On the Bus 20
by Synchronik

"Get the fuck out of my way," Justin snarled, shoving at Lance's shoulder as he passed.

"Geez. Sorry." Lance fell back into the bus seat, not because Justin pushed him, but because he wanted it to seem like Justin pushed him. They were all a little frayed around the edges, tired of being on the bus, tired of being on the move, tired of never spending more than one night in a place so that they had to have signs backstage to tell them what damn city they were in. They were tired of the tour, and part of that meant they were tired of each other.

"Shut up."

"Hey, you shut up," Joey said.

"Stay out of this," Justin said.

"There's a 'this' now?" Joey asked. "I thought it was just you being an ass."

"Leave him alone, Joe," JC said.

"Great. Stick up for him, C, just like you always do. Especially when he's being a prick."

"Shut the fuck UP!" Justin shouted. His face was red, and splotchy, and Lance saw suddenly that this was more than Justin being his normal crabby self.

"Joey, stay out if it," Lance said.

"Fine. Fuck both of you." Joey plopped down on the couch and crossed his arms over his chest.

Lance stood up. Justin was standing in the passageway, blocking access to the bunks with his hands touching the ceiling above his head. He had on a bandanna and a ratty blue MMC t-shirt that he'd probably had since he was twelve; he looked like a really bad imitation of a gangsta. He scowled at Lance.


"C'mon," Lance said, reaching for his arm. Justin jerked away.

"What!" He straightened up to his full height. Lance tried to smile, and grabbed his wrist.

"C'mon," he said. Justin stared down at him for a minute, then sighed and relented, padding back between the bunks, where Chris lay talking on his phone. He raised an eyebrow at Lance as they passed, but Lance ignored him.

Justin sat on the small couch, and leaned over his knees, looking down at the floor. "What the fuck do you want, Lance?" he asked.

"What is wrong with you, Justin? Seriously. And quit swearing at me."

Justin rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Nothing's wrong with me. What crawled up your ass?"

"You did. You've been storming around here all day trying to get our attention, so guess what, now you got it. What the hell, man?"

"Get. Off. My. Back." Justin's voice was ragged and harsh. Cold. It was the voice Lance remembered from those last days with Lou, when Justin had been so shaken by treachery that he could only control himself by getting angry. Lance squatted in front of Justin and put his hand on Justin's shoulder. Justin eyed him. "What?" he said.

Lance tried to smile. "You ask that a lot. Nothing."


Lance shrugged.

"You're not going to threaten to kick my ass, or tell me to quit acting like a prick, or anything?" Justin asked.

"First of all, you know I couldn't kick your ass even if I really wanted to. And, secondly, me tellin' you to stop being a prick is not actually going to make you stop, so what's the point?"

Justin smirked at that, and this time Lance did smile, because even when he was angry Justin was so easy. All it took was a little flattery.

"So, we're good, right?" Lance asked. Justin nodded, and tried to smile at him, and Lance watched the younger man's eyes fill with tears before Justin could duck his head, bury his face in the crook of his arm.

"Hey!" Lance said, alarmed. "Hey, Justin."

"I'm." Justin sniffled. "I'm okay."

"Yeah, I can tell." Lance moved to the couch next to him, and put an arm around his shoulders, rocking him gently. "You're fine, you're wonderful, you're GRRREEAAAT!"

Justin laughed a little during his sniffles this time. "Tony the Tiger?"

Lance shrugged. "I'm at a loss. What's up, Justin?"

Justin's shoulders hunched under Lance's arm. "I dunno," he said. "I'm just."

"You're tired," Lance said. Justin's face was still splotchy and red, and now streaked with tears, but Lance leaned in and kissed his cheek anyway. "It's okay," he said. And then, when his honest attempt to make Justin feel better resulted instead in a fresh bout of tears, he pulled Justin across his chest and rocked him back and forth.

"Here," he said, after a while, pulling Justin's bandanna off his head and handing it to him. "Use this."

"Fucker," Justin mumbled, wiping his face. "I liked this one."

"Even without the rhinestones?"

"I thought you were trying to make me feel better," Justin said. He leaned back into Lance's arms, and closed his eyes.

"You do, right?"

Justin opened his watery eyes and fixed them on Lance. "Yeah, thanks."

"Yep." Lance smiled.

"I'm sorry I was a jerk to you."

"Sure, now. Remember this next time you push me."

"So no one's dead?" Joey asked, leaning in the door.

Lance looked up. "Not yet. How's JC?"

"Well, we haven't kissed and made up, but he's fine."

"Shut up, Joey," Justin said. His eyes were closed again.

"Kay, then," Joey said. He left.

"Uh huh. Hey, Lance?"


"Thanks. Really," Justin said, and before Lance could say anything else, Justin had kissed him, once, a salty watery kiss right on the mouth.

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