|On the Bus
They were up late, the two work horses, slaving away in the front lounge of the bus, in the light of a single lamp. JC had his headphones plugged into his keyboard: the click of his fingers on the piano keys sounded a lot like the tapping of Lance's laptop. They didn't look at each other, or stop to chat, or whisper back and forth. They kept their eyes on their work. Someone watching them might not even have known they were friends.
After a while, Lance sat up straight, stretching his arms over his head until he felt the vertebrae in his spine crackle. There was always one more thing to do, one more e-mail to respond to, one more document to read, one more electronic note from Meredith panicking about this or that. Early on, he thought he had to do it all, and nearly killed himself trying. JC, of all people, had taken him aside right after one of their first rehearsals for the new tour.
"I'm telling you, man," he had murmured, holding Lance's bicep in his tight grip. "Slow down, or I'll slow you down."
Lance had looked into JC's earnest sharp face, and known that he was telling the truth.
"Okay," he'd said. And he had, mostly. There were still some late nights, here and there, but he'd learned. Really. There was almost nothing that couldn't wait until tomorrow, and Meredith had stopped whining so much when he stopped answering her every peep.
JC hadn't slowed down. He was writing all the time since NSA, hoping, Lance knew, that the next song wouldn't just be on the album, but would be a single, and not only a single, but a hit single. A top forty, a top ten, a number one, a second number one. JC's job, like Lance's was never ending.
In response to some unspoken cue, JC looked up. "Hey," he said.
Lance smiled. "Hey."
JC pulled the headphones off one ear. "Are you done for the night?"
"I might be. I'm thinking seriously about bed. What about you? The next great hit from the pop wonder, JC Chasez?"
"More like the next song everyone skips on their cd." He flicked the switch on the keyboard.
"Yeah, well, they can't all be Digital Getdown, man."
"Fuck off. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
Lance, who had never thought Digital Getdown was a good idea and knew that JC knew he thought that, smiled again.
"C'mon," he said. He held out his hand and pulled JC to his feet, allowing him to head down the narrow passageway ahead of him. "We need a vacation," he said, squeezing JC's shoulders under his hands.
"Ahhh," JC sighed. "Do that."
Lance grinned, and squeezed again. JC stopped in the hall, head bowed. Lance obliged, feeling the muscles at the base of JC's neck and the hard knobs and planes of his bones under his fingers. JC went limp.
"You're a fucking god," he murmured.
Lance laughed. "You're an idiot." He spread his hands over JC's shoulder blades and pushed with his fingertips. JC sighed. "Put your hands up."
"You robbin' me?" JC asked, turning his head to the side.
"I mean, brace yourself." Lance poked him in the back. JC lifted his arms and braced them against the sides of the hallway. "You're so easy."
"Have your way with me, Bass," JC said. His head was still hanging down, and with his arms up, he looked like he had surrendered. Caved to the Backrub Bandit Bass, Lance thought to himself. Then he felt like an idiot. He walked his fingers down JC's spine, then back up. He lined his thumbs up and rubbed in small circles. JC moaned.
"You like that?" Lance asked, and then realized he sounded like a bad porno. He couldn't help it. Suddenly every thought in his head was raunchy in some way. He couldn't ask if it felt good, or if JC wanted it harder, or if he was doing it right. He had crossed over into the land of innuendo, and he didn't think he could escape, not while his hands were still on JC's body.
JC didn't seem to notice.
By the time he finished, JC was sighing with every movement, and Lance's hands were at the small of his back. They almost spanned JC's waist, and Lance was reminded of that part in Gone With the Wind when the lead girl was getting strapped into her dress.
"How's that?" he asked, leaning forward so that his voice was right in JC's ear. JC's shirt had rucked up a little during the backrub, and Lance could feel the heat of his bare skin on one palm.
JC sighed again. "I love you," he said.
Lance smiled. "You're welcome." He stepped back, and took his hands away. JC turned in the narrow confines of the hallway. His eyes seemed huge and glimmery, full of something Lance could not read in the dim light. JC reached out and touched his hand.
"Thanks, Lance," he said.
"I. Um, sure, JC. Anytime."
JC nodded. His fingers were slightly damp on the back of Lance's hand. Clinging. "Okay."
They didn't say anything else. JC stared at him for a second, and then went to brush his teeth. Lance, who had brushed his teeth after dinner, waited in his bunk with the curtain open, just in case JC wanted to say something else, or, you know, stay up and talk, or if his back still hurt, or whatever, but JC just came out of the bathroom in his pajama bottoms and a wife beater, and climbed into his own bunk without saying anything. He did smile, though, right before he pulled his curtain shut. Lance, knowing that JC couldn't see him, smiled back anyway.