they be red because you've cried?"

"What? Oh." Justin laughed. "Yes. Because there's no one there to keep me safe and warm."

Joey took a deep breath and started singing JC's fucked up little Christmas song. Justin started to close his eyes, but it was too much: to close himself to everything but the solid build of Joey behind him, the sound of his voice, and the way every breath he exhaled blew across Justin's ear. Justin kept his eyes open and watched everyone applaud for JC when he was done with his solo shot and then get ready for Lance. Joey went through the chorus, but got lost in the particulars of the second verse. It was Justin's solo and even he couldn't remember.

"What are you going to do then?" Justin asked, the air was getting colder and every time he inhaled, he felt cold seep into his lungs. He started worrying about his voice.

"A fire sounds nice," Joey mused, completely without irony.

"Do you even have a fireplace?"

"Of course." Joey thought about it. "Don't I?"

Justin pulled Joey's arms tighter around him, turning his face so he was inhaling Joey's heat and scent instead of chill, damp air. "Doesn't matter, anyway, your house is ugly."

"Hey fuck you. I like my house."

"Yeah. You like your ugly house."

"What would you know?" Joey pinched Justin right under his ribs. "Your house looks like a Hollywood movie set."

"And yours doesn't? The Fifties Diner kitchen, the Star Wars fuckin' theatre?"

"Fine. See if I ever invite you to my house again."

Justin smiled. He thought this might be the most he'd talked to Joey in a long time. "I think I'd like to sit down."

"Okay." Joey let go briefly and Justin felt a rush of cold. He saw Joey sit on a large box filled with lights in case nature needed to be made to look more golden to the camera lens. He hopped up and spread his legs a little, looking at Justin expectantly. Taking a deep breath, he settled himself there, between Joey's legs, against his chest. Fuck. He didn't know what he was doing anymore.

Joey closed his arms around Justin's waist, and pulled his knees in till Justin was even more enveloped than before. "What's up, pup?"

"Nothing. Just um, did you ever do this for Lance? I mean like, is this weird?"

"Lance never forgets his jacket. Just gets cold even with it on. But it's not weird Justin."

"You'd do it for anybody?" Justin asked, not sure to hope for a yes or a no.

"Not anybody, I guess. Definitely you guys. Definitely you. I think we're almost done here anyway. If you can stand to be around me for another hour, you'll be home free."

Justin nodded. He didn't ask any more questions, and Joey didn't sing anymore songs. They sat, resting warm against each other, and thought about their own things for a bit. Chris came over and asked about it.

Justin shrugged, "He's a good coat. For when you've got nothing else."

Joey laughed. "The Joey Coat. Never gets lost. It follows you home."

Chris didn't make a joke to follow Joey's, and Justin knew that meant he knew. He was glad the photo shoot was almost over.


Justin sat in front of his fireplace trying to read Discovering Your Life Purpose. It was more difficult than he expected, and he had a song stuck in his head. JC's silly Christmas song, sung in Joey's voice. And there's no one there to keep you safe and warm. Over and over again. Justin closed his book and set it on his marble coffee table. His couch was too far from the fire to feel its warmth. He got up and moved to sit crossed-legged on the rug and stared into the licking, gas-fueled flames. His face started to burn and his eyes started to water. He shut off the gas and went to bed.


Justin knew that the charity concert was going to be outside. At night. In New York five days before Christmas. They'd only be performing one song, but they'd be intro'ing a few artists, definitely mixing, and maybe watching a few of the cooler artists do their thing. He wore his thickest sweater, his gloves, but he forgot his jacket on the bus. Waiting for crew to change the set, and for the cameras to move he hopped up and down and held his gloved palms over his ears and did his best to look miserable.

He was startled when arms came around him suddenly, gasping and whipping his head back. It was Joey. Justin relaxed a little. "Cold," he whined. "I forgot my jacket on the bus."

"Loser," Joey said affectionately. Justin turned around and buried his face partly in the fur collar of Joey's jacket, partly in Joey's neck. He felt better. Joey cupped a gloved hand on the back of Justin's neck. "I can keep you warm till we go out there. Then you'll be on stage and you won't feel a thing."

Justin murmured something that was muffled and unimportant. He burrowed further into Joey, worming his arms inside Joey's jacket. He sighed, knowing that this was a lot ask of Joey, of himself. He didn't really know what he was doing anymore. He'd left his jacket behind just so he could do this, be close to Joey, why? And yet he was too happy with where he was to get mad at himself.

"Guess what?" Joey asked, sounding overly excited, like he was on stage, or something, in awe of some crappy painted backdrop.

"What?" Justin asked, moving his mouth so it was completely out of the fake fur, moved it closer to Joey's neck.

"My suite's got a fireplace."

"So does mine," Justin said. "So do all ours."

"Yeah, but mine's better. You should, um, you should come find me tonight. And take a look."

Justin lifted his head briefly and felt the night air bite into his cheeks, the tip of his nose. Joey was inviting him to his expensive hotel room, to sit together, probably in the dark with some sort of alcohol, in front of a roaring fire. If Justin was a girl, he'd know Joey was putting the moves on him, but he wasn't a girl so what then? He and Joey were friends. Friends standing hip to hip, with Joey's arms around Justin, rubbing his shoulders, and Justin's hands were spread across Joey's back like he was some girl awed with the breadth of it. He was a little awed. Joey was so solid. Built on a slightly bigger scale than most. Okay.

Justin shrugged, tucking his head under Joey's chin again, "Sure."

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