On the Bus 18
by Synchronik


Justin flew down the long dark hallway under the stage, his jacket in one hand. His heart beat in time with his feet, which beat in time with the words in his head: first night, first night, first night.

"Get aboard, little man!" Lonnie shouted, standing by the door of the bus.

"I love this!" Justin shouted back, even though he was now on Lonnie, grabbing him around his thick neck. "Love it!"

"Get on the fuckin' bus, Timberlake," Lonnie said, untangling him and pushing him up the steps.

"Hey, Brian!" Justin leaped up the steps and slapped the bus driver on the shoulder. Brian was older, and had driven for Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones, and he thought Justin was a punk, and Justin knew that, but tonight, this night, Justin didn't care, because tonight was the first night of the tour, and they were going to be huge.

"'bout fuckin' time," Brian said, throwing the bus in gear.

"My BOYS!" Justin spread his arms wide, taking up the whole doorway.

"Justin, my man!" Joey reached out and slapped his hand.

JC poked him in the stomach and made him laugh.

"Can I just tell you, we ruled?" he asked JC, who was pouring a glass of water. "This tour is going to kick ass. We are going to kick ass, and take names. This, my friends, is going to be one hell of a tour."

"Too true, J," JC said, gulping half the water. He handed the glass to Justin, who downed the rest. Then he grabbed JC and lifted him up, bouncing him. "I'm going to vomit!" JC said, pushing away, laughing. "Seriously."

Justin put him down. "Sorry. Hey--" he said, seeing into the lounge for the first time. "What's up with them?"

JC looked. "It's just, you know. Lance."

Justin watched for a second. Lance was sitting in the little breakfast nook, his hands folded together on the tabletop. Chris was next to him, one arm around him, his chin on Lance's shoulder. He seemed to be whispering something in Lance's ear.

"Oh no!" Justin said. "No, no, NO! There will be no pouting on the bus! Not tonight!" He rushed forward, and grabbed Lance by the shoulders. "You hear me, Bass? No pouting."

Lance looked up. His eyes were a little blurry with unshed tears. In other words, he was being a baby.

"No crying, either!" he said, grinning down into Lance's face.

"Hey, Justin," Chris said. His voice was low. His arm was tight around Lance's shoulders. "Fuck off, alright?"

"Hey, Kirkpatrick, bite me. Lance is pouting on the first night of our tour, and I won't let him!" He shook Lance, who said nothing, but wiped his face with the back of his hand.

"Hey, Justin," Chris said, turning in his seat. "Fuck off."

"Hey, Chris," Justin began, but that was all he said before Joey grabbed his arm and propelled his to the back of the bus. "What the fuck, Joe!"

"It's his family, you ass," Joey murmured in his ear, throwing him onto one of the bunks. "He misses them."

"We just left them," Justin said, rubbing his arm. Lance had demanded that they have the first concert here, in Mississippi instead of in Orlando, and his whole family had been there, right in the damn front row, and Lance was already pouting about it. He loved Lance, really, he did, but sometimes he was such a fucking baby.

"That's when it's the worst, you ass."

Justin rolled his eyes. "Whatever."

"Whatever. Don't be such a fucking jerk, Timberlake."

"Fine." He folded his arms over his chest and scowled.

"Oh, okay," Joey laughed, sitting down next to him on the bunk. "Now who's being the baby?"

"I am the baby."

Joey pushed him over on the bed. "Yeah, well, quit acting like a spoiled brat and be a little sensitive for change."

"Yeah, okay." Justin sighed, folding his arms behind his head. His put his feet up on Joey's thigh. "He's not crying or anything is he?"

Joey shrugged. "Maybe. You'd have to ask Chris. He's pretty torn up. I guess there was a girl, too."

"Wow. That sucks." Justin said.

"Tell me about it. Get your feet off me." He pushed Justin's feet away. Justin toed his shoes off and put his feet back up on Joey's leg.

"You think I should apologize?"

"I think you should get your feet off me." Joey pushed him again.

Justin brought his feet up again, walking them up and down Joey's thigh, poking him, tapping at him with his socks.

"Goddamn it, Justin!" Joey said, grabbing one of Justin's ankles and pushing it forward until Justin was almost bent in half, his foot touching the springs in the bunk above him. Joey looked at Justin's face, and then up at Justin's ankle. "Wow, you're pretty flexible."

"Do I have a choice?" Justin grunted. He could feel his face turning red from the effort. "Let go!" He pushed at Joey with his other foot, but it was hopeless; Joey was leaning forward, still holding his ankle in place with one hand. "Ugg, Joe! This is like a bad porno. I'm going to pop a hamstring or something!"

Joey let go, and Justin sighed with relief. His legs came down, and Joey was between them, still leaning forward, arms on either side of Justin's ribs. Suddenly, it was like a good porno, Justin thought, and felt himself blush.

"Hey," Joey said.

"Hey," Justin said. He smiled, but he wasn't sure what to say, now, or do. Joey was suddenly his whole sky, everything above him, all he could see. Joey's eyes were like stars, dark and sparkly. "Um, maybe, I should go say sorry to Lance."

"Maybe," Joey said, but when Justin tried to move, to pull his leg out from behind Joey and roll off the bunk, Joey didn't move.

"Joey," Justin said. He wasn't sure what to do, to struggle or say something, or what. Joey was just there, smiling down at him, his warm bulk not letting Justin up. There was no right thing, no way to get out of the . . . position, or whatever, he was in, without doing something really uncomfortable or embarrassing, or awkward. "Joey," he said, again.

Joey smiled at him for another moment, then slid out of the bunk, and gave him a hand up. "Hey, Justin," he said, as Justin slid by him on his way back to the lounge.

"Yeah." Justin stopped. Joey was standing there, right in front of him, inches away from his fingers. Joey smiled again, ducking his head.

"This is going to be a hell of a tour, huh?"

"Yeah, Joey." Justin felt himself smiling, too, smiling, and touching Joey's arm with one finger. "Yeah, it is."

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