To Go Too Far: 2
by Miss Kitty E
Chris woke that morning to the sounds of Lance making coffee, he watched as the blonde moved and hummed quietly to himself as if there was nothing amiss. Perhaps nothing was. He squeezed Justin's shoulder gently, rousing him, saying nothing and not daring to meet the boy's eyes just yet. Justin made a soft noise, but didn't move, his head still resting on Chris' shoulder, but when he became aware of Lance's presence, he stood and made his way to the bathroom in the back. Joey emerged from the bunk area shortly after, rubbing an eye tiredly, moving with shuffling steps to stand beside Lance. The silence of the morning was left unbroken as Joey said his greetings by placing his hand low on the smaller man's back, rubbing slightly. He was rewarded with a cup of fresh coffee, handed wordlessly over to him, and a shy smile. Chris thought he knew why Lance was not bothered by finding two of his friends curled up together on the couch.
Part Three - Fic Index - Main
When Justin returned it was too late to talk, Lance and Joey were talking and laughing now, too awake to let a 'private' conversation go unnoticed. It was only by habit, by human nature, that they would begin to eavesdrop, never thinking to question if a secret overheard and deemed harmless was still a secret. Chris didn't press, but watched Justin constantly in the corner of his eye, seeing a startling lack of change. Justin moved and talked, looked at him and didn't look at him just the same as the day before, and the day before that. He felt different though, closer somehow. Everyone loved Justin in his own way, JC like a younger brother going so far back, Lance as a friend and peer, and even Joey who had never really taken the time to get close to "the kid" loved him because you had to earn Joey's hate and not his love. Similarly, everyone looked out for him, helped him or sheltered him in however they saw fit, and whether he hung out with or spoke to one more than another seemed inconsequential. But no one now could claim to know what Chris knew of him, and he liked it.
They drove almost non-stop to the next venue that day crossing the wide track of nothing between this minor city and the next. Everyone became a bit testier because overnight trips had a way of making one feel less like a normal human being and more like a full time circus freak. Chris kept waiting to be approached, pulled aside, but Justin never came, never pinned him with a pointed look. By that afternoon, he had realized that he was the one feeling small and lost, that couldn't make heads or tails of things. He was the one who needed to be sat down and told how things were, what to do. He couldn't face Justin, not until he was as much himself as Justin was still Justin. So he went in search of JC, not because JC would know exactly what to do but because JC was the only one close to his age, and he'd be damned if he'd seek love advice from some seventeen-year-old Mississippi choir boy.
He watched JC, waiting for a chance to speak to him. He found it during the dinner break when JC retreated to a corner the dressing room and the other guys went to eat with the crew. "Hey JC?" he asked sitting across from him.
JC looked up at him, waiting until after he swallowed to reply, "Yeah, what is it?"
"I really need some advice," Chris was already chewing his nails, fighting to reconcile what he did and did not want to say.
JC nodded and kept chewing, but when it became clear Chris didn't yet know what else to say, he spoke again, this time with his mouth full. "Okay. What's happening?"
Chris' brows worried into a frown, and he struggled on just where and how to begin. He figured he'd start with the facts, "Listen, Justin and me, we kissed last night and-"
JC's mouth fell open which was unfortunate because he'd just taken a drink. After he'd sopped up most of it with his napkin, he asked, "You what?"
"We kissed and-"
"You kissed?" he interrupted. Chris couldn't tell if he was angry, but it was a long moment before Josh spoke again, asking, "How did this happen?"
Chris might have said that Justin asked him to, but didn't. He shrugged, "I don't know, it just did."
"Like how, you fell on his mouth?"
Chris swallowed, and began cracking his knuckles one by one. "We were just talking and Justin started to cry-"
"Cry?" JC leaned forward, his meal forgotten. "About what?"
Chris shook his head, not wanting to reveal more about Justin than was necessary, than he actually knew. "Look, it doesn't matter."
Josh pouted over his lost gossip, "Okay, okay. So then what happened?"
"JC!" Chris slammed his hand down on the table, but regretted it because he had asked for this, had known it was coming. He rubbed his eyes tiredly, "I'm sorry, but fuck, I already know what happened, I just need to know what to do now."
"Alright, alright," JC said, not hint of apology in his voice. He looked hard at Chris, "He's sixteen, you know-"
"I know," Chris said, stopping that line of conversation before some new thing to feel guilty about was introduced. The look on his face alone convinced Josh it didn't need to be said.
"Does he have a crush on you or something?"
Chris didn't answer right away, thinking over it carefully. "No, I... I don't know. He didn't say anything like that."
JC nodded, and looked down at his chicken salad again. He didn't look up at Chris when he asked, "Do you... you know, want him?"
Chris pursed his lips, at fourteen that had not been an issue, and at fifteen it had only been a matter of 'he'll be real cute someday.' Now just a year older was he that much more, and he could see that Justin was attractive, but who couldn't see that? He enjoyed Justin's company, loved listening to the sound of his voice almost as much as his own. He supposed that didn't matter because he could say the same about Joey. The only difference was he never thought about Joey that way when he got too close. "Yes," he said finally, but he was quick to add, "But in a background noise kind of way. I barely thought about it until now."
"Okay... well then, what I guess it all comes down to is what do you want to happen now?"
"For things to be like they were." And that was the truth, but there were other things that Chris wanted. Things he couldn't bring himself to say.
JC shrugged and picked up his fork again, "Then tell him that, I'm sure that's all he wants now, too. Don't kiss him again."
Chris didn't say a word as he went through every reason why that was right choice again, they still made sense, but still felt wrong. "Okay."
Chris licked his lips nervously and knocked twice on Justin's hotel room door, hoping he would be there. The other guys were already at the clubs, but Justin had hung back tonight saying he had to get a few things done, but would maybe join them if he didn't finish too late.
"Coming," Justin murmured through the door.
Chris' nervousness turned to panic and he clenched his hands to keep from fidgeting, under his breath he prayed, "Please, God, just let this go well."
A second later, Justin pulled open the door, seeming neither surprised nor pleased to see him.
"Hey," Chris said softly, speaking first.
Justin stepped aside to let him into the darkened room, but Chris did not move. He glanced down at both ends of the hall, they were empty, he could speak to him from out here. "No I- I don't have much to say, I don't want to bother you."
"Okay," Justin leaned against the doorframe. Chris marveled that it was now, this moment, that Justin chose to be show some kind of interpretable emotion, suddenly looking unhappy, cynical.
He continued as if he didn't see it, "You and me are good friends, right?"
"So there's no reason for what happened to hurt anything, you know?" Chris was finished. He'd spent the entire day cutting back to just those two sentences. First to go were the explanations, next the apologies, and finally the questions of "why," leaving just two sentences that said what needed to be said, but left no words to be regretted. All that Justin had to do was affirm both of them, and things would be like they had been before.
Justin nodded again, but seemed to be waiting for something more.
Chris shrugged, nervously, apologetically, "Okay. Let's just forget it happened, alright?" He tried to smile, but the look on Justin's face wouldn't let him.
"Yeah, okay. Goodnight, Chris," he was already closing the door.
"'Night," he managed to blurt out before the lock clicked. He felt like kicking the door, not to open it, but to channel some of the anger he now felt inside. Why that fuck wasn't he happy with that, he wondered, half out loud. He raised his hand half way, ready to knock on the door and demand just what the hell Justin wanted but his feet stopped him, already moving away from the door. When he got to the end of the hall he saw it, a cigarette vending machine tucked away between the ice machine and the wall. He dug out his wallet from his pocket and started up the bad habit anew because he remembered how often they had pulled him through the first night after a break up. Not that this even was break up, but the feeling was the same.
He couldn't smoke in his room, and so after got the complementary matchbook from the nightstand drawer, he sat against his door in the corridor, staring at the purple, red and green carpeting in genuine surprise. Why would any company even make something so ugly, why would anyone buy enough of it to carpet an eight-story building? He was on his second cigarette and had just decided it must be because of cost when someone's bare feet came into view. He blinked up and found Justin standing over him.
"I can't sleep," Justin told him.
Chris said nothing, not knowing if that was the explanation or the excuse. After a moment of thought he let his eyes fall back to the carpeting, and lifted the cigarette to his lips again. Justin knelt and caught his hand, pulling it away, Chris might have protested but Justin replaced it. One hand slipped around Justin's waist on it's own while the other stamped out his cigarette on the truly hideous carpet. When Justin pulled away and settled beside him, he regretted it. There was nothing to keep him from asking, "What's going on?"
Justin shrugged, rubbing their shoulders together, "I don't know, but that doesn't mean it has to stop."
"Yeah, it does," Chris sighed. "And if it didn't, there enough other reasons."
"Justin," Chris said, haltingly, he felt all the warmth pressed against him tense. "You should just go back to your room, alright?"
"Don't tell me what to do," Justin replied, like a reflex, some teenaged instinct.
"Okay," Chris said, sounding frustrated. "You tell me what to do. Anything, you say, I'll do it." He meant it.
Justin sighed, and was quiet for a second, "Listen, Chris, I'm not looking for a boyfriend, so don't think I'm gonna want you to hold my hand in public now or get pissed when you take someone back to your room. I don't even think I'm... really like that, but- I just wanna be able to come to you." He looked at the man beside him, looking for an answer in eyes too dark to read. "Is that alright?"
"Come to me for what?" Chris asked softly.
"Just this. To be with someone," Justin scratched a place behind his ear. "It's hard sometimes. I don't know what the fuck I'm even doing most of the time and I just need someone but at the same time that's the last thing I need, you know?" Chris touched his hand now, and Justin bit his lip. He looked up again, "So is it alright?"
Chris wanted to say it wasn't, but somehow he couldn't manage it. "You want to come sleep in my room tonight?"
Justin smiled and nodded shyly, "Yeah, I do." Chris stood, picking up the pack of cigarettes beside him. "You shouldn't smoke," Justin said, still sitting on the floor.
"I usually don't. Tonight was just especially stressful, thank you very much." He slipped the pack into his back pocket and offered his hand to Justin. He managed to stand steady while Justin used him as leverage to get his surprisingly heavy body off the ground, but finally stumbled back when that same body collided with his own on purpose. Justin wrapped his arms around Chris' shoulders, and they stood together for as long as they dared in an open hallway at two am. And this time spent against something solid but yeilding was enough to convince him that this was not a bad thing. But unfortunately that didn't mean this was a good idea.