To Go Too Far: 8
by Miss Kitty E
Chris wasn't as much of a terror on the bus as some might think, he wasn't great at it, but he could sense a vibe as well as the next person. When it was "quiet time" on the bus he could be quiet, too, the only problems arose when those still, somber moments went on a little too long, then he could get a little restless. Sometimes, he really was grateful for to just curl up next to a window with his Walkman and take a moment to try and remember what was real and good and what wasn't.
Fic Index - Main
A pliant weight settled next to him and he took his eyes off the greens and golds of the Midwest summer and found Justin slumped beside him, fingers tapping on his knee, eyes watching the sunlight flicker on the floor. Chris left his music on as he tugged off his headphones.
"Hey," he said softly.
Justin smiled, "What are you listening to?"
"Poe," he replied, knowing that small talk was not why Justin had sat down.
A derisive snort, "Poe? That's girl music."
"And that's a very 80's thing to say."
"Why is that so 80's?" Justin asked, still making the pretense.
"Girl music, boy music, boy shows, girl shows," he shrugged. "It's so 80's. They knew how to market things back then."
"Whatever," he said lightly. He looked down at his hands then back up at Chris, "Can I, uh. I really need to... I could use some advice, Chris."
Chris shifted a little, to look at Justin better and to do something other than press his lips together as he waited for Justin to continue.
"I didn't think anyone else could help me with something like this. Listen, me and-" he was cut off by the trill of a cell phone. He pulled it from his jacket pocket and it struck Chris as a little odd that Justin was carrying his phone around on the bus instead of putting it in a charger. Justin looked at the ID, "It's Brit. I gotta take this." He was already up and walking away, leaving Chris prepared and waiting for a conversation that wasn't going to take place.
He put his headphones back on. "Sure it all matters but in such an unimportant way as if to say, fly away, sweet bird of prey," Poe crooned, but the words didn't mean anything to Chris. He pressed a button until he got a song that did mean something.
He sang along softly, trying to feel get the full cathartic experience he knew music could offer, "I like the way you wear your grin, I even like the taste of my will caving in, I'm not a junkie for your love, I'm not a junkie."
"Could you talk to him?" Lance's voice came from right in front of him, and it startled Chris because he hadn't noticed the Lance-shaped obstruction moving towards him.
"Justin. He's like... broken. Fix him," Lance seemed uncomfortable, like he didn't want to admit he couldn't solve this problem all by himself. Chris liked Lance less these days, because Lance wasn't shy anymore, his eyes didn't find anything new and interesting, and he didn't follow Joey like a puppy, but Chris didn't hate him. He felt bad because he knew this isn't what Lance wanted to end up as either, but it just was.
"What? What's wrong with him?" Chris really didn't know what he was supposed to do. Fuck, talking to Justin- him talking to Justin would probably just make things worse.
Lance put his hands on his hips, and any other time Chris would have made fun of him. "God, who knows? Britney, or his mom, or drugs, I don't know, he won't tell anybody. Find out at least, so we can help him. The papers are already speculating, Chris, and not just the Star or anything, Entertainment Weekly is asking questions now."
Rubbing his eyes, he shrugged, "Well, is he here now? Like in his room?"
Lance nodded, but took his time in leaving.
"I'm going alright?" Chris asked, annoyed. Just because he hadn't been keeping tabs on Justin didn't mean he didn't care.
"I know, it's just..." Lance frowned. He put his hand on the doorknob, "It's nothing. Sorry. Uh, good luck."
Chris nodded and spent a brief, bare moment rooting for and then putting on his shoes. As he moved down the hall he realized his lips were dry, he made a mental note to steal Lance's chapstick and then stopped at Justin's door. He knocked gently, knowing he'd be disturbing something.
"What do you want?"
"It's Chris, and I want to come in."
There was a long moment of silence, and Chris wondered if Justin was hiding something or just thinking, "It's important?"
"Okay." Just a few seconds later the door was opened, Justin looked sadly at him for a moment before returning- Chris assumed -to a space on the floor in front of the bed. He leaned back against it and just stared at the wallpaper. Royal blue eyes flitted over to Chris, wondering silently why he wasn't talking, then back to the point of interest- a mistake in the endlessly repeating pattern perhaps -on the wall. Tiredly, "What is it, Chris?"
"Jesus, Justin, what's wrong? We're all-" he stopped. Justin didn't need clichés. "I wanna know why you aren't happy."
"Chris, I don't-"
"Too bad," he sat down across from Justin, cross-legged. "I'll leave you alone if it's something you need to work on yourself, but not until I know what it is." He hoped it had nothing to do with Britney, nothing to do with him, god he hoped Justin just thought no one loved him and the whole thing could be fixed with a hug and a lot of ego stroking.
Silence descended, heavy and dense as Justin swallowed several times and tried to speak. "You know... you know why Britney's in Sweden?"
Chris blinked, "She's recording." All this was as simple as he missed his girl?
"Yeah," Justin said softly, "Recording. That's not all, she going to, she's already gotten- she went there because it would be a secret, no one would... so she could." He stopped and pressed his thumbs against his eyes. "Chris she got an abortion."
