On the Bus 16
by Synchronik

Justin wasn't supposed to be up first. He was never up first. Usually he was third, or fourth, or sometimes even last, if Joey hadn't stayed out too late the night before, but he was never first.

Except today he was.

Normally, when he got up, Lance was already up, paging through that morning's USA Today and sipping out a mug like he was forty. And Chris would be up, bouncing off the walls from his second cup of coffee, or his second bowl of sugar frosted whatever-os. And maybe JC would be up and curled in the corner with a book or a cd. They had so many cds that no one knew whose were whose anymore, except Lance, who bought stuff like LeAnn Rimes and Garth, and that was kind of annoying because Justin knew he had bought the new R.Kelly, but JC still wouldn't give it back, but that was hardly the problem now, at--he looked at the clock over the built-in microwave--9:29 in the morning.

Today, the lounge was empty, and the seats around the little table were empty, and the bathroom was empty. They were all still asleep.

9:29. That wasn't so early. They should be up by now. Somehow, it wasn't the same to get up and stalk out to the front of the bus, grumbling about the "crack of dawn" and scratching if no one was there to roll their eyes at him, or swat him on the ass as he passed by. No one was up to maybe offer to make him cereal, if they felt like it, or to scoot over and let him sit to next to them, or to pat him on the head and say "cheer up, squirt." It wasn't right.

Justin sighed, and went back to the bunks.

He tried JC first. He was crashed out on his back in a tornado of blankets and clothes; Justin couldn't tell what was JC and what was just the crap JC kept in his bunk. He had headphones clamped on his ears. Probably the new R.Kelly, Justin thought. He considered poking JC in the ribs and taking his cd back, but it seemed like a lot of work, and wouldn't really accomplish what he wanted, which was someone to have breakfast with, so he didn't.

Lance, the next least likely to kill him for waking him up, had his head buried under a pillow. Unlike JC's his bunk was pretty neat, but he was pressed up against the far wall in a position that clearly screamed "not before noon."

He stood there for a minute, debating. Chris was certainly more of a morning person, generally, but if he had decided to sleep in waking him was a risky proposition. Chris was a terror when he was crabby, and Justin wasn't sure he wanted to be the cause of that.

Joey would be more likely to forgive him, but less likely to appreciate being up. He was the only one who usually stayed in bed later than Justin on a regular basis, but he would also probably get over it the fastest and start being nice basically right away, which was what Justin wanted, if he had to figure it out. Someone to be nice to him, right away.

Joey it was, then.

He swept the curtain back in a grand gesture, planning on leaning and mauling Joey until he got up.

Chris was already mauling Joey.

Well, not mauling exactly, because even Justin's grand curtain sweeping hadn't woken them up, but Chris was definitely doing something to Joey, all sprawled on top of him like that. Chris was wearing his yellow smiley-face t-shirt and red basketball shorts, and Justin found it hard to believe that someone could sleep in something that loud (the "baby blue is my favorite color" thing wasn't a put-on or a lie, like some of the other stuff he said about himself--he found the color soothing), but Joey was apparently having no problem with that. He had one arm around Chris' waist, holding him in place, and his face was in Chris' hair. One of Chris' pale hairy legs was thrown over the blankets where Joey's legs were, covering them. His hand was on Joey's chest.

Justin looked at them for a second. Then he reached out and pulled the curtain shut slowly, trying not to make too much noise. He stood there, debating between breakfast on his own and waking up one of the other guys. Lance, maybe. After a minute, he pulled back the curtain on his own bunk, and crawled back in.

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