|On the Bus
The problem, Lance thought, was that thinking about something and doing something were two different things. He shifted on the couch, his arm folded behind his head, watching the tv with half an eye. With the other half, he watched them.
Justin was on the floor, staring up like a kid, legs crossed, hands folded in his lap. Justin always talked a good game in the interviews, about peace, and equality, and the power of young people, and he meant it, Lance knew, but Lance still liked him better when he sat on the floor and watched tv with his head tilted back. He wondered how long Justin would be doing that, or if it went away with age.
JC was asleep, of course, crashed out like the dead on his bunk in the back. He almost always slept on his stomach, which Lance thought was weird, and had stuffed animals, for pete's sake, but Lance loved him anyway. JC was both strangely mature and strangely vulnerable, and Lance, who had always been and would always be only strangely mature, admired the combination. Once, right after a show, he'd come into the dressing room and JC was just sitting there on the floor, knees up, head bowed, crying.
"JC? You okay?" Lance had asked squatting down beside him, rubbing his shoulder with one hand.
"Yeah." JC had sniffled, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. "Yeah."
"Why are you crying?"
And JC had smiled, then, a watery smile that looked to Lance like the sun through the clouds. "Sometimes it's just too much, you know? Sometimes they love us, and it's just . . . too much."
Lance hadn't known. The fans loved them, and they loved the fans, and they danced and sang and everyone had a good time, and for JC, sometimes it was something more, something earth shattering enough to make him collapse and cry. Lance didn't understand, but he liked it. Liked knowing it.
Joey was eating. Joey was always eating, sandwiches and chips and snacks and Italian food his 9000 relatives sent to the hotels. Joey was huge, and generous and warm, and, if Lance were being honest, probably the best all-around person Lance had ever met in his entire life. He hadn't expected that, at first, not from a big hairy guy from Brooklyn, but Joey, like Lance, had been raised primarily by women, and that made him sweet. He was the one you could trust to make you feel better about yourself, even when your hair looked like shit and your dancing sucked and you had finally realized that you were not going to get a real solo on the next cd. Joey was a pal.
"You want some of this?" Joey asked, holding out his sandwich. Meatball. Of course.
Joey shrugged. "Chris?"
Chris looked up from his murmured conversation on the cell phone and shook his head. It was a fight. Lately, Lance knew, it was always a fight. Deep down, where he didn't like to look too often because deep down made him face things he would rather ignore, Lance was secretly glad for the fights because of what happened after them.
"Look," Chris said into the phone. "I know this isn't what was supposed to happen, but this is what is happening, and it's not--" He paused, listening.
Lance watched as Chris' head tipped to the side, eyes widening. Chris was transparent, like glass. His face reflected everything--it was like watching a moving picture of his thoughts. It made talking on the phone with Chris difficult, though, because he could lie with his voice. Lance knew that first hand, when Chris had said to him not two weeks ago "it's nothing, Lance. It doesn't have to mean anything." If he had just been listening to Chris, talking to him over the phone, he would have believed him. But Lance hadn't just been listening, he had been watching, too, his forehead against Chris' forehead, his hand on Chris' cheek. Chris had been lying.
"Fine," Chris said. "Fine. Goodbye." He flipped the phone shut and threw it against the wall.
"JC's sleeping," Justin said, not looking away from the tv.
"JC's always sleeping," Chris muttered. He meant it as an apology: they all understood that.
"You okay?" Joey asked.
"Nope." Chris shook his head. "Nope, nope, nope." He ran both hands through his hair. "No, I am not, Joe. I am so not okay, I don't even know what word I am." He sighed, then stalked back to the bathroom, and slammed the door.
"JC's sleeping," Justin said again. Lance wondered if he even realized he'd spoken.
Chris was gone for a while. Crying, maybe, Lance thought, or washing his face, or just sitting in the tiny enclosed space holding his face in his hands and breathing slowly. The water ran, stopped, ran again. Eventually, he came back out, his face pale and damp.
"You feel better?" Lance asked, looking up at him.
"Anything I can do?" he asked. He sounded bored, disinterested, courteous. The exact opposite of how he felt.
Chris swaggered a little, raising his eyebrow. "Just what did you have in mind, sugar?" he drawled.
Lance smiled, feeling the blush creep up his neck. "Not what you're thinking," he mumbled, feeling his heart throb in his chest.
"No? You're not going to console me in my heartbreak, Bass?"
"Depends on what you mean by 'console,'" Lance said.
"I'll show you!" Chris leaped up in the air and came down on top of him, fingers wriggling into his ribs.
"Quit! Quit!" Lance gasped, writhing, pretending he was trying to buck Chris off. "Oh my god, Chris, quit."
"Say it!" Chris demanded, yanking Lance's wrists up above his head and pinning them to the wall.
Justin turned around, poking Lance in the ribs. "JC's sleeping, you bastard," he said, grinning. "Say it."
"Uncle!" Lance said.
"Alright," Chris said, nodding. He didn't get off Lance, though, just as Lance had known he wouldn't. He stretched out, instead, still holding Lance's arms up above the wall. When he was scrunched in, half behind Lance on the couch and half on top of him, Chris let go of Lance's arms. Lance wrapped one around his shoulders, and rested the other hand on his chest. Chris curved into him. His one leg slid between Lance's. He was warm, and slightly heavy, and his heart beat little rabbit beats against Lance's chest. He smelled of cologne and shampoo and frustration. Familiar.
They were silent for a second, watching Justin's show. Casual. Nothing happening here on the couch. Move along folks. Nothing to see.
Then Lance tipped his head down, pressing his mouth into Chris' hair. "Better?" He felt his own voice rumble through his chest, and almost shivered at it.
"Mmm," Chris said, meaning yes.
Lance smiled. He had wanted this for a while, and thought about it for even longer. Chris here, close, against him. Somehow, this felt right, like he balanced Chris out. He would never have thought it before because Chris was wild and hyper and chatty, but lately he'd been thinking about it more and more. He'd thought about other things, too, things that involved more of Chris against more of him, and less clothing. But the problem, of course, was that thinking about things and doing them were two different things, entirely.