Muscles Chris didn't know he had tensed and made him gasp. "Oh my god, Justin."
"She-" Justin's voice broke. "She said she wanted it, too, but now she's mad, Chris. She's talking this shit that I pressured her, and that it was a mistake, and fuck, Chris, fuck, she doesn't wanna-" He pulled his knees against his chest, "I didn't mean to. I didn't want-"
Chris suddenly wanted to a lot of wrong things, like pull Justin close and stroke his face and kiss him and whisper things like "It'll be alright, baby," but even if Justin let him it'd be for all the wrong reasons. He'd wake-up the next day with his heart full of love and pity and Justin would be frightened, still broken. He did reach out though, just placing his hand on Justin's shoulder and squeezing.
When Justin's breathing was slower and he could stare up at Chris with red, tired eyes, Chris said, inadequately, "I'm sorry."
Justin nodded, and one hand lifted to Chris' rubbing over it like it was a new part of him. "She said she doesn't want anything to do with me anymore."
"Give her time."
"No," he shook his head. "I don't think, after this, there could ever be anything good between us again."
"Oh," Chris said softly. Helplessly, he murmured "I'm sorry," again and took his hand away. He wished that there could be some bit of music stuck in his head, because it hurt to know what he knew now and listen to the dead weight of the air around them, and Justin's labored, stuffy breathing.
"What do I do, Chris?"
Chris wished he had an answer so badly. He sighed, "I don't know."
Justin seemed disappointed, or maybe he was just exhausted.
"Do you want me to go?"
"No," the word was spoken neither quickly, nor with hesitation. It was just a simple fact that Justin was as confident in as 'the sky is blue,' 'two and two is four,' and 'if I spend another moment alone and in silence, I'll die.'
"'Nysnc" didn't last too much longer after that, but it wasn't any ugly, VH1 Rock and Roll Movie end. Just something natural, like the wilting of a flower. Chris had no real regrets except for the fact he hadn't invested his money nearly as well as Lance, and that the very next day after they all sat down and said it was over, he was old. He felt old, acted old, started treating Fumanskeeto like a job and not a creative project. He dated a little, but nothing ever seemed to come of it. Whenever it got to the point where could say, "I really care for this person," he didn't, and let them slip away.
He'd lost track of Lance first, then Joey and JC, and he felt bad about it sometimes, when he saw some mention of them in Variety, but he never seemed to do anything about it. Justin, though, he refused to go, popping up from time to time, calling, and emailing, and Chris really was grateful for it, because it let him keep an eye on Justin. He'd almost lost him. Not literally or anything, Justin's life was never really in danger, but for a long time Chris wasn't sure he'd ever see the same Justin again. The soul, the potential person he'd recognized the first time he'd met him, that Justin had almost died, tortured and broken by guilt, and regret, and insecurity, and purposelessness.
Justin had disappeared for a while, a year almost, before returning and acting like he couldn't quite remember how to handle this feeling that television and books called happiness. The solo career everybody knew was coming was launched, and Justin's knew it wouldn't be perfect, but it was something. It was music, and color, and a goal to work towards, it made him happy. And Chris rooted for him even with the lowest of expectations. Justin kept his head above water, did better than Chris expected, but he still fought for validity, for exposure, calling Chris near tears sometimes, and other times drunk and giddy.
"Hey, Chris! It's Justin," Justin's voice was sweet and exuberant, and Chris was already smiling.
He settled down into a soft chair and put his feet up on the coffee table, "Where are you, J?"
"Um, Luxembourg?" Justin mused. "Hell if I know, we're driving now, but I think we're still in Luxembourg. Getting ready for Germany."
"Sounds good. Sounds good," Chris said softly. He wondered if there was any reason Justin was calling him, but the silence lasted too long. "How's the tour going anyway?"
"Good. Workin' out the kinks in the show. Got rid of the dancers the other night."
"Didn't look right. The girls made it look like Pimp J and his Big Booty Hos," Chris' laughter was easy and sincere. It made Justin feel good, better than he might have thought. "And the boys just made it look like Big Gay Justin and his All Male Revue. It's just me now... and the band."
"Wow," Chris said. "Like you were a real musician or something."
Justin laughed softly and sighed, "I know, it's crazy." He let the good humor of the moment fade before finally saying what was on his mind. "You know, it's weird, touring alone. Without the dancers it's like the only person I talk to who isn't a fan is the make-up girl. It's like the first tour times ten."
Chris nodded without thinking, murmuring something about that being "too bad," until he found something helpful to say. "Is the tour money tight? Cause you could invite a guest, you know, maybe just for Germany." Germany was nice because it could make you feel like you were a bigger star than you were, but it also meant the isolation became that much more apparent. Their first time around even having four other guys around almost all the time wasn't always enough.
"Yeah, I guess. But with all the stuff that's happened I don't know who..." He sighed again, and it sounded like he was moving. "Fuck, I'm sore."
Chris smiled and told himself not to tease, but it was hard because, come on, Justin-I've-had-a-six-pack-since-I-was-fourteen-Timberlake was out of shape.
"Maybe I can just stick it through. Get used to it... get off my high horse and make friends with the crew." Justin was talking to himself more than anything.
"Nah," Chris found himself saying. "I could-" he stopped. He was being stupid.
"Yeah?" Justin asked, and Chris felt worse. Because Justin sounded happy, maybe for the first time in a while and he didn't want to just take that away.
"I mean," he said tentatively, testing out each word before he spoke to see if it made sense. "I'm not all that busy, I could... for a while, like a week or two. If you wanted."
"Really? Damn, that'd- but you know you don't have to, right?"
"It's alright," Chris said lightly. "It'll be fun."
"That's fucking awesome." He sounded so pleased, and suddenly Chris felt better about the idea. "I'll be in Germany the first of next month, it can be like old times, you know?"
"Yeah." They talked a little longer about plans and who to call, Justin pausing every now and then to sigh happily. When they finally hung up, Chris living room was had taken late afternoon colors and he felt like more time had passed than the clock told him.
He was just getting up when the phone rang again. "Hello?"
"Do you think you could come a week earlier?"
He did. And it was like old times, only with a lot less homesickness and fewer groupies. The whole trip ran like the plot of some movie called "Two Idiots go to Europe," because Justin was running on pure hope and Chris had spent three wasted years being "old." They did a lot of crazy stuff that Lou would have killed them for a lifetime ago, and they woke up with hangovers, and very often in places that weren't their hotel rooms, but it always seemed to work out, and Justin never missed a sound check. Chris would hang back, on the side of the stage, or in the front row of the venue, just watching Justin sing and amuse himself, feeling a strange kind of pride.
Though Chris was always aware of the days counting down, Justin was somehow caught off guard. He hadn't thought that Justin would be thrilled to see him go, but he hadn't expected the kicked-puppy look, and sullen silence he'd gotten when he'd talked about going home.
"You can't stay?"
Chris shook his head, "My stuff back home has been on hold long enough, Justin. I'd like to, but-"
"Nevermind," Justin said, kind of turning away from him, not in any prissy, huffy way, just showing his resignation. "It's just-"
"Yeah, I know."
"You don't," Justin corrected. Justin rubbed his face, "It's my fault. I was thinking stupid things."
Chris thought he knew what that meant, but he didn't want to make assumptions, wasn't sure he really wanted to know for sure. "Justin-"
"I wanna try it- us -again."
The statement hung in the air for a while, and Chris could feel it, hovering somewhere in the sunlight, waiting for it's response.
Justin hadn't been expecting that, he'd been expecting some tired sigh, or tense utterance of his name. He wasn't sure he had an answer to "Why?" though he had his reasons for saying what he said. Before he could speak Chris was already listing his options.
"Because you don't want to be alone right now, and I'm just here and convenient? Because you feel guilty? Why start this now?" Chris wasn't angry, but just exposed and trying to feel safe by saying a lot of things and 'emotionally healthy person' would.
"Because it never should have stopped." Justin was proud of his answer, because it sounded good and was the truth.
"That doesn't mean anything," Chris insisted, gently. He was glad he was leaving the next day, he'd gone through this too many times.
"Christ, Chris," bringing his feet up, he pressed his face against his knees, and took a few slow breaths. "You really don't-"
"I do. I've always," Chris paused, and swallowed against the bitter lump of emotion in his throat. "But not enough to make the same mistake twice."
Justin turned his head a little, resting his cheek on one knee as he regarded Chris carefully. "Okay," he said finally. His eyes fell a little, "I'm sorry."
Needing to put some distant between himself and those sad eyes, Chris stood up, and moved away a little. He shrugged, "It's alright, I don't blame you, or anything. I've thought about it myself."
And then Justin was getting up too, and Chris felt his stomach drop a little, maybe anticipating what was about to happen. Needlessly calloused, square hands came to rest on his cheeks, and Justin kissed him delicately, like he was glass, or something cherished. He wasn't pulling away, he wasn't saying no, he wasn't even ignoring the way his heart and body sung at the contact, moved toward it like a plant towards light. 'Bastard, bastard, bastard. Oh god,' he thought, because Justin knew what this would do to him.
Justin pulled away with a sweet, little smack on his lips, he stroked Chris' hair and looked him over. "Stay with me, okay?" Justin slid one hand to the back of his neck and pulled Chris close until their foreheads were pressed together.
Eyes still closed, Chris just shared breath with Justin and said nothing.
"'Cause I love you or something, enough-too much to let you leave... to leave you again. How many years later and I still need you, Chris? How many years later and I still want you with me all the time?" Justin let any word or phrase that sounded right to spill from his lips.
"Yes," Chris said. He backed that up with, "Okay, alright. You have me, you own me, your fucking name is written across my soul, and I want it there." He let his eyes open, and the first thing he saw was Justin's weary, worried smile; it was too close a view to really be beautiful, but comforting all the same.
Justin kissed him again and made some promises Chris would never hold him to. He fell asleep with Justin still touching him, kissing his temple. The parting real image of their fingers locked together, resting on his chest, followed him into his dreams, because he thought it was beautiful. He thought maybe it looked permanent